Updated: Jan 30
Hey everyone- I’m trying to figure out one of the things that drive me NUTS! Maybe you can help. It’s my convoluted thoughts, those serpentine wigglies inside my brain that need to be arranged into a specific order so that my neurotransmitters can take a breath and reorganize. Some people would call it “getting out of your own way” or “get out of your head and do something!” Perhaps you recognize the condition—it’s not exactly anxiety, more like trying to find your way through a dark mirrored room (mirrored ceiling and floor as well as sidewalls) with tiny drop lights on fishing-line making it impossible to find your way to an exit because you’re unable to tell forward from backward, up from down, left from right, or even the way back toward the entrance. That’s how I felt this week after staying inside because of COVID. Kind of like a pariah—don’t touch me, don’t come near me, don’t anything me! As I tried to focus on reading, meditating, listening to music, or watching TV, the virus slowly lifted leaving my brain mushy, uncertain, and going in unbreakable circles.
So how did I break out?? First thing is I got up out of bed, threw on a coat, and went OUTSIDE into fresh air (or as fresh as it gets here in Phoenix in the winter—which isn’t saying much) taking a long walk. Feeling the sun peep through the clouds (which Phoenicians are all excited about because that means we MIGHT get rain) as my feet slapped the asphalt gave my body one of the things it needed—MOVEMENT. Simply viewing the trees up close and hearing the birdsong in the air gave me a boost. And of course it helped my thought process.
Halfway through the neighborhood I realized what I wanted to talk with you about—the importance of getting out of my (your) head to move forward. I’ve always known that my daily walks were important not only for my body but especially for my mind. A person can get a lot of things settled in their heart and mind simply by getting out in nature and walking, sauntering, hustling (power walking), or hiking. Simply putting one foot in front of the other is a powerful metaphor for our lives. I (we) are able to listen more clearly not only to nature’s sounds but to the messages we need to hear from our inner wisdom. I know some people like to go to the gym, others like to run or jog. But slowing down and walking lets your mind calm during the exercise process.
Doing some research (as I didn’t want to lead anyone astray) on how to get “outta my head”, the internet provided more ideas that I’ll share with you-all, some of which are rather interesting and easy to do.
Stop judging the thoughts. Remember, they are only thoughts. You and I are NOT our thoughts. (If you meditate as I do, you already know that.) Thoughts come and they go. Everyone has them. A lot of mine (in fact most of mine) I have never acted on—I’d be in jail. (just kidding) Many thoughts are sad, some are happy, lots are angry, most are simply blah. Some thoughts we act on, others we don’t. So there you are—they’re just there (in your head) and you can let them go.
Pick a mantra and repeat it over and over and over. We don’t have to be walking outside to say our mantra. Sometimes I’m cleaning the house or watering my plants when I repeat a mantra. Doesn’t matter. One of my favorites is “I am Healthy, Happy, Wealthy and Wise.” Over and over I use that phrase as a way to rearrange my brainwaves to a calmer, happier state. Try it—or make up one of your own. This practice also helps me focus on the present moment which is paramount to contentment.
Listen for other noises. I find this is best done away from traffic. Whether it be birdsong or fish flapping on water or the breeze whispering through pines—it all becomes part of you. And if you’re in the house, is the fan whirring above you? Are there voices outside? Is the cat hungry and trying to get your attention? Listening to other sounds is the key. Easy-peasy.
Focus on someone else. In this day and age, you can simply call someone to talk with. Notice I did NOT saytext someone. Talking voice-to-voice allows easier back and forth responses with less misunderstandings. Find out what the other person is feeling/doing/encountering in their life. Sometimes I even take it further and bake something for a sick neighbor, or for a friend who has done me a favor. Here’s an idea—hand write a letter to a relative or friend you haven’t seen for a while. I hand write many letters and snail-mail them. It’s like receiving a gift—people love it (and I personally believe we need to do it more often).
Stay in the “NOW”. It’s truly all we have. The past—well, that shit is over. Go forward with your thoughts right here—the ones in front of you. And do what is in front of you to do.
Talk with a stranger. We are no longer children, so it’s okay to do this. Maybe the person in front of you or behind you in the grocery store line. Or the person beside you on the bus or train. Be friendly and be kind. I talk with strangers often, and it not only makes them feel better, but it lifts my spirit and gets me outta my head!
Focus on your senses. This is an all-time favorite and may be the most fun of all. Taste, see, smell, hear, touch—these are the goals. And sometimes you can do all five without moving much. Think about chocolate, and does your mouth water? Look around and find something red (or blue or silver—did you ever play I Spy as a kid? It’s fun with a preconceived color in mind!) Then key into your nose and notice what fragrance or odor is close by. Next, listen for all the wonderful sounds happening when there is no phone, no radio, no TV interfering within your ear’s orbit. Music, laughter, barking, rain on the roof, a loud muffler on a nearby road? What is capturing your ear’s attention? And last but certainly not least, touch something smooth, or soft, or rough, or scratchy, or bubbly, or furry. Some of us are more tactile than others, and I’m very sensitive to what my fingers are able to feel.
Pick a new project and dive in. Doesn’t really matter what it is. Be creative or go on a cleaning frenzy. Whatever you choose, do it wholeheartedly. And when finished, celebrate!
Write it down! Many, many times when I’ve got too many things whirling in my head, all I need to do is pick up a pen and write it down. Or type it out on my laptop. There’s just something about putting thoughts on paper that helps me relax and figure things out. You might want to keep a journal—in fact, purchase a gorgeous one and commit to writing in it every day. You’ll be amazed and how much you change and grow as a person.
