How Seneca, Attracting Positive Energy, and Happiness Heal Grief

Positive thinking has always been my forté, if not my downfall, since being an optimist doesn’t always prepare me for the horrific. When the worst happened this spring, I had to work at thinking positive. Even cancer and double boobectomies didn’t shut down happiness like death.

I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction.

You attract the energy of your thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. What a simple way to live, right? Just think positive and you’ll attract a great life. But it’s hard when you’re grieving and random memories arise like when I notice the safety googles in my garage. “Watch out for your eyes,” my brother used to say at random times; a standing joke from a time when he helped me move out of an apartment. He almost poked his eye out on a table leg. Don’t ask.

I needed help from an old Roman philosopher, Seneca.

There’s no time limit on grief. I read philosopher, Lucia Seneca’s letter yesterday in a Brain Picking’s article by Maria Popova. Seneca wrote to his mother a few millennia ago, when he was banished to Corsica. He told her that distracting yourself from loss makes it worse. Grief will be hanging out when you come back from the Bahamas, or dinner with friends. He was a little more eloquent than that.

“It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us.”

Instead, Seneca suggested a focus on “liberal arts.”

“I am leading you to that resource which must be the refuge of all who are flying from Fortune, liberal studies. They will heal your wound, they will withdraw all your melancholy.”

Whoa! Would reading end my grief? Cool. I’d start with Tuesdays with Morrie, memorize some Faulkner quotes on dying, and round it off with a little philosophy by reading Camus, Sagan, and the Dali Lama.

I finished Camus’, The Stranger and scratched my head. I mean, the main character was absolutely clueless. He acted more like an amoeba, than a thoughtful man. Then I found out he won the Nobel Prize for introducing philosophy of the absurd. Oh.

It occurred to me the meaning of liberal arts may have changed over time. Wikipedia to the rescue.

*insert mind blown gesture here*

Liberal arts in ancient Greece refers to the education of a “free” person “to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for Ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service.”

Ha! Maybe Seneca could’ve improved on the defense of his affair with the emperor’s sister had he brushed up on liberal arts. Did he want his mother to educate herself so she could defend herself someday? Nah.

Most likely, he wanted his mother to “take an active part of civic life,” come out of her grief and find a way to contribute to society. He could’ve said, “Join the living, Mom!” But, hey, they lived a few millennia ago.

So am I joining the living? Of course. I never left, but there are moments every day where I remember my brother and it brings me down with the “would have, could have, should haves.” Not anymore.

From Seneca – “Everlasting misfortune does have one blessing, that it ends up by toughening those whom it constantly afflicts.”

I should be badass.

It’s all about choosing happiness.

And this: “It was nature’s intention that there should be no need of great equipment for a good life: every individual can make himself happy.”

Yesterday, I read a blog post by Niki Meadows. This saying caught my attention.

Energy Flows

A great reminder to make the choice to be happy.

Here’s my interpretation:

Thinking positive to attract energy

Between Seneca and Meadows, I awoke with renewed energy. Okay, so I overslept. Now when I think about my brother, I will think about the absurdity of death. I will make the effort to smile when I remember him. Engaging in life will heal the wound. I think I’ll be okay.

 

Have you ever heard of Seneca? Do you believe your thoughts attract energy?

Related posts:

Be Your Own Badass Hero

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

What Seeing Mila Kunis and Asthon Kutcher Taught Me

An Open Letter From My Boobs

Energy, Attention and Intention – Niki Meadows

Seneca’s Consolation to Helvia – Maria Popova, founder and editor of Brain Pickings

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

ducks in a row

Doesn’t it always seem when you get your proverbial ducklings to trot single file, Destiny senses your achievement and watches like a lurking bully? Just as you hit your stride it jumps from the bushes and scatters them. Yup. Big D loves to mess with us. We can’t predict what life has in store for us, EVER!

“You think you’re in control of things? Ha!” says Big D, “You crack me up, Susie Lindau.” Destiny always has other plans in order to teach us life lessons.

This was the year I wanted to hunker down to finish projects, enter contests and get into super shape. Most important to me was to start a regular routine to balance my life and accomplish more in less time. Destiny buckled over it laughed so hard.

