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Monday, December 19, 2011

Living with Reality

The reality of my life is that our sources of monetary gain are rapidly diminishing.  Hubby has been out of work for over two months now with nothing concrete that will start to replace his income.  I have been focusing on getting through the holiday season realistically this year.  I have also started looking for employment outside of the house to increase the income that is coming into our home.  We are so blessed even now compared to a vast majority of the world's population that I have not allowed myself to wallow in "Woe is Me" thinking.  I am sure that my husband doesn't need me to constantly reiterate what the situation is either.

This has certainly be a test of the depth of my Stoic belief system.  Even in this trial by "fire" so to speak the fundamentals of the philosophy and life path remain relevant and positive.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Simple Life

The Stoic reading for this morning was from Epictetus, discussing how difficult it is for a wealthy person to live a virtuous life.  I think if you have spent your life pursuing wealth it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to pursue virtue above all else.  I think people who have inherited wealth, especially if raised that the wealth is a responsibility, can live a virtuous life.  They can look upon their wealth as a gift and responsibility to help their fellow men, using their wealth responsibly for the greater good.

So what does this mean to me?  I was not born into great wealth so that condition of wealth does not apply to me.  What now then?  We have recently had our "circumstances" downgraded somewhat from a six figure household income to double digits in reality.  Although, with both Michel and I looking for outside work now, this is purely a temporary state, we really want to re-evaluate priorities and look at this as an opportunity for change.  How best do we simplify life and take this opportunity to change what needed adjusting or tweeking in our life?  These are the questions that we are dealing with while we are in the process of job searching...  I have included a link to a TED talk that is quite inspiring for me...  an invitation to simplify and streamline our lives in order to find more freedom...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to daily living

Well I am back to "normal" life again after hubby's layoff news, and a cruise with the mom-in-law.  Now to make sense of the new landscape of my life.

"REMEMBER that it is not only the desire of riches and power that makes us mean and subject to others, but even of quiet and leisure, and learning and traveling.  -
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §4. ¶1."

To live in balance is what we are striving for, as noted in the quote above, anything desired above everything else cause unbalance in our lives.  Too much of a good thing is not a good thing but should be avoided.   This balancing act is difficult to accomplish in our modern day lives.  Work/Life balance is a buzz phrase that most time management/efficiency gurus spout frequently.  I think that at the outset though, using that formula, we are out of balance.  Work gets a whole side to itself, Life, which encompasses relationships (partner/spouse, family, friends, etc.), assets, hobbies, enrichment, entertainment has to share the other side.  There really is not much time left for "Life" in this scenario.  I think we need to try to ensure that we enjoy our work if we are going to give so much of our precious time to it.  Once work is done it would be nice to be able to leave it at work and not let it bleed into the rest of our time allotment.  Not many of us in today's society and work environment have the luxury of being able to leave work at work.  I am going to work at achieving more balance in my life so that I can devote more time to hubby, kids and self in order to continually achieve more balance.  This is going to be my main goal this winter, to learn to portion out my time appropriately.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Examined Life is Worth Living...

Today is the birthday of one of my mentors in life, an example of the Stoic Sage in many facets of life, my Father.  William Arthur Lindley was a human being, and although he would say he had faults, I honestly don't remember many.  Some times he could have a bad temper but he would have to be extremely provoked and another person would never feel the brunt of it.  He controlled his temper and ruled it with an iron fist.  Someone who was not as closely connected would never have known that he had poked the fire of dad's ire and come very close to being burned.

Dad was a loyal husband, adored my mother and always referred to her as his best friend and the love of his life, a patient and loving father, and a cherished friend.  His memorial service, after a six month struggle with a brain tumour, was standing room only.  They were actually standing in the hallways of the funeral home in order to hear the service.  I am sure that Dad would have been surprised by the effect his brief life in Canada (26 years) had on so many people.

After being made "redundant" by his firm at the age of 45, Dad decided to sell everything and move half way across the world to Canada.  He had tried to find an equivalent position in England but the economy was in a slump and executive jobs were hard to come by.  When we came to Canada a job offer from Lennox was in the works but Dad, taking one look at the large metropolis of Toronto, came to the decision that it was not an environment that he wanted to raise his girls in.  Dad took the job that was available to him as a janitor on the maintenance staff of Sir Sandford Fleming in order to keep his family in a smaller city with some relatives around them.  Dad often said there was no shame in doing whatever job was necessary in order to pay the bills and put food on the table.  Dad proceeded to make a job for himself at the college working his way up to a position that used his air conditioning/heating engineer skills, becoming the Environmental Engineer for all of the campuses.

