Archives for the month of: August, 2012

Managing Expectations

Expectations can get us into trouble if they are unspoken or unrealistic. We  hear some individuals say we should  let go of expectations and outcomes to avoid disappointments and not miss the process of living and being in the moment. Yet, it seems impossible to be in the vast nothingness of having no expectations.  Even being present to the moment, can have its own expectation, for then we expect to be in the moment and when some thought drifts us away, we get disappointed we missed the present moment!

It seems life would have a sense of futility if we had no expectations, it would be devoid of meaning in many ways and feel quite disconnected to the continuity of life. Yet, being unaware of our expectations we have of anything is like being on automatic pilot and inviting total reactivity to our living…we totally release our power and feed  “victimhood and powerlessness”, quite pointless indeed if our goal is consciousness and empowerment.

Do you know what your expectations are?  Feelings can give us a clue to our expectations. Observe your feelings of disappointment for a day and be entertained by your expectations.  Ask yourself if they were realistic expectations, for at times they are just fanciful ones, and also ask yourself if you had spoken out about your expectations or remained silent and assumed everyone knew what you were expecting.

When we become aware of our expectations we can begin to manage them better on both counts…realistic versus fanciful, spoken or unspoken.  If our expectations are reasonable then we have conversation and negotiating points, if they are not, then we need to make the adjustments and lower the tone of our drama and disappointment.  If our expectations are spoken then no one feels misled, and unmet expectations can also become conversation and negotiating points.

Good communication skills will allow these conversations, negotiations, to take place, (these skills will be addressed separately as communication skills is a topic in itself), however, when we manage our expectations life becomes simpler and less wrought with surprise emotional landmines of disappointment and misunderstanding.

If we think we have no expectations, think again, maybe they are not  complicated ones  but even when we  click to access this blog we expect to find it easily and not run into technical issues. (although this seems to be a fast new norm now, many technology errors too often, too complicated, too disruptive to our immediate goals, etc, etc.). It is amazing how many expectations we have and how they often are the source of many of our maladies. It is a welcome insight each time we become aware of our expectations for then we can manage them in a way that is more useful and productive to the goals of living in higher consciousness.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

 

Advertisements

Decisions

Decisions…make one and you can create a new world or a new reality. Open a book and get transported to a new world or dilemma, get your worldview challenged or feast your fantasy. Pick up the phone and you may find frustration with the phone tags, machine responses, or joy in the solution you seek. Some decisions have the capacity to change a moment, others a lifetime.  “I do ” at the wedding altar is quite different from the “I do” on the witness stand to the “I do” when asked if you own something you are claiming. Yet they are all decisions.

Some decisions can be made in our mind only and our circumstances do not change only our perspective, others are executed and our circumstances change for the better or worse.

Indecision can buy us time or create hell (as per Dante’s definition of hell: indecision). Make a decision and change your mind if things do not work out.  Yet some re-decisions and decisions create major life inconveniences.  We are always deciding from the moment we awaken to the time we fall asleep. Shall I have coffee or tea, call them or not, wear a coat, take an umbrella, make a lunch date, pay a bill now or later or never, break up or ignore or forgive. Little decisions, big decisions.

Decisions are powerful and are a tool we often undervalue.  In retrospect we know the decisions we make consciously or unconsciously as the evidence is before us due to their consequences.  But can we make decisions mindfully and proactively or leave it to chance and say “let’s see what happens” and be reactive when the circumstances change without our input. Not to decide is to decide.

For when we offer no input others basically decide and we abide or balk.

All decisions are powerful when they change our life, yet the most important of all decisions is to choose the attitude with which we will respond to all events in our life. Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, movingly shares his experiences and insights as he lived his days in Auschwitz and invites us to explore the choices he made through the power of decision.

There is a process for decision making. Most of us  may know it but it never hurts to review.

1. Know what your are deciding.

2. Know all your options.

3. Weigh each option against your values.

4. Know the implications of each decision to the best of your ability as there will always be unforeseen consequences. Guaranteed!

5. Live out the decision in your mind only and exclude all other choices for a period of a week or two and allow all feelings related to the decision to surface.

