Forget About All of Your Expectations

I have two dogs, Thor and Dez.

Before they sleep, they like to dig in their blankets and make beds.

Thor has it down pat. Dez on the other hand, can’t seem to get it right. He’ll work at it for a few minutes, stop, then decide to lay elsewhere.

He’s a bed maker in training.

It’s funny because when he gives up and finds a new spot, he’s careless.

He doesn’t see it as a waste of time. He’s just doing what dogs do.

Sometimes we spend a lot of time doing things only to end up dissatisfied with the results.

Then we feel like we’ve wasted time. We regret it, feel guilty and get down on ourselves.

I spent a few hours trying to figure out what my blog is about. Why do I write? What’s the purpose of all this typing?

And at the end of the night, I didn’t feel like I was any further along than I was when I started.

What is this imaginary standard that we hold ourselves to? Clearly, I was doing something. I brainstormed, I came up with ideas, I was trying.

Maybe that’s all we need. Could genuine effort be enough?

I never meet my own expectations, so I’m tossing them out the window. I’ll pick them up again once I learn how to use them rather than get lost in them.

I’m just going to keep working at it. I’ll never quit. I’ll never take no as an ending. I think you should do the same.

We may never understand ourselves or our lives because the answers to life’s greatest questions are beyond any “why”.

Understanding comes through living the question rather than searching for the answer.

No moment is wasted when we’re paying attention.

Even if you don’t like the bed you’ve made, I hope you fall asleep smiling because in the morning you’ll get a chance to do it all over again.

How perfect.

Donald Trump and The Placebo Effect

I had a dream on Wednesday morning.

I could have sworn it was real. I wish it was.

Everything was blue in color. I checked my phone and the New York Times had announced that Hillary Clinton won the election.

I wasn’t enthused, but I was relieved.

Then I woke up. Nothing was blue. It was pitch black.

Usually, when the dogs hear me get up, they cry to go outside.

They didn’t cry on Wednesday. Everything was silent. I knew what had happened.

Donald Trump is like a sugar pill. It seems and feels like something’s happening, but really there’s nothing there. It’s a sham.

Except a lot of us aren’t aware of it. It somehow feels like a cure.

But it won’t last. And the people who really need the help are the ones that are going to suffer the most.

It’s a shame because no one really deserves to suffer. Navigating life is hard enough.

But what can we do? That’s the question we must ask ourselves for the next 4 years. What can we do?

By we, I mean you and me and everyone. Rather than depend on some establishment to fix our lives, what can we do to begin to repair ourselves and each other?

Trump isn’t going to do it. Hillary wouldn’t have been able to do it either.

Good presidents put band-aids on bullet holes. Bad presidents pick at scabs before the skin gets a chance to heal.

It’s a lose-lose situation when we look for something outside of ourselves to heal our pain.

We’re all walking around with broken hearts. Our cars are nice, our homes are beautiful, but our hearts are shattered.

We’re angry and sad and everyone else is the problem. The “others” are the issue.

But I’m not so sure that that’s true. Yes, Trump is bound to screw some things up and ignorantly inspire more ignorance, but we don’t have to succumb to it.

He’s a disconnected old fart, we shouldn’t expect much. This is more disappointing than surprising.

So can we use this as an opportunity to face reality head on, rather than run, hide, complain and ignore?

Can we use this as inspiration to stand strong and stand together with open minds and loving wisdom?

It’s okay to be pissed off or upset for a while, the world is a little jacked up right now. But it’s not a bad place. Don’t let this dissuade you from being you.

Once the sugar high wears off, we can’t just go back to our regularly scheduled program.

We have to continue to smile at our neighbors. We have to continue to comfort our friends. We have to continue to act with kind intentions.

Because I’d really love to see the love grow.

The sun always shines again. No cloud lasts forever.

Be sweet and pass it on. Maybe then we’ll bridge the gap and realize that nothing was between us in the first place.

It was all an illusion.

Lessons on 4 Legs

I found this picture of my grandparent’s dog, the late great Jazzy.