Dad treated everyone he met equally no matter their race, creed, or economic circumstances.  Whenever I was nervous about meeting someone important my Dad would say, "They get up in the morning and put their pants on one leg at a time, love.  The same as everyone else."  He taught me to focus on everyone's common humanity rather than status or lack of it.  I learned to always take a breath before reacting in anger and to not hold grudges, "It's all water under the bridge..."  I learned to think carefully before acting on something, "Measure twice, cut once."  I learned to resolve any differences with my loved ones, "Never go to bed angry."  I also learned that material goods, while nice, were not the most important thing in life, "There's no pockets in a shroud."

My Dad was a spiritual seeker who kept an open mind about most things and believed that true spirituality was found in kindness toward your fellow man and all living creatures.  Dad loved nothing more than watching a magnificent sunset, staring at a starry night on a summer evening, and marveling at a flock of geese in flight against a vibrant dawn sky.

My Dad taught me that I was unique, beautiful and most of all that I was loved unconditionally.  I miss my father every day but, with the memories and time that we were blessed to spend together, I have a rich store of experiences to replay on day's like today when I miss him more than usual.

I love you Dad!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not sure what to write...

It's a grey and windy day outside...  I am echoing the weather with my mood today and trying to fight it off.  Having a hard time focusing on much lately...  found out last night that EI is much less than we thought so we will hopefully have a solution or solutions to our financial deficit before the Yuletide season starts.

It is a strange place to be in having not really had any real financial worries in years really.  We are very rich in the most important things though, family, pets and friends.  :)  As long as I have my husband and my children all else is gravy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to it...

Yesterday I didn't write in my blog.  I guess, I was feeling a bit down yesterday and chose to wallow for the day.  I am human and I guess the shock of last week was starting to catch up with me.  The Stoic reading for today was definitely applicable:

FOR, amidst perturbations and griefs and fears, and disappointed desires and incurred aversions, how can there be any entrance for happiness? And, where there are corrupt principles, there must all these things necessarily be.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶6.

When we are disappointed and depressed over what life has handed to us, it is because we put value on the wrong things. We held too much importance in things rather than valuing our character above all else.

This morning I got up, emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher and had breakfast with my hubby and daughter.  Time to start planning for the future, making the best decisions to allow more freedom to adjust and make changes. Life is certainly never boring and the sun is shining!  :)

Today is a day for banking, checking mail, etc. and running some errands.  Tonight we are out for supper with good friends.  :)  All in all a good day ahead of us.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where Do We Go From Here?

Today's Stoic reading reminded me of the necessity to act to change our circumstances, situation, or "world" ourselves.  We are responsible for what we perceive as important in life.  If we are unhappy with our current situation we must do the work in order to change it.  We need to have a Vision and then break that Vision down into manageable Goals that are necessary in order to have the possibility of that Vision.  The Goals are in our control and achievable, the Vision, while out of our control, is the "big picture dream" that we wish to end up with at the end of our Goals.  As my mother-in-law said to my husband when he was growing up,  reach for the moon and at the very least you will end up amongst the stars.

Good words to ponder on a rainy Friday morning.  :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Out of the blue life changes

Life has taken one of those turns that you just don't see coming today.  My husband was laid off after working steadily in his field for 14 years.  Now we take some time and rethink and figure out where we go from here.  He was given a decent severance package so we aren't in immediate need so we can take some time to figure out things.

Our Stoic principles definitely came into play.  This is a situation that is not in our control.  The only thing that is in our control is how we handle this news, where we plot our course to for the future.  As I have frequently said today, "it's all good" and "we have a lot of different options".

Well I am beat and I am heading to bed.  Talk to you all in the morning.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Appearances are not only deceiving but are unimportant

TO live happily is an inward power of the soul, when she is affected with indifference, towards those things that are by their nature indifferent.

