Being in the “don’t know” stage of life

2 orange butterflies on green plant

Has there ever been a time in your life when you have found yourself living in the “don’t know”? I am in that place right now.

This time in our lives is usually experienced when we have had significant loss in our lives where we have had to release something we strongly identified with – a relationship, a job, an image, beliefs or a way of being.

Those who follow and read my blogs regularly will know that I recently went through the traumatic experience of nursing my mom for the last fourteen months of her life until she died. I was a survivor of two traumatic motor vehicle accidents while still in the mourning/grieving process and I have recently left a job I’ve had for the last thirteen years.

I now find myself in the “don’t know” stage of my life.

Holding onto the old and what’s known can create hurt and frustration but being in the “don’t know” brings its own discomfort but it can also hold the vessel to new GROWTH.

2 butterflies mating

As we release the old and allow ourselves to be in the “don’t know” – don’t know when, don’t know how, don’t quite know what or with whom, something magical can happen – we open ourselves to the alchemy of our soul’s growth. We enter a portal of change in our soul’s journey that calls us to acknowledge a design and intelligence far greater than our own.

Being receptive to our own “don’t know” calls for courage, patience, curiosity and trust. We need to call on the support of those that love and support us and, of course, the loving wisdom of our heavenly Father.

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Gratitude and happiness . . .

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The difference between happy people and unhappy people is their level of gratitude.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life.

Be grateful for what you already have and you will attract more good things.

Things I’m grateful for:
• The way my parents raised me
• Friends and family surrounding me and supporting me
• Grateful for each and every day that we can make a difference in someone’s life
• Everyone who has made a difference in my life and who has impacted on it positively
• Grateful for all the negative experiences over the years because it has moulded me into who I am now

Gratitude tip:
The next time you pay a bill write down something positive the service or product has helped you accomplish by using it. It will teach you to shift your focus from money being taken to the value you have received.

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5 Character traits that make you happy . . .
By Ken Wert of Meant to be Happy

Character is not the only characteristic of happiness. There are also particular ways of thinking, attitudes, fundamental beliefs and specific actions that can either detract from or add to the level of happiness we experience at any given time. But character is still one essential component to living life at its happiest.

Why Character Matters
Who we are makes a difference. The way we treat others matters. The decency or indecency that fills our hearts and minds matters. Our values as expressions of what we believe and how we live our lives really does make a difference to our happiness. The traits we’ve developed over time is of no little consequence to how we feel about who we are.

When we look in the mirror, it’s often our character (or lack thereof) that speaks the loudest.

But not all character traits are created equal, at least not insofar as happiness is concerned. Following, then, are those traits I’m convinced will have the greatest impact on your happiness.

1. Courage: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

Fear is the great thief of happiness. It is parent to surrender. It sneaks in closed doors and robs us of resolve and the commitment and ability to endure to the end.

Courage, on the other hand, is fear’s great nemesis. It challenges fear, pushes it back, and keeps it in check by taking steps toward its objection. Courage thereby shatters the shackles of fear, sending it into the insignificant margins of obscurity. Courage allows us to challenge our comfort zones, approach people and situations, embrace life and accept the pain that’s inevitable in all of life’s changes and challenges. Without courage, happiness is little more than an illusion, a temporary mirage, a puff of smoke that dissipates into thin air at its first challenge. (Read Learned Optimism .)

2. Patience: Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.

How happy are impatient people? This is a rhetorical question, of course. The answer is obviously “not very.” At least not for very long. Impatience is another major bully to happiness. It pushes happiness out of the neighborhood almost as soon as it shows up.

But learning to accept and allow, to go with the flow and relax a bit is critical to living a happy life. Impatience is often the irritation we feel at the loss of control. But life bubbles and gurgles in ever-changing streams and flows of unpredictable activity. It simply is not 100% controllable. And the more we try to control and manipulate the outcome of life and the events that boil up around us with any kind of precision, the more frustrated we’ll be at the effort.

So breathe. Relax. Take it in. Be patient. Learn to accept the uncertain and buddy up to the unpredictable. Let life happen, at least a little. You’ll find it that much more beautiful and happy when you do.

3. Gratitude: Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.
-D. Bonhoeffer

To be grateful is to notice the good amidst the bad, the colour against the backdrop of grey, the lovely even as it’s surrounded by the ugly. It’s to count your blessings and recognize how beautiful life is even when life isn’t quite going as planned.

