Inspiration or Perspiration?

Am I the Only One?

Last night I found myself obsessing over a minor complaint. I’m good at that…obsessing…spending the precious hours of my life making myself miserable. I remember the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. It’s an old book with a message that never grows old. Much of what we obsess over is the small stuff. That’s why I refer to it as perspiration instead of inspiration.

There’s been a lot of research about the power of gratitude. In one randomized controlled trial in the UK, it was found that those who kept a gratitude journal for 21 days improved their sense of wellbeing and actually increased their gratitude, as opposed to the control group who reported a reduction in well-being during the study. 

In addition, it was found that more frequent prayer increased gratitude.

The study showed that those who prayed more often experienced increased gratitude 6 weeks later.

There’s even research- based evidence that gratitude has a positive effect on your health.

Here’s an Example

I’ll give you a personal example. In December of 2019, I took my cat to the vet. He had previously been diagnosed with kidney disease but his numbers were not alarming. During this visit, his numbers turned out to be extremely alarming and I was told he had less than a week to live.

The only way to extend his life was by hydrating him via a needle stuck under his skin. And I was supposed to do this! They tried it once in an effort to show me how to do it. He would have none of it…or should I say, we would have none of it. He didn’t like it, and my degree is in Counseling, not Veterinary Medicine.

I told them I was taking him home and setting up a Hospice situation, but no hydration. They agreed, and I love my vet, but she predicted he definitely wouldn’t live past January.

This was December, and the Coronavirus had us quarantined by March. Although I was in a hyper alert state over his health, I was so grateful to have Zachary, my baby, with me during this time. 

I truly believe my state of gratitude extended his life. He finally succumbed on June 1st. I believe a combination of gratitude combined with his will to live gave him 5 extra months. I was so lucky to have this extra time.

The Problem with Worrying

People obsess on their worries. As you know, if you’ve studied The Law of Attraction, what you focus on grows. 

I would guess gratitude isn’t the focus of most people’s obsessions. 

So, join me… In 2021, if we’re going to obsess, let’s obsess on the good things in our lives.


Insomnia, Anyone?

Not Again!

Lately I’ve developed a pattern of waking up at odd times of the morning. This morning it was 4:48. It’s advised not to check the time, but my curiosity overcomes my adherence to rules. 

I don’t know why I do this. I’m almost always disappointed. It never says 7:00, and if it was 7:00 I’d know because the sun would be up. Instead, I stumble into the bathroom, stare at my iphone, work up the courage to look at the time, and grumble on my way back to bed, facing another night of interrupted sleep.

Can anyone relate? 

Now comes the fun part…getting back to sleep. After all, it’s only 4:48. I have time for at least two more hours of sleep… if I can get back to sleep. That’s a big “if”.

I can’t put all the blame on my bladder. Often, the culprit is my thoughts. I can’t shut them up. It’s like there’s another person inside my head who’s desperate for company, saying “Can we talk?”

My Strategies

I try to head off this chatterbox by saying the Rosary. That way, I’m in charge of my thoughts. Since I can’t find my real Rosary, I use my fingers instead of beads. I’ve managed to silence the chatterbox and enter the spiritual realm all at the same time. 

I once timed how long it took me to say the Rosary. That’s my competitive side rearing its ugly head. 

Timing the Rosary, really…is this a 5K?

Hello, Pema

iI this doesn’t work, I always have Pema.

Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun who teaches about meditation. She has a very soothing voice as well as a sense of humor, so her CD’s are more interesting and entertaining to listen to than my own thoughts at 5:00 am. 

Each time I listen, I hear new bits of wisdom I hadn’t heard before. Last night, or should I say this morning, she told listeners to “keep coming back” whenever their own thoughts interrupted their meditation. So, that advice isn’t only for AA members. It’s for me. It’s for all of us.

That’s my toolbox…Prayer and Pema.

What’s in yours?

Spiritual Musings

My Beliefs

It’s that time of year, Easter, and being so, I find myself thinking about spirituality. 

I’m not a churchgoer per se, but since I grew up Catholic and attended Mass at least six days a week, I’ve accumulated a quorum of prayers, incense, and sore knees.

