Q Is for Queried by Life

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The above quotation by Viktor Frankl has bounced around inside my head since I first read Man’s Search for Meaning 20 years ago and has greater import with each passing year.

How are we questioned by life? So many times, we are in situations that we wish were different, or we dwell on pasts that we cannot change. Whenever I can stop myself to ask, “What am I being asked?” or, to ask of life, “What can I see differently here?” or “What can I learn?” things go better. The circumstances don’t change, but I do. I get a better perspective. I can turn my attention to my own choices and growth and space rather than trying to control everything else.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

A meaningful life is different today at age 52 from when I was younger. Not necessarily better or deeper because of age—I know people far younger than I am who have this figured out far better than I do—but different. Maybe it’s because I am getting to know myself better, becoming more comfortable with all of my flaws and quirks and regrets, stripping away what no longer works and attending (as in given attention) to what remains.

Between a provocation and our response to it, in that space, we are queried. The more we can stay in the space and listen for the questions, the freer we become.
Q


This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. Don’t forget to leave a comment on Saturday’s post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley!

P Is for Purpose

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


P This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. Don’t forget to leave a comment on Saturday’s post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley!

O Is for Off Coffee

I never thought this would happen, but it has been four weeks since I’ve had a cup of coffee.

Is there an aspect of self-care that you know would improve your daily life, but you’ve been avoiding?

First, I love coffee. More to the point, my husband loves making coffee for the two of us. It’s a ritual we’ve shared for as long as we’ve been together. And he makes good coffee. Good strong coffee.

Photo credit: chaiyawat p (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: chaiyawat p (CC BY 2.0)

However, as is true for many women, migraines—which I’ve had since childhood—have become more of a problem in perimenopause. I’ve tried several management strategies in recent months to reduce their frequency, from going gluten-free (didn’t do a thing) and being even more careful than usual to keep a regular schedule (definitely a mainstay strategy and worth the “boring life” tradeoff) to avoiding controllable triggers (e.g., missing meals, strong sunshine, neck and eye strain) and trying a new prophylactic medication (led to an allergic reaction).

The one thing I’ve known in my gut I should try but didn’t for the longest time is going off coffee.

After a month, I can say with assurance but with some sorrow, that it makes a difference, at least for me, at least for now.

It’s not as though coffee or caffeine is the cause of my migraines, as they began long before I ever started drinking coffee. However, if the trigger threshold theory is correct, hormonal imbalances may be lowering my overall threshold enough that removing something like caffeine and its daily vascular fluctuations could make a difference. Whatever the reason, not only am I having fewer migraines, but they go away faster and with lower-dose triptans, a trend that has been getting better with each passing coffee-free week. In addition (and something I didn’t expect), my overall energy is more even, and, between headaches, I no longer have the sensation that another is just around the corner, like the vibrations of a train I can feel but not see.

My husband still enjoys his cuppa but these days makes me a mug of tea (weak black or green tea once a day and the rest herbal). We’re getting used to the new routine, and I’m now wondering why I waited so long to make the change.

Is there a self-care change you’ve been putting off making?

Remember that you can leave a comment on yesterday’s post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley!


O-2This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series.

Now Available: The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley

Stanley book coverN Is for Now Enter to Win a Signed Copy of Stanley

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley. If you don’t know what to comment, a suggestion is the title of your favorite book from childhood. The entry period extends from now through midnight (CDT) Saturday, April 23, 2016 and I will announce the winner on Sunday, April 24.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to launch a small publishing company named, in honor of my great aunt Hattie, Hidden Timber Books, and I was waiting for the right book to come along.

That book is this delightful children’s picture book written by Betty Sydow and illustrated by Carolou Lennon Nelsen. The paperback just became available on Amazon this week, and the hardcover will be listed early next month (ebooks to follow as well). Use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon for a glimpse Stanley’s own Private Revolution and what he learns along the way.

I love everything about this book. The fable-like story of Stanley the sparrow begins when Stanley leaves his mother’s nest and is on his own in the world. He tries everything he can think of to be famous and get noticed, thinking this is how he can make friends. Finally, a wise gray owl gives him the advice he really needs. Stanley’s tale offers lessons in friendship, persistence, and being true to who we are. The read-aloud book will be enjoyed by ages 3-11 and the young at heart of all ages, and the independent reading level is grades 3-5. Easy-to-read typeset makes the book perfect for grandparents to read to grandchildren.

The first-time author and illustrator team are themselves inspiring. Betty stumbled upon a creative writing class after she retired from a 30-year nursing career, and she was hooked. The story of Stanley began as a fable and over a year’s time grew into a children’s book. She asked her artist friend Carolou if she would illustrate Stanley’s story. Carolou, who has a master’s degree in social work, was immediately drawn to the book’s message of the strength of individuality.

Stanley looking up


NThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series.

Write to Meaning

Private Revolution: M Is for Meaning

Last night I had the pleasure to attend and read a short piece of writing at Red Oak Writing’s Writers’ Showcase. The room was packed with people, including several members of the Writing Roundtable I have been attending for several months, all of whom had one thing in common: we write. See photos from the event on the Red Oak Writing’s Facebook page.

On the drive home, I thought about why I write. I could say I love to write, but, as every writer knows, that’s not always true. At times writing does come with an unexpected ease and joy, but often it’s more akin to—with a nod to Augustine—”Lord, make me write–but not yet.”

I write not because I love to but because I have to. I don’t remember not writing or not wanting to be a writer. When I was a child, I made my own poetry chapbooks with construction paper and yarn before I knew what chapbooks were. In high school, I wrote short stories and articles for the school paper. In college, I majored in journalism before switching to English. After graduation, I worked as a technical writer. When our son was young, I wrote a column for the Outpost Exchange about food and cooking. I started a newsletter, wrote reviews and articles for magazines, continued to write short stories and dabble in poetry. I wrote books about parenting and education to help my own understanding. I started this blog.

Why do I write? I write as a way to get closer to some kind of meaning, not just though content or topics but through the very act of writing itself. When I write, I feel more alive, more grounded, closer and closer to being myself. Writing as a path to meaning is not dependent on genre or publication or even readership. It requires only that we write, maybe not every day, but often enough.

How does writing bring meaning to your life?

Below is a video of how Red Oak Writing Roundtables work.

M


This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series.

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