Poem – discipline

In order to gain something you need,
you have to give up something you want.

Reading, study, sleep,
TV and the internet
for instance.

Consider the
monkey with his hand in the jar.
He can hold onto what is in the jar,
or pull his hand out
and be free.
He can’t do both.
What are you holding onto?

Time, money, energy
– these are all things we spend.
Are they giving good value for you?

Money and energy

If somebody comes up to you and asks for $20 and you give it to them and it’s not a hardship for you, then everything is okay. They aren’t borrowing it – they just want $20.

But what happens when they come up to you the next day and ask for another $20? Do you give it to them? If you do and it’s not a problem, then again everything is okay.

But what about the next day
and the next day
and the next day?

If they keep asking you for money and you keep giving it to them you might start to feel resentful. You might think “I really don’t have this kind of money to give away. Why does this person keep asking me for money?”

Really the question is – why do you keep giving it to them if there’s a problem?

This isn’t about money, but money is a good way to get into this idea. Money represents energy. Someone can’t take something from you without your permission. Someone can’t take advantage of you without you letting them do it.

If there’s a coworker who is constantly shirking at work and you constantly have to pick up her slack, then that’s your problem, not her problem. She is a genius. She figured out how to get paid to do half her job. Meanwhile, you’re doing twice the amount of work for the same pay.

If you feel put upon and upset and hurt by this, then that is all about you not establishing safe boundaries for yourself. Time to say no, and mean it. The other person will push you and test you – this is normal. Keep saying no.

Why do we so often care about not hurting other people’s feelings, while feeling hurt and upset ourselves? Time to change things. We don’t need to turn this so far around that we aren’t considerate of how others think and feel, but we do need to factor in how we think and feel. It isn’t fair if feelings aren’t equal.

On women’s clothing.

Women’s clothing is often shoddily made. Thin fabric, loosely stitched – it doesn’t last more than a season. That is part of the design because that style is out of date by then anyway. So women are constantly buying more clothes.

For some, that isn’t a problem. Many women practice “retail therapy” and go shopping when they feel down. Many women have closets full of clothes that they have worn only once, if at all.

This is a society encouraged addiction, and it is destroying us. We are being distracted from what is real.

Women’s energy is being diverted, diluted, disturbed.

Our time, our effort, our money is all the same. It is all energy.

When we are encouraged by society to shop, we don’t have time to think. We don’t look at what we are trying to “treat” in the sense of “cure” when we practice “retail therapy”. We treat ourselves with treats. We buy things instead of addressing our problems.

I know, from being a person in recovery that only causes more problems.

Also, when we are forced to shop for clothing because it falls apart or because it is out of style, we have less money for real things. We’ve also wasted our precious time not only shopping but also at work earning that money.

Imagine with me a world where women are freed from the social expectation to be beautiful and fashionable. Think how much time, money, and energy they would have to do things that matter, be people that matter.

Imagine the art that would be created. The diplomacy that would happen. The inventions, the solutions, the discoveries.

We have to be the ones to make this shift. We have to be mindful of how we are spending our time, money, and energy. This isn’t an “us and them” thing. This is just an “us” thing. It doesn’t matter who sold us this idea. It matters that we bought it. It is time to return it, like the broken merchandise it is.

Survey – the questions are all wrong.

My afternoon was interrupted by a survey call a week ago. I informed the guy that I’m on a “no call list” but he told me that my opinions matter, so I went through with it. In a way I wish I hadn’t. I learned that my opinions only matter if they fit in the boxes he had to tick off his survey.

He said that the survey would only take a few minutes. When it was over, half an hour was gone. Perhaps he was lying about it taking a short time just to get me to do it. Perhaps it took so long because the questions were all wrong.

The survey was about reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The choices were using more ethanol or fracking.

