Listen, Lean-In, Love

Listen to the voices you trust, to those that inspire you, each day. Learn the lessons being offered if they resonate with you. Learn them well.

Lean-in to hard things when it makes sense. We can do hard things . You can do hard things. We humans, we are built for struggle, to overcome difficulties, to persevere. That’s you, too!

Love yourself; at the same time, as you hold yourself accountable, remember to also love yourself.

And love those around you who love you; and love those who need love; let the love you are blessed with power you forward. Accept it when it is offered; give it as often as you can.

Let it be so: Listen, Lean-In, Love.

Plod, Pause, Progress

These three “P’s”…something to be said for them…

We plod through day-to-day, not always completely inspired, not always completely focused, but overall, if we’re going forward, I’d call that, I DO call that, GOOD;

Sometimes the best thing to do is pause, right where we are, and take stock; take an extra deep breath or ten; take a moment or ten for yourself to look around, reset, remind yourself that you’re enough, just as you are; you’re GOOD;

And maybe through those two actions, maybe that’s the foundation of progress. Of course there’s also the “big moves”, the revelations, the quantum leaps…but I think often progress is the simpler version; one foot in front of the other; doing the work; being present in the here and now, and doing the…next…right…thing.

I’d call that progress.

Other Side

On the other side of the headache, is the comfort and calm and peace to think clearly;

On the other side of releasing the angst and the pain and the toil is the certainty that you can take the next step on that ten thousand mile journey of life;

On the other side of the anxiety that spins you around and flips you upside down is the sense of serenity and peace that you are living exactly the life you’re meant to live in this moment,

And the clarity to change the things that need changing to align your head, your heart, your soul,

Starting now, on the other side.

Anxiety: Awash

It starts with the feeling. That’s just it, at its core.

It’s a feeling or series of feelings that can wash over you, immobilize you, cloud your mind to the point that there’s no room for anything else.

“Awash” is the idea, the concept that comes to mind. Something like, you become awash with powerful, sometimes debilitating, suffocating feelings of uncertainty, doubt, panic. If you’ve ever been knocked over or otherwise under an ocean wave in the surf, you can imagine it. You feel, and might very well be, helpless, at least in the moment.

As I shared in the intro post, I’ve felt these feelings since I was seven years old. I haven’t always had the same symptoms and haven’t always described it the same way, but it’s been there under the surface, nearly my whole life.

Big picture, it’s become something I simply have to cope with as part of who I am. The feelings are typically strongest in the early morning, just as I wake up. It feels like uncertainty, and inability to respond to the things that lie ahead.

That’s a big part of it: UNCERTAINTY AND FEELING UNABLE TO RESPOND TO THE TASKS AHEAD.

Looking back, I’d say it centers around that idea, that idea of not feeling like I’m good enough: for the job, the project, the relationship, the whatever it is. And at it’s worst, it’s crushing, like being completely The Object (not The Subject), not in control of my own destiny of the day, the week, the month, the year, the whatever time period you like.

And the flip side?

If and when I’m confident, there is practically no issue at all. I can barrel into the day with the exact opposite: uncertainty becomes certainty; inability to respond becomes certainty that I am able to do so.

It’s just weird. Or maybe it’s not so weird. Maybe it’s just life. My life, anyway.

I’ve gotten better over the last several decades in responding to these feelings; at least, sometimes it seems I’ve gotten better at it.

Prayer helps often times; expressing gratitude, taking responsibility for my faults, my mistakes, praying for others, so many others in far worse circumstance.

And then other times, even prayer and gratitude don’t immediately help much. Instead, I feel like I’m getting churned by wave after wave after way every day. I can’t find “up”; it’s all I can do to take the next step, the next breath, it feels like.

But it’s a continuum too, at least for me. I’ve not gone off the rails completely. Most people who know me might not guess what lies beneath the surface of my smile and humor and desire to help others, boost others…

they might not guess that I’m going through my second divorce (“Am I good enough to stay married?”),

that the learning curve I face at work seems considerable (“I’ve not done this job before, and I think I can do it, and then I’m getting better, getter better, and then, ‘Mistake Mistake Mistake’ — or so it seems”).

And when I write those two big challenges down, and take a few deep breaths,

I pretty well immediately feel more capable of seeing through these difficulties, to a better, brighter, future. It’s sort of like I remember that I CAN swim, in the midst of being rolled by wave after wave after wave…

And I get to the surface again, and I’m able to stabilize, and I take a few deep breaths…and I get to the calmer water, and I gradually make my way forward, again.

Still awash…but I’m able to cope, with a few deep breaths, and a few more, and a few more. Forward.

Lyrics Post: “Freedom ‘90’”

Wow. Or is it “Wham!”

So SO good. On several levels. Take a read. Take a listen. Decide for yourself. My toe was tapping pretty quick. And my hips were rocking. SHAKE IT.

