Scarlette Letter – September 7, 2015

Students of happiness agree that certain habits foster feelings of contentment, peace, and joy. These habits include:

Gratitude – I am grateful for my abundance of energy

Affirmation – I have endurance and stamina

Attitude – Determined

Activity – 16.55 mile hike

Nurture – Parking lot yoga after the hike

Enrichment – “Make yourself worth knowing”

Nourishment –

Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia

Giving – I ordered Mom a new book of Jumble puzzles

Connection – Solo hike today, connected with myself and nature

Simplifying – All I needed for a whole day, and 16.55 miles, I carried in a very small pack on my back

Journaling –

I decided to spend this big, empty, day, Labor Day, hiking. I went for a very long, very hot, very dusty, dirty hike. It was great. I planned to be home by evening and, because I am pretty familiar with the trails I hiked today, and my hiking speed, given the hills and the heat, and all the other things, I was home right about when I expected to be.

Scarlette Begonia

I walked up the front steps of the porch, almost an insult after the hills I climbed today, but, again, though I won’t admit it to many, I could feel all my muscles groan a bit for the effort of those few steps. It was a very long day.

Mom was watering her jade plant on the porch and immediately asked me if I was “pooped”. I am, but to admit it seemed, immediately, wrong. You are what you say you are, if I acknowledged, out loud, that I was “pooped”, then the rest of my evening and all that needed to be accomplished, this article included, may have been laid to waste. So, I denied being “pooped”.

Shower is done, dinner is done, daypack is unpacked, filthy, dirt encrusted clothes are washing, articles and pictures are posted, dinner and dishes are done. I’m thinking I shall sleep well tonight, if I can keep my mind quiet. A little meditation before bed may be wise. It is a big and busy week ahead, beginning right off, tomorrow morning.

And now, it is safe to acknowledge that I am “pooped”.

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Scarlett’s Letter July 16, 2013

Today, I worked fourteen hours. The end.

Ever have one of those days? This relates to an article I wrote on the fallacy of “balance” in life. We all assume we want “balance”, but balance, trying to keep everything equally attended to actually results in mediocrity in everything we attempt. Great things are done only by applying a great amount of energy to the related tasks, the trick comes in applying energy, in great amounts, to the right things, at the right time, so as to achieve excellence in all areas that require your attention. Herein lies another trick, determining which areas in your life require your attention, and which ones you really shouldn’t bother with. So many tricks. I recommend “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results ”, a book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Today, my only focus was work. I was scheduled to train for eight hours, and when that was done, having just returned from a two week vacation, I had six hours of very important administrative work to attend to, namely, my expense reimbursement reports. After eight hours on the phone with a client, and six hours of tedium entering expenses, scanning receipts, and all that, I. Am. Done. Wine.

There will be no effort or energy applied to any other area of my life; fitness, reading, studying, organizing, minimalizing, etc. Yes, I will eat, likely a frozen pizza I happen to have in the freezer, the last morsel of food I own, but I will not go grocery shopping. Not tonight. Other than that, a phone call to my Sweetie and this very short article. My energy for the day has been applied and none is left for any other important areas of my life.

Tomorrow will be a different story.

How Do You Do?

A greeting, a making of acquaintance. I am happy to meet you! How do you do is also a question I’d like to pose. How do you do?

My day is not quite complete unless I’ve made the acquaintance of someone I’ve never met before. I find this exciting, exhilarating and illuminating. People are so tremendously interesting, and from each and every meeting, often the first and last in one, I learn something valuable and hope I have left an impression, as well.

Today, I met lots of “new” people on a hike. Yesterday, I had a brief, but interesting conversation with the cashier at the grocery store, the day before, a very interesting man at a coffee shop. In the past three days, I have had casual conversations with at least a dozen people I’ve never met before. Sometimes, I think I am like the curious, friendly little puppy, panting and happily wagging my tail as I strain against my leash, eager to meet new people.

Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies "Meet-Up" group
Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies “Meet-Up” group

Why do I find people so fascinating? I like to find out what they do. Yes, I love to learn what people do for a living, but more interesting, what they do when they aren’t working. I find that many people live interesting lives, have hobbies and activities that I’ve always wanted to try, or to learn more about. Many people I meet are enthusiastic about their health, or their fitness, or their academic pursuits and I am thrilled to learn what they have to say. Almost always, we end up having a shared interest or shared topic and can chat for some time.

To say I have an energy, or enthusiasm, or confidence might be a little bit of an understatement. I really am eager to meet people and I think it shows when I walk into a room. I find that most the people I end up engaging with have a similar energy level, enthusiasm and confidence. If you believe in the law of attraction, I suppose this makes complete sense; like energies attract like energies. Or, perhaps my energy, enthusiasm and confidence make me a little more approachable than other folks.