I of course am opposed to fracking, for numerous reasons. It poisons the water supply, it harvests yet another non-renewable resource (natural gas), and the product itself is dangerous and hard to transport. Natural gas isn’t the answer, and in order to use it for our cars we’d all have to buy new ones. You can’t get more wasteful than that. What would we do with all the old ones that won’t work anymore?

But I’m opposed to ethanol too. The more land we use to grow corn for ethanol is less land we use to grow food for people. Empty stomachs rate higher than empty gas tanks.

At one point he said as part of the survey that the corn used for ethanol wasn’t the same kind of corn used to feed people – and that it was also used to feed cattle. I had even more problems with that. Cows aren’t meant to eat corn. They develop E-coli in their guts when they eat that. It isn’t how they are designed. They are meant to eat grass. But then, that isn’t even the point. Again, there is a distraction there. The more meat we eat, the more unhealthy we are. Skip the whole issue about feeding corn to cows. Skip the cows entirely.

See my frustration? No matter what he said, it was wrong.

So, what about ethanol? It isn’t oil. We would reduce our “dependence on foreign oil” and “become more independent” as he said. Ethanol isn’t an efficient fuel. For many older model cars, just using it voids the warranty. It is a cheap filler.

So from my perspective, he was asking the wrong questions. Really, if we want to become less dependent on foreign countries by our need for oil, we need to stop using up so much energy.

My husband takes the train or the bus to work. Mass transit is more efficient. It is better to use one vehicle to take forty people to work than forty vehicles. When the weather is nice he takes his bike. As for me, I bought the house close to work. It is a short drive. Not only am I saving fuel, but time.

Both of us fill up our gas tanks only once a month. It isn’t everything. Everything would be not using gasoline at all. Because of how American neighborhoods are laid out, that is nearly impossible. The grocery store is too far away to bike to and get everything. We drive as little as possible, being mindful of combining errands and catching rides with friends if we are going to the same events.

It is something, and something counts. We are reducing our use.

Better than that, we as a culture need to start using renewable resources. Solar. Wind. Water. Oil and natural gas will be used up. Probably not in our lifetime, but does that matter? We need to think about future generations. What are we leaving our children, and their children? An empty husk of a planet? We had the party and left them the mess to clean up.

The guy administering the survey was just reading off the script. I had a hard time with them because they weren’t the right questions. If the choice is get more oil or go for more ethanol or go with fracking, it is still wrong. I argued with the questions in my frustration. There simply wasn’t a way to answer the questions the way he was asking them. I could tell he was trying to shoehorn me. I kept questioning. I kept getting frustrated.

I doubt I woke him up. I doubt he was even listening to what I was saying, because I wasn’t really answering his questions. The call “was being monitored for quality assurance purposes”, but even then I doubt I was able to wake the monitor up and make him think. I’m pretty sure they think I’m another quack who just doesn’t understand the questions. The problem is that I understand them too well.

I’m pretty sure my answers are being tabulated and calibrated and measured and made to fit whatever theory they had before they even started calling people. Surveys don’t prove anything. If you know what you are doing, they can mean anything you want them to.

I wish I’d not even talked to him. I feel like I wasted my time. I feel like my personal space was invaded for half an hour. To let someone talk mindlessly at you on the phone is just as invasive as letting them in your house. It is all space.

Cold complaint

The people who complain most about the cold weather are always the same people who aren’t dressed for it. They have dressed as if the weather is what they want it to be, rather than what it is. Something seems pathological about this. It also seems common.

The easiest way to be unhappy is to focus on what you don’t have rather than what you do have. If you are living in the past or the future you are not living in the now. If you aren’t in the now, nothing will satisfy you.

You are using the wrong template. Round peg, square hole and all that. If now is the round peg and you are trying to fit it into your expectations of how things were in the past or how you think they will go in the future, you’ll rarely be happy, because then isn’t now.

People who complain about the cold never have a hat on, never have a thick coat on, or if they have a coat they don’t have it zipped up so it isn’t insulating them. Hearing them complain is like watching someone hit their head against a wall and then they wonder why they have a headache.

