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optimism

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If Your Words Are Not Helpful, Keep Them to Yourself

I really can't stand negative and fearful talk. I don't see any point in it. What good can possibly come from that? None. But it can cause a whole lot of damage.

I've known a few people like that in my life. It's one thing to have a conversation with someone about specific concerns during the decision-making process, when many factors need to be taken into account. But once there is a decision, there is absolutely no point in going on and on about all the possible things that could go wrong.

The only thing worse than offering an unsolicited opinion is offering an unsolicited opinion that is destructive, whether or not that was the intent. Speaking without specifically having positive intentions is a dangerous road to travel.

It sucks when there you are, already doing battle with your fears, shoving them aside as best you can, when people start launching them back in your face. What if this doesn't work? What if that fails? What are you going to do if...

Maybe you've now got yourself into something that you can't easily undo, and you must carry on with your plan. But there are those Negative Nellies who seem to think it's necessary to keep feeding your fears. For some reason, they keep asking, "What if your worst fear comes true??"

Or perhaps you have an idea, a dream. Bravely, you share your excitement and your plans with someone. And the response is, "That will never work." Or "What's the point?" or "You wouldn't be able to do that."

Your heart sinks. You feel deflated. You agree, "What's the point?" and you give up before you've even tried.

There will always be those people who burst your bubble, or who focus on fear and pessimism, and who feed these to you as often as they can get you to choke them down. I'm sure it's their own fears, failures, shattered dreams and bad experiences that make them say such things.

But whatever it is that drives them to do this, you must never let anyone else shoot you down. Tell them how you feel. Tell them to keep their negativity to themselves and if they have nothing good to say, nothing positive, useful, helpful - or at least innocuous - then tell them not to bother saying anything at all.

Negative, fearful talk just weighs people down, holds them back, and keeps them stuck. And if you are one of those people who just has to fret and worry out loud, telling people all the things they should be fearing, or that might go wrong, or if you keep offering unsolicited negative opinions, stop.

It's one thing to raise legitimate concerns. It's another to keep harping on all the negatives after a decision has been made.

Be positive. Be uplifting. Be encouraging. Especially if you know the listener is already concerned about the same issues and is trying to move forward and overcome the obstacles. Your added negativity will only make the situation worse.

As humans, we are already primed and ready to be fearful, to worry, or to be anxious, and especially when it comes to anything pertaining to our survival. Fear takes away our power, and when we feel disempowered, we become less productive, more stressed and more anxious.

When someone keeps reminding you that you might fail, or that everything will go wrong, it's easy to slide into that kind of thinking, making it oh, so much easier to attract the thing you fear the most because you are no longer feeling strong or confident. And that can affect your ability to make good decisions.

It is not loving or helpful to remind people that their biggest fear might become a reality. If you have to say anything at all, give them strength by encouraging them, focusing on their strengths, or strategizing about how to handle potential pitfalls. Remind them of their courage and their ability to stay calm and focused. Help them find solutions. Focus on the possibilities and remind them that they are powerful, resourceful people.

If what you have to say in any conversation is not going to be helpful, or at least innocuous, then keep it to yourself.

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With every ending, there's always a beginning.

Generally speaking, our culture is frightened of loss, one of the greatest of which is death. It is a subject that makes people squirm as they try to avoid discussing it. We have all sorts of euphemisms for it, we shield children from it and many of us struggle to cope with the idea of our own mortality.

In a Tarot reading, people come unglued when they see the Death card appear. They think it means they're going to die and once again, we see this aversion to the entire subject. But the Death card means change, transformation. It means death in a symbolic way, followed by rebirth.

And with rebirth comes a new beginning, a fresh start.

Physical death is like this, too, as we shed our bodies and return to the spirit realm. It is simply a transformation, but one that those people left in the earthly realm do not always accept easily.

Endings and beginnings...beginnings and endings...you cannot have one without the other. Too often, endings are not by our own choice, which can make the new beginning at least as difficult. Sometimes even though we need or want change, and we just wish this or that could happen, we're still hanging on to what we've got with a 'have your cake and eat it, too' attitude.

But too often, this is not how it works.  In order for those changes to occur, and for us to get the desired result, we must let go of what we've got now and make room for whatever comes next.

I used to be unbearably sentimental about 'stuff'. I had the most ridiculous keepsakes - ticket stubs, corks from wine shared on a special evening, bits of wrapping paper from special gifts, napkins, swizzle sticks, tiny plastic toys from boxes of popcorn, every card and letter I was ever given, and countless items so silly I can't even remember what they were.