I do try to be approachable. I make eye contact with people, and I guess I smile, whether I am aware of it, or not. A couple years ago I was at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, I was returning home after a long week away, waiting for my last of several flights. It was quite late at night and I was chatting on the phone with my son. People were milling around me as I sat near my departure gate. There were a few flights departing from a few gates clustered close together. After I concluded my call, I did my usual thing, I checked in on Facebook. After I got home, I received a comment on my check in from a man I’ve known since kindergarten and probably haven’t seen since high school. He obviously knew I’d been at LAX, but asked if I had been sitting at gate 81, wearing a black coat and a scarf. Yes, I had. He was standing right next to me, waiting to board another flight, and I was on the phone. He recognized me, I don’t remember seeing him, or didn’t recognize him, but he said I smiled at him. So, I guess I smile, randomly at people, if I am unable to strike up a conversation. I’m not really sure, but so it would seem. I am just grateful, for whatever reason, I have so many opportunities for making acquaintances.

About opportunities; they don’t just happen. No one is going to walk up to your front door and want to meet you, unless they’re selling something. In which case, I don’t generally answer the door. I know exactly what I want to buy, where I want to buy it, when I want to buy it, how much I want to spend on it and where I am going to put it. I don’t need anyone trying to mess up my very deliberate acquisition process. I’m going minimalist. Thank you. Back to opportunities; they are made, they don’t just happen. If you spend most of your leisure time in front of the television, you are not creating any opportunities. The dozen or so people I met in the past three days? I left my house and went out into the world and while I was interacting with society, I made the acquaintance of a bunch of really nice people.

How do you do; how do you create opportunities for meeting people? When I walked into the coffee shop a couple of days ago, I was there to work on a project for work between appointments. I take advantage of free Wi-Fi all the time, I love working from public places whenever I can. I ordered my half-caf and a banana and plunked my computer down at a table near an outlet, which happened to be adjacent to another table with an outlet where a nice looking man had plunked down his computer. I went about my tasks and before long, he struck up a conversation and we chatted, intermittently, for an hour. He was very interesting and found a lot of what I had to say interesting, as well. He left and went about his day, I left and went about mine. Simple as that. But in that meeting and the brief friendly conversation, I learned that he did many different, interesting things to make a living and had some spare time interests in common with me as well. I was smiling.

Today, I deliberately sought an opportunity to meet people. I belong to several “Meet-Up” groups ( One of my favorites is a local group called “40 Something Women’s Group” and they do all sorts of fun things; dancing, movies, happy hours, brunches, wine tasting, hikes. All things I enjoy. Today, a hike. Of the ten or so ladies in attendance, I’d met two of them previously. During our lovely hike on this very warm, spring day, I enjoyed nature; the green hills, the wildflowers, the waterfalls, not so much the rattlesnake. More than nature, I enjoyed the many conversations I had with various ladies as we strolled along.

Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies "Meet-Up" group
Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies “Meet-Up” group

Of course, you get a bunch of 40 something ladies together, many divorced, and often the topic of meeting men comes up. Many of the ladies use online dating services, with limited success. A lot of energy goes into “meeting someone”. I don’t know, I’ve never tried. For me, it just happens, whether I’m ready, or not. I meet people all the time, one I met turned out to be someone I’d love to share my life with. I most certainly did not set out to find someone of a certain age, height, hair color, income level with specific spare time interests. I drank an oatmeal stout and ate ice cream at a bar, by myself, while traveling for work and I guess I was approachable. I must have smiled.

One of the ladies I chatted with today had a similar experience. She and I agreed that often times we meet someone compatible, someone terrific, someone we click with, when we aren’t trying, at all. We also agreed that rather than working on meeting someone, we put our time to better use working on ourselves. When we like ourselves and have become someone we would like to spend time with, often someone else comes around that feels the same way. I think this is where energy, enthusiasm and confidence come into play. I genuinely like myself, pretty much most of the time, and that translates into a confidence, approachability. And that also explains why I mostly meet people who are confident, energetic and enthusiastic, because they like themselves and are therefore, approachable, likeable. They smile.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity to meet people, that can be easily fixed. Find resources for meeting people, like Meet-Ups or other social groups; church, fitness, sports, activities, philanthropies, volunteering, and the list goes on. If you find, no matter how hard you try, you can’t find someone compatible to spend time with, whether friends or for dating or serious relationships, it’s possible you’re working too hard at it, and possibly, you’re working on the wrong person. Work on yourself and when you like what you’ve become, genuinely and completely, chances are, other people will feel the same way about you. Give yourself the opportunity and be approachable, and I’m pretty sure you’ll have more “how do you do’s”! Smile!

Garbage In – Garbage Out

I’m talking trash.

I generally try to surround myself with positive people. However, this is not always an option, and, at times, I struggle with how to deal with people who are less than positive, less than optimistic, less than happy. And what to do when some of these folks are close to you presents even more of a dilemma.

Today I tried explaining to someone that by focussing on the negative, the bad, the undesirable, we are actually attracting the negative, the bad, the undesirable into our lives. Whether you subscribe to the law of attraction, or not, think about it. If all you think about, or worse yet, talk about, is the horrible things you heard on the news, the pain throughout your body, the poor state of your finances, your lack of energy, what are you experiencing? Horrible things, pain, poor finances, lack of energy. What you think, is what you experience. It is that simple. If you dwell on something in your mind, it is what you experience.

