Powerful Words On Grief From Anne Lamont

just walk through it

just walk through it

Anne Lamont, the most moving of inspirational writers, shares her thoughts on grief. She calls death the big eraser and she totally gets where I’ve been.

All those years, I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it. San Francisco is a city in grief, we are a world in grief, and it is at once intolerable and a great opportunity. I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed – which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.

Cool Mona Note: I’m glad I know you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg

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5 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Unsure Of Yourself (Part 2)

happy hour in vermont

happy hour in vermont

Self-confidence levels can really fluctuate and while I try to hold a steady line, the suggestions below make good sense. Dr. Goal Auzeen Saedi, PhD, in Portland, OR teaches us 1) It’s all about being more mindful of who you surround yourself with (your mother was right, after all), 2) Regulating the thoughts you allow in your head and 3) Paying more attention to what you have than what you don’t.

If you missed Part 1 with 1-3, here they are: http://www.coolmona.com/?p=7976

Confidence Hack #4: Take Other People Out of the Equation

Few things can make confidence levels go from high to low like judging yourself against someone else. Maybe you’re feeling great about losing 10 pounds, then you see a friend who has lost 20. Or you’re proud to have started writing a few pages of the novel you’ve always wanted to write, when you learn a colleague just got a book deal. Letting your self-worth be the result of how you stack up to other people’s achievements, appearances, and lives is one of the easiest ways to sabotage yourself, and it’s clearly a one-sided viewpoint that doesn’t take into consideration the whole picture. (Maybe your colleague got a book deal but has been toiling away at 5 a.m. for the past decade.) Try and take other people out of the equation of how you feel about yourself. It’s a fine line to be happy for someone else’s good fortune while feeling like you too are good enough/smart enough/successful enough/etc., but it is possible to separate someone else’s successes from your own. The quicker you’re able to find that balance, the better off you’ll be.

Confidence Hack #5: Keep Perspective

“Often the least confident people are the ones who focus on all that they don’t have, rather than celebrating what they do have,” says Saedi. “Staying appreciative for all you do possess is a big part of self-confidence.” Saedi tried the following gratitude exercise one morning in a yoga class, and recommends it to anyone who feels like they—or their current circumstances—aren’t measuring up: First, list 5 things you don’t have but want in your life. (If your confidence is down, this part will probably be easy.) Then list 10 things you do have. This may be a bit harder, but as you make your list chances are you’ll see that you not only have a lot to be thankful for, but that you’re also well on your way to having everything you desire.

Cool Mona Note: Hey, thanks for hanging out with this vibrant community of seekers and strugglers. It’s nice to know we’re not alone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYkGimCrcRg

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5 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Unsure Of Yourself

i can't get enough of these things

i can’t get enough of these things

Self-confidence levels can really fluctuate and while I try to hold a steady line, the suggestions below make good sense. Dr. Goal Auzeen Saedi, PhD, in Portland, OR teaches us 1) It’s all about being more mindful of who you surround yourself with (your mother was right, after all), 2) Regulating the thoughts you allow in your head and 3) Paying more attention to what you have than what you don’t.

Confidence Hack #1: Make a Positivity List

While you can’t safeguard yourself against less desirable outcomes at all times (rejection, loss, and failure are all bound to happen on occasion), you can determine how much you let these periods affect how you feel about yourself. “I often recommend that clients keep a list of all the things going really well in their lives,” says Saedi. “In the times when things feel hopeless and they begin to lose sight of the good things, they have a very visual and real representation of what is going on in their lives.” Make this list when you’re feeling good and keep it nearby for times when you’re feeling less sure. A quick reminder of the riches in your life may make it easier to stop focusing on any shortcomings. (Cool Mona Note: Don’t leave this on your work desk, you’ll never live it down.)

Confidence Hack #2: Get Out of Your Head

A confidence-eroding event—like overhearing a snide remark or finding out you didn’t get into a school or program of your choice—feels bad enough when it happens. By reliving that experience time and time again you only prolong the feelings of pain and low self-worth. If you fall into this trap, create some distance from your thoughts, Saedi suggests. (Cool Mona Note: I do this all the time!) Thought distraction techniques (such as going for a run or reading a book) and thought diffusion techniques (such as meditation or focusing on your breath) can help you silence these hurtful thoughts. “It’s important to remember that our thoughts are often a running dialogue of negativity, very little of which is true,” says Saedi. “It’s one thing to notice and identify a thought, and another to believe it. The more we internalize these external events, the more they can bring us down.” If there is a lesson to be learned from an experience, absorb it. Then do your best to move forward.

Confidence Hack #3: Join a Mutual Admiration Society

When life has you down, it’s important to remember that you’re not in it alone. Who you turn to during these times of low self-confidence can greatly affect how quickly you rebound and how low you allow yourself to go. “A support group is supposed to pick you up when you’re feeling down and remind you of the amazing gifts and talents you possess,” says Saedi. “If you surround yourself with people who will be true advocates for you, and you for them, it creates a positive feedback loop of genuine confidence and a beaming attitude.” Plus, the better the people around you make you feel, the harder your confidence will be to shake from the outset.

Cool Mona Note: These are great, aren’t they? 2 more tomorrow.

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A Cool Mona Book Review: More Than Conquerors

Marg_4 iconMore Than Conquerors, A Memoir of Lost Arguments by Megan Hustad, published 2014. A young woman’s recap of her evangelical missionary family working in TWR faith radio programming in the Caribbean and Amsterdam’s outskirts. It’s a current story of looking for faith, wondering if you actually found it and then, for sure, losing it and being somewhat happier for it. It’s an eloquent exploration of foreign travel, coming of age, family, philosophical reflection. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, March 2014.

