Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy-ness Reloaded


In the pursuit of happiness a
funny thing can happen. We may 
discover that the object of our 
attention was not the thing that 
brought us the most happiness. But 
rather it was the pursuit itself. 
Or perhaps not at all. Neither 
objects nor chase fill that happiness 
void. It is the stillness of 
no chase at all, that brings 
immeasurable glee. Whichever the case we 
determine what our happiness means today.

~Happy Six Word Friday! Since it is the last Friday in June this is also the last day for the HAPPY prompt.~


I often think of happiness. Of what it is and what it is not. 

And I've read of detaching oneself from trivial pursuits and the constant attainment of things. But honestly I know I shall "pursue" til I retire to a beach house in Okinawa. 

The "pursuit" is firmly intertwined within my DNA. The history of my family and the history of our people will always propel me forward.

And more than likely I shall always want nice things. 

As a little girl I recall looking at my grandfather and his wife as my ideal. The real life version of The Cosby Show. African American. Educated. Successful. That is what I would be when I grew up.

Not poor. Not mediocre. I would be a testament to my family name. I would leave a legacy for my children.

But I realize that because of this, my biggest challenge remains in detaching anxiety and pressure from my pursuits.  And in appropriating honest valuations to the things I wish to attain. 

Learning to accurately determine whether this "thing" is truly what I want or a stand in for elusive childhood wishes.

When you grow up largely without, it is easy to confuse "things" with happiness. A good job with success. Status with fulfillment.

The obvious source of my anxiety lies in my need to get it "right". To fit in with my idea of The Cosby Show. And the logical part of my brain knows that no two educated, successful African American families are exactly alike. Yet the socio-emotional side just wants to ensure that I will one day fit into that Cosby category of affluence.

But my baby step to today's happiness is taking that anxiety/pressure/fear as a cue to meditate. To take a moment to detach and breath.

To release myself of my expectations.  To bask in today's unfettered happiness. That is my step today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Patterns


There's something to be said for patterns and prejudices. For one, they save time. No need to think up a new reaction or thought process. The future has already been determined by your pre-conceived notions.

Which can be a good thing. For example, I know pitbulls can be sweet. In fact I am a former owner of a playful Blue bully. But a deeply ingrained prejudice tells me to treat ALL pits with care. A prejudice that has helped keep me safe in communities where bullies are plentiful, but responsible ownership is rare.

Similarly the patterns we establish in relationships offer us a sense of comfort and security. We know our partners. How they think and what they respond to.

I think the trouble comes in when our patterns are flawed. Or perhaps incomplete and outdated.

I know how my partner responds when I say or do certain things, but what happens when we get stuck in ruts and need new ways to relate? Its in those times that pre-established patterns can be the most detrimental.

The easy give and take becomes bitter. The words turn manipulative. Kindness is withdrawn.

And its all for lack of new habits. New patterns. New prejudices and ways to deal.

The general consensus for adults seeking new patterns is to seek guidance or couples therapy. But what do you do for children?

I've been struggling with forming a new pattern for my boys. 

When I was coming up, my sisters and I were not allowed to fight. My mother wanted us to be friends. But that did not immediately transpire. Instead, what my mother ensured with her "no fighting" rule is that we would not commit damage while young that would be irreparable when we aged.

So I am trying to strike a balance with the boys. I know I can't force them to be BFF's but I do want to break their constant pattern of anger, mockery, and double teaming.

And I'm still not sure if this is just how boys roll.

But what I do know for sure, is that the way I respond to them and they respond to each other needs some renovation.

A little pattern re-adjustment.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Moving On UP


It's official! My Iced Tea has it's own spot on the web: myicedtea.net!

Not to worry. You can still access this blog through whatever means you did before...Facebook, Twitter, email, Kindle subscription, or just plain typing in the address.

All of those methods will still send you to the NEW myicedtea.net site.

And although I am still working on updating and integrating this site I will continue to bring you my thoughts, concerns, hopes, and perspectives as usual.

So let me take a moment to thank you for being a faithful reader/subscriber. I appreciate your taking the time to follow this blog and it's progress.

Each individual reader means so much to me. Again, thanks.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy-ness List


I am happy that I've practiced
2 minutes of meditation. That my 
husband is home. That my children
are healthy. That my grandparents are 
near. That my sisters are satisfied. 
For these things I am happy.

~~Happy Six Word Friday! The prompt for June is HAPPY so I thought I better dive into happiness before June was gone. But I am curious, if you had to name 5 things that made you Happy, what would they be?~~

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

(Here)say


Lately I've been studying the principles of Buddhism and meditation. Reading on the process of being present in one's life and circumstance.

Not dreaming, or planning. But simply being where you are right now. This idea is so completely contrary to my core American values. The values that say "Dream big, the sky's the limit!" or "Keep climbing up that ladder to success!"

If you can picture it, I was calmly sitting in the hospital waiting area with my Kindle when I came across the section on being present. And I thought to myself that the very idea of simply being where I am and not planning for the future was a terrifying prospect. I do not think my body language changed, but on the inside a tidal wave of fear rushed over me.

I mean, since I was a little girl who knew the likelihood of getting the one thing I had requested for my birthday was nil, I had planned to become an adult and change that. I planned to marry. I planned a powerful career where my voice would matter. I planned the type of house I would have built.

And as I've mentioned before I planned out my entire high school career down to the clubs I eventually joined.

I have wanted since forever to have the reins of my life, without being tethered to the will and disappoints of others.

So to stop. To stop. To quit planning and be where I am. God, that's frightening since I am not at all satisfied with my here and now. The thought of basking in the glow of the present brings waves of anxiety into my chest.