Today's reading from Words of the Ancient Wise involved three separate readings all dealing with appearances and how they are indifferents.  Our moral compass must be set on virtues to find its heading, not appearances.  Appearances can be easily changed to make them appear different than the reality of the situation really is.  We can be "photoshopped" to appear thinner, and younger than we actually are.  Humans can also use various techniques, press, lying, etc. to make ourselves appear to be different than we really are.  How many criminals and serial killers have evaded capture by using these techniques.  
Although it is nice to have a good public reputation it is much more important to be able to face ourself in the mirror and know that we have no blemishes or hidden facets in our moral character.  To Thine Own Self Be True is the best adage to live by.  When we fool ourselves and others we are only hurting ourselves and denying ourselves the joy of being completely free.  The joy of loving one's self and accepting who we are is an elusive quality in this complicated world that we live in.  Let's decide what our "best" self looks like and strive to be true to that "best" self in this life.  Building the moral framework and foundation to "be" the best self that we can be.  Someone who is able to greet the world without a mask, able to be truly honest with self and all others.  Honesty is a wonderful goal to take the rest of our lives to achieve. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today's reading was all about finding happiness in life and flourishing.  I had many moments of deep happiness over the weekend visiting my family.  One of my happiest moments was actually visiting my Father and Godmother's memorial sites with my Mum and husband.  It was a perfect, peaceful, autumn Sunday morning.  My mum and I sat for awhile, after having placed some flowers at their sites, and enjoyed the beauty of the day.  Reminiscing about both of them and knowing that they would have loved the weather.  Although  both are deeply missed, their love and lives made a huge impact and they are remembered for the places they both took in our hearts and lives.

I had the opportunity to see a lot of my family this weekend, mother, sisters, brother-in-laws, nephews and nieces.  The family is growing with lots of little ones to carry on for us when we are gone.  The wonder of life was renewed within me.  I have a renewed bounce in my step and a new determination to seize each day and embrace the wonder of life here on earth.

Blessings of harvest to all!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

This weekend is the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  I am heading out for the weekend to visit my mother and sisters and the gang.  We will be back for the Statutory holiday on Monday to have a turkey feast with my own children.  Given the time of year I thought it was only appropriate to write about gratitude, thanksgiving and thankfulness in general.

Today I feel incredibly blessed to have everyone and everything that I have in my life.  I have an amazing husband who continues to surprise me in little ways even after being together over 25 years.  We continue to learn and grow together which is really quite fun and gives life an extra thrill.  I have three outstanding children who are now young adults and making their own marks on the world.  Each one of them are unique and incredible in their own ways and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

I am blessed with having grown up in amazing family with a father and mother who made sure that we knew we were loved every day.  My father died in 2001 but his legacy continues in my heart and in the choices that I make on a day to day basis.  My parents taught me to be strong and independent but to always think of others and act with kindness.  My mother would still give her shirt off of her back to anyone if she knew that they needed it.  This kind of generosity and warmth can be quite rare in our cynical world but I grew up with it on a daily basis.  This nurturing atmosphere definitely helped influence and mold me into the person that I am today.  My sisters, although older than me, have always made it clear that they are proud of me and that family is all that matters, no matter what.  I am blessed, indeed.

I am blessed to have spent the majority of my life in this amazing country called Canada.  This land of far open spaces, wilderness and Victorian influenced cities.  It is a young country when compared to Europe and more eastern countries but it has a warmth and hospitable charm that is hard to find anywhere else on earth.  I live in a city where I am not afraid of my neighbour, there are no shots heard in the night and I have no worries of religious intolerance or being jailed for my beliefs.

Let us all ponder and give thanks in whatever way we feel fitting for all the blessings we have in this life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

What if somewhere is actually where we are?  What if we are wasting so much of our life chasing for a rainbow without seeing the technicolour display in our own life?  The Stoic reading today was again from Epictetus.  The theme of how our fear of death can actually prevent us from living.  Fear is a huge factor in our lives, in my life it has often reared its ugly head to stop me from moving forward.  I battle fear everyday, although most people, except for my husband and children, are unaware of this fact.  I know that I am not unique in this respect, most humans battle fear on a daily basis or have battled it in some form for a long period of time.