The title – More Than Conquerors – comes from Roman 8:37. Hustad writes with maturity and compassion and humor. She tells her story of parents quitting their perfectly acceptable jobs in the American Mid-West and spending the next 9 years spreading Christ’s word and love on radio programs. It’s a story of naiveté, hope and ingenuity. Politics lives in all industries – even Christian ones – and when her dad and the new company president don’t jive, they return home asking the questions: Were we well-meaning adventurers? Suckers? What were we meaning to do and did we do it?

An intelligent read and I give it 4 margaritas in the Cool Mona rating system.

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Cool Mona Weekly Masterpiece: The Underwater Dog Guy

from seth casteel's book, "underwater dogs"

from seth casteel’s book, “underwater dogs”

Seth Casteel, also known as the underwater dog guy, makes his money by photographing man’s best friend. This is what he‘s always wanted to do even though in the beginning it paid him very little. (His friends voted for wedding photography.) And then the day came when his subject refused to look into the camera and instead headed for the pool. What happened underwater has made him into an award-winning lifestyle pet photographer with his work appearing in National Geographic and the NewYork Times.

Though he snaps pictures of other animals as well, his series of underwater photos showing dogs at the moment they hit water went viral and captured our hearts and imagination. His book of these amazing images, Underwater Dogs, was released in 2012 and his upcoming book, Underwater Puppies, will be released the end of October 2014.

Seth Casteel is quite a guy. In 2007, he volunteered to photograph homeless pets to help them find loving families. These improved, positive photos showcased unique personalities resulting in countless adoptions. An animal activist, Seth has worked with animals on five continents and his non-profit campaign, One Picture Saves a Life, inspires, empowers and educates animal ambassadors. I raise my end-of-the-day partially drained margarita glass to a kind, creative and inspiring human being.

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Quotes That Point Your Life Forward

always look for things that delight

always look for things that delight

You’ve got to be willing to lose everything to gain yourself.  Iyanla Vanzant

If you have the capacity to be more than one thing, do everything that’s inside of you.  Bishop T. D. Jakes

Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times and at others move forward with it.  Ray Bradbury

The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean. Toni Morrison

There’s always going to be bad stuff out there.  But here’s the amazing thing – light trumps darkness every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can’t stick the dark into the light.  Jodi Picoult

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Don’t Let The Water In (A Little Advice On Life)

always sit in the colorful chair

always sit in the colorful chair

I grew up on several big, beautiful and under-populated lakes and rivers. My water skiing days began at 10 and by the age of 12 I was pulling adult skiers.

Our 21-foot Chris Craft ski boat was big and heavy and really pulled on the gas. So, of course, I learned how to change the gas tanks (we always started out with 2 full ones). There was a little opening that would allow water to seep in when the boat was stopped and you were changing them out. You had to change the lines quickly to keep the water from getting in and so while learning this hairy procedure (certainly hairy to a 12 year old), I would let way too much water into the boat. My dad would be watching all of this from the sand bar or someone’s pontoon boat and would yell out “Don’t let the water in.”

We got a 28-foot Spirit sailboat my junior year in high school and within that year I was heeling with the best of them. Although I think he secretly enjoyed it, my dad would clutch the side of the boat, worrying that we would tip over and yell not to let the water in.

The other day I had this sinking feeling: family members were asking for things I didn’t have, additional family members pretended that I didn’t exist, friends couldn’t be found and I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I heard my dad of yesterday say “Don’t let the water get in” and I got it. My life is a much-loved boat, riding out high waves with a leaky gas tank connection. But I know how to steer and I know the importance of turning the boat into the waves so you don’t get rocked to death with water spilling in. If I choose to heel, I’d better know when much is too much and straighten back up. You can last a long time if you keep the water out.

My dad, a Navy guy for a while, taught me to respect the water, not fear it. He would say the same thing today about life and so that’s what I do. I work hard at not letting the water in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z14qfKkfUV0

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Send A Note Of Encouragement To A WIN Child

blue passion flowerThe Women In Need organization is collecting notes of good luck and encouragement to children starting at a new school due to homelessness. These children are now living in a WIN shelter and have had to change schools. We can only imagine the anxiety of starting with new teachers and students and worrying that they’ll find out where you live. Click the link and send a warm and uplifting note to one of them. You’ll put a smile on some sweet little face.

http://winnyc.org/back-to-school-note/?utm_source=motherjones&utm_medium=partnersend&utm_campaign=BSDAds_win_bts_motherjones_2014_september_partnersend&utm_content=bsd_win_FB_feed_1200x627_an3_note.png

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A Cool Mona Weekly Masterpiece: The Pipe Guy of Australia

A musician, “The Pipe Guy”, rocks the streets of Australia. The sound is electronic dance music and it’s played on metal pipes hit with rubber flip flops. I love a creative and free spirit. It reminds me that I’m alive.

http://my.happify.com/hd/street-musician-turns-the-sidewalk-into-a-dance-party/

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Quotes For Days When There’s No Time For You

I got one less problem without ya

I got one less problem without ya

Sometimes the most important thing in the whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.  Etty Hillesum

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.  Amy Bloom

Peace, happiness and joy is possible during the time I drink my tea. Tchich Nhat Hanh

At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough.  Toni Morrison

Stop a minute, right where you are…tell that imperious voice in your head to be still. Barbara Kingsolver

Even when we push ourselves to the limit, even when we sway for the moment on whatever precipice we find ourselves on – how our brains move us through our lives , whispering ‘Live! Live! Live!’  Amy Shearn

You have time.  Rachel Kushner

Cool Mona Note: Put yourself back on your To-Do list. Like at the top. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6d8eKvegLI

 

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