Cranberries and Valentines

Cranberries and Valentines

When I created a vision board in January 2020, I had no idea that my wish for “more time together at home” would break the world. None of us gathered in that January vision board workshop envisioned the year we just had. Yet I have to laugh when I look at all the things I wanted that I did indeed make manifest this past year:

  • more time as a couple … CHECK
  • a clean and organized home (okay, not 100% but I certainly had the time for it) … CHECK
  • guest room ready for guests … CHECK

What about my broader self-development goals? A key one for last year was to “embrace my power,” symbolized by the quote “It doesn’t get easier; you get stronger.” Well, last year certainly didn’t get easier; it got more like a horror movie when we just can resist going down to the basement. But I did get stronger.

Strong enough to know when I needed help, and ask for it.

Strong enough to reach out to others who needed help, and give without worry that it wouldn’t be enough.

Strong enough to know when to shut it all off and go for a walk. And strong enough to face the realities of what was happening without breaking.

It’s been tough, no doubt. And now … we are coming up on Valentines Day. What does Valentines Day, romance, couplehood, look like this year?

How do we celebrate being together after the year we’ve had … tripping over each other as we shared spaced without respite, creating a new dance that aimed to give space where we could, without drifting too far from each other … carving out those precious moments and spareness of aloneness, without hurting each other … navigating the mountains of news, the strong differences of opinion, the social upheaval, political chaos, the pandemic, the election, the ongoing aftermath of it all?

Dare we ask each other to Be My Valentine?

If we do, it must be done authentically and honestly, acknowledging the year we had while knowing this too shall pass.

I’ll most likely bake something; chocolate cranberry scones seem just right. And I’ll linger longer over coffee and tea in the morning, maybe it will even be nice enough to sit on the front porch. Not sure if I’ll get a gift; browsing through the shops is out for a while yet, and the thrill is gone with shopping online. But probably I’ll find something and wrap it up.

More importantly, I’ll mindfully look into my love’s eyes and forget the challenges, the moments of ugliness and stress of the last year, and recommit to him in our walk toward home.

And we’ll eat scones and drink our coffee and our tea and remember that it IS the regular days, the normal times, that make a marriage what it is. And I’ll be grateful for this man by my side and know that, yes, we’ll face more rocky days. We’ll still disagree on plenty of things. That’s life. That’s marriage. And that, my friends, is Valentines Day.

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The bliss of being interested…

The bliss of being interested…

Interesting.

Reading a post this morning from @SandyFosterMorrison (definitely worth following) and this — her mantra, formed in childhood, when things got crazy — “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Indeed. If I can look at life as “interesting” no matter what, the anxiety ebbs, the chaos calms, and my better angels can prevail.

Interesting — how we are tightening our bubbles, strengthening our tribes, relying on those we know, without question, have our backs, blocking or unfriending those who cause us anxiety. We’ve been given permission to entangle ourselves from toxic relationships, to remove ourselves from their presence. The lockdowns have helped many in a physical sense to do this (except those who are in fact locked in with that toxicity; my heart hurts for you) Don’t we have the right to back away from this miasma on social media too?

Interesting too how our hearts we know we will have to all learn to pull together somehow, even as we disagree, as calls for unity are met with skepticism, resistance, disgust, anger. 

Interesting as we watch the thousands of National Guards troops gather to protect our centers of government, wondering if they’ll be needed, if they’ll be enough, if they’ll be safe.

Interesting as the rumors of more violence seeps through, wondering how much, where, when, how many, knowing how much anger and division is out there … and in here, inside us.

Interesting when we stop to let ourselves feel what can be too overwhelming to even consider. The mind takes us where the heart can’t bear to go. What’s next? What does this week bring? Can we ever feel like a whole country again?

“It will be interesting to see what happens.” 

This will be my mantra for my own self-care this week … and I’ll extend that outward in peace. 

Interesting. Such an interesting word. Such an interesting world. Such an interesting time. Such an interesting feeling of being able to detach from the anxiety, the chaos and even, to an extent, the outcome. If I settle myself, maybe I can settle the world a bit too.

Interesting indeed.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores.

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Bliss … at a time like this

Bliss … at a time like this

Okay, I get it. I’ve not been myself lately.

I’ve been short-tempered, easily rattled, unfocused and anxious. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’m tired. Not physically tired (although that too), but deep down emotionally tired … from all of it.

These are not normal times. These are not easy days. And the people closest to me bear the brunt of my less-than-blissy vibe.

I’d apologize, but I don’t think that’s really called for. I’m not doing this intentionally, or aimed at anyone in particular. In fact, when I feel this way my instinct is to curl up, stay offline, keep away from humans so I don’t inflict my whatever this is on them.

To be sure, there have been some really great times this past year. For several days around the holidays, my heart was full, light, happy and peaceful. We laughed; we played games with family online, and at home at the kitchen table. What I expected would be a difficult Christmas was actually quite wonderful in a totally unexpected way. That was nice.

There was a wedding (pandemic style, during the fall “lull” … a grand baby born on Christmas Day (we will see her soon, I pray!) and an engagement. Life went on … in spite of the pandemic, the social upheaval, the politics.

