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Harvesting Life’s Lessons

On any given day at this time of year I can often be found at my favorite produce stand joyously handling and examining the bountiful harvest from my area. We were again blessed with a good growing season this year despite all of the storms and over abundance of rain. While other women ooh and aah over things like clothes and shoes, my sounds of delight are usually over a perfect spaghetti squash, a beautiful butternut squash, or a elegantly shaped gourd that only Mother Nature could have designed. There are so many apples, of every variety you can think of, that I am sure every apple tree for miles around is bare of even one last piece of fruit. The last of the onions and garlic in netted bags or  hanging in strings from the rafters, piles of corn waiting to be husked … these are the jewels I covet (ok, I will admit to a purse fetish, but my 24-year-old granddaughter has helped me with my addictions; if I find myself in a store holding one obsessively in my hand, I call her and she talks me down).

Once I am back home, the harvest of the season becomes pots of soup bubbling on the back of the stove, to end up in containers in the freezer for a cold winter’s day to come. Some of the veggies will end up cooked as they are and frozen, or as an ingredient in some new vegan recipe I am excited to try. Nothing goes to waste, and everything teaches me something new about things like spices, seasonings and new ways to use what I have been blessed with.

I like to think of this time of year as another kind of harvest, a harvest of the bounty of lessons and experiences, our failures and successes, that have grown in our lives over the past year, and the benefit of the wisdom that has come from all of them. Like a finished pot of delectable soup, we are the finished product of all the individual happenings in our lives. Whether what comes out is palatable or not fit for human consumption is decided by how we use what we have learned. Often all we need to do to turn it around is to try a different kind of seasoning than the ones we’ve been using to create a whole different experience – maybe a little less salt and a little more cumin; maybe a little less negative self-talk and a bit more self-love. Stir well.

This week our writing assignment is asking us to harvest all of the experiences of this past year, good and bad, wise and not so wise, put it all in a pot, and see what comes out of it. You don’t have to be Julia Child or Dr. Phil to do this. Some of the best cooks, and the best people in general, were created by trial and error. As always have fun with it, and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

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A Story For Anyone Who Thinks She Can’t Save The World

One afternoon back in 2005 I was sitting at my desk at work listening to the radio. I had it tuned to NPR and was listening to an interview with writer Sharon Mehdi who was reading from her new book. What I heard made me stop what I was doing and listen more closely:

“On a buffety, blustery early summer day, when the news was bad and the sky turned yellow, a strange thing happened in the town where I live. That morning, two grandmothers who had never met, not even by accident, put on their summer Sunday clothes, their most comfortable shoes, their favorite sun hats, and walked to the park in the center of town. …….It’s what the grandmothers did after they got there that set the whole town on its collective ear …. The grandmothers who had never met, not even by accident, walked past the river and past the rose garden and past the playground to the center of the big grassy area that faces the town square. And there they stood. Not speaking. Not looking at squirrels. Not munching on coconut candy. In actual point of fact, not anything at all.”

 

So began the story of two grandmothers who knew that something had to be done about the state the world was in, two little old ladies who, when asked what they were doing, simply replied: “We’re saving the world.” By the time the story ends, millions of people all over the world are standing for peace. Not speaking, not marching, not making a sound …. just standing for peace.

The book I am referring to is “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering,” a delightful little story book by the very talented and gifted author, teacher, healer and, yes, grandmother, Sharon Mehdi. The subtitle, “A story for anyone who thinks she can’t save the world,” conjured up an image for me of 100,000 women in white marching on Washington, D.C. one hot summer day back on July 9, 1978. My friends and I had marched with the Pennsylvania contingent and stood proudly before the west steps of the Capital to listen to speeches by our heroines – Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem among many – and standing in our truth. This little book, however, while it was also about standing in your truth, was not embellished with signs and slogans, or marching and chanting. It was about the power of presence.

