How do you relate to Native Americans? If your upbringing was anything like mine, we grew up thinking of them as almost mythical characters that ran around hollering in feathered headdresses! Whereas of course they’re actually the original Americans, before the English came over and made themselves at home … and they’re very much alive and well and living in their own areas of the US.
The more I learn about traditional Native American philosophy, the more I warm to it. Check this link http://home.earthlink.net/~tessia/Native.html for some Native American thinking … like this for example:
American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
If all of humanity were to follow such a line of thought, the world would be a very different place, don’t you think? I also really recommend the book “The Wind is My Mother” by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin.
Guess what I was doing when I should have been writing your blog last week… I was partying! To be more precise two of my kids and I were attending various fancy dress parties in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim dressed as … Native Americans 🙂 – you see I was coming to a point!
One of the themes of Purim is to get your head around the idea that the world isn’t always as you see it. That there is a reality hidden under what you might think is reality. Hence the fancy dress part, which I embrace wholeheartedly, much to the bemusement of the more staid fellow adults around me … to whom I say: Chickens!
In the pre-party scramble for costumes I ended up picking the Native American theme almost by chance, but as we were driving down, I realised that I actually felt very at home in my costume – (despite the blazing red feather tucked into my headband … and suspect wig – I’m guessing not that authentic!)
Any other grownups out there who love fancy dress? I love it because it gives you a chance to see life and be life in a different way. You get to ask yourself the question “Who would l I be if I was a witch, scarecrow, elephant, fish, rock star etc ” and then you get to answer the question. I once dressed up as a very dishevelled tramp for the day of Purim, and it was an interesting experience. People didn’t want to go near me (ok, I was sitting at a bus stop, my bags scattered around me, eating out of a can at the time, but still), even people who knew I was in costume answered the door in an edgy manner, and one woman stopped her car and tried to take me into a shelter! So fancy dress can teach you something … and it’s not just a knowledge download, it’s experiential.
As well as just learning what it feels like to be another being for the day, I think you can choose to absorb something too. Just like you are what you eat, I think you also are (or you become) how you continuously present yourself. Want to feel like a professional? Dress like a professional. Want to be true to who you are? Dress and behave like yourself – even if it doesn’t always align with the whims of society. Want to be confident? Act confident and the feeling will come. What’s on the outside can come to be what’s on the inside. Though beware of being inauthentic – because what’s on the inside also inevitably leaks to the outside too.
In my case over the course of the day I really started to feel that Native American vibe! When evening came and I had to go back to being me, it was with reluctance. In getting my kids to bed various bits of the costume had to come off out of necessity. Finally when everyone was asleep I just had on my headband with feather, plaited wig and my ceremonial paint. I looked in the mirror. “You know” I thought to myself “I still look like a Native American”. I looked into my eyes. There was a love of nature there, a certain steely resolve, respect for the world, confidence, and pride. “Good” I thought, “it’s still there”. Slowly I took off my headband and feather. Checked my face and eyes again. Yep, it was still there. I took off the wig and finally I wiped off the face paint. Again I looked deeply into my own face in the mirror. And then I smiled … I still looked and felt a little bit Native American.
Have you ever dressed up like someone or something else for the day? How did you feel? And what did you learn? Any full time Native Americans want to comment?
How do you explain friendship to someone who doesn’t believe in the soul? Pairing up to procreate makes sense to cold, old fashioned evolution, as does having a working buddy – someone you hunt with. But plain, no strings attached friendship? Where does that need for simple companionship come from and why is it sometimes soothed by some individuals that you ‘just feel a link’ with? You can’t tell me that consciousness is just a state emerging from the complexity of the connections in the human mind, and then try to sell me the idea that that consciousness requires friendship. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I think true friendship is a soul thing.
Right, philosopher’s hat off, life coach’s hat on. Friendship was gifted to us, so let’s allow it to serve us and our friends both, as it should. I think we should be giving and receiving things like this:
Just plain fun
Obviously friends are the people to have fun with – if you Google ‘things to do with your friends’ you get a host of silly and fun activities, just for a laugh. Fun and laughter makes the world a happier lighter place, and it is seriously good for your health (I’m not kidding http://www.squidoo.com/normancousins#module12601876) so are you getting enough Vitamin F, and do you have the right people to share it with? Don’t be too groan up now (the spelling error is intentional) get out there and have some fun!
