Are You Your Labels?

Do you like to be labeled? Try asking that question to five people and you’ll find that most if not all will assume the term label to which you may be alluding will be derogatory. I’m not sure why, but it’s a fun experiment.

While we may not like to be labeled we are often guilty of labeling others. Have you noticed that when we meet someone new it’s not uncommon to find the questions steered in very basic directions:  Are you married? What do you do for a living? What kind of a car do you drive? Where did you go to school? And on it goes. We get that information, pigpen-hole the person through classifications (labels) and create our judgment of the person.

(I apologize to my foreign readers – you’re probably saying to yourself, “That’s SO typically American!” And though I have just as much evidence as you that it is so, it’s also another form of labeling. This is another example of how labeling is critical, not complimentary.)

On the other side of this discussion are the labels we stick on ourselves and then refuse with tenacity to peel off when they are old and tired. The unhappily married couple must face the truth of their relationship once the kids leave home. The corporate executive or factory worker is forced to reassess her place in life when she is laid off. Who are we without our spouse, our careers, or our homes?

James Baldwin is quoted as saying, “I have become afflicted with so many labels that I have become invisible unto myself.” Would you be willing today to make a list of the labels you have for yourself? Do they serve you? Is this the way you want to be known or remembered?

The other Baldwin quote in the graphic above is our guide. Perhaps today is the day we can ask ourselves, Am I my labels? Once we answer that question we will discover whether or not our labels enhance who we are, or obscure us to the point of being invisible unto ourselves.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

What’s In Your Consciousmess?

Is that a typo in the title? No. But when you think about it, consciousmess just might describe life as we know it right now. At this moment in time it seems a lot of us are angry with this mess we believe humans have made of our planet. But under the outrage is another, simpler emotion:  Fear.

Our government seems to be imploding, with actions reported on domestic and international news networks that we might more commonly expect on late night TV or “Saturday Night Live.” To add to the madness this week, we include a Russian “spy ship” off the coast of Delaware. So, yes, there’s a good deal of concern, fear from many, about what’s next.

Philosopher and writer Ernest Holmes once wrote that “fear is faith misplaced.” In other words, we have a strong belief that something will go amiss. The result of such thinking is a consciousmess; it’s messed up thinking about the occurrences around us.

Without constant vigilance we can easily take this mess into our lives. Some of us are acting like it’s an honored houseguest. We nurture it, post constantly on social media about it, and “what if” ourselves into a stupor.

The principle of cause and effect – that we have control over our experience of the conditions in our lives – is simple. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. And, it doesn’t mean we’re helping to heal the situation by spreading our doubts and fears all over everyone around us.

The consciousmess we are dealing with right now has been created by a series of events, but if it’s our face now then it must be there for a reason. It has the potential to involve and affect us in inspiring, healing and amazing ways should we choose to participate in this manner.

The question is either how much we want world and national events to affect us, or whether we want to affect change in whatever way we can with what we’re faced with today. We have the option to act in love, instead of reacting in fear. It’s long-passed time to watch others suffer and do nothing. And, it’s very human not to want to scream “I told you so!” along with all the articles, facts and data that are so abundant to support our causes.

Still, some people are not willing to change, at least right now. The best we can do is to make sure we are living by the principles we believe are being broken by others, and not joining in the fight against everything we find adverse to the peace we know is possible. Here’s a quote to consider from Albert Schweitzer:  “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

In other words, this is going to take time. We’ve seen the havoc that can be caused when a nation believes complex problems can be fixed through simple solutions or unenforceable mandates. The consciousmess in which we find ourselves will not be solved overnight. But it’s already unfolding into a newly-found confidence of hope through change being brought about by positive action. What part will you play?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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Food Pictures, Anyone?

Are you craving non-political, non-outrageous social media postings? You’re not alone. The past couple of weeks have been exhausting!

One of my co-workers posted this the other day:  “I've done a lot of unfollowing lately. Please bring back the posts of what you are having for dinner.” I get what she’s saying:  I want a simpler time, a happier time, a more carefree and “normal” life.

