We Can Find Peace In Chaotic Situations.

Chaosthat thing that drives us up the wall, that most of us can’t define, but we know how it feels. We avoid it whenever possible, but it does invade our life. Roget’s Thesaurus describes chaos qualities as confusing, disorderly, unruly, disruptive, haphazard, disorganized, undisciplined, etc, etc. You know…the kind of atmosphere you don’t want to be around.

Usually, on our journey through life, everything moves along at a steady predictable pace. But then those bumps in the road project us into a state of chaos, or at least to a point where we need to resurrect our problem-solving gear and get busy reducing its influence on our nervous system. It creeps into our peaceful world when our antennae’s are clogged with all our familiar daily activities. And we just don’t see it coming. Or it can attack suddenly without warning, and transport us from a sunny day at the beach to a sinking ship without a paddle for survival. And we stand in confusion wondering what just happened. We’ve all been there.

Chaos comes in many forms from mild to severe, and can affect us physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. And it can take a toll. Chronic worriers live with chaos, and most don’t realize they’re bringing it on themselves. Every day is a crisis, and the crises don’t end. “What if I lose my job; what if I can’t pay my bills; what if I get sick; etc.” Their whole life is a chaotic experience. Or Uncle Joe comes to live with your family in your orderly, well run home. He throws his clothes on the floor, drools at the dinner table, turns on lights and music during the night while he raids the fridge, answers your phone with nonsense, etc, etc. That’s chaos, and you’re feeling it big time.

I remember when I welcomed a new group of people moving into the house next door to me, but I soon regretted their presence. They were members of a band with amps and a microphone, and practiced everyday on their screened porch that faced my living room. I felt surrounded by chaos every time deafening sounds filled my head and scrambled my nerves, my floors vibrated, and my poor dog crouched shaking on the sofa. Finally, after visits by the police, they moved out.

Chaotic situations are okay as long as they don’t last too long. But what happens when they last for days, months, even years, with no end in sight? We think, there’s no way out, I can’t deal with this anymore, I feel like just giving up. But giving up means you think the chaotic situation has tremendous power over you, and you’re done. However, each of us is blessed with everything we need to survive and thrive. And you have more strength within than you imagine, and there’s more you can do.

“If plan ‘A’ fails, remember there are 25 more letters.”  ~Unknown

There are 2 ways to deal with a chaotic situation. Either resolve it or accept it. First write down and clarify outer areas of chaos, and work with others to create a less chaotic world. Fill your surroundings with people, places, and things that bring joy and order in your life, and learn to tune out what you don’t want to see or hear. Do what you can, and include ways to distance yourself from the chaos.

When you’ve tried everything to resolve it, and it’s still there, accepting it means making peace with it, letting go of the way you feel about it and the way you respond to it. Write down and clarify your opinions and feelings. Then practice “inner work” to create “inner peace.” Talk about the situation with denials and affirmations; “I deny you have any power over me, and I affirm peace in my heart as I release any painful response or feelings about it.” Repeat every time the challenge comes to mind. And be patient. In time, you can replace the chaos with peace.

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”  ~Pema Chodron

Find a place of your own where you can pray, meditate, whatever you want, and remember who and what you areAnd allow your chaotic situations to show you what you need to know. You are important as your life does have meaning. So don’t let anyone or anything turn your head or heart from that truth.

I wish you peace in your heart!

Marilyn Fowler, Writer, and Author of  

 “Silent Echoes” on Amazon.

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Your Connection To Others Can Move Mountains…

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~Mother Teresa 

How did our world get so divided with its ‘us and them’ mentality? We’re living in a world motivated by a ‘what’s in it for me’ mindset with ultimate separation from others. We take for granted things like stress, anger, loneliness, confusion, etc. And we say that’s life. I don’t remember how it started. It just seems we’ve lost heart, and most of us just wander through each day blending in with the times without question.

Today’s technology has opened doors we never thought possible, and much good is realized in our world today. But it doesn’t contribute to the love, peace, and harmony our true nature longs for. In our universe, we’re all connected, and the world that denies this truth denies opportunities to live as we were created. And we follow as lost sheep in foreign lands, not even realizing we’re lost. Is this the way we’re meant to live?

Many years ago the cultural norm was a sense of community with others. Yes, there were individual differences, but this was accepted without conflict. When I was a child in the Great Depression years, we lived in an apartment building with people of different nationalities, but we shared food, our time, and our love. Now when I sit in my back yard, I look at my neighbors’ privacy fences that were not there a few years ago. I hear their voices and their dogs barking, but I’m not a part of them. And I feel the separation.