A sense of connection
We humans, we like to feel that we’re a part of something. We like to feel like it matters that we exist, that we hold a piece of being that no one else can hold. That we’re valued for that. How’s your sense of connection with your group of friends? Do your friends ‘get you’? Do you have that link? Or do you need to find more people that you can feel that connection with? If so, where might you find them?
Loving help and protection
Friends look after each other. They’ll drive out in the pouring rain, dragging their kids with them if necessary, if your car breaks down and there’s no one else to rescue you. They’ll bring you a hot soup if you’re down with the flu, or find a few minutes in their crazy busy day to say hi. And if they are so overwhelmed with life they can’t even call you, they still think about you, and smile. A friend stands up for you when everyone else is against you – even if you’re wrong. Doesn’t mean they agree with you, but they will do their best not to let anyone hurt you, even so. How well do you take care of your friends?
Whilst having a laugh is important, feeling a part of something also worthy, and giving/receiving protection can change a life, I think these last 3 points are not to be underestimated:
An experience of reflection
The closest people to us are in a way our greatest therapists. What do I mean by that? Well what does a therapist do? Part of the job of a good therapist is to reflect back to us or help us to see the way we relate to the world, so that we can change what doesn’t serve us. And if you look at the closest people around you, don’t they do the same thing? Our family and our friends constantly hold up a mirror for us so we can see ourselves. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsGl-XIWM5Y) If you practice anger you will often find angry friends who reveal you to yourself. If you’re a loving caring person don’t you always see that in the friends around you? If you will ‘do anything for anyone’ don’t you have friends who do that for you? What are your friends reflecting back to you these days?
Safe arms in which to have a revelation
Oh those safe arms of friendship! Someone that you can trust never to desert you, never to intentionally hurt you, someone who deeply cares about you … what a safe place to face your deepest pains and find your way to a solution! What a safe place to reveal those little shards and splinters of your truest self as you discover them and piece them together, knowing that your friend will still accept you as you grow and change, and will delight in your discoveries as much as you do. Do you have a friend that could do this for you? If not, are you being this type of friend?
Someone to hold you to account
A real friend … doesn’t let you get away with self destruction. They will love you and support you whatever you do, but if you truly start to lose yourself they are the ones who will smack your face if they have to and help you get back on track. If you tell your true friend you’re seriously dieting they will wrestle the cookie jar from you. If you tell your true friend that you never, ever want to go out with that kind of girl again, and you mean it, they are the one who will get you by the scruff of the neck and drag you out of there so you don’t get yourself in trouble again. Sometimes your true friend won’t rescue you, because the value of the lesson learnt in a losing pattern repeated would help you more. But they also don’t abandon you. When the house of cards eventually falls down they’re there to help you pick up the pieces and start again, and there to help you build a better house this time. They might even bite their tongue and avoid saying “I told you so!” Held anyone to account lately?
When you think deeply about the blessing of friendship don’t you just feel lucky to be given that? Where would we be without our friends? Let’s take a moment of gratitude for friendship now. When you think of everything your friends have given you, it’s hard not to be grateful. Poet’s hat on (I wish!!!) This has been going round and round in my head for the last few days so I had to chuck it onto the keyboard for you…
To friends past:
friends that have come and gone,
friends lost, friends missed,
friends from the old days,
friends who left a hole in our hearts,
friends who taught us something,
friends who were like family,
friends who were brothers and sisters to us,
friends who never let us down,
friends who left a bit of themselves with us always,
and with whom we left a bit of ourselves.
To friends present:
friends we laugh with,
friends who guide us and we guide,
friends we trust with our deepest pains and joys,
friends we learn from and friends we teach.
Friends we have fun with,
friends who are soul mates,
friends who make life a delight,
friends we pledge ourselves to forever.