It’s one thing to want an authentic life, but unless we are willing to stand in our truth and be willing to bring the power of presence into the mix, it will most certainly only be authentic in name only. An authentic life has meaning, purpose and integrity. Our beliefs and actions must be in alignment. Quite often that means being willing to not go along to get along, but to stand apart from the crowd and take a risk. That’s what the grandmothers in the story did – they risked looking foolish and senile. They believed in peace, and they were willing to stand for peace for however long it took. The question I would ask you is this: what are you willing to stand for in order for your authentic life to be real?

This week our writing assignment will take us to that place inside us where our truth resides.  If you’re brave enough, I invite you to go to the Home Page and take the challenge. Who knows? You just might save the world.

Peace and blessings.

P.S. “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering: A story for anyone who thinks she can’t save the world” by Sharon Mehdi, published 2005 by Viking, is available on Amazon. I guarantee it will lift your spirits.

 

 

A Conversation With Fear

One of the best books on conscious aging that I’ve read so far is: Do Not Go Quietly: A Guide to Living Consciously and Aging Wisely for People Who Weren’t Born Yesterday, by George Cappannelli, co-founder of the website Age Nation. In it he acknowledges the outdated misconceptions about aging in our culture and encourages us to set new standards for entering our 50’s, 60’s and beyond. One chapter in particular stood out for me and it had to do with fear.

I would bet that the biggest misconception around aging has to do with the horror stories we’ve been told for generations: illness, our bodies breaking down, loss of freedom, sadness, loneliness, etc. Hay House founder Louise Hay descried fear as a thought that we hold on to until it becomes a belief. So what if we looked fear right in the eye and had a conversation with it? This is what Cappannelli encourages us to do – have a conversation with fear.

To do this, he suggests that we pick one fear from our list, for instance, sadness. Then we write down our question about sadness and ask it to talk to us. From there we have an actual conversation with our fear, writing down the answers and posing the questions until we can acknowledge that it is just a thought, and a thought can be changed. Sometimes, the author suggests, the conversation will move into other areas that may be connected with sadness, like loneliness or loss of freedom. He advises that we just keep the conversation going and see where it leads.  He also suggests that we do not try to go through the entire list of fears at one sitting. Instead, we can take one subject at a time and have a conversation until we get a feel for the process. At that point we can make a commitment to come back to this exercise again and again until we have dealt with all of fears on our list. We cannot find our way out of fear unless we confront it, find out what it has to tell us, and then lovingly let it go.

Reading this was a powerful experience for me. I think our fears about aging are more powerful than the actual reality of aging. We have only to look around us to the many examples of people well into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond who live healthy, happy and productive lives to see that if we change our thoughts about aging, we can change our experience of it.

Since you are all exceedingly smart and creative, you know by now what our assignment for this week on the Home Page is going to be about. As always, have fun, and keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

 

A “Sense” Of Story

I was browsing the aisles of a pharmacy one day when a familiar scent wafted nearby. It was a scent I knew well, a scent I remembered from my childhood. I turned around to find that I was standing in front of a display of body sprays and splashes. Some of them has testers for people to try them out. As I knew it would be, one of the testers was for a body splash I had not seen in stores for years, called “Jean Nate’.” Some of you who are in the Baby Boomer generation may remember it. The reason it had caused me to stop and turn around is because it reminded me of my mother. Jean Nate’ was her favorite scent. She would splash it on right before she went out the door to the store or wherever her day was taking her. I would always know if my mother had been out during the day while I was at school because when I walked through the door at 3 p.m. I could smell the cloud of Jean Nate’ that flowed around her.

Our senses have stories to tell us. Besides the body splash, smells that remind me of my mother include a fresh pot of spaghetti sauce or chicken soup bubbling on the stove. My other senses tell me stories as well. My sense of hearing brings her face to mind every time I hear Mario Lanza or Perry Como recordings at Christmas. Every time I touch a skein of yarn or pick up a crochet hook I feel my mother beside me knitting or crocheting away. Every time I bite into a fresh, hot slice of Italian bread dripping with butter (vegan butter now, of course), or enjoy her favorite summer pasta dish with zucchini and tomatoes, I see her in the kitchen of our home working away. When I see pink or yellow roses, or a lilac tree in bloom, I see her out in our yard leaning towards the blossoms and taking in their aroma. Our senses tell us stories.

