FLASH

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Fear, Loneliness, Anger, Shame and Hunger (aka FLASH).

One of my favorite bloggers is Seth Godin .  I have included his picture here because it gives you a hint about who he is. (Note: While his picture says click on his head, nothing will happen.) Seth has been a TED speaker, is always an innovative thinker and posts every single day without fail (an awesome feat). While he says his focus is on marketing, the topics are much broader.  They always make me stop and think about life and how it works.

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Flash

Recently he posted about FLASH: Fear, Loneliness, Anger, Shame and Hunger.  Each of these emotions/reactions can cause us to attack and/or retreat, to do things in the moment that we are not that proud of later.  It turns out that these feelings do not lead to being sensitive to others or being kind.  The worst part for me is that I do not always recognize when I am feeling any of these.
In my family, we have an extreme response to hunger.  I lead the way, even though I hanutste to admit it. I become irritable, cranky and difficult to reason with when I am hungry.  The worst part is that I don’t recognize this feeling as hunger.  It feels to me like everyone else is being irritating and nothing is working right.  Let’s be honest.  I pout. Luckily my family knows to offer food and not listen to my “I’m not hungry” denial.  We have also added in a family phrase:  “real food”.  It turns out that the things I think I want (doughnuts, cookies, soda) do not work to cure what ails me.

As I watch the world react to the rhetoric that is being offered by all sides of the issues that face us, I realize that I am living in more fear than usual.  My first response to fear is to hide and be angry.  Sadly, I am usually angry at things that I think are beyond my control, which adds to the fear and a hidefeeling of shame that I am powerless to correct things.  It is not a good place to be.  To add to the mix, I am currently living in a state where I have few connections.  So that adds in loneliness.  The entire FLASH package, delivered to yours truly.

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So, what to do?  I am still working that out.  I am trying to eat well on a regular basis, hoping to forestall that pouting problem.  I am meditating daily.  (Okay, I need to do it at least twice a day).  I am keeping in touch with my friends and family. I am writing this blog, to keep me honest with myself.

 

Gratitude

 

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One of the reasons I like November is that it brings gratitude into people’s conversations.  Posts on Facebook, articles in the news, blog posts and newsletters all focus on being thankful.  Even though there are louder, more painful news items as well, I am reminded that my focus can return to the good things going on in my life and increase my compassion for those who are not as fortunate.

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For several years, our families would gather at my mom’s home in Taos, New Mexico for the Thanksgiving feast.  Bringing together extended family always causes a mixed bag of experiences for everyone.  (Right?)  There were many times our holiday weekends were filled not only with laughter and companionship, but angst as we worried that the turkey was under cooked (usually true), the continuing decline of our parent’s health and the usual ups and downs of family interactions.  Our family’s five hour drive inevitably included a discussion of gratitude, although in this case it was to prepare for family tradition of going around the table saying out loud what each of us was grateful for.  Rather than increase thankfulness on the drive, it would lead to a shouted discussion of who got to say “Friends and Family” for one of the rules dictated the necessity of not repeating what had been said before.  This gave the erroneous impression to the others that our children were eager to participate when in fact they just did not want to be aced out of the “best” response.  Ah, the joys of parenthood.  However, the truth is that the trips gave us a chance to say out loud the things that we were glad about and the things going right in our lives.  Of course, all of us were able to think of a myriad of blessings to share.

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It turns out that gratitude has incredible scientifically proven benefits .  Being thankful keeps us healthier.  It can lower blood pressure, lead to more exercise and better eating choices, improve the quality of sleep and reduce doctor visits.  Appreciation helps us be more empathetic, less selfish, and more optimistic.  Some studies even go so far as to say it can improve your career for it increases productivity, helps with networking and increases your decision making abilities.

For me, the biggest benefit is that it increases our happiness.
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“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”Dalai Lama

 

 

 

I wish you all Love and Light for your Holiday Celebration. I am thankful for each one of you.