A stubborn Dachshund who’s grazing greater pastures in the sky.

I decided to convert the picture to black and white. It seemed to be a good fit.

Then as I looked closer, I noticed myself in the picture.

I saw my reflection in her eyes. It looks like I’m standing in the clouds.

She was just a little thing and I stood there, towering over her.

How could animals love us? We take their pictures, tease them, dress them up and put them on display.

And they always come back for more.

They’re professional forgivers.

I guess the torment doesn’t phase them.

Attention, love and affection is all they want.

Or maybe they’re hoping for a treat? I’m not sure.

It just seems to me that our pets have more love in their hearts for us, than we have for ourselves.

We’re constantly focusing on our faults and imperfections. We rarely treat ourselves with the kindness we deserve.

Our 4 legged friends teach us how to love and let go. They want us to give ourselves a treat.

How thoughtful.

Next time you’re feeling low, remember you’re as wonderful as the clouds.

My dog said so.

Nothing Lasts Forever

I took a classical music class once.

It was one of my first college courses. And it was at 8am.

After the first couple weeks, I stopped going. Except on test days. I barely passed that class.

Now on occasion, I listen to classical music. It’s ironic.

My drive down to SIUC brought back a bunch of memories.

It was like taking a trip through time.

Farmland for as far as the eye could see, turkey vultures circling in the sky, trucks driving at obnoxious speeds and the smell of roadkill in the air.

Everything was just like I remembered it.

Except for the anxiety. I had to give a presentation to students about an internship opportunity and I didn’t feel prepared.

The slideshow wasn’t complete. The whole trip was poorly planned and I thought we might look unprofessional.

But then a cloud reminded me not to take things so seriously.

It blocked the sunlight the same way these thoughts were blocking my clarity.

Then the sun broke through the clouds and I snapped out of it. I was back to enjoying the drive.

A simple lesson on how things pass. The good and the bad.

Before I knew it, I would be on my way back home. The presentation would be over, the interviews would be through and I would have new things to worry about.

Why continue to fuel the nervousness if it’s all going to change anyway?

Sometimes we get too focused. Our minds are adamant about contemplating the same things over and over.

The problem is that none of those things are permanent and we spend too much time living like they are.

But all it takes is a second to step back and realize it.

It’s easy to forget that our time here is limited. The sooner we remember, the better.

Spend your time wisely, nothing lasts forever.

Breathe Your Stress Away

I don’t want to be the one that picks up the pieces.

But sometimes I get stuck in that position.

The other day my manager asked me to finish 3 projects by the end of the day.

Fun stuff. I don’t know, maybe he felt pressured too.

Why else would someone ask for something that was so unreasonable? Quality can’t be rushed.

As I worked, I noticed my body was tightening up and my breathing kept getting shorter. I didn’t want to do it.

I was suffocating in my thoughts.

This is crazy. Things shouldn’t be this way. I want to leave this place.  

I had to stop, step away and catch my breath.

Then my mind and body started to relax. I could feel myself loosening up.

My breathing was telling me to care less and think less.

I realized that all I could do was give my best effort. The results weren’t that important.

If I screwed up, missed the deadline or looked bad, it didn’t matter. It would’ve been embarrassing for a moment, then it would have passed. Life goes on.

Being defined as the one who “always comes through” comes with a lot of expectations. I don’t like expectations. There’s too much room for disappointment.

In stressful moments it’s easy to lose ourselves.

We get tied up in ideas about our reputation and who we think we are.

We’re afraid that it all might come crashing down.

But none of it is real. It’s all imagination. It’s all just a prediction. And none of us are that great at predicting the future.

We have to come back to our bodies and let our breathing be our home base.

Let each breath be a reminder that life is too serious to take serious.

Let each exhale soften you in hard times.

Notice when you’re tight and just breathe.

Notice when you’re thinking too much and just breathe.

Nothing is worth losing your peace of mind.

Breathing is the doorway to relief.

Just breathe and be here now. There’s nowhere else to be.