Happy New Year


Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. —
Dalai Lama

A new year. Time for reflection. What do I want? What do I want to get rid of?

I drop two bags of unwanted items at Good Will. I wish it were as easy to discard bad habits and people. Just drive down the alley to the GW back door and plop, plop. Yes, I would like a receipt, proof against my taxing times.

My annual setting of goals in January evolved into guidelines a few years ago, and now, ideas. Free flowing, organic. I like to see them in my mind and on paper, but feel them more like helping hands, not ruling hands, subject to change with no recrimination.

I feel more hopeful than I have in two or three years.

Wait! Why does Mr. M keep popping into my head? We had only a few “friendship” dates and then he moved away. It was not a romance, but romance hovered as a possibility. To meet an interesting, attractive, available man is surprising and fun, especially after a certain age and after so many years alone.

I felt sad when Mr. M told me he was moving. (M is for last name and exotic place of birth.) Then even sadder when he didn’t answer emails. Gone already! Why not even some small acknowledgement? There was something there and I was calmed by his kind manner. Why just disappear? Perhaps he is not as kind or evolved as he appears. Perhaps he didn’t like me.

I decided to let it go and be thankful for the partial re-awakening. But here he is, reappearing and crowding into my Happy New Year thoughts. Oh yes, I remember, it is his birthday! One of the last things he told me – January 1.

I run the scenario by a few friends. Reactions span the gamut from cynic to romantic.

“I would never date a man from that country!”

“Sounds like he was using you.” (I helped him with work connections.)

“Most men are jerks.”

“You’ve been ghosted.”

“Have you emailed him more than once?”

“What did you say in your emails?”

“It’s not that far to drive.”

“Maybe he is worth the drive.”

“I wouldn’t give up if I were you.”

I’m somewhere in between these two extremes. Somehow, perhaps because my parents had a good marriage, I’ve held onto optimism and a sense of romance, while also letting go of naivete and unrealistic expectations. Most important, I’ve learned to honor my feelings, even if they are not returned.

My feelings tell me Mr. M was a good man, as far as I could tell in such a short time. Not great, because of the ghosting quality. And not close enough! I used to drive long distances to see men, joining other freeway bag ladies, as a friend called us. No more! I’d rather hang out with a man who lives nearby in this funky beach town and who likes to stroll by the ocean and the bay.

So, even though I feel a little sad on Happy New Year’s Day, that something I wanted didn’t materialize, I’m also grateful my hopeful ideas continue to flow.

love and hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Walking on Both Sides of the Street

Feelings
Feel.
Acknowledge. Respect.
Analyze. What showing me?
Let go.
Trust I will do the right thing.

This is my little mantra. It popped into my head 10 or 15 years ago. I don’t think it’s plagiarized. At least not the exact words. The spirit, perhaps – a distillation of discovery wandering down many paths, including reading, writing, counseling, sharing with friends and solitary reflection.

It’s not a mid-boggling breakthrough or a marketing plan for polishing personas, mine or anyone else’s. It just works for me, reminding me to pay attention to all my feelings. Reminding me not to label feelings good or bad or positive or negative, but to just accept that they are and I can let them guide me, especially in conjunction with realistic, rational thinking.

It seems to me that when therapy first became popular, the self-help movement was telling us to get in touch with our feelings. No more of the stiff upper lips of the Puritan or Victorian eras, no more dusty old rugs with feelings swept underneath. Let them all out and don’t keep them inside and make yourself ill.

But then this movement took another turn onto the sunny side of the street. Yes, get in touch with your feelings, but mostly positive ones. Avoid bad negative feelings, and by extension, negative talk and people. Why are we now attaching value judgements to feelings? True, some are pleasant — and some are not. If we go out into the day with a sour face, we often get treated less well. If we feel good and smile and speak kindly to people, people often smile back. Most of us would rather tip the balance over into feeling good.Happy Face

But why ignore unpleasant feelings or pretend they don’t exist? If we have a physical pain, we pay attention, seek medical help if it interferes with our lives. So why ignore mental or emotional pain? Pretending it’s not there isn’t going to make it go away any more than ignoring an infected finger or heart attack is going to cure us.

For me, my little mantra is telling me to recognize what I’m feeling, accept it, mull it over or toss it around, figure out what to do. Do I need to change jobs, make new friends, spend more time alone? Do I need to take a trip, take up a new hobby, or just rest? Decide what to do and move on! If the unpleasant feelings persist and I can’t move, then get help! It helps to move the body too.

Sad FaceI say we avoid unpleasant feelings at our own peril. They are there for a reason – a sort of early warning system. Maybe even seeing them in someone else can help us by triggering something we need to think about. Recently, I read in a yoga magazine that we should avoid all negative people. This seems harsh. We may not choose to hang out with severely troubled or self-destructive people, but what if someone we meet is going through a hard time, or feeling sad one day? Do we instantly conclude they are negative and turn our backs? If we do, we may be missing out on learning something, or making a new friend.

Walking through life, we need both the sunny and the shady sides of the street.