Rules

Do you always follow the rules? Do you know anyone who does? Do they have to make sense to you before they feel worth following?

It’s a fascinating thing to me that when I pulled up my Word application to begin typing this post, a screen popped up that indicated that Word would automatically be checking my spelling and grammar.

Should I take that as a sign that Word doesn’t believe I can spell or use proper grammar? Maybe it’s noticed that upon occasion I make mistakes and wants to help me out. Or maybe, Word believes everyone needs support.

One other way to view this is that Word feels I need help following the rules.

I wonder, what if I don’t care about Word’s rules? Will Word allow me to write what I want without changing it? Is there a place within the application where I can check a box that says, “no thank you”?

I’m probably overthinking this, but there is something within this simple action that sparks something in me. Some reminder no doubt, from an early English class.

I distinctly remember learning some rules about grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation in seventh grade. Occasionally my mom would help me with my homework. She was very interested in this whole subject and if I used an incorrect word or pronounced it wrong, she would tell me about it.

Given the nature of the English language there are so many rules and exceptions to the rules I wonder if anyone even knows them all? Or cares to know them.

I find it a curious thing that there are rules about what words are allowed to be included in a dictionary. What path do hopeful words have to take?

According to one internet source the folks who get to decide (called lexicographers) usually expect three criteria to be met. They want to see that the word has become widespread, has an agreed-upon meaning and has been used for a long period of time. Once they feel confident about this, they include it in an updated version of the dictionary. (Ain’t that great)

Many people don’t care to wait for this lengthy process, and would rather the new word appear immediately, so they add it to an Urban Dictionary. They kind of jump the gun on the whole formal process. Maybe they don’t like all of the rules either.

Now, I do realize there need to be rules for there to be an orderly society. I understand that most are critical to a smooth-running world, but I wonder about the exceptions.

Are each of us allowed to use our own commonsense to decide which rules to follow or would that constitute a breakdown in the process?

Have you ever wondered if we follow the rules to stay out of trouble or because they make sense to us? And what are we supposed to do when the rules create injustice? What if they are only in place to favor certain people?

I suppose the first answer is, we can attempt to change them so that they are fair and equitable for everyone. I am in awe of those who stand on the front lines in this endeavor. Those who care about others and take actions to help and support them, especially when the rules need to change.

They are true heroes in my mind, and I want to aid them in their quest. I am not as interested in being a rule breaker as I am in being a rule changer. It seems to me there is room for growth here and I hope I am a part of the answer, not another part of the problem.

Permission

How would you like to do something extraordinary for yourself? Something to raise you up and empower you?

I’m going to hope that you said, “yes”.

As this new year begins to enfold, I wanted to offer you a practice that has proven to be both magnificent and magical for me. It began several years ago when I was attended a retreat at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Our program presenter is one of my all-time favorites, Tama Kieves. If you ever get a chance to attend one of her workshops, please do yourself a favor and sign up. She’s fantastic.

One of the exercises she suggested to us was to write down several ‘permission statements’. They could be about anything, as long as they felt true to us. It was and is one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

It may sound simple, and it is. There are no set rules and no limits to the creativity you can express, so you can go in any direction that calls to you. The freer and more open you are, the greater your rewards.

This is a life-affirming process and something you can do whenever you feel it would assist you or boost your energy. Each time I add to my list, I feel wider and more expansive. And happier.

What a divine reward that is.

If you have the time now, perhaps you’d like to give it a try. I’d suggest starting with five statements and see how it goes.

The first time I did this it took me several minutes to get into it. I can’t recall what I was concerned about but there was some roadblock standing in front of me. I had to marshal my forces and shove it out of the way before I could begin.

That turned out to be my first permission statement…” I give myself permission to do this assignment”. And from there things began to pick up speed. After the session was over, I went back to my room and sat down to see if more would come. And they did, a whole river of permission statements flowed out of me. It was as if a dam had broken. The liberating feeling created was what my heart needed in that moment and I was so grateful.