“Freedom ’90”

I won’t let you down
I will not give you up
Gotta have some faith in the sound
It’s the one good thing that I’ve got
I won’t let you down
So please don’t give me up
‘Cause I would really, really love to stick around, oh yeah

Heaven knows I was just a young boy
Didn’t know what I wanted to be
I was every little hungry schoolgirl’s pride and joy
And I guess it was enough for me
To win the race? A prettier face!
Brand new clothes and a big fat place
On your rock and roll TV
But today the way I play the game is not the same
No way
Think I’m gonna get myself happy

I think there’s something you should know
I think it’s time I told you so
There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone else I’ve got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don’t belong to you
And you don’t belong to me yea yea
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve gotta give for what you take
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve gotta give for what you take

Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy
What a kick just a buddy and me
We had every big shot good-time band on the run boy
We were living in a fantasy
We won the race
Got out of the place
I went back home got a brand new face
For the boys on MTV
But today the way I play the game has got to change
Oh yeah
Now I’m gonna get myself happy

I think there’s something you should know
I think it’s time I stopped the show
There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone I forgot to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Don’t think that I’ll be back again
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don’t belong to you
And you don’t belong to me, yea yea
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve gotta give for what you take
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve gotta give for what you take

Well it looks like the road to heaven
But it feels like the road to hell
When I knew which side my bread was buttered
I took the knife as well
Posing for another picture
Everybody’s got to sell
But when you shake your ass
They notice fast
And some mistakes were built to last

That’s what you get
That’s what you get
That’s what you get
I say that’s what you get
That’s what you get for changing your mind
That’s what you get for changing your mind

That’s what you get
That’s what you get
And after all this time
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes
Do not make the man

All we have to do now is take these lies
And make them true somehow
All we have to see is that i don’t belong to you
And you don’t belong to me yea yea
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve got to give for what you take
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
You’ve got to give for what you take
Yea you’ve got to give for what you, give for what you give

May not be what you want from me
Just the way it’s got to be
Lose the face now
I’ve got to live I’ve got to live

Consider The Porch Stoop

How often do I sit there, and just consider the day? Not so often.

How often do I sit there, on this stoop I’ve lived behind for half my life? No often enough. I’ve lived in this house, on this street, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life.

And how often have I sat on the stoop, listening to the cars up and down Winchester, listen to the birdsong from the bushes and trees, watch the day wane to the west.

Not often enough. But I did today.

The Morning Dove sat on the street light. The ants crawled across the brick. The wind gently moved the high grass under the Maple.

And I was just there. So thankful to just be there.

Freestyle Love, G.M.D.

GMD, why do I think of him like that? My family, big on initials of names, for some reason.

GMD, my material grandfather, George M. Downing, not frowning, just thrownin’ words down,

For him on his birthday, 107, not here anymore, still deep within me, spirit living on, as it should be.

A doer, a leader, an educator, a learned man, number guy, Doctor of Ed. after his name, dedicated career, then shifted,

Rancher, cowboy, great grandpa, through and through, hunter, fixer, not much of music mixer, read a lot, deep in it, ready to win it, or so it seemed,

Did, a solid vocation, then on permanent vacation, not relaxing, always working, making, creating, tending, mending,

What would he say about me now? Some how, I think he’d give a nod, not the form or the norm, my path different, yet the same, in the game, not backing down, like him, not backing down,

Grinding, making, creating,

Bobbing, weaving, some grieving,

Still going, somehow ever knowing, on the right path,

Loving nature, outside, words, ideas, going forward, ever-knowing, trusting,

in Him.

Happy Birthday, GMD.

The Power of Prayer

This passage was posted by Francis yesterday. Seems like it should be elevated. The power of prayer is real.

Give it a try.

“Each day that begins, if welcomed in #prayer, is accompanied by courage, so that the problems we have to face no longer seem to be obstacles to our #happiness, but rather appeals from God, opportunities for our encounter with him. #WorldHappinessDay” -Pope Francis on Twitter”

Amen AMEN.

Shanty Town

It’s not near Cape Town or Karachi, not even Skid Row— nothing like that scale or density of population, but in this home town of mine, San Jose, California, homelessness has over the years become a societal problem on the rise.

The pandemic has only made it worse.

Vast disparities of income versus the cost of living is part of it. Mental health issues are part of it. And with the pandemic, pretty suddenly many whole could just make it, can’t anymore. And so they live in their car, maybe, or under an overpass, or in a shanty.

In this wealthiest of regions in this wealthiest of nations, how can this be so? And how can we fix it?

Can we agree that it should be fixed? That we are better than that, that we can do better than that. Let’s figure it out. Let’s make it better.

We can do this. We are called to do this. Love your neighbor as yourself. love your neighbor as yourself.

Stripped Down Week

Not sure why, seems I’m frequently battling these days. Battling with tasks at work; battling with conflicting priorities; battling my moods, working to keep things on the up.

So stripping down this week, taking the minimalist approach, working on the basics. If grand insight presents itself, you’ll hear about it, no doubt; but not looking for it. Striving instead to as efficiently and effectively as possible, put one foot in front of the other.

Expecting some bumps as the week starts, so one foot in front of the other I think is the best approach. Yes, one foot in front of the other. Here we go…through it all, and all the same though, the same mission:

MAKE IT GOOD.