My Messy Life Pt. II – Or – Oops! I did it Again!

Copyright Tam Black 2010 Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2010
Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission

My car is 18 years old. It’s a 1995 Toyota corolla station wagon with 144K miles on it. The wheel panel is beginning to rust; it has many scratches, most of which I am responsible for.  Its dingy gray interior is full of dog hair embedded in the carpet and upholstery.  It gets me to and from work reliably and it costs me less than four thousand dollars a year to own—that’s insurance, gas and upkeep.

It is not at all glamorous, but it has its advantages.  It is cheap, reliable, has served me and my dogs very well for years, and it probably has many more good years ahead of it.

Sometimes I wish I had a new car. Not necessarily a new car, but a new-to-me car. Reliable and cheap though it may be…my car is just…old…and not glamorous. You know how I like to be glamorous! (Those of you who don’t know me… I’m kidding.) Sometimes I look at cars on the road, dreaming, yearning, lusting; I just start noticing cars. I like sporty cars; RX-8s always turn my head. Recently the Subaru BRZ did also. The Volvo C-30 is one I like as well, unexpectedly.

And then I begin to think about applying prosperity principles to getting a new car.

There are basically two schools of spiritual thought about creating prosperity and abundance, about having all that you want and desire (like a new car).  I have looked at my car from both of these schools of thought, and recently I was given a lesson in them.

The first school of thought goes something like this: “Your mind is a powerful creative tool. If you focus it correctly you can manifest money, objects, events, and people in your life. Using positive thinking and visualization trains your mind to attract what you desire.”  The second school of thought goes something like this: “Your mind is a powerful creative tool because you are One with God and God’s desire for you is your own happiness, your own fulfillment in all things. Since God’s Will is your will, when you realize that Will in your own consciousness and when you align your thinking with the One Will all things are ‘added unto you’”.  With the first school of thought, you choose what you want and go after it; the second, you allow God to provide you with “good things” and you simply (or not so simply) align your mind with God.

Generally, I practice the latter. I listen, I wait; I seek Divine Love’s expression through me and I strive to allow more Love and Light through, accepting material things and circumstances as they come without actively seeking them. But recently, during an “I want a new car” phase, I re-read a book that I have had for many years about creating prosperity.  Going against my usual inclination to listen, wait, and allow God through, I decided, “Yeah, (dammit!)  I am a kind, loving person who deserves a new car. I have worked hard and I want one. If I put my mind to it, and think loving, positive thoughts, I can manifest a new car in my life.”

So I started visualizing, affirming, and aligning my energy to attract the right car.

And then the lesson came.

As you know, from reading “My Messy Life” ( http://wp.me/p2saEd-cg ), my car requires occasional topping off of the oil. This happens often enough that I go through periods of time (mostly when the car is ready for an oil change) in which about once a week, I add oil to it. The lesson came shortly after one of these topping-off periods.

The mechanic who changed my oil (on Thursday) told me that my car needed anti-freeze. On Saturday, I was in no hurry, but I was headed to a lunch-date, I leisurely habitually opened the hood, got out my jug of anti-freeze, unscrewed the cap, and glug-glug-glugged the anti-freeze… into… the OIL.

No, I did not kick the fender, but I did have some choice words.

What was I thinking!? Apparently I wasn’t. I am not that stupid, but thoughtlessness goes a LONG way.

And then I saw it: The universe was saying to me, “So, you want a new car? I can get you a new car. We’ll just break this one beyond repair (yup, anti-freeze in the oil, freezing the pistons will do that). Do you really want a new car? Sure you can afford it…more or less…money will be really tight, but… you can afford it. Or rather, you will have to; maybe you could get a second job.  Are you SUUUUURE you want a new car? Consequences? These are the consequences… You will not have a car for several days at least, you will have to figure out how to get to work until you get a new car or get this one fixed, and I’ll put you in a situation where you will have to decide to either get a new car (lots of money over a long period of time) or get this one fixed (lots of money now, to fix a car that probably is worth less than the cost of repair).”  It’s amazing how quickly the universe can “talk”; I heard all of this in a flash.

It was true, and I knew it. I could have a new car but at what cost?  I was in a panic.

Suddenly, I LOOOOOVED my car! I wasn’t thinking now, but it was due to anger and frustration and feeling incredulous that I was just SO thoughtless. I immediately called the friend who I knew would laugh at me, but not think me stupid and she said, “Get the plug out of the oil reservoir NOW.”

What? I was dressed to go to lunch… I was leisurely, but not that leisurely…. “NOW” she said. And I knew she was right. And so I did (and walked to my lunch date).

I left the oil reservoir draining all day. Then in the evening another friend came over with some oil and we ran that oil through, put the plug back in, filled it up with fresh, non-anti-freeze contaminated oil, and after going through the odds of whether or not the engine would seize immediately (we decided the odds were about 4:1 that everything would be fine), started up the car. It was fine. Thank God.

Prosperity, abundance, allowing good… these are ideas that I have been working on mastering for many, many years. Especially with this recent lesson, I am learning more and more deeply that prosperity is not about things. Prosperity is about allowing what is real and true to be real and true. It is about giving what is real and true—and that is Love, Light, and Life.  Giving what is real and true is demonstrating that you already have it. We all have an infinite supply of Love, Light, and Life; when we give it we know it, and we know we have it.

Integrity Isn’t Worth the Cost of a Quarter

Copyright Tam Black 2010 Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2010
Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission

Did you know that a roll of quarters weighs about half a pound? Each quarter (40 in a roll) weighs about .2 ounces. So, if you go to pay for something (say at a vegetable market) and you have a roll of quarters, all the clerk needs to do to make sure your roll is complete is weigh it on the vegetable scale. If the scale shows “.5”—half a pound—there is $10.00 worth of quarters in your roll. If it says “.48”, you are missing one. If it says “.52” you have one too many. Pretty cool huh?

I found this little bit of trivia out in precisely that way. I was buying vegetables at my local market, where I have been a regular customer for several years, and am on a “Hi, how are you?” basis with the owners. I had my roll of quarters out at the cashier, ready to count, and the clerk said, “No, I’ll just weigh them.”  This was the first time I had heard of this and didn’t know what the “right” number should be, but I trusted this young girl who had been my cashier many times. The number came up “.52”. She looked at that, looked at me, and seeming uncertain, called the owner over for verification. “Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.” the owner said hastily. But I could see the doubt on the cashier’s face…and the cashier saw me see the doubt on her face. At this point, I pretty much knew what was going on despite never having had my quarters weighed like this. But, I wasn’t going to say anything; I liked this cashier and “making a scene”—even a little one, might not have been helpful to her at the time. But she knew that I knew what just happened. When the owner turned her back, the cashier quickly took a quarter out of her till and gave it to me, verifying that I did understand what had just transpired. I looked at her very directly and mouthed “Thank you”.

I was thanking her for her honesty, not for the quarter, and she knew it.

As I walked out of the store I thought to myself: This owner, this person who I have been friendly with for several years, this person who I support with my money and my business just cheated me. The fact of it being a “mere” quarter does not matter. She was completely present, conscious, and intent in the moment of making the decision. She put her integrity on the line for a quarter. Ethical standards crumbled for a quarter. She lost my faith and my trust for a quarter.

I suppose she did it because she thought I was ignorant (which, I was—up until that moment), or not paying attention (she doesn’t know me very well), or because this type of thing is standard practice (how much revenue is earned made from people over-paying? How much does she know that and count on it?). Maybe to her it was no big deal. And a quarter is not a big deal. But, if it is standard practice at the level of a quarter, what is the practice when tens, or hundreds, or thousands of dollars are at stake?

This is why the practice of putting money before people, putting money before nature and the environment, putting money before human dignity and basic human rights bothers me. Even for a quarter, those things become sacrificed in the pursuit of a dollar.

This is also why, in my own life, I make it an imperative to interact with the material world with absolute integrity, although I don’t always succeed. I question my motives; I analyze my intentions. I turn, sometimes forcibly, my will and desire toward that which is kind. I strive toward that which is helpful or beneficial to others. I deny my mind the lazy luxury of stewing in disgruntled dissatisfaction.

I can—and probably will—recount here on this site all of the times I have made mistakes, the times when I have not dealt with “the world” in absolute integrity. In fact, as I write, I wonder how I can question another’s integrity when I am so far from perfect. Sometimes I can only keep a finger on my own pulse, so to say, and when I interact in a way that is not in my best light….I generally know it. And I have to deal with my own internal and sometimes external consequences.  I am the only one who fully experiences the outcomes of my relationships with others, starting with thought and intention. I like my life a lot better when I follow my own imperative and put kindness and human dignity before more material considerations.

*In the spirit of “Sharing It” more, susanwithpearls.com now has page on FaceBook.  Come by and give it a “like” by visiting the link below:

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Driven

Copyright Tam Black 2013 Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2013
Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission

In their calendar-type book “The Secret Language of Birthdays” Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers have done a pretty good job calling me out on at least one of my weaknesses. The extended book is based on the zodiac signs, with each of the 12 signs further divided into weeks so they can get even more specific with the profiles of the signs. The version of the book I have is designed to assess relationships with people by providing spaces to keep track of people’s birthdays, how my interactions go with those people, and thereby gain insight on the relationships.

They have my personology pretty close overall, I am described thus:

“Although Aquarius I’s may not necessarily be more intelligent than others, they generally learn quickly, often arousing other people’s amazement and also jealousy, due to the speed and ease with which they pick things up at the first go…They believe that experience is the best teacher and are often self-taught types…In their careers, those born in this week rarely do well in jobs where they are told what to do or have too much social contact. Self-employment suits them better, since they need freedom to make their own choices and plans and to follow their instincts and be true to what they believe. They can be emotionally unstable and at times can appear distracted, wired and self-absorbed…They will not be tied down to fixed routines and schedules. Aquarius I’s will rarely accept restrictions.”

If you were born between January 23 and January 30, you may recognize yourself here.

The days are further broken down for an even more individual look. January 26 is described as the “day of striking deeds”. My strengths (accordingly) are… I am active, dramatic, and confident. My weaknesses; I am destructive, dictatorial, and driven.

I don’t know that I would describe myself as either dramatic or destructive. I am too rational to be very dramatic and I have worked a lot on countering any destructive tendencies (although perhaps some still linger).

I am, however, definitely active and confident. I can even see where I have a tendency to be dictatorial, but again, I have worked a lot on countering that impulse.

It’s really the driven I am stuck on at the moment. I can be very driven. When I am in it, I notice it, but it does not matter. I’m in this THING that has taken hold.  I can see myself, I can see how focused and intent I am, and I don’t want to stop. Maybe I could stop, I just don’t want to.  It’s as though nothing else matters. It’s not quite obsession, because it is not ALL I think about—I can think about other things to do, consider my options, observe myself; it is more like compulsion—there is a force that is pushing me to continue.  I can’t resist or don’t want to resist.

Driven is not always a weakness or a negative experience; much of the time I like it. I enjoy being totally wrapped up in a project. For example, one weekend recently, I spent hours upon hours learning to draw the Shri Yantra (and then I spent hours making a video about how to draw it).  Another weekend recently, I spent hours upon hours creating Shiva Nata practice aids. When I get fixated on cleaning out a room or some other home project, I do it until it’s done (mostly) because it’s hard to stop in the middle. I do these things because they are fun, because they invigorate me, because I want to learn. I am relaxed and enjoying myself when I am in this state of being driven and the experience is positive.

But then there is the flip side to being driven, when insecurity, uncertainty, the fear of the future, the fear of loss or lack motivates my driven behavior. In this mode, the physical behavior is very much the same as when I am driven by pleasure or fun, but the mental state is very different. Physically, I am just doing, totally focused, all my attention on the task at hand, being totally absorbed. But mentally, instead of thinking about the fun of just learning or playing, my thoughts are more along the lines of, “If I don’t do this…then I will fail” or “If this doesn’t get done, I won’t have enough income” or “I must do this otherwise I will not be successful with this other (next) thing that I need to do.” Emotionally, this causes LOTS of stress.

I am learning about being driven. Stressful experiences encourage me to diminish them.  My stressful experiences of being driven have encouraged me to diminish the thoughts and motivators that make my experiences less than happy or joyful. I don’t want to diminish my drive, just the negative experience of it.

Personality traits are complex parts of who we are and how we express ourselves as individuals. The traits themselves are not positive or negative, strengths or weaknesses. What motivates or underlies the trait while we are exhibiting it is what determines its positive or negative experience. It’s up to each of us to decide where our motivation lies, what experience we want to have, and to move our thoughts, desires, will, and motivation in the direction of that experience.

For more information on the secrete life of birthdays see: http://www.thesecretlanguageofbirthdays.com/lookup/

Cat Comfortable

Copyright Tam Black 2013 Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2013
Edited for susanwithpearls.com May 2013 by permission

Have you ever watched a cat sleep and wondered, “HOW in the world could that be comfortable?”

Master contortionists, cats sleep curled up in balls, with their heads turned at practically 180 degrees. They balance precariously with only half of their body on a window sill, they lay inside boxes, their necks crooked against the side and two legs hanging out, or on their backs, crescent-shaped, or crammed in tissue boxes, frying pans, baskets, or bowls. They sit up, pile on top of each other, lie over grates, or rungs…for visuals see the link included at the end of the article.

