Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Playing the Hand You're Dealt

Let all things be exactly as they are.  –A Course in Miracles

There is currently a big brouhaha in American football over the referees.  Referees in any sport are subject to criticism and must have thick skins to do their jobs.  But the referees who are now officiating NFL games are replacements for the regular refs who are locked out during a labor dispute.  The new refs have walked into a firestorm.

The replacement refs are drawn from the ranks of retired officials, college refs, and refs from other leagues.  They have come under heavy criticism, to put it mildly, in the first weeks of the season as they scramble to get up to speed, learning new rules and applying them in the midst of fast paced games in front of tens of thousands of spectators and millions more watching on TV.

Last night the furor peaked over a call in the last seconds of Monday Night Football. With the game hanging on the last play, the quarterback threw the ball into the end zone as players for both teams reached for it and fell to the ground in a heap of arms and legs furiously fighting for the ball.  Two officials ran up to the scrum.  One official signaled a winning touchdown; the other signaled a losing interception.

Not a good situation to be in.  A decision had to be made, and the touchdown was announced. The Internet and TV commentators have been in an uproar ever since.

Although I have an opinion, I’m not here to debate the correctness of that decision, or any other decision the refs have made this season.  Like other fans, I have felt frustration and dismay over calls made and not made.  But more than anything, I have felt tremendous compassion for these people, thrown into a situation they did not seek out, unprepared for the responsibility thrust upon them, struggling to do their best in front of millions, vilified by millions more.

Have you ever had a nightmare about being called upon to do something you are not prepared to do?  I’ve dreamed that I have to take an exam for a class I didn’t know I was signed up for.  Oh, yeah, and those dreams where we show up in public naked or otherwise dressed inappropriately.  These refs are living that nightmare.

I don’t even have to look to my dreams.  I have been in real life situations where I was in over my head.  I’m thinking back now to when I was a young lawyer tagging along with more experienced lawyers to handle a negotiation for a multi-million dollar transaction.  My job was pretty much to watch and learn.  However, at one point in a meeting, I misunderstood something that was said to me and proceeded to do something so embarrassing (in a professional sense–I still had all my clothes on!) that I still cringe to think of it.  To the other lawyers’ credit, they did not subject me to the sort of reprobation heaped upon these replacement refs.  In fact, they quickly corrected my mistake and moved on with no comment.

It happens.  Tony Dungy, a former Super Bowl winning coach and now a commentator, observed that while it is true that mistakes are being made by the replacement refs, nevertheless coaches and players must go ahead and play the game.  You play the hand you’re dealt.  You don’t blame the refs.  Or the weather.  Or the injuries.  Or the alignment of the planets.  You do your best with what you’ve got.

There are lots of folks screaming for the return of the regular refs.  There are probably a few replacement refs wishing the same thing.  At the least, I’m guessing those replacement refs wish they had had more time to get prepared.  They probably wish they had had more NFL experience before having the whole country scrutinizing their every move.

We expend a lot of energy sometimes wanting things to be other than what they are.  I’m still looking for more than 24 hours in a day, for example.  And I’m really really wishing I had the old Blogger interface back.  But there is wisdom in Tony Dungy’s words.  We can rant all we want, but in the end we are left to play the hand we’re dealt.

Have you ever found yourself in over your head, needing to perform with inadequate preparation or experience?  (If you are a parent, the answer is definitely yes!)  What helped you get through it?  Or perhaps you were on the other side, with more experience but having to deal with folks who were not up to speed.  How did you handle that?

I hope you will share your own experiences.

related post: Bloom Where You’re Planted

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Am Not Angry!

I woke up to a new Blogger interface that I'm still trying to figure out. Meanwhile, I have a new guest post at Jodi Aman's wonderful blog. Please read the post at Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace. And if anyone knows how to make paragraph breaks in this new interface, please let me know! I will repost this once I get things figured out. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Place -- Home Version

The happy place that I write about is not meant to be a physical place, but rather a place of inner joy and peace. Nevertheless, there are physical locations that seem to draw us to that inner place. Many of us think about places in nature, for example, like the ocean or the mountains. But today I realized that I have happy places in my house as well.

Lately, my favorite place in the house has been my daughter’s former bedroom. After she moved into a different room, I started using the room as a writing room. A folding card table and chair were all I needed at first. Then I moved in some bookshelves. A couch and reading lamp. Once I realized that I was spending so much time in there, I moved the canary from my bedroom to the new room, so that I had pleasant company.

Today, I was sitting on the couch reading, with a cup of tea, listening to the canary sing, watching the birds on the feeder outside the window in the rhododendron bush. The window was open and a warm September breeze drifted in. I was filled with a deep sense of well-being and I realized that I almost always feel that way in this room. I love the old rug, and the soft color on the walls. When I’m in this room, my spirit smiles.

I love my home, all of it, but this room is a special place, my home version of a happy place.

When you are at home, where do you like to hang out? Do you have a special happy place at home?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book and Other News

Today I’m digressing from my usual type of post to bring you some news. Several readers have asked me for more information about my book, which will be released October 2.

The book has the same title as the blog and, as you can guess, is based on the 10 Steps. It will be available in paperback and ebook. Bookstores might not have it on the shelf, but can order it. (I encourage you to buy from your local independent bookstore!)