“There are no random acts…we are all connected…you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.” ~Mitch Albom

When I think about how we’ve allowed the separatist values of those in power to turn our lives to suit their needs, I remember the past, and I think about my future. Then I realize it’s not only about me. It’s about all of us. My mind runs in two dimensions. What do I want for me? And how can I exist without you…all of you? We can’t exist alone. We’re connected. And we need each other. Our life is within us. But it’s kept alive through our connection with others.

For centuries, our relation to each other has been cited in volumes of literature. In the 17th century, John Donne, an English metaphysical poet and cleric in the Church of England strongly believed we are all connected, and he wrote, “No Man Is An Island”. The Mensa Education and Research Foundation explains the literal meaning of this phrase as, “No one is by himself; we are all connected to each other; human beings do not thrive when isolated from others; etc;. This need for others is reflected in every area of life, and without it, we fall into our present negative pattern of living.

Everything is energy, and our thoughts and beliefs create our energy vibrations that move through the universe and touch others. It seems impossible that my thoughts, my intentions, my desires can affect anyone but me. But there is power in the energy I project with my thoughts. And what I envision today for myself and others can manifest in positive ways.

In his book, Mind Power Into The 21st Century, John Kehoe says, “We take little notice of what we’re thinking. And we go through life neglecting one of the most important and powerful forces in our life: our thoughts. The road of fulfilling relationships starts with little things: a changed attitude, a reaching out, a look exchanged on a bus, a moment of total honesty with a stranger, but it soon grows into something much larger and more rewarding. It becomes a celebration, a joyful way of living in which we are open and aware in ways we never experienced before.”

What a responsibility we have. And what a privilege. We are cells in the cell of humanity, and we can choose to rethink the meaning of our lives and participate in the whole creation. We can use connection and community to create love, health, peace, and harmony within our world. What you envision today, and hold in your mind, can bring blessings in your own life and somewhere else in the world where blessings are needed.

We need each other. We can change the world.

Marilyn Fowler, Author, and Writer of  “Silent Echoes” on Amazon.

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I Appreciate My Follow Friends! Now, What To Do With Regrets From Your Past That Live In The Present?

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Congratulations on getting 100 total followers on The Self-Help Road To Freedom!

“A very special THANK YOU to all my followers, friends, and all visitors who made this new milestone HAPPEN.”  🙂   Author, Marilyn Fowler  🙂
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Do you ever think of your past and find ‘what ifs’ running around in your mind? What if I hadn’t done that, what if I’d done something different? Mistakes and Regrets. And you spend your whole life agonizing about how different life would be had you made wiser choices in the past. Everyone goes through it, but you don’t have to live with it.

“One day, perhaps, you will see for yourself that regrets are as nothing. The value lies in how they are answered.”  ~Steven Erikson, House of Chains

What kinds of feelings come up when you think of your mistakes…anger about what you did or failed to do, sadness at how things turned out, guilt, stupidity, disappointment in yourself or feeling others disappointment in you? We can be pretty hard on ourselves for being imperfect. I’ve never known a perfect person. But I have known some pretty great imperfect people. So you don’t need to keep beating yourself over the head and getting into ‘what ifs’ because you stumbled in the past.

Getting stuck in regret, self-criticism or blame can rob you of confidence and clear vision and then sabotage what you may want to create now. You can harbor your regrets, and stumble through life, but every decision you made was based upon your knowledge at the time. And maybe the path you took was necessary to move you to create something better. Louise Hay says, “Every experience I have is perfect for my growth.”

When I worked in the jail with a Mental Health Team, I counseled homeless inmates incarcerated for trespassing, stealing food, yelling at police officers, etc, some with mental illness and some without a mental disorder. And many came from dysfunctional homes with physical and/or mental abuse. I heard a lot of ‘what ifs’ from them with poor self-images and memories of one mistake after another. They saw few worthwhile qualities in themselves and no hope for a positive future. But as I worked with them I found many bright minds with potential for a better life, and many learned to see their mistakes not as reasons for blame, but as learning tools to turn their lives around.

Cut away the nonsense, the drama, the regret, the scars of the past, and make a decision to no longer let them govern your happiness and freedom. ~Steve Maraboli

 

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Awareness: Sometimes we’re not aware of what’s churning in our subconscious robbing us of the freedom we need to grow on our journey. If you have a sense of something holding you back, look inside and see what’s in there. Any guilt and self-condemning thoughts? Any memories you’ve hidden somewhere so you don’t have to re-live them? Bring them up and begin your road to freedom.

