40 Days of Good News: Epilogue

croci 2

Photo by Tricia Griffith

I spent the last few weeks trying to adjust my focus a bit. The constant barrage of violence, suffering, and hateful politics had kind of reached a point for me where my already elevated stress levels were reaching overload. I needed some good news, and maybe a lot of it.

The arrival of the Christian season of Lent was my inspiration for 40 Days of Good News. Instead of giving up chocolate (inconceivable!!) or something like that for 40 days, I just wanted to dial back how much I looked at the news and went on an angry tirade or felt horror or despair. I wanted to know – despite the media barrage of bad news – good things were still happening in the world.

Good things are still happening in the world, though it might be kind of hard to tell. While it wasn’t impossible, I found it depressingly difficult to find the kind of good news I was looking for. I wanted to go beyond the light, cheery news of dogs getting reunited with their humans and cats having cool jobs. Yes, I did find one cat with a cool job. I also shared a fair amount of news about animals and nature because those are things that make me happy.

What was I looking for in terms of good news? I was looking for stories of people making a positive differences to each other and our planet. I was looking for signs that Earth isn’t hurtling towards mass destruction. I was searching for people who care about something. I wanted to get past racism, hatred, violence and pain. In addition, I added in a few things that maybe help readers find a little bit of hope and peace of their own, whether it’s good news around chocolate, meditation, or massage.

The ugly didn’t stop during these 40 days, of course. I didn’t stop watching the news or reading things that made me angry. Trying to live a positive life doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be wine and roses. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there living hateful, angry lives that are bound to bump into yours on a regular basis. All we can do is look for the positive in a situation or look somewhere else, and do what we can to spread hope, peace, change, and maybe a little education along the way.

May you continue to find even just a little good news each day …

Love & Light ~ Tricia



Look in Your Mirror

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.  ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420

IMG_0925One of the things that always makes me laugh/cry/shake my head/shake my fist/make plans to leave the planet is people who angrily, and all too often violently, berate, belittle, and judge others for their life decisions when they CLEARLY have not got their own shit together.  Forget just the simple idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. How about checking what’s stuck on the bottom of your own?

Angry fist shaking aside, you even need to be cruel or self-righteous to find yourself making judgments on how people live their lives. Even the most kind hearted of us are prone to occasionally making uniformed judgments of people, or trying hard to change someone we are certain needs our help.

If there is something about someone in your life you are desperately trying to change, stop and ask yourself if perhaps they are where they are because that is simply where their path has led them at this point in their life. Then, take a moment and ask yourself if something about that person’s situation resonates with you because of something you need to change about yourself.

We find it significantly easier to poke and prod at someone else, and sigh because they aren’t making the changes you expect them to make, than to poke and sigh at ourselves for not making the changes we’d like to make. The problem with that is, the result is usually a worn out and disillusioned you.

So, if you’re feeling irritated with the Picture 240people around you, or trying to make them behave differently, take some time to ask yourself if what is bothering you is really how it reflects something about yourself that you need to work on. It doesn’t have to be an exact mirror, but maybe something similar, a certain impatience, anger or intolerance in some situations that you see reflected back at you.

To quote Michael Jackson:

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make The Change

Red heart

[Recommended Reading]: Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

During his junior year at the University of California, Dan Millman first stumbled upon his mentor (nicknamed Socrates) at an all-night gas station. At the time, Millman hoped to become a world-champion gymnast. “To survive the lessons ahead, you’re going to need far more energy than ever before,” Socrates warned him that night. “You must cleanse your body of tension, free your mind of stagnant knowledge, and open your heart to the energy of true emotion.”

In Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives The lessons of Socrates help Dan drop his preconceived notions and begin to discover the value of “being conscious over being smart, and strength in spirit over strength in body.” It is an inspiring story of growth, courage and rebirth and promising to give you a lot of food for thought on how you life your own life.

[Recommended Reading]: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is appealing on many levels. First of all, it’s about a seagull, and the animal lover in me loves a good animal story. It is a also a short, simple story that speaks volumes about being yourself, exploring who you are and reaching for greater heights.

Jonathan breaks the rules of his society, exploring more and more daring flight, experiencing the joys of flying and following his heart despite being told that this is not what “normal” seagulls do.

This book is for anyone daring to follow their heart, whether it be spiritually, creatively or otherwise.

[Recommended Reading]: Life Was Never Meant To Be A Struggle by Stewart Wilde

My schedule the last few weeks has been kind of insane and I of course feel bad that I haven’t really had the time to contribute a nice blog post. So, I thought I would start adding some of my favorite books to the blog, to give you something thoughtful and enlightening to read when I am not being so myself. 🙂

"Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle" is one of those books I love to go back to every now and then. It’s a nice book that helps you identify the causes of struggle in your life and how you can get past them and learn to live life more “in the flow”. A really good reminder for those of us who tend to get caught up in the rush and struggle of life, and need to remember to stop and take a moment to reset ourselves and stop struggling and trying and just “do” and “be”.

Time to Fly

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them… and they flew.” ~Guillaume Apollinaire

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

FlightHere’s a mini post to get you asking yourself, is there a little something that you’ve always wanted to do, but have been afraid to try? Consider this your little push off the edge. Spring is in the air, and it’s a perfect time to try something new.

Have you considered changing your job or learning a new skill? Even if you can’t make a giant life change, take a couple of baby steps towards that cliff in the form of a college class. Sign up for a painting class or a music lesson, look for a group that shares the same interest.

When we build up a fear of failing at something, we also build up the consequences of failure. Most of the time the consequence might just be a little embarrassment, but somewhere in the back of our mind, we create visions of horrible death or dismemberment.

Our overactive imaginations can be our greatest gift and our biggest pitfall. Now it’s time to use your imagination to find your wings and step off the edge!

Mind Your Own Business?

Sandhenge - Tricia GriffithThis is something that I have personally struggled with a few times in life. When do you cross that line in the sand between minding your own business and speaking up? Speaking up on behalf of others, speaking up for yourself, knowing when to keep your mouth shut and when something needs to be said.

Are we all too well schooled in that “mind your own business” adage? I just finished watching a short video on Upworthy.com that made me think about this subject. A hidden camera show tests out the question “What Would You Do?”, and in this case, the video was testing how people respond to a gay couple with children being harassed by a waitress. You can watch the video here.

One of the people who didn’t speak up casually commented that it was none of her business. It led me to think about how many times you hear about people who are mentally abused, beaten, bullied or otherwise mistreated, and something terrible happens. People comment that the signs were there, but they didn’t think it was any of their business; they didn’t want to get involved.

Where does the line of social privacy end and social responsibility begin?

Misty Tree - Tricia GriffithMany years ago, the couple who lived upstairs from us would have serious fights. And I mean, knock-down, drag-out screaming matches. We would struggle with, okay, it’s their business, they’re fighting. But, when they’re shouting loud enough for the rest of us to hear, it can’t help but start to become our business. Then, they start throwing things and you hear things breaking, and you kind of start to reach out beyond that line of minding your own business to thinking, what if one of them ends up dead and I did nothing?

We called the authorities when things started breaking. We didn’t know the neighbors other than in passing, but they had a pretty good idea who called and were less than thrilled with us. Still, I think that having them hate us was better than having something horrible happen.

For many of us, we don’t think twice about calling in animal neglect or abuse, but we get more nervous when it comes to people. Are we afraid of what happens when we intervene on a human’s behalf? Is it fear of confrontation? Do we really think that someone being publically discriminated against or privately abused is not our business?

Forget-me-nots - Tricia GriffithEven if you can’t quite bring yourself to publically call out someone being discriminatory or abusive, perhaps you should look into other ways to do it. Being an introvert myself, I’m not sure how quickly I would be willing to stand up and defend someone in a public place, it probably depends upon the situation. After watching that video, I think I might be more inclined to do so.

However, if you worry that confronting someone publically is out of your comfort zone or maybe even dangerous, you can still take steps to make a difference. Speak privately to someone in charge. Write a letter to the editor. Call the police, call protective services, just call someone.

Sometimes you just need to speak up.

Six Right Livelihood Guidelines

Water Lily - Tricia GriffithI stumbled upon this on the internet today (quite literally, I was using StumbleUpon) and I appreciated its message, so I thought I’d share it with you. With a bit of digging around, the primary source for this content seems to come from this University of Pennsylvania link. I am not sure what the original source is beyond that.

Consume mindfully.
  • Eat with awareness and gratitude.
  • Pause before buying and see if breathing is enough.
  • Pay attention to the effects of media you consume.
Pause. Breathe. Listen.
  • When you feel compelled to speak in a meeting or conversation, pause.
  • Breathe before entering your home, place of work, or school.
  • Listen to the people you encounter. They are Buddhas.
Practice gratitude.
  • Notice what you have
  • Be equally grateful for opportunities and challenges.
  • Share joy, not negativity.
Cultivate compassion and loving kindness.
  • Notice where help is needed and be quick to help
  • Consider others’ perspectives deeply.
  • Work for peace at many levels.
Discover wisdom
  • Cultivate your "don’t know" mind (= curiosity).
  • Find connections between Buddhist teachings and your life.
  • Be open to what arises in every moment.
Accept constant change.

Forgive Thyself

Tough Love - Tricia GriffithWe all beat ourselves up over one bad decision or another, but I also am inclined to think that those of us who are very empathic, emotionally and spiritual sensitive, and who have put a great deal of effort into being an overall more self-aware and kind human being, tend to be the hardest on ourselves. We agonize over the wrong choice of words, the inadvertent hurt feelings we caused, the bad decision we made.

The trick is, we’re all human beings, and the trick of being a human being is that we are all far from perfect. That bad move you made does not make you a terrible person. In fact, the very idea that you feel remorseful about it makes you a good person.

Cherub - Tricia GriffithWe lose our tempers, we make hasty decisions, we hurt people without thinking about it, but having the conscience to realize it was a dumb move doesn’t mean you have to flog yourself daily about it. If possible, you make your apologies to the parties involved, you learn from your mistake and you move on.

Many of us sit on this guilt and let it fester. Well, I’m here to say, stop all that festering! Everything we do in life becomes a series of learning experiences. If you choose not to learn from all of those experiences, good and ugly, then you are probably living under a rock and really need to come out look around at the sun.

This doesn’t mean that you need to hunt down every person you’ve wronged or every dumb decision you’ve made and make it all better. It means you need to ask yourself, what did I learn there? Am I smarter now because of it, and perhaps will think before doing the same thing again? Great! You’ve evolved!

Now, you have to forgive yourself. Even if every person you know came to you and said, you’re forgiven, we know you didn’t mean anything bad, or we know you know that was a bad move, ultimately, that doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t forgive yourself for being imperfect. Let go, stop beating yourself up.

Selkirk Sunset - Tricia GriffithIt can be as simple as quietly contemplating the situation and saying to yourself, “I forgive you.” It can be more involved and ritualistic if you need it to be, write a journal page about it and end it with “I forgive you.” Go to your favorite spot in nature, hug a tree, and say, “I forgive you.”

How you do it is not important, what’s important is that you simply forgive yourself.

A Little Inspiration

Curled Leaf - Tricia GriffithI have been feeling a bit agitated  for having too many projects (i.e. not managing my time very well) and not giving myself enough time to write posts for this blog, which is one of my favorite things to do. I was thinking about it this weekend, and I realized that one of the things that I’m doing is setting some pretty high expectations for myself.

We all do it. I think there’s a tendency to think that until we can do something 110%, we might as well not do it at all, and so then of course a lot of potentially great things never get done. With Spiritual Tea, for instance, I keep thinking I need to have just the right topic, and it needs to be a good essay length, and then of course once I pick a subject, I might need to research it, and who has time for that?? And on and on…

Kripalu Sundial - Tricia GriffithSometimes we need to stop waiting until we feel like we can do something perfectly, and just do it. Perfection is a pretty elusive thing, and by not doing anything at all, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to learn from the imperfections. This means, writing that blog post, painting, creating, or expressing yourself in any way.

It can also be the reason we don’t try new things. There’s that feeling that we’ll be embarrassed because we’re not very good at it yet, and people will laugh at your mistakes, and learning curves are painful. But in reality, if you find the right person or people to learn from, they have all been where you are, and they will support and encourage, pick you up when you fall down, and share their own stories of failures and successes with you.

Gentle Wave - Tricia GriffithSo, as you can see, what I thought was just going to be a very short blog post to say how I had figured out what I would do to write more often has actually turned into a pretty lengthy one, with some surprising insights that popped into my head once I started typing. And that just came from idea that I would just write more frequently, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, a word of the day, or a little inspiration, and not wait for perfection.

I hope that you take my example and follow your own bit of inspiration today.

Previous Older Entries