MAKE PEACE WITH IMPERFECTION

WEEK ONE  PROGRESS REPORT

Our first week found us starting at chapter 99…

Schedule Time for Your Inner Work

So how did you do? I did pretty well! I started each day with a nice long walk. I took the dogs and we explored the fields and woods that surround our home. I listened to the birds singing, observed the leaves growing from buds on tree branches, paused to look at the blooming spring flowers, and this morning I caught the gobble of a turkey calling to his lady friends for a little morning “rendezvous”. During these walks I plan my day and think about what is important; to me, to my family and to the Don’t Sweat Adventure. With a refreshed and clear mind I’m ready to start the day. Even with several businesses to run, employee issues, bills to pay, etc., and the upcoming back surgery scheduled for this Friday for my 32 year old daughter, I remind myself to stay centered on what is most important; what I can let go of.  How my inner peace and ways of dealing with the little things will translate to those around me.

I hope that you also started a routine of scheduling some time for you and that you are now ready to move on. Please share what progress you made and what hills you have left to climb. 

CHAPTER ONE (I told you we’d come back to the beginning)

. . . . . is the introduction to the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff philosophy. This is where Richard Carlson lays the groundwork for helping us choose the little things that we can let go of so that we don’t lose our focus on the magic and beauty of life. Once again he looks for your commitment to working toward this goal!  

CHAPTER TWO

MAKE PEACE WITH IMPERFECTION

Mr. Carlson writes, “The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility CONFLICT with each other.”

Let’s read that statement again, and this time, pause for a few moments and let it sink in.

“The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility CONFLICT with each other.”

Perhaps you are the type of person that requires perfect order to everything; your home, your children, your job, your clothing, your appearance, on and on. This uses a lot of energy and creates unnecessary stress, because everything cannot be perfect.  Regardless of what you see on TV, read in a magazine, or how you think life should be, but isn’t; don’t confuse marketing genius with reality. Instead of fussing about all the things that you perceive “need to be perfect”, or focusing on all the things that are wrong in  your life, chose instead to put your energy on what will bring you closer to your goal of stressing less and enjoying life more.

Or, maybe you’re the type of person who has a difficult time “getting her act together.” That too can put a level of stress and depression on your psyche. Maybe you feel that you’ll never measure up, so why bother? Maybe you unknowingly sabotage your inner peace and self-worth with how imperfect you see yourself. So you’re not perfect – so what?

Either way, each of us must decide for ourselves which thing(s) we need to do perfectly and which things we can simply do well.
                                           BJ Gallaher – Oil for Your Lamp

It’s time to take the heat off and enjoy what you have, right now, at this time in your life and leave the dishes in the sink!

THIS WEEK’S ADVENTURE ASSIGNMENT

Let go of one thing! Just one thing and maybe more will follow.

Here are some suggestions, but before you attempt any of these, take a deep breath, exhale, and learn to count to ten ….S L O W L Y.

1)    Go to the supermarket, bank or work without your makeup on.

2)    Don’t make the bed and don’t look back.

3)    Let someone else fold the laundry, or better yet, let someone else do the laundry and just be thankful that you have clean undies!

4)    Let someone else grocery shop and don’t say a word, not a word, if they buy the wrong toilet paper, cereal or juice! Smile and say thank you!

5)    Leave the kids with the grandparents and don’t stress over what they allow them to do when you aren’t around. Spoiling a child with love (or candy) never hurts either of them. This is their time, not yours.

6)    Don’t do your child’s homework assignment. You can check to see that it’s finished, but don’t be tempted to put your personal touches to it.

7)    Don’t look in the mirror and criticize what you see.

8)    Don’t look at others and criticize what you see.

9)    Don’t finish another person’s sentence. They know what they want to say even if you think that you know what they want to say before they do.

10) Don’t envy.

Okay that should do it. This will be an interesting week and this is just the beginning of a real learning experience for us all!

Keep good thoughts in your head, say please and thank you. Tip the lousy server and smile (he or she might be having a bad day) and remember Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

Stress Less,

Barb

 

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS!

Welcome to the Don’t Sweat Adventure!

butterfly pictures, butterflies pictureThe Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Adventure is all about giving YOU a personal roadmap for creating peace of mind and calmness in the midst of chaos, responding to life more gracefully, and finding the path of least resistance. Read all about the Don’t Sweat Adventure (and why you should participate) here.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”?

Maybe you’ve said it to someone else or even to yourself; when overreacting to a frustrating situation or to another person’s perceived rudeness. So why is it that the small mole hills become mountains? Why is it that people shout obscenities at each other over the most innocent mistakes? Why is the tolerance level getting lower and the stress level getting higher?