Learning to be grateful requires the desire to see what’s sometimes hard to locate for those who are not accustomed to seeing it. It requires retraining your mind to think about the silver linings in life. But for gratitude to affect happiness in the deepest way, requires it to permeate your soul, encompassing attitude and thought, and becoming the general way you perceive life.

It’s not that grateful people don’t notice the difficulty of a challenge. It’s just that they’re too focused on the benefit the challenge provides and the opportunity it opens.

When we’re grateful, our problems don’t disappear, they simply occupy less space in our hearts, minds and lives. The reason is that grateful people are focused on that for which they are grateful. By definition, that means the difficult, disappointing and painful commands less of our attention.

As a matter of fact, I don’t believe there is a single more important character trait to your happiness than developing the persistent, even automatic grateful response to life. (Read Happiness Is a Serious Problem)

Baby sleeping on crescent moon

4. Love: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Love conquers all, as they say. And while perhaps not always technically true (I don’t think any person’s love of murder would make this act of violence any less evil, for instance), love certainly goes a long way to being nearly true. To recognize the centrality of love to living a happy life, just imagine a life lived without it. Imagine a hateful, loveless life of happiness (I know. That’s the point. It’s not possible).

The more love that beats in your heart, the happier and more buoyant your heart will be. The more you love life, the more life will love you back.

Love overlooks weakness and closes its eyes to idiosyncrasies. It accepts and serves and blesses and seeks what’s best in others. This is plainly a better path to happiness than its alternative. (Read The Happiness Project .)

5. Forgiveness: To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.
-Robert Muller

There’s not much more conducive to happiness than the ability to forgive quickly, spontaneously and freely.

People who hold on to pain, who nurse their wounds, who call out the troops to seek vengeance for the wrongs done to them, may win battles here and there. But the war against unhappiness will largely be lost before it’s even started.

Unforgiving people cannot know the level of happiness, the peace, joy, and pleasure of releasing others from the prisons of their un-forgiveness that forgiving people regularly experience. It’s the very bars that keep others imprisoned in our hearts that keeps happiness far away, at a distance, peering in at best. It’s time we free ourselves by letting old pain dissipate into the darkness, so new opportunities can take us to greater heights of joy.

So, have you forgiven your parents for their weaknesses as parents? Have you forgiven the playground bully or abusive ex-spouse, or your neglectful children or inconsiderate neighbor or insensitive church leader?

If you haven’t, you’re picking at the open wounds that can only irritate, infect and fester. Such open wounds often turn cancerous, metastasizing, entering the blood stream of other relationships, infecting them with its mortal disease as well.

Instead, open your heart to forgiveness. Then your heart will finally be open enough to catch its share of happiness as well.

Kitty hiding amongst flowers

Afterthoughts
So much ink has been spent on the power of positive thinking and optimism and finding your passion to live a happy life. I write about such things myself. But not enough ink has dried on enough pages to draw enough connections (perhaps with the growing exception of gratitude) between character and our personal happiness. I hope this oversight is soon corrected. And I hope this post helps close that gap a bit.

So where does that leave us? We are left with the knowledge of what traits to develop, but also of the distance we have to travel to develop them.

The beauty of life is that we can change. We can learn and grow and mature and expand, acquiring traits we don’t yet have or haven’t yet fully developed. All it takes is a little humility, the desire to start and a little determination to see it through. You might want to start by adding those character traits to your list too.

Your turn:
• What character traits have you found improved your happiness?
• How have the five traits listed here affected your life?
• I would love to hear from you in the comments box below.

Life is like a journey on a train…

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

Life is like a journey on a train…

with its stations…

with changes of routes…

and with accidents!

We board this train when we are born and our parents are the ones who get our ticket.

We believe they will always travel on this train with us.

However, at some station our parents will get off the train, leaving us alone on this journey.

As time goes by, other passengers will board the train, many of whom will be significant – our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

View from our table

Many will get off during the journey and leave a permanent vacuum in our lives.

Many will go so unnoticed that we won’t even know when they vacated their seats and got off the train!

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.

A good journey is helping, loving, having a good relationship with all co passengers…

and making sure that we give our best to make their journey comfortable.

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The mystery of this fabulous journey is:

We do not know at which station we ourselves are going to get off.

So, we must live in the best way – adjust, forget, forgive and offer the best of what we have.

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to leave our seat . . . we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.”

Thank you for being one of the important passengers on my train . . .