When my brother, Joe, died in March, shock pulled more than five weeks from my stellar equation to reach 2017’s goals. During that time I shelved most of my writing, but made some positive changes. I write in a gratitude journal every night and refocused my goals after finally learning about the fragility of life. You’d think breast cancer would have taught me that.

Destiny crosses its arms and shakes its head.

But Destiny also taught me to take opportunities presented NOW. I won’t wait for a better time in the future. You never know what’s ahead. Since adventure’s my thing, I decided I wanted to travel a lot more, but I wasn’t sure how I would balance that with hunkering down. I figured once things settled down after the funeral, I could get a ton done and plan an adventure sometime next fall. Ha! In hindsight, Destiny and I both share a laugh over that naive thought.

My husband and I returned home between Joe’s death and the funeral and discovered water pouring through the ceiling of our house from my demon washing machine. I took it as a cosmic joke and cliché moment about how life goes on and most of the setbacks are fixable. I figured we would patch up the ceiling and move on.

“Gotcha, Destiny.” I clucked my tongue and winked.

Big D shook its head. It had other plans.

So we’ve been inundated with workers since March 14th. Driers, contractors, drywallers, painters and soon the wood floors will be redone. My routine has been blown to hell. Instead, I carve out a few hours each day while workers come and go.

Then we heard from our insurance company. Are you sitting down? Because the water leaked out of the room into the hall, ALL of the wood floors on our first floor will be refinished along with my son’s room. The furniture has to be moved out. I threw up my hands and shook my fist at the Destiny. “Quit screwing with us, Destiny!”

My stomach has been knotted while waiting to get back to a normal life.

Then I discovered we need to move out of the house for almost THREE WEEKS! Another setback. We planned to drive to Breckenridge and stay at our second home. That’s cool, I guess.

One night, we picked up where we left off with Outlander. I had been so inspired when we started watching the historical fantasy about a woman who travels back in time to the 1740’s. My 100% Irish dad shocked us a few years ago when he said he had a Scottish grandmother. I did some research and she immigrated to America from the Melville Castle area. I wondered if my love for fish tropical in tanks and of the edible variety had anything to do with a connection to Herman?

“Wait a minute,” I said to my husband, Danny, after turning off a gruesome episode where a duke becomes headless, “See if there’s anything available in Scotland!” We bought a dinky timeshare unit in a lodge at the bottom of Peak 7 in Breck to use the amenities and park our car. We always forget to trade it and are about to lose two weeks.

After Danny researched availability, he came out of his office, smiling. “There’s a place in Dailly, Scotland.”

“What?” my eyebrows rose to my hairline and I took a look at his computer. We couldn’t find a trade in the US. It must be destiny.

A small smile curled in the corners of The Big D’s mouth as it peered over my shoulder.

That weekend, I caught up with a few blogs before skiing. Sacha Black announced the Bloggers Bash in London. One of our goals is to travel around and meet my virtual friends. “We could meet my friends!” I said.

I bought two tickets to the Bash and Danny booked our stay in Scotland for a week. We still needed to book the second week.

Why don’t we go to Paris the second week?”

“Really?”

“We can go anywhere, but that’s your favorite place, right?”

I would let it sink in over the weekend.

I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and had several mind blown moments thanks to Donald Maass and several other knowledgeable writers. Between classes, I spoke to my son, Kelly. “If you want to visit me this quarter, you should come out next weekend,” he said. “I have to work hard the last few weeks of school.” He’s attending Icon Collective Music Production School in Burbank. He graduates in June.

I LOVE visiting Kelly in California, but I would come home late Sunday evening and would have to repack to fly out again. Thing is, my mom comes for a ten day visit over Mother’s Day. Would I ever have time to do revisions after those mind blown moments? I remembered my new thoughts about opportunity and booked flights for early Friday morning. With the pressure of a trip, I wrote a brand new, much better first chapter and revised the second. Maybe cramming in writing between workers coming to the house was a good thing.