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night and heard your heart beating? And why is it in the middle of the night our anxieties are most acute? You think, “is it normal to be hearing my heart beat?”. Anxiety rises, heart beats faster. “My heart rate is accelerated!” Anxiety rises, heart beats faster. “Am I having chest pains?”, now focussing on possibly having pain in your chest, and you honestly can’t tell if you’re having pain in your chest, or not! Anxiety rises. You think you’re dying of a heart attack! It is totally normal to awaken and hear your own heart beat, but we can easily convince ourselves that something, potentially, is wrong. We lose sleep, and feel like hell the next day, confirming our suspicion that we aren’t quite right, when, in fact, we are perfectly fine.

This type of thought pattern is common, it is how the “untrained” mind naturally functions. The key to being positive, to being happy, to being content, to evolving into a productive, fulfilled person is to train our minds. Much easier said than done, and, in my humble opinion, it is a job never 100% done. Like doing cartwheels, you may be really good at it, though never perfect. And if you don’t practice all the time, you’re going to lose the skill. Thinking positively is just like doing cartwheels. Practice. Practice. Practice. And never stop. You may get close to perfect, but never quite.

The trash we allow our minds to dwell on is compromising our physical, mental and emotional health, and so, our quality of life, even our longevity. Take the trash out.

In my conversation today, about not focussing on the horrible, the pain, the poor finances, lack of energy, etc., part of my message was what you allow into your mind is usually what comes out. If you fill your mind with garbage; horrible news, that is all you have to think about. If you fill your mind with productive reading material, that, in turn, is what drives your thought processes. If you begin your day not with a mental list of your ailments, your aches, your pains, your poor situation but with affirmations of what you want to experience instead, and with gratitude for the positive things your already have in your life, your whole mindset shifts to those more positive drivers. Garbage in, garbage out.

This is an exercise I do each and every morning. Well, most mornings. And I really want to do it every single morning. And if I don’t, I usually have a more difficult time remaining in a super positive frame of mind. But, honestly, while this may be a starting point, it takes constant “policing” of our thoughts to keep them from nose diving back into the negative during the course of the day. I spent a full year actively re-training my mind to focus on the positive, and still, now and then, I have to give myself a pep talk.

During the course of losing my dream of living on a ranch in the country to foreclosure, during the course of losing the house in town, shortly thereafter, to a short sale, then leaving my husband after a lonely marriage of twenty some years, and getting my kids through the last years of high school and off to college reasonably unscathed during the midst of all this turmoil, in all the trials of moving multiple times, trying to discover who I really was, trying to reclaim my health and fitness, trying to build a life for myself and provide emotional and financial support to my family, all the while trying to progress in my career, I have, somehow, kept quite upbeat and positive. I consider myself a modern marvel!

I read highly nutritive material. I always have on my Kindle, a book I am reading that fosters a positive mental attitude, the law of attraction, developing good relationships, or something along those lines. Yes, I have fun reads, too, novels by Candace Bushnell or Sohpie Kinsella. And always a classic, my favorite being Jane Austen. But I really try to put into my mind only positive matter, so that what come out is positive in kind.

I, personally, believe in the law of attraction. I’ve read The Secret, I’ve listened to it in audio, I’ve watched the movie. And, to me, it a lot of it makes sense. I usually glean out of all the material I read, the snippets I think will work best, and sort of craft my own “philosophy”. But I do believe in the law of attraction, that energy attracts like energy. Positive thoughts are positive energy, and in kind, attract positive results. No, you can’t just think “I want a million dollars” and it magically appears. I’ve tried that. Doesn’t work. But, in thinking reasonable and positive thoughts, I have been able to progress considerably in becoming more financially stable, and, financially independent; mostly by focussing on budgeting and living within my means. But, where a few years ago, I thought retirement was never a possibility for me, I see now, I may, at some point, be able to retire. This, I am certain, is because I am focussing on positive thoughts in this area, and through those positive thoughts I have found positive solutions and have achieved positive results.

I read another book, Relax, Focus, Succeed by Karl W. Palachuk. This was a man who suffered incredibly from pain due to a very real medical condition. Through training his mind diligently, he learned to override the thought processes of focussing on the pain, and now lives a far more pain free and active, fulfilling life. His material is definitely worth a read.

So, in my conversation today, I am hoping I made some sort of impact, because I care a great deal about this person. And while there may be fear of the horrible things heard on the news, true pain, dwindling savings and a resulting lack of energy (probably from depression over the other items), I am hoping that a concerted effort at altering thought processes will provide relief, and, better quality of life.

I challenge you to really, deeply examine your thoughts. What are you allowing into your mind that influences your thoughts, and what are the results manifested in your life? Take the garbage out and keep sweeping up, I’m certain you’ll see a positive difference if you are diligent. Why do you think they call it being down in the dumps?