And of course there were more 'normal' items to which I attached myself. Furnishings, ornaments, dishes - and like many people, there was 'my mug'. How many people are very possessive about a particular mug they use for their coffee or tea? Or about their favourite chair at the table, or where they sit in the sitting room? Sheldon's "spot" on the Big Bang Theory, or Archie Bunker's chair on All In The Family...

I used to be very connected to my 'stuff' and even more so to any of it that had even remotely sentimental value.

When I say 'stuff', I'm not just talking about material possessions either. I'm also talking about aspects of my life that were important to me. A relationship or friendship, an activity I loved, or some part of my life that I didn't think I could do without.

I kept focusing on the losses and was so immersed in grief I couldn't stand to be in my own skin.

With an ongoing theme of loss throughout my life, eventually I thought I ought to figure out what I could learn from it so it wouldn't feel so awful.

First, I realised that as long as I focused on the losses, I wouldn't see the many blessings that remained.

Secondly, I discovered that with loss (and all challenges) comes the opportunity for a huge perspective shift. It's a chance to look for the positives, to focus on the happy memories or relationships that are associated with whatever it is that is changing or gone.

And thirdly, there is the Buddhist view that all suffering comes from attachment, and I can certainly say that the less attached I am to any 'stuff', the happier I am because when the 'stuff' goes, without attachment it cannot hurt.

And there is another important point to remember. It's in not focusing on the letting go, the ending, or the completion. It's in focusing on the fresh start, the new beginning and what lies ahead.

Yes, it may be frightening to walk down a new and unfamiliar road, leaving behind everyone and everything familiar. But if that new road has been presented to you, there is a reason for it. You must let go of the old, the stale, the stagnant and finished, and embrace the new, the fresh, the expanding and beginning. Before long, you'll have walked through the endings and blended straight into the beginnings, living the Death card and experiencing rebirth and the magic of renewal. It's a chance to create something different, something better.

The Wheel of Life will always mean there are endings. But the good news is, you cannot have an ending without a beginning.

Sure, you can fear beginnings if you want to do that, but it's better to see them as exciting adventures. A positive attitude will go a long way to reducing the impact of any speed bumps or potholes on that new road so buckle up and don't look back; you already know where you've been.

Now let's see where you're going!

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Delicious Bits

The smell of freshly mown grass. Or lilacs, roses or freesia. Or my favourite - star-gazer lilies. Their powerful scent is intoxicating and fills a room for several days.

Bread baking, or a spice cake full of ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Or rich chocolate brownies, warm and gooey just out of the oven.

A slice of lemon - oh, and eating the whole thing like an orange... yummmm... I know, it's not for everyone but my mouth waters every time I think of it. I love sour and am not keen on sweet except in small doses now and then.

Crisp, just barely ripe Macintosh or Granny Smith apples - oh, my... how I love them but they do not love me so I cannot eat them. But I do still love that delightfully fresh scent.

The crackling of a fire, quietly glowing and warming those near enough to enjoy its hypnotic dance. The silent drifting of huge, fat, fluffy flakes of snow, falling softly against a moonlit backdrop of winter.

The soft and sweet warmth of a little scrap of life in the form of a kitty, curled up and sleeping on my lap or nestled against my chest as I lie on my side...I miss this more than many things; it is not possible for me to have a kitty right now but I cuddle other people's kitties sometimes and let me pretend that they're mine.

Being curled up under a thick duvet in a darkened room, early in the morning and listening to the soft, steady sound of a summer rain lullaby. Pulling the duvet up a little higher, snuggling down a little deeper, knowing you can lie there as long as you want and listen to the sweet music outside...

Gazing at water, a lake with swans and geese gliding across it like tiny feathered sailboats. Watch them long enough and you become transfixed. Or an ocean, with beautiful waves gently rolling toward the shore, one after another, their rhythmic splashing against the sand the sweetest music you've ever heard.

The feel of your sleeping child's even breath kissing your neck as you hold that little person close, stroking silky soft hair and so filled with love you think you'll burst.

Warm sun on my skin, gentle, like a hug from the universe. Cheery little birds, going about their bird business as they chat and sing amongst themselves, decorating the air with pretty notes that drift and float. 

The sounds of certain words, especially Italian or Spanish words. They can make even the nastiest thing sound romantic, erotic, sensuous.  

Music. Sweet, sweet music.... found in words of love or the most tender caresses. Laughter, blissful smiles, a joyful heart singing a crystal clear, sparkling melody.