Distractions

My recent decision to blog has been wonderful.  Except when it isn’t.  I have found that I am susceptible to the most ridiculous urges.  Pretty much when I do not have pictures to post, I struggle with coming up with ideas.

Instead of brainstorming or being creative, I recognize I have 7 different habits that can distract me for hours.

  • The kitchen:  Why is it that when I want to avoid doing something, I get hungry?  Okay, not really hungry, but it seems that anything in the pantry is more interesting than the task at hand.  Even Triscuits.  And that is saying a lot.

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  • Hot Tea:  A sub-category of the kitchen trap.  Hot tea allows me to wait for the water to boil, gives me an opportunity peruse my tea bag collection and of course needing to wait until the tea is cool enough to drink.  It even has the added virtue of being calorie free.  This is a deadly combination when it comes to being distracted from my goals.
  • Social Media:  How many times a day can one human being check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?  The number is staggering.  I finally turned off my phone’s notifications for email.  My phone would beep every time I sat down.  So one temptation is gone.  Three to go.

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  • Songs I Know The Words To:  I find myself singing out loud whenever a song I like comes on.  When I have on my I-Pod I am doomed because I like ALL of those songs.  I have found that I have to put on instrumentals (Boring) or I can’t get any work done.

 

  • Television:  We have not had television for months so now that we have satellite television, it is a siren call.  It is especially hard to resist knowing that in 3 weeks we will once again be in a spot with no television reception.  This one is probably one of my biggest temptations.  Luckily daytime television is still terrible.  Remember that song: 57 Channels and Nothing On by Bruce Springsteen?  It is still true, except of course we are now past 57 and inching up into the thousands.
  • The Internet:  Isn’t it fun computerwhat you can search for on the world wide web?  I can follow any subject into a rabbit hole and eat up the entire day.  I always hope that I will find some scintillating piece of information that I can use at the next party I attend.  But I can never seem to remember the facts longer than a few hours, much less long enough for a party.

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  • Cleaning:  I know.  I only clean when I am avoiding something else.  Lately the house has been spotless.

 

Know that I did each and every one of these things today.  But I also am publishing this blog and accomplished more than I expected at the end of the day.  Thank goodness.  Now to go watch television.  Guilt free.

 

Cairns

Tower of rocks, a cairn
Cairn marking the way

While hiking in Utah, there are few ways to mark the trails.  Some parks use rocks lines along the edge of the path.  Others mark them with twisted branches of juniper.  My favorite method though is those parks that use cairns, a small towers of rocks.  Cairns are organized so you can’t see the total path at once.  You walk to the cairn, pause and look for the next cairn. Sometimes you can see a few markers ahead, but many times the path is cairn by cairn.

One of my favorite author/life coaches is Tama J. My favorite method though is those parks that use cairns, a small towers of rocks.  Cairns are organized so you can’t see the cl-cairntotal path at once.  You walk to the cairn, pause and look for the next cairn. Kieves (http://www.tamakieves.com).  She is a teacher, life coach and someone who inspires me.  One of the tools she uses to help you find your life’s purpose is to “follow breadcrumbs”. A breadcrumb in this case is a small thing that brings you joy, something that fills your heart. Following a breadcrumb of happiness can help you look for the next little thing that you can do to find your way to your true joy.

Valley of the Gods, Utah cairn
Valley of the Gods, Utah

I am still bread-crumbing around, looking for things that may help me define my “purpose.”  I see that concept when hiking from cairn to cairn.  Not being able to see the next one helps to make the journey more fun, an Easter Egg hunt rather than a life or death search for meaning.

I end with a quote from one of my heros:

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

Bryce Canyon Adventures

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Bryce Canyon Inspiration Point

We spent this past weekend exploring Bryce Canyon National Park.  Some of my friends had told me that it was their favorite park, so I looking forward to seeing why.   As usual, it is difficult to compare national parks.  They are all so wonderful in different ways.

