Don’t ease into it; push through with all you’ve got

Source: weheartit.com via Sherry on Pinterest

During my after work run the other day I was confronted with three hills towards the end of the run. Each hill was bigger than the previous and the last one was long and steep.

I started into the first hill at a sluggish pace. As I slowly plodded my way up the hill, it felt as if the hill was pushing back against me as I attempted to climb it. I felt as if I was going to stop and catch my breath because I was running out of steam.

Instead of stopping, I felt something inside of me trigger and I turned it on pushing into a aggressive pace as I finished the climb and crested the first hill. That was the inspiration that I needed because I powered my way up the other two hills with purpose and ease.

Catching my breath as I ran out the flat section after the last hill my mind replayed what had just happened. I wondered what was the difference between the first part of the initial hill where I felt like I couldn’t go on and the feeling of easily powering my way up the other larger hills.

The difference was my mindset. When I felt tired, I was running without purpose. I was running a flat section with my mind somewhere else and when I hit the first hill, it felt as if the run had gotten harder than I was ready for.

Once I changed my mindset to the purpose of climbing those hills and not giving up, I found a renewed vigor and motivation.

This example can be equated to any challenge. If you ease into a challenge without a sense of purpose it will slowly wear you down, even if it is not that hard. But if you jump into it with purpose and conviction, you will amaze yourself at how easily you can take on even the toughest challenge.

So the next time that you are faced with a challenge, don’t ease into it aimlessly. Push though it with purpose and conviction and give it all you have.

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20th Verse – Sustenance from the Great Mother

Source: 1x.com via Ana on Pinterest

Give up learning and you will be free
from all your cares.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?

Must I fear what others fear?
Should I fear desolation
when there is abundance?
Should I fear darkness
when that light is shining everywhere?

In spring, some go to the park and climb the terrace,
but I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.

Most people have too much;
I alone seem to be missing something.
Mine is indeed the mind of an ignoramus
in its unadulterated simplicity.
I am but a guest in this world.
While others rush about to get things done,
I accept what is offered.
I alone seem foolish,
earning little, spending less.

Other people strive for fame;
I avoid the limelight,
preferring to be left alone.
Indeed, I seem like an idiot:
no mind, no worries.

I drift like a wave on the ocean.
I blow as aimless as the wind.

All men settle down in their grooves;
I alone am stubborn and remain outside.
But wherein I am most different from others is
in knowing to take sustenance from the great Mother!

At first glance this verse appears to mean to just sit back and not do anything in your life. To instead just let things happen. However, I think that, much like the 3rd verse, Lao-Tzu is referring again to not forcing things that are not meant to be. Instead to focus on being one with the Universe/God and listening to your calling. I.e. Being instead of doing.

He says “I drift like a wave on the ocean”, meaning that he is not tied to any outcome, but instead is open to what life presents him with. “I blow aimless as the wind”, meaning he takes direction from the Universe/God and is not walking down a chosen path with the blinders on.

This verse also speaks of gratitude. He seems to be referring to being grateful for what you have instead of scurrying around for what you don’t have. “I accept what is offered” meaning that he accepts what the Universe/God presents him with and does not take more than he needs.

The last stanza stands out to me and really resonates with my life. First of all he says that “All men settle down into their groove”. To me this refers to how most people settle into a way of life and they stick with that way, never daring to venture out of their comfort zone and explore life. He continues by saying “I alone am stubborn and remain outside”. This is what resonates with me because I really have never been able to just settle into a groove. I am always looking for what else is in store. I believe that life is meant to be lived and not stuck inside a box to be stuffed away life some forgotten heirloom. The world is meant to be explored and we are all meant for so much more than becoming machines that eke out a living in order to buy more stuff that has no meaning.

Finally in the last sentence he refers to “knowing to take sustenance from the great Mother!”. According to Dictionary.com, sustenance is defined as “means of sustaining life”. If you get your meaning and direction in life from the Universe/God instead of living out of greed and selfishness, you are living at one with the Tao (or the way).

The Connections and Inspiration Award

Source: mentalhelp.net via Marin on Pinterest

Connections and Inspiration.

So Momma E. from “My Magnificent Mess” had nominated me for this Connections and Inspiration award and I am finally getting back to to pass it along as I said that I would. Here is the original post from Momma E. I know, I know; its been awhile. Sometimes I am slow to get back to things on my to do list. Perfect I am not.

Here’s the deal. In order to pay it forward, I need to create a New Blogging Award and give it to 3 or more other bloggers with whom I truly feel that connection. The rules to accept this award that Momma E. put forth are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and write a short post about blogging/connections/inspiration (one, two or all three)

2. Nominate at least 3 other bloggers you feel connected to and inspired by. People who have influenced you , your writing, or maybe even just something you read by them that resonated with you. Or, somebody who gave you a different viewpoint that made you stop and think. (that proverbial kick in the pants you may or may not need – but that gives you pause)

3. Copy and Paste the relevant portions of this post into your own nominations blog- and post.

4. Let those you nominated know.

5. Sit back and feel the love.

Since I started on this journey, I have come across many other bloggers and I am amazed by how many are on fascinating journeys of their own. As few I started to follow and some I just check in on now and then. I am still getting the hang of this whole blogging thing, but it is amazing to see all of these incredible blogs.