Okay, news flash. That ain’t happening anytime soon, so fasten your seatbelts ‘cause we’re in for a bumpy ride. For better or worse what we see before us is our current “normal.” Personally I’m not willing to perpetuate that if I can help it.

I remembered four questions to ask ourselves before we post that juicy tidbit. You know, the one that bitch-slaps our current most hated and despised individual, which could be Kellyanne Conley for some of you and Sen. Elizabeth Warren for others.

These suggestions are called “The Work,” and come from Byron Katie in her book, “I Need Your Love – I That True?" For any possible posting (and also for any problem or situation in your life), ask:

  1. Is it true? – Or is it just supporting our biases, prejudice and unresolved hatred for someone or another ideology.
  2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true? – That means vet before we post, not just because what we’re reading agrees with our own beliefs.
  3. How do I react when I think that thought? – In other words, how do we react internally to question #2? Do we get defensive? If we do then we just might be defending our own ignorance and refusal to see the truth.
  4. Who would I be without that thought? – Does posting this idea or report benefit us personally and make the world a better place? Or, to put it another way, are we informing others from truthful information (to the best of our knowledge) to encourage them to take positive action for change; or, are we just gossiping about shit which means we’d rather bitch about others than actually do something that makes a difference?

We’ll probably still post things we haven’t checked out thoroughly, or wish we hadn’t stirred up a hornet’s nest. But taking these four very simple, but important, questions into mind in posting – as well as in our lives in general – just might allow us to sleep a bit sounder at night. Believe me; the people who are making the news would be delighted to know they’ve interrupted your slumber. Don’t give them that power.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Are You Paralyzed or Progressing?

How do you feel about that question? Many people, including me, have gone through periods of feeling absolutely paralyzed due to conditions in our world that seem to be out of our control. When we allow issues to become monumental in our lives we can feel frozen, unable to do even the simplest of daily chores.

That’s a horrible way to live. It’s indicative of seeing ourselves as helpless victims of circumstance. We may believe we are justified in feeling that way, as we can surmise that we have done everything possible to stop something from happening. Yet still, here we are, with life presenting itself in ways we thought not possible.

To move through these emotions and beyond we must recognize we where are in consciousness. Nurse practitioner Marcia Upton, creator of the NaturallySlim eating program, says we only have four emotions:  mad, sad, glad and scared. When considering all our emotions with just these four words we find ourselves without the drama we so willingly add to our lives, particularly in the politically-motivated times in which we live.

It’s drama that creates the energy to spend more time in our upset than in working toward a satisfactory result. When we describe our emotions as “incensed,” “inconsolable,” “ecstatic,” or “terrified” instead of mad, sad, glad and scared we open up a whole new level of drama. Is that a bad thing? No. As a professional writer I love to use the plethora of words we enjoy in the English language.

But as a sociologist and counselor I also acknowledge that we can become far more effective in our own lives by losing the drama and getting down to the business of changing our undesirable circumstances and thereby enjoying our blessings.

We must move beyond the outrage, the indignation, the shock and, yes, even the elation, to progress forward into lives that matter. It’s by losing the drama that we become more effective in changing our thinking, which in turn causes conditions to change not only for us but for those around us.

There are plenty of issues out there that bring up our emotions of sad, mad, glad and scared. I’m sure you can think of several without much difficulty. The question is whether we will let the actions of others paralyze us with those emotions, or whether we will use those feelings to change the world in which we live.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © Terry Drew Karanen 2017

Go Ahead. Feel Bad.

Do you enjoy finding new writers to read? I do and I also enjoy sharing those people with my friends and readers.

For that reason I'm going to be sharing the writing of several people from time-to-time this year with you.

One such person is my friend and Unity minister, Rev. Ellen Debenport. Her blog for this week is below and speaks to me on a very deep level.

