Friday, January 30, 2015

Words and imagination

Some words have a lot of different meanings, sometimes even widely varied meanings, such that they lend themselves to interesting bouts of imagination…

Take the word ‘bill’.

We can be running up a bill, be on top of the bill; we can be billed, and fit the bill for that matter. There is a bill fold that we can use to carry around the big bills.
And it is also the beak of a bird.

It brings me to a dream-like scene where I just got payed for my work. And as I am having a stack of newly received bills in one hand, I also have bills to pay. But before I get around to that, a big bird walks up to me and snatches the stack of bills out of my hand and gobbles them down, leaving me with bills to pay but no money to do so.

Other times it is a saying that sparks my imagination.

Like ‘cooking up a storm’. When googled, all references lead to actual cooking. From recipes to how-to videos and everything in between.

However, my mind creates a totally different picture from these words.
I see shakespearean witches cooking something in a huge cauldron. And the moist, scented damp escaping the cauldron moves up and starts to create clouds. At first they are just small, white clouds; but pretty soon they cluster together and get a darker appearance. Before long the wind picks up and it starts raining. And to make matters worse, that big cloud begins to spin. Leaving the witches in the still of the storm, with rain and hail and wind all around them…

And talking about rain; how about this saying that it is ‘raining cats and dogs’?
It always does present me with such an interesting visual… Makes me want to go out and catch at least some of them; some fluffy kittens, or soft, sleepy-eyed puppies…

The most interesting thing about these things happening is that whenever words create a visual that is out of the implied context of the rest of the conversation, it does have something to tell us about our lives at that instant.
For instance, being faced with unexpected bills right when we thought we got a handle on our finances. Or the fact that when you stay in the still of the storm, there is no telling what nice fluffy, sleepy kittens or puppies will come your way.
Or, putting them all together, perhaps it is just a warning to start saving for a rainy day…

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shouting match

The other day I witnessed a shouting match of two gentlemen. They are neighbors, yet the fact that each of them was staying at their own side of the fence didn’t stop them from voicing their unhappiness about each other loudly.
And as soon as one of them backed off just a little bit, the other one turned around and continued the ‘peeing-contest’ in the most literal sense.
Then, after one more look at each other, they both walked away from the fence, all fluffed up, but otherwise as if nothing had happened.

It is what cats do.

The six-foot-fence has been there as long as I can remember. As a boundary it is totally clear, and as such not even contested. But as soon as the neighboring cats see each other, they will fluff up and become larger than life. They will glare at each other, and snarl and howl… Then they will just turn away from their shouting match, check the fence, mark their territory, and move on with life as if nothing happened.

Of course cats are not the only species getting involved in ‘shouting matches’ like this. Pretty much any species involves itself in displays of power and dominance. From one perspective it is to protect territory, from another it is about ‘pecking order’ and leadership.
It makes clear who has the right to what…

And as much as we consider ourselves above this behavior, us humans are not exempt from it. Although we pride ourselves in handling it in a more civilized manner.
We just go for the bigger home, the faster car, the greatest party and the best barbecue. And on and on… And while this may not be as noisy as the actual shouting match I witnessed between cats, it still gets the point across loud and clear: ‘I am better and bigger than you”.
It can indeed become a somewhat heated ‘discussion’ that might be going on between neighbors or even co-workers who are aiming for that place on the top.

But where cats walk away from it as if nothing just happened, we tend to hold on to those ‘shouting matches’ for a long time. Trying to best the other person every step of the way. Holding grudges about how the other person may have that bigger car and so on. Rather than shaking off the encounter ~ like cats do more often than not ~ we start carrying the burden of stress, and as a result cheat ourselves out of the relaxed, comfortable lifestyle we were after all along.

Perhaps we still have a lot to learn from our cats…

Friday, January 23, 2015


Control is an interesting thing. We pretty much all wan tot have it; at least to some extend. But we hardly ever gain that level of control we think will make our lives easier, more smooth, or at least better organized without giving those around us the impression we are going ‘over the top’ on it.

The reality is that the only control we truly have is the control over ourselves. We can choose and therefore control our behavior, our actions, and even our moods. Yet as soon as others appear in the picture, there immediately is an aspect that is outside of our control. For instance when you have an appointment with a friend to meet for coffee in your favorite coffee shop, we can only control being on time ourselves. Our friend may be late. Or early. He or she may be in a good mood, or perhaps is having a ‘bad-hair-day’. All of that is outside of our control; and that is perfectly okay.