I am hearing impaired, was born that way, and it does cause me to lose my way in social situations.  I also experience quite a high level of social anxiety.  I imagine there are a number of contributing factors to my social anxiety but there really is no sense in dwelling on them.  The reality is that I still need to function in this world.  I need to "put myself out there" on a daily basis.  I have my own consulting business that I am able to run from home so I am spared some of the daily contact required in "normal" employment situations.  I have lately become more vocal in my community, opening up my home for workshops on Stoic philosophy and a local community group for seasonal rituals, etc.  I am overcoming my fear and continue to work on this on a daily basis.  I am growing and moving forward because I refuse to allow my social fear to win.

When we allow our fear of death to win, we rob ourselves of many beautiful experiences in life.  We need to accept that, just as a flower blooms for a time and then withers and dies, we too bloom, wither and then die.  We ALL must die.  We have no idea if death is final or if there is another life beyond this one in some form or another.  We can believe, depending on our different religious or spiritual paths, that there is something more, but none of us have ever been shown an incontrovertible proof of life beyond this one.  Rather than being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good let's go out into the world with a renewed purpose.  Let's find our bliss and make a difference with the lifetime that is left to us.  Let us greet each new day as a brand new opportunity to change the world that we live in for the better.  I want that to be my legacy.  When I am no longer on this earth I want those who I knew and loved to know that I loved them and cherished them.

Let's move forward and cherish our lives as gifts from the Universe and make a difference today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Morning Ramblings...

Today I am preoccupied with the world and the state that it is in.  The protests on Wall Street, people rising up against the weatlthy and the priviledged...  I am reminded of France before the revolution.  Situations that are caused by humanity's lack of caring for each other.  It is easy when you are living the "good life" to forget those who you have used and climbed up on to reach the pinnacle of whatever ladder it is you are climbing.  There are those who live at the top of the ladder and live there with principles and caring, doing what they can to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, they are not nearly as vocal as the ones in the one percent that have caused this ninety-nine percent to rise up against them.

I cannot magically change the world to be a just place.  My small contribution is not felt on the streets of New York where people are hurting but I can be felt in my community, in my family, and in my home.  I can create an oasis of calm in a crazy hurting world where all are welcome.  I can grow gardens and help to replenish the earth in my small corner.  I can raise my children with principles and virtues, who in turn will be kinder to others and raise their children with the same principles and virtues.  I can teach a spiritual path that I believe helps us make sense of this world and gives us a beacon to cut through the darkness of confusion and apathy.  In my small way I can make this world a kinder place.

One small grain of sand is the start of a beautiful pearl.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When Death Comes...

 Today's Stoic reading was on facing death, the reality of death, not shying away from the reality that just as a human is born, a human must die.  We are not eternal creatures but mortal.  The fact of our mortality must be embraced and understood if we are to live our life to its fullest.  We need to craft our lives like a work of art; a treasured pot crafted on the potter's wheel, a painting full of colours and shading, subtle nuances that make a primitive craft a work of art.

Crafting our life is the work of a Stoic, living according to Nature and OUR Nature is the way that this work of art can come to see the light.  Reducing our lives to what truly brings us bliss and peace, discarding the excess and living authentically.  This is my quest, my "sacred" charge from the Universe.  To live life fully according to the best of my nature and Nature itself.

When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

I want to be the bride married to amazement and the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.  I want to know that I crafted my life to be something real.  I want to have fully lived and not just visited this world.  Let's all strive to find our bliss, get rid of the affluenza, embrace the Stoic life and live fully in this world of wonder and amazement.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Looking Through Rose Coloured Glasses...

MEN are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. It is the action of an uninstructed person to lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others; of one entering upon instruction to lay the fault on himself; and of one perfectly instructed, neither on others nor on himself.

We need to learn to accept things as they are without colouring them with false circumstances and outcomes.  We all bring our particular biases and predispositions to situations in our life.  We don't actually see the situations for what they are but pile a bunch of baggage left over from past experiences and judgements onto the new situation.  This baggage becomes a lens or filter that we see the world through. We need to try to greet each circumstance as a new experience without automatically ascribing a variety of emotions to it.  We need to rationally analyze each experience or circumstance as a new land with a brand new landscape.  When we prejudge a situation or circumstance irrationally we predispose ourselves to failure, doomed to recreate mistakes from the past.  We also rob ourselves of the possibility of growth as we don't acknowledge the newness of the experience but greet it as a familiar occurrence and relegate it to the mundane and mediocre.

