Do The Zen Thing

How’s your New Years Resolutions going?

Thought so.

You know why they don’t work? They suck. They are work. They are not fun.

Here is what happens.

Your mind is an impetuous little bastard that goes Oh! Gotta try this, gotta do that! Your mind goes all over the place and is instantly excited about most things. Excitement that melts away much faster than an ice cream cone. And it lies. More than Trump!

I am amazed at how fast my mind will convince me that this is it, this time it’ll work and blah, blah, blah. A lot of hot air, zeal and, well, hot air. This is where good ideas come from, and ultimately, where they go.

Things I have learned. Not to make New Year Resolutions. Not at any time of the year. Running after lofty goals because they look good is a mind thing that results in chasing clouds. Listening to your heart is a zen thing that will bring unexpected and long lasting change.

Your mind and heart play vastly different tunes on totally different instruments. My mind is a piccolo, my heart is a bass drum. When the mind goes off it plays a merry whimsical tune, and it is gone like a puff of air. My heart however speaks deep in my body, and whatever it wants is the truth and resonates throughout my whole being.

If you really want to change you have to do the zen. You have to sit with your cravings, your longings, your wantings, your challenges and find out what your heart has to say.

To do what the mind says, get your whip out.

Both take work. Ugh. And you have to do both.

Who needs more work? I already have nine to five shit five days a week. Who wants to do more work? Give me the money and die. Yeah, if only. Money can solve a lot of problems, but it can’t satisfy for long. Only the heart can give you what you really want. So ya gotta do the work.

Words without actions are just words. Actions without direction are just actions. Your heart will give you a lot of wisdom and direction when you sit with it and listen, but you need your mind to take action.

Stop chasing external things like losing weight, making a million dollars, finding the love of your life, and have a nice visit with yourself. Let your heart give you an internal feel good that you will know is the right thing to do. If you need a bit of extra sleep during the day, the heart can be reached through meditation. I wish it had a 1-800 number instead.

Blues and Blahs

There is only one way to overcome these nasty winter blues (or any depression for that matter). No it is not cookies, although I do admit, they help in a pinch.

Nope, the only way to beat the blahs is to try something new. Yep. Get out, even it is really cold out, go some place new.

Go for a walk, with your camera.

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Go to the mall and try being really nice; talk to an elderly person sitting all alone. Purchase someones groceries for them, take someone out for lunch. Even if you get rejected it’ll be a new experience! Maybe even give you a laugh – later on. Maybe much later on . . . ahem. Just don’t take rejection personally. Some people are more nasty or depressed than you! At least you got out for a while.

If the great outdoors makes you shiver by just looking at your boots in the vestibule, and the thought of digging your car out of the snow, or worse, waiting for the bus (ugh, don’t get me started on that!) then do an indoor activity. If you can’t overcome the revulsion of being outside, cold and possibly wet too, then you have my permission to stay inside! But don’t just hang around and annoy the cat.

If you really want to do nothing, then meditate. You’ll probably fall asleep. I usually do.

But to break the self pity party scene you will have to do something that gets your nose out of your navel.

Take a free on-line course in something you never heard of before or know absolutely zip about.

Watch a movie or read a book that you thought would never interest you. Pick a subject that is new. Listen to music you never heard. Get out of your comfort zone.

Try a craft you have never done before. Make something for the animals in Australia.

Doodle. Draw or write something silly.

This is a good practice all the year.

Learn, experience and grow.

But cookies are still a good substitute when you really can’t get out.

Shortbread with a big pot of tea. With a good book. While the storm rages outside.

Getting Unstuck

I don’t like to make new years resolutions as I will quickly abandon my best intentions and then feel like a failure. Who needs that? I have plenty of opportunities to feel like a failure in my normal every day life. Mostly because I am doing a whole lot of shit I don’t like doing. New Years resolutions don’t usually involve fun, and that is why they don’t work. I already have enough of not fun in my life.

I suspect that many others have a lot of not fun too.

That is why so many determine to change their lives at this time of year.

But boy, life can sure try to keep you where you are at.

Why is that?

Despite our longing to be free, our supreme desire to be different, our yearning to follow our passions, we fail to get a breakthrough. It isn’t for lack of persistent trying. Many have pushed and pushed and come up empty. We never hear about the failures, only the success stories. I think hearing only one side of the equation makes people feel very very bad and sets them up for unrealistic expectations.

But I am definitely not saying don’t try, to give up before you even start, because you might be one of those success stories. At the very least, you will have learned something and got some valuable experiences. It is sad however, that most of us never get the lasting changes, the highs we want.