Monday morning I checked AirBnB’s in Paris surprised at how many lovely apartments near the heart of Paris only cost around $100 per night. I made a list of favorites. Then I noticed the walls in the Parisian apartment photos. I needed to pick a color for the bathroom that had been damaged. Most of the French rooms depicted neutrals in gray, taupe and tans. We have a very French house and I was sick of the green paint in the bathroom.

I drove to the paint store and picked out a few colors, then asked the decorator, “Is gray still a popular color?”

“It is,” she said, brown curls bouncing as she walked toward me from her desk.

“I was thinking about warm gray,” I said. “Something with a little brown in it.”

She pulled a few colors from a new line of paint. They all looked pretty much alike. When I returned home with a fist full of paint chips, I selected a taupey color called “Quicksand” and called the painter.

Destiny chuckled in the background.

I didn’t pay attention to its giggle.

Another cosmic joke came the next day. The house filled with painters. They spent the day painting the guest bedroom and the adjacent back sink area and bathroom.

After they left, I checked out the rooms. “Are you kidding me???” The walls were a light shade of green. It made the tumbled marble tile look pink. I screamed. “No!” Then I checked the code for the paint on the chip against the can. Exactly the same. How? How?

I figured this had to happen to other people and spoke the contractor. Nope. This NEVER happens.

At this rate, workers will be around for a while. I predict a lot of travel in my future. Quit scattering my ducks, Destiny!

Related posts:

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When Death Sits on My Face

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

Beauty and the Aging Beast

If we believe we are defined by who we are, then we can carry that knowledge with confidence and defy any kind of aging. Note to Self: Must sew up hole in pocket or start carrying confidence somewhere else.beauty of a woman blogfest

I’m proud to be over fifty and hope to have many more years of Riding Wild. I fought cancer and won. I don’t take life for granted, but time can take its toll and we will be judged by how we look

That said, I think it’s unfortunate that it has become the norm to run to plastic surgeons for injections and procedures, sometimes with very unnatural results. When did the stretched out upper lip ever fool anyone into thinking the woman looked much younger? I’m not against these procedures, per se, just the injections by fluid ounce.

I wonder if women have lost perspective on aging. Don’t get me wrong. I am waging my own battle with the beast, but within reason. Continue reading

When You Wish Upon a Blog – What?

One of my blog posts has transformed into a wishing well.  Young people from around the world stop by daily. A few have thrown their proverbial coin into my comment section with the hope their dreams will come true.

400px-Trevi_Fountain,_Rome,_Italy_2_-_May_2007

The ultimate wishing well – The Trevi Fountain

The search engine term, How to make a wish come true overnight Linda, brings the majority of them to my blog. Linda. Lindau. It must be close enough.

Why Linda?

After recalling fairy godmothers who granted wishes, I Googled a list of fairy names. Of the ninety-five listed, not one was Linda. Then I remembered the good witch in the Wizard of Oz who was named Glinda. Hmm. Maybe they didn’t remember the G!

Writing down your affirmation or prayer can be a great way to send it into the universe. If you read The Help, you may remember Aibileen who compiled a book of prayers for others in need from her community. So why not type them in a comment on a blog post?

I can understand how children may search on the computer. Kids have grown up with instant answers. Some are not any receiving religious education and don’t know how to go about wishing or praying.

When readers began leaving their wishes in my comment section, I wished on their wishes. Maybe not for the iPhone 5, but the rest were so sweet.

One of the commenters seemed very vulnerable.

Anonymous:

errm so i know this is a massive favour but i want to be pretty and like everyone else please stop the bullying and give me a best friend….

My reply:

I think it’s great that you made your wish. Writing about them is a wonderful way to reinforce your hopes and dreams. I write down mine all the time!

Sometimes people can be mean. Looking back, if I would have laughed at myself when I was younger and not taken myself so seriously, life would have been a lot easier.

Keep your chin up and be sure to smile. Others around you will reflect your energy, so send out positive vibes. Everyone’s smile is beautiful and yours is too!

Good luck and may all of your wishes come true!

I love the idea that one my posts has become a virtual wishing well. I hope that readers will continue to stop by to toss them into my comment section. If it gives someone a little hope, how can that be a bad thing? Hope goes a long way in making our aspirations reality.