And yet I know I must do this. I have to try this. This being here-ness. If I can just get through two minutes. I think I can tackle two minute.

Then we'll go from there. We'll go from there to being here. Two minutes at a time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why I blog


I was speaking with a friend the other day and he asked me how I came into blogging. What started the process?

And I thought for a second...and began to recall my feelings after President Obama's election in winter 2008. After those votes were counted it seemed as if so many things were changing. Personally, politically, regionally. And for whatever reason I had a thousand thoughts swirling around in my head.

Months passed. And the new President was inaugurated, yet seemed that no matter what I did I could not clear my mind. So I took out my journal and began checking off a list of things floating around in my head.

I soon came to the realization that I should like to blog. So I did.

I heard on Blogcast FM the other day, that if you are not embarrassed by your earlier writings, you have most likely not improved as a writer. Judging by my first entries, I think I've improved immensely. The early writings on this blog were sporadic and a bit scattered but they offered a honest reflection of me.

The difference a year (or five) makes.

And I am still here clicking away. Blogging is a form of therapy and release for me. My Iced Tea has always been a place to hash out my feelings, fears, and questions. And since I still lack the answers for many of my questions...I suspect I'll be blogging for quite a while.

Hoping to improve my writing techniques as well as my life.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Existentially speaking


As always, life is series of transitions. And one thing I've been battling is the melancholy brought on by being at home for the summer. Over the last few years I've come to expect and enjoy bringing in my own money. Having professional time away from the family. And utilizing my skills.

So this temporary hiatus is hitting me pretty hard. Which is pretty unexpected seeing as how it was my decision to be home. After griping and moaning to my sister I began to wonder why I am tying my self worth to a job.

I am still an educator. I am ever a student. My writing has not ceased.

So why am I depressed and doubting my professional worth?

This must be a question as old as man. If we cease to toil on the per-determined track are we still useful?

The obvious answer is YES. But sometimes our hearts and minds fight each and disagree. In my head I know I am still as qualified and useful as I was when I earned a paycheck a held a title. But lately my heart's been sad that it not longer reports for work each day.

Buddhism holds that all life is suffering and when we let go of existential trappings and pleasures we will truly be free.

I'm having a hard time letting go.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Something else


I consider myself a life-long learner. If I find something interesting I'll go look it up and devour whatever information I can. But even with all my interests and enthusiasm I couldn't possibly absorb all that life has to offer.

That's where friends and relationships come in. It's so nice to be around people who know more than I do. At least about a particular subject. It's like talking to living, breathing dictionaries.

I've always loved that. Learning from someone. Especially when it's on accident or serendipitous.

So this post goes out to my guy Sef for helping me out on the social media front. Check out his site which features ALL things Kindle.

Thanks to his help you can now subscribe to this blog on YOUR Kindle e-reader.

Also, be looking for an updated, more comprehensive, and utterly awesome My Iced Tea this summer!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I hear them


I hear voices all the time. Voices that tell me when I'm full. Reminding me that I want candy. Asking for water. Telling me what time to pick up the kids.

And when I'm out on the trail running my brain really starts going. Relax your arms. I can hear my breathing. Just make it to the next clearing. Check behind you. Who let their dog poop on the trail?

The current lesson I am trying to learn is how to listen to the reasonable voices when I become overwhelmed, angry, or flustered. Because it's usually then that I shut them out or off. How can I better respond to a child that isn't cooperating? Or to a spouse that's pushing buttons?

My first step is to try to become mindful of the triggers that lead me to anger or a sense of helplessness. If I can see them coming I can better prepare an appropriate response.

If everyday at 1pm my children start to lose their minds and in turn I lose mine. What can we do to be ready at 1? Could we have quiet time so everyone is separate? Or perhaps a family walk.

And when a spouse's quibbles lead to irritation. What can be done to counteract my initial short response? hmmmmm....still working on that one

But I'm sure the voices will think of something.

*Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net*

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No. 1

 If there's a message that seems to assert itself day after day. Chat after chat. It's that people are who they are.

There is no changing personalities, ideologies, habits, or preferences. We can lay out information. We can present knowledge. But we can not change a single, solitary person.

That type of internal changing of the guards, shifting of habits comes from within. It comes from that inner voice that beckons us all to listen.

And inside of my heart, I soooo want to be ZEN

As in, less anxious, more peaceful. Less stressed, more aware. But that process takes time and practice. It takes acquiring knowledge and putting it into action.

And some days it seems as if I can't even change the one person I control.  ME.

Still that inner voice persistently tells me that I can.

And I believe her. I have to.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Say what's real


While surfing on The Huffington Post yesterday (instead of doing my homework), I came across this essay by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer.

She gave a commencement address to the Harvard Business School Class of 2012. In it she admonished the graduates to be honest with themselves and others. To be willing to take risks. And at times, cry.

The timing of her words were on point considering that I've had to give myself a reality check and then determine to stick to my truth. It's so easy to talk about being authentic, eliminating the excess, and walking with our eyes wide open.

But the hard truth is it takes guts to admit what you see and respond in kind. Not dally, or dither, or wish a new reality but respond to what's real. Right before our faces.

So Sheryl is right that sometimes you cry. But honesty isn't always fun or cute. Sometimes it means leaving a relatively comfortable situation to embrace absolutely no guarantees and all that that means.

Using my "Oprah" voice here...

If there's one thing I know for sure,
 its that honesty is ultimately the best policy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Earth, Wind, and Rain


Asked by my inquisitive little nephew: 
"Why is it raining?" My answer: 
"Because the Earth needs water." 

We may need a watering, too.

~~Happy Six Word Friday! The prompt was: REASON.~~