Happy Birthday to Me . . .

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett/dp/1631030035/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405879835&sr=1-7&keywords=denim+%26+diamonds

Lori L. Robinett, author

 

Today is my birthday. I’m not ashamed of my age (47), but I am a bit surprised at it. It’s like I woke up one day several years ago, looked in the mirror and though, damn, when did I get old?

My face is fat, my skin doesn’t have that youthful glow, and my eyes are hooded.

But I have to say, I’m very happy in my skin these days. I’ve started working out (going to 9Round – “get fit, not hit”), drinking more water. I journal more often. Buddhism and mindfulness are part of my daily routine. And my writing is, very slowly, becoming more authentic. The older I get, the less I worry about what people will think.

At one time, I thought my birthday deserved a celebration. Then, 12 years ago, I spent my birthday at my best friend’s visitation after she lost her battle with cancer, so I didn’t even want to acknowledge my birthday. And now? Now, I feel good. I’m in a good place. And am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with pizza, beer and the 2 hour season premiere of The Following.

Finding my Zen: The Cause of Suffering

In Buddhism, the Second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering. Take a moment to look over the past year, and consider those times that you suffered. Before you can do anything to improve your situation, you have to identify the root cause.

As I look over 2014, there were some very difficult times. We had to have our yellow lab, Shelby, put down. It was difficult to make that trip, even though I knew she was suffering. Shortly thereafter, we had to make that same trip with our Miniature Schnauzer, Sasha. That nearly broke my heart, even though she was hurting so badly she bit me when I tried to hold her. Later in the year, my father-in-law passed away. Shortly thereafter, I suffered from a (mild, thank goodness) Lupus flare. Finally, we ended the year with my daughter in the hospital for an unexpected surgery – her shunt broke in her neck.

The research I’ve done about this Second Noble Truth talks about the attachment to desire being the root of suffering. Perhaps it is. I was very attached to my dogs (Sasha, in particular). Losing family members (pets included) is a physical attachment, an attachment to the physical form of the individual. I desired to hold them, keep them, have them with me. Health is the same way. Of course we want health. Once we see sickness, illness, etc. for what it is – a temporary situation – we can get past the suffering. When my mouth and throat hurt so bad in December from the ulcers that I was unable to eat or drink, I FELT like I was suffering. Honestly, though, I’ve been doing so much reading and thinking about awareness and mindfulness, I was able to recognize the temporary situation for what it was. It hurt AT THAT MOMENT, but I told myself it would get better. The same thing happened when my daughter had surgery. Of course, I was worried sick about her, but I was also able to recognize that her hospital stay, her pain, and the interruption of life was temporary. We could get through it. We WOULD get through it.

Oddly enough, I think that is what helped us get through her birth (she was born at 28 weeks, and has had many surgeries). My husband and I simply dealt with the things we had to deal with. We lived in the moment, and appreciated each small victory. We didn’t allow ourselves to wallow in misery. In hindsight, I think we saw those very bad times as temporary.

I’m not an expert on Buddhism, by any means, but I do find the philosophy interesting to study, and it has helped me deal with situations that, at times, I wondered if I could survive.

What do you think the Second Noble Truth means? What experiences have you suffered through, and what helps you get through those times?

And if you find yourself suffering through a down time, read a book. It helps distract the mind. Same goes for those you come in contact with who are suffering. Offer them something to distract them, and help them get through the temporary setback. Of course, I recommend Denim & Diamonds, because it’s a sweet, light read. 🙂

Finding my Zen: Suffering

As I’ve mentioned before, I began exploring Buddhism after my therapist suggested I look into Mindfulness as a way to deal with the stress of the Empty Nest. To my surprise, I found a philosophy of life that resonated with me.

The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering.

Lost . . .

Lost . . .

Personally, simply noting that fact was a huge step in the right direction. I made this Truth my own by recognizing that suffering is a natural part of existence. We come into the world screaming (being born can’t be that pleasant – good thing we don’t remember it!) and it ends in death. All around us there is sickness, injury, poverty and depression. Instead of wallowing in that and focusing on the negative, I recognize that it is. Instead of fretting and worrying about the existence of suffering, I see life with a realistic view and can then focus on action and do something about it. Though my goal is happiness, I know that there is suffering. It is not something to dread. When I have a bad night, when the tears just won’t stop, I accept that suffering without judgment and move forward, ready to tackle the day without trying to analyze the feelings of the night before.

Acceptance is the first step. Then we can move forward.