To friends future:
to the friends we yearn for,
friends not yet met,
friends that would fill the gap,
friends like a piece of soul missing,
friends we would do anything for,
the friends we wait for,
friends we know are already ours,
even though they are not yet there.
The friends we daydream of having
and so draw closer to ourselves.
To all these friends thank you, bless you and much love to you.
May you always bask in pleasant sunshine,
may your path be easy,
may your rewards be plentiful.
May you reach the heights you aspire to,
may you easily recall your life’s desires
and accomplish them with flair.
May love, fulfilment and abundance be your territory,
and may you be happy always.
This blog is for all my friends, past, present and future, and for friends everywhere, with a great deal of gratitude and love.
This week, nurture your friends!
It’s going to be a short one today … in case it escaped your attention, we’re in that alternate dimension known as school holidays! This involves getting up just as early as you do during term time, and going to bed much later, the whole household spending at least half the day in pyjamas and getting to do all those things that you never end up doing like …. playing chess. Indeed, chess has become the game of choice in our house.
I didn’t have anyone to teach it to me as a child. I read the rules on the box and learnt the moves for each piece, but I didn’t get a feel for the thing, and didn’t end up taking to it. Now my nearly seven year old son has discovered it – on the computer of course. I had so long ago decided that I didn’t understand chess, that I didn’t even ‘see’ the chess game icon. Of course my son had no such preconceptions and clicked the icon. You play against the computer, and you can always undo the last move if you make a mistake, so it’s easy to learn, and in the space of 2-3 days we’ve both begun to get into it. A few years ago I bought a beautiful (second hand) glass chess board from a school fair. So we’ve now progressed to playing each other on a proper chess board. It feels ever so intellectual 🙂
My boy is becoming a really good chess player … well ok, he gives me a run for my money! As yet he hasn’t worked out how to put a good face on when he loses a game though. This morning I pulled out all the stops and did my best to beat him, and wonder of wonders the tide turned and the game started to go my way. Well, out came the big sulk. In an effort to restore peace I suggested “I tell you what, let’s turn the board round and I’ll be the white pieces instead”. He thought there was nothing more he could do with the pieces he had, occupying the positions they were in, so really I wanted him to see that actually there was plenty he could do, and that he might even win. We drew with just a king left each in the end, which proved my point and avoided further sulking!
He got me thinking though, as he usually does … isn’t that a great thing to be able to do in life? When you think you’ve got no options left, mentally ‘turn the board around’ and experience things from the other person’s point of view. You suddenly get to see your (and the other persons) weak and strong points from the opposite angle. You’ll also notice opportunities that were there all along but weren’t visible to you before. Perspective is everything. You could ‘zoom out’ and take a wider view. Usually when we take a step back and see the bigger picture, it’s far easier to make decisions, and we get to see that nothing is quite as big or little as it first seems. Or you could take it the other way and zoom in … when you get up close to a situation, break it down into its component pieces and really analyse it, you often find that things weren’t what you first thought, as well as a new way of dealing with matters.
We tend to subscribe to this hypnosis, don’t we, that we are somehow locked into our bodies and can only ever see things from where we stand. That’s the beauty of the mind and the imagination. I think we as humans tend to waste our imagination quite a lot. OK it’s great for day dreaming and for having a laugh, but how often do you use yours for discovery? Whilst what you can do with your body is locked into earthly space and time (at least for most people), your imagination isn’t locked into anything except the walls you put round it. So if you can’t physically move from where you are to get a different view point, fire up that imagination and go for a spin … you may amaze yourself with what you discover…
This week contemplate something you might feel checkmated on … and then change your perspective so you can win the game!
Oh and happy holidays everyone!
Well, it’s technically still Wednesday as I write…
What a day it’s been … a topsy-turvy day … My childminder had to cancel and the friend I usually swop childcare with had to cancel, meaning my little girls were home and my son’s school was on strike meaning that he was home. I had two appointments to keep today which could have been a problem, only one of them cancelled due to the client having a cold and the other was a phone appointment, who just wasn’t there when I called! So by many accounts today was a bit of a non-event … except we really enjoyed it!