Hugs. Wonderful, squooshy, celebratory, passionate, warm, consoling, excited, I hurt more than I can stand it, I love you more than you know, I'm so happy to meet you, delicious hugs, hugs for every occasion, create an occasion to have a hug, have several and enjoy every perfect moment and let them heal your wounded soul.

Berries. Mmm, berries. Big, juicy strawberries, so sweet, and raspberries, or plump and perky little blueberries, bursting in your mouth.  

Water. Fresh, beautiful clear water, icy cold, life-giving, rejuvenating as it slides down your parched throat on a busy day, a dry day, a hot day - just any day.

Water. Hot, steaming, bubbling and scented as you slide your weary body into a huge tub and soak away all your troubles, your stresses, your aches and your pains. Thinking only of how wonderful it feels to lie there, in quiet candlelight as you rest a while.

Waking up and having been given another day. A glorious gift. Too precious for words. And the best way to acknowledge that gift is to spend as much of it in enjoyment and awareness of life's beauty and magic as you can manage.

They're everywhere.  All you have to do is notice.

 

Tigger Is My Hero

 "Hallooooooooo!" as my enthusiastic hero would say, whilst bouncing into the room on his spring-coiled tail.

If you haven't had the pleasure of 'meeting' Tigger, you don't know what you're missing.  He's one of the best role models on the planet.  He came bouncing (on his tail, coiled into a spring) into the Hundred Acre Wood one day, bringing with him a colourful burst of energy and a zest for life that Christopher Robin's friends had never seen before.  "I'm Tigger!" he announced.  "T- I- double-guh-err.  Tigger!"

He sums himself up quite well in the Tigger song... (Do yourself a favour and enjoy this delightful one minute video before reading further!)

One of Winnie-the-Pooh's best friends, Tigger is about as extroverted and cheerful as anyone can be.  Occasionally, there is one mishap or another because of his excessive enthusiasm, or his overly optimistic beliefs about what he can do - without ever having tried, and when he does, it often goes awry.

All the others who live with him in the Hundred Acre Wood have varying reactions to his boisterous bouncing.  Pooh is patient and tolerant of pretty much anyone and anything.  Easy-going and non-judgemental, he accepts Tigger for who he is, including his faults (and Tigger is not aware of any of them).

Always saying that Tigger is very large, Piglet is a little nervous in his presence (but then, he's always a little nervous about something).  He's never quite sure what Tigger is going to do next and worries that he'll cause some terrible disaster (because...well, it's a common occurrence!).

Roo looks up to Tigger with hero-worshipping adoration. Eeyore, as gloomy and depressed as anyone could be while still drawing breath, is quietly envious, wishing he could be as happy as Tigger but believing - and accepting - that misery is his lot in life.

And then there's Rabbit. Not all sweet and cuddly like you'd think someone called Rabbit should be. Oh, no. He's a curmudgeon of the first order. As curmudgeonly as they come. Short-tempered and irritable on his best days, he's got absolutely no patience for Tigger's enthusiasm and bouncing and is always telling him to go away, or stop bouncing, or both. But Tigger is oblivious to Rabbit's dislike of him. He carries on being his lovable Tigger Self, unaware that his effervescence is driving Rabbit over the edge.

One day, Tigger excitedly bounces his way through Rabbit's garden, accidentally ruining it while innocently being himself. Thoroughly fed up, Rabbit devises a plan to lose Tigger once and for all in the misty woods. But Rabbit is the one who ends up lost (and frightened - and with a lot to think about) when it is Tigger who rescues him "...because Tiggers never get lost!"

And aren't we lucky that they don't! Think of the Tiggers in your life. You know the ones. Those delightfully cheerful, ever-optimistic people who brighten up even the most miserably dark day, sometimes just with a few bubbly words and a big, broad smile. Or those playful, childlike people who love a good dose of silliness, and who do their best to make you giggle. How do they do it? How do they put on those big smiles and seem so genuinely happy all the time? Don't they have problems, too?

Of course they do. And Tigger does, too. He takes a lot of criticism and gets a lot of grief from his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, and bad things happen to him, just as they do to his friends. But he's got a great attitude. If things ever get him down, he refuses to stay there. He chooses to look at the bright side, to focus on finding the joy in life, to see the good in all situations. He's a brilliant role model for children and adults alike.

Many of us could stand to be a lot more like Tigger. Personally speaking, I work at that every day.

And to that, my fuzzy striped hero would say, with his big Tigger smile, and an even bigger Tigger bounce, "Woo-hoo-hoo-HOOOOOOO!!"