Archive for the 'inspiration' Category

Daily Gratitude: Everyday Miracles

Today I’m grateful for life, and everyday miracles. Rather than reinvent the prose to describe it, I’ll turn to one of my favorite poems.

Miracles

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

~Walt Whitman

Posted on Sunday, December 12th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: gratitude, inspiration | Comments Off

Lost Dreams

Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.
      ~Thoreau

A friend and I have been talking about understanding and supporting each other with our priorities, our needs, and our lives in transition.

My challenge is that I no longer have any clue what I want in life.

My personality type is such that I focus on the practical details to avoid dealing with messy feelings and dreams and mood swings. It does make me a decent project manager.

Practically, I’m focusing on getting the rather overwhelming details of my life straightened out – my old house painted, re-carpeted & sold, my eldest launched into independent life, my finances stabilized, my job figured out with manageable work-life balance.

I will admit that I have been depressed lately – seasonal? – and the manifestation is my lack of effectiveness in some of those same details of life – fitness, personal habits, financial discipline, housekeeping, etc.

But at a higher level, what do I want emotionally? Spiritually?

Sadly, since Iosing Bryan and focusing so much on survival mode, I don’t even remember how to dream or know what I want from life anymore. I know what I do not want: loneliness, strife, depression, overwhelming demands. I really have no interest in remarrying, climbing the corporate ladder any further, or amassing wealth or things.

A friend invited me to participate in a small group doing an online “Soul Restoration Workshop” put on by the Brave Girls Club. It has kind of a journaling/art therapy/personal exploration focus, and the idea of creative restoration really resonates with me. Maybe I can find or rediscover some of my dreams.

I am happiest when I have big enthusiasms in my life – whether art, fitness, friends, service, learning, even work. I used to have that passion; I hope to find it again.

Posted on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: depression, inspiration | 3 Comments »

Navel Gazing

Experts say that our personality type, your temperament, is ours for life. It doesn’t really change significantly after we are 5-7 years old. We may evolve, grow more focused or more caring, but we remain basically the same person.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle was harshly self-critical and critically depressed for much of his adult life when, in his late 20s, he did actually experience what he calls a complete dissolution and reintegration of his personality. He was transformed from a bitterly unhappy engineering student to a blissfully serene mystic and seeker.

This begs the question of cultural definition of sanity – abandoning a successful, if unrewarding, professional path for a life as a vagrant and ecstatic mystic has been defined by his critics as a mental breakdown and subsequent mental health disorder. I would disagree – who are we to define another’s reality?

But I digress…

I believe that major life events can transform our personality and temperament, at least in part: disaster, loss, addiction & recovery, childbirth, surviving life-threatening illness, even spiritual experiences like religious conversions or epiphanies. It’s happened to me, and I’ve seen it happen to others, for good or for ill. (And I am not including mental illness or medication-induced changes in this discussion.)

I have always been a fairly intense type A, a driver. My Meyers Briggs personality inventory results were “ENTJ”, the Field Marshal. I have usually been pretty good at achievements and results, but not so much so with people skills, nurturing, relaxing, having fun.

In the last year and a half, since losing Bryan, I haven’t been really sure who I am or what I want. I have been sad, foggy, melancholy, adventurous, reflective and oblivious, sometimes all at once, and have certainly felt some small part of that sense of personality dissolution that Tolle describes. I’m no longer a wife. Not a project manager. No longer a mom (at least with children at home.) I surely don’t self-identify as a widow; I choose not to define myself by loss or lack. So who am I now?

One thing that has been absolutely clear to me throughout is that no one is guaranteed tomorrow, and we need to love those in our lives to our fullest capacity today.

This has driven some changes in the way I see my world, the way I interact with those around me, the priorities in my life, and yes, my temperament.

  • My family and friends are my number one priority

  • My own health & sanity is number two
  • My work is third. A distant third.
  • Giving back in some way is fourth.

Ironically, this shift comes at a point in my life where work has been more intensely demanding than ever before, and my kids are appropriately flying the nest.

I’ve noticed that while I’m just as intense, I’m more gregarious, expressive, affectionate, and attuned to the people around me, and I’ve become less assertive and results-oriented. I’m more interested now in adventure, in experiencing life, and care a whole less about what people think and whether I’m functioning as a high achiever.

This is even reflected by changes in personality test results. My people styles personality test (which we use at work) has shifted from driver to expressive. My Meyers-Briggs has shifted from ENTJ (Field Marshal) to ENFJ (Mentor).

