Archive for May, 2010

The January Factor

May 30, 2010

I need to change my way of being in the world.

This is the most significant lesson I learned during my week of acknowledging how powerless I am in the world.

What I noticed most of all was that I enjoy feeling love, compassion, and understanding for others far more than I enjoy feeling frustrated, annoyed, or angry.

I call this the January Factor.

January gravitates toward everything that is pleasing and that makes her feel good and happy. At some point in our lives, we must have all had that inclination, but I lose touch with it wanting instead for the world to deliver it at my feet. January goes to find it.

January is my granddaughter and if ever there was a being that I love unconditionally, who I would die for, it is her. She is nowhere near the most perfect child in existence, but she is perfectly January. I named her for the month her mother was born.

My way of being in the world magnifies what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, and what does not meet my expectations. It is an aggravating way of being in the world because what is mostly wrong, needs to be fixed, and not meeting my expectations are people and situations that I am powerless over. January might look at what is wrong, broken, or not meeting her expectations and voice some opinion about it, but in the next instant she is looking for what is right, what still works, and what happily meets her desire to be joyful.

So, I am setting my intent to become aware of those times when I am feeling powerless, unhappy, and harping incessantly about it (and, worse, often plotting how I am going to make that person whoever-they-are do it my way!), I am going to stop and ask myself the question, “Is anything really wrong here or is my judge working overtime?” And, then I will find something or someone to be grateful and happy about.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass


the presence of frustration

May 27, 2010

Here, on my last day of focusing on who or what I am powerless over in my life, I found a mountain of frustration.

Nobody wanted to do their jobs the way I wanted them to.

Nobody wanted to take me seriously.

I finally just had to give up and walk away. Paying attention to what I am powerless over is a blended sword. In one sense, it relieves me of any responsibility for that which I cannot control and have no power over. In another sense, it shines a light on a certain kind of helplessness that could easily feed a woe-is-me attitude.

Over the course of this past week, I noticed that I have trouble paying attention to people and things I have no control over and am powerless to do anything about. I would rather focus on what I can do. I like knowing where my power carries weight.

When my frustration finally crested today, I had to stop and ask myself, “Just how much do I really care about this?”

And the answer was a simple, “not much.”

Acknowledging that I am powerless requires that I be willing to give something up. It could be illusion. It could be misplaced responsibility. It could be stubbornness (also affectionately known as tenacity).

Sometimes, surrender is a good thing.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

lovable unlovable presence

May 26, 2010

Nearing the end of my powerless journey, this is what became my question of the day: whether anyone loves me.

I worried about a few other powerless issues such as how others respond to me, if my web conference at work will be successful, and if other people will do their jobs.

But the question of whether anyone loves me captured nearly all my attention. We really are powerless over whether or not we are loved . . . and by who (that should be “whom” but this is a blog, not a grammar lesson).

Some people choose to love us despite our best efforts to make ourselves unlovable. Other people barely acknowledge our existence no matter what hoops we jump through or mountains we climb for them.

We are powerless over being loved.

What a show-stopper that is. There are absolutely no guarantees in this life that anyone is ever going to love us. I can hear my friends already yelling at me “You gotta define what love is!”

I don’t know that I can. I know how it feels for me when I love another person. There is absolutely nothing I want more for that person except to be happy with themselves, in love with their life, and at peace. Whatever is in my capacity to do for them, I will. I cannot speak of what love is for another person. I cannot define myself in a way to make another person love me.

I can’t even make me love me.

But I do anyway. I came about it the long way home.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit edgy

May 25, 2010

Being powerless makes me weary. Today, this is what stood out for me:

• The ants who insist on invading the kitchen
• The optometrist who clearly did not bother to find out what I wanted
• The co-worker who plays helpless and inept in an attempt to get others to do her job for her
• Whether anyone likes my cooking
• If it will rain
• If my tennis partners will show up to play
• If other people drive safely

I’ll not bore you with the details or the outcomes. It is sufficient to say that I made it home alive and intact.

And the ants are still here, too.

This exercise has made me notice how my mind automatically thinks. I have to focus and concentrate on what I have no control over in order to even be mindful of it. The question for me is: now that I know I am powerless, will I let that stop me?

It could be that I am not all that invested in outcomes as I once was. I will find another optometrist. I will laugh at the co-worker (and occasionally poke her with a stick). I like my cooking. Rain or not, does not matter except when I want to play tennis. If it rains or no one shows, I go do something else.