I’ve given up telling people to get a hat or a coat when they complain. They always have an excuse. Secretly they just want to complain. They want to show off how miserable they are. They are being martyrs. Small martyrs, but martyrs nonetheless.

So while I’m using this as a “wake up” call like I’ve written about recently, I’m also ignoring it in a way. I’m not commenting on it to the person, either for or against. I’m not saying “Yes, you’re right, it is cold” or “It is winter, you know”. To comment on it is to reward it, to approve of it. Remember attention is energy, even if it is negative attention. For me to say anything, for or against, is to teach this person that this self-harming behavior is acceptable and they should continue it.

I knew those child-rearing books would come in useful.

“What you focus on expands”

I don’t have children. I read a lot of child-rearing books though. Whether someone is three or thirty, the same rules apply. Often you can learn about how to deal with adults by reading books about how to deal with children. Sometimes adults are simply children in bigger bodies. Getting older doesn’t always mean getting wiser.

I know a lady who insists that dog-training books are useful for learning how to deal with husbands. I know I’ve certainly learned a lot about customer service by watching “the Dog Whisperer.”

Either way, energy is energy. It is all about how you direct it and how you spend it. It has nothing to do with changing the other person. It has everything to do with changing yourself. If you present positive energy, you’ll get positive energy back. If you expect trouble, you’ll find it. So change yourself first.

The basic message that I’ve gotten from these sources is that any attention is better than no attention. So if you ignore your child (or dog, or coworker, or customer) when he is behaving correctly, and yell at him when he is misbehaving, he will keep misbehaving. Ignore the bad behavior, and praise the good.

Ignore what you don’t want. Don’t give it any energy.

People want energy, and they will take it any way they can. Even if it is negative, it is better than nothing.

Workplaces do their employees a huge disservice when they only communicate with their employees when they have made a mistake. It is far healthier to praise them for doing something right.

I have had several bosses who never got this. Their opinion was that you should know when you were doing right. You should know how to do your job, and take pride in it. They only talk to their employees when they messed up.

To them, they messed up a lot.

There is a lot to be said for praise. There is a lot to be said for letting people know that they are doing well. We all need to hear when we have done well.

Now, does this apply to everything? Can we take this and apply it to all things –not just people? Can we apply it to pain, and loss, and hurt? Can we apply it to physical as well as emotional pain?

Maybe. I’m working on it.

It seems like focusing on the good is always a good idea. Oprah says “What you focus on expands.” This seems very useful. You just have to be mindful of what you focus on – what you give attention to.

I’m reminded of the phrase “You’ll either find a way, or you’ll find an excuse.” It is your choice.

Energy – attention is attention, whether negative or positive.

Don’t give your energy to something that isn’t good. If there is a performer on TV who has “jumped the shark” and done something so egregious that the dictionary now has a new name for her actions, don’t talk about it. Don’t post pictures of it. This just gives it more energy. Negative energy is still energy. Let it go away. Let it disappear. Don’t even mention her name.

This is the same thing you learn with bad behavior and children. If you want a child to stop doing any bad behavior, don’t comment on it, but comment on the good behavior instead. Any attention is attention. If you yell at a child for doing something wrong, it is still attention. All people crave attention. If you yell or fuss, that behavior will happen again. Yes, this makes no sense, but it is true.

This is the same with celebrities or groups. This is the same with people who are celebrities just because their fathers are famous, or groups that use the forum of media to spread their message of hate.

As long as the person isn’t doing something dangerous, ignore it. Don’t comment on it. Don’t post about it on your Facebook page. Don’t talk about it at work. Energy is energy.

Don’t spend time on things you don’t like. Don’t give them your energy or attention. Focus on the positive. Talk about what works, not about what is broken.

Yes, I’m kind of breaking my own rule here. I’m trying to shift a way of thinking, so I have to point this out. We have to shift the way we think in order for change to happen.