The Stoic practice of recognizing what is "in our control" and "not in our control" can help us eliminate a lot of these filters, allowing us to make new judgements and have new experiences.  I hope to cultivate an ability to analyze each situation as a new situation, making correct decisions without carrying negativity from the past.  Let's all strive to greet each new day as a new canvas rich and ripe for painting new vistas on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Too Shall Pass...

OH, wretched I! to whom this mischance is happened! nay, happy I, to whom this thing being happened, I can continue without grief; neither wounded by that which is present, nor in fear of that which is to come. For as for this, it might have happened unto any man, but any man having such a thing befallen him, could not have continued without grief. Why then should that rather be an unhappiness, than this a happiness? But however, canst thou, O man! term that unhappiness, which is no mischance to the nature of man! Canst thou think that a mischance to the nature of man, which is not contrary to the end and will of his nature? What then hast thou learned is the will of man's nature? Doth that then which hath happened unto thee, hinder thee from being just? or magnanimous? or temperate? or wise? or circumspect? or true? or modest? or free? or from anything else of all those things in the present enjoying and possession whereof the nature of man (as then enjoying all that is proper unto her,) is fully satisfied?


This quote is especially applicable today.  I am in the worst pain that I have felt in about seven months. "OH, wretched I! to whom this mischance is happened!"  Wow, it would be so easy to read this first sentence and just wallow in it.  Justify feeling down and badly done by because my body is totally rebelling against me today.  It is a rainy, cold, damp day and my body is on fire.  On fire to the point that my daughter gently touched my side to warn me she was moving behind me and a shooting flame shot through my body from her touch.  So easy to sink down into the mire of despair today, especially since I have to step out of my comfort zone and lead the discussion night tonight as my husband is away on business.  I would much rather cancel and hibernate in my house until he gets home tomorrow, but I have made a commitment and do not wish to leave my friends who have kindly offered their home for the event to handle the fallout.  I will get on the bus and get to Rideau Street so I can get a ride from a good friend and make sure I have enough money to take a taxi home.

" nay, happy I, to whom this thing being happened, I can continue without grief; neither wounded by that which is present, nor in fear of that which is to come."  Even so, I am happy.  I have so much in my life to be thankful for.  I will greet the day with peace in my heart and be thankful that all the pieces of my body that hurt are there and I can still feel them.  I will focus on the things that I am thankful for and maintain my equilibrium.

My thankful list:

  1. my amazing husband, who is unique and like no other man I know
  2. my incredible adult children, each unique and equally special in their own way
  3. my parents who raised me in such a loving and stable environment
  4. my three sisters who love me unconditionally and their amazing families
  5. my mother-in-law and in-law family who love me like their own blood kin
  6. my multiple friends who love me just the way I am, warts and all
  7. my home, needs renos but has fantastic bones and I am thankful for the roof over my head in this pouring rain today.  :)
  8. my pets, loving furry sources of much comfort
  9. Canada, my adopted country for being a land of freedom and ethical choices (for the most part)
  10. England, my home country for being such a wonderful and magical place to be a young child
  11. and the list goes on...
Let's all remember our "thankful" list and focus on the important things in life today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tilting at Windmills and slaying the Monsters

Today's reading from the Stoic writing was from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.  What a blessing that private diary that was supposed to have been burnt has been in my life.  Today's reading was:

"CAST away from thee opinion, and thou art safe. And what is it that hinders thee from casting of it away? When thou art grieved at anything, hast thou forgotten that all things happen according to the Nature of the Universe; and that him only it concerns, who is in fault; and moreover, that what is now done, is that which from ever hath been done in the world, and will ever be done, and is now done everywhere: how nearly all men are allied one to another by a kindred not of blood, nor of seed, but of the same mind. ... that all things are but opinion; that no man lives properly, but that very instant of time which is now present. And therefore that no man whensoever he dieth can properly be said to lose any more, than an instant of time.


When we remember what is actually in our control and what is not we are able to put our efforts into the things that are in our control to change. Rather than tilting at windmills, we are able to actively craft a life that is in harmony with Nature and our Nature. Most of our frustrations in this life are caused by our inability to determine what we actually do have control over. We spend so much wasted effort trying to change the things that are totally out of our control. If we can let the things that are not in our control go, and focus on the things that are, we will be able to live in the moment.  We will experience many more moments of bliss than if we are constantly battling monsters that we have no control over. 
Imagine if we took all of that energy that we expand trying to change what is not in our control and put it into crafting a life. If we actively work on the things that we can change imagine what a joyful thing the moment and our lives would become.  When we focus on the appropriate things we can craft our life to be the life we have always wanted.  A life that is filled with joy and flourishing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is the goal and how do I get there?