Well I’ve asked myself these questions and decided there has got to be a better way. Enter Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and it’s all small stuff.

While it’s not necessary to purchase this book, it might be helpful to read his words, and his prescription for stressing less as you journey along your way to peace. This “other way” of living involves replacing old habits of reaction with new habits of perspective

Ready to Begin the Don’t Sweat Adventure?

Step One: Read Chapter 99 of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

Why Chapter 99 you ask?

Because Chapter 99 focuses on scheduling time for your inner work. If you wait until all your chores, responsibilities, and everything else is done before you get started, it will never happen. Guaranteed. He points out that how you choose to use the time is up to you, but the important thing is that you do schedule time and STICK TO IT.

So this is where we begin…at the end.

Then we’ll move to the beginning.

Schedule Time for Your Inner Work

For this week, I just ask that you start scheduling time for yourself and time for this adventure to be a part of your daily life, and stick to it.

This is where good habits develop. If you are not accustomed to any downtime for yourself, or any time to pursue what’s important to you, then my friend, it’s time. Take whatever measures you need to have uninterrupted time. Inform your family that you are unavailable, unplug from electronics (except for the Don’t Sweat Adventure of course), lock yourself in a room, take a walk,  meet a friend, see a movie by yourself,  and begin to feel good, not selfish, for spending time on you!

Refresh, renew, revive!

Connect, Comment, and Provide Feedback

I warmly welcome and encourage your feedback. You can post your comments on this blog, or join the #DontSweatAdventure conversation on Twitter.  In the future, I’ll expand to other social media, but for now this will be a more intimate way to communicate and for me to get to know you better.

I also welcome any of your friends, family and co-workers to join us – so bring someone along. Sometimes it’s fun to follow along with a small group of friends; comparing your notes and progress.

Join the Don’t Sweat Adventure Community

Each week, you will be encouraged to take ONE practical action towards stressing less. I’ll be on this journey too; so you won’t be alone.

You’ll also get to meet my teammates, Karen, Amy, Julie, Nancy, and Bev who have been good enough friends to support me in this adventure. They have their own reasons for wanting to participate and will share their experiences and perspectives each week with you.

This supportive community is an added bonus when you participate. Some weeks might be easy, some weeks might be a difficult challenge, but we’re in this together.

Together can overcome the minor things that keep us from enjoying our lives, our work, and our families more!

Your adventure assignment for this week is to schedule time for your inner work because… you’re worth it!

Stress Less,
Barb

                         butterfly pictures, butterflies picture

DON’T SWEAT ~ SWEAT LESS

 

Relax. . . Don’t get alarmed, this post has nothing to do with exercise of the body, but exercise for your mind…so you don’t need to break out in a sweat.

Soon I will be adding a new adventure to the Universalwomen blog and we’ll explore together how to manage our reactions to the small stuff in life, while learning new techniques to STRESS LESS.

Stay tuned if you are up for an adventure that will really impact how you relate to your family, friends, strangers, and life in general and adopt the Don’t Sweat philosophy!

There will be opportunities to respond on this blog and follow along on Twitter or Hootsuite. Whatever avenue you choose, you will come out a winner!

All my best,

Barb

DOWN TO THE WIRE

As promised, Universalwomen.net will be showing off her new face and content very soon! A new focus and look, a new purpose and adventure for my followers.

Dreama will now be authentically me, Barb Roberts, and I will continue to seek women from around the world to come on board the Quest to connect and engage in a purposeful and fulfilling format!

Details coming soon…..

Barb Roberts

CHANGING COURSE

If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.

~ Ancient Chinese Proverb

Well that certainly struck a chord of truth for me, as I ask myself, “Where are you headed?”  I started this blog almost two years ago, connected with a few women here and abroad, but never really plotted my course, or challenged myself to do more, be more, interact more. I didn’t connect with my readers to come on board. The Quest has been drifting for a year without a post, a thought, or her ship’s captain. She has no mates, no ports of call, nor vision. But that, my friends, is about to change. Without direction we may never arrive where we intend, without a course to follow we just drift with the tides and currents.

I’ve been thinking that it’s time to change direction and energize the blog with a fresh new idea. I’ve been educating myself on the uses of social media, re-examining my vision and looking deep into my desires to determine what I actually want for an outcome.

In the next few blogs, I will reveal the new course; the Quest’s new destination and the challenge ahead for myself and my readers. I will boldly step out and seek your input, your triumphs, joys and struggles. My goal is to engage your brain and actions in living a life less stressed, more thoughtful and more present.

