Meaning Mondays: A Simple Philosophy Emerges

In every adult there lurks a child – an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed and calls for unceasing care, attention and education. That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.

-Carl Jung

Now this took me by surprise.

I woke up this morning and realized I’ve logged six months of Meaning Mondays, give or take. I’ve never been a stickler for exact numbers, but I do know the year’s mid-point arrives in a few days. And I’ve written on most Mondays. So that’s good enough for me.

Then I noticed something else. This is my 99th post.

That little factoid spurred my imagination to trip on all things 99: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, Agent 99, the 99 Cents Only Store, Wayne Gretzky’s number, 99, retired in 1999, and that old throwback of a road here in California – Highway 99. Actually, many states have a Route 99, but I’m thinking of the one that traverses the San Joaquin Valley from North to South.

Anyway, I know it’s customary to pause and reflect at the 100-post mark, but for some reason I feel the urge to stretch my legs at this intersection of six months of Meaning Mondays and 99 adventures in pressing “publish.” There seems to be a certain behind-the-scenes symmetry going on here, two parallel lines unexpectedly meeting for a moment in time.

And what these two lines are telling me is that a philosophy is emerging. I hesitate to say it’s my philosophy for how to live a meaningful life, since that sounds a bit too “expert” for my taste.

Because the last thing I want to be is another boring expert telling you how to live your life.

If you’re like me, you’re already overwhelmed by the reams of advice that’s out there. The programs and products. Gimmicks and guides. Systems and strategies.

Once I shut all that out, though, what I discover, from these months of writing and meaning making, is that the things that are real, that are truly helpful, are actually quite simple.

Not always easy to put into practice, mind you, but simple and basic in their form. Ancient wisdom, really, passed down through the ages.

Here’s how they’re all adding up for me:

  1. ALLOW ALL PARTS OF YOU TO HAVE SPACE AT THE TABLE. The waif and the warrior. The seeker and the scoundrel. The infinite number of inner characters that exist deep within you. Not all pretty, to be sure, but worth getting to know and understand. Some will feel more comfortable than others, but as we mature, one of life’s calls is to move towards wholeness, by moving beyond what’s comfortable and known.
  2. PURSUE PURPOSELESS PLAY. Give yourself over to it. Enter into a timeless world. Experience true freedom.
  3. MAKE RITUAL A PART OF LIFE. Rituals foster hopefulness, choice, and action. And during times of transition they help us make sense out of paradox.
  4. BE MINDFUL OF COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR. I’m just about convinced that we’re all compulsive about something. Maybe we haven’t reached the point where it alters our lives noticeably. Or perhaps it’s not one of those widely recognized addictions, like drugs and alcohol. But it’s there. And we have so many ways to compulsively check out: television, shopping, eating, blogging, organizing, social networking, cleaning, working, to name a few. Any one of them can steal our time and keep us from living a full, rich life.
  5. FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. All of them. Don’t deny them or go looking for a “better” feeling. Doing so opens the door to compulsive behavior (see above).
  6. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS IN REAL SPACE AND REAL TIME. Cultivate Refrigerator Rights. Have deep talks. Long walks. Telephone calls. Thoughts shared. Souls bared. Private names. All those photos up on the walls. With love, filling the days. (Thanks, Stephen Sondheim!)
  7. EMBRACE CREATIVITY AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT CREATION REQUIRES LETTING GO. Letting go is like opening the window to a fresh, new breeze, which brings with it vision, originality, and imagination.
  8. CONSIDER THAT LESS IS SOMETIMES MORE. AND SMALL IS GOOD. Contrary to popular opinion, you needn’t dream big, go for the gold, or be all you can be. Such catchphrases are merely the detritus of an inflated and fame-obsessed world. What you can do instead, and what will work far better, is to start right where you are. Be yourself, because you’re fine just the way you are. Then put one foot on the path, and let it unfold.
  9. PERMIT YOURSELF TO BE A NOVICE. You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to wait in order to start doing something. You can find out what you’re doing by doing it. (Thanks, Joe the Quilter!)
  10. PRACTICE THE FOUR HEALING SALVES. Singing. Dancing. Storytelling. Silence.
  12. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Sleep about eight hours every night. Eat moderately and in balance. Exercise your body. Did I mention sleep? OK, I almost left #12 off the list, reasoning that if you were doing everything else, taking care of yourself would flow effortlessly. Not so, however. I’ve recently realized how much I’ve shorted myself on sleep in particular, and how that affects all the rest of it. So this is here especially for me.

There you have it. The culmination of six months of meaning making and 99 blog posts.

Now, I’m off to spend time in nature, play, practice the healing salves, and take care of myself. I may find my way to an internet connection only once or twice this week, but I’d still love to hear from you.

Please share your thoughts about my philosophy.

And do you have a philosophy for living a meaningful life? If so, what is it?

And how are you doing with it?



42 thoughts on “Meaning Mondays: A Simple Philosophy Emerges

  1. I’m happy for you – it’s great to reach a point where you can look back on what you have learned. Thanks for sharing your findings.

    I can certainly identify with some of your activities above (like getting out into nature), but some of the others don’t do it for me. So, for instance, while I recognise the value of embracing creativity I know that there are others, like me, who prefer to embrace exploration and knowledge. The two activities are connected I guess, but the emphasis will vary from person to person.

    Like you I’m wary of ‘experts’. I’m always a bit suspicious of posts that set out ‘the top 7 tips…’, ’10 ways of…’, ‘7 steps to…’ as if there is some magic way of fixing all broken people. Not everyone is ‘broken’ and the magic lists won’t suit everyone.

    My own study and reflection has shown me that I need to adopt some form of regular meditation practice. I haven’t done it yet – I’m working on setting up the habits of taking care of myself. I think it is a mistake for me to try and do too many changes at the same time. Still, I’m not in a race, and I’m enjoying the journey.

    • Hi Discovered Joys – Thanks for the visit! I totally agree that each of us has to find our way to our own philosophy, and it sounds like you know what the next part of the journey looks like for you. Very wise to take it slow, get those practices in place and then add in more as time allows. A great way to enjoy the journey!

  2. Hi Patty, I love your stand to declare that you know what is good for YOU. I do not mind reading other people’s ‘wisdom’ but I am pleased that I allow myself to choose what I take from it. I discern, finally!
    My stand is to live a congruent life. My life fits ME, not the other way round. So I make it my business to have time to think so I can discern. That makes life mine and one I like.
    So let’s continue to discern and love life, xox Wilma

    • Sounds perfect, Wilma. Time to discern. Ah yes, so very important, discernment. Hugs to you, my friend.

  3. Congrats on your 99 posts. That’s amazing! I’m shaking my head yes to every point you’ve made here. I’m big on face time with friends and family.

    No. 8 is taking on bigger meaning for me and has been for a couple of years now.

    I really believe like you we all have compulsions. If someone has trouble seeing theirs they can ask the people closest to them. They’ll be happy to fill them in;)

    Again congratulations I enjoy reading your blog and feel like I know you even if it isn’t face to face.

    • Thanks so much, Tess. I truly enjoy your visits to my blog, and our “mini” conversations. It’s a lovely way to get to know each other, even if it’s not in person.

  4. 99 posts on the published wall 🙂 Congrats Patty. #5: FEEL YOUR FEELINGS” jumped out at me big time!

    I’ve come to realize in the past when I’ve been deying my feelings when I notice I’m distracted, fidgety or craving certain foods.

    I know that as long as something is being avoided, it’s going to keep tapping me on the shoulder. It takes awareness to see this and it’s not always obvious. I guess when a person gets caught up in ‘running’ the momentum carries them away and it’s hard to slow down.

    • So right, Davina. We get on that track and start running and then it’s like we can’t get off the track. Or like we’re a train stuck on its rails, to use another metaphor. And you know, I think it’s a lesson we learn every day. Or maybe some people are just much better at it than I am! Thanks so much for the visit. I’m singing your version of “99 posts on the published wall” right now. Sounds good!

  5. Patty, CONGRATS on this milestone! We all get to benefit from your lucky 99, because this post is a treasure trove. There are things here I had read in earlier posts, but I admit I needed to be reminded of.

    #4 about compulsive behavior really spoke to me, because sometimes I worry my organization/cleaning/order is a bit compulsive. I work on keeping it reasonable, but I feel like I could always do something more.

    And this sings with its truth: “as we mature, one of life’s calls is to move towards wholeness, by moving beyond what’s comfortable and known.” Wow.

    To another 99 posts and another 6 months of Meaning MOndays!!

    • Aw, thank you Eva! You’re in good company if you have a little bit of a compulsion around cleaning and order. And the fact that you recognize it is big. So often we use something as a way to check out without recognizing it. But I know you’re doing a lot of inner work. I really appreciate your visits, and being a part of the ongoing conversation.

  6. Patty, I do think you are an life living expert in ways that I haven’t even reached myself. Having said that, what I appreciate about you (and your blog) is your novice’s approach to everything.

    The novice’s approach is refreshing in a society that requires one to enter it fully formed, always having to be right and super confident, and always heading up up up. I feel lethargic whenever I am assailed by such messages. Not so here. Here is like a breath of long overdue sanity.

    Congratulations on this meaningful milestone, Patty. And thank you for having me here. 🙂

    • Well, that’s just the nicest compliment, Tony, to be seen as both an expert and a novice. I think you nailed it. We all do have areas of expertise, and yet, we’re continually learning and starting from the beginning. That’s a beautiful way to describe the journey to wholeness. And of course, difficult in a world that is so obsessed with perfection and knowing. In spite of that, though, we can keep our own little corners of the world safe from all that crap. So thank you so much for visiting me in my corner, my friend.

  7. Hi Patty — thanks for this — I particularly liked the point about allowing all parts of us to be at the table. I’ve been pushing my edge with that recently, telling a friend I was with about the part of me that “wants to conquer the world.” It’s such a relief not trying to pretend that doesn’t exist, and it actually has me show up as more human and trustworthy to others.

    • That’s what I love about all those parts, Chris. In the end, they bring our full humanity into bloom, as you’ve so eloquently written. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. Hi Patty! How wonderful! I’m so proud for you – awesome accomplishments and to draw from that your 12 points feels like a gift you have given all of us! Thank you for sharing all of this.

    I think our “philosophy” changes several times over our lifetime. I’m 63 and my philosophy is so simplified these days that this is clearly the SIMPLE era for me. Everything is simple, my house, my food, simple, basic everything. No worries!

    • Mmmm, simple is good, you bet. Did you notice I mentioned “simple” in the title? It truly does feel like a letting go and getting down to just what’s important. You’re such a delight, suZen, and I can’t think of a better role model for the simple life and a simple philosophy. Thanks, and many hugs to you. Oh, I’ve been reading Jane Austen again. One of the characters said, “a thousand good wishes to you; no, make that ten thousand.” So I’ll riff on that – a thousand hugs to you; no, make that ten thousand!

  9. Patty –

    Congratulations on 99 wonderful posts – here’s to the next 99. I think you are too modest – I love your wisdom about how to live life and always find it inspiring. I agree with Suzen above that our philosophy can change over life and sometimes even in an instant. Jung’s quote about the innerchild probably explains this. We are always growing, developing, failing, succeeding, enjoying life. Each moment teaches us a little more. And most philosophies and ideas can work for us if applied well. Thanks for sharing!


    • So true, Phil. About the “applied well” part. And you know, I think that’s my next journey with this. Taking time to apply it well. Thanks so much for being a part of the ongoing conversation, and many thanks for your very sweet words.

  10. Hi Patty, I don’t know what happened to my comment but apparently it’s not posted. Anyway, here I am again wishing you many more Meaning Mondays and blog posts. You have a real gift for sharing wisdom without seeming like you’re giving advice and I love that about you. You touched on this a bit. I stopped reading some blogs because of the endless advice that I felt was pushing me in directions away from myself. (I guess I’m not crazy about getting unsolicited advice.) But when I read your words, it always feels like they’re coming from a friend who simply wants to share. So thank you for that.

    • So sorry to hear your comment went into blog limbo, Belinda. Don’t you hate that? But I’m glad you persevered and made another visit. I really appreciate your sweet words, and it’s been a true pleasure connecting and conversing with you during these past months, and getting to hear your brilliant insights and wisdom. You know, I think you were one of the first to leave a comment here. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

  11. Thanks to Tess for pointing your blog out to me, and asking me to read a post or two. (She’s the bomb, isn’t she?!)

    I love this 99th post, and appreciated so much of what you said. I’ve become more and more of a ritual girl in the last two years, and find that my morning rituals of bowing, praying, giving thanks — they all balance me. They start my days off right. However, I know for me, there can be a fine line between rituals and compulsiveness! (Funny, that!) Guess I’d rather be compulsive about rituals than the zoning out stuff I also tend to do… A good one to think on!

    Less is more — #8 is how I’m living lately. Gave up the big job 18 months ago, have given up lots of stuff, and am now enjoying a cleaner, easier, lighter existence. I find the more “stuff” people have, the less in touch they are with their core. For me, inner “stuff” equates to outer “stuff.” It’s fun trying to ease my way toward being a purist.

    Your blog is wonderful and your writing delightful. Wishing you enjoyment of all your awesome accomplishments!

    • Hi Megan – Welcome, and thanks so much for the visit. How delightful of Tess to hook us up. It sounds like you’re really living and breathing your own personal philosophy, and I do know exactly what you mean about how those things that are centering, like ritual, can also feel a little compulsive. Lately I’m thinking the human mind/body is sort of built for compulsion, so it’s a constant awareness. I loved hearing too about your own process of letting go, and yes, absolutely, outer letting go is almost always linked to inner letting go. I’ve seen that in so many clients, and it’s my personal experience too. I really appreciate your comment, and I hope you’ll stop in again soon!

  12. Hey Patty,

    I love your MM posts! You’ve got such a nice way about you. Always reflective yet illuminating. Hope to read many more MM posts.

    You’ve hit the truth nail on the head. We begin to complicate our lives from early childhood onward. It’s what we are taught. The things we need as humans are simple: food, play, love, friendship, curiosity, movement, laughter, shelter, etc.

    We add layers and layers of complication that muzzle and muffle these simple needs until we hit 40ish, we we feel so burdened by the layers we can barely stand up. Then we spend the next half of our lives — if we are lucky — tossing. heaving, pulling, prying the heavy layers of complication off.

    Yet each generation continues to teach the generation behind it to over-complicate life.

    Kind of insane!

    Happy fourth …


    • Hi Giulietta – You know, it IS insane. And I’ve been thinking so much about this lately. Because the story repeats, again and again, but if I had the opportunity right now to tell my 20-year-old self just what you’ve said, I’m pretty sure she would laugh in my face. So much of it is conditioning, but then I think too there’s more to it than that. Jung theorized that wholeness isn’t possible in early adulthood, because we’re wired to be accomplishing and achieving and amassing. (Of course, our world supports that to the nth degree.) But it’s only later, as we start the descent, that we can see the folly of our ways. I suppose in the end it has a lot to do with the growing realization that we are going to die, we are not invincible, and our time here is limited. Thanks for adding to the conversation, G. Always a pleasure!

  13. I can’t hear the words “philosophy” or “philosopher”, or the names of any of the famous ones, without thinking of Monty Python’s song alleging that they were all raging alcoholics, lol.

    Congratulations on your 99th post!

    • Oh those Pythons! Now you’ve got me humming not just that song, but the lumberjack song too. “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK, so thank you Shay!”

  14. Dear Patty,

    How good is your blog! I can’t think of a …well…more meaningful topic than how to live a meaningful life!

    Here we are on planet earth having an opportunity beyond the wildest imaginings – to have a unique life. It’s exciting to ponder and play with.

    Jung’s statement is powerful. We have the possibility to continue to expand into greater awareness – and playfulness.

    Your points about a meaningful life contain wisdom and balance. I love them and I love visiting you, Patty.

    Thanks for your lovely contribution to our well-being and for giving us roadmaps for a meaningful life.


    • Thank you so much, Lauren. Your words are like music to my ears. (I know, that’s an old cliche, but it wanted to come out!) I especially love what you say about living a unique life – so true! Each of us is unique, and that is a thing of wonder and beauty. I’m so glad to have you join the conversation, Lauren.

  15. Patty,

    Congratulations! I love that you are celebrating 99 posts and not 100. I think each and every post is a celebration. It’s part of you and the journey you are taking in life.

    I’m also glad I get to be a part of your journey. Visiting your site and reading your posts has always been fun. You teach me things, but you do it with humor and the wonderful use of words. Your Meaning Monday posts are a good example.

    Regarding your philosophy, I enjoyed all your ideas. I was taken with the first — Allow all parts of you to have space at the table!

    Thanks for being you:~)

    • Aw, thanks Sara. I count myself lucky to have you as part of this little community here. Your words are always wise and full of empathy and understanding, so I’ll hand the compliment right back to you – thank you for being you!

  16. Hi Patty,
    Woot! Woot! 99 is a big one! I just celebrated my 100, as well. Initially I wasn’t going to talk about it on my blog, but well, the same thing happened to me, a few things seemed to occur in parallel, and it all just made perfect sense. Yippe for you!

    I’ve enjoyed your site immensely, and it goes to show that of course, I believe in your philosophy, too. All of it. I found myself nodding along with each point. A few of them, the nods we quite strong. 😉

    Another reason I love to come here is to steep in your community. I’ve gotten to know many of the visitors here and think very highly of all of them.

    Here’s to a beautiful blog and a gorgeous you!

    • Oh I like that – Woot! I had to go look it up, and that just goes to show how much I get wrapped up in my own little world. See, I need you here, Lori, bringing your Woots and your wha hoos. I know, I know, you didn’t wha hoo, but I bet you’re the type of gal who would. Anyway, thank you so much. And you are right about the wise group of people commenting here. They’re the best! And of course I count you among the wisest.

  17. This is a fantastic list! We really enjoy reading your blog, so we hope you can provide us with another 99+ posts to enjoy!

    • Well, HW, I’ll give it my best. I so appreciate you joining the community here, and look forward to many more of your lovely comments.

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