When setting our sights on something or someone we must consider what effect this "something" will have on our life. What will its effect be... Is it of a good influence? If it is neither good nor bad I must count the cost of attaining it and maintaining it in my life. I cannot pursue it in an immoral fashion or at the expense of more important things. Definitely things to consider when making decisions and moving forward in life.
I am in the process of life planning as  mentioned in previous posts.  The Stoic reading for today was a post from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations that encourages us to think of the long term effects of something that we are currently "desiring".  This is something I definitely need to consider when it comes to home renovations, etc.  Every plan we make and every thing that we purchase must be a step along the way to the long term goal that we have set before us.  We want our home to be a clean, organized, low maintenance (as much as possible), inviting place for ourselves, family and friends.  We have so many lovely things that we have picked up over the years that we will not need to purchase much.  We just need to revamp what we already have and redesign our home with these goals in mind. It is so easy to want to impress people with what we have, buy the best super tub on the market, when one that is less expensive and yet still attractive and functional will do.  

In all things we need to be careful stewards of what we have in this life.  We need to be fiscally and morally responsible with all of the blessings that we have in this life.  Plan for the future but be totally present in the now.  This is the challenge!  ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Tasting

Today's reading is one from Epictetus that talks about how it doesn't matter how lofty and noble your intentions are as to how you live your life, it is how you actually live your life.

It is like the famous Sondheim broadway tune... "Children will Listen".  Be careful what you say and do as you always have an audience.  Our challenge as humans is to know ourselves warts and all, do our best to correct our faults, but, above all else, to be honest with ourselves.  Honesty with ourselves is a very difficult task.  As humans we tend to forget details that cause us shame, details that show us in a less than flattering light.  This habit is where the adage, there's their truth and your truth and somewhere in the middle is the actual Truth, comes from.  We are programmed to try to remember ourselves in the best light possible (Hedonic adaptation).  Unfortunately, we need to remember when we fail as those are the moments that we can learn the most from.  The learning moments are when we fail to live up to our own image of ourselves.  This is where the practise of journalling is an amazing aid for building strength of character.  We need to try to be honest with ourselves in our private journals.  Only then can we have a true reckoning of all of our flaws and work towards erasing them.

We are "only human" after all.  If we are trying to be our best selves, working towards the goal of becoming a Sage, this is the mirror that reflects all of our actions, both good and bad.  I am working on journalling more and actively being conscious of my decisions and actions on a moment to moment basis.

Friday, September 23, 2011

To be a Horse or not to be a Horse

This morning's reading was a passage from Epictetus about being true to our individual nature.  So this is the challenge in our modern world. To find out what makes us truly ourselves and to do that. So many of us are birds trying to be horses or horses trying to be dogs...

What makes us uniquely US and how do we bring that to the world?  

Our roles in life change with time and life's seasons.  Mothering was a priority in my life for the past 20+ years and now, although I will always be a mother, that role has taken a back seat with my children growing into adulthood and carving out their own lives.  My role of wife is back to the forefront of my priorities, that is easy to do, but the role of ME also has to be brought back to the front.  I need to start taking a starring role in my life once again.  I need to figure out what makes me tick, what is my "best" self, and start nurturing that person's growth again.  Making that growth a priority again so that I can enrich my life, my family and the world around me with my individual gifts.  I know that bringing this ancient wisdom back from the shadows of obscurity and academia is a shared goal with Michel.  While accomplishing this goal I have a unique viewpoint to discuss, that of a Stoic Woman in our modern society.  Although I am a firm proponent of equality between men and women, I do personally feel that there are innate differences in how the two sexes view life, etc.  One of my main goals in my life moving forward is to represent the point-of-view of a modern woman approaching life from a Stoic's purpose and outlook.