6. Explore all the feelings that surface with the decision and process them.

7. Make another decision based on your options and repeat the mental and emotional exercise.

8. Determine which decision you can live with in peaceful co-existence.

9. Make the decision.

10. Execute

11. Re-evaluate after a period of time to see it if still fits into the goal you were seeking.

Which decision will you make next?  Will you decide to heal and become the best you?  Will you choose to evolve and rise to a higher state of consciousness and being.  A state of unity not division?  A state of love not fear?   Can you live in these decisions, sustain the decision with the actions they require?  Or is it all just “lip service?”  There is an adage that says:

“Put your money where your mouth is!” What will be different in your life as a result of your decisions or indecisions?  Decisions…make them and your world changes.  Create a new world, a new reality with a decision.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

 

Coping…How Do You Cope?

 

Coping…how do you cope?  Coping with life simply means how you deal with what comes your way in life.  We all cope.  We learn to cope as children within the milieu we find ourselves in (called family or our origins) and through no choice of our own are thrown into this world in a rather vulnerable state.  We attempt to figure out how to survive this milieu. We learn many ways of coping.  We leave this milieu and have our survival plan in place.  What we learned may or may not serve us well.  We do not always have the best models in life but we have learned our coping skills from our first school called family.  Can we change them? Certainly we can if they do not serve us well because they are all learned behaviors. But will we stop and examine our coping to determine if it is serving us well?  Not always.  

There are two kinds of coping…positive and negative.  Do you know what your coping is like?  Negative coping is dealing with life in ways that do not really solve the problem, but rather escape it or keep you numb from the pain of the problem and by utilizing this negative coping, create another problem.  For instance, you drink or use drugs to escape and numb out painful feelings or you shop beyond your financial budget, but you do not solve the problem or address it, just escape it and by keeping up this behavior to cope, create a problem for yourself…too much drinking that could lead to abuse, addiction or in the case of shopping, lead you to debt beyond your ability to pay. Do you have any negative coping skills? They become the crutches we walk through in life and remain crippled and disempowered.

Then there is positive coping…the kind that does not hurt the problem or make it worse, it helps you to stay in a centered place to solve your problem in the best way. What positive coping skills do you have?

Some positive coping is simple…just breathe through anything, or talk to someone to process your thoughts and feelings and come up with an action plan, creative expressions of music, dance, poetry, writing, journaling, singing, praying, exercising, meditating, maintaining hope and many more you will undoubtedly identify in yourself or others.  Positive coping is the higher option, less destructive to our health of all kinds (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) and the one that will heal and evolve us. 

Have you taken a look at your coping style and whether it is serving your higher purpose?  If it is not in the realm of positive, remain hopeful for all behaviors were initially learned and can be unlearned.  And if perchance you have an addiction of some kind and it can be traced back to genetics(nature), beyond the learning( nurturing ) then this too has a positive outlook as far as change for the better and our healed and evolved selves for there is help to manage our addictions with professional help.

Coping with life is what we all do, some better than others, some because of better modeling, some because of better genetics, some because there is more opportunity, and still others because of greater intelligence and still others because of maturity.  Wherever, you are in life now, realize that only you can make the choice to cope in better, more positive and healthier ways. It is a matter of awareness and choice.

Coping…how do you cope?

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

 www.mariahildapinon.com

 

A Prayer of Thomas Merton

 

Dear God.

I am not sure where I am going. I do not see the road ahead. I cannot be certain where it will end.  I do not really know myself: sometimes I fool myself, pretending to follow your will, yet knowing I am not. But I believe this: that the desire to please you, does in fact, please you. I hope I have this desire in everything I do.  I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may not know it at the time.

Therefore, I will trust you always and I will never be afraid, because you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.

Thank your dear God, for all you have given me; for all you have taken from me; and for all you have left me.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

 

The Wisdom of the Enneagram

 

The STAGES of the WORK

 

If we were to really observe ourselves, we would become aware of our habits.

If we were to become aware of our habits, we would let go and relax.

If we were to relax, we would be aware of sensations.

If we were to be aware of sensations, we would receive impressions.

If we were to receive impressions, we would awaken to the moment.

If we were to awaken to the moment, we would experience reality.

If we were to experience reality, we would see that we are not our personality.

If we were to see that we are not our personality, we would remember ourselves.

If we were to remember ourselves, we would let go of our fear and our attachments.

If we were to let go of our fear and attachments, we would be touched by God.

If we were touched by God, we would seek union with God.

If we were to seek union with God, we would will what God wills.

If we were to will what God wills, we would be transformed.

If we were to be transformed, the world would be transformed.

If the world were transformed, all would return to God.