I’m back and I hope you’re with me!

Barb Roberts, AKA Dreama

MUSIC TO MY EARS

Indulge me a moment while I plagiarize a paragraph (or more) from a book that I am currently reading. I’m not really stealing it, but merely borrowing the words of the author and passing to you something that speaks for me what I might not have been able to put into words myself. So without copyright permission, without prior authorization, (I hope I don’t get sued) without so much as written correspondence asking permission, I attribute the following words and message from author, Anne Lamott, from her book Traveling Mercies, to be a truly beautiful and powerful description of how music and singing helped her to find the Holy Spirit within her.

Before I get into the meat of this story, I would like to set the background. Ms. Lamott is an exceptionally truthful writer who exposes the most private and intimate facets of her life; capturing her journey from her eclectic childhood and teen years, her relationship with drugs and alcohol, to the discovery of her spiritual center and her belief in God and Jesus Christ.

With the back ground set, come along and experience the profound impact that music has had in the author’s life.  Nod your head knowingly at the connection between sharing your gift and love of music and the potential outcome music may have on another’s life; a collective chorus of voices finding those who search for something more…

Anne is in her thirties, pregnant,  and most of the time high under the influence of drugs and alcohol; sick and searching. While on her  walks through the weekend flea market in Marin City, Ca,  she expresses that she is beckoned into the doorway of a church, St. Andrew Presbyterian, which she describes as a homely, impoverished, ramshackle building. But the music wafting out was so pretty that she would stop and listen.

She recalls her first association with the church as this, “I began stopping in at St. Andrew from time to time, standing in the doorway to listen to the songs. I couldn’t believe how run-down it was, with terrible linoleum that was brown and over shined, and plastic stained-glass windows. But it had a choir of five black women and one rather Amish-looking white man making all that glorious noise, and a congregation of thirty people or so, radiating kindness and warmth.”

“I went back to St. Andrew about once a month. No one tried to con me into sitting down or staying.”…and every other week they brought huge tubs of great food for the homeless families living at the shelter near the canal to the north. I loved this. But it was the singing that pulled me in and split me wide open.”

“Pulled me in and split me wide open”…Wow, what an awesome transformation for a human being…”Split me wide open”. The singing split her wide open!

She continues, “I could sing better here than I ever had before. As part of these people, even though I stayed in the doorway, I did not recognize my voice or know where it was coming from, but sometimes I felt like I could sing forever.”

“Eventually, a few months after I started coming, I took a seat in one of the folding chairs, off by myself. Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.”  “Something inside me that was stiff and rotting would feel soft and tender. Somehow the singing wore down all the boundaries and distinctions that kept me so isolated. Sitting there, standing with them (the congregation) to sing, sometimes so shaky and sick that I felt like I might tip over, I felt bigger than myself, like I was being taken care of, tricked into coming back to life.”

So there it is; one person’s account of how music and singing made her feel and drew her to her new church family. It didn’t matter the quality of the voices, the number of people in the pews or sitting on folding, plastic chairs, the wealth or lack of it of the congregation, the décor or condition of the building; it was the singing that brought this soul to its final destination with its creator. It simply brought her home and brought her healing.

I will leave it alone here for you to contemplate.  Your voice can be the voice that brings a soul back from the brink of death into the light of life; breath and food, a voice that nudges a stiff and rotting flesh into something soft and tender; wearing down all boundaries that keep it isolated.

We’ll never know who is lurking in the doorway, or watching us from a distance. We’ll never know if our voice will be the one that makes the difference, allowing another to find her voice, so keep singing my friends, keep singing…

God’s blessings to all,

Dreama

CHAPTER II

As the Quest continues her voyage,  I am finding myself in uncharted waters. It is only now, at this time in my life, am I consenting to walk through doors that I would normally have been too frightened to see what was on the other side. But now I can see that I have been being prepared; prepared to develop my talents and skills and am now ready to take the risk and expose the real me to the world.

I’ve prayed and listened. I’ve searched and written. I’ve practiced over and over and over. It’s been a process. It’s been a personal goal, and as I’ve heard it said, “If the mountain were smooth, you couldn’t climb it.” Well put, unknown author! Among my blessings, I count the mountains that need to be climbed. I’m happy that there have been hills and valleys in my life and some smoothing sailing along the way, but without the hills, without the challenge of the mountains, I wouldn’t have climbed.

So Chapter II unfolds and each day is a step up the mountain, doing the things that fulfill and make a difference in my life, and perhaps in the lives of others as well. Some days the music just flows and I can’t write fast enough. Some days, I just sit and hum and strum the guitar, but all the while the music plays in my head. The music flows from the master composer Himself, and reaches the ear of His servant.