All the proceeds from the book will be donated to Edwards Center, a nonprofit serving adults with developmental disabilities, including my two sons who live in one of their group homes and work at one of their sheltered work sites. Edwards Center is an amazing organization providing a wide range of services through their group homes, work sites, and alternative to employment care sites. They run a tight ship financially, meaning that over 90% of every dollar donated goes directly to client care. So buying a copy for yourself and more copies to give as gifts will make a difference to people who will directly benefit from your generosity. I’m covering my own costs, so all proceeds will go to Edwards Center. You can find out more about Edwards Center here.

The gorgeous cover of the book features a painting by my most talented sister. When I started the blog over two years ago, my sister was the first person to encourage me to write a book and promised that if I did, she would design the cover. I’m so fortunate that she is a sister of her word!

Several readers have expressed interest in doing a review. If you would like to, please contact Debbie Jayne at deborahajayne@gmail.com and she will get a copy to you in whatever format you prefer.

Debbie is helping me with publicity, and I want to thank her for donating 20% of her fee to Edwards Center. I also want to thank my editor, Kristin Theil from Indigo Editing & Publications, who also donated part of her fee to Edwards Center. Their generosity has made this book project even more rewarding and exciting for me.

As long as we are making announcements, I would like to mention a couple of things that will be starting up in January. The Joy Book Club will be forming online, and in person for folks in the Portland, Oregon, area, to read and discuss books that bring more joy into our lives. Please let me know if you are interested. You can find out more here.

In addition, we will be starting an online group beginning January 1 to study A Course in Miracles. We will be going through the 365 lessons in the workbook together. Please let me know if you are interested. You can find out more about the course here.

Okay, I think that’s it! Thanks for your patience in wading through all this information. I will get back to regular posts next time.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at galenpearl@gmail.com.

Blessings to you this fine September day!

[Please note that after much trial and error, I managed to put an image on my post today--a first!]

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Half of the Bargain

I will fight no more forever. –Chief Joseph

I have read several blog posts in recent weeks focusing on the choice to be right or happy. Then yesterday, I picked up the book I’m reading and there it was again. Okay, universe, you have my attention.

Indeed, once I stopped and thought about it, the relevance of this issue to my life right now became immediately apparent. Since I wrote several weeks ago about an upsetting incident, I have continued to replay the event in an endless loop. Tension remains in my spirit, causing me discomfort, motivating me to explore ways to restore peace, frustrating me when no solution seems available.

The Tao Te Ching counsels, “After a bitter quarrel, some resentment must remain. What can one do about it? Therefore the sage keeps his half of the bargain but does not exact his due.”

Hmm. What can I do about it? Well, I can’t go back and change what happened. I can’t control what anyone else thinks about or does in response to what happened. There’s the rub. I want to restore my inner peace by “fixing” what is out there, beyond my control. So what can I control? My “half of the bargain.” What does that mean?

For one thing, it means dropping labels. In his book, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, Deepak Chopra says, “No one has ever been made happy by proving that they are right. The only result is conflict and confrontation, because the need to be right always makes someone else wrong.” As soon as I attach right and wrong labels, I have separated myself from the other person. Peace is no longer possible.

For another thing, my half of the bargain means taking myself (my ego) out of the story, realizing that it really isn’t about me. As soon as I react in fear or anger, as soon as my feelings get hurt, as soon as I start trying to fix things or wanting the other person to behave in a certain way, then I have made the issue about me. I have made myself important. And I have made my well-being dependent on what happens “out there.” This only maintains the struggle.

I am reminded of a conflict I was engaged in years ago. Every effort I made to negotiate a settlement was met with resistance and counter demands I was not prepared to agree to. Finally, I gave up, fully expecting to be sued. Miraculously, the conflict vanished. I realized that I had prolonged the conflict by trying to force peace.

A Course in Miracles teaches, “Mistake not truce for peace, nor compromise for the escape from conflict. To be released from conflict means that it is over. The door is open; you have left the battleground.” That’s what I want to do. Leave the battleground. I’m still energetically engaged in a situation now past. I may have left the physical battleground, but the battle continues in my spirit. My desire to be right masks the fear that perhaps I’m not.

Instead, I see that the question of who is right and who is wrong is itself meaningless and only serves to sustain the artificial divide between self and other. I’d rather have an open hand than an upper hand. So I’m walking off the battleground. It’s over.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. –John 14:27

related posts: The Way of No Way; Beyond Right and Wrong; No One Wins in Court

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ants in My Pants!

I was sitting in my garden the other day. For once I went out there with no agenda. I didn’t even have a book to read. I just wanted to sit and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

So I sat down and looked around the yard at the colorful flowers. Ahhhh. In less than thirty seconds, I noticed the clumps of grass pushing up between the stones in the patio. It would just take me a second to pull those up, I thought. I felt my body start to move. No, just sit here.

A few seconds later, I noticed the bird feeder. The seed level was getting low. It will just take me a second to fill that up. I felt my body start to shift. No, just sit here.

I leaned back and looked up at the clouds drifting by. Hmm, those hanging baskets need water. It will just take me a second to grab the hose....

And so it went. Wow, I thought, this relaxing business is not easy! I’m just going to anchor my body in this chair and not do anything. Just be. My breath deepened. My muscles untensed.

A few seconds passed. I wonder what’s for dinner. Let’s see, what do I need from the store?


related posts: You Are Here; Sit! Stay! Heal!; The Hidden Life of Minds