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Interacting with Plants, Animals and People

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I sat on a butterfly-shaped bench in the indoor exhibit, soaking in the trickly sounds of water  in a little man-made pond. The air was warm and pleasantly moist, pink and orange flowers and twisty-barked green trees canopied, draped and colored the rocks and stone pathways in this little wonderland. Butterflies of every color and size flitted around, sometimes gently landing on me.

Photo by Izabelha, Sxc.hu
Photo by Izabelha, Sxc.hu

There was nothing to say or do. I just sat and absorbed the calm of the environment into my cells.

I watched a young woman examining the foliage, looking for dying flowers to clip and prune. I could see by the focused way she studied each bloom that she understands a plant’s mood. She knows the difference between a plant’s expression that signals over-watering vs. parching, withering vs. finding its legs. How could she know this about a species that can’t talk?

I have always been  a sucky gardener. I don’t get plants at all I’m in awe of people who do. To me, reading people seems much easier. In fact, I had spent the morning on the phone with my mom, talking her through a crisis that had her anxious and delusional. She is recently widowed and has dementia. She was like a new person after we talked. I felt somewhat depleted, but very useful.

Connection to any living thing feeds the soul, whether it’s other people, an animal or even a plant. We are better when some living thing responds to us and when we understand and respond to it. The understanding that reading plants and reading people serve the same purpose made me feel like if I spent enough time, and really listened, I could maybe learn the language of plants too.

If it’s getting hard to connect with people as it sometimes does, maybe this will help. Either way, don’t give up on connecting with life and all that is living. We need this, we all really do.

Copyright January, 2014, Lisa C. DeLuca. For permission to reprint, contact the author. Please do not post this online. This article is for general information only and is not intended to be mental health or personal advice. Thanks for reading!

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Stop and Take Notice of Your Insides

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I am walking down the steps. The goldendoodle we are sitting for is at the bottom, looking for all the world like a raggedy stuffed animal toy from an alien planet.  Her cuteness makes me smile. She will go home tomorrow and the long curly white dog hairs and pieces of chew toy all over the rugs and couch will be expunged. I will welcome the peace that replaces the mess and chaos. At the same time,  I will miss the funny, joyful dog.

Stop and savor the sunset.
Stop and savor the sunset.

If you took a snapshot of my heart just then, as I paused on the steps to soak in what I was feeling, it would transmit  joy and thanksgiving. I love my life and all the good things in it.  I stood there for awhile, mid-staircase, savoring it all.

Funny goldendoodle - makes me smile.
Funny goldendoodle – makes me smile.

Life would have us all be too busy to stop and notice warm moments like these. 

Rituals and holidays are important, but some of them create so much busy-ness, they drown out the meaning  they claim to exist for.  I don’t want to be told I need to eat turkey and feel grateful today.

I think the better message is to take some things off your plate, stop what you are doing and notice these moments of joy and gratitude as they occur naturally. It takes practice to do this, and awareness, and openness.  We sometimes use the busy-ness of life and holidays to protect our hearts from opening to the deep-real. That is like knowing the heart beats without feeling its life-giving rhythm.

Goldendoodle with boy at sunset. Photo by M. DeLuca
Goldendoodle/alien stuffed animal with boy at sunset.

 

Copyright 2013, Lisa C. DeLuca. . Re-posting this article on the web is against copyright law and it will harm this website. Instead of copying this work, if you like it, post a quote from it and  link back to this page. If you would like to use my work in any form other than linking to it, please ask first. Contact me at  LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com. Thank you.

The information in this post is general information and is not a substitute for personal mental health advice.

Listen to your Calling

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I don’t know why I write, whether it will ever amount to what the world considers valuable: money or recognition. I don’t know if it’s all just a big waste of time. But I am compelled, so I write. I allowed myself to notice recently that I spend EVERY day thinking about what I will write. I think about writing even when I have nothing to write. This, I remind myself constantly, is reason enough to engage it.

What is it that you are called to do? Are you listening to that calling? Or ignoring it, squelching it, pushing it away? 