Admitting where we are instead of pretending everything is great is one of the foundation principles I believe in. I hope you'll enjoy Rev. Ellen's viewpoint this week. I'll be back next week - Have a great weekend!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

GO AHEAD. FEEL BAD.

We in Texas pride ourselves on many things, but tolerating cold is not one of them.
 
When it was 16 degrees Sunday morning, any number of the people I know just abandoned the idea of getting out. No church, no lunch, no afternoon plans. They hunkered down to ride it out.

Which got me thinking about how often we let outside circumstances dictate our lives.

I keep insisting we can choose what and how to think, rather than reacting to what’s outside of us. But sometimes circumstances matter.

When it’s 16 degrees, you will need a coat, no matter how elevated your consciousness is.

When someone you love dies, you most likely will be sad.

If your money runs out, it’s hard not to worry.

Just how reasonable is it to expect yourself not to react to outer circumstances?

THE GOOD AND THE BAD
 
Some circumstances are so fabulous, we wouldn’t want to miss them.

Falling in love.

Bringing home a new baby.

Watching a full moon rise.

Listening to the pounding surf as you walk on the beach.

If it’s permissible to enjoy the parts of life we label good, then why can’t we have a human reaction to the things we call bad?

I’m afraid that, in the name of spirituality, a lot of us have convinced ourselves we should never have a negative feeling. Or if we do feel bad, we feel guilty about it. Like spiritual failures.

So, once and for all, please let me officially give you permission to feel bad!

Go ahead and feel sad about your losses, scared about the uncertainties in your life, annoyed with people or events that disrupt your peace, regretful of past mistakes, or downright angry about a layoff or an election or a football game.

Even if, in some metaphysical way, you created or attracted whatever has happened, you are entitled to your feelings about it.
 
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
 
Right about now, someone is thinking, “Yes, but I don’t want to wallow in it.”

Wallowing gets a bad rap.

I will grant you, some people get stuck in their stories. They relish thinking of themselves as victims. They rehash the same events over and over for years, refusing to feel better or move into a new point of view.

Most of us, however, will get sick of hearing ourselves talk before we wallow very long. We will naturally be ready to move on.

And at the same time, why should we insist on recovering from a major event quickly? Life can really, really hurt. Grief and recovery take as long as they take, and it’s different for each person.

I fear those of us trying to live from a higher consciousness sometimes talk ourselves out of our feelings.  And we miss an important part of the human journey.

Why do you suppose we came into human form? We wanted to delve into human life, right?

And doesn’t human life have its ups and downs, good and bad, easy and difficult? Doesn’t the prince always have to slay a few dragons before he can kiss the princess?

WHAT HARM IS A LITTLE NEGATIVITY?
 
I’m not encouraging you to feel bad just for the sake of feeling bad.

I’m encouraging you not to miss the human adventure.

Maybe someday, after we all are living in divine consciousness, there will be no more tears or anger or disappointment. But I’m increasingly convinced we are here to experience all that human life has to offer, not to transcend it.

It probably won’t all be pleasant, but it all will be part of your growth and learning.

And when we compare notes on the Other Side, I suspect the tough times on Earth will make some of the best stories, give us the biggest laughs and leave us grateful we had the courage to live as humans for a while.

Even when it was freezing cold in Texas.

PS - The beautiful picture of icicles at the top of this blog was taken by my friend Laura Shepard in Idaho, not Texas. But once it gets below about 40, this picture represents how it feels to us.

Now What?

It’s been quite a year, non? That question is an understatement. Well, at least for me and the majority of my readers.

It could seem like the year is ending with uproar and confusion. Added to that is a year ahead which holds more questions than answers. How do we handle the situation? The question, “Now what?” makes complete sense in a state of affairs that is full of uncertainty.

There really is only one constant:  Change. Much of what we’ve heard around the world is returning our communities to “the way things were,” as if this fantasy past had no problems. Change happens and we can’t move forward into the future while we’re clinging to the past. The truth is that the past had as many problems as we have now, but it’s now that we’re finally talking about them.

