Intellectual, maybe not

Standard

I grew up in a family of “intellectuals” and in a society which prized the intellect and intellectual pursuits.

By “intellectuals” I do not mean a class of people by their profession, I guess academics come to mind, but rather of their behaviour – the constant asking ‘why’, the emphasis on logic or rational discourse, and as the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, “given to study, reflection, and speculation”. There are various motivations for doing intellectual – “I am not good enough and need to make myself better”, “I want to be admired”, “I have a love of learning”, “That is all I am good for”,… and so it goes.

My mother is still embarrassed about her ‘neglect’ of her then preschool-aged daughter for refusing to answer to the incessant “whys” as she went about her homemaking chores. And my father till today is never far from the whys and hows of things.

I had no cause to question this way of being, even though I questioned almost everything else, ever curious. For a long time, I could not see how everyone else wasn’t like me, or why anyone would not want to study or reflect on stuff, or to see the benefit of learning all the time.

Nature or nurture, I was lucky to be able to embrace this “thinky” way of being. Yes, there is a ‘but’ in here. There was a time when I wanted to be a ballerina (and I apparently have the “strong thighs” for it 😁, then) and a classical singer (I was told while I might have the voice for it, singing opera is a tough gig and I should stick to my intellectual pursuits, sigh). Oh, there were less than successful stints with sprints (yep, those strong thighs again!) and competitive swimming, alas not for me.

All of us have an intellect, and if we practice, we could be adept at this particular of looking at or approaching the world. But as the saying goes, “all things in moderation” and the same goes for being intellectual. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. It is a matter of being flexible and adaptive. A full-time intellectual is tiring and I can imagine, not conducive to social interactions and relationships. Might work for an introvert like me, but even I need something or someone beyond myself!

Sometimes, things just are. Like faith. Sometimes, we need to trust – the person before us, the situation we are in, what has come before will be again – without the perpetual study. Sometimes, we have to let it be. Sometimes we have to hop on and go on the ride. Sometimes emotions take precedent. Sometimes, we just need to give our mind a good rest. And that is what I’ve been doing…in moderation ☺.

I was thinking (yep, that word again!) of how trite my past few posts were, lacking in substance, then it hit me, judgment with a capital ‘J’! They were fun for me, that was what’s needed, period.

A certain someone said he reads my posts because they always get somewhere, make a point… hmmm, guess he’ll be disappointed now 😊 .

This may just be rambling on a rainy Saturday morning.

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

It is not what it seems… maybe

Standard

I wrote an email, somewhat scathing in tone, a few days ago. Entirely justified at the time, I thought. I felt I was being unduly taken advantage of, that the prospective recipient of the email was intentionally obstructive and perhaps malicious, at best unthinking and uncaring. Well, I had to defend myself, don’t I? I am entitled, don’t I? And anyone who knew the circumstances would see this and I would be justified in my action.

But no one saw this email. I did not send it.

My tapping away at the keyboard was cathartic, but catharsis could only go so far in making the situation “right”.

Thankfully, one of my habits is to never send an email drafted during an emotional flux.

Taking a large step back from the finished (but then unsent) email, these were what I realised:

  • Obviously, I was emotional. Of its own, perfectly acceptable and normal. But what happened when the emotions took over …
  • I turned inward and my mind took over. My thoughts revealed me at a low ebb – “I was being unduly taken advantage of”? Really? Have I in that one thought buy into a belief that I was a victim? That I had no say in this? Have I in that one thought about to give way my power?
  • Then, the construction of the “baddie” who was “intentionally obstructive”, “malicious”, “unthinking and uncaring”? This is judgment with a capital ‘J’. I’ll grant that my thoughts, being the rational person that I am, could be correct. Or they might not. But in the moments when I was drafting that email, my mind was closed to any other possibility. It was closed such that I (unconsciously) chose not to see an alternate perspective.
  • And really, what did it matter, if she was or was not? I was there to solve a “problem” not to make judgments about another’s motivations. Why would my actions be guided by anything other than respect for another human being, integrity and compassion?
  • Moving forward in a positive manner requires me to maintain a constructive relationship, moving forward requires me to let go of any and all of the history that could bind me, moving forward requires me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not cringe or feel compelled to be defensive.
  • And that little voice in my head (?) or my heart said, “you are better than this.”

We have been there, this “feeling small” and “feeling helpless” place.