Even when I lost my Dad in October, we were able to gather safely as a family and have a private service. I know this is far more than many families have had recently, and I am so grateful for that gathering, the love and the healing that will forever be Dad’s legacy.

Then last week happened. Something changed. What seemed a remote possibility became horribly real. Enough people disagree with the rule of law in this country that the seat of our government was breached, vandalized. People died. It was gutting to watch it unfold in real time.

So you’ll forgive me if I forget my bliss, yes? Because at the heart of all of this, the rules still hold true. I’m better when I spend time each day getting to source, listening to my heart, feeling then deciding. It’s just that what I’m hearing and feeling isn’t bliss. And that has to be okay. For now.

What we are going through now will become our history … this country’s and our own personal stories. We will not emerge from this unchanged. How can we? But I will find my bliss; I will not give up that quest. I will not give up on us, on you, on our country, on humanity.

I was made for these times. To quote Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Soul on deck shines like in dark times.” I will continue to shine … even if there are days when my light is dim.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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These are the ones you never let go.

These are the ones you never let go.

Yesterday was hard. Last month was hard. Last year was hard … and in the midst of the hard there was joy, ease and light. Before the funeral, there was a wedding. Before the election chaos, there was the grace of reconnecting in a powerful way with family. While the pandemic raged, a grandchild was born. Through it all ran a heightened sense of who matters and what’s really important.

As things escalated throughout the day, month and year we’ve just been through, my “people” chimed in … a friend texted, a daughter called, I reached out to two fast friends, a FB group chat proved to be a safe place to be scared, to be supportive, to be hopeful, to be pissed … to just be.

These are my people. My tribe. The ones I resonate with. They don’t all know each other (our tribe members have tribes of their own; it’s more a Venn diagram of the best people in your life all intersecting in your heart and soul).

Today the chaos is quieter, yet the uncertainty and the unthinkable lurk right around the corner. So does my tribe. I’m keeping them.

If you have any doubt who’s there for you, who you can lean on when it really matters, you won’t find them by scrolling on FB or Twitter. You’ll find them in your DMs, your chat strings, your text messages, your phone logs, your mailbox, on your front porch when things get hard and when things are joyous.

These are your tribe.

These are the keepers.

These are the ones I’ll never let go.

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The bliss of surrender

The bliss of surrender

There’s so much I don’t know right now.

My life seems to be in a state of suspended animation, waiting for clarity on any number of things … the direction our country is heading, how long this pandemic will have an impact, the long-term implications of social distancing, online learning and high unemployment, the ongoing social disruption, what my life will look like next year … 2020 has been a lot.

And it’s getting to me.

My normally productive self struggles to meet deadlines. My generally organized brain takes large chunks of time to process routine information. I’m uninspired to try new things, hesitant to do the things I usually do with ease, reluctant to imagine next week, next month, let alone next year.

So I surrender.

Not in the “I’ve lost and surrender to you” way, but in a true sense of surrender, allowing the unknown to present itself in its own good time.

Not forcing it, not demanding answers, but standing in surrender, with grace, to what may come. Waiting for clarity, for inspiration, for direction.

As I wait, I accept that I’m not as productive, organized or inspired as I’ve been in the past. Is it gone for good, or is this just a by-product of our current lives and times? In my surrender, I realize it doesn’t matter.

There is a reason I’m feeling this way, although that reason is shrouded in fog at the moment. There is something for me to learn through this experience, although the lesson is hazy.

Maybe it’s enough that I’ve learned I can’t know everything, plan everything, be in charge of everything. Maybe it’s enough to have a certain amount of faith that the understanding will come when I’m ready for it.

Meanwhile, I pledge to myself that I’ll accept the external unknowns, and my own personal questions. For now, it’s okay not to know, not to understand, not to predict or control.

I surrender … and it feels right.

Carol Pearson is the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life and the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series.

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in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm

It hit sooner than was supposed to, and stronger than predicted. From the first tornado warnings around 8:15 Monday night, life become surreal.

Anxiety turned to awe for me around midnight as the eye of Isaias moved overhead; we went outside to experience the incredible sense of peace and wholeness of the center of the hurricane, like we had somehow landed on the moon.

We were shocked the next day as reports came in from the beach side of the island, hit by a wildly powerful storm surge. Hubby and I were lucky; minor damage, one tree down, the expected branches and debris to clean up. So many others … lucky to be alive.

Later that day, I sat in the driveway in the shade, gulping water, realizing my head hadn’t really stopped spinning since 8 p.m. the night before. Trying to catch myself, I reminded myself that I know the rules. I know what to do … in any situation … to regain my balance and move ahead from a better place.

And I couldn’t remember even my first rule. It took me a good 30-45 seconds to calm my head enough to recall Rule #1: Get to Source.

Once I remember it, I had to laugh. I spent another 30 seconds breathing and connecting to source, as the other rules started falling into line … Listen to your heart (#2) … Feel then decide (#3) … etc.

