My Response Matters: Love, Patience and Happiness Without Shaving My Head And Becoming a Buddhist


I might be going about this wrong…


The Moment

We all know those moments when it feels like our patience is being tested. Those moments when it seems like nothing good we’ve ever done has mattered and we are only being tested on that particular scenario. Time stands still and a crossroads unfolds before us. If we are evolved enough we will have multiple response options available in our minds within a hair of a second. We could choose the higher road of grace and peace. While other responses may be snarky, sarcastic, combative or defensive. Further still, we could walk away or not engage.

I’m not talking about the moments that you choose the road of grace, or you let it go and walk away. I’m talking about the moments when you really, really, REALLY feel like you want to snap back at someone. 

Don’t shrink or puff up, just stand your Sacred Ground – Brene Brown

My Response Matters

I’ve written a post about letting someone go, which was inspired by a post about fear and standing your sacred ground but that’s different. Those two are more about not shrinking and not running away. The flight of fight or flight. They were about standing up for your values, especially if someone is verbally attacking. 

This post is more about the fight part of fight or flight. That urge we have to hurl a bag of nickels at someone for a rude comment or passive aggressive statement. The more often you see them or the closer you are to them, the more likely a snarky, off-handed comment can immediately throw you in the ring. Sometimes walking away or taking a deep breathe can stop a knee jerk response, other times it can simple give you more time to calculate an equally disrespectful comment.

As an adult, in order to not launch into full attack mode, I trained myself to be less reactionary. That also meant I could harbor resentment or not set clear boundaries. So, I’ve become pretty versed in not shrinking and in standing my sacred ground. I’m not so good at resisting a well-flung-shit comment when someone else started it. Or atleast that’s my justification-they started it. I’m really good at squaring off and standing my ground. I’m really good at snarling back at someone or even holding a grudge (if it’s a setting where I can’t snap back) IF I felt they were wrong. That default served me well in my younger years, when I was surrounded by a different group of people. People that I had to puff up around, appearing bigger and badder than the predators. It was effective. But those were very very different people.

Now I’m around intellectuals, academics and emotionally intelligent individuals…that sometimes have a bad day, or a shitty moment. It’s very rare that I have a situation or interaction that pushes this button I forgot I had. In passing they can give me their shitty moment, which I’m usually pretty self aware enough to know has little to do with me. But sometimes they say just the right thing to hit the mother load. My old beliefs kick in-puff up to be safe, take no crap, don’t be walked on. But these people aren’t testing me, they aren’t doing it to get a response. It’s simply a shitty comment to reflect something going on inside their own head. This one I took personal but thought…

My Response Matters

This person doesn’t always have bad days

This isn’t about me

My Response will reflect who Iam becoming

My Response Matters

I repeated it to myself until I was no longer internally seething. I didn’t say anything I needed to apologize for and I didn’t bury it deep down as a resentful grudge. I examined it, listened to it and realized…Just because I strive to be my best authentic self with love, patience, and happiness it doesn’t mean I’m always happy and I damn sure don’t plan on shaving my fucking head to be a Buddhist. But I will talk about it. I will understand how I feel, explain it if I need to and know that Iam responsible for my beliefs, emotions and behavior. Sweet relief. No arguing ensued and I was still able to cross a big personal milestone. 💜😌


Totally not my picture. I have no idea who did it but this was how it felt to let go of the need to respond and engage. After looking at my strong response to the off handed comment I realized it had way more to do with leaving toxicity behind. Ready to move forward.  đŸ’œđŸ’–

#AtoZChallenge: Questioning A to Z

I love asking questions, the more open-ended the better! So let’s have a little compounded alphabet fun:   Question your Asssumptions.  Allow for Alternate realities to the ones you Assume. Question your Biases.  Broaden your perspective. Question your Conclusions.  What other stories could you tell to suffer less in your Circumstances? Question Dogma.  Whom does […]

http://catherinechengmd.com/2016/04/21/atozchallenge-questioning-a-to-z/

Give It All Away

Happiness starts with gratitude.

And gratitude may start small if you aren’t used to practicing it.

Baby steps

I can say to anyone “happiness starts with gratitude” and it’s very rare that someone would contest it, albeit, some do, but most agree. Most people can appreciate a roof over their head and food in their bellies. We all have the capacity to appreciate what we ALREADY have and that which is obvious. Maybe your grateful for your children or grateful that your job affords you flexibility to work from home. Maybe your grateful for a recent raise or that a flood that damaged neighborhood homes didn’t damage yours. That’s a start. The next level is practicing it EVERYDAY.