We have imagined the architects of our misery, rubbing their hands in glee with a malicious grin and gloating.

Well, in those moments we have also handed over responsibility for our self to another and blaming them for not looking after or caring or loving us.

So, this story ended with a phone call, expressing my concerns and being open to a response. The response – the words at least – was as I had expected but there was something else. The response was not “intentionally obstructive”, not “malicious”, not “uncaring”, perhaps a little “unthinking”. Okay, I can live with this, for now. And I (or my ego) would like to say that I had modeled an attitude and a behaviour which hopefully encourage reciprocity. Only time will tell.

What matters most to me is that, it felt right, it felt good, as the email if sent would not.

The lessons, which I keep close to me?

  • Be open to different perspectives and possibilities. There is a world beyond our experiences.
  • Proceed with the empowered self. Our words and actions will reflect this.
  • Let go. We can’t control the future.

 

Namaste.

~ FlorenceT

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Introductions

Standard

How do we see ourselves? How do we introduce ourselves, as we stretch out our hands to greet another?

Do we acknowledge and embrace our whole selves in all spaces? Or do we censor who we are in some? 

What is your self-identity?

So here’s a little… um, challenge from me. If only to ponder 🙂

 

Dandelion

Introductions

Let’s not say our names
or what we do for a living.
If we are married
and how many times.
Single, gay, or vegan.

Let’s not mention
how far we got in school.
Who we know,
what we’re good at
or no good at, at all.

Let’s not hint at
how much money we have
or how little.
Where we go to church
or that we don’t.
What our Sun Sign is
our Enneagram number
our personality type according to Jung
or whether we’ve ever been
Rolfed, arrested, psychoanalyzed,
or artificially suntanned.

Let’s refrain, too, from stating any ills.
What meds we’re on
including probiotics.
How many surgeries we’ve survived
or our children’s children’s problems.
And, please—
let’s not mention
who we voted for
in the last election.

Let’s do this instead:
Let’s start by telling
just one small thing
that costs us nothing
but our attention.

Something simple
that nourishes
the soul of our bones.
How it was this morning
stooping to pet the sleeping dog’s muzzle
before going off to work.

Or
yesterday,
walking in the woods
spotting that fungus on the stump
of a maple
so astonishingly orange
it glowed like a lamp.

Or just now,
the sound
of your
own breath
rising
or sinking
at the end
of this
sentence.

– Susan Glassmeyer

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work

You are more marvellous…

Standard

My thoughts on a Friday evening…

so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had already happened long ago and in the dwelling place
you had lived in before you began,
and that every step along the way, you had carried
the heart and the mind and the promise
that first set you off and drew you on and that you were
more marvelous in your simple wish to find a way
than the gilded roofs of any destination you could reach:

…                                                        ~ David Whyte, Santiago

Who you were and who you are now, for every self you had been and the one you are now, all will change. Yet, it is they who propel you to begin the journey… of self-exploration, self-discovery and self-mastery.

Yes, you are more marvellous in your simple wish to find a way…

And one day you will learn it is not about the destination, it being a glimpse of what could be, not what will be. Your quiet arrival will be momentous to the self that remains, each time.

For staying true to the road that beckoned and abandoned you, to the winds and rain that battered you and to the occasional dimming light, you will arrive at your destination, not as anticipated but evolved.

Ever beautiful!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Let it be…

Standard

The Owl (c) FlorenceTToday is strange in that I do not know what to make of it. My mind struggles with labels.

In many ways I am grateful for the year that has passed, for the voices of support, the strong arms which held, the love enfolding. I am grateful for a life continuing to unfold with ‘yes’ and ‘welcome’.

I am a little sad as this day will always be the day it began, no not began but finally happened as if the many years before were practices for the real thing. In hindsight the real thing was not as I expected it to be, the lesson being life never is…as expected.

I ought to celebrate and I did. Somehow the spirit is not entirely light.

I ought to let this be just another day. Somehow the heart rebels, the child wants care.

When one is not entirely present in the living but instead attached to an outcome, a dis-ease arises. This agitation of the spirit, the tantrum as the soul demands attention. So here is my experience…

I am opening to the present and what it is, today is however way it comes with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

~ FlorenceT

 

Photography by FlorenceT

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

 

 

Stop being nice

Standard

That was a nice visit! The food was nice! It’s nice being here with you! Be nice!