For this award I just picked a few from my list of usual ones that I read. Here are my nominations for my Inspiration Award, and a brief note why:

  • IStopForSuffering – This is a blog dedicated to spreading love, kindness and positivity. I love the inspirational posts that she writes here.
  • Evan at TheBetterManProjects – He is on an inspirational journey and his words are very moving.
  • Eva at the Mental Health Blog – She is self described as someone who had overcome depression, anxiety, and eating disorder in her own life. She has a wealth of interesting and inspiring things on her blog.
  • Brittany at Living Thoreauly – I love Brittany’s spirit and view on life. She is fearless in her quest and I admire her for that.

Check out their blogs and I hope you find enjoyment in their writing like I have.

19th Verse – The Supreme Excellence is Simplicity

Source: habituallychic.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,
and it will be a hundred times better for everyone.
Throw away morality and justice
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit
and there will be no thieves.

All of these are outward forms alone;
they are not sufficient in themselves.

It is more important
to see the simplicity,
to realize one’s true nature,
to cast off selfishness
and temper desire.

Simplicity of life is living from the peace and love that resides inside us as our true and naked nature.

Living in a manner to obtain certain statuses in society only takes away from that simplicity. Living to tout your sense of morality and justice to others and impose rules and restrictions in order for them to live to your expectations only makes people seek more immorality and injustice. Living for the adornment of the physical world’s treasures through industry and money only leads to people stealing and striving for those treasures.

Instead do not seek these outward forms of acceptance and value for your life. Live in a manner that benefits those around you and keep at bay your desire to obtain things for your own selfishness.

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow refers to in the image above, simplicity in all things is the supreme excellence.

Don’t let the bird poop ruin your view

Source: wallcoo.com via Lynn on Pinterest

It was a beautiful day today. The sky was blue, the air was warm and the sun was bright. Driving home from after yet another crappy workday, I was stopped at a traffic light. As I waited for the light to change and was tired of watching all the cars rushing around in a hurried attempt to get somewhere they desperately needed to be, I glanced up at the bright blue sky through my sunroof. I starred at the fluffy and wispy white clouds that looked like cotton strung across a blue background.

Sitting at the intersection starring at the sky seemed like an eternity and I didn’t want it to end. It was inviting and comforting. It was like the beauty of the universe smiling at me.

Just before the light turned green and my moment of euphoria was about to end I tilted my head back even further and my gaze swept towards the sky further behind me. As I did I noticed something on the glass of the sunroof towards the back.

The building where I work sits in an area that is notorious for geese. For some strange reason they hang out there all year long. While most birds fly south for the winter, these geese lazily stay in the same place throughout the seasons. They make nests in the window wells and planters. They begrudgingly lay in the middle of the roads and sidewalks. They complain to passers by. And they sit on top of cars parked in the parking lot as if they were placed there like couches in ones living room.

Of course with geese comes geese poop. I was enjoying the beautiful view of nature’s glory and there in the way was a slathering of geese poop between me and my view of the sky.

The light changed and the tragic started to desperately move again and as I drove away from the intersection I had a thought. That bird poop daringly clinging to the slick glass of my sunroof was like the negative thoughts that tend to plague me and ruin the view of my life.

“Don’t let the bird poop ruin your view on things”, I thought. I decided that the negative, defeating, and draining thoughts that tend to come into my mind would from now on be referred to as bird poop.

The beauty of the sky hadn’t changed. The bird poop has just gotten in the way of me seeing it. The beauty of life never changes either. It’s just the bird poop on my brain that gets in the way of me seeing it.

So when the negativity hits, I know that it is just bird poop in the way and once I remove it, a beautiful world is waiting behind.

Pain does not Equal Suffering

Source: 27.media.tumblr.com via Meghan on Pinterest

Many of us feel that we suffer due to the pains in life. These pains may be physical, mental or spiritual. They could be due to fears of the future, attachment to pains in the past or desire for things to be different than they are in the present.

Pain in life is inevitable. We will be hurt mentally, physically and emotionally. That is a fact of life. To attempt to avoid pain is futile and will keep us from living life. A few scratches and bruises to our ego, our heart or our mind mean that we are living.

Is suffering from these pains necessary?

Suffering on the other hand is something that we can control and does not need to be a part of our life. Suffering is attachment to outcomes and expectations.