From The Wisdom of the Enneagram  (Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson)

 www.mariahildapinon.com

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

 

Poetry in E-Motions

Poetry in emotions can be discovered and an excavated gem. Just like music and new behavioral rituals.  There is an adage that says that “in all of us there is a bit of a poet, musician, and insanity.”  When we FEEL strongly we often seek expressions of the energy.  If we use this energy creatively we can even capture and immortalize a moment. Thus in all our feelings we can find a poem, lyrics to music or behavioral rituals that may look insane to some individuals (such as having a party by the tomb of the deceased) that not only help us emote creatively but keep us sane.  Sometimes “abnormal” in an abnormal situation is normal. Have you ever caught yourself in any of these expressions?

Moving the energy of feelings so that we do not get stuck in it is healthy and the goal of healing.

This is another exercise for creative expression of feelings, whether they be sad, happy or of any color of the rainbow.

Exercise: Think of things that remind you of something or someone that nudges your heart in a downward spin or if you prefer an upward spin of emotions such as loss, pain or joy. List the things.  Use the poem below of as an example of how these things can all be triggers for these feelings. Create one in a similar style with the things that are unique to what you jotted down.  In the end celebrate what you have created with the power of words and how you have captured and memorialized something or someone special to you.

 

     IT’S YOU I MISS 

It’s the phone call I’ll never get

And the number I’ll never dial

The fresh cut rose from your garden I will never smell

The chocolates we won’t taste and share

Nor the toasts we’d make over wine we’d sip

It’s the books we’d read and discuss at length

And the music we danced and sang to all night

The meals we’d prepare to dine without hurry

And the stars in the sky we’d count for hours

The strolls by the lake we would often make

And the country drives we’d often take

It’s the peaceful sunsets we’d contemplate

And the morning songbirds we’d awaken to

It’s your touch

Your taste

Your smell

Your gentleness

Your caress

Your kisses

Your embraces

Your voice

Your caring

Your presence

 

It’s you… I miss

 

This is a poem on page 24 from Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

Welcome Poetry in E-Motions and discover the unique poet in you and the gems of poetry that can be excavated in all e-motions.

 www.mariahildapinon.com

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

With an understanding of the process and roadmap of grief…it is time to do some work to release the old lingering feelings of loss. This is an exercise to help us work through any of our losses.  It is a process not a onetime event and exercise so repeat as often as necessary. And by all means seek professional help if you or others deem necessary.

First take an inventory of all the unfinished loss you are carrying around. Go as far back as you would like and is necessary. The size of the loss is not what matters; it is how you feel about it. It can be loss about innocence, youth, ideas, jobs, relationships, dreams, pets…anything you have given meaning to. Make the list as long as is necessary to dig up all the toxic pile.  Jot each one down in one word or statement.  

Take a deep breath as you think about each. Write one salient feeling associated with each one. On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the strongest possible feeling) rate each one. Work with the strongest ones first or weakest ones if you prefer. You goal as you experience each one is to slowly see a drop in your rating scale of each so that a 9 becomes an 8 and so on, until it is at a 0 when possible.  (There are some losses that will always leave a residual sting and perhaps a zero is not the desired goal such as when a parent loses a child. Yet it is possible for many to get to zero.) Remember lowering the rating scale is about the intensity of the feeling, not about your level of care for the loss.  You will always care about it but it will be a source of joy and strength in the future when your grief work is over.  

How do you know which losses are still lingering?  How do you know when your grief over a loss is over?  How you feel about it when you recall it will tell it all.

Whenever you think about or see anything that reminds you of your loss, you will feel a shift in your emotional state.  If you are not finished with your grief work, the shift is downward, diminishing, and restrictive, you may not want to go there as you “will feel bad all over again”. The emotional strings get pulled and you have a reaction to stop the feeling, escape, make it go away, make it go under a façade again.  Usually they are feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, fear or shame.

Welcome this visit from your feelings instead.  This is the opportunity for coming face to face with these feelings that pull us down and are tying up our energy in the wrong direction. Sit with your feelings and letting them just be and experience their aliveness in our being until they dissipate. Resist holding onto them or pushing them away. Just letting them be gives a sense of relief, just like when you go empty your bladder. You will feel better and lighter.  The feelings may surface again at a later time, but let them be. Name them and let them visit and let them pass through you. Repeat as often as they visit. 

Eventually you do run dry and then when empty you can be filled with more light and loving energy that is always there waiting to drop in on us. Remember when the feelings are reduced you will be able to hear the thoughts related to those feelings and can explore and challenge any self-defeating or limiting ones.