The memories of my father come to me whenever I pass an automobile service station and get a whiff of oil and gasoline … my dad owned a garage in Brooklyn for over 40 years. Anyone remember Old Spice shaving cream and lotions? That was his favorite. When I sip a cold beer on a hot summer day, I remember my dad sitting at the dinner table (in the winter it was wine). Although I no longer eat meat, the smell of chicken on the barbecue brings up memories of him tending the grill in the summertime. Once in the grocery store I heard an older man laugh, a deep belly laugh that sounded like someone had just told him a dirty joke. My heart did a flip because it sounded just like him.

Our senses tell us stories. They take us back to our childhoods, our years growing up, the special and even the not-so-special times that make up the story of us. To this day I cannot hear a Beatle song without remembering seeing them in concert at Shea Stadium in New York back in 1966. One of the things I have found most profound as I continue on my own journey to create an authentic life is how the stories my senses tell me find their way into the choices I make today. Walking past a Chinese restaurant I’ll pick up the scent and remember going to the movies with my Mom on a Saturday followed by lunch at the Chinese restaurant next door … and I find myself picking up some veggie fried rice and roasted veggies! I’ll smell the lilac bush across from my writing window and feel the need to purchase some lilac oils to spray in my home. I see a skein of navy blue yarn in the craft store and wonder how hard it would be to crochet a sweater for my great-grandson (didn’t I have a navy blue sweater that my mother knitted when I was 4 or 5?).

What stories do your senses tell you? How have they played a part in the person you are now? As you may have guessed, our assignment for this week on the Home Page is going to ask you to answer those questions. Have lots of fun with this one, and remember: keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

Mickey Mouse, Play Dough, and Remembering The Magic

I spent a few hours on Saturday and all of this morning in the company of my sweet, bright, 4-year-old great-grandson, Xavier. I know, all grandmas and great-grandmas say that about their little ones, but in this case I am not just sharing bragging rights. This little man has the most imaginative and magical outlook on life of any 4 year old I have every known. Spending time with him helps me to regain my perspective on life.

At the age of 4, Xavier is a master video game player. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and when one of his TV characters is in some sort of trouble, he takes it very personally, wringing his hands until they have been saved by their own ingenuity or the intervention of the inevitable super hero. He can be totally realistic and down to earth one minute, and the next he is rolling on the floor in a fit of giggles over the antics of a pink, battery-operated hippo with wings that flap as she sings. He can spend an hour patiently rolling, slicing and dicing play dough, then decide that he has an overwhelming need to run from one side of the room to another just to release all that pent up energy in a productive way. He loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, following in a long line of lovers of the Great Mouse dating back to his great-grandma and the original Mickey Mouse Club on black and white TV! He also believes that Spider Man is a superhero you can depend on – he obviously sees flaws in the others that we can’t. I trust his judgement.

Xavier teachers me to be open to anything. He demonstrates the ability to be totally focused on what he is doing one minute, and then move on to the next one with total abandon and an all-out attitude His motto is play big or don’t play at all. He sees magic in a flower and channels joy watching birds in flight.

Sometimes after being with him, I try to remember what it was like to be 4. I try to remember if I ever saw life in such magical ways. I grew up in the city without much exposure to nature until the age of 6 when we  moved into a house with a big backyard and became such a permanent fixture exploring every inch of it that my mother had to practically drag me back indoors.  I did, however, have a very vivid imagination. TV for kids was kind of limited back then so my adventures had to be self-made. However,  I absolutely believed in fairies and talking animals. I also believed that teddy bears were magic, one piece of my childhood that I still hold on to today.