Party time!

Balloon Circle

Don’t you just love parties? No party is ever the same. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the décor, food, cake (birthday cake, wedding cake – any speciality cake) should look like. The guest list is made up of a whole array of people – you have the family, friends, sometimes neighbours and/or work colleagues are included on the guest list.

In spite of all the excitement surrounding any celebration there is an awful amount of preparation and behind the scenes work that takes place to make the celebration a reality and, sadly, so many things can go wrong in the days leading up to the event and even on the day itself which is why planning is so critical. Not only the final plan but a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even a Plan D may be required.

Delegation of tasks is critical – it is impossible for one person to do everything on their own. For example:

Connectivity (telephone accessibility) – is your mobile phone charged? Do you have sufficient data and/or airtime? Do you have all the relevant suppliers/helpers telephone numbers stored on your mobile phone. Do you have a (paper copy) list of these contacts and their telephone numbers in case something happens to your mobile phone and you need to use someone else’s phone or a public telephone?

Event Manager/Co-ordinator: Delegation of duties at the venue on the day: Who will be responsible for co-ordinating everything? Who is in charge of the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly and that the food is served on time? Who will be at the door to meet and greet your guests? Who will usher the guests to the relevant space at the venue (cocktails/drinks in one space and eventually moving into the main venue where the event will actually take place)? Who is responsible for sound and lighting?

Venue – will the event be indoors or outdoors? Is the venue accessible to the disabled/frail, those incapacitated by recent injury or surgery? What is your backup plan if the weather changes and you cannot use the venue of choice? What happens if a fire breaks out the night before your function and you are unable to use the venue? What is your backup plan? What happens if there are power cuts? Do you have access to a generator at short notice? How early on the day of the function will the venue be available to you for setting up? Décor, sound and lighting all need a few hours and cannot be done an hour before the function starts.

Bathroom at The River Club Obs 10.09.2015

Bathroom facilities at your venue of choice – are these facilities easily accessible to everyone? Will the frail, disabled, or those who have had a recent injury or surgery be able to access the bathroom i.e. is it on the same floor as the function or will they have to walk up steps/stairs to access the bathroom?

Parking – do you have parking marshals to direct people to parking facilities available and to ensure the available parking is utilised as efficiently as possible? Have you arranged special parking for guests with disabilities or for the older generation who may not be so steady on their feet? You may have a guest who has recently had surgery preventing them from walking too far – have you made allowances for this?

Sound and lighting – do you have one person responsible for sound and lighting or two? Do they know exactly what you want and are they able to do exactly what you want in terms of equipment, skills and expertise? Do they know that they cannot arrive five minutes before the function is due to start to set up?

Catering – who will do the catering? Have you hired a professional caterer? Is your appointed caterer a friend or family member? If so, will they take direction and follow your instructions or will they force their opinion and strong will on you? Will they only do the catering or will they do the venue décor as well? Will there be an extra charge for venue décor or is this included in the price quoted? If you are doing the catering yourself, do you have sufficient people to delegate to? You cannot bake, fry, plate the final product all by yourself – who will help you? If you have outsourced the food – who will collect the food from the various suppliers? If you are doing the décor yourself – who will collect the tablecloths and overlays, the centre-pieces for the tables, the flowers etc? are you expecting one person to do all the driving around on the day or do you have more than one? Do you have a backup plan in case one of your drivers cannot help on the day?

High Tea tray at my birthday

The special occasion cake – it has become a trend that a special occasion cake is ordered either from a retail bakery or from a professional work-from-home baker. Here I’m referring to (for example) a cake for a milestone birthday (1st, 21st, 50th, 60th, 70th etc), a wedding cake, a milestone wedding anniversary (25th, 50th, 60th etc) or maybe even just a fun and funky cake to spice up the event. Who will collect this cake on the day? What is the backup plan if this nominated person cannot collect the cake on the day at the agreed time?

Photographer/Videographer – have you arranged for someone to take photographs and/or a video (DVD)? Is this one person for both or two or more people? Are they professionals or just doing this for a hobby? Do they know your specific requirements (if any) of specific photographs or video shots you would like of specific people or particular moments of the event? Do you have a backup plan in case this person (or one of them) is not able to attend the function on the day for some reason? Do you have a few friends or family members with cameras of their own to capture unexpected moments the photographer or videographer might miss?

Let me know how your recent function went. What crises did you face and how did you handle it?

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