Talents are a gift to be shared. They are to be honed and polished as fine silver and counted among your riches. Whatever talent you possess, share it. You may not be able to sing or write, cook or grow a garden, but you may be a good listener. You may possess a healing touch, and you just may be the volunteer driver taking an ill person for medical care.

Go through that door and see where your talents lead you! Go climb that mountain; the view is incredible!

With the talents of my co-singer, Mary Baker and musician, Stephen Perrillo, here is my local TV debut:   http://pahomepage.com/palive-details?nxd_id=218856

Happy New Year,

Dreama

WABI-SABI

The Japanese view of life embraced.  A simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.

-architect Tadao Ando

“What do you want?” , he asks.

“Peace, peace and tranquility”, she replies.

I’m becoming more reflective in my mid years. I think about almost everything and the importance of each thought; the importance of my surroundings, my existence in this world. I weigh each activity and determine if it’s just being busy, or being purposeful.

I can’t stop thinking and reflecting; thinking and reflecting and taking inventory of what is most precious to me; what really matters.

It’s not stuff. It’s not money. It’s not what I’ve accumulated and saved over time.  It’s not that some things don’t have a sentimental value, but when I look around and survey the whatnots that I’ve collected over the years, I reconsider what importance they had from the beginning.

Photographs: Yes, definitely important; optical memories of occasions and persons that imprint the spatial part of my brain that holds the treasures of my past.

Furniture and collectibles : A few antique or semi-antique pieces handed down from grandparent to parent to me, that decorate the tabletops, bookcases, and walls; filling the once empty spaces and surfaces of my home with their decorative contribution. Add these to what my husband and I have purchased over time and the house becomes a home, the couch becomes a nest for rest, the dining table becomes a ledge to perch the food and drink consumed by those who gather at it’s perimeter and whom I love; making yet more memories.

Clothing: Where to begin? None of it really matters. I’ve even discarded my wedding dresses. Yes, I said dresses…there were two. Clothes that mark decades of fashion, years of  ”figure transformations” and some styles that defy any reason for purchase. Closets and drawers that contain more than I will ever wear.

Wabi-Sabi. Wabi-Sabi. . . . I like the sound. I like even better it’s meaning; it’s translation as best as a westerner can understand it.

Sounds deep, but not too deep. Wabi-sabi’s roots lie in Zen Buddhism, which was brought from China to Japan by Eisai, a twelfth-century monk. Zen, with its principles of vast emptiness and nothing holy, stresses austerity, communion with nature, and above all, reverence for everyday life as the real path to enlightenment. Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came.

Wabi stems from the root wa, which refers to harmony, peace, tranquillity, and balance. Generally speaking, wabi had the original meaning of sad, desolate, and lonely, but poetically it has come to mean simple, unmaterialistic, humble by choice, and in tune with nature. Someone who is perfectly herself and never craves to be anything else would be described as wabi. A wabi person epitomizes Zen, which is to say, he or she is content with very little; free from greed, indolence, and anger; and understands the wisdom of rocks and grasshoppers.

I am fascinated by rocks. (Remember from my previous post, An Ugly Truth, that I keep a gray, jagged and ugly rock  on my windowsill to remind me that the edges of my human nature to judge, need to be worn away by the hands of my creator, until I’m smoother and more loving). On my daily walks, I study the surfaces of rocks; their shape, color, size, imprints and age. They mark the history of the earth and hold the secrets of it’s formation. I’m truly in awe and can’t help but stare and question where did they come from and like a child I wonder, will God be making more?

Sabi by itself means “the bloom of time.” It connotes natural progression-tarnish, hoariness, rust-the extinguished gloss of that which once sparkled. It’s the understanding that beauty is fleeting.

Sabi things carry the burden of their years with dignity and grace: the chilly mottled surface of an oxidized silver bowl, the yielding gray of weathered wood, the elegant withering of a bereft autumn bough. An old car left in a field to rust, as it transforms from an eyesore into a part of the landscape, could be considered America’s contribution to the evolution of sabi. An abandoned barn, as it collapses in on itself, holds this mystique.

Over time, the patina of my life  is evident on the surface of my skin and the lines that define the passage of time on my face reveal the joy and sorrow that I carry in my heart, and as time peels away the layers of clutter that I wear,  I choose to be free of greed, indolence and anger becoming the person content to be herself.

“What do you want”, he asks.

“Wabi Sabi”, she replies.