I’ve always tended to be a disaster junkie. I’m morbidly fascinated by the “hows” of a natural disaster. And there were plenty of hows to figure out with this mess.

How did that boat end up in that lawn by the walkway?

How did six miles of beautiful dunes and beach grasses simply vanish?

How did that Winnebago end up nearly submerged in that ditch?

I spent the last few days trying to absorb the hows, and it only made things worse. I ate too much; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t focus on work. All of this was like a smashing finale to the ongoing stress of the past year or so.

Then my friend Amy, author of 10 Little Rules for Mermaids, mentioned Little River Band, and I watched the video to Cool Change. You know the one, with the leaping dolphins and sparkling sea … and finally the tears came … quietly, not sobbing, but just falling, emptying my heart of what it had been trying to process.

Feel, then decide. I finally decided it was okay to feel what I was feeling, and also decided it was okay to move on to another feeling. So I’m on to Rule #4: Focus on kindness and love.

It is swarming around here … strangers pitching in to help; neighbors checking in; the police and fire and water rescue and town officials dropping everything to be here for all of us, with grit and good humor and grace.

So I’ll stay here for a while yet … focusing on kindness and love, adding to it as I can (hubby is at the grocery store right now buying baking supplies so I can make cookies for the National Guard troops who are here to help). It’s not much, but kindness and love really is everything now.

There will be time yet to Act as If (#5), and name my fears (#6). The storm was a forced purge for many here (#7), but yes, we’ll all find and celebrate moments of beauty (#8) and create new rituals (#9). It’s enough right now to stay focused, and continue to be grateful (#10) in every moment.

Be well

Carol Pearson is the founder of 10 Little Rules and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She reminds us all to remember Rule 4 — Focus on kindness & love

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Random kindness

Random kindness

“Practice random acts of kindness.”

It’s a great mantra, and it’s spurred some beautiful moments. Yet there’s a difference between “practicing” those acts on occasion, and being a truly kind person.

Case in point — Hubby and I backed our golf cart up to the outside edge of the local outdoor concert Friday night. We were tucked in between an empty silver pickup and a large green bush, with a nice little green grass spot between us and big log beam that served as the border of the park. We set up our beach chairs, unwrapped our BLTs, popped the lid on a frosty adult beverage and kicked back to the enjoy the show.

It’s the summer of COVID-19, so people were for the large part being respectful of distances and setting up their chairs on the sunny lawn in front of the band shell spaced apart from other groups. Still, being tucked in our shady grove under a palm tree, with no one walking by or coming near, was pretty great.

Eventually the owner of the pickup came by, folded down the tailgate and jumped up to enjoy the show too. I shot him a smile and said a quick “hey;” back to enjoying the music.

Eventually I had to make the short trek to the community trash bin so get rid of our supper trash. Grabbing hold of the edge, I did a little involuntary “eww,” thinking of all the hands that had just done the same.

As I walked the 20 paces or so back to the cart, I said to John, “Dang, forget the hand-sani.”

I wiped off my hands with what I had around, and sat back down. Meanwhile, silver truck guy walked toward his cab, shooting us a quick smile. He came back holding out his hand sanitizer, saying simply “I overheard you saying you forgot yours.”

I gratefully held out my hands and offered up what felt like a beaming smile, saying “Thank you for being a kind person!”

The gel was hot from sitting in the North Carolina summer heat, and the warmth spread from my hands to my soul.

There’s been a lot of ugly online lately, and in person. And it seems to spread like a virus when we’re exposed to it. I’ve been struggling with my mental state for weeks now.

This one moment — this simple act of human kindness — reminder me that good still exists. It’s rampant, in fact.

As I settled back to enjoy the rest of the show, the band launched into Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

Indeed.

Carol Pearson is the founder of 10 Little Rules and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She reminds us all to remember Rule 4: Focus on kindness & love

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the bliss of choosing joy

the bliss of choosing joy

“Choose joy,” they said.

But how can I choose joy when all this is happening?

“It will happen with or without you,” I heard.

Then I heard the question: “In this moment, are you well? Safe? Secure?”

I am, answered I.

“Choose joy.”

But … there are so many with less, so many hurting, fighting, shouting, screaming, blowing things up and tearing things down.

“When they cross your path,” I heard, “you’ll know what to do.”

I’m gently letting myself off  the hook for the state of the entire planet. I am not, however, letting myself off the hook, gently or otherwise, for the state of my own experience. I realize that the world “out there” mirrors what’s going on in my stressed heart, my tired soul, my overly-worried brain.

This I can, must control.

“Choose joy.”

In order to do this, I must set the ego aside, the need to be right, to be heard, to matter.

I listen.

I look out the window, watching the muhly grass rustle in the slight breeze, near the succulent garden growing without thought to what the other plants are doing, not a care.

The knot in my stomach begins to loosen and let go. The frantic concern over what to do next ebbs. My heart slows down just a bit, enough to hear the break of silence.

Joy might still be elusive, but at the very least in this moment is seems … possible.

Choose joy.

Turn the rest off.

When the world next crosses your path, you’ll know what to do.

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