‘Nice’ – a most overused word and ineffectual, I think. When applied to a person, it is also highly nuanced and culture-subjective. What is your imagery of a ‘nice’ person?

Ever wondered why we are nice? When others think us nice and we feel a flutter of gladness? Why do we bask in this reflected image of ourselves?

Is it a coveted approval for having conformed to the societal (our family, within our culture, in our community) expectations to ‘turn the other cheek’, to be kind, to avoid conflict, to eschew disharmony…?

Sometimes, I don’t want to be nice, in the ways expected of me.  Kind, yes. Respectful, yes. Compassionate, yes. Empathic, yes. Nice… maybe.

I grew up in a collectivist society which culture is to consider the impact or consequence of our words and behaviour on the collective before we speak or act. Being considerate, in my book, is a good thing, as this leads to greater relatedness and belonging. Research shows that an increase in relatedness leads to an increase in wellbeing. Yet there is a down side and that is when this consideration for others and how they may feel or do turns into self-consciousness, fear or a need for external approval or validation.

So there is a place for being considerate of others, and there is also a space for being for your self, being self-ish.

What happens when “being nice” becomes a mindless act, our default position, without conscious appreciation or assessment of merit?

What does nice even mean to you now? Do you know what you are being nice about? Do you know the consequences of your nice-ness? Does your nice-ness mask a reluctance to be assertive? A capitulation of your convictions so you won’t be in a place of ‘discomfort’ or ‘disharmony’? A belief that being assertive is unacceptable?

How do we rationalise our ‘nice-ness’? That it, whatever ‘it’ may be, doesn’t matter? That we can do without ‘it’? That ‘it’ has always been so? That we’ll be fine, no problem. And so we shift our ground, as standing our ground would be opinionated, stubborn, uncompromising, confrontational… It would be ‘not nice’ .

And it is here invariably we feel a dis-ease. We feel compromised, somehow cheated out of something… resentful and angry perhaps.

That was where I was, being asked to assist so someone else is not put in a difficult position, so another ‘someone else’ can continue with her manipulation. I went through the gamut of emotions –  sympathy, desire to avoid confrontation or tension, fear, anger… and several rationalisations revolving  around my perceived reactions of others if I didn’t act ‘nice’, my egoic view that I could do anything so why fight it, my desire to be adaptable and flexible, the guilt for seeming petty if I refused… then it hit me.

This conditioned response must cease. Taking a few mindful breaths, I still the tumultuous thoughts and emotions, so I could recognise my dis-ease. In that instant I saw myself – the young girl who rationalise away her desires, beliefs, in an attempt to please, to be ‘approved of’, to hide my voice.

Well, this time I didn’t. I figured, if I didn’t even know the purpose of why I am compelled to be ‘nice’ or the value in it, that it is not meaningful then I won’t.  And it felt damn good! And if you are wondering, I didn’t raise my voice nor did I swear… just politely say ‘no’.  See what ‘good girl’ I am? 😉

Be nice, but only when it is a deeply felt sense of being and a mindful act.

– FlorenceT

 

 

Romantic love is not dead…

Standard

It isn’t a blue moon tonight, is it?! I had a ‘free’ day to myself, a rare occurrence indeed. And found myself before the television after dinner, another rare occurrence…

Anyhow, I stumbled upon a rerun of the 2008 movie, ‘Nights in Rodanthe’. Being a teeny fan of Richard Gere (yes, I am showing my age), I stopped channel surfing and sat through the movie. It is an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book of the same name – so yes, romance and tragedy.  Of Paul and Adrienne, the movie’s main characters, Nicholas Sparks was keen to explain that love at first sight exists, that one need only spend a short time (in the story, 5 days) with another for it to serve as the foundation for THE love story of one’s life.

Further along the research way, I found excerpts of the film script, and extracted parts which explained Adrienne, the lead female character in book and movie.

parchment

And her meeting this love led to her transformation.

Rain cloud

A Dinah Washington song from the movie soundtrack – enjoy! 🙂

Happy Easter, to you and yours. Be safe!

– FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Woman of your dreams

Standard

If you could be the woman of your dreams, who would you be?

My answer: Me, myself and I.  No matter what my experiences might have been, are and may be, they are just that, experiences.  And I live them.  As you do yours.  You are amazing! 🙂

 

 

If you could be the woman of your dreams, who would you be?

In love,
FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.