FOR EVERY SEASON PART II

I’m feeling a little rusty these days as I’ve not been putting my thoughts down on paper or in WordPress. I’ve written a few songs, but got away from daily blogging and The Quest has been adrift without her captain. I apologize to my shipmates. I’ve been rehearsing with my band the song, Turn, Turn, Turn, by The Byrds, and thinking about the many turns that life takes. I’ve asked the members of the group to provide pictures from their “early years” so that I can put together a video collage  and we’ve all had a good laugh as we looked at the changes in our faces, bodies, hair (or lack of in some cases), clothing, weight, etc., as we’ve matured over the years.

I look at the pictures of my kids and grand kids and realize that I’m on the road or the expressway of life and like the Corvette that zooms by me in the passing zone; the seasons likewise are rapidly going by.

Without realizing it, POOF ! Another year, another decade, another season has passed. Did I even enjoy it? Did I live in the moment? Did I embrace what was going on all around me, or did I merely keep my nose to the grind stone and not observe what was right under my nose? Did I enjoy my childhood? I’m pretty sure I did. Did I discover my identity in my teen years, including the heart ache that comes from  self-doubt and insecurities; yet breathlessly yearning for something more with the recognition of my budding womanhood? Partially. Did I realize my talents and set goals for a fantastically exotic and fulfilling life? Well, I had dreams but I was lousy at setting goals. I more or less had visions of what I thought my life would be, but hadn’t a clue how to make it happen; so I often found myself flying by the seat of my pants and catching up to the consequences of my choices. I don’t think I’m alone here. I envy those who have a plan, stick to it and accomplish almost everything they set out to do.  I’m not just referring to the ones who focused on education and career, but those who broke out of the mold, took risks, and created a life beyond the borders of our community. I assume they are now living the fantastically exotic life that I once thought would be mine.

An impatient college dropout, I married young, lived in Germany for a year, crossed the ocean again, moved to the desert, had two kids and divorced soon after the infamous 7 year anniversary. Another chapter over. POOF! Where did that time go? Then the next many years I spent raising my brood, working my tail off so I could afford to give them a nice life and looking for Mr. Right; whom I did eventually find. POOF! Twenty years gone…was I there?

Childhood memories, scholastic experiences, marriage, the birth of children, the undertaking of new assignments, the passing of beloved parents, discovering ones self as the years unfold are all a progression of this woman’s life. I only wish that I had photographed each moment, each precious drop of kindness, every smile, every tear, permanently marking the facets of my experiences and memories to open like a well-worn scrapbook when I need a reminder of what I’ve gained and learned along the way.

Oh, I know I’m talking like I have amnesia, but sometimes I realize that I’ve not always been present in my life, and it’s been MY life; and now it’s more important than ever that I enjoy the seasons that are left, because the other ones are never coming back no matter how many times I click my heels together.

Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything, 
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, 
   a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, 
   a time to tear down and a time to build, 
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
   a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 
 6 a time to search and a time to give up, 
   a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, 
   a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
 8 a time to love and a time to hate, 
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Turn, Turn, Turn….

Dreama

HIATUS

HIATUS: a lull, pause, break, gap, space, interval, interruption…time away. That’s me, Dreama, I’ve been away. Well not really away. Not on a vacation. Not out-of-town on business. Just away. Away from writing. Away from connecting with others. Away from the helm of The Quest.

I looked at my last post and realized that it was in June. In my real life you may recall that my husband and I have a restaurant and a catering business, and wow have we been busy this summer! I shouldn’t complain, business is good. Good for us, our employees,  our wallet (that makes paying the bills easier), but not so good for the motivation or inspiration to create and write, to think and dream, to keep the ship afloat.

Every weekend has been filled with catering parties and that entails a lot of hard work. Buying supplies, shopping, prepping food, preparing lists, finalizing arrangements and menus with clients, visiting the catering location, scheduling staff, packing items, loading items onto our trailer, van and other vehicles, unloading, setting up, serving, cleaning up, packing up, traveling, and unloading back at home base. Ready… set… go…sometimes 3 parties in one weekend; prepared and served at your location, delivered at your location or ready to pick up. I’m pooped just writing this all down.

I want to acknowledge what a great staff we have. They’ve worked their buns off and represented our business professionally  in our community. We’ve worked side by side, 7 days a week and sweated through some of the hottest, muggiest, summer heat or rain that we’ve seen in some time. Our college bound employees now have some extra money to meet their expenses. Our full-time staff have extra money put away for the holidays, and our customers had some fantastic parties with wonderful food!

It’s been a good season, but I’m looking forward to climbing back on board The Quest to see where she sails.

What have the months of summer brought for you? I hope it’s been terrific and  please share your experiences with us!

Dreama