 

 

 

Finding my Zen: Breathe

Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while know that the past year and a half has been extremely trying for me. At one of my lowest points last summer, I visited a therapist on the advice of my family doctor. The therapist encouraged me to explore Mindfulness, and to consider taking a class.

Although I didn’t take a class, I did explore. Several quotes over the years from my sister-in-law about Buddhism resonated with me, so I began reading. Two sites were especially helpful, Zen Habits and Tiny Buddha. There were days I did not know how I could possibly continue, and that’s when I turned to Zen Habits and started with the basics: a simple post called “Breathe.” That staple helped me get through the rough points. When tears threatened or when I felt the weight of the world upon my shoulders, I could breathe. Couldn’t do much else, sometimes.

I know the holidays are often very difficult for people. There are times it seems that happiness is all around you, and you feel like an island of pain and suffering and doubt. Even in those moments, you can breathe. If you are having a difficult time, take a moment to read that simple blog post and DO it.

Trust me. You are stronger than you think.

 

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today.

Those of you who follow my blog know that 2013 was a very difficult year for me. I began the year on top of the world, excited for my daughter who was about to graduate high school and embark on the excitement of life as a college student. My excitement was cut short when she ran away, moved in with her boyfriend, and decided not to go to college.

What does that have to do with living today?

Everything.

See, my world crashed around me that Thursday night she didn’t come home. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Everything around me seemed surreal. My blood thudded in my ears so loudly I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t stop crying. How could I possibly go on?

THAT is what living today is all about. Learning to survive. Everyone goes through horrible experiences at one time or another. We had already been through bad times, my husband and I, when our baby was born extremely prematurely. We didn’t know if she would make it. We didn’t know how we would go on if she didn’t. But I put one foot in front of the other. I went through the motions – forcing myself out of bed when the alarm went off, driving to work in a daze, eating because I had to. And when she left home, I found myself going through the motions again. My therapist suggested mindfulness training, so I explored and found great comfort in the words of Buddha and various Zen blogs. The one that made the most sense to me was on ZenHabits, simply entitled Breathe. I can do that, I thought. Tiny Buddha also helped a lot.

And I could. I turned my focus inward, pictured the cleansing oxygen coursing through my body, the dark hurt being exhaled with every breath. My world began to open again. My husband and I found ourselves getting to know each other again, learning to live as a couple – and learning to enjoy life and all the blessings that we have.

Stop. Right now – stop. Close your eyes and focus on the act of breathing. Know that in this moment, this brief blip of time, you’re okay.

Live your life to the fullest each and every day. Find something that brings you joy. Let go of the hurt. Release the anger. No regrets. No looking forward. No dreading the future. No waiting for tomorrow. Simply live.

Live today.

Namaste, my friends.

NOTE: If you like reading this blog, please take a moment to check out my Etsy shop. You’ll get something for your money and will help keep this site going and growing. Thanks!

Mindfulness

Callaway County Sunrise

Callaway County Sunrise

As 2013 draws to a close, I think back to what was easily one of the most difficult years I’ve ever experienced. It went from a top-of-the-mountain high to a deepest-depths-of-the-ocean low. The year dawned with hope and excitement. My daughter was in her senior year of high school, and was showered with scholarships, awards and good wishes. I was so proud of her, so excited for her. Four days after the party we threw her to celebrate her high school graduation, she left. No explanation. Horrible accusations. The pain I felt was beyond what I ever imagined, and I seriously wondered if I would survive. It seemed a hurt that deep would leave wounds that could never heal.

But they are healing. I saw a therapist, I journaled, I researched, I sought answers. Most importantly, I ALLOWED myself to begin healing. The most helpful thing for me has been MINDFULNESS. If you are dealing with a difficult situation, try this:

  • Breathe. That’s right. Breathe. In. Out. Feel the cleansing air come in through your nostrils and let it fill your lungs. Breathe out, expelling darkness and hurt. Breathe in healing, and breathe out hurt.
  • Be. Just be. Allow yourself to sit quietly. Let your mind flow where it will. Listen to your surroundings. Feel your heartbeat.
  • No expectations. Recognize that whatever you are feeling is valid, but recognize that what you are feeling is just that . . . what YOU are feeling. If you release your expectations of others, and focus instead on what you are feeling, you will begin to heal. The only thing you can control is your reaction to others. (that was my mantra for the holidays “no expectations” – and I ended up having a wonderful holiday season)

Take a moment to look back over 2013, the good and the bad. As you enter 2014, live each moment fully and completely. Appreciate it.

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” Dalai Lama