Author Archives: Gypsy Sojourner

About Gypsy Sojourner

My blog is my therapeutic public journal where I make observations and attempt to figure out how life works.

Empathy 101

I am sad. You are sad. We are not sad for the same reasons. But being sad is very sad and tiring. No matter the cause, sadness makes you tired and blurs your view of reality. I do not need to compete with you to determine who should be more sad. That would create more problems. But I can empathize with you that your sadness and my sadness make us feel low, tired and sad. We can be sad together.

There is no one right way to stop being sad. Sometimes, you just have to feel it until it goes away. Sometimes you can get a break from your sadness when a friend makes you laugh or you see a puppy jumping in a pile of leaves.

It’s okay to be sad. I don’t have to try to fix your sadness. Your tiredness. Your depression. Your anxiety. Your anticipation. Your incessant need to arrange things from a-z. I don’t need to try to find a story of a time when I felt sad or depressed or…whatever…and try to give you a formula for what worked for me.

 

 

 

It doesn’t work that way. Your x=y isn’t the same as my x=y. There will never be one size fits all. But that is not required to feel empathy.

I know exactly how you feel” is a lie. Unless you are the other person, the combined experiences and relationships of that person, you can NEVER, no, not EVER understand EXACTLY how someone else feels. But, you can empathize. Because you know that feeling tired, depressed, anxious, betrayed, hungry or creative all have an impact on a person. No matter what the cause or the degree.

We are all on different paths. Not a single one of us can truly understand exactly what someone else is going through or what they need to do. But we can walk along side them and be there for them without judgment or criticism or ADVICE.

When you are down, what do you want from your “others?” Do you want them to try to fix things or to just listen? Try to do what you would want when you find yourself in the situation someone else is in. Even if it is not exactly what they need, they will KNOW and FEEL that you are genuine and not judging or belittling their experience.

Empathy is powerful. It’s something we can all get better at. Even if it isn’t easy at first, you can learn to do better. The world needs more empathetic people and fewer judgmental and closed-minded people.

It’s not complicated. No charts or checklists are needed.

Just get YOU out of the way and BE THERE for others. You will not diminish yourself by being there for others and absorbing their unique experiences, you will expand yourself and become MORE.

 

 


Don’t wait until everything is perfect…

Over the years, I moved around a lot. Yet, I was never able to control the urge to plant seeds.The joy of participating in watching life transform was greater than the sorrow of leaving it behind. Some people just make everything they touch turn into blossoming beauty, while others just camp out and leave nothing behind.

Bloom where you’re planted. Be who you are. Leave every place you visit better than you found it.

This life is transient. Drop a few seeds and leave behind some smiles.


My Legacy

Why do people blog? For me, this is my therapeutic journal where I can express my feelings and one day my progeny will be able to read it and say, “Hey, we knew her?” I always have so many thoughts. But I am an introvert. I never share those thoughts with anyone unless they ask me about the topic on which I have contemplated. I always hope that people will be inspired by my musings, but in any case, they are there and they are spilling out onto this medium.

Here are my unabridged thoughts:

Everyone thinks they have the answer. People of all faiths, all multi-level-marketing schemes, all gangs, all cliques, all conspiracies, all ideologies, all political parties, all _______________…think they have a handle on what is going on and what needs to happen to dominate or make it better. You can always fill in the blank because you will always encounter people who have opinions about WHAT IS THE TRUTH about any thing and every thing.

When I was younger, I looked to those wiser than me to explain the intricacies of life to me. When I found those explanations to be defective, I no longer trusted those who explained them to me.

I turned to religious “experts.” I floundered among differing doctrines until I no longer trusted anyone’s interpretation of spirituality, sacred writings, etc.

I turned to knowledge. I can never get enough of it. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do NOT know!

Now that I am in the later half of my life, I realize that much of what insisted on is not reality. I taught my children according to the dogma I believed at the time. Albeit, I taught them critical thinking at the same time, so they learned to make their own decisions; I feel that I let them down by being so dogmatic in what I taught them to be what is “right.”

Parents, do the best you can. No matter what, if you love your children, they will learn that they are loved. They will feel confident in arriving at their own conclusions on their own about what you tell them.

Right now, even though I was dogmatic with my children, I believe that I am still learning and they should still have the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about how to make the world make sense.

For me, it’s all about continuous learning and growing one day at a time and making the best of every situation that comes our way. There is no greater joy than children and grandchildren assimilating your legacy…as long as it’s healthy…(which spurs another conversation).

You may think you know everything, which probably means you don’t know very much. In that case, teach your children critical thinking so they won’t be bound by your dogmas. Stay open to learning from the “babes.”


Guilt “Lite”

I am so conscientious that I feel guilty about every failing, real or perceived. Do you want to move through life guilt free? BE PERFECT!!!

If contrite for our mistakes, everyone should be allowed a second chance.

In the event that you are unable to achieve perfection, try my guilt “lite” recipe for life. If you are doing the best you can, you are absolved of firsthand guilt. You can always shift whatever vestiges of guilt remaining to your upbringing: parents, grandparents, ancestry, genes, etc. Secondhand guilt is much easier to deal with. I coin it, “guilt lite.” First of all, much of what I feel guilty for is just basic human error. This side of heaven, it’s pretty easy to come into contact with. 

Kidding aside, WHY do I feel so much guilt? Did I get it all from my forebears? I think I may have interpreted what was expected of an exemplary human being in my own way and then created rules for living based on a super-hero image of what my life should look like. 

If I don’t cut myself some slack, who will? If I accept that I should be perfect, should I blame everyone else for expecting that of me? 

I’m bringing my best every day. If my conscience is messed up, does that mean my performance suffers? 

It will if you don’t allow yourself to be human. In this technological age, it’s easy to think everything should be accomplished to perfection. But you’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “garbage in; garbage out.” Even with all our technological advances, we can’t ensure perfection.

I have attempted to be perfect. All I have done is imperfect.

I will continue to attempt to be perfect. I will continue to make mistakes.

Is there a mathematical formula for contentment with this situation here? I’m not as good at math as english, so here’s my solution:

When you do your best; be satisfied that you have done your best. What more can you do?

 


Bad Apples

We’ve all heard the saying “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” and have probably seen instances where it does apply to people, but does it actually happen with fruit?

Yes. As they ripen, some fruits, like apples and pears, produce a gaseous hormone called ethylene, which is, among other things, a ripening agent. When you store fruits together, the ethylene each piece emits prods the others around them to ripen further, and vice versa. (Fun tip: Want to quickly ripen an avocado? Stick it in a paper bag with an apple overnight.)

The riper a piece of fruit is, the more ethylene it produces, and overripe fruit gives off even more ethylene, eventually leading to a concentration of the gas that’s enough to overripen all the fruit. Given the right conditions and enough time, one apple can push all the fruit around it to ripen—and eventually rot.

Additionally, an apple that is infested with mold will contaminate other fruit it’s stored with as the mold seeks additional food sources and spreads. In both cases, it actually does take just one single apple to start a domino chain that ruins the rest of the bunch.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/31666/does-one-bad-apple-really-spoil-whole-bunch#ixzz2RJJNVXQM  –brought to you by mental_floss! 

I usually eat an apple a day. Fuji apples are my favorite. When I buy a nice big bag, I check to make sure none of the apples inside have bruises on them. When I get my nice bag of fragrant, crisp apples home, I open the bag and put the apples into my fruit basket. Once in a while, one apple with a mushy spot will sneak in. The trick is to remove it quickly and wash the rest of the apples that it touched. The longer you leave the bad apple in with the rest, the more likely you will end up with an entire spoiled batch. 

The bad apple analogy has spread into psychology and organizational psychology. 

How one bad apple can create a toxic team
 
 
Even if you have an entire bag of beautiful, crisp, fragrant, ripe apples, if there is one rotten apple in the bunch, it will infect the good apples. It doesn’t matter if you put the bag in a nice environment, like a cool refrigerator. The bad apple is the determiner of how the rest of the apples will end up. I can be the happiest, most productive apple in the bunch, but if that bad apple’s gasses touch me day after day…well, you know the rest. 
 
 
Give apples a chance.

Get Rid of Stuff!

How much stuff do you have? How much stuff do you think you need? How much does it cost in time and money to care for the stuff you own? Does your stuff make you happy?

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”   ― Socrates
If you are feeling overwhelmed with life, it may be time to get rid of some stuff. It may be time to decide how much stuff you really need. I’m not talking about living a monastic life. I’ve tried that. I’m talking about simplifying life. Deciding what you really need and living by a personal mission statement.
 
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  ― Dale Carnegie
After all the kids left home, my husband and I downscaled from a four-bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment. We had a garage sale and got rid of a ton of stuff. Some of the stuff we hadn’t used in years. Some of it was just too bulky to fit into our new home. After a couple of years in this smaller domain and realizing we didn’t need the extra bathroom and bedroom, which were just excuses to accumulate more stuff, we looked for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment.
“We need much less than we think we need.” ― Maya Angelou
Freedom
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”  ― Plato
 
The time came to scale down even more. Here we thought we had gotten rid of so much stuff, but there was still more we could live without! By eliminating the extra space, we needed less stuff to fill our new space.
“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” ― Martha Washington
Now, when I go shopping, I don’t get tempted by stuff I see that I “just gotta have.” I don’t have room for more stuff. I only have room for what I really enjoy. It takes about a half hour to clean the entire place. I have time to do things I love and am not a slave to things I have to do to maintain STUFF.
Simplicity
“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
When you lose your focus on stuff, the world opens up to you. You have extra TIME you need to fill. Meditating on what you really want to do with your life is a great exercise. I still haven’t figured it out, but I am FREE to decide and not a slave to the tyranny of STUFF.
 Bliss!

Reality?

Reality? What is it, really?

P e r c e p t i o nperception [pəˈsɛpʃən]  n

1. the act or the effect of perceiving
2. insight or intuition gained by perceiving
3. the ability or capacity to perceive
4. way of perceiving; awareness or consciousness; view
It’s raining…it’s gonna be a gloomy day.
It’s raining…awesome! I don’t have to water.
It’s raining…people will be driving crazy today!
It’s raining…________________ (fill in the blanks)
How do you interpret the events that occur in your life? Your perception is a very powerful tool in determining whether or not you have a good or bad experience, or whether or not a neutral incident totally floors you.
Your perception is your reality, therefore, to you…it IS reality.
Have you ever noticed how different people can experience the exact same event, yet interpret it in entirely different ways? WHERE does YOUR perception come from?
Those inner voices are not easy to distinguish. Sometimes we just accept them as reality, but are they? Is it possible they are someone ELSE’S reality? Someone who raised us or had a large influence over our lives in our formative years or vulnerable moments?
Influence Poster
Next time you hear an inner voice trying to interpret an event for you, CHALLENGE IT!!! Is it true? How many ways can a rainy day be interpreted? As many ways as there are PERCEPTIONS of it. Think of the voices in your head. Are they truly yours, or did you just assimilate them? THINK. Be your own best friend/counselor/confidante. Delve into those common interpretations and figure out where they really come from, and then become the author of your new, healthier inner voices.