If when you think about it, you feel truly peaceful and can find strength in the experience of the past and have drawn insights or just feel complete with the ending, then your grief over that issue is over.  You will have no adverse feelings, only peace and perhaps joy as it was a great learning opportunity for you and now a part of your life history you can stand on with calm and acceptance.

Do this exercise as often as you need to and work on as many issues as are necessary. The reward is more energy for being more of the best you.  The healed and transformed you. Remember you are the author of your life.

www.mariahildapinon.com

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

The journey of grief continued…

Anger/Resentment/Criticism show up and this intense energy is often feared.  We do not see it as a gift and how it is valuable but rather as a socially unacceptable feeling.  Why?  Most of us do not handle this intense feeling of anger well. Our skill set may be limited or past experiences have not had peaceful outcomes when anger is involved. These disempowering outcomes perhaps have done more damage than good to relationships and from here comes our fear of this intense energy. Yet if we think about it, this gift of the energizing power of anger when utilized correctly and in civilized ways is what we need to pull us out of the panic pit or the depressed mode. We need it to make the changes necessary in our life to move us forward to reorganize and redesign our life. How else do we get this energy, when we have been de-energized by our loss? It naturally comes as part of the journey.  Anger can narrow our focus to take action. Yet if we misunderstand and misuse the gift, we can get a hardened heart and hurt others as well and stay stuck in this venom that indeed can poison us and our health. In anger we can find courage to move on.  It is a good tool when in good hands guided by a good head. But then as we move on we feel the strings of guilt.

Guilt is normal when we have done or failed to do something, it becomes unhealthy when it is out of proportion to our involvement in the situation. Yet we will feel that sense of remorse… why should I go on without what I lost, why me, what did I do wrong or not do? I have no right to go on.  It might mean I do not care anymore. How do we keep memories alive? But if we have experienced forgiveness and acceptance we can easily admit the guilt and let it go.  Unresolved guilt can make us miserable for years.  But if we move on, how do we return when we can’t go back?

We Resist Returning to life as usual as it is difficult, demanding and unpredictable.  The familiar feels safer and oftentimes we would rather get stuck on grief than face a new world and decisions. Many out there do not let us grieve and we feel as if grief is out of place in their world and we are left to carry it alone inside ourselves…no one wants to talk about the loss anymore, yet we still carry it. Everyone forgets our loss, but we are still living the ramifications of all the changes in our life. But thankfully, a thread of hope can keep us moving forward if we do not despair.

Hope shines through since we are human and need the warm affection and encouragement of those around us.  It makes it easier to let go of our unrealistic attitude of wanting to shut the world out and all the opportunists for meaning again…not replace, just play again, just participate in the dance of life again. And this new chapter and beginning is not a sign of disloyalty to any of our past or any person of the past. But we will never be the same again.

We Embrace Reality as a wiser, stronger person. We can never be our old self again…it is not possible. We have grown through this journey and are different and changed.  Yet depending on how we responded or coped we will be stronger or weaker, healthier in spirit or diminished.  Those coping with less healthy ways never really work through their grief. Those of us with a healthy faith and healthy coping can be there for others who face similar losses as we are helped by the deepest conviction that we were not alone then and will not be in the future.  We did not do it alone; there was a higher power, God, after all.  Under the duress, greatness was sculpted in the interior chamber of our being and the rays of sun come through the dark clouds that have been inside our hearts. We may continue to struggle, but we can affirm the gift of life and go on living.  Because life is the gift and one day we will meet the end of our earthly journey.  Each loss in our life well grieved will prepare us for the ultimate loss…our very own life.  Grieve well to live and love well.

Remember the journey is unique to each one, but a roadmap helps us to keep moving and not get stuck way past what is a healthy resolution to our losses and grief. Love life and give it your best.  We only have this time now.

 

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

 www.mariahildapinon.com

 

There are some things in life we can change. There are some things in life we cannot change. If we can change it, we then seek solutions, but if we cannot change it and it was significant to us, then we need to grieve our loss. It is amazing how easy it is to get stuck on the journey of grief.  The two favorite parking places are depression and anger. There are those that choose to stay depressed as a way of life and those that carry a chip on their shoulder as a way of life.

