“The Harder We Try, The Worse We Do The Thing.”

Morning on the McKenzie

When I was 13-year-old my folks, and I drove through the McKenzie River area, and my mother raved for years after. She thought that drive was the most beautiful she had ever seen. She came from Illinois, not mountainous or cascading river-laden. We lived in The Dalles Oregon, on the Eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range. That mountain range serves as a rain shadow, causing rain to fall on the western side, but not the eastern. We lived on the eastern side, where the vicinity is barren and dry nine-tenths of the year. (Oh, but the springs were glorious during cherry blossom and wild-flower time.) However, McKenzie’s green was to dry vegetation eyes like a camel driver’s to an oasis. The McKenzie River is one reason my husband and girls moved to Oregon. When we visited from California, I said I hadn’t been to Oregon until I saw the McKenzie.

 The McKenzie River area is on fire.

I awakened three days ago to see the sky golden, with a rosy glow I had never seen, as though someone had shined a spotlight on a treasure-chest of gold with a few rubies in the mix.

I called to my grandson,” Come look at this, it’s gorgeous.”

I thought there was a little smoke in the air from field burning, along with the glow of sun-rise.

 Wrong.

 When I heard about the fire, I dropped into grief. Our beautiful McKenzie River!? (The river will survive, it’s the forest that’s falling, and people are losing their homes.)

 I felt as stupid as the dinosaurs in a cartoon watching a comet barreling toward Earth, and them awestruck they let out an, “Ah.”

 At noon, the kitchen window was black as night unless you got real close and looked into the backyard. You could almost see the yard.

Wildfires are raging many places in Oregon and California. Three days later the sky is socked in with gray, and Junction City found another reason to close up shop, and tell people to stay inside. They say that global warming is causing more fires than in the past.

 Pray for the Earth and its people.

Here’s what I intended to blog today. Oh, you know what? I read this morning that people like VLOGGING more than blogging. Vlogging is Video blogging–that word sounds more like what we have outside. 

And here I am dealing with little old-fashioned words.

But, here they come:

When you hear “Ask, and You Shall Receive,” don’t you say, “Hey, I’ve been asking, I’ve been working, where’s my stuff?”

“Take the piano teacher, for example. He always says, ‘Relax, relax.’ 

‘But how can you relax while your fingers are rushing over the keys? Yet they have to relax. The singing teacher and the golf pro say exactly the same thing. And in the realm of spiritual exercises, we find that the person who teaches mental prayer does too. We have somehow to combine relaxation with activity…

“What has to be relaxed is the personal self, the self that tries too hard, that thinks it knows what is what, that uses language. …We have this curious fact of the law of reversed effort: the harder we try, the worse we do the thing.” —Aldous Huxley*

I have heard this concept from many people that the harder we push against something, the more it pushes back…and it has mystified me.

They say to work hard. To aim for your goal. The Universe likes action, and then comes the conundrum of the thing resisting you.

Have you gotten it? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Okay, take a day where you are out of sorts. Does the day go well for you? Not me. I drop things, I get frustrated that it takes three times to get anything done. Once you get a momentum going, it keeps on going downhill. Once a teacher said that you can have anything you want as long as you don’t want it. 

That totally annoyed me.

He didn’t explain it well. In a way, he was right, but not in a helpful way.

You should want the thing. You can’t help but want it. Wanting is a part of being human, and we ought to want, desire, have goals, and projects to complete. It’s the juice that runs us. And don’t think it’s not spiritual to want. That’s crazy.

Think of Walt Disney, he said to have a dream bigger than you are. He began the Florida Disney World but didn’t live to see it completed. Don’t be afraid to dream big.

I get it about the thing you want pushing back.

Let’s see if I can explain it. One way of looking at it is that much is accomplished with a glad heart.

When you tighten up, grip until your temples are pulsing, when you get angry that what you want continues to stay out-of-reach. The very thing you are asking for either eludes you or accomplishing it takes about as much work as pushing a piano through a transom. 

Jim Carrey said it quite succinctly, “As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the Universe know what you want, then working toward it while letting it go of the how it comes to pass.”

The teacher Abraham admonishes us to get into a happy place before asking for what you want or beginning your work. Think of a painter; it appears that somehow their emotions get painted into the picture? So, it is with musicians. T

As we have a momentum happening with an out-of-sorts-day, we can have a momentum happening with a Glad-day. Your day is perking along; you’re happy. The next thing goes well, you’re rolling, and your day ends with you happy as a puppy with a bone. I know it’s easy to be upbeat when things are working. It’s not so easy when things aren’t going according to plan. 