Personality Type
People Styles Quadrants

Meyers Briggs Wheel
Meyers-Briggs Wheel

Has anyone else had this happen, either to themselves or those around them? Or do you believe that once we are formed, our personalities are set for life?

Posted on Sunday, October 31st, 2010 by Jeri
Under: grief, inspiration | 4 Comments »

Adulthood is Overrated

What does being an adult mean to you? And does the word have positive or negative connotations?

After an interesting twitter discussion, hot chick Janiece wrote about her take on the mythical adult; here’s mine.

I have always felt *old*. Controlled. Humdrum. Intense. Stressed. A bit melancholy. I’ve never been particularly good at relaxing, playing, letting go. Since I have been very young, I’ve tried to be the caretaker and the adult to those around me. The whole adult thing comes very easily to me, it’s acknowledging that life can be enjoyed that is a little tougher.

Certainly there are moments where I suddenly feel disoriented and think, whoa, wait — I’m just a kid playing house, how did I end up with my own grown kids?

Still, my life has mostly been a string of sobering moments that have made me painfully aware of my adulthood, my level of responsibility.

  • At 15, I vividly recall helping my drunk father to bed, driving my migraine-stricken mother to the emergency room, and waiting up for my sister to return home from a school dance.

  • At 25 I gave birth to my first son. My husband at the time slept through my labor and delivery and I realized how alone I’d be. Thank god for my sister and mom who were with me.
  • At 27 my eventually-to-be-ex screwed up our money yet again, leaving us thousands of dollars in the hole, and me pregnant and destitute in a foreign country.
  • At 30 I finally divorced the man, which cost me my faith, and moved halfway across the country with my job. My dad not-so-diplomatically informed me I needed to stop leaning on them emotionally, I was on my own there too, and I cried for hours.
  • At 33 my youngest, at 5, had his worst asthma attack ever and ended up in pediatric ICU. Seeing him walk down the hospital hallway pulling an oxygen canister drove home my responsibility like nothing else.
  • At 35, when he was 70, my father died. My mom, sister and I held each other up as we put his memorial together, and I closed down his consulting business.
  • At 38, when he was 13, I held my eldest son through his first tonic/clonic epileptic seizure, then stood by as paramedics thought he wasn’t going to come back from it. He nearly died, and was not there for a very long time. It terrified me.
  • At 40, when he was 15, I lived through several months of that same son’s violent, bipolar, psychotic break. (Related to previous? Probably.) Supporting a child through mental illness that I could not help and could not cure is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, including the next…
  • At 44, when he was 45, I lost my beloved husband to a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Saying goodbye to his cold, still shell and going on alone to support my family and continue my profession and my life was both a challenge and a comfort.

After those painful, transformative life changes I’m consciously trying to enjoy life more, to value family, friends, community and my own health and sanity. I’ve been an adult for everyone for a very long time, and now I choose to work less, to be less obligated, to be less well-behaved. I’ve kicked my kids out to a college apartment. I’m buying a condo and going to Europe.

I plan to grab onto life with both hands, travel, laugh, love and enjoy the ride.

Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: downshifting, family, grief, inspiration | 4 Comments »

Fortune & the Prepared

I’ve always believed that if you do what you love with all your heart, you will find a way to make a living at it; the universe will provide. Last week, when Paulette and I were shopping (Shoes! Fabric! Wine! Furniture!), we stumbled across a serendipitous story of the universe doing exactly that.

When we walked into the the Gathering Fabric quilt store in Woodinville, we found some really gorgeous fabric neither of us had ever seen before. The designer, Julie Paschkis, had recently spent some time at the store and her story was fascinating.

Paschkis had been an artist and a children’s book illustrator for much of her career when one of the founders of In the Beginning Fabrics, an artisan fabric line, called her out of the blue and asked if she’d ever considered designing fabric.

Her response? “This is the call I’ve been waiting for all my life!” Or something to that effect. If she’d been recounting that response to a publisher, not a fabric store owner, her take on that might have been a bit different. ;) Still, it was a heartening story of creative success.

Fortune favors the prepared. If a gallery or a boutique saw some of my metalsmithing, or a publisher saw a snippet of my writing, and said “I love it, I want more!” I’d be stuck. I am NOT prepared for the universe to drop fortune in my lap right now. Are you?

I think I need to work on that.

Posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 by Jeri
Under: creativity, inspiration, quilting | 3 Comments »