 It is important to know that grief is a journey…an emotional one measured by the content and quality of the loss. Grief is not a mental experience nor defined by an objective standard.  We are in grief when we organize our life around our loss…that which is gone and absent.  And grief will continue until we organize and readjust our life to that which is present and around us.  Yet having a mental road map keeps us moving, normalizes our experience and validates our feelings along the way. The road map is not a fixed one and we can move forward and backward on the myriad of feelings. There are many books written on the steps of grieving and not all steps are identified with the same name or the number of steps. Elizabeth Kubler Ross  (On Death and Dying) and Granger Westberg,(Good Grief) both deceased offered many insights in their books from the work with those who grieve. Those of us who have lived grief can offer and expand on these insights. The steps are from Granger Westberg’s version, the explanation for each step morphs with my understanding and experience. 

Loss and grief are a universal experience; it crosses gender, age, socio-economics, and ethnicity, as well as cultural, religious and geographic divides. It unites us on the common ground of “meaning lost”. It seems no one escapes grief if we dare to care and love.

Loss happens and only we know how significant it is as we are the only ones that ascribe meaning to our loss.  So when loss happens in our life, the drama begins …yet without our acknowledging the drama. 

Shock and Denial quickly show up and we do not acknowledge the loss.  The reason of course is because the reality is often too much to bear all at once.  We cannot handle the dose of the reality.  It is like trying to stare at the sun all day without sunglasses. We cannot do this…so we are given the gift of shock and denial as a respite from the harshness.  But it is only temporary… we will move out of this place otherwise it is maladaptive to the process to remain in denial indefinitely. Shock and denial can last from a few minutes, hours, days and maybe weeks but then our facades break down and we release the emotions.

Sadness, Depression, Loneliness often follows the breakdown of our shock and denial.  A welter of emotions find their release in tears, but it can be overwhelming. If we do not move and release the emotion we can get stuck and get sick.  As long as we get triggered emotionally, it means our grief is not over, our work is not over. Notice the larger part of the word emotion is MOTION…keep the feelings moving through us. With these dampened feelings, we tend to isolate ourselves, lose interest in life and activities.  Life is hard to go on with, as there are so many adjustments, too many demands on us, yet, life goes on without us and we do not care. We feel no one cares, not even God.  We can experience despair.

Physical Symptoms of Distress can follow if we do not want to deal with the changes in our life, and we put up a front of being okay… our body soon will call us liars. We will experience symptoms of sleeplessness, or too much sleep, backaches, restlessness, eating too much or not enough, headaches; we can get sick. There is a strong relationship between illness and grief not dealt with in healthy ways. We are invited to re-examine how we look at life, explore our faith or lack of it.  Lost meaning invites us to create meaning again in our life. Beliefs are challenged.

Panic Strikes when we realize our life will never be the same again. We can think of nothing but the loss. We are hindered and less effective in everything we do. We cannot concentrate or focus and are paralyzed with fear.  The way we knew life is forever gone…forever hard to grasp.  We want to run away from life and living. We often slide back into the comfort of depression as we are familiar with it by now and social demands are eased. But how do we get out of this pit of panic…the scariest part of the grief… the realization things will never be the same again!!!!!!!!!! AGHHHH!!!! But just then the blessing of the energy of anger shows up!

to be continued…

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.

www.mariahildapinon.com

Grief. . .it is a part of life. It comes in small, medium and large. We live our definition of a complete and whole life and then when we least expect it, a piece falls off . . . a door opens and our emotional journey through grief engulfs us.  Words fall short of describing what we feel; it is difficult to wrap our heads around this reality. Everything becomes dark in our hearts. We live in a time warp. We organize our life around what is gone, absent. We go through the roller coaster of feelings in a “not so predictable way”, but it takes us on its ride whether we are ready or not.

We experience shock and denial until our body calls us liars with somatic symptoms of sleeplessness, headaches, stomachaches, and any other ache.  We feel the sadness until the sadness and all its shades of blue sink us into the sea and abyss of loss. We are de-pressed (we repress, feel pressed yet need to express) and we are weighed down.  We slide into the pit of panic when we realize nothing will be the same again…and choose to stay depressed. We get angry, feel guilt, question, and nothing makes it the same again, we resist, until we are worn out and find the only way back to life. . . we surrender, we accept that which we cannot change.  We embrace life again; the sun shines in our heart again.  We organize our life around that which is living and present.  Our journey is complete. We can love again.

 Introduction to “Candles in the Dark…Poems to grieve, hope and love again.”

Maria Hilda Pinon, author of The Willows of Corona, a novel, and Candles in the Dark…poems to grieve, hope and love again.”

www.mariahildapinon.com