Lessons

The Wisdom Within Each Moment


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Lessons; The Wisdom Within Each Moment – first published 2017

I have been writing these little stories for more than twenty five years.  I published some in a book and have read them over and over. You would think that by now I’d get it. Everything, absolutely everything that happens to us is an opportunity to learn and grow. Everyone we have ever met, from our family members to the stranger in the elevator is a significant part of our lives. And in my case, my kitties past and present, offer lessons every day. The weather, the traffic, what kind of job we do, where we live, our illnesses and on and on are blessings designed as serendipitous events that all happen for a reason. One of the mistakes we make is dwelling on the why of everything. We look at the happenings in our lives, the people and events, with a microscope. What did I do wrong is the most popular. Also there is, what if I had made a different decision? Then whatever it is wouldn’t have happened.  It is so hard, at least for me, to remember to not react this way. The why or who doesn’t matter as much as how we react to the situation. I still struggle with this. I have to practice every day by reminding myself to accept what happens and just plain deal with it the best way I can. I have to remind myself not to panic, get angry or sad, or generally make things worse. Because we usually spend a lot of time making things worse. I don’t know why I have spent so much of my life writing these stories. Incredibly I never thought about it before now. I assume it is one of my lessons.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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What Were You Thinking? – New Lessons

When I was very young, my biggest desire was to go to school. It could have been because my older sisters went every fall and I was left behind. But I remember how every aspect of going to school excited me. The smell of the school books, the pencils and notebooks, a fresh box of sharpened crayons and even some new clothes and shoes made it seem like Christmas! I couldn’t wait to learn new things and read and write and be a “big girl”. Because of how my birthday fell, I was only five when I started first grade. When it was finally my turn to go, I was overjoyed.

My mother walked me to school the first day. I chattered the whole way.  It was only a couple of blocks but seemed like it took forever to get there. She took me into the classroom and it was everything I knew it would be. There were rows of desks, maps on the walls and a gigantic blackboard at the front. I met my teacher and quickly found a seat, not even glancing back at my mother as she left for home. My teacher seemed like a nice lady as she ushered the students in and guided them to seats as well. I could not contain my enthusiasm!

Everything went fine for a while. Within days, I had made friends and was feeling confident about the lessons. I didn’t have a care in the world. Then one day I heard the teacher call my name in a rather stern voice. I guess I hadn’t been paying attention, because it rather shocked me. When I gave her my attention, she declared that I had been talking and disrupting the class. I didn’t remember talking. I knew the rules and tried to obey them. But she insisted that I should come to the front of the room. I slowly moved forward and she indicated that I should stand in the front corner, facing the wall. I did as I was told.

For some kids, getting punished in school was not a big deal, but I never in a million years expected this to happen to me. I was embarrassed, humiliated and totally deflated. I stood there, facing the wall, as class went on without me. I could feel the eyes of everyone else staring at my shame. The worst part was that I couldn’t remember talking. I vowed that it would never happen again.

By the time parents’ day came around, my parents were told that I was smart, but didn’t participate. That became my school legacy.

Most of what we do is automatic, based on what we’ve experienced, been taught or acquired through social norms. There is good reason for that. If we had to stop and think about everything we do or say, it would be a tremendous burden. My first grade teacher was not mean or cruel. She reacted to disobedience with the appropriate penalty according to her education and experience. One of her jobs was to maintain order in her classroom. She didn’t have time to identity the needs of every student before she imposed punishment. She had no way to know that one of her automatic responses changed a little girl’s life forever.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

 


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Pedro – First Published 2012

When I was around twelve, my job after school was to go to my grandmother’s and walk her dog in the field behind her house. I cannot tell you how much I hated that job. In the first place there were a million things I would have rather been doing – riding my bike, watching TV – the usual after school activities. In the second place the dog, Pedro and I hated each other. I had been so excited when I heard that my uncle had gotten a dog for my grandmother. My parents had never let me have a dog and I couldn’t wait to finally get to spend time with one. When I went to Grandma’s the first time to meet Pedro, it was a shock and a disappointment. He was a brown Mexican Chihuahua, as fat as he was long with big brown protruding eyes that glared at you. He was an older dog and very set in his ways. The first thing he tried to do was bite me. I was scared of him – with good reason. But here I was, ordered to take this dog to “do his business” every day after school. As I stood in that field day after day while Pedro took his time, circling and circling and “pretending” to have found the right spot, I watched an apartment house being built on the other side of the field. One day after it was finished and people had moved in, I saw something move near the second floor windows. As I watched, two of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen glided out of the windows and gracefully climbed down an outside staircase. I stared in awe as they moved around to the front of the house and out of my view. Often we forget that even in the worst situations, the Universe always offers us something positive. I have had a Siamese cat in my life ever since I was twenty years old and out on my own. I couldn’t imagine life without one. But before that day in the field, I didn’t even know they existed. Perhaps if I had not been there in that field with Pedro, I never would have known what they would mean to my life.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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It’s Not My Fault – New Lessons

When I was nineteen years old, I applied for my first summer job. I planned to return to college in the fall, so this was meant to be temporary employment. I saw a classified ad for a job doing phone sales. It was only going to last a couple of months and seemed easy enough. My supervisor was a nice woman who helped me get started and I was soon doing pretty well. I’d never sold anything before, but since this job was mostly contacting repeat customers, the product often sold itself. I was happy and comfortable and making a little money.

As is often the case, it is not wise to get too comfortable. Another woman was hired to do the same job I was doing. There was plenty of work and I looked forward to the company. Her little desk was next to mine. She seemed pleasant enough at first, but it bothered me that she seemed to take a lot of breaks. When the supervisor wasn’t there, the new employee didn’t bother making calls. I kept working away, which seemed to annoy her as well. She began making unkind remarks, which I ignored. I have to admit though, her attitude bothered me. Her hostile approach escalated as time went on and after a couple of weeks, the things she said to me were starting to be disturbing. She obviously thought that I was given preferential treatment; the best call lists and such. I was making more money than her because I worked harder, but she didn’t see it that way.

Then the flowers came. I was recently married and my husband sent flowers to work one day. He knew I was in a tough environment and he was just trying to help. My co-worker became unreasonably irritated at the flowers. Her remarks were personal and outrageous. I tried to calm her which outraged her more. That night at home the phone calls started. This was in the days when there was no caller ID or even message machines. The phone would ring and when I answered, the person would hang up. Over and over.

Up until the phone calls had tried to remain neutral. I made a few comments to the supervisor but did not disclose the seriousness of the situation. I re-examined my behavior, looking for faults. But I could not find them. I went to work, was pleasant to my co-worker and for some reason known only to her, she hated me.

After a few more days of soul searching, I decided to tell my supervisor what was going on. I told her everything. She and I had really gotten along well and the first thing she said was that she liked me. But she also said that there was nothing she could do. While she believed me, she had never personally witnessed the behavior I was talking about. I had no proof. Her solution was that I should quit my job. Shocked does not cover it. I had done nothing wrong. Why should I lose my job? Her reasoning was that if she fired the other woman, it might make matters worse. She might invent other means of harassing me. A temporary job wasn’t worth it.

I stayed upset for a while. It was a long time before I finally learned that the world isn’t fair; that it is possible to do everything right and still get punished for doing something wrong. It brings up the old question of why be good then? I guess it’s because I’d rather be me than that unhappy, unhinged woman I knew for a few weeks more that forty years ago.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”


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The Biggest Fish-first published 2012

Starting when I was about three years old I spent a lot of time fishing with my grandparents. They loved to fish and owned a small lake outside of town. I can still see them sitting on their little red folding chairs. I can smell Granddad’s pipe and the scent of Grandma’s cologne. They bought me my own cane pole with a little red and white bobber that floated not far from the shore. I felt so happy and safe with them and I always managed to “catch” the biggest fish. But I usually wasn’t sitting like they were. Oh no. I was stomping around their chairs and eyeing every bug or poking a stick down a crawdad hole. Grandma would say that I must be quiet if I expected to catch a fish, but I paid little attention. There was just too much to see and do! Eventually Granddad would have enough and rather sternly repeat Grandma’s request. Granddad was my buddy, and so rarely did he discipline me that I paid attention when he scolded. I sat down on the ground and stared at the bobber. Sure enough it began to move. I squealed and Granddad shushed me. Eventually, with his help I pulled in the biggest catfish caught to date in that lake. What a big deal they made over me! They bragged about it for weeks. I guess we have to be quiet and watchful in order to manifest our “prize catch”. If we aren’t paying attention or making too much noise (if only in our busy minds) it can slip right on by.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”


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Impermanence – New Lessons

There is a theory that if all people accepted everything in life as only temporary, we would be a lot happier. If we think about it, it is obviously true. Most of our suffering comes because of our resistance to change. Something isn’t the way it was before and we simply cannot believe it. Or we don’t like the way it is now because we never expected it to change – a highly improbable conclusion. Or we are simply attached to the way things were. We liked or loved something as it was.

It is terribly difficult to admit to ourselves that nothing is permanent. This causes us pain. I have the solution. I know how you can train yourself to accept things just as they are. Get a cat. As a matter of fact, get several cats.

My cats believe it is their responsibility to teach me about impermanence. They must think so when they sharpen their claws on the couch even though there are numerous cat scratchers in the house. I am sure they are aware of the great service they do by zooming through the house and knocking everything over, with occasional indiscriminate breakage. They also keep me on my toes by not allowing me the luxury of sleeping when I want to or even where I want to. There’s often little room on the bed. I’ve let go of all that.

If I am somehow engaged, one or the other of the cats will demand food, play, brushing or whatever else they can think of. What I am doing is reluctantly put off until another time.  I have given up black clothing and my side of the couch. I can’t vacuum when they’re sleeping or keep the blinds drawn when it’s sunny.

All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, they will all refuse to eat their food, which I had just stocked up on. A new brand will have to be found.

And ultimately, because they are mortal like us, they won’t stay around forever either.

Yes, I believe I’ve discovered the purpose of living with cats. Their present moment is all that matters. Living with cats means letting go of a lot of things, but then that is the final lesson isn’t it. Letting go makes room for so much more – like warm kitty snuggles and soothing purrs.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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Uncle – First Published 2014

Not long after my uncle was born, around 1914, it was discovered that he was left handed. I have been told that my grandparents were horrified. They set about “correcting” this flaw. He was forced to use his right hand even though his left was dominant. There was no malice here. My grandparents truly believed that he would be better off if he were “normal”.  My father often talked about how his brother struggled with this. It was a difficult physical challenge and psychological assault. I think one of our greatest trials is overcoming our desire to change one another. We all seem to have the common need to make everyone just like ourselves. It starts with little things, like why doesn’t he fold the towels like I do and escalates into distrust, bigotry and even hatred.  Most of our disagreements with other people come from our differences, even though many of us are not that thrilled with our own self-image.  I wonder why that is? The whole thing seems pretty silly to me. Of course everyone can change, but no one can be changed. Not really. So what’s the point? My uncle had a difficult life. How much of that came from my grandparents’ need to change him I really don’t know. But I do know he was perfectly fine just the way he was born.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”