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Colorado River flowing into Lake Powell

The road to Bryce held its own treasures. We stopped at the north end of Lake Powell.  Hite marina sits so high above the lake as the waters recede that it is no longer in business.  The land is reclaiming its place so green grass and small trees grow where the lake used to be.  The most impressive part was the Colorado River is still flowing into the lake.

Capitol Reef rock formation
Capitol Reef rock formation

We passed through Capitol Reef National Park.  The weather cooperated and the sky was a brilliant blue, perfect for pictures.  This is an area where Native Americans and early Mormon settlers made their marks and where there is a 100 mile “wrinkle” in the earth’s crust.  The wrinkle, also called a “waterpocket fold”, is bordered by cliffs and rock formations. We took the ten-mile scenic drive, stopped at the Mormon settlers’ cabins and walked to see the Petroglyphs.

Capitol Reef Petroglyphs
Capitol Reef Petroglyphs

 

Scenic Drive - ten feet to the right is the canyon.
Scenic Drive – ten feet to the right is the canyon.

One of the most surprising things about Bryce, which is a huge canyon, is that it is hidden from view as you drive along the road.  The road is lined with tall, beautiful pine trees that hide the edge of this dazzling national park.  There are signs enticing you to pull over: “scenic overlook” and “viewpoint”. When you do the surpise takes your breath away.

Bryce Canyon Navajo Trail
Bryce Canyon Navajo Trail

It is a fairyland of spires and columns, some with the most lifelike faces, all surrounded by tall trees: Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Utah juniper, bristle cone pine and pinon pines.

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Dave on Navajo Trail

While we were only there for the weekend, we had plenty of time on Saturday to visit the many scenic overlooks and hike the three mile Navajo and Queen’s Garden trails.   The descent into the valley is steep, but there are amazing sights around every corner.  This made the fact that we had to climb back up that steep path at the end much easier to bear.  There was always a good excuse to stop and enjoy the view.

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Hoodoos

An Native American legend says that the hoodoos (the many spires in the park) used to be bad people that were changed into stone by Coyote.  It is true that many of the forms look like people or animals.  We asked a ranger what the spires names were and he laughed and said, “It is more fun to name them yourself.”   And so we did.  There were turtle heads, gossips, washing women, camels, warriors, queens and more.  We could have stayed longer.  There were more hikes to do and hoodoos to visit.

 

On the Road
On the Road

Luckily, there more chances to stop and be in awe on our drive back.  As we rode along, a sign would tell us to slow down and suddenly we would be in a new canyon or pulling off to see a spectacular view. We couldn’t tell in advance what would be around the corner.  I think that happens in life sometimes.  I am afraid that things will be boring (as in “are we there yet?”) or hopeless (this will only get worse), when right around the next corner or just down the road, there is a new view.  I am grateful for these reminders.

Quote of the moment: “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”Thich Nhat Hanh

Both Sides

Highway 1, The Florida Keys
Highway 1, The Florida Keys

One of my talents, or curses, is being able to see both sides of an issue.  This has proved to be frustrating to some people as they would like be to be more forceful in my opinions.  It has become a challenge too with this election season.  I am grateful that I have friends on both sides of the fence.  I get to see the good points of each candidate, as well as the never-ended stream of those wanting me to see the bad points.  But the truth is that none of those posts, emails or discussions change my mind.  I bet they don’t change your mind either.

 

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Here in Southeastern Utah, there is a movement to designate 1.9 million acres of land as a new national park called Bears Ears.  This would extend from near the Arizona border north to Moab, from the Colorado river east to the highway that goes from Bluff to Moab.  It is supported by environmentalists, several Native American tribes and archaeologists.  It is opposed by many of the people who live and work here, both Anglo and Native American.  They have lived in this land for generations, they have hunted for their families’ food, played in its valleys and have had unlimited access to it.  I know that oil and mining companies oppose it as well.  I am sure it would be good to preserve even more of Utah for future generations.  I can also be sure it will deeply impact the lives of those who live here.