Sometimes we have to call a time out to life and let ourselves remember what it was like to live with abandon and imagination. We need to stop looking at life through the lens of drama, chaos and fear, and remember what it was like to sit and watch a star blinking, or listen for Santa creeping into the house on Christmas Eve, or play dress-up and imagine going to the ball with Cinderella. We have to bring back the magic, because when we do, possibilities we couldn’t conceive of before suddenly float into our consciousness like blowing bubbles in a breeze day.  When we look at the world like a child, we see with innocence and honesty. What a great world we could build with that view!

This week our writing assignment on the Home Page is going to let us be kids again. Maybe when we’re done, our own perspectives will have changed just a little bit. As always, have fun with it, and keep writing! Peace and blessings.

 

It Always Comes Back To Walden

“Be resolutely and faithfully what you are. Be humbly what you aspire to be … man’s noblest gift to man is his sincerity, for it embraces his integrity also.”

Henry David Thoreau

I don’t think there is a generation alive on the planet today that does not contain a contingent of Henry David Thoreau lovers, specifically, lovers of his greatest work, “Walden.” In every generation for the last 150+ years, young and old have dreamed of leaving the rat race behind and going to live deliberately in the woods to follow their true passions. I am one such person.

I discovered old Henry David (as I refer to him) a little later than most people who were introduced to his work in college or high school. I did not complete my college education until I was in my 30’s, having returned to school to get my degree when my girls were old enough to look after themselves while Mom divided her time between them, a job, and school. In any case, one of my favorite English professors had us read Walden as part of our class work and it wasn’t long before I realized that here was a man who had somehow looked into my own heart and found my deepest desires. From that moment on, Walden became my guidebook for living. It took me another six years before I started my own journey to find my Walden Pond and for the last 25 years it has felt as if Henry David was with me every step of the way.

I have been doing a great deal of research recently in preparation for completing the last book in my  Third Age Trilogy due out in January (books One and Two are available on Amazon. Check the menu on the Home Page for links). Currently, I am reading a book called “The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling,” by Stephen Cope, Director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living (this place is at the top of my bucket list). One of the chapters in the book just happens to be about my hero, Thoreau. I discovered a great deal about him that I did not know, including the fact that although his passion was to stay in Concord and write from his heart, he was convinced by friends and family, including his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to go to New York and become a “real writer.” So that is what he did. For two years he wrote and strived to publish what was then the accepted norm in literary circles, and all the while he was homesick and miserable for the life he loved. Finally, he came to the conclusion that he had to live the life he was meant to live and to “be resolutely and faithfully” who he was. Cope writes that even though Thoreau was thought to be a loser by society and the cultural norms of the time, he “embraced his inner loser … he was engaged in dharma that was right-sized.” In 1845, Thoreau returned to Concord to begin his two-year experiment to “live deliberately” beside Walden Pond where he penned his most famous works.

Stephen Cope tell us that: “It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every individual human soul to be utterly and completely itself-to be that jewel at that time and in that place, and to be that jewel utterly.” An authentic life is a life lived in integrity, that is, when our outer lives and our inner lives are in harmony. Thoreau wasn’t any more in harmony in New York City than I was. Even when I’ve wandered off my true path and found my life being lived by the beliefs of others, it has always been the calling of my inner Walden that has brought me back to authenticity, to the jewel I was meant to be.

It is our responsibility to ourselves and the world to take the gifts that we have been given and live the life we are meant to live. If we are sincere about creating our authentic lives, we have to connect to those gifts and wear our jewels proudly, without regret or fear of what others will think of us. To do anything else would be to deny who we truly are.

Where in your life have you been discouraged from living the life you were meant to live? Our writing assignment this week is going to ask us to explore those moments when we do not allow our jewels to shine. As always, have fun, and keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

The Present Within

“When you are born, your work is placed in your heart.”

Kahlil Gibran

I recently came across this quote by the brilliant Lebanese-America poet and writer, Kahlil Gibran, author of one of the most beloved inspirational books of all time, “The Prophet.”  As soon as I heard it, I had one of those spiritual, transformative moments where you know the truth of something down into the very center of your soul. The poet could have been talking about me.