I know I often talk about failures, only because I think to fail is more realistic an outlook than success.

I do know that even when you do try, you still have regrets. I hate it when people say to me “Well, at least you tried. At least you did it”, implying that having just pursued a dream is good enough. It is not. Anyone who has pursued their dreams and failed know this. You still have regrets, maybe even more regrets because you failed. Your dreams are a big part of who you are, so they leave deep wounds. It touches your identity. It can make you lose hope.

The best advice I can give myself is to look for joy. Joy can be found anywhere in most everything. It can be extremely small and yet fill your heart with warmth. It may not change your world, but it will change the moment. If you can find joy in the moments it can help get you through all the rest of the shit you must endure to stay alive.

Getting unstuck from bad situations can take a long time, and I think we get disheartened because it takes so long. We are quick fix creatures, so we need a lot of Zen to make things happen.

I think you need to know what it is that you really want. Not the external stuff like houses, cars, money. But the inside deal – freedom, peace, love, that kind of stuff. If you know what it is you truly want, then maybe you can match your experiences to that, and find it, and keep it and change your world.

So don’t set any resolutions. Just try new stuff, new experiences and look for joy and endure another year. Maybe you are closer to success than you realize.

At least, that is what I keep telling myself.

70 is NOT the new 65

Anyone who says 70 is the new 65 is not even close to being 65 yet.

My health started to give me attitude in my late 50’s despite me being athletic, active, eating healthy and all the rest.

It is called aging.

I think we are developing a dangerous skewered view of aging that is similar to the warped view of entrepreneurship when you are old.

The media highlights the success stories, which gives us the idea that all you need to do is work at it and you can stay healthy and young forever.

I agree that ‘working at it’ increases the odds in your favor to be healthy as you grow older, but it is not a guarantee. Yes, you should do all you can – but when you get older, your body WILL have other ideas, no matter what you do. It slows down, it loses ability and agility, it gets ill, it dies. I have seen so many people in denial about this who torture themselves to cheat death.

Society has bought into this New Age crap about mind over matter, positive thinking and all that shit, and it is causing us to be more youth orientated than ever. We have a very flippant and unforgiving attitude towards aging that is doing serious harm to the elderly.

It is an unfortunate lie to presume that aging is all in your head – that it is just a number. It is not. Your body wears out. You cannot do what you could at 20, 30 or even 40.

Look at the real world, how many seniors can you truthfully say are younger in body than in age? We only hear about the exceptions, the ones who defy aging – they are in the minority. The truth is not so rosy.

The dangerous part of this thinking is that it could set in motion policies designed to cut out or delay necessary help for the aged, namely medicare, pensions, government assistance. Saying that 70 is the new 65 implies that all seniors are able to keep on working and take care of themselves, this is so far, far from the truth.

Equally so is the fallacy that when you are old you can just start over when you are cast out of your job and deemed redundant. Many do not have the resources to do this, nor the energy or health. It costs a lot of money, time and energy to start your own gig, and if it fails, like most of them do, seniors have no way of recovering what they have lost. Even to keep working 8 hours or more a day, 5 days a week takes a hell of a toll on an older person. They can’t keep it up.

The truth about aging is this: Our bodies deteriorate, no matter what. We cannot do as much as we used to. Our ability to recover from loss; mentally, physically, financially is almost ZERO.

Before I got sick, I used to think the same way, that aging was all in your head. That I could keep on forever working hard, playing hard and doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But it is a lie.

Aging is not a disease. It is not something you can outsmart, overcome or out do. And you will need help, of some kind, in your later years because you cannot function as you did when you were younger.

My Mother always warned me that I should save enough money because I will get tired. Of course I did not believe her. And anyone in good health younger than 60 reading this will not believe her either. Nowadays you could never save enough money anyways.

Take a good look at those older folks who are celebrities, or successful. Are they doing it on their own? NO. They have staff that does a lot of things for them, that is how they can stay active doing what they love. When they get sick, they get instant attention and the best care. Do most seniors have that luxury?

My Mother got to live in her own place well into her nineties, but this was not because her body was healthy like a 40 year old. It was because she had an awful lot of help. This is reality. Ask anyone who is currently taking care of an aging relative.

It is not right or fair to ask or expect an older person to continue doing what they did when younger. We must ensure that our aging population is taken care of. It is not their fault that they get old, sick and die. It is mother nature.

So stop waving the flag that 70 is the new 65. It is total bullshit.