Forgiveness: You’re not your mistakes. You’re not stupid or incompetent. So you don’t need to forgive yourself for being who you are. You need forgiveness for doubting yourself and allowing your mistakes to create a false image of you. Deal with your mistakes and feelings from your true self. Affirm your positive qualities often, acknowledge who you are, and claim your true identity–a beautiful person who goofs up sometimes.

Confrontation: There’s power in thoughts and more power in words. So when any self-condemning thoughts come up, talk to them directly, out loud when possible. Tell them you’ve had enough, and you’re letting them go … goodbye! Refuse to let them hang around.

Comfort: Comfort that inner child part of you who’s been suffering for too long. Give her/him lots of hugs with love and approval. And when you make your next mistake–and you will–do the same with that mistake and all the others that follow. You’re the caretaker, and your inner child needs you.

I can’t count the times I kicked myself in the rear end with regret, and it always took a while for those thoughts and beliefs to give up and go away. But each time it was a new step forward. And I wish those steps forward for you.

Let the past go and enjoy your freedom.

Marilyn Fowler, Author of Silent Echoes



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A Time For Renewal, Cycles, and Rebirth

Everything in the universe moves in cycles, and these cycles are necessary to live. The moon tells the oceans when to ebb and flow, seasons tell us when to sow and reap, and darkness tells us when our day should end. Our whole universe is involved in cycles, including us. We leave one phase and enter a new one. And each cycle offers some kind of rebirth and renewal. And all of nature shouts it’s claim to a new springtime, “Look at me. I’m alive, expressing who and what I am.”

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

Snow has melted, and crunchy slush takes over. It’s springtime again…life coming forth at just the precise time and in the precise way according to nature’s plan. Trees turn green, blossoms of every color discard their buds, butterflies emerge from cocoons, bears come out of their caves and stretch in the warm sun, and every little fuzzy critter scampers to explore what his buddies are up to. Every year we’re treated to nature’s brand new technicolor presentation of rebirth and renewal. And it’s breathtaking.

I remember when I was a child in Michigan, and springtime wrapped her arms around the earth and replaced the drab haze of winter with her gifts of rebirth and renewal. I saw it in fields of tulips with every color in the rainbow and in blue and yellow wildflowers pushing up randomly along my path to school. I listened to birds and night owls pouring their songs into springtime air becoming reacquainted with lost friends and celebrating new ones. I felt spring breezes and warm sun caressing my bare legs when I discarded my leggings until the next cold winter. I watched lightning dart across the sky heralding springtime rain. And then I danced in the rain, hopped through puddles, and tasted rain drops on my tongue.

Every spring I joined nature in her celebration. With all of my senses, I was part of this glorious transformation. I saw life in nature, and I felt life in myself like we were part of each other in God’s great universe. I saw it and felt it everywhere. Then I grew up and forgot to notice. And springtime grew to mean days were longer, we could save on the electric bill, and vacation time was getting closer. Where did joy of the season go? Recently I looked around and realized it’s all still there…every year.

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.” ~Rachel Carson

Fall and winter energy pulls us in and says slow down, let go, and regroup. Spring and summer energy pushes us out and says move forward, take on the new, and express your colors. Just like everything in nature we’re wired for seasonal change, physically, mentally, and spiritually. And we can’t help responding to those seasonal changes. We can either respond with resistance and become more physically disturbed and less motivated, or we can answer the call and become more healthy and invigorated.

Now is when old painful experiences can pass away and make room for a new beginning, like flowers budding anew after a hard freeze. We’ve all been through those hard freezes. But we need to open our eyes to the possibilities that present themselves every spring. Do you ever think about rebirth and renewal within yourself, or are you content to continue living in the old script you’ve written for your life? Everyone creates a script. It’s like a recipe for living, and we act it our everyday. We may have visions or dreams of how we’d like to change it, but most of the time those fade away, and our springs come and go as they always have.

“Those who plow in hope not only understand the law of the harvest, but they also understand what growing seasons are all about.”  ~Neal A. Maxwell

How about taking a lesson from the tulips or butterflies, or like the bear, be brave enough to come out of your cave. Within each of us is a light so bright you can write a whole new script and experience positive changes in your life. A time of rebirth. A time of renewal. Search deep within. What are your colors? What is your song? What are the words you want to say? Someone said, “Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.” So spread your wings and fly. It’s your springtime.

I wish you beautiful discoveries in your springtime.

Marilyn Fowler, Author of  “Silent Echoes”

Are You Running Your Life or Is Your Life Running You?