I know that I excel at keeping a house and making it a home.  I excel at hospitality also.  These skills are definitely part of my stoic outlook moving forward.  Living according to Nature is the Stoic ideal.  This to me encourages me to make efforts to become self-sufficient and moving back to basics where diet and household management are concerned.  Keeping the stoic ideals in mind involves planning gardens for next year, ensuring that we are nurturing and embracing nature's bounty.  The focus on living a life in harmony with nature involves taking the necessity for workspace and storage into consideration for the home renovations also.  The need for an alternative heat source in the winter is part of our requirements for living as self-sufficient as possible.  Using our suburban lot effectively and ensuring that an esthetic and peaceful calm is also built into the designs.  

It seems that I need to be a designer.  I need to take on the role of architect/designer for my life and home.  This is the adventure for the next little while.  Wish me luck as I document this journey!  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My reactions to outside circumstances...

The past couple of days have been tough ones... lots of stress from clients and some stress at home.  The weather is also not conducive to positive thoughts, being wet and miserable.  I am definitely being challenged to keep a positive attitude in the face of the gloomy weather.  Yesterday Michel and I worked together to change what could have been a disastrous situation into a good.  We also made a realistic decision to cancel our Harvest celebration due to bad weather and the lack of interior space to accommodate even the "for sure" attendees not to mention the "maybe"s.  I dislike feeling like I am letting people down in any way but, in reality, it was the best decision to make with a number of attendees having mobility issues etc.  Damp and cold weather is just not good for aching muscles and bones.

Today I am going to have some warm soup for lunch and get to scanning financial records for my client.  Once more into the breach!  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back to home and busyness...

I had a wonderful last camping weekend of the year this weekend past.  The tents and equipment will all be packed away for another year.  The evenings were extremely cold even with our extra duvets and the camp cots off of the floor of the tent.  I think we will need to find a better solution so that we can pack everything into a trailer or something and leave it all together so that getting out for weekends will be much less of an ordeal.

Tonight we are visiting with close friends and then tomorrow night we have our last Live Stoic workshop for the month of September.  I am taking it easy and being kind to myself today as my body is feeling some after effects of camping in cold and damp.  Muscles are achey and throat is scratchy...  Nothing that can't be cured with warm liquids and sleeping in our comfortable bed.  Sleep was an elusive thing last night though, waking up twice in the night and even staying up for an hour or so at one point.  I really did sleep better out at Raven's Knoll, even though it is duck hunting season and the hunters shots could be heard quite early in the morning.  Poor ducks!  Michel mentioned that the fact that the hunters kept shooting was probably a good indicator that they were missing... LOL!  That made me feel a little better somehow.  I know people who hunt for food and that I don't have a problem with but the "hunting as a sport" without a need bothers me.

We had a wonderful time visiting with old friends and making new ones this weekend.  Our campsite became a Village where everyone was welcome.  Food stretched to accomodate everyone and hopefully everyone was made to feel welcome.  The Stoic session we gave on our connections to each other and the universe seemed to go over very well.  All in all an excellent and enjoyable weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pain, Pain Go Away...

Today I am a whiner.  It feels like my friends will want to ignore me on Facebook with posts focused on pain and wanting what isn't.  I have a lot of work to do today and I am not sure how I am going to get things done.  I could rail at the world for giving me a bad "body" day on a day when I need to get so much done, or I can accept what it is and move forward to the best of my abilities.  I am going to choose the latter rather than the former.  I will do what I can and take rest breaks and keep moving forward. 

I have so many friends who struggle with far more debilitating physical issues than I have and they persevere and move forward.  They are inspirations to me when I am having a harder day than usual.  These people take on the face of the Stoic Sage in this circumstance, encouraging me to move forward and accept what the day brings.

Good Friday to all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Make Good Choices"

When the children were in their teen years I used to tell them to "make good choices" before they would leave the house to go somewhere.   Just a subtle reminder of what they had been taught from a moral framework and to always let that framework be their guide for any actions/decisions that they might be called to make as individuals in the big wide world.