But the busier we get; the more is at stake when things are not going the way we feel they should be going; the more stressed we can get as we are ‘losing control’. And pretty soon we can ‘lose it’ altogether; and what started as a regular, yet busy day; or even a busy yet fun day can get out of hand because we are feeling we are out of control…

The question then becomes why we want to be in control so much? When we look at it from a logical perspective, we can handle pretty much any outcome of the situation as it happens; even when it is an outcome we didn’t anticipate ahead of time. And sometimes the unanticipated outcome is even better than we had dreamed up!

So why do we feel that if things aren’t going our way, they are bound to end up in disaster?

The two most common answers to that question are:
Because we don’t trust we can handle whatever comes up adequately; in other words, we may want to look at how we perceive our own self-esteem and/or self-worth.
Because we don’t accept that life is fluid, and that sometimes priorities and responsibilities shift midstream.

And while we often tend to just look at the self-esteem/self-worth angle of things that have to do with our personal growth; being able to accept the things life puts on our paths and handle them accordingly, can be just as important.

And the funny things is that as soon as we do that, we tend to have all the control we have ever wanted in any situation we encounter in life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Small steps

A neighbor has a card inner window that says: “When you are in a hurry, it is good to take small steps.”
It is good advice, no matter whether we are in a time crunch, rushing to be on time for an appointment, or just finding ourselves having a lot on our plate. When we rush into things, head over heals, the chance of us making mistakes increases. When we are not giving ourselves enough time to ponder things before we make our decisions, the risk of not making the ‘right’ decision grows…
So when we are in a hurry, it is good to stick to the small stuff, leaving the bigger, or even life-changing decisions for that time when we can truly weigh the possibilities.

What may not quite be as obvious is that when we slow down, especially when we are in a hurry, we tend to get things done quicker, more efficiently. In slowing down we put ourselves in a position where we will remember to take everything we need to bring with us, and which route to take to get where we are going fastest at that particular time of day. Leaving ourselves time to make it in time without speeding (which often doesn’t really gains us a huge amount of time anyway), safely and composed.
And with less stress…

While it is a good thing to ‘take small steps’, especially when we are in a hurry; there is another side to this as well. And that is to recognize that small steps count. To purposefully seek out even the smallest improvements we have affected, and to celebrate those just as much as we would celebrate the leap over the finish line.

Because when we are only focused on the finish, which can be still some time in the future, we may forget to notice how well we are doing taking small steps every day toward that grand goal we have set for ourselves.

It is time to slow down, to take small steps. To stop rushing from one thing to the next, but to take small steps in the general direction we desire to travel on our journey through life; giving ourselves time to see the path unfold in front of us. Allowing ourselves time to smell the roses every once in a while. To give ourselves the opportunity te re-create ourselves, to re-evaluate where we want to go at every turn in the path.

To honor every small step we take.

Friday, January 16, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, in the dead of Winter, I saw a mother-duck with five ducklings following her in the canal. No need to say it has been a mild Winter so far; at least where I am living. And rather than snow and freezing weather ~ the kind that would let us get our ice skates out ~ it has been wind and rain instead.
Perfect weather for ducklings, I suppose…

But it does give the sense that things are not quite the way they should be. Things seem out of order. And while for the longest time the cause appeared to be within our lives; the way we organized things, the manner in which we did, or didn’t do things; right now it is as if nature itself is turning things around.
From a certain perspective this does make sense. After all, nature, just like us humans, takes its cues and reacts to the energy we live in. So if the energy changes, chances are nature and we (eventually) will change as well.

And in the energy we are living in today, nothing seems to quite fit in its place. It is not that there are great, big discrepancies necessarily, but rather that everything is just a little off…

This can show in our lives in any number of ways. For instance we may find that it is a lot harder to make (and keep) appointments. Or when we think we have all our ducks in a row, suddenly something happens that changes everything, as it signals a time to revisit our priorities. It may even be telling us that it is time for a new balance within ourselves.

Perhaps, like the mother-duck and her ducklings, the energy of this point in time invites us to be who we are, rather than to be what we do. Her single focus was to breed on those eggs, and when they came out, to raise those ducklings. Because that is who she is; a mother-duck.

We, as humans, have a tendency to get swayed from our priorities by whatever is happening around us. Whether it is something we see on the six o’clock news, or an actual situation that suddenly has come up in our lives doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference. They more often than not will prompt us to move away from those things we do that are truly ours, away from the expression of our unique and individual talents, in favor of things we feel others are expecting us to take care of…

They allow us to become what we do, rather than to be who we are.

And maybe the energy is just saying that it is time to turn that around.