Other people driving safely is one of those tricky outcomes. I have a constant urge to stay safe, so I drive like other people are out to get me. I am paranoid, untrusting, and always expect other drivers to do The Stupid Thing.

Like I said, I got home alive.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a moody presence

May 24, 2010

I am not paying very good attention to my powerlessness. I still have illusions about power. On my fourth day of denial, I note the following:

• The plane crash in India and the suffering of people
• A good friend of mine may have to go to Afghanistan
• Work people making demands on my time
• Whether the optometrist will hear me

Only four items? It sounds as if I live a very cloistered existence. One would think I would have an endless list by now. The plane crash in India caught my attention as do most disasters. The people on board were there willingly, for the most part. The children may not have had anything to say about it. These random incidents where many people are in the wrong place at the wrong time always make me think about our status in the universe and the guaranteed exit. Most of us will not get to choose when and how we die, and I always pause and think about the people whose lives were interrupted and ended within seconds.

Similarly, a good and dear friend of mine may have to go to Afghanistan. He is military and it is his job, and he should only be there briefly, but still . . .

Random death occurs daily in Afghanistan. Other than breaking his leg to make sure he can’t go, I am so very powerless.

So, I take revenge upon my unsuspecting co-workers. They are a good bunch overall. I enjoy my job and my workplace, but today I became aware of just how powerless I am over people who want to make demands upon my time. One or two of them take precedence, but others – well, others are just lazy and trying to get me to do what they need to do. I am slowly learning to shovel it right back in their direction, but am admittedly powerless if they get the bulldozer and plow it all back into my corner.

And then there was the benign optometrist who appears competent, but only within his known world. He had his script on what patients need and did not want to deviate from the plan. I now need to make another trip or two to get exactly what I want.

Exactly what I want . . . there are all sorts of books and conferences one can pay oodles of money to go to in order to learn how to get exactly what we want. Some suspicious part of me thinks that the only people getting exactly what they want out of those books and conferences are the people who wrote and conduct them. Moody am I today, reluctant to bid farewell to my illusions of control.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a difficult presence

May 23, 2010

Day three of admitting to my powerless capacity in the world:

• Getting other people to pick up after themselves
• How other people will respond to me (period)
• If the cat chooses to eat
• If anyone responds to my blog
• If the rain will stop so I can play tennis

Recognized difficulty of the day: responding with love when someone is not being or behaving like I know they could be (or “should” be).

When am more of who I came to this earth to be, everyone around me knows it and they respond in kind. I can tell the difference. When someone is behaving as who I know they really are not, who am I being that would attract that kind of behavior from them? I am not responsible for anyone’s behavior, but something about me is making them feel either safe enough or threatened enough to respond in a certain way. Because I am powerless over anyone’s response to me, the only power left to me is how I respond to them.

I am working to bring/allow more of my eternal presence in the present moment especially when I find myself dealing with someone who is irritating me or responding in a manner towards me that I don’t like, and I will see what changes. The more I live as who I am no matter what is going on around me, the more alive I am, and the more able I am to respond with love when those who I love the most really, really need it.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

vulnerable presence

May 22, 2010

On my second day of being aware of how I am powerless in the world, this is what stood out for me:

• The eventual demise of my kitty, Magic
• Whether the plant I transplanted will survive
• Keeping the deer away from the hibiscus and new fruit-bearing trees
• Whether the people I live with will clean up after themselves
• If it will rain today
• What the heck are we going to do about that oil leak in the Gulf?

There are consequences for being in the world. Being powerless makes me vulnerable. When the Magic-cat moves on to the next iteration of her existence, she will leave me behind and I will miss her companionship. If that plant dies, I will wonder if it was through some neglect on my part. Keeping my plants and trees completely safe from marauding deer would require an immense indoor terrarium or tactics not completely legal that would also land me on the wrong side of the Bambi Society. Not being able to make people clean up after themselves reflects my concern over the larger scope of responsibility we all have to each other on a global scale. Whether it rains or not does not matter to me – I just want to know when so I can organize my exercise schedule. And that mess on the ocean floor – well, other than going to get my hair cut at a salon that will donate the hair to help the efforts to soak it all up – there is nothing I can do. I can’t plug the leak. And it makes me afraid.