Leveling Up

When you begin to practice it everyday you run out of the obvious ones and start getting more specific. I recently challenged myself, to share on my personal Facebook page, things I’m grateful for everyday. I originally wanted to encourage people to be more grateful but as the days progressed, and I moments I wasn’t so grateful for, I realized I was looking for more to be grateful for. Now, I’m a pretty positive person but sometimes I have shitty days and want to blame it on someone or something because, well, I’m human and sometimes people are aggravating. BUT when you know you set yourself up to express gratitude everyday until January, you see learning opportunities in everything. THEN you can begin appreciating others. 

Being Grateful To Other People

Being grateful for things in your own life is fairly simple, especially when you only express it intermittently. Being grateful to others, reminds us of our shared humanity. If you tell a subordinate you appreciate that they are early everyday, they will know you’ve noticed and they’re valued. If you tell your children you love their big hugs, they will likely hug others more. If you tell your spouse that you’re grateful they took care of the laundry or cooked dinner, they will light up. The best part? When people feel valued and appreciated they work harder, love bigger, appreciate others more and understand that we all need it. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how angry you feel or how many things there are to worry about. So give it away. Give your gratitude to others and watch the magic of life unfold before you. There’s always something or someone to be grateful for. What, specific to you, are you grateful for right now?

No Bullshit: Gratitude Changes Everything

Must Be This Tall To Ride

gratitude_being_grateful

If you’re anything like me (and pretty much every other person, ever) you have countless memories of looking forward to getting or achieving something, and how awesome it feels for the following five seconds before you totally take it for granted and start wanting something else.

THIS IS WHY YOUR RELATIONSHIPS FAIL.

This is why you feel a little depressed and unfulfilled.

This is why even though we have nice cars and smartphones and HDTVs and houses and good jobs and attractive partners and beautiful children and awesome friends and supportive families, we STILL want more shit.

Like most things, this sucky part of the human condition is not without its perks. Without a predisposition toward achievement, humanity would have died off eons ago from disease and lion attacks because cavemen would have discovered how to make fire and just stopped trying new things forever.

The cost of ambition is…

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The Metamorphosis of Bella and Kane

magenta-butterfly
Bella
Blue moth
Kane

“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown

An allegory about love, loss and transformation.

Bella

Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive.  She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.

Kane

She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane left the Tomeo’s because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.

Their Shared Cocoon

They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.

When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.

The Transformation

They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.

Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.

Mother Earth 

As Bella cried from the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”

For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.

“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be. Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”

She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.

So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.

Sometimes connection to another person affects us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on. We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.

Friendship, love and expectations 


Strangers

I’ve been trying to make the most of my common interactions with people. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with the rental car person that picked me up when my car was in the shop or just smiling at a cashier and making them laugh. I find those moments tend to have the least expectations attached. You get a snapshot of who that person is and a brief moment to bring joy into their life. Most of us don’t take the time to connect when we are running errands or getting things done.

But what if we did take the time? What if we saw every interaction as a valuable moment for connection? What if we looked at each other as unique creatures brimming with different strengths, different experiences and different lessons? The world we be a whole lot more interesting. 

Acquaintances and Casual Friends 

These are the friends you consistently share one (or several) common interest(s) with. Maybe you like to hike together. Maybe you’re both into a particular subject. Maybe you can always laugh with each other. They might be your neighbors or co-workers. You see each other enough to be more than strangers but not close enough to know each other’s whole story. Maybe you choose to keep it there and maybe they do. Either way, they add variety and richness to you life that you wouldn’t have without them.

Family & True friends

Family is is not always what we are born into. These are the people that know you. I mean, really know you. The ones that know your story, that honor who you are. The ones that raise the bar, that hold you accountable, love you unconditionally and you can call 6 months or a year later to simply pick up where you left off. These people are your tribe. Time stands still with them. You have things in common but more importantly you understand each other’s souls. You know what’s important and how to connect with one another. You can laugh or talk about your day, it doesn’t matter because there is an unspoken commitment that you are there, each of you, always, in the background. You’ve always been wholeheartedly connected. You’re not afraid of losing them because you know you have a bond. They’re family.

Love is in gratitude. Be grateful for your tribe. Be grateful for your acquaintances. Be grateful that you have connection. 💖