We had a nice relaxed morning. I got my son onto Skype so he can now call family overseas … then we spent far too much time Skyping each other from upstairs to downstairs. After that we got the guitars out. Before you picture a family band all playing beautifully in harmony I should probably tell you that my daughter’s ‘guitar’ is a five quid job that can’t be tuned or the strings snap, and my son’s guitar is a hand-me-down from a family member who got it from somebody else who probably didn’t want it because the strings are so high off the fret board you could slide a dinner plate under them! My guitar was the cheapest thing Argos had at the time, but unlike the other two it works. So she swung hers round her head, he picked open strings and I played the chords to The House of the Rising Sun which is pretty much the only thing I remember from all those years ago… well that and the baseline to Stand By Me. Noisy, tuneless fun was had! Then we did a lot of clearing up family stylie, watched children’s TV till our eyes went square and after dinner, made menorahs – candle holders used to celebrate the festival of Hanukah – out of clay. Finally the kids spent a good three quarters of an hour watching cute baby animals on YouTube with Daddy and running round in circles dancing to their favourite theme tunes. All in all it has been a lovely day.
My point? Well to start with I was a little peeved that my working day was effectively cancelled … but as the day really started to fall apart, I decided to just go with it … it wasn’t like I had much choice in the matter, so why not just take a break? I think life does that quite a bit, you know, produces the unexpected. So firstly there’s that element of ‘You’ll get what you like if you like what you get’ but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it’s part of the human condition – or perhaps part of the human ailment – that we tend to spend a lot of time wishing we were somewhere else, spending time with someone else and doing something else. Young people wish to be older and old people wish to be younger. Singles wish to be married, but once they get married they miss their single days. Stay at home mums miss their working life, but once they get back to work they often hanker after the freedom of the days spent at home and the time spent with their kids. When your kids are young you wish they’d grow out of nappies and get to the point where they can take themselves to school, yet once they do, you miss the cute days! Working dads can often be heard grumbling that they are out all day slaving away at a hot desk, instead of chilling out with the kids at home, but ask them to baby sit … We spend three quarters of the year wishing we were away on holiday. You lie down in bed and think about the day to come. But once you wake up and turf yourself out of the house and into the winter cold you soon wish you were back in bed … and on and on and on. You can see why it’s an ailment. Why can’t we just be where we are? With the people who are actually there, at the period in time that we’re actually at, doing what we’re actually doing… would that be too much to ask for? Can you imagine getting to the end of your time on this earth, looking back over your life and discovering that for most of the time you were here, you were so busy wishing for something else that you completely missed the joy of the moment? What a waste of a life that would be.
I think there is something beautiful in most if not all situations. There’s always something to learn, there’s always some growing to be done, and there’s often a lot of fun to be had if we can only open our eyes to it! I think life was meant to be lived in the now – after all NOW is the only time that exists, that is ever ‘live’. The past is gone, it’s just a memory, and is only as accurate as the mind or the medium that records it. The future is just a sea of random points that coalesce into the things we expect to see when we turn our heads that way. When we turn aside, those forms instantly collapse back into pure potential again … the future is just a dream. The other guy’s occupation belongs to him, and is for him to focus on right now. Summer break will come when it gets here and we can enjoy it then. The only time is NOW folks, the time is NOW. Sure we can spend time learning from the past and celebrating the good things that happened there. Sure we can look towards the future and plan. But if we’re going to put down roots and live somewhere, let’s do it in the NOW – and reap all the benefits of being present-minded. When you predominantly focus on where you’re actually at a wonderful thing happens. All of a sudden you feel light as air, because you’re unencumbered by baggage from the past or concern about the future. With all that extra energy you can make every second of now count, one by one, as you live life to the full and get the most out of every single moment. Then when each of us gets to the end of our lives we can take a final glance backward and know that we did a sterling job of the whole thing, to the very best of our ability, and the painting that was our life was a masterpiece. I like doing things properly, don’t you?
I had a very ‘now’ day today, and I liked it, so I’ve decided to have a ‘now’ week … care to join in? This week be where you’re at, wherever you’re at. Let’s live it up, guys and gals, and have a great week!
Ps: Book of the week: ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle … great book, read it when you can!