Being powerless largely results in being vulnerable. A near and dear friend of mine admitted to feelings of fear over being vulnerable and being open. He said that the irony in this is that the very people he most wants to love and accept him respond with love and acceptance when he lets them see who he really is. He believes that the reason he wants acceptance and love from these people is that he senses that they resonate with, appreciate, and need his authentic self. He said “the love that we need most is from those who most need who we really are.”

Then, he said, “Authenticity always plays better than the roles/persona we manufacture in search of acceptance.”

What I has been coming to the surface for me is my need for my eternal presence (aka: authentic self) to connect with the “me” persona (the me who I perceive myself to be and the me I present to the world) and become more and more of my true presence in all of my interactions. No more guarding and hiding — when I am connected with my true presence and am being my true presence, guarding and hiding are nonissues; they are unnecessary because I am whole no matter what happens.

I believe (and I am testing this out in small increments) that the eternal presence/authentic self in each of us recognizes that presence in others. In that connection, no one is afraid. We are living from truth and the wisdom that comes from the beginning of existence of who we really are. If I can make a connection with the eternal presence in others in every circumstance, I think I would be a more effective counselor, and certainly a more whole and effective person in the world. But first, I need to connect with all of me and live more and more consistently as my true presence.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit of presence

May 21, 2010

Evidently, I am powerless over everything outside of myself and have just been in extreme denial these past 53 years . . .

But I was right about one thing!

I am totally powerful over how I respond to being powerless.

It was just like one GIANT serenity prayer today. All day long, I’m looking for stuff over which I have no power. It started with the simple acknowledgement that I am powerless over whether or not the light bulb in the bathroom goes on when I flip the switch to I am totally powerless over whether or not anyone reads this blog today. I am powerless over other drivers and realize that I blindly trust that everybody else who is driving a vehicle is driving with the collective intent that we all arrive alive. I am powerless over whether or not anyone loves me.

And, I have to confess, I have been holding out all these years. I have been peeking out from behind my illusion of total autonomous power and refusing to open myself to others or get close to very many people because, in my heart, I know I am powerless over their response to me.

Uncertain of my own personal strength, I am a little bit afraid to open myself to others and risk their response to me. But my safety is cradled in the arms of my eternal presence and forever connection to all that is. I am close to something very huge for me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

A powerless definition

May 19, 2010

In a day or two here, I will begin writing about what or who makes me feel powerless each day for seven days. I am struggling to define what being powerless is for me because I work incredibly hard each day to refuse to be or accept that I am powerless. I always figure there is SOMETHING I can do.

Whether that something resolves any issues is pretty much a crap-shoot.

I imagine that being powerless also means being helpless, and I am never helpless. With the exception of infants, babies, and small children, no one is.

I know I have often given up my power to others or to situations and made myself a victim. I was not truly powerless because I had choice.

I imagine that being powerless also means having no choice. But, I think there is always a choice . . . even if we are not always in control of life, we have a choice about how we respond.

I have a friend, Ted, who has been given some troubling news. I am powerless to cure his cancer, but I am not powerless in sending him love, support, compassion, and all the healing energy I can fling across the ocean. I am also powerless over what he does with that energy. It is his choice.

I just know one thing for certain: We are all in this life together. We have shared eternity and will continue to share because we are all part of the One, connected in ways our tiny little minds cannot imagine but in ways our souls embrace.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Powerless presence

May 18, 2010

I have an assignment. For seven days, I have to write down one thing and/or person each day that I feel powerless over along with my thoughts and feelings.

I did not just randomly assign this to myself – it is for a class I am taking on substance abuse. I also get to keep a gratitude journal. First, though, I need to become aware of and write about what or who makes me feel powerless.

I remember a still moment when I was very, very young and the feeling of being totally powerless over my life crystallized. I knew it was going to be a very long, long time before I would be able to do anything about it. Something was lost in that moment. I gave up a dream or illusion, and probably gave away too much of my power as well.

It is a little bit crowded on my path to regaining personal power. It will be interesting to meet and get to know the selfs (<==== probably not a real word) who I am who feel powerless. Even more interesting will be the question: what are we going to do about it . . . if anything?

To recognize that I feel powerless requires that I define what power feels like. And, I don’t believe I have ever given much thought to power. Control, yes, I know all about control (and the illusion therein), but power? The quest is on.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass