Tag Archives: Serenity

The Quest for Perfection

More Webs

“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
Bob Marley

I have been thinking alot about perfection lately. What I have been thinking about it would probably surprise you. At this ripe age of 57, I am relieved to find that I have very little interest anymore in being a perfectionist.

Why? Perfection is usually unachievable and based on perception. What I may think is perfect, you may not. And what you may think is perfect, I may not. To the degree that we differ, what lies in that gray area? (probably a big difference of opinion)

I will tell you this. I believe that only what is created by nature and the universe is rooted in perfection. When I look at the magnificent sky every day, a honeybee on my basil plant, the face of a new born baby, I know this is perfection. The sun, moon, and stars are perfection. The dew on the morning grass is too.

So what does this awareness do for me? It releases me from the quest of having to do things over and over, ad nauseam. It also gives me the permission to apologize- which I do fairly frequently- without guilt. After all, I am not perfect.

What this isn’t is an excuse. It is not a reason to not try harder; I must be alittle more diligent about my health, attentive to my family, and nicer and kinder to wait staff at restaurants. If I am to be a spiritual being living a human life, I need to not forget that all living creatures are deserving of unconditional love and respect.

Two people passed away that I knew in the last week. Yes, it was sad. I went to the funeral of Margaret (yiayia Teta) this past Monday. There was something at the luncheon afterwards that blew me away. Yiayia had nine grandsons. Seven of them were there. Before we all ate, they stood in a line and said their favorite yiayia memories. It was unforgettable.

I couldn't help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

I couldn’t help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

These were truly kleenex moments. What I loved best was each one of them said that yiayia told him he was her favorite. I need to remember that. It is priceless.

At the funeral before the luncheon, I actually listened to the words of the priest. He did most of the service in English and I don’t remember hearing SO much of it ever before. He said basically, you can’t take it with you. Wow, you really can’t.

I was reminded (again) this week how fleeting life is. It is over in the blink of an eye. Why waste another moment on the relentless pursuit of perfection, unless it’s the God created variety? My friend Shelly gave me a little plaque once that said “Good Enough is Really Good Enough.” It was the (haha!) perfect gift. I got it out the other day and set it on my dresser. It’s a good time to be reminded of it.

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Michael J. Fox

 Don’t forget to check out my sharings on the Orthodox Christian Network.

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Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

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Serenity on the Clarion River

Canoe

Jim and I spent this past weekend in one of our favorite places in the world- Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania. We meet up twice yearly with a group of friends and this time we occupied three cabins side by side with a grand total of sixteen people.

We ate all of our meals together and spent most of our time gathered around a perfect campfire. There were lots of good stories, marshmallows and too much food. Believe it or not, there was no alcohol on this weekend and yes, we had a very good time.

Before we left, Jim and I made the decision to head up a bit early on Friday and go for a canoe ride down the Clarion River. We did this once before but took the much longer ride. This time, we opted for a shorter river journey which took about ninety minutes.

Clarion RiverWe had a very nice canoe. I rode in front and Jim took the back seat so he could do the steering. It was one of our shining moments working as a team. Paddling around rocks, shallow water and little rapids, we never once got hung up anywhere. Jim threw his fishing pole in along the way, just for good measure, but the fish must have been somewhere else, probably taking a long nap.

I can’t fully describe for you what the ride was like but I will try. The river was tree lined on each side; great big tall trees, still green but with the promise of autumn in their leaves. A clear, sparkly river with the sun glistening off the surface so much so that it appeared as though diamonds were scattered about. The sound of a red tailed hawk overhead; the sound of my paddle as it glazed the tip of the water.

A couple of times, the sun was warm enough on my shoulders and I angled my hand over the side of the canoe, into the chilly waters of the river. I left it there for a few moments and felt the cool wetness, the temperature of the water being just perfect for the beginning of fall.

There is truly serenity in being among the tall trees, in unspoiled beauty, with clean air and only the scent of pine or a good, smoky fire. My cell phone does not work well in Cook so it’s a good excuse to go unplugged for the entire weekend. The better to enjoy the beauty with.

Sometimes we have to stop and break away. Life is just too busy these days and more and more is expected of us. Making time, pushing ourselves to be in touch with nature should be mandatory, just to clear our heads and refresh our minds. I know it really works for me.

Where’s your favorite place on earth to wind down?

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Coming Into Grace

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Cook Forest 2Years ago I would have completely dismissed the above quote, thinking I didn’t have time to contemplate such nonsense.

Now, it sums up my journey of the past decade or so. Finding serenity, searching for grace, deciding what can be changed and what cannot.

My journey has led me over tall mountains, in deep valleys and down the road less traveled. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

Occasionally I tire and stop to rest. But then I pick up my walking stick and begin again.

I remember what I have to be thankful for. My family, my friends, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth.

I remind myself what I have no control over– all of the above.

If I think I can control other things, living or otherwise, I am a fool. I can only control myself and my reaction to people, places and things. This is the secret of serenity- minding my own business.

The journey has been a difficult one at times and it is not over. It is continuous. If I remember every day to have gratitude for my life, my serenity will be easier to maintain.

Thank you to WordPress for an inspiring word today- Journey!

How do you find daily Grace?

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Serenity Sunday

What is it about returning from a week’s vacation that is so…..well….(what’s the best word to describe what falling off a mountain feels like?)…. Painful?

Honestly, does it have to be so darn real? I would think with all the rest and relaxation I got in a whole week of doing nothing, my batteries would be charged up and I’d be ready to tackle the world!

But, after a day of travel yesterday, I found myself pretty crabby last night. Was it just tiredness or the re-entry to reality? I am still not sure. Maybe I was just missing the beach, the water, the palm trees, the egrets….

So this morning I woke up, still slightly melancholy. I know what I need to do. Today is about me- taking it easy, helping my mom get back into her house and, if I’m feeling up to it, a bit of yard work. Also, counting my gratitudes and blessings will right my restless state of mind.

So I’ve dubbed today “Serenity Sunday”. What better way to ease back into my real life and cut myself a break?

Thanks once again to my sister Cally, who took this great picture of the beach on our last day. It brings a smile to my face and Grace to my Heart!

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The Special Grace of Animals

I have to admit, I am a lover of animals.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, birds- most any kind of domesticated animal. Being a nature girl, I am also drawn to wild creatures, especially deer and turkeys (yes, I especially love turkeys!), and beautiful birds like cardinals and hummingbirds.

Most of my friends have pets. If you want to get someone really talking, just ask them about their favorite Lucky or Lady. It’s the easiest icebreaker of all.

A Young Casper

I have a special pet cat. His name is Casper. He was a birthday present to my daughter from her girlfriend, probably sixteen or seventeen years ago. I’m guessing that “Casper, The Friendly Ghost” was probably the big movie hit at that time. We have had numerous other cats and dogs but Casper has survived them all.

What amazes me is Casper was diagnosed years ago with feline AIDS. How he has ever lived this long is a true mystery to us. He is free to roam our large yard, eats mostly dry food, gets plenty of fresh water and sunshine. He has rarely taken medicine. Perhaps this is the key to kitty longevity.

Lately, we have been especially mindful of Casper simply because of his age. He doesn’t see well anymore but he keeps eating and, he keeps performing all of his necessary bodily functions. To me, this means he is doing ok. He doesn’t cry and he still loves to be stroked and scratched lightly.

I have been watching Casper in the morning as he searches for the sun. He will find it and either he sits very still or lays down to soak it up. I watched him this morning and the one word that came to my mind was prayerful.

Prayerful Casper

I can take a lesson from Casper on being still. Sometimes when I am worried about something or a bit knotted up, he reminds me to take it easy, one day at a time. He clearly has the mantra down pat; he is the walking poster child for serenity. In his younger days, he climbed trees and was an excellent mouser. Now he is content to spend his remaining days in luxurious devotion to the sun.

No matter what animal we love, we are the lucky ones, aren’t we? My husband loves the saying, ” I want to be everything my dog thinks I am”. My son John, as a child, would lay down on the ground to be at face level with Casper. He would lightly stroke Casper’s head and look lovingly at him. I believe we can feel the soul of an animal if we are quiet and take the time to connect.

“With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?” –Fernand Mery Her Majesty the Cat

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