The consciousness of the planet is changing. Inequality, lack of equanimity, discrimination and bullying on the local or global level are things that intelligent, educated people are no longer willing to tolerate simply because the answers are inconvenient. To re-write the movie line, “Fast your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy [year]!”

So fasten your seat belt. Get a firm idea of where you want to be next time this year. Put your affairs in order, get your ducks in a row, or do whatever it is you must do to realize the security you need to attain contentment and happiness. NO ONE gets to put us down or make us feel less than we are without our consent. REFUSE to consent in any way shape or form to being anything else but your magnificent self!

This will be my last message to you for the year. I leave tomorrow for three days of flying before returning home to celebrate a belated Christmas with my family. Enjoy this beautiful season in spite of the unrest we see around us. As Jesus admonished his followers, be in the world but not of it. In other words, be present in the moment and know the Truth:  You are whole, complete and perfect just the way you are. You are precious and loved. YOU are the Light of the World. Shine brightly now and forever! We’ll chat again in January!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
#IAN1

Terry Drew Karanen © 2016

Big Girl Panties

Have you got anything bugging you this week? I mean something, or someone, that has just gotten under your skin? This time of year can bring out and up all sorts of “stuff,” for lack of a better word.

Our challenges are unique and often very personal. What may appear to be a huge obstacle in my mind may be a mere trifle for you. However, having said that, I am brought to the reason for the title of this blog, “Big Girl Panties,” as in “Bitch, put on your big girl panties and deal with it!”big-girl-panties

I was looking for sympathy from a friend who believes in tough love. That’s the response I got. Word … for … word. His bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. But the truth is I was whining and he wasn’t having any of it. At all. Nada. No way. The blessing is he was right. He’s wise enough to know when to stop me from pretending I’m useless, weak or powerless.

Challenges can be opportunities for growth or they can be just the reason we are looking for to stop us from moving forward. Most people are far more afraid of succeeding than they are of failing. Most of us know really well how to fail at something. But how will we deal with success? What will change? Will we lose our friends? Staying stuck can actually be comfortable.

At times like this – and understand that you are the only one that can determine if the time is right – we have to grow out of Pampers® and put on our big girl or big boy panties. How will you know? My answer to that is that when I’ve had to ask it turned out I wasn’t ready. I’ve you’re not ready then stay where you are for now – when you’re ready you’ll know it, so don’t force the issue.

For me, I usually know when I have to go for the “Suck it up, Buttercup!” method. It’s when I start to lament to people about my latest challenge and halfway through the story I start getting bored! There’s that still, small voice inside my head going, “Really? Seriously?”

Take a moment today to ask yourself what “little” irritation has been going on long enough in your life. Determine if it has outlived its usefulness and make the necessary changes to move forward if that’s indicated. Reach out for help if needed, but decide today to blast through one problem child this week. Let me know how that turns out for you!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
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Terry Drew Karanen © 2011, 2016

 

“No” Is a Complete Sentence

(Revised and expanded from the original, published in December 2, 2011)

Do you have a problem telling people “No?” It seems many of my friends or acquaintances feel over-scheduled or stressed-out because of the demands they have put on themselves. Like attracts like, so I too fall into that category more often than I would care to admit.

Please note that responsibility for this situation does not fall on the demands placed on us by others, but rather those that we place on ourselves. We have only ourselves to credit with being too busy, even if it was at the insistence of someone else that we do something. Why? Because we said “Yes.”

We frequently say “Yes” because we cannot think of a convenient, believable or acceptable reason why we should say “No.” How about “I don’t want to do that” for starters?no

“No” is a complete sentence. I am usually amused, sometimes annoyed, by people who respond negatively to a request I have made because they follow their answer with a litany of reasons or excuses why they cannot comply. “No” is a complete sentence!

Personally, I don’t need reasons or do I want excuses. If you do, fine. I don’t need that sort of thing because I hope someone is unable to fulfill my request because they have something even more wonderful and exciting to do. Good for them!