Ours is an excessively conscious age. We know so much, we feel so little.”  ~ D. H. Lawrence

We’re living in a time when we’re bombarded with so much information, it’s hard for our brains to digest all of it. So we run through each day trying to sort out what we need in order to function with little time to see where we’re going. In a way, it’s a good thing much of our functioning is based on habits that keep us in line. But on the other hand, it doesn’t give us much room to see beyond those habits. And our wonderful gift of creativity gets lost in the process.

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”  ~ Charles C. Noble

The habits we use in adulthood are learned during our childhood years. We take every piece of knowledge from our environment, sift through it, accept and reject, and come up with what makes sense to us or what is expected of us, or both. And the habits we form become our pattern for living. In years past, our innate gift of creativity was nurtured and encouraged. But over the years, in many schools, little time was allowed for creativity. And we’ve learned to survive in a material world where gadgets are the answer to daily functioning…push a button for this and a button for that.

“If you are not consciously directing your life, you will lose your footing and circumstances will decide for you.”  ~ Michael Beckwith

Unless we’ve chosen to live creatively with freedom to direct our own path, we can be swept along by the dictates of current expected behavior. And we wake up every morning to follow our mental ‘to do’ list for that day without question. When unforeseen situations come up, we move into whatever direction they take us and do our best to resolve them with robotic precision. Days end, and we’ve once more fulfilled our mission to solve problems as they arise and maintain our status quo. We’re the sickest industrial nation in the world, and our drug industry is a booming business. We’re supposed to be running our lives, but it appears our lives are running us. And it gets overwhelming.

When you look at your situation, what do you see? Probably work, paying bills, maintaining a home, maybe raising a family, tending to health issues. helping someone close to you. You know…all those having and doing things. Your daily responsibilities are so very important, and maybe you’re reasonably content. But you don’t have to let them dictate the quality of your life.

Walt Whitman said, “I am larger than I thought and more wonderful.” And we are. But sometimes we get so caught up in having and doing things, we forget about being. And life cannot be measured in things. Things are finite…here today and gone tomorrow. It’s intangible qualities that make life worthwhile and memorable…those qualities that express our larger, more wonderful self.

When was the last time you watched a quiet sunset, listened to birds welcome a new day, tasted an apple pie just out of the oven, enjoyed a long conversation with a friend, said a prayer, or experienced a good old-fashioned bear hug with a child and felt the loving energy between you? Have you forgotten? Those blessings don’t happen unless you take the reins and direct your life to include them as a vital part of your busy world. Balance is key in all things, and we can reach a balance between feeding our material needs and feeding our souls…even in today’s gadget world.

“Live your dreams. Create your life. Lead with intention.” ~ Leslie Schwartz

If you feel your life is being run by responsibilities, and you want a more fulfilling life, go within and explore where you are now and where you want to go. Whether you share responsibility with someone or you shoulder it alone, by leading with intention you can create the kind of life your heart wants. Your life is a journey, and you have the power to direct your steps along the way…your way. Be happy, dear one. You are larger and more wonderful than you think.

I wish you a full and happy life.

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Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer 


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Don’t Underestimate The Power of Laughter. It Could Save Your Life.

Humor is the great thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away.”   ~Mark Twain

 


When was the last time you laughed–that doubled over, belly shaking, tear jerking surrender to feeling good laugh? You know–that thing kids do and we need to do everyday. It touches your very soul. And it’s fun. So why don’t we deliberately pursue laughter or create things to laugh at instead of waiting until we happen to see or hear something funny? Maybe we’re just so caught up in the burdens of daily living that we forget that valuable gift that could literally change our life.

I think most people know laughter is good for you, but maybe not to the extent it’s vital to physical, mental, and emotional health. Laughter has a long line of benefits. It exercises stomach muscles, lowers blood pressure, gets the heart pumping, reduces pain, aids the immune system, helps memory and sleep, reduces stress, calms anxiety, triggers dopamine, and more and more. It’s also contagious and brings people together. Even smiling affects us in positive ways. What a happy pill for good health.

Maybe you’ve heard of Norman Cousins who wrote The Anatomy of an Illness in which he documented his successful journey from terminal illness to health using laughter for healing. He left the hospital and created funny scenarios for laughter, like Groucho Marx movies. And he spent much of each day laughing. His case contributed to alternative medicine and inspired research into the benefits of laughter in illness and pain management.

You don’t have to wait until you feel like laughing to laugh. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America use various forms of laughter therapy. One exercise to cause laughter is to put your fingertips on your cheekbones, chest or lower abdomen and make “ha ha” or “hee hee” sounds until you feel vibrations through your body. I’ve tried it, and it really works. Had me laughing in no time. They also use Laughter Yoga in which several laughter exercises are incorporated into a yoga discipline.