Children are often better than adults at knowing what they want to do and doing it. Adults ask too many questions. Photo by Mokra, Sxc.hu
Children are often better than adults at knowing what they want to do and doing it. Adults ask too many questions. Photo by Mokra, Sxc.hu

There are lots of things we have to do in a day, a week. But spending some time on your passion is what makes that week worth living. Regardless of the outcome. Regardless of whether it “amounts” to anything in the eyes of anyone else. We’re so obsessed with outcomes. I’ve struggled with this, but I do, in my better moments, accept that the outcome is not the point. I’m following where I’m led. And if it goes “nowhere”, well, whose label is that anyway?

Maybe what we love to do is worth doing even if it is only whimsy.

I work with people who are very burned out because of the enormous and unending responsibilities they have, taking care of a sick loved one. Doing something they love, even if only for a half-hour, is the only way they keep themselves going. It releases and recharges them. Statistics show those caregivers who take care of themselves in this manner are healthier and actually live longer. The life force is never wrong.

Copyright 2013, Lisa C. DeLuca. . Re-posting this article on the web is against copyright law and it will harm this website. Instead of copying this work, if you like it, post a quote from it and  link back to this page. Please do not reprint or distribute my work without permission. If you would like to use my work in any form, other than linking to it, please contact me at LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com. Thank you.

The information in this post is general information and is not a substitute for personal mental health advice.

Don’t Just “Get Through” It

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What are we always waiting for that we think is better than what we have right now? I want to do more than just “get through” the day, the work-week, the school year, college, the kids college, the daily chores, and my whole life up until retirement.

Today I stopped and looked – just looked – at my children and absorbed them into my heart, just as they were in that ordinary moment. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.

I don’t want to retire from living until the life has left my body. Every moment carries a possibility of igniting the passion that leads to the meaning of life.

Keep your hart and soul open to the sparks. Photo: Dantada, Morguefile.com
Keep your heart and soul open to the sparks. Photo: Dantada, Morguefile.com

Being open to these possibilities, I’ve learned, requires practice and attention. It involves keeping the heart open.

A few years ago I was sick for five months. The worst part was being unable to take care of my children, who were young. The daily chores that used to be mundane and annoying to me were not an option now. I felt helpless. As a mother of small children, helpless is maybe the worst feeling you could have. But I was still well enough to do laundry. My folding those clothes took on new meaning for me. I did it religiously. It was my great act of love for my family, and I was grateful, at the time, that I could even do it since I couldn’t do all that much else for them.

When I do housework now, having been restored to full health, I have this new perspective about it. Do I forget and complain sometimes? Sure. But I have this opportunity now, to be alive, in love and gratitude, when I am doing housework, rather than just getting through it.

– copyright Lisa C. DeLuca, November 2013. All rights reserved. Please do not copy this work without permission of the author. Contact me at LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com

Yes, but Does it Feel Right to You?

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You said what you said. You did what you did. Does it feel right? Is it you? Or were you doing that to please someone else?

The biggest source of regret I see is when people ignore or squelch their instincts, rather than act on them. Usually this is done to please someone else, or to keep the peace, or out of fear of expressing yourself and being judged by other people. And it usually feels really bad inside you. And you try to swallow that.

One day I realized I am stopping me. Then I got up and started living my dream. Photo: Sanja Gjenero, sxc.hu
One day I realized I was the one stopping me from living my dream. Then I got up and started my life. Photo: Sanja Gjenero, sxc.hu

Then when your bad feelings get worse, you have to live with the fact that you knew better. You knew. But you ignored your inner wisdom.

What’s stopping you from doing or saying what you know is inside of you? How do you cope with the angst that results from squelching yourself? Are you overweight? Sick? Depressed?

Revealing your true feelings, or just being yourself involves risk. Will someone get mad at you? Reject you? Blame you? Make fun?

Start with the premise that your gut instincts are there for a reason. They are important information about you and the meaning of your life. There is nothing awful about you that needs to be hidden. There is beauty there that is meant to be expressed. Of course, if you’ve done wrong you can make amends and don’t do those things again. Now is a new moment.

If you don’t know how to do or say what you really mean in a way that won’t be destructive or hurtful to yourself or someone else, get help. See a therapist. Read The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. Take a course in self-empowerment. You only have one life to live. Live it now.

Copyright 2013, Lisa C. DeLuca. . Re-posting this article on the web is against copyright law and it will harm this website. Instead of copying this work, if you like it, post a quote from it and  link back to this page. Please do not reprint or distribute my work without permission. If you would like to use my work in any form, other than linking to it, please contact me at LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com. Thank you.

The information in this post is general information and is not a intended as  personal mental health advice.

Say the Good Stuff

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Sometimes I am overwhelmed by a good feeling toward someone else, I want to say it, but my first reaction is to keep it in. I’ve learned to override that destructive, self-protective instinct and express what is on my heart.

If you suddenly feel warm feelings of love or pride towards your children, say it out loud. If you are humbled that your spouse has been there for you for all of these years, tell him. If your friend did something that inspired you, give her credit and let her know that she had an impact on you.

Say what is in your heart, with words and actions. Photo by: Cheryl Empey, Sxc.hu
Say what is in your heart, with words and actions. Photo by: Cheryl Empey, Sxc.hu

Here’s an idea: do it with strangers too. Verbalize the compliment that came into your head about them.

I am no longer surprised to notice how absolutely starved so many people are for positive praise. In our consumer-driven entitled society, so many of us are quick to complain about how others aren’t pleasing us. We don’t spare the criticism in our own self-talk either. This is not good.

Sharing the positives has a way of turning things around for everyone involved.

There comes a time when it is too late. At that point, all that was left unsaid can haunt us relentlessly. Say what you need to say. Do it now.

 

Copyright 2013, Lisa C. DeLuca. . Re-posting this article on the web is against copyright law and it will harm this website. Instead of copying this work, if you like it, post a quote from it and  link back to this page. Please do not reprint or distribute my work without permission. If you would like to use my work in any form, other than linking to it, please contact me at LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com. Thank you.

The information in this post is general information and is not a substitute for personal mental health advice.

Why am I Here?

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Do you know why you were born? What you are here to do?

Your purpose depends on your gifts. Do you know what your gifts are? Everyone has at least one. Your gifts are  the traits and abilities and passions that define you, that give you your unique identity. The ones that can be used for the good of others.

I watch so many people dismiss their own giftedness. The things that they do well, they cut down  and say, “Oh, anyone can do that, that is nothing special.”  Or, “Why doesn’t that person do what I do? Why do I always have

This is how using your gifts should make you feel. Photo by Anita Peppers, Morguefile.com
This is how using your gifts should make you feel. Photo by Anita Peppers, Morguefile.com

to be the one to do it?” If you say or think these things, you may be de-valuing  your unique gifts. I’ll show you what I mean by telling you about my friend Heather.

Doing What You Love

I love working on volunteer projects with her because Heather will happily do things that, to me, if I had to do them…..well,  truly I’d rather stick needles in my eyes. I value what she does so much, I don’t know if she has any idea how hard those things would be for me because they seem to come so easy to her.

I’ve learned not to volunteer for those kinds of jobs because I hate them and it makes me unhappy. But I contribute to the projects doing the things that I like to do, that maybe she wouldn’t think of doing. I don’t moan and whine that I have to do all the writing. I like it. She doesn’t complain that she organizes the events. She’s great at it. We appreciate each other’s contribution and we don’t try to make each other like the other. She uses her gifts, I use mine. Perfect.

Finding how to use your gifts in the way that brings you joy, rather than depletes you, should lead you to your purpose in life.

Do You Have Something to Offer?

I don’t care what you think is wrong with you, or how “defective”  or limited you think you are. Today is a new day. There is something of beauty inside of you that, when expressed, brings goodness to those around you. However tightly you cling to the belief that you were overlooked when “the gifts” were given out, I guarantee you were not.

So what it is that you love to do? What is it that you do that feels good when you do it? What did you always think you would like to do that you are not doing now? Start there.

Do what you love, find your purpose. Photo by Scott Middell, Morguefile.com
Do what you love, find your purpose. Photo by Scott Middell, Morguefile.com

Copyright 2013, Lisa C. DeLuca. . Re-posting this article on the web is against copyright law and it will harm this website. Instead of copying this work, if you like it, post a quote from it and  link back to this page. Please do not reprint or distribute my work without permission. If you would like to use my work in any form, other than linking to it, please contact me at LisaCDeLuca (at) gmail.com. Thank you.

The information in this post is general information and is not a substitute for personal mental health advice.