At the ripe age of 11, I decided that reincarnation made more sense to me than any other explanation. 

In my mind, one life wasn’t enough. I could see the disparity between rich and poor, intelligent and not-so, and the many other differences between people.

 Why did some people suffer while others seem to skate through life untouched? Even at 11, I could sense the intrinsic unfairness of this. If kids care about anything, it’s about fairness. What child hasn’t shouted, “But that’s not fair!”.  

Many religious scholars claim there’s just one life. We live. We die. That’s it.

 But, if one life is all there is, where did original sin originate…in the womb? This wasn’t rocket science, just a simple if-then statement.

What Happened Next

As I grew older, I became interested in world religions. As a therapist, I was drawn to the practice of meditation. This is where I noticed a correlation between the Virgin Mary and meditation.

Interestingly, when the Virgin Mary appears to people, usually children, she requests people say the Rosary each day.

One day it dawned on me that the Rosary is actually a meditation, much like Transcendental Meditation.

Around that time, I attended a workshop in Santa Fe NM, and to my surprise, during one of the sessions, in walks the Dalai Lama with his entourage.

I quickly realized this was a once in a lifetime event for me, so I became ultra -attentive. I regarded this as a synchronistic event.

 His message was about compassion. I started taking the practice of meditation more seriously. If it was good enough for Mother Mary and the Dalai Lama, who was I not to hold it in high esteem?

But what was in it for me? 

The Remedy

Meditation is a balm for anxiety. I have always had a moderate degree of anxiety. My childhood was marked by a high degree of unpredictability, which acts like fertilizer for the development of anxiety. My counseling practice should be called Anxiety-R-Us.

 I’ve been drawn to any practice, no matter how conventional or “out there”, that relieves anxiety. Trust me, I’ve tried all I deliver on myself first. I consider this the acid test. I’m like Mikey. If it works for me, I’ll share the secrets.

I’ve run into people who don’t know their blood type, but I learned mine during physiology class in high school. I’m Type A. The other day I read that people with Type A blood are more likely to have higher levels of cortisol, and therefore, higher levels of anxiety. I’ve also read having Type A blood increases your risk of getting Covid. I know I SOUND like someone with anxiety.

All to say, I don’t think it was an accident that I ran into the Dalai Lama, and heard his message. God must have said, “Send in the big guns for this one.”

So, it’s Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection…for us, a reminder that every day is a Resurrection. Every day is a new chance. 

That’s good enough for me.

Staying On Top of the Fray

The Fray?

What is the fray, anyway?  According to Google, fray refers to a person’s nerves, or temper, as well as the effects of strain.

 In my book, there are two ways to deal with the fray. Either learn to anticipate problems before the fray, or become an expert in problem solving.

We have daily opportunities to stay on top of the fray. As I write this, my kittens are behind my computer, frisking upon my wifi setup, and possibly doing their favorite type of sabotage, chewing on the wires. 

As anticipating problems is one way to stay on top of the fray, I could lock the cats out of my home office. But that only means desperate scratching to get back in. I could move my computer away from the wall so their little bodies didn’t have such an advantage over me.

Or, I could learn to live with it and re-read my copy of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

IPhone Fray

Here’s a problem I didn’t anticipate. When I turned off my iPhone alarm, I noticed it hadn’t charged. It was only then I saw an alert I’d never seen before, and hope to never see again.

“Your connector is wet. Let it dry.” 

This was not good news. So, I guess the thingy has a name… the connector. 

To add to the fray, I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning and need my alarm. I remember reading that willing yourself to wake up at a certain hour can work.

 Should I put more stock in my unconscious mind, or the odds that my iPhone will dry before the sun sets? 

Choose Carefully

The truth is, you can’t anticipate every problem, so in this case, the skill called “problem solving” must be employed. I could curse the iPhone to express my agitation that the fray has fried my morning serenity, I could rush to the iPhone “fix-it” store, or I could patiently wait for it to dry.

I chose option #3.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was right “on point”. The crisis was over. The ship was back in port. Once my amygdala had left the freak- out stage, I had time to reflect on my gratitude for both the cats and the iPhone.

To quote the T-shirt, “Life is good”.