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Friday, May 31, 2013

Friendship Fundamentals -- Viva La Difference!

Last night I had the chance to get together with a friend so that we could, as she put it, solve 50% of the world's problems. We had a wonderful and delightful time talking with each other about everything from blogging to faith to high school experiences to family to ... well, you name it.

When I got home and was basking in the afterglow of an evening spent in engaging, fun, and intellectually stimulating conversation, I was struck by the fact that this friend and I have what I think is the perfect mix of things in common ... so that we have a starting ground for conversation, and differences ... so that our conversations never get boring and we can continue to learn from one another, have our ideas challenged in a kind and non-threatening way, and grow.

I've had occasion to ponder the nature of friendship recently after a couple of "friends" un-friended (that that's even a word is mind-boggling) me on Facebook, without a word, presumably because of a position with which they, apparently, took exception. The gist of that pondering always arrived at the same general conclusion: "I don't expect all of my friends to think like I do ... why should anyone care if I don't think like them?" The experience was bizarre to me, but it also made me very thankful for the friends that I have who, like me, treasure not only the similarities, but the differences between us.

And the difference come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. Ones that are usually considered major, like religion and politics. But maybe even more importantly, some of the more seemingly minor things, like the best way to separate egg yolks from whites, which home remedies work and which are a canards, and, of course, which craft beers are the best (arguably, a topic that may fall into the "major" category).

So, today, I am all about celebrating the differences that make us who we are and the common bonds that unite us together. And, I am giving thanks that my friends and I can hold these two things together in a wonderful paradox that invites conversation, helps us to learn new things, and invites us to step out of our comfort zones when necessary.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Programmed Responses

Because the Brian Andreas quote that serves as the tag line (and hence also provides the title) of this blog includes talk of things being simple, many have assumed that this will be a blog all about trying to achieve simplicity. In part, that is true. However, it has really been the first part of the Andreas quote about learning to tell the truth about what makes me happy that has served as the impetus not only for this blog, but for new ways of thinking as I enter, what I presume will be, the second half of my life.

For those who have never experienced difficulties in telling the truth about what makes them happy, it may seem as though it should be a no-brainer to clearly communicate one's feelings, hopes, and desires. And, they would be right, I suppose ... it should be something that comes instinctively. But, at least for me, that has not always been the case. Whether from nature or nurture, I do not know, but I seem to have programmed responses that circumvent such a truth/happiness mechanism. For example, even when I have convinced myself that if I am asked the following questions I will respond truthfully, when I am actually asked, the following responses seem to automatically spew forth, almost, as it were, involuntarily:

Are you mad? No.
What's wrong? Nothing.
What do you want to do? I don't care.
Did that hurt your feelings? No, of course, not.
Are you okay? Yes.

Sometimes these answers are, in fact, truthful. But, clearly, they cannot be true all the time ... and, yet, they are the answers that naturally come flowing out of my mouth. So, just like the person in Andreas' story ... I am trying to realize the life shift that can occur when I learn to tell the truth about what makes me happy ... or, more precisely, when I learn to answer the kinds of questions listed above truthfully ... when the truthful response becomes as second nature as the programmed responses.

I am eagerly looking forward to the day when I can say in tandem with my blog title and tagline: "I never knew it could be that simple."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering to Breathe

So, in an effort to follow my blog, one of my friends messaged me to let me know that although she had signed up to receive emails of the blog ... there was no way to comment on the blog directly from the email. I told her I'd look into it ... which consisted of me looking at the email she had received and concurring that it did appear that there was, in fact, no way to comment via email. The title of the blog post was, however, highlighted in the email and it turned out that by clicking on the title she was taken directly to my blog and could scroll down to the comments section and comment away to her heart's delight.

She noted to me that sometimes things, like figuring out how to comment on blogs via email, are complicated and that it wasn't just me making it difficult (See New Beginnings). She is right, of course, some things in life don't get simpler just because we wish that they weren't so complicated. That having been said, I also know that I tend to stress over much when those difficulties arise.

So, perhaps I need to clarify my goals when it comes to realizing that ala the title of this blog, "it could be that simple." It's not that I have deluded myself into believing that some aspects of life aren't complicated, because, let's face it ... they are. It's that maybe I don't have to sweat the small stuff. And, even when it's bigger than small ... maybe, just maybe, I can find ways to keep everything in perspective, so that the big stuff doesn't become too overwhelming. One of those perspective-maintaining behaviors has been, for me, remembering to breathe.

Yes, I am aware that breathing is an involuntary action. And, yes, I am also aware that it is not normally something that one has to be reminded about. But I have found that when things start to overwhelm me, I don't breathe -- or, at least, not normally. By reminding myself to breathe, I can take a step back from everything that is going on, focus on my breathing and not on the stressful situation, and regain some balance ... at least to my breathing, if not in reality. If nothing else, I've at least had the chance to take some cleansing breaths, clear my head, and start anew.

It's a start ... this remembering to breathe business. But, I'm finding that when I remember to breathe, things go a whole lot better than when I forget.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Beginnings

I was recently discussing with my spiritual director why being me was sometimes so difficult. Whatever his response may have lacked in compassion was made up for with insight: "It is only difficult because you make it difficult." As much as I wanted to argue that he just didn't understand all of the complexities involved, there was a part of me that wanted for him to be right ... that longed for it to be as simple as that -- as simple as just making it not be complicated. That conversation, coupled with my timely discovery of Brian Andreas' StoryPeople, thanks to one of my dearest friends, has been the genesis of my effort to make that kind of simplicity instinctive to my every day life.

In addition to the Andreas quote in the tagline of the blog, I had also come across the following:

So, as I start another chapter of my life ... and yet another blog, I invite you to join me on the journey of (re)discovering the fact that life could very well be that simple.

(Any Brian Andreas quotes or pictures are copyrighted material. His prints and other items can be found at )