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2016

Daily Gratitude: Integrity

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I have grappled a lot this week with the direction I want this blog to go. When I revamped my blog, one of my main goals was to “stay on subject.” With that, I didn’t want this to become one big political platform. However, this week has been, in no uncertain terms, unusual circumstances.

Here’s the thing. This IS a blog about finding life’s magic and so much of finding life’s magic is about finding the good in life, standing up for what is right, and defeating our monsters, whatever they may be. So much of fantasy, and of happiness, is rooted in adamant beliefs in the importance of altruism, open-mindedness, interconnectedness, and the seeking of truth.

I woke up very clear-headed this morning and the anxiety I had all week was replaced with a dauntless integrity. I made some promises to myself, to my readers, and to the world at large. Some of them were hard to make but I will try my best to stick to them. They are as follows:

1. I just subscribed to NPR and plan on making a donation to them as well. I am going to do some hard research into various news sites to make sure the information I consume and share is reputable, truthful, well researched, and supportive of diverse opinions and contrasting views.

2.I will continue to engage in respectful discourse with those who have opposing views than mine because that is the only way we can all move forward. I will try my very best to listen. I will continue to try my best to support the rights and interests of all Americans regardless of political affiliation, so long as those interests don’t infringe upon the inalienable rights of others.

3. I promise to try my best to vote with my dollars, to support local businesses, to support fair trade, to put my money where my mouth is.

4. I promise to stand up for the safety of my fellow Americans from all walks of life regardless of their political views, sexuality, skin color, or gender. Provided the American government also stands up for these inalienable rights, I promise to support them as well.

To these promises I would kindly ask my American readers to consider doing the same because the only way we can all move forward together is with integrity, empathy, understanding, open-mindedness, and in being as informed on the facts as we possibly can be in an era of media misinformation.

Tomorrow, I will go back to “programming as usual.” Today, I faced my greatest monster, my own uncertainty, and I can now put my sword back in its sheath, sling my shield on my back, and walk away in good conscience.

Daily Gratitude: Sadness


Yesterday, I was struggling to make a daily gratitude post because I was sad.

I was sad as a woman who has been groped and called derogatory things and followed late at night and intimidated and talked down to.

I was sad as a person in an inter-racial marriage, who has dealt with ignorant and sometimes judgemental comments.

I was sad as a person currently waiting on the results of an important medical test, the outcome of which may now determine whether or not I can get insurance in the future.

I was sad for all the people I know who now fear for their own wellbeing and even their lives.

I was sad as a lover of fantasy literature, which endlessly echoes the mantra that love, kindness and goodness prevail.

I was not feeling grateful. But then, I realized, ironically, that I am grateful for sadness. I am grateful that I know and understand that holistic mental health doesn’t just consist of positive emotions. I am grateful that I am able to feel and express a variety of emotions. I am grateful for a country where I have the freedom of speech to express those emotions. I am grateful for my writing passion which gives me an outlet to express those emotions.

Gratitude is important to happiness. But, so is sadness, and so many other feelings. Most importantly, being honest with ourselves and acknowledging the validity of our own feelings is vital to the human experience. It doesn’t mean that we are bitter or hateful or disrespectful. It just means that we feel sad.

So today, I am grateful that I don’t have to feel grateful. That can wait for another day.

Today’s Inspiration

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This is one of my favorite quotes and I keep it close to my heart. It’s not always easy to follow sometimes, but it is oh so important to remember.

Chatting with Fear

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I once wrote a poem that started with, “What is fear but the unnamed, unexplained, unappreciated monster, the bump outside our fortress in the dank, dark night, the tickling, prickling of our feet as we dog-paddle across the deep, dragon-infested waters of the unknown?”

It was a silly poem, but fear is arguably the most vulnerable emotion, is it not? At the least, it is hand-in-hand with love. We would much rather shove it in a corner, cover it up, push it down, than admit to it. However, it is only in admitting to it that we can accept our fear for what it is.  So many other more complex emotions are largely a mask to cover up that scary emotion called fear.

What is hatred or bigotry but fear of the unknown, the different, the “other?”

What is anger but fear of losing the ones we love or fear of being unloved ourselves?

What is complacency but fear of change?

What is arrogance but fear of rejection or failure?

What is anxiety but fear of what could go wrong?