I have known that I wanted to be a writer since I was 5 years old. I learned to read at an early age. My older sister was two years ahead of me and when she learned to read, I sat with her while she did her reading homework and learned, too. By the time I started school myself, the traditional Alice and Jerry Readers were a piece of cake for me. I had already moved on to The Bobbsey Twins Series by the age of 6, and by 9 or 10 I was devouring Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. However, it was when I was 5 years old that my mother shared what was to me the revelation of a lifetime, one that would determine the course of my life.

Sitting with a story book on the floor as my mother sat in her favorite chair knitting, I asked her where books came from. She explained that someone came up with an idea for a story and then wrote it down. Someone else added pictures, put it all together, and you had a book. Her answer hit me like a spiritual awakening! I could almost see white light all around me and a chorus of angels singing Hallelujeh! Why, my little head was always filled with stories! I told them to my dolls, and together we went on great adventures together, at least in my vivid imagination. Once I had my writing skills up to par with my reading skills … why, I could write my own books! At that moment, the work that was placed in my heart when I was born opened like a cherished present on Christmas morning.

Of course, as the years went by, the rest of the world did their very best to persuade me that being a writer was just a flight of fancy. All of the usual reasons why it wasn’t possible were laid before me: “You can’t make a living as a writer; you’ll starve; only a few lucky people get published; you have to know someone in the business; writing isn’t a real job.” Then, of course, as we are also talking about cultural norms about women in the 50’s and 60’s, we have to add: “You’ll just get married and have kids like everyone else, and then you’ll forget all about it. Get a job as a secretary until you get married and save for your wedding instead of hiding up in your room writing!”

My hopes dashed, I let my parents, well-meaning though they were, live my life for me. I got a job in the city, worked as a secretary, got married, had kids … but I never stopped writing. I wrote when the kids napped. I wrote in the middle of the night. I got up before anyone else did and wrote. I sent out submission after submission and got enough rejection letters to wallpaper my kitchen. Still, I wrote. I went to the library and got out every book about writing that I could find. After 5 or 6 years of rejection from the publishing world, my husband handed me one as well. Now a divorced mother of two small children, going back out into the workforce took precedence over my writing. I still found time to write, though, even if it was only for myself. I was able to find a few jobs where I could use the writing skills I had learned on my own, like writing press releases, writing copy for business-to-business marketing tools, and newsletters for non-profits, along with the usual administrative assistant duties. It was still writing, and it was helping to sharpen my writing even if I didn’t know it. It wasn’t until 1992, when the last kid left the nest and I walked away from it all, moving out-of-state to a quiet little village to finally write full-time, that my life-long knowing turned into a reality.

The point of this story is to say that all of us, whether we know it or not, have our work hiding in our hearts like that last present hiding way behind the Christmas tree, the one we didn’t see because of all the glitz and glitter of the bigger presents in the front. Even if we think we don’t know what our work is, what we are meant to do that makes the life we are living an authentic life worth living, it is still there. Every once in a while we will get a little nudge in a certain direction, or something will catch our attention and not let it go. We’ll see something, hear something, feel something, and our inner knowing will tell us that it rings true. Whatever that is, follow it, wherever it leads. As Wayne Dyer used to say: “It doesn’t matter if it’s raising horses in Montana or selling ice cream in Alaska!” Whatever it is, when you know the truth of it in the center of your soul, you have found what was placed in your heart at your birth.

This week’s writing assignment on the Home Page will ask us to go to that place where things ring true and write about those moments of knowing, those glimpses of the truth, that live there. As always have fun and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

 

The Poetry of Living

I recently came across a wonderful new book about writing. It’s called: “Writing As A Path To Awakening: A Year To Becoming An Excellent Writer and Living An Awakened Life,” by Albert Flynn DeSilver. In it, the author breaks down the craft of writing by taking each month of the year and assigning a specific lesson on the writing life, along with meditation and writing practices, to help you become a more proficient, and more authentic, writer. I was especially taken with the chapter for April. It dealt with the subject of “blossoming” and it was titled: “Poetry: the Language of Possibility.”