Our neighbors here have explained to us their view of this issue. I have read about the other side.  Both sides feel strongly about their viewp

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Hope

oint.  This decision will affect so many, and I was getting worried about the end result. Then one person said to me, “But the truth is that, in time, we will become adjusted to any changes and it will be alright.”

With that in mind, we go forward together into this season of change.  Together.

Canyonlands National Park

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Canyonlands National Park

The parks in Utah are not only numerous but enormous. Canyonlands National Park is so big that the two entrances are 109 miles apart.  We had visited the Islands In The Sky north entrance last month, so Sunday we went to the Needles district. It is only 70 miles from our home base.  I say “only” because in Utah, as in many other states, you always plan on driving a long way to get anywhere. Luckily the views make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.

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The Needles

The Needles district is so named because it features a unique set of spires reaching towards the sky, the product of millennia of erosion.  They are spectacular and remote.  The scenic road only allows us to get views, but not to be underneath them without a strenuous  hike.  Instead we chose to take the hike around the top of the mesa near Big Springs.

 

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Big Springs

When we hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, the paths are easy to distinguish as you walk between trees and the trails are maintained with steps carved out of rock and foliage cut back to keep the way clear.  In Utah, we hike on top of rock that goes for miles.  The path is marked with cairns, rocks that show the way, one marker at a time. We go from cairn to cairn to get to outlooks that allow views of both the distant mesas and the canyons below.   I love walking along these rocks and looking for the next marker.  As we are here on the off season, it has been so quiet that I only hear my own breath and Dave’s footsteps. The two mile hike is short but helps us feel both isolated and connected at the same time.  By the time we were back at the car, we felt peaceful and happy.

 

We ended our day visiting a place where cowboys camped for almost 100 years. This spot has a spring that provides water year around, as well as being in a valley where a ricl-cowboy-campver flows much of the time.  The ranchers would use this place to graze their cattle and the cowboys camped under the cover of the rocks.  When the government not longer allowed the cattle to graze, the cowboys left some of their belongings, which now allows us to peek into the past to see how they lived. Naturally the ancient Native Americans used the same cover for centuries when they traveled through this desert land. They too left their mark with petroglyphs and soot on the rock faces. This too was a tranquil place, a reminder of human and nature connections.

I am once again grateful for this opportunity to experience the beauty of this land.  Aren’t we lucky?

 

 

Connections

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Weeping Rock – Zion National Park

One of the short hikes at Zion National Park is to a place called Weeping Rock.  It may be short but the path leading up there a bit steep.  It is worth the hike because it leads to a rock overhang with an almost continual stream of water running off of it.  This stream of water allows plants to grow out of the sandstone rock and creates a hanging garden.  It is fun and beautiful, but difficult to photograph.  It is one of those places you have to see for yourself I suppose.

 

 

img_0316While we were there, a young family with three children were enjoying the experience.  The stream of water produces a constant gentle rain shower at the end of the overhang, where the plants are living.  The kids loved running underneath the water, eventually just getting soaked.  The parents did not seem to mind this and it was fun watch them play.  The father was next to me and kept commenting on the beauty of the park and how he couldn’t get over the amazing rocks and the plants.  I was quiet, just taking it all in, feeling very peaceful and completely enjoying the setting. He finally turned to me, embarrassed, and said “It would probably be even better if people didn’t keep talking.”

The truth is that I didn’t mind his commentary at all.  I realized that his comments and the joy his children were feeling actually added to my own enjoyment.  I recognized that I felt connected to everyone at that moment.  It was a wonderful feeling.  We were experiencing Awe.

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Gale on Sundance Mountain

Yes, we can’t be in awe all the time.  I can attest to this, living in Estes Park and in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Believe it or not, I forgot to appreciate the grandeur of the mountains this summer. At some point we have to step back and enjoy the quiet and the everyday routines.  We all enjoy coming home from a wonderful trip and getting back into our own beds.  It is a relief, as well as reminding us that this too is worth treasuring.