Today, I invite you to invite your greatest fear into your home, sit it down, and serve it some metaphorical tea and cookies. Listen to what it has to tell you. Don’t try to hide it, change it, or move past it. Not today. Just let it be, and accept it for what it is. In listening to it, you may find a beautiful truth, something you never knew about yourself because you were too afraid to find out.

Changes

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I’m so thrilled to introduce my new blog, The Enchanted Outlook. Please feel free to take a look around. If you followed my former blog, Magic Behind the Morning, you can expect similar content from this blog, but with a more streamlined approach and, of course, a new look. (If you have yet to follow me and would like to, you can do so in either the right-hand toolbar or bottom of screen.)

I have been thinking a lot about changes lately. I think change is something we like to embrace in theory, but struggle with when it comes to the actuality of it. This has been a year of changes, both in my personal life and in the world at large. Some of those changes have been very difficult. Others have been joyful. Regardless of type, it is only too easy to view all change as a threat. We worry about what could go wrong, which leads our imaginations down a deep rabbit hole. There is a time to think of what could go wrong. However, lately, to try something new, I have instead been trying to first ask myself what could go right. What are the possibilities? What challenges can be conquered? What progress can be reached? What joys can the change bring? What can be learned?

Sometimes, even the very toughest transitional periods hold within them the seeds of wonderful things to come. It is up to us to see those small seeds of promise, water them, and encourage them to grow.

When Life is Not Enchanting

Generally speaking, writing about life’s enchanting moments is easy. Just about anything qualifies. Got a head cold? Sure, I can work that in. Going on a trip? Easy. Had a stressful work week? Piece of cake. Enchantment is all about perception. If we change the way we interpret situations, we can live a more enchanted life.

Some weeks, though, writing about enchantment is hard. This was one of those weeks. Sometimes life is not enchanting and no little tweak in how we view things will change that. Sometimes life is brutal and gory and traumatizing and anger-inducing.

I was just in Orlando a month and a half ago at the start of our honeymoon. I may have seen the staff person who was killed last week when I rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that a city that is normally all about finding life’s magic is suddenly about finding much darker things. Finding family members who are missing. Finding bodies or parts of bodies. Finding out the worst. Finding monsters. Finding a way to make it through the night. Finding courage to keep going. Finding out that yet another tragedy has struck.

But, more than finding things, we are ALL searching for things that we can’t find. We are searching for answers. We are searching for meaning, or understanding. We are searching for a consensus that can’t be reached. We are searching for truth in a web of memes and twitter statuses and rumors and opinions and misinformation and corruption and hatred. We are all playing riddles in the dark. We are all running in a giant Caucus-Race.

There are, really, two outcomes of this race. The first is that we will continue to get nowhere. In this case, we can throw our hands up, stop running and give in. The second is that we WILL get somewhere. This will involve scary words like compromise, understanding, empathy, and courage. It will involve us really, truly, looking at things from someone else’s perspective. YES, that means the person whose opinions you don’t like, even if their opinions are full of judgement or fear or misinformation. YES, when I say “us,” I mean YOU. It also will involve taking ACTION in any way that you can, even something small like signing a petition or making a small donation.

I like to think that we will get somewhere. Just look at all the other times we have gotten somewhere. My voice, a woman’s voice, wouldn’t be heard like this if we hadn’t gotten somewhere. I wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband if we hadn’t gotten somewhere. It’s the getting there that makes these horrific moments our generation’s personal journey of overcoming. And it’s a shame that we have to go through these moments, particularly for those whose lives were lost and for their family and friends. It would be so much easier if we could just start with love and compassion, wouldn’t it? Certainly it isn’t fair that we go through these pains again and again.

Still, every magical tale contains darkness and monsters of some form. Every magical tale has its own story of overcoming. Every magical tale ALSO has heroes and friendship and love and so many wonderful things that make the tale worth telling. This may not be a tale that we will ever, ever want to tell. But the heroes who are standing up for what is right, who are working hard to reach a consensus, who are responding to cries of distress, who are doing anything and everything they can, make the tale one that will need telling. We all have the choice as to whether or not to embody those heroic traits like love, courage, and compassion in these situations. That, I think, is how we find enchantment in the world’s dark moments: by being that lightness, by being that love and compassion.

Remember: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

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