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‘Ain’t Life Grand’ Category

  1. If Life is What You Make it, Make it Matter

    July 23, 2017 by Diane

    You live in a world where you wake up and the sun shines, coffee percolates, teeth gleam, and breakfast waits on the table on good china, next to rolled napkins of the finest cloth. Where politics is a word buried in a dictionary. Where windows are floor to ceiling, and the view is a white sand beach, with seagulls dipping into gently rolling waves. You live in a world where nothing matters except good food, good wine, good company, a good view, and something good to fill the days—something that does matter.

    Or…

    You live in a world where you drag yourself from bed thirty minutes after the alarm goes off, and rush through a bowl of cereal to arrive late at a job that bores you. Where the workplace is poorly lit with no windows. Where every surface is piled with clutter, the internet screams politics, and the only view is your own. Where nothing matters except quitting time, making it through traffic, opening a can of soup without slicing your thumb, and numbing your pain with reality television.

    Who visualized that life?

    Someone who didn’t visualize their ideal.

    Are you filling your days with what matters, or with what doesn’t?

    Let’s face it: unless you have a helper, you do the housework, wash the dishes, clean the clothes and get the groceries. Chores take up a portion of your waking hours. Can those hours matter more than something to get through? Can they be times when you do your best creative thinking, times when you practice gratitude for earth’s bounty, times when a clean home makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into House Beautiful?

    Do you know what matters to you?

    Is it writing five pages in your novel, or shopping for another pair of shoes that you don’t really need? Is it time spent reading, or time spent searching for your car keys under the clutter on your desk? Is it walking along the shoreline with a loved one, or standing in line at Starbucks checking your Twitter followers? The world is full of choices, isn’t it? Dizzying.

    What’s your vision?

    Without a vision and a plan to get there, we live our lives dealing with matters that don’t matter. And to make matters worse, sometimes we don’t even know it.

    Brian Tracy, in his book, Goals! How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, says, “If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, you end up getting something else.”

    So: visualize what you want, every morning when you wake up, and every night when you turn out the lights. See it, feel it. Engage the senses. Make it as real as possible. A funny thing happens. With a clear target to aim for, like a magnet, the brain focuses in that direction.

    Make it matter

    Every waking hour, touch upon those things that spark your life force. Ask yourself periodically, does it matter, what I’m expending time and energy on? If not, can I make it so, or let it go?

    We live in a world of matter, shaped by our thoughts, our actions, and the thoughts and actions of billions and billions of others. Shape it wisely, and with an open heart.

    Because it matters.


  2. The Mother of All Mothers

    May 14, 2017 by Diane

    The earth in the shape of a heart, elements of this image furnis

    I am the product of a remarkable mother. A woman who saves the hair from brushing the cat, rolls it into miniature fur balls, and stores the balls in a wine glass above the stove for future jewelry projects. A woman with the impressive ability to stretch a single serving of steak from Sizzler into six meals, and who is not above concocting sore-throat remedies from orange juice, crushed ice, and blush wine that comes from a box with a spigot, a box that will last longer than most marriages. A woman who, when I’m wallowing in despair, reminds me: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train. 

    I consider myself blessed to have such a mother. The mother of all mothers.

    Not everyone is so blessed. I’ve known mothers who would rather nurture a stiff drink than their own child. Mothers who care more about what others think than the thoughts of their own offspring. Mothers who will protect their abusive husband, not the child who is abused. The only wisdom these mothers offer is: Leave me alone. If you have such a mother, heed her advice. Leave her. Alone. She has issues to sort out, and you don’t need to be the one she sorts them out on.

    This Mother’s Day, if you don’t have a mother to honor, is there another woman who offered guidance, support, affection, or protection? A friend, wife, lover, sister, teacher, relative, or just a stranger you met once who made a difference in your life? If so, honor her. If no such woman comes to mind, honor Mother Earth, who offers this nest we call home.

    And if you, too, had a mother of all mothers, but she’s now with the Divine Mother, or God, or wherever divine spirits go after leaving the body, honor the gifts she gave that now flower in you.

    Speaking of making a difference, this story illustrates how every act of kindness matters. I urge you to read it. Trust me, it will make your day.


  3. One Good Reason to Stay Alive

    February 12, 2017 by Diane

    Praying Woman

    On Twitter, I saw this plea:

    Could someone please suggest reasons it’s a good idea I should keep being alive?

    Reasons to keep being alive. In 140 characters.

    This was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.

    Chocolate. If you’re thinking of checking out, you won’t be taking your taste buds. So stick around for chocolate.

    Okay, I didn’t tweet that. There was nothing humorous about the tweeter’s question, although sometimes humor can be the lifeline we need when drowning in despair.

    I knew of a comedian who worked the suicide prevention hotline, and when asked “Give me one  good reason I should stay alive,” he told the caller, “Give me a break. You called me.”

    Yowza.

    Isn’t it interesting, the plea is always the same? Give me a reason to stay alive. Because being alive, in and of itself, isn’t reason enough. Being alive, for the person pleading, has become too horrible to endure.

    What we really want, when we’re that desperate, is a reason to endure the pain.

    I heard Bruce Lipton, the author of The Biology of Belief, say: we live in order to experience life through our senses, for God. (Or something along those lines. I jotted the phrase in the back of the book, but the book is stashed away, along with about a hundred others, in storage.)

    If indeed it’s our duty to experience what God can’t, that seems like a pretty swell reason to stay alive.

    Provided you believe in God.

    And provided you accept that experiencing life sometimes involves the sense of pain.

    I read recently: to strengthen and build muscles, we need to tax them, break them down a bit, give them time to recuperate, then tax them again. That’s how they grow.

    It’s the same with people. We’re given circumstances that tax us and break us down. If we take time to recuperate, then we build our strength and grow with each new challenge.

    Now, I could come up with a long list of good reasons that are meaningful to me and don’t mean squat to the person on Twitter. But somewhere in her vast file cabinet of life experiences there’s one thing that matters. Deeply.

    If I had more than 140 characters, or we were talking on the phone or in person, I might have said: “Instead of thinking about ending it all, sort through your memory banks, or take a look around you, and track down that one thing that matters. By the time you find it, whatever brought you to despair will have shifted. Just enough, so the light can shine in.”

    But this person chose to plead for her life on Twitter. So I replied:

    Don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The pain will pass. You’re meant to contribute something positive to this world.

    Last I checked, the tweeter did find a good reason: she chose to start painting again. That one thing, painting, helped crack open the darkness.

    If you ever find yourself backed into a corner feeling like your only option is to throw in the life towel, please please please remember this: that one thing—whether it’s your spouse, your kid, your parent, your sibling, your friend, your cat, your art, your dream, or that philodendron in the windowsill—it needs you.

    Then drive down to See’s Candies, pick out a luscious piece of chocolate, and savor it. For God.