I can still capture this same feeling when I write new permission statements now.

I’d like to share some with you in the hopes that they serve as a springboard for your own to appear.

“I give myself permission to speak my truth. This does not mean I have to tell everyone everything.”

“I give myself permission to release the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary and speech and thought whenever it appears and to remind myself the word comes from fear, and so I can turn to love, no matter what the subject or context.”

“I give myself permission to live a life of happiness, bright beautiful happiness, knowing I deserve it simply because I am alive and know there are no requirements or restrictions on my life, because I am a free child of god.”

“I give myself permission to trust the process (of life) and to release any investment in the outcome(s).”

“I give myself permission to realize that at times I will feel struggles and feel vulnerable and feel fears of all kinds, but then to always remember to choose to love myself.”

They are not all long statements. Some are very simple.

“I give myself permission to dream any dream.”

“I give myself permission to live the life I came here to live.”

“I give myself permission to be gentle and kind and loving.”

I hope that this idea takes root in you and that you give yourself whatever permission would offer you peace, freedom and love.

A Sense of Fairness

Often it seems that fairness is hard to come by. We are apt to judge by so many different standards that arriving at any agreement becomes difficult. It can make you wonder if there is such a thing as fairness.

I’m pretty sure the whole idea starts out early in life, as if we were born with an inner sense of what could be considered fair. Watching children for even a short period of time it’s likely you’ll spot this. I think most parents would say it happens every day. One child has a toy the other wants and an argument breaks out or one of the children rips the toy from the others hand and runs away, each one shouting, “it’s not fair”.

I’m not sure that any of us ever outgrows some version of this.

We seem to have an expectation that life will be fair. Why is this? Who is it that made this promise to us, as if the world owes each one of this valuable gift?

When the balance tips and we sense injustice, it hurts. We feel it most keenly when we act in a certain way, using our idea of good behavior. We anticipate or expect a reward and if we don’t receive it, we may claim that life is not fair because, after all we’ve done our part.

This happens all throughout our lives. At home, in school, at work and in our relationships.

Maybe part of the challenge is that we don’t all use the same definitions of the word ‘fair’. One dictionary says that ‘fair’ is defined as, ‘acting in accordance with rules or standards’.

I can certainly see how this creates a problem. Whose rules are we talking about? And who is in charge of setting up the standards? If we end up with numerous rules and standards, how could there ever be any hope that there would be only ONE way to measure fairness?

Maybe it’s time to take a step back.

There seems to me to be a short, medium and long view here.

In the short view, we have two basic choices, we either complain about a situation or we accept it. In the medium view, we may choose to try to find ways to change a situation and arrive at a better sense of fairness. A negotiation of sorts.

I wonder if there is a long view we can take. One that supposes that life is operating on a grander scale than we can see. That fairness is bigger and broader than we thought.

Three questions pop up for me.

Do I actually know all of the facts involved so that I can make a determination about fairness? Not even remotely likely. There are just too many things I may not know.

At what point is it wise for me disregard my opinion about fairness, if it makes me unhappy? After all, I don’t have control over every outcome. If it’s more important to lead a happy satisfied life, maybe it doesn’t matter as much about my perception of fairness.

And the most important question is who can I turn to for some insight and inspiration?

My answer is always the same, the divine. For me, it is the part of (god) I call Lia (love in action). When I asked her for guidance about fairness, she asked me to trust that everything in life ‘serves me’, no matter how it looks at the time and that there is always an underlying love that threads through every action.

To truly understand, I need examples. Maybe you do too, so here is a quick one.

I invariably pick the slow lane at the grocery check-out, which can feel unfair. If I step back I recognize this is a feeling, not a fact and that if it makes me unhappy, that is my choice, but not a wise one nor worth the cost. And if I look a bit deeper, I notice that, while I am waiting I see more. I have a chance to slow down and breathe and make eye contact with others. I can even close my eyes and call Lia to me and savor my connection to the divine.

So, it’s okay with me if I end up in the slow lane because I’m changing the name now to – the savor lane.

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