Focus on Gratitude. like to name (out loud) ten things I’m grateful for. The practice of doing this helps lift me out of the blues, helps start my day, helps my attitude, and creates happiness within me. Try it. Do it every day for three months and watch your world change. (And if you can’t think of ten, shoot for five and go up from there.) The point is to say them (or write them) every day trying not to repeat your favorites. It’s a challenge and it’s fun.
So my darlings, I’m wishing you all a healthy 2022.
Love and light- Rosemary
GUTSY WOMAN: Barbara Jordan (1936-1996)
“We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.”
Barbara Charline Jordan, born in Houston, Texas, was the first LGBTQ person to serve in the United States Congress (according to the U.S. National Archives) though she and her longtime partner never came out publicly (after all-it was the 60s). A lawyer, educator and politician, Barbara was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement. She was also the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction as well as the first Southern African-American (Democrat) elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. A famous orator, she is best known for her silver-tongued opening statement at the House Judiciary Committee hearings for Richard Nixon’s impeachment. In 1976, Barbara became the first African-American, and first woman to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, her statue graces Austin’s International Airport while her name christens its main terminal. Upon her death in 1996, Barbara Jordan became the first African-American to be interred in the Texas State Cemetery(!) behind Stephen Austin, known as the “Father of Texas”.
After Barbara graduated from Texas Southern University, she went on to Boston University where she earned her law degree. Barbara then returned to Houston to begin practicing law while also working on John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.
Barbara began her own political career in 1962, running for the Texas House of Representatives. She lost that race and another before taking on the Texas Senate and won! She became the first African-American woman to win a State Senate seat since 1883. While there, she worked on establishing a minimum wage law, tried to establish antidiscrimination statements to business contracts, and established a commission for Fair Employment Practices. While president of the Texas Senate—another first for a black woman—she was also running for Congress. After winning 81% of the vote, Barbara became the first African-American from the South elected to Congress in the 20th century.
As a Washington D.C. Congresswoman, Barbara served three terms on the Judiciary Committee, becoming a distinguished voice for America. During her speech supporting Nixon’s impeachment, she talked of her faith in our Constitution. (How many of us can say that? In fact, how many of us know exactly what the U.S. Constitution says?) Afterward, she continued to speak out for civil rights and human rights. She also campaigned heavily for Jimmy Carter and was considered as a possible running mate for him. Carter also considered her for Attorney General but decided on another. When Bill Clinton was President, he wanted to nominate Barbara for a position on the Supreme Court, but by that time Barbara’s health was failing.
Barbara chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform from 1994 until her death. The commission recommended that total immigration be cut by one-third to approximately 550,000 per year. The comission concluded that “legal immigration has strengthened and can continue to strengthen this country” and “decrie[d] hostility and discrimination against immigrants as antithetical to the traditions and interests of the country.”
Retiring from politics in 1979, Barbara became adjunct professor teaching ethics at the University of Texas at Austin. She was honored many times, given over 20 honorary degrees from across the country including Harvard and Princeton. A supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, she issued a statement supporting the extension of its ratification in 1979. As a Congresswoman, Barbara sponsored or so-sponsored over 300 bills or resolutions—many are still in effect today.
Dealing with leukemia and MS, Barbara’s health declined quickly in later years. Her life partner, Nancy Earl, stayed at her side always. At the age of 59, Barbara Jordan died—a result of pneumonia–a complication of leukemia. Her tributes continued after her death. She once said, “I am neither a black politician nor a woman politician,” Jordan said in 1975. “Just a politician, a professional politician.” Her courageous voice inspired generations of minority women. The New York Times wrote, “No landmark legislation bears her name. Yet few lawmakers in this century have left a more profound and positive impression on the nation than Barbara Jordan.”
I wish I could have met Barbara Jordan. You can listen to her silver-tongue on You-Tube and perhaps grasp the enormity of her influence on the 20th century.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: A Tangled Mercy: A Novel
by Joy Jordan-Lake
“A novel of secrets, racial tensions, family, and a love that withstands the passage of time, A Tangled Mercy is truly enthralling.” ―Historical Novel Society (Editor’s Choice)
“Joy Jordan-Lake has done a masterful job with her new novel, A Tangled Mercy. She captures the beauty, charm, and challenges of one of America’s great cities, Charleston, South Carolina. In the historical-cultural context of Charleston, her writing is an inspiration. Through rich character development, she gives us an intimate view of its African American life. A Tangled Mercy is a must-read for those who want to experience the South. We meet a variety of people, both living and dead, that represent the iconic, ‘Emmanuel Nine.’” ―African Methodist Episcopal Bishop John Richard Bryant, retired.
A haunting and redemptive novel inspired by the heartbreaking true events that occurred at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, A Tangled Mercy examines the horrifying depths of human brutality and our enduring hope for forgiveness.
After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture―and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt―the subject of her mother’s own research.
Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves.
Kate’s attempts to discover what drove her mother’s dangerous obsession with Charleston’s tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world. (Amazon Review)
I personally looooooved this book!! It not only sits on my personal library shelves, but the author is attending our monthly Book Club Discussion (via ZOOM) to discuss the book’s intricacies and astounding characters. Please get yourself a copy of this marvelous historical fiction book. You will not regret it! Good reading to all.