Archives for Inspirational

Good News

That Moment You First Meet Your Best You


For so many years I have lived with the suspicion that there is a much kinder, sweeter, more loving being inside me than the one I spend most of my waking hours with.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not lodging a complaint about being "conscious me." These days, I feel like I mostly do a reasonably good job of staying optimistic, seeing the positive, treating myself and others with kindness and respect, and always trying to do my best.

I'm talking about something far beyond these basics.

I'm talking about a being who is - luminous. Expansive. Tuned in.

I'm talking about an "inner me" who maybe wouldn't even be able to manifest in my day-to-day without significant interruptions to that same day-to-day (for reasons of aforementioned luminosity, expansiveness, and empathy).

Recently, I realized that this being exists. I have proof.

She has always been there. I have proof of this too. 
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Inspirational

I’ll See You in My Dreams

I'll just say this up front - it is awfully hard for me to admit I liked any movie that made me cry this much.

And while sometimes I need "a good cry" as much as the next person, I didn't on this particular day.

Yet even with all this stacked against it, "I'll See You in My Dreams" turned out to possess that rarest and most ephemeral of all cinematic qualities - total authenticity at the heart of a tale of fiction.

As I grow older (45 this year - wow!) I find I have less of a craving for that famous quality provided by so many films - total escapism.

I think this is because, these days, I have lots of ways to escape if I want to....and a correspondingly reduced desire to escape in general as I realize more than half my time here has likely already flown by!

So the outcome is that sometimes what I crave most in a film experience is something much less easy to come by - the affirmation of what is real.

And by this I don't mean knowing answers to common trivia questions or being able to recollect my multiplication tables (I had a hard enough time remembering those on the first go-round!)

What I mean is the affirmation of a realness of life that is both totally messy and totally worth it.

What I mean is a map pointing towards the intersection of grief and gratitude, tears and smiles, complete with instructions for how to find it again from, well, anywhere.

What I mean is a dip into the depth of a totally worth-it life being fully and well lived...that also just happens to be BYOB and ends in approximately 120 minutes. 
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Animal Mentors

How to Know You Really Love Animals

It says "To Shannon, love Jack Hanna." :-)

Back in May, I got to meet legendary zoo director and animal activist Jack Hanna.

He even signed a cool postcard to me - addressing me by name.

At the time, I was pretty confident we were meeting as equals - two fellow animal lovers who simply choose to cohabitate with different numbers of non-human companions (me, 2; Jack, 200? 350?).

Then...
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Emotions

Cutie and the Boxer Teach Me About Love


So I finally got to watch "Cutie and the Boxer."

At first, I was hesitant.

The title sounded....ominous (just substitute "Big Bad Wolf" for "Boxer" and you'll see what I mean).

Then I found out one of the lead characters paints with boxing gloves.

"This I've gotta see," I thought to myself.

Very quickly, I realized the boxing, like most everything else in the film, is like a Buddhist koan, or paradoxical statement, that so intrigues and distracts the mind the heart can finally pop through to nab its own five minutes of fame.

Sort of like what happens when you realize that the film about art you are watching is really a film about love....and the most challenging sort of love at that.

I LOVED this film! I mean - loved it.

What is not to love about a love story that feels so real it could be your own? 
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Good News

The Secret to Sustaining Happiness


Many years ago, I was sitting on the floor of an ashram, wearing what looked (to the westernized me at least) a lot like pajamas.

Our lesson that day was about happiness - how to find it, how to hold onto it.

Our teacher explained, "People will fight so hard to get rid of pain, suffering. But when it comes to joy, they think it should just come to them and stay all by itself."

Since that day, I have never taken my own happiness for granted. 
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Celebrity Mentors

What Would Judy Say?

My mom sometimes likes to check out library books for me to read.

Recently she presented me with a particularly unexpected selection: "What Would Judy Say? A Grown-Up Guide to Living Together with Benefits."

I have watched Judge Judy on TV for years, but I'd never really taken the time to get to know the woman behind the show.

Well, my loss! Judge Judy is UH-mazing!!

She has the coolest website called "What Would Judy Say?" where she tackles issues as diverse as cancer and divorce, child custody and roommates, finding your passion and (obviously) living together outside of wedlock.

Now, to clarify, I am not currently living with anyone outside of wedlock or otherwise - except for, of course, my 14-year old parrot, Pearl, and my 13-month old tortoise, Malti.

But I have in the past, and if I did so again, I would follow Judge Judy's advice to the letter - especially the parts about taking care of what my mentor calls "my own side of the street."