Outcomes are related to the situations in the past where we don’t like what happened and we keep reminding ourselves of that fact. It’s that missed touchdown attempt that caused the team to lose the game in high school and we feel kept us from a professional football career (i.e. the uncle in the movie Napoleon Dynamite). Or it’s the speech that we blew and felt embarrassed by our failure and so we avoid speaking in public.

Expectations are related to situations that we are in right now or foresee in the future. We expect them to go a certain way and ruminate on all of the potential reasons that things could go wrong. It’s that fear of the upcoming presentation and the thoughts of what could go wrong. Or it’s the fear that we won’t be able to live up to someone’s expectations (or our own) and so we don’t want to attempt going for something we want.

If we let go of attachment to outcomes and expectations, we also let go of suffering. We let the pain of life happen (because it will) and then we let it go and continue on.
That doesn’t mean that we ignore it or act like the pain didn’t happen. We acknowledge it and learn from it, but we don’t limit ourselves because of it.

Example from my own life

I myself have blamed many of the negative situations in my life on the pain that life brings. It was not the pain, but rather my choice to suffer from them that caused the situations.

In my younger days, I had a girlfriend that I felt deeply in love with. She cheated on me in a “in your face”, deliberate and nonchalant manner. The pain caused by that was immense. However, even worse was all of the years that I carried that pain around and brought it into other relationships. As a result, I was possessive and non-trusting in relationships to follow and this led to a whole host of other relationship issues. It wasn’t until I let go of that pain that the suffering ended and I felt that I could trust someone.

The monk stuck in the mud

(there are many version of this story but here is my recollection and no matter how it is told, the lesson is the same)

There were two monks walking through the woods one day. They came across a woman in a fancy dress attempting to pass over a muddy patch in the trail without getting her dress dirty. As the monks came across her, the older monk picked her up and carried her across the mud and set her down on the other side. The younger monk looked at him in shock because he knew that monks were forbidden from touching women. As they continued on, the younger monk continued to think about how the older monk had disobeyed their rules.

Finally, after hours had passed, the younger monk became so obsessed with the situation that he burst out angrily, “you were wrong to carry that woman across the mud because you know we are not supposed to touch women.”

The older monk replied calmly, “brother, yes but I let that women go hours ago. You seem to be still carrying her with us”.

The older monk did what he felt was right and let go of the situation afterwards. The younger monk held onto the outcome that he did not agree with and as a result brought suffering upon himself.

How are the pains of life holding you back because you are still carrying something around that you should let go?

18th Verse – Virtue of the heart

Source: care2.com via Janet on Pinterest

When the greatness of the Tao is present,
action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of the Tao is absent,
action comes from the rules
of “kindness and justice”.

If you need rules to be kind and just,
if you act virtuous,
this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.
Thus we see the great hypocrisy.

When kinship falls into discord,
piety and rites of devotion arise.
When the country falls into chaos,
official loyalists will appear;
patriotism is born.

I was in Las Vegas this past week for a work related convention. This is a town full of hypocrisy. Wherever you turn there are people claiming to have your best interest in mind or to be providing you a service, but are really attempting to pull every trick in the book to rip you off. Its all about the almighty dollar.

Most of these people have turned their back on their own hearts and on the virtue that is a natural part of themselves and have focused instead on the pursuit of money. This pursuit is taken at any cost and without regard to any sense of kindness and justice.

This is also a town full of law enforcement, security, video cameras, and laws all created and present to counteract this absence of virtue.

For example on one of the cab rides through town, we had a virtuous cab driver. She asked where we were going like all of the other cab drivers. After we said where we wanted to go, she replied that she would take the back way instead of the highway. Our immediate thought was that she was trying to rip us off by taking the long route.

Instead as she drove she proceeded to inform us of a little known fact by travelers regarding Las Vegas cabbies. She told us of the ruse that most cabbies pull on unsuspecting visitors. They ask if you want to take the highway or the side streets. Most would think that the highway would be the fastest. It is typically not and is in fact often much more expensive.

She told us of a article in the news of a guy that was charged $50 to get from the airport to his hotel because the cabbie took the highway. The trip should have cost in the $20 range. They actually have a law that if a cabbie is caught doing this, they get a $100 fine and the rider gets a free ride.

We tried this on the way back to the airport on the way out of town. When we got in the cab at the hotel, we told him we were going to the airport and I said “take the back way and skip the highway”. He seemed to grunt when I said this, but he obliged. The trip cost about $13. The same trip on the way from the airport to the hotel when we had arrived in Las Vegas had cost us $28 because the cab driver had taken the highway.

This is just one small example in a world where laws, rules and rites of devotion abound in order to counteract the hypocrisy created by people’s own ignorance. This ignorance that I speak of is of their own kindness and sense of justice. They ignore it instead and put their attention on greed, avarice, and a sense of entitlement.

I wonder what a world we would have and what need for these rules there would be if people instead acted from their own heart.