Just Keep Nodding

I use humor as an escape 90 percent of the time, so I promise to keep up with the snark when I can. However, I was overwhelmed by the response/support from this post and and want to keep myself accountable.

But truth be told—as it should be, unless I ask you to pretend I don’t look like a homeless person, in which case I need you to lie—I hesitate to publish these serious things. Does  anyone care other than me?

I have no idea. However, I need to get past worrying about that, so you’ll be getting more of these posts once in awhile. I’ll need you to pretend that’s okay.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.

I’ve made it my mission to read out of my meditation book for a minimum of 15 minutes each day and write at least one or two lines—sometimes quite a bit more—about the things that I’ve read and how I can apply them to now.

Well, life keeps throwing shit snowballs—things I never discuss on this blog—and this “mindful” mission feels more like a mindfu#* at times. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to truly be balanced and live my authentic life, I have two choices:

  1. Move to a remote island (with Internet access and a full vegan chef) to practice yoga and meditation with Buddhist monks and hot retired Canadian hockey players or
  2. Become a hermit and tell the universe to go screw itself.

Okay. Maybe there’s a third option.

I can’t afford the airfare to the island or live off the few green beans left in my garden, so I’m left trying to deal with real life in a way that isn’t quite so self-destructive — something that has been my default for the past decade in some way, shape or form.

I’m still struggling with the fact that even though I can let go of what doesn’t serve me, accept what’s out of my control and try to mindfully move through the occasional muck, that doesn’t change the fact that these things still go on.

Being “mindful” simply means I’m paying attention, and sometimes that feels worse than ignoring said frustrations and/or literally running myself into the ground.

So, second conclusion: it’s more than just “paying attention.”

We’re not meant to be so reactive, always anxiously on the edge of our seats waiting to see how we can control the outcome of whatever it is we feel is out of control. We’re meant to trust that some how, some way the universe will provide what we need.

Yes, that sounds like a load of shit. I’m fully aware of that. I’m also fully aware that I’m no longer comfortable with the rationalizations and compromises I’ve been making with things. “This” happened, so I feel like I deserve to do “this” or complain about “that.” We all have our own examples.

How has that been working out? Exactly.

So I have to believe that one right action—even if uncomfortable—can have a positive reaction and that a series of interconnected “right” actions can cause things to change. Eventually doing the work and getting through that discomfort will feel better than always avoiding the pain that inevitably returns at some point.

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies, but rather opening your umbrella for shit storms with awareness and a sense of inner peace (why is that never printed on a motivational poster?)

I suppose it’s because good ol’ Buddha makes more sense with, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” He was a bit more eloquent with his words, but tomato to-mah-to.

The point is that each day we try.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

33 responses to “Just Keep Nodding

  1. An umberella in a shitstorm is a great way of putting it, and has helped me more than you can know today. So, cheers! 🙂

  2. I once read in a self-help book: “There is no advance without adversity”.

    I know I’ve probably already shared this quote with you a billion times before, but it really stuck with me.

    I believe that when we are in the process of change, we will naturally encounter situations/emotions/feelings/actions that are uncomfortable, character-testing and downright hardwork. Once we are out and through the other side, no matter how rough it was, (and how long it takes), our spiritual, emotional and self awareness develops and we learn the skills to advance even further.

    I guess it’s a bit like dominoes. Or maybe I’m way off.

    I’m right behind you, friendo – I’ve got your back.


    • Yup. I think my disconnect is between the fact that I can work on my personal things but the outside crap makes it 100 times harder, as it makes me want to revert back to my unhealthy coping mechanisms. It just feels like one step forward, two steps back. However, it’s all about still taking those steps 😉 We can’t control everything, or really, anything.

  3. An umberella in a shit storm sounds pretty useful.though I cling to the soothing powers of tea. What I can tell you, with some confidence, is that I have no useful answers so you might as well keep listening to Buddha. I have no answers but I have a lot of admiration for you and sympathy for your position if that is of any use

    • Have no fear in that I’ll always find a way to wrestle with the bastard umbrella–and tea is my savior as well. Plus, your comments always make me happy, so go you! As for the answers, no one has them all. That’s all part of the process I suppose 😉

  4. make that an extra large umbrella too. Although we can’t always cover up from the sideways Sh*t. LOL.
    But really, we are often HYPER aware of ourselves that mindful becomes quite the opposite.

    I’m with liz, i got your back

  5. Love that analagy…umbrella in a shit storm! Here’s wishing you a large enough umbrella and clearing skies very soon!

  6. Ah, I like that “pain is inevitable but suffering is optional” conclusion. It’s like, all life is is our interpretations of things.

  7. Heck, when you’ve got it figured out write a book. You’ll be rich. I will come to the book signing, tell everyone I know you, then I’ll feel validated. See, we all have our own shit storms except some of us…well, you, are more eloquent about the way in which we…well, you, express it. And I have to agree with the masses, this serious side of you, with a dash of snark is addictive.

    • If by “the masses” you mean my mom, then yes, feel free to agree 😉 My next “serious-ish” post is about exercise and priorities, so I think you might be able to relate.

  8. YES. A great big yes to everything you have said here. I make excuses to be reactionary all of the time. It is really something I have tried to work on. “But the world is such and asshole! I have to be a bitch!” This is not good for anyone.
    I appreciate these posts of yours. They are making me think a lot about my own struggles toward becoming a better person for myself and my child.