If you don’t want to do something someone else asks of you, please say “No, thank you!” Not, “No, because …,” which is only going to set you up for a discussion of why you should relent. Acting out of obligation instead of willingness doesn’t encourage clarity; neither does making excuses that sound like our own personal pity party. When we agree to do anything we don’t want to do we muddy the energy around us. Instead of enjoying the task, we experience an underlying, nagging feeling of resentment. Why not respectfully decline and allow someone else who wants to fulfill the request be given the opportunity to serve?

Just for part of today, think carefully before you answer “Yes” to something you don’t want to do. Weigh the outcome, take a deep breath, and then answer from your heart. If you can say “No” without anger, resentment or attitude you will find a freedom you haven’t experienced up until now.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
#IAN1

Terry Drew Karanen © 2011, 2016

Having Trouble Being Thankful?

Have you been seeing more problems around you lately? It’s hard to think of a time in the past when it seems the entire world was so upset. If we continue to feed our minds on all the slanted and bias stories in the media this agitation can greatly affect our personal lives.thanksgiving-blog

There is an old metaphysical principle that states what we focus on increases. The question is, How we can stay informed, but not allow that knowledge to paralyze us in life? There are two main ways we can do this.

FIRST:  Be mindful of how we are spending our time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the media hype and often fake news reports. We can ask ourselves if what we are hearing applies to us; or, is it just what amounts to a juicy piece of gossip that will lead us away from our own vision and mission in life?

SECOND:  Find things in our lives for which to be thankful. This doesn’t mean we run around with a perennial smile on our face, oblivious to the issues in our lives or the problems in our community. It does mean that we begin to give thanks for what’s working in our lives instead of everything else that other people and mass marketers want us to focus on.

By cultivating what we desire in our lives, instead of constantly looking for the next worst thing online, we set a firm foundation of peace that allows us to more fully serve others around us. For more information on how this is possible, have a look at my article in the November issue of “Guide for Spiritual Living:  Science of Mind® magazine,” entitled “The Path to Gratitude.” Email me for a free copy!

The coming weeks before year’s end will place us in celebrations of love, family and friendship. Whether or not we will allow recent and current events to affect our experience is up to us!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

When Abundance Becomes Clutter

What is your personal idea of abundance? First-world thinking about this is far different than what we find in third-world countries. More technologically-advanced countries tend to allow marketing and advertising to dictate what abundance means, while less-developed areas find joy in a simpler life-style.

We don’t have to fall into the corporate trap of “more is better.” Magazines, for example, abound on store shelves claiming the best way to lose weight or gain muscle. The vast majority of these articles have nothing to do with reality or scientific fact. What they do have is a sincere and dynamic desire on the part of the publishers to sell magazines.

Similarly, we are bombarded by ads on TV and now even on our mobile devices. Once again, these ads are devised to get us to buy products, even if the purchase is clouded in the reasoning that doing so will somehow better our lives or pocketbooks.

As the animals in the northern hemisphere prepare for winter we observe frantic gathering around us. How closely do we reflect this frenetic activity in the accumulations of possessions?  There’s nothing wrong with having our stuff. Our stuff, whatever that stuff is, is fun! We live on the human plane; that means we get to play with all the material things that give us joy.

But at some point the stuff is all just … well … STUFF! This is the perfect time of the year to wind down and see exactly what it is we want to take through the winter with us into a new year.cluter

Look around at just one area of your life. That can be your desk, maybe a closet or a whole room. Whatever you choose, make it manageable so as to not overwhelm yourself. There’s an old metaphysical saying that the Universe abhors a vacuum. In other words, the Universe will fill the space if we make it available.

The problem is no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. If we are to experience more abundance and joy in our lives we must make time and space for those things. The clutter we see around us is gunk and clogs up the flow of our prosperity. Take some time to de-gunk your life – the blessings we receive in return are amazing!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Terry Drew Karanen © 2016