Decompress

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

Life often turns out not—so not—how we want.

How do we cope?  Over and over, ad infinitum?

Between hope, expectation, and reality,

Where creep the fissures?

When they propagate into crevasses,

What do we feel?

Disappointment

Guilt

Shame

Anxiety

Rage

Resentment

Resignation

Drop in there, name it.

Spelunk the caves, Shine the light.

Allow, contain; then soothe the hijack.

Find the way out—it may be different each time.

Run; in place if necessary.

Punch, lift, kick, jump, yell, throw—just do no harm.

Talk, but only to someone helpful (if that’s not you, find someone else this time).

Write.  Anything, everything.  Doodle, scribble, jabberwocky.

Take that pent up, swelling, potential(ly negative) energy,

Held under pressure like a great balloon of hot gas;

Expel it.

Aim it to propel you, ya?

In the direction of your meaning, your purpose, your mission,

Or just your peace for now.

Life may be an exercise in elasticity, among other things.

Practice holding strong tension, then releasing it fully.

Repeat.

Condition and train this discipline.

We’ got this.

Liberate Thyself

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

What are the chief operational constraints in your life today?  How have they evolved over time? 

On a call today with two wonderful friends, it occurred to me (again) that we can choose our suffering in life.  A global pandemic with cases and hospitalizations rising across the country in yet another (I’ve lost count) wave; political polarization ever worsening; winter approaching with yet more erratic weather patterns—it did not take long for us to agree that present day is indeed a dark age for humanity.  And yet none of us feel hopeless.  In fact, we bonded over all the tools at our disposal to suffer less in our lifetimes—mostly tools of inner work, such as Personal Leadership, the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, and others

So often we go through life wishing other people would change.  If only they could see the light—that I am right—then my life would be so much easier and better!  We search for classes, workshops, and conferences that promise freedom from stress, amazing relationships, and professional advancement—all in 5 easy steps!  The dopamine-fueled wildfire of instant gratification sucks dollars from our bank accounts like oxygen from the air, at the prospect of success without work.  When we look for others to exert all the effort, we choose the suffering of relinquishing control.  Innocently, ignorantly, or in denial, we cede responsibility for our own happiness and meaning to those whom we concurrently deem incompetent, misinformed, or otherwise stupid.

I cannot control what someone else thinks, says or does.  But I have ultimate agency in how I respond to anyone and anything around me.  I can choose to wallow in victimhood, rage at injustice, and lash out at any unfortunate human who crosses my path on a bad day.  I can also choose to shift my perspective by getting curious, asking more questions, and making more generous assumptions about people and their motivations.  By choosing the latter, whatever pain or cost I incur belongs to me; I own it, I get to shape it, contain it, exercise it.  I empower myself as the principal agent of my own life—I am liberated.

Smile, Laugh, Hug, Repeat

https://cheezburger.com/9757445/your-daily-treat-tired-bees-who-fell-asleep-inside-flowers

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

Times are so hard right now.  Tempers are short, nerves are frayed.  We feel edgy, agitated, hypersensitive.  It’s no wonder, with a global pandemic going on two years.  Our work, our kids’ schools, and everybody’s lives are disrupted in more complex ways than we can wrap our heads around. 

And yet, through it all, we persist. For many of us, it’s not been all bad. We slowed down, reassessed, reprioritized, and emerged with a deeper understanding and appreciation for more simple sources of fulfillment in life. If anything, it’s the connections gained from pandemic living that have saved us, and the disconnections that threaten us most.

Even after the acute scourge of COVID, we will still encounter hardships—strains on our patience with one another, acts of nature out of our control, more short tempers and frayed nerves, relationships at risk. How can we fortify ourselves and one another against despair and withdrawal? We can throw ourselves into work, which may hold us up if our jobs are full of meaning. We can numb with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and other high risk behaviors.

We need something to fan the flames, however small, of hope and optimism—the faith that we will be okay, that we can handle whatever comes, as long as we do it together. I feel so blessed with such amazing people in my life, friends and family alike. Every day I marvel at how I got so lucky. I’m also reminded that I have a hand in these wonderful connections—I cultivate them on purpose. I learned how from my mom, and I see my kids growing in their skills.

To exercise good humor, find joy, and connect with people through that which uplifts—jokes, memes, comedy, and the like—I think we sometimes underestimate the vital importance of these practices in daily life. It’s too easy to get sucked into darkness, to lose the light. But it’s always there, however faint or dim, if we look. We can always find something to smile and laugh about. We can always offer each other a warm embrace (especially if we are vaccinated, masked, and asymptomatic, and even if we are not).

It’s how we share love, and that’s what keeps us going. When we meet people, even if our own mood is sour, we can choose to smile. That one offer of connection can set the path of any encounter on an upward trajectory, lifting all involved. We can share a funny—oh hey look, I wrote about this for NaBloPoMo last year! 😀 Besides The Big Bang Theory and Nathan Pyle, this year I also recommend Awkward Yeti, Upworthy, and any source that offers joy without judgment.

Let’s all hold each other in a little more light, love, fun, and grace, eh? 

In case you have not had your dose today, I just saw this on Facebook now; please enjoy and pass it on:

This starts my 22nd year of teaching middle school. Yesterday was quite possibly one of the most impactful days I have ever had.

I tried a new activity called “The Baggage Activity”. I asked the kids what it meant to have baggage and they mostly said it was hurtful stuff you carry around on your shoulders.

I asked them to write down on a piece of paper what was bothering them, what was heavy on their heart, what was hurting them, etc. No names were to be on a paper. They wadded the paper up, and threw it across the room.

They picked up a piece of paper and took turns reading out loud what their classmate wrote. After a student read a paper, I asked who wrote that, and if they cared to share.

I’m here to tell you, I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up and about and shared with the class.

Things like suicide, parents in prison, drugs in their family, being left by their parents, death, cancer, losing pets (one said their gerbil died cause it was fat, we giggled😁) and on and on.

The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough. The person who shared (if they chose to tell us it was them) would cry sometimes too. It was an emotionally draining day, but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.

This bag hangs by my door to remind them that we all have baggage. We will leave it at the door. As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back.

I am honored to be their teacher.

via: Karen Wunderlich Loewe / Facebook

Originally posted in 2019