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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.