Observing these positions, or seeing pictures, I can’t help but be amused…but there is also something deeply disconcerting about it. I think about how that must feel. Crammed. Crooked. Scrunched. Bent. Compressed. Stretched. Hanging. Balancing.  None of these descriptors say “comfortable” to me. Yet, for the cats, these positions are natural; they are cozy, happy, and comfortable.

This is being “cat-comfortable”: doing something that is natural and that feels right to you that to someone else might feel disconcerting or uncomfortable.

The problem of course is since you are comfortable in your natural position, you may not be aware of another person’s discomfort. Do you think cats think about whether or not I am uncomfortable on their behalf when they sleep? No, of course not.

Let me give an example of cat-comfortable in humans. Several years ago I started playing basketball with guys from work: custodians, maintenance guys, electricians, police officers. I was the only woman and it was really the first time in my adult-life that I played exclusively with men. When someone was having a bad day, the guys on the other team generally offered such remarks as “C’mon is that all you got?” “My mother plays better than you!” “You SO bad because MY defense EXTENDS…” The guy having the bad day would get frustrated and come back with some defensive retort, which would make the other guys come back even harder with their cutting remarks. Sometimes it got pretty heated…hostile even. At least, that’s what I thought. I was pretty uncomfortable with it, the peace-loving, conflict-reducing person that I am.

So, I asked one of the guys about it one day. He explained that they aren’t experiencing conflict OR hostility. This is their way of encouraging each other, picking each other up; motivating each other. When someone gives them a really hard time because they are doing poorly, it makes them dig into themselves harder and deeper to pull out the strength within and do better.

They were perfectly comfortable with these interactions. I was the one who was uncomfortable. They were cat-comfortable—interacting naturally, yet displaying behavior that I felt uncomfortable with. As soon as I realized that there was no hostility, it was just a “mode” of encouragement, I started to practice my “smack-talking” skills. I got pretty good at it. Even though it still kind of made me uncomfortable, I could participate in a way that was natural to them. I was able to expand my own sense of “comfort” outside of a familiar circle to interact in a way that was natural to others, if not to me.

Here is another example. I was helping out with the Youth Group at my favorite church and there was a high school junior who read philosophy and liked to argue, in the sense of debating. The first time that he and I “discovered” our mutual love of verbal banter, we sat among about half a dozen high school kids and “argued”. Materialism? Realism? Nominalism? Idealism? What is right? What makes a table a table? Does this table really exist as a table or merely as a set of molecules/energy!?? How do we know!!??? It got pretty intense. He and I were having fun—it is not everyone who enjoys such verbal intensity. Clearly, however, the onlookers thought we were fighting, bickering, and agitated. To them our natural state of comfort within a heated debate was disturbing. I’ve seen this type of thing happen also in work situations, where two people discuss with an intensity that makes others around them uncomfortable. Sometimes, especially when the observers tend to be “peace-makers”, intense, direct, discussion can be misconstrued as conflict or hostility, when to the people involved, it is just pointed discussion.

Everyone has their own cat-comfort—those behaviors that are perfectly natural that might make someone else uncomfortable. I ask a lot of questions — A LOT — to people who don’t know me, or people I’ve just met, to friends, to anyone. Sometimes I notice people getting uncomfortable. Sometimes I tone it down, sometimes I don’t. When people get to know me and realize that’s “just who I am” we laugh about it. But until then…sometimes people feel awkward with my questioning.

When I am the one exhibiting the behavior that might provoke discomfort in another, when I am the cat–as with my questioning or pointed, intense, discussion– I try to be aware of their feelings and to make a choice about whether or not to “tone it down”. I don’t always change my behavior but I do attempt to maintain an awareness of people’s responses.

When I am the person who is uncomfortable—as on the basketball court, I take a deep breath first and notice how other people are responding to each other. Is the discomfort mine? Is it theirs? If they are not uncomfortable, why should I be? If they are interacting in a way that is natural to them, what can I learn from this? Can I be so bold to make myself uncomfortable by interacting with them in a way that I have never interacted before? Can I expand and grow the number of ways that I can be cat-comfortable? The more I practice, the more I grow my comfort level, the more people I can interact “naturally” with, and the less I feel afraid or uncomfortable when other people are interacting.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/paws/awkward-cat-sleeping-positions