As a Stoic, it really is all about the choices we make.  The ability to discern right from wrong, a virtuous action from a vicious one, what is a good and what is an indifferent and what is just plain bad, is our main "weapon" in the battle of life.  Although there are some universal choices, saving a child, etc. based on the exercise of virtue versus vice, a lot of our choices are individual in nature.  What may be a correct choice for a friend or family member may not be the best choice for me.  Taking the Stoic yardstick of "good, bad or indifferent" we can measure our choices and decide whether the indifferents; where we live, food choices, clothing, employment, etc. are the best choice for us.  Sometimes they are a good choice but the timing at that moment is all wrong for us.  Often we have to choose between  an okay choice and an even better choice.  Looking forward to the possible outcomes or consequences of our choices is a great tool for the decision making process.  Although we are not possessed with 20/20 vision, except in hindsight, as we grow older the possible outcomes of choices become more predictable, following patterns that have already occurred in our lifetime.  The main thing needed in order to be discerning is a clear vision of what you want your life to look like, what your goals are.  You then craft your life like a discerning farmer, moving foward selecting good fruit and releasing the bad or the lesser.   We weed out the chaff and the less fruitful seedlings so that our harvest is a plentiful one.

Let us begin to work at planting good seed, discerning the weak plants from the strong, and looking forward to the bountiful harvest to come.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good, Bad and Indifferent

My Stoic reading for today was a long passage from Epictetus that wouldn't fit on facebook without editing.  Basically it was discussing the value of our life/body.  The things that we use to sustain our bodies are not worth as much as the body itself.  Our virtues and virtuous living are more important than all of the "things" that we hold onto.

Using this principle as the starting point, what do I wish my life to look like?  What does that entail?  What do I need to craft that life and what can be let go?  What can be given away, sold, etc. to enrich another's life as I have moved beyond the need for it?  This is part of my process to craft a life of essentials and true beauty rather than a life filled with meaningless stuff.  Affluenza is such a modern day disease that touches all of us in some way.  The path of the Stoic, a path of Voluntary Simplicity, calls to me with an almost Siren call.  What does that simplified life look like?  I now have the task of crafting that vision and then taking inventory of my life, deciding what fits the vision and what doesn't.  The superflous clutter of life can go freeing up space for study, family and friends.  The important things that enrich my life with so much more than the minutae of "stuff".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is in my control...

Today's Stoic reading was all about what is truly in our control.  The conclusion that I drew, after the reading, is that the only things that are truly in our control is our choices and our decisions.  We have no control over the consequences of our decisions or our circumstances in life.  Life and the Fates will do with us what they will.  I have no control over the dampness, humidity and weather today.  I have no control over how my body reacts to that dampness.  Movement is painful today and yet there is work to be done for my client, jam to be made, meals to be made and housework to be done.  Medication for pain is my friend today as is perseverance and determination.  The summer was a relatively pain free time for me this year.  I had hoped that my various mobility issues and aches and pains, etc. had possibly been fleeting.  This, unfortunately, does not appear to be the case, but, until the medical establishment can give me answers, I will keep moving forward.  I will use the virtues as my guides for decision making, make my "best" choice available and let the consequences of my choices go.  The consequences are beyond my control, I can only hope to lay the best foundation possible with my choices, and then move through my day.

I am blessed today.  I have nowhere near the pain and physical challenges that many of my friends do.  I can still keep going and work through pain and discomfort.  I can feel blessed that over the counter medication can still bring me some relief, hot water, and heating pads can still help me loosen up tightened and sore muscles.

Yesterday was a day of working for my client and discussing Stoic principles with friends online.  Yesterday was a good day.  Today will be a good day as well.  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

A new week, new day, and a new blog!

Today is the start of this new blog.  I decided that this blog is going to be about my "inner life" and my musings on Stoic thoughts and concepts.  My "Meditations" so to speak.

Yesterday was my son's 25th birthday.  Wow, 25 years of being a mother seems like such a long time and yet it feels like it was just yesterday that I was "single" me.  That time with only myself to guide through life seems so long ago and yet I must start getting back in touch with that woman that wasn't constantly distracted by the needs of others.  It is time to figure out what really "makes me tick" without feeling that I am somehow being selfish or abandoning my children or husband.  With all adult children, the youngest is 20, I no longer have to feel like someone else's needs or desires are my absolute first priority.  So here is the space I will be musing about my day to day responses to life's challenges in a Stoic manner.  Here is the space that I will discuss my desires, hopes and fears.  Here is the space where I will begin to find the balance in my life that became unbalanced with the role of Mother taking dominance over all else in my life.  Here is the space where I will begin to discover that rare elusive creature called ME, Pamela Susan Lindley Daw.