Do you believe your wishes can come true?

Do you ever write them down?

 

Trevi Fountain photo by Wikipedia

I Am Going Straight to Hell or Household Confessional

bonfire

Being a product of Catholic upbringing, I carry around my fair share of guilt. As a child, the night before making my Confession at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, I would lie awake trying to recall all of my most recent transgressions. Disobeying seemed to be at the top of the list most months. Why was it so hard to Honor thy Father and thy Mother? I guess I was never that kid who jumped when I was called to help. When the devil named laziness beckoned, I followed. “In a minute!” was my mantra and then I would conveniently forget.

Now that I am an adult, life has gotten a lot more complicated. I still stare at the ceiling some nights with one regret or another because try as I may, I am still far from perfect. Being Human sucks sometimes. But there is a new transgression that has seeped into my psyche and can cause that same sick feeling of guilt. I recite a slightly different mantra, “Oh, just this once.” Maybe I don’t lose sleep over it, but the pang at the time of committing the offense is the same. My shoulder slump when I have let myself down. Once again laziness is at the core of this new evil deed.

I am paving my way to RECYCLE HELL! Okay to be honest I am extremely OCD about separating my trash. I have three bins under my sink which I periodically empty out into large containers in the garage. One is for non-recyclable waste and another is for mixed use, such as paper, aluminum cans, and glass. If I make a mistake, I stuff my hand down into the garbage and fish out the misplaced rubbish. After all I figure hands are washable, right? But I have the biggest problem with the newest addition to the recycling family. Compost is by far the smelliest and the most foul. Ugh! I scrape most of the disgusting food down the garbage disposal. I fill my composting bin with any other leftovers which would otherwise result in having to call a plumber or cause the replacement of the unit.

But that’s not all dear reader. (This is hard for me.) I admit that one time while cleaning out my refrigerator, I came upon an old jar whose contents had become an unrecognizable organism. After staring at the specimen (probably from 2002), for several minutes, my hands began to shake. As I turned on the water and the disposal, I began talking myself through what was almost inconceivable to me. I had survived changing many repulsive and leaky diapers, the messes made by my dog after she ate several chocolate kisses, and I have removed the puke off all kinds of surfaces. I knew I could do this.

I gathered my courage and began to unscrew the lid. I turned my head as far away from the aberrant jar somewhat resembling an owl as I squinted while peeking over my shoulder. It wouldn’t budge. I had to run water over the container to loosen the gooey slime. Then using all my strength until my arms quivered in exhaustion, the jar suddenly untwisted, simultaneously unleashing the most vile, repugnant, and nauseating smell of death I have ever experienced. Not daring to inhale again, I glanced inside to determine if I could just throw it under the tap to squelch the rot and dispose of the revolting glop, but was horrified at the discovery of an other-worldly array of colored mold which seemed to move as the air struck its membrane. It was no use. The mold had sucked any moisture the gunge once possessed in a previous life form. I had reached my limit. With trembling hands I returned the lid to the top of the jar (warning – this might be too much for you to read) and screwed it back on.

Then I looked around to see if anyone would observe the sin I was about to commit. The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not throw recyclables in the trash. I ran with my quarry through the back door to the garage, opened the cover on the small garbage pail and threw it in. With a resounding bang, my fate was sealed. I dragged myself back into the kitchen with heavy shoulders and thought to myself, “I am so weak.” Then I cried out to no one in particular, “Next time I will be stronger!”

I know I have disappointed you. I make myself sick too, but I can assure you it hasn’t happened very often. I remember seeing the final scene of The 9th Gate when Dean Corso played by Johnny Depp willingly stepped through the fiery gates of Hell. Although it was a dramatic ending, I don’t really believe in an afterlife filled with fire and brimstone. Being buried “alive” in compostable garbage would be a more horrible fate for me. If I do go to Recycle Hell, it will be kicking and screaming!

Do you feel a pang of guilt when you don’t recycle? 

Click here to read about garbage and recycling fun facts.

Click here for an article in the August 22nd Boulder Daily Camera newspaper about harnessing landfill methane gas