Judy would call this "no joint anything."

I call it planning for my own future....whether or not my significant other will or won't plan for his.

The thing I like the most about Judge Judy is how very, well, grownup, she is about it all.

On the reverse side of her book, she shares an African proverb:

Only a fool tests the depth of the water by jumping in with both feet.

Maybe you are nodding your head right now (I was when I first read it!) But I have done this....I have jumped in with both feet, sometimes even thinking myself brave as I did!

Later I found out testing the water with one foot would have been both wiser and braver....and would have likely required far fewer band-aids.

The truth is, while there is plenty of drama in Judge Judy's television courtroom, little if any of it is coming from her.

And while she can appear brusque or sharp at times, I have always sensed a deep underlying compassion - a kind of "get over it already life is short and if you don't get unstuck now you'll just have to get unstuck later!"

There is something else I didn't know until I read "Living Together with Benefits."

Judge Judy has been divorced twice - and one of those times was to the man she has since remarried (and is still married to), Judge Jerry.

She has definitely had her share of heart aches and heart breaks.

She has five children and 13 grandchildren.

She is not someone who sits on the sidelines, watching and listening to - and often, um, judging - others' choices, and then writing about them.

She has lived what she writes about - which is to say, she is a mentor I can much more readily trust. 
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Inspirational

The Secret to Longevity

If you really wanted to live to be over 100, and you were able to take advice from those who had achieved it, would you do it?

Would you try their "secrets to longevity" for yourself?

The only sensible answer appears to be "yes" ... at least on the surface.

But what if this was the advice you got? (thanks, Time magazine!):

Drink one can of beer a day (110 year old Mark Behrends)
Drink lots of coffee (107 year old Downing Kay)
Stay away from men (109 year old Jessie Gallan)
Eat raw eggs (115 year old Emma Morano-Martinuzzi)
Sunbathe (116 year old Jiroemon Kimura)
Eat sushi (117 year old Misao Okawa)

What do you think?

I mean, these people are pretty....well....old.
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Good News

Your Way IS the “Right Way”


For so so so SO many years, I kept looking for the "right way."

I wanted to know the precise "how to guide" to achieve whatever goal I was pursuing at that moment.

I wanted "the" steps - the ones that actual successful folks followed (an important distinction since at the time I didn't include myself in that particular group).

I never found that how to guide or those steps.

No matter how wide I cast my questioning net, or how long and loudly I asked, no one ever walked up to me and handed me the secret manual to successful living - the one I was sure everyone but me had already received.

Today, I know this is because there is no secret manual - at least not one that applies to everyone.

There is only my secret manual - my way. 
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Inspirational

I May Really Be as Old as I Feel


Okay - here's something weird.

Recently I read an article - a series of articles, really - about aging.

Specifically, the series was focused on all the ways, available and emerging, we can stop or even reverse the aging process.

Many articles focused on learning techniques to promote restoration or longevity for our physical body - as such, these read much like a short course for auto enthusiasts striving to better preserving paint or battery life in a favorite antique car.

The article that captured my complete attention was called "Get Your Head in the Game: cutting-edge research is showing that your outlook can change how you age-at a cellular level."

Its premise was simple - so simple it sounds like a cliche I was tempted to ignore ("You're only as old as you feel" - well, what if some days I feel five and other days I feel 80? Divided by 2, that places me well within range of my actual age - 44).

So I stayed focused on facts - aka what we already do know is possible when body and mind are linked.

Here is what we know: 
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Inspirational

Why I’m Not Quite as Afraid of Death Anymore


This past month or two, I've been posting a fair amount on what appears to be a "mid-life fear-of-death crisis."

While I'm not totally sure what brought this on, I suspect it has something to do with watching my best friend's parents pass last year (both were in their 90's and had been married 65 years).

In witnessing their fears of death, I also uncovered my own.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad I figured out now that I'm afraid of death, rather than waiting to die before I figured it out!

But not knowing how to address this fear - or how to solve it - has still felt like an obstacle....until recently.

After my last post about my fear of death, a sweet Facebook friend commented that I might enjoy a certain book by Annie Kagan called "The Afterlife of Billy Fingers."

When I first read the title, I was quite sure I wouldn't like this book at all - "Billy Fingers" sounded like a ghost's name, and perhaps one with ties to the kind of folks who like to bury their dead in concrete shoes.

However, my desperation for something to do trumped my hesitation, and I ordered a copy that same day.

As of today, I am on my third straight reading. 
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