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Monday, May 7, 2018

ANY of those things that trouble and straighten thee, it is in thy power to cut off, as wholly depending from mere conceit and opinion, and then thou shalt have room enough. - 
MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 3.

If we can control how we perceive troubles in our lives, we often find that they are not quite so troublesome. A change of outlook can often act like a virtual room cleansing of our spirit and attitude.

Life is what it is and there are circumstances that are beyond our control to stop but we can change our perception of them and find serenity.

Work has been extremely busy lately.  I have often been coming home and working into the evenings and also spending time on the weekends to try to "catch up".  It is easy to feel overcome and over run when life gets so busy, but, I find if I can take even 30 minutes to decompress, find a patch of sunshine or some bracing breeze, often like cobwebs being swept out of the house on a spring day, we can clear our mind.  I am blessed in that I love what I do and feel like I am making a difference in the world on a daily basis in my employment. 

It is my choice as to how and when I address each task/responsibility.  This is in my control.  Time to make a list of everything and prioritize my time!

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Back at my Post

Recently I have been going through a lot of changes in my life.  Life has dealt some major cards and all at the same time.  I experienced recognition in my career, receiving a double promotion, and also received devastating news of loss and sadness.  My 25 year old niece, Kyra, had been found dead.  It looked like a suicide but there was no note or any explanation.

One of these changes, my promotion, was a result of the continued efforts and dedication that I had shown at work.  I was left to wonder if I had played any part in the sudden loss of Kyra, also.  I went through some of the inevitable questions that are left for the survivors of a loss like this.  Could I have done anything differently that might have changed this outcome?  I did have a difference to temper these thoughts though. My Stoic learning over the years kept telling me that the only one ultimately responsible for this act that ended such a bright light was Kyra, herself. 

I lived my life with Kyra as I live my life with everyone who is important to me, never leave them without them knowing how much you love them and that they matter.  I will never make sense or know exactly what happened in Kyra's mind to cause her to take this action, but I have no guilt over my relationship with her.  I will not allow the ending action of her life to take away all of the wonderful moments and memories that I have with her.  The present and future are now places that no longer have Kyra in them but the light of her memory will continue to shine.


Monday, May 22, 2017

VIII. ON THE PHILOSOPHER'S SECLUSION

 ”Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life – that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health. ... And reflect that nothing except the soul is worthy of wonder; for to the soul, if it be great, naught is great.” Seneca, Moral Letter to Lucilius, VIII

With this reading I am reminded of the concept of "self-care", that we should take care of ourselves in order to be able to care for others.  Over the years the habit of putting myself last has taken over, not a practice that was forced on me but one that came as a result of habit.  The years of mothering, working outside of the home and the "tyranny of the urgent and most strident need" have taken their toll on the good habit of self-care.

Even though I no longer have children home or even any pets demanding care, I still have to convince myself that it is okay to take time to pamper, or do anything for my own self-benefit.  I think this is not just a female affliction but is a side effect of anyone who has had to make others a priority over the years.  We have a list of to dos and priorities, and, more often than not, self-care is the principle that takes the largest hit.

Now that I am an "empty nester" I struggle with being able to take the time for self-care and constantly have to remind myself that I cannot give to my husband, family or employer if I don't take the time to nourish myself first.  Nourish, not only physically but also intellectually and spiritually, with taking time for reading, studying, listening to music and also relaxation.

In our society we are presented with two examples of the "good life", one is so lazily self-indulgent and the other one is so filled with business for others.  I need to find balance somewhere in the middle of both of these "good lives", nourishing my body but never neglecting to nourish my mind and soul with knowledge, wisdom and beauty.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Crowds

"10 In order, however, that I may not today have learned exclusively for myself, I shall share with you three excellent sayings, of the same general purport, which have come to my attention. This letter will give you one of a The remark is addressed to the brutalized spectators. 15 them as payment of my debt; the other two you may accept as a contribution in advance. Democritusa says: “One man means as much to me as a multitude, and a multitude only as much as one man.” 11 The following also was nobly spoken by someone or other, for it is doubtful who the author was; they asked him what was the object of all this study applied to an art that would reach but very few. He replied: “I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all.” The third saying – and a noteworthy one, too – is by Epicurus, written to one of the partners of his studies: “I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.” 12 Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand? Your good qualities should face inwards."Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, V11: On Crowds

I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.  I am struck with how much the exhibitions of Rome remind me of our modern society.  The pursuit of the latest and greatest TV show becomes the "sport of the day".  The need for crowds of people to be submerged in due to the fear of being alone with oneself.

After a day out in society I retreat to my oasis of calm, my home. I am somewhat lost for words this morning.  I will write some more this evening when I return back to my oasis.  I am reminded of yesterday's reading, the need to share joy, wisdom, etc. and I am reminded of the need for balance.  I must balance both of these letters and see what meaning I derive from them.

I am back in my pleasant living room and I think I have wrestled the two of these letters beside each other.  Once again I am left with balance, balance is the key in all things.  I will continue to teach what I have learned, write in my blog and offer workshops when the opportunity arises.  I will try to ensure that I only choose the best sorts of past times, avoiding the crass and violent that is prevalent in our society.

Monday, January 11, 2016

VI. On Sharing Knowledge

"You cannot conceive what distinct progress I notice that each day brings to me. 4 And when you say: “Give me also a share in these gifts which you have found so helpful,” I reply that I am anxious to heap all these privileges upon you, and that I am glad to learn in order that I may teach. Nothing will ever please me, no matter how excellent or beneficial, if I must retain the knowledge of it to myself. And if wisdom were given me under the express condition that it must be kept hidden and not uttered, I should refuse it. No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it." - Seneca, Moral Letter to Lucilius, Book VI

On reading today's letter I was first greeted by my favourite quote from Seneca, "I feel, my dear Lucilius, that I am being not only reformed, but transformed."  This was my whole reason for studying Stoicism when I started.  That in the studying my life would be transformed.  In studying and then applying/living my lessons from Stoicism my life is being transformed on a daily basis.

Friends would see the difference in me, in my relationship with Michel, etc. and ask what made the difference.  This is how Stoic workshops were born, thestoiclife.org website and our little corner of the internet, The Foundations of Stoic Practice.  The knowledge and peace, not to mention contentment, that I experienced in embracing the Stoic way of life had to be shared.  Good friends asked our "secret" and I would be mean spirited not to share in any way that I could the wealth that I have discovered.  I continue to learn daily and share my thoughts and learnings through this blog, Musings of a Stoic Woman.  The pearls of wisdom that I uncover daily must not be selfishly hidden, sequestered away in my mind so that only I reap any benefit from them.

Wisdom is much like love in that it flourishes and blooms in the light of fellowship.  The act of sharing wisdom deepens its effect on the world around it.  I see following and teaching the Stoic pathway in Life akin to a calling.  A calling to live my life to Virtues' standard, steadily perfecting my faults, washing away the debris through study and conversation. Wisdom not shared is like a life lived in secret.  Truth cannot flourish in the dark.

Friday, January 8, 2016

On focusing on the future

"Just as the same chain fastens the prisoner and the soldier who guards him, so hope and fear, dissimilar as they are, keep step together; fear follows hope. 8 I am not surprised that they
proceed in this way; each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future. But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. 9 Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched. "  Seneca - Moral Letters to Lucilius, Book 1, V. ON THE PHILOSOPHER'S MEAN

This reading had a number of great points reminding us to Live According to Nature, that wealth doesn't make us less or more of a philosopher, etc.  As I was reading I was struck once again that we are reminded to live in the moment.  To not spend so much time dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future that we are of no use in the present.  To truly be present in our lives without regret from the past or worry about the future allows us to be fruitful in the now.

It doesn't matter if I have the perfect plan set up for my future in the absolute best dwelling, etc. if I am not consciously living in the present life that I have.  Maybe it is because I am living through the empty nest syndrome and I am in my 50th year that I find myself dwelling on "what now?" and "what about retirement?".  I know that it is prudent to have a plan for the future with resources to fall back on but, if that planning becomes the main thing in my mind and the present is slipping away without notice, there is a lack of balance.  The prudent thing is to set in motion plans and resources for the future without the future being the moments that we are living for.  We need to take a step back and remember to live each moment that we are in now.  We need to enable ourselves to bloom where we are planted at this moment.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oh the Good Life...

"No man has ever been so far advanced by Fortune that she did not threaten him as greatly as she had previously indulged him. Do not trust her seeming calm; in a moment the sea is moved to its depths. The very day the ships have made a brave show in the games, they are engulfed. 8 Reflect that a highwayman or an enemy may cut your throat; and, though he is not your master, every slave wields the power of life and death over you. Therefore I declare to you: he is lord of your life that scorns his own. Think of those who have perished through plots in their own home, slain either openly or by guile; you will that just as many have been killed by angry slaves as by angry kings. What matter, therefore, how powerful he be whom you fear, when every one possesses the power which inspires your fear? ...Why do you voluntarily deceive yourself and require to be told now for the first time what fate it is that you have long been labouring under? Take my word for it: since the day you were born you are being led thither. We must ponder this thought, and thoughts of the like nature, if we desire to be calm as we await that last hour, the fear of which makes all previous hours uneasy.
10 But I must end my letter. Let me share with you the saying which pleased me today. It, too, is culled from another man's Garden: c “Poverty brought into conformity with the law of nature, is great wealth.” Do you know what limits that law of nature ordains for us? Merely to avert hunger, thirst, and cold. In order to banish hunger and thirst, it is not necessary for you to pay court at the doors of the purse-proud, or to submit to the stern frown, or to the kindness that humiliates; nor is it necessary for you to scour the seas, or go campaigning; nature's needs are easily provided and ready to hand. 11 It is the superfluous things for which men sweat, – the superfluous things that wear our togas threadbare, that force us to grow old in camp, that dash us upon foreign shores. That which is enough is ready to our hands. He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich. " - Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, Book 1, IV: On the Terrors of Death

This was a rich reading this morning but the phrase that struck me the most is the last statement, "He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich." Once again I am struck by the lie that we are sold by society, "the good life".  Our entertainment industry sells us this life, our advertising, our government, even our educational institutions are based on a foundation of preparing us for this "good life".  Our world is unbalanced by this constant striving that is not in Nature's balance.  Gone is the achievable goal of having enough, supporting our lives with enough food, shelter and comforts to sustain our life.  Instead the western world is made up of individuals trying to "better" themselves, striving to climb up the corporate ladder for more income, status in society, and commodities.

If we like Thoreau would focus on living closer to the Nature that we are part of, seeking to live in balance, to have "enough" without tipping the scales to excess, what would the impact be to the world around us? Would we have more of an ecological focus? Would the global community be battling global warming and the other environmental catastrophes that are beginning to rock our infrustructure?

Maybe it will take a number of people just saying "Enough!" to finally start to turn the tide?

I think that Enough is defined differently for everyone.  I am going to examine what is Enough and just what is superfluous in my own life.  I am going to continue to strive for the wealth that is found in the balance of an examined life that is well lived.