In the chapter for April, DeSilver asks us to “live your life like a poem.” He talks about poetry as a vehicle that allows us to thoroughly experience our lives and the world around us. He says of poetry: ” It doesn’t have to mean anything. It just has to touch us, be beautiful, spark our imagination, curiosity and creativity.” What a wonderful prescription for creating and living an authentic life! I’m not suggesting that our lives don’t have to “mean” anything.” Instead I am proposing that we can, like poetry, create something beautiful, something that sparks our imagination, curiosity and creativity. We are all, each and every one of us, creative geniuses. The experience of living has, as Buckminster Fuller was fond of saying, “de-genuised us.” When we slow down and allow ourselves to notice what is going on around us, using all of our senses, we see things that would normally go unnoticed by us on any given day. Take a look at a poem that was included in this chapter:

“Turquoise laughter
An eagle in the sky
A butterfly whispering
In a dragonfly’s ear,
The angels peering in
the corner window
Just like a poet weaving
her story
on a loom of sawdust.”

That poem was written by a nine-year old girl! What an eye for detail and a wealth of creativity! At first glance it has no meaning, and yet, at second glance, it says so much about the comings and goings of life all around us, and the meaning we give them. What meaning do you give to the every day comings and goings of your life? What meanings do you give to making the bed, washing the dishes, watering the garden? Do you make the time to feed your genius by sitting still and watching the world? Do you notice the songs of birds overhead, the passage of clouds across the sky or “a butterfly whispering in a dragonfly’s ear?” These are all part of the poetry of our lives. When we make a poem of our lives, we make a life filled with authenticity, creativity and meaning.

This week’s assignment is going to ask you to put away everything you were taught about poetry in school, all the rules and guidelines for writing poetry, and make a poem of your life. As always, have fun with it, and keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

The Business of Forgiveness

“Forgiveness of myself and others releases me from the past. Forgiveness is the answer to almost every problem. Forgiveness is a gift to myself. I forgive, and I set myself free.”

~Louise Hay

Powerful words and, for many of us, difficult words to say. If we want to create our authentic lives, we have to be willing to put the past to rest, and that means forgiving everyone and everything in our past that we believe has kept us, or is still keeping us, from living an authentic, happy life. That includes forgiving ourselves as well. Forgiving ourselves for causing our own unhappiness is probably the hardest pill to swallow and most often is the place we need to start from if we are to make any headway in our journey to wholeness and happiness.

I know lots of people, myself included, who swear that they have put the past to rest and have done heaps of forgiveness, but haven’t quite gotten the message that forgiving ourselves is an ongoing job. When it comes to ourselves, our business is forgiveness. Let me give you an example.

I was in a really crummy mood yesterday. I’m still not sure exactly what got me there. Perhaps it wasn’t just one thing, but a series of things that, like dominoes, just continued to fall until my whole day was spent in negativity. When I finally sat myself down and got a hold of my emotions, I automatically went into blame mode: “You write about this stuff, for heaven’s sake! You’re supposed to be this being of happiness and joy, and yet here you are sabotaging a perfectly good day because of some computer glitches and other people’s bad attitudes. Some spiritual person you are!”

It’s so easy to fall back into patterns of behavior that we thought we’d left behind. If you realize that coming into this new awareness of the power of our thoughts and the freedom to choose better ones is a recent phenomenon in our lives, while the pattern of negative thoughts and behaviors have been with us since we were kids, you realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are we. It takes a lifetime of constantly being aware of our thoughts, aware of the power of the present moment to turn things around, and the power of forgiveness when we forget these things, to change a crummy mood to a lovely mood.

After I took the reins of my thoughts back from my ego, I sat myself down and did one of my favorite Davidji meditations: “Today, I begin again.” We all get another chance, day after day, moment after moment, to take back our runaway thoughts and direct them towards happiness. Discovering our authenticity, and living it every day, is not a once and done thing; it’s an ongoing, moment-to-moment journey, and in every moment we have to be willing to forgive ourselves when we step off the path:

I forgive, and I set myself free.