  9. People care other than you, because most of us like to know that someone else is struggling along with us – either fighting the same fight, or just experiencing similar road blocks.

    Was just watching a show where someone’s husband gave her an ultimatum about a life decision and she’s upset and someone else tried to just say that she should give him time, he’s just scared… and she countered with saying life is scary “If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention”, and gives examples of things that are actually scary (people joining the army and going off to war, having cancer, that kind of thing) and so yes, be scared, it’s foolish not to be, but don’t use fear as an excuse.

    I recently read a book about essentially choosing to be happy, and it made so much sense to me… and I want to get a copy of it not on my kobo so i can actually flip through the pages and try to apply it more to my life, because it had the basic message that we can choose to take a positive view point about things, and I think that’s what i need to do. You’re right, we all do those rationalizations “this happened, so i’m allowed to this..” and it’s always a slippery slope…. I had a shit on call shift, so I’m going to eat 6 doughnuts. Now I feel like crap from eating those doughnuts, so I’m not going to walk my dog. And so forth and so on. A frivolous example, but still. Something happens and you decide you get to whine and bitch about it, you’re feeding the negativity and you impede your ability to move forward.

    ….though as I type this I am using being on call as an excuse to not do the cleaning that has been on my to do list for 3 days… hmmm….

  10. You’re on a roll, you know that?
    Sending a hug and wet sloppy kisses (way up high on the cheek, just beneath the ear).

  11. I hope you are okay, sweet friend. I’m here if you need a shoulder, or an ear.

    • Thanks, Kitch. I’m really okay, I promise. But we all have peaks and valleys…and really friggen deep ditches full of bat crap and muck 😉 Either way, you deal.

  12. You might benefit from studying a little bit about karma. It might help you understand why things happen the way they do, and what you can do to deal with it. Feel free to email me if you’d like some resources. Best wishes!

  13. So, you’re saying #2 is a *bad* option? Not that it’s in my plans or anything…

  14. what’s wrong with number 2?

    I love my wife and kids,a lot, but I’m such the way I am, that I need time and place away from people. I went to Key West six years ago (that post called Shimmer in the Sand) and found this great shanty. You may run across me there, one day.

  15. This is a great post Abby. Your reflections on mindfulness reflected me back to something I wrote last year: “The sharp point: awareness can be a double-edged sword.” (http://yogiclarebearblog.com/2010/08/31/awareness-from-positive-self-growth-to-destructive-device/) And sometimes I think, is all this mindfulness mumbo jumbo just an excuse to stay in the shit, because I’m to afraid to see what’s out of the hole? But no, mindfulness should be a springboard. And it may take a LONG time for that domino affect of positive change to knock over something tangible. Sometimes it takes too long. Sometimes you shouldn’t wait anymore.

    For me, much of the acceptance is accepting that I can’t get out of the hole on my own. I’m to stuck in the shit. That is where that post eventually brought me. Admission I guess, in a both senses of the word…

    love you abby

  16. “Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies.”
    I like to think that once in a great while it should be about these things. And, we shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying them.
    Having said that, the reality is it’s not that way 99% of the time. I’m glad you’re continuing down this road, working on all of this crap. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled. In fact, we all do!

    • I didn’t mean it shouldn’t be about the good things, as you know I’m all about those moments. I just meant that sometimes we have to adjust our ideal to reality.

      There are only small joys in life. The big ones are to complicated to be joys when you get all through with them. Once you realize this, it takes the pressure off. 😉

  17. I really really like how you ended this. “Everyday we try.” Because that’s really all there is left for us to do our best at. Love.

  18. I agree that being mindful is sometimes harder than just ignoring stuff. So sometimes I digress and just ignore things. Then they catch up with me and I realize dealing with them at the time would’ve been so much easier. I hate my new responsible brain sometimes. I almost had a complete breakdown this past week. I had a Sunday goal to not see another human being, and I didn’t, and that helped.

  19. The Umbrella aint gonna work for where my shit storm comes from if you’ve been reading my blog lately; but I sure wish someone would tell me where I could find those Unicorns and Butterflies. I would love to see them now even if I cannot dance with them..

  20. I really loved this: “Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies, but rather opening your umbrella for shit storms.” I need it on a coffee mug. Can you open an Abby Has Issues gift shoppe?

  21. First, I would like to see that shit-storm umbrella motivational poster. No, seriously.

    Second, I think you’re on to something – even if it’s less touchy-feely than say, the Secret (which, I think, was just about putting positive energy out there and thus, magically, begetting that back). On the one hand, despite my rational, science-y brain being all ok-sure-dude, I agree that you get back what you put out into the world – there will be reactions, even if they take time to manifest. On the other hand, it’s not about simply THINKING or FEELING – it’s about the doing. And that, of course is the key – it’s an ACTION that will beget positive reaction, after all.

  22. Oh I do that a lot – feel sorry for myself, giving myself permission to do things that just make me feel more guilty/worse. It really is the easier option, and I know that, which makes it even worse. Boo.

  23. “Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies, but rather opening your umbrella for shit storms with awareness and a sense of inner peace”

    Abby, that is ABSOLUTELY brilliant.

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