God must have known I’d need a sense of humor and the ability to laugh, because I’ve been aware of that gift my whole life. It has brought me through some tough times, and I’m still learning how to use it more effectively. I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 2001 about laughter.

Although I hurt a lot inside,
I sometimes joke and find a laugh.
It comes from yet another place
Along my weary path.
It usually comes up suddenly,
And takes its rightful place.
It stays around a little while
And fills the empty space.
Laughter drives away the tears,
And calms the hurt below.
It frees my soul to feel alive
Where I think angels go.
God knew I’d need this useful tool
To lift me high above the dark,
So I can see the truth of life,
And find that vital spark.
Thank you, Lord, for quips and giggles,
For making light of strife and pain,
For finding fun in spite of trial
To find my joyful way again.

So don’t wait for something funny to turn up. Create your laughs–everyday–everyday. Watch some funny movies, listen to music. The Chipmunk Song always makes me laugh. Do the “ha ha” and “hee hee” thing. And feel health, peace, and joy happily moving through your body, mind, and spirit. Picture your inner child having fun laughing out loud, rejoicing in life. Celebrate yourself with a good hearty laugh.

I wish you the joy of laughter in all your days.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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Saying Goodbye With Memories . . .

Have you ever lost a loved one? Or do you know someone who has? It leaves an empty place in your life, so maybe you turn to those heartfelt memories to get you through. That’s what I’m doing today, and I hope you’ll allow me to share some memories about my brother, Lee, who made his transition last week.

Life is for making memories, and we made lots of them. My mother was widowed when my older brother Jackie was 11, I was 6, and Lee was 3. She took a bar waitress job in the Starlight Bar down the street for $1.00 per night plus tips, and sometimes she took us with her to work. We’d eat potato chips, drink soda pop, and listen to her sing on the mic when she wasn’t busy. Then Jackie took us home at bedtime.

For some reason until Lee started school, Mama called him Boy. That’s when Aunt Ruth said he should have a name, and he became Lee. We were Depression kids in Detroit, and most of the country knew what it felt like to be hungry. Every month our landlady took us to get free groceries, and Boy hopped in the wagon, yelling and waving to everyone on the way to the food bank. But when the wagon was full, his little legs ran beside it, helping us pull it all the way home.

When Boy had scarlet fever, he and Mama were quarantined, and the doctor came everyday without charge. Jackie and I stayed with our aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I remember standing outside the window with the family making faces to cheer up my little brother. He looked so pitiful.

One day Jackie and I found Boy outside counting pennies and nickels. Wow. That was a lot of money. He said he found it in the back of our chair where the piano player from the Starlight Bar sat when he visited Mama. Change fell from his pocket and lodged in the back of the chair. So from then on, every time someone came to the apartment, Boy led them to that chair and shared the loot with Jackie and me for candy and movies.

Lee was 8 years old when we moved back to Florida where Aunt Edna had 6 Toy Manchester Terriers, and Lee loved all of them. When he was in junior high school, his love for animals brought us a wonderful surprise. We moved to Daytona Beach with Aunt Dell and more cousins, and the morning we left, Lee talked Mama into letting him ride in the back of the truck. Then when we arrived and went to unload the truck, a shiny black nose peeked out from under a blanket. Mama jumped, and Lee said, “It’ just a dog, Mama. I had to sneak down and get him last night from where they chained him and beat him. I couldn’t leave him there.” “Well, that’s stealing,” she answered. Lee grinned. “Oh, no, Mama. God doesn’t care. He’s glad I rescued him.” Shep ran in the ocean with us, got sprayed with a skunk, and showed his gratitude for many free and happy years with us. In Lee’s later years, he and Ginny had a Golden Retriever named Sunny they dearly loved.
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Later we moved back to DeLand where Lee played football and rekindled relationships. One in particular was Ginny Sullivan. They fell in love and married after high school graduation when Lee joined the Army. They had 3 children and spent 62 happy years together. He graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a Trust Auditor for Barnett Banks, later headed the Trust Auditing Division of Florida National Banks, and was very active in his field.

I’m proud of Lee’s accomplishments, but when I remember him, I remember the person he was. He complained when he saw a person or animal abused, he bitched about the unfairness in the world, he criticized injustice, and had no patience in a traffic jam. And he was one of the most loving, kind, gentle souls I’ve ever known. And one of the most loved by all who knew him. I smile when I remember he always said I was his favorite sister. I’m the only one, so that claim is special to me.

I love you, and I’ll always miss you, Lee. Thank you for so many beautiful memories.

And thank you all for listening. You are a blessing.

Marilyn Fowler, Author