This week’s assignment over on the Home Page is going to ask us to practice forgiveness. Just like writing and meditating, forgiveness is also a practice. Our goal is to get really, really good at it!

Peace and blessings.

 

 

 

A Life Without Want

“What’s it like to be me without wanting?”

I let these words sink in for a few moments. What a powerful question!

I was watching a video by Robert Holden, Ph.D., author, teacher, host of an online radio show on Hay House called “Shift Happens,” and creator of the first Happiness Project, funded by the National Health Service in the U.K. in 1994. The video was a very informative and, at times hilarious, TEDx  Findhorn speech called The Tea Ceremony. I’ve been a fan of Robert’s for several years now. Aside from his soft, adorable accent and his endearing sense of humor, Robert’s entire career has been about teaching people how to love and be loved, and how to be happy. Every once in a while, however, he stops me in my tracks with something so profound that I have to step back and examine it … and do some very deep soul searching. This was one of those times.

What’s it like to be me without wanting? At first, I thought how impossible that would be until I separated out the idea of “needs” vs “wants.” So I eliminated basic “needs” like food, shelter, clothing, meaningful employment and rest, which left “wants.” Had I missed anything? What about love? Is love a “want” or a “need?” I decided that is was definitely a “need.” Studies had proven that children who are not loved do not thrive as they should. So if we added love to the “needs” list, what was there left to want?

I started a list of the most common things that people usually say they want. It looked something like this:

  • Money
  • the perfect partner
  • the perfect body
  • career advancement
  • the perfect house
  • a nice car
  • to be happy
  • friends

I looked at the list and decided that it was a pretty fair representation of what the majority of people strive to attain in their lives, their wants. Then I noticed that one item on the list wasn’t something to get, but something to be – happy. Happiness is a state of being, not a state of having.

I decided to devote one whole day to just being happy. As long as my basic needs were met, was it possible to go through a whole day without wanting and just “be”? As it turned out, it was much harder to do than you would think. oh, sure, there were moments when my mind said things like: “I want cup of coffee, ” or, “I want to read my new book,” or things to that effect. Those things were not life changing thoughts, just representations of a normal, daily life. However, what did surprise me was how many times during the day that I found my thoughts wandering into the realm of “want” as something that I thought would make my life more acceptable not only to others, but mostly to myself.

Here are a few examples:

  • Looking through a magazine, I was taken by what I thought was the “perfect” love seat for my TV/reading area and I felt myself really and truly “wanting” it (was it for comfort, or to impress people who came to visit me?).
  • During my morning walk I passed by someone’s front garden and “wanted” to be able to have one just like it (“want” equaled “jealousy”).
  • While putting on my sneakers to go out, I decided I “wanted” a new pair, not because the old ones were no longer serviceable, but because I “wanted” ones that were more fashionable (“wanting” a better self-image).
  • Standing in front of my refrigerator, which was full from my shopping trip the day before, I decided that what I really “wanted” was some fried rice and veggies from the Chinese restaurant down the block (was I really hungry, or simply not satisfied with what I had?).
  • Sitting at my desk writing, I looked up and out of the window for a moment and spotted a car going by, the exact make, model and color that I have “wanted” for quite a while. I even caught myself thinking: “That’s MY car they’re driving!” (that one felt like it encompassed all of the above!).

Some of these might sound like little things to you, and maybe they were, but the idea was that it is from wanting these little things that we graduate to wanting the big things, things we think we must have in order to have a perfect, happy life. The idea behind this experiment was not to learn about getting a perfect life, it was about learning what a happy, contented life was – a life without wants; a life that was about gratitude, acceptance, and – dare I say it – authenticity. Our authentic lives do not come with new clothes, new cars or perfectly manicured gardens. They come whole and complete just as they are, just as we do.

This week, as we work on our writing assignment over on the Home Page, I invite you to ask yourself the same question: “What’s it like to be me without wanting?” Can you go a whole day without wanting things beyond your basic needs and daily living? I think you’re going to come to some interesting conclusions about yourself and about the authentic life that you want to create. As always, have fun and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.