The WORK is getting ourselves out of the slump, not pushing harder at the thing we want or do not want. (Except maybe fires.)

You know how it feels, it’s like holding something with a gentle hand. You want the thing, you asked for it, now allow it to come to you. 


I hope you can tap into the magic of this transition to let go and embrace change. Plan for your future adventures – there is no reason to delay them, even though none of us even really know if we can make them happen. 

 Planning for them sends out a signal that you’re ready and committed, which opens many unseen doors. –Caz Makepeace

I’ve continued daily to do my “30 things I love” exercise, and understand why it’s 30 instead of one, two or three. You get into a roll. I’ve noticed, too, that soon I’m loving things that haven’t come to pass yet, like “I love that my leg is healing.”

Carry on with love from Jo 

“The World Needs What You Have to Offer” *

John F. Kennedy 1937

I challenge you—I’m doing it—this is my fourth day, and I’m still going strong—write 30 things you love for 30 days. And you can’t repeat yourself.

Daughter Dear challenged me. At first, I went, “Thirty things a day for 30 days! And I can’t repeat?” It seemed monumental, but then I sat on the front step and noticed all the Johnny-Jump-Up flowers re-seeded in our front yard. Daughter Dear said she saw 30 things just sitting in her bedroom. 

Maybe we will begin seeing all the things we’re missed while obsessed over the current pandemic. 

We often wander around with an open head letting all the yammering of the marketplace seep into the gray matter. Instead, we could choose what to look at. Weeds will invade the yard without tending: degrading thoughts will invade our minds if we aren’t careful to pluck them out. 

You might ask how to do that.

We are so used to reacting to what is, instead of seeing how we want it to be. Even the idea of it stumps us.

I know it isn’t possible only to see only the good, and not get hit with some bad, but we can aim for it. What if we were happy even though our nests aren’t feathered to our satisfaction?

First, the energy we would give off would be monumental. That would probably set the dolphins singing.

Second, happy people aren’t controllable. They smile and say, “You’re nuts.” I’m not going to give up my happiness because you like to pour venom in my ear.”

 I have begun tuning in to my body when a conversation comes up, or a subject, or an issue. How does it make me feel? We have an internal barometer that tells us hot/cold. You’re getting warmer—go that-a-way. Whoops, cold. Don’t go there.

If we listen to our hearts, gut, and nervous system, they will steer us in a positive direction. Have you noticed the look on a persons’ face when they disagree with you? And now with politics. Hey Howdy, what a mess. 

“The world needs what you have to offer.”

*–Marie Forleo

Consider this: you have gifts the world needs. To withhold those gifts is to deny the world.

“If I waited for perfection,” wrote Margaret Atwood, “I would never write a word.”

I was heartened last night when I read Marie Forleo’s take on “The Gap.” We have taste, and we value our perceptions. We know within 15 minutes if a movie is good or not. However, when we try to paint, write, or begin a business, we see where we are compared to where we want to be and feel discouraged. 

Many times, I have said that I want to write like I’ve graduated from college, but I’m still in the first grade.

That’s when I’m in the gap.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

Marie Forleo has a word for this comparisonitis: “Doing shots of Comparschlager can kill you.” 

I have little regard for the word “talent,” for then others think that this particular person has special powers hidden from them. Instead, I’d say they have a propensity toward something like music. However, they still work their asses off to develop that “talent/skill.”

I’m encouraging creativity because it’s something that everybody has, and doing it makes us happy. It is a divine gift to have something you love to do.

We need that now.

Many people have become depressed, despondent, and disheartened. Look to your creativity.

Do what makes you happy. If nothing makes you happy, do nothing.

I suggest, though, that you offer your something to the world. 

But, you say, “Yarn Shops have been done.”

Not by you.

Books have been written. Not by you.

“The world won’t like it,” you say. No matter. You’ll like it. Besides, remember, “You can’t please all the people all the time.” You can, however, take some feedback and make whatever you are offering better. 

Nobody starts at the top of their game.

And don’t take feedback from anyone who wants to open a wound. Be supportive of each other.

I can only offer my take on things and honor those who dared to put out their work and thoughts in books, speeches, and other writings. I learned because they were willing to take the leap and risk slings and arrows.

Some of these people have been labeled as kooks, and some are. I try to weed them out, but even kooks sometimes drop a kernel of truth on us.

Let’s awaken to a new understanding, a new thought, a new way of looking at the world.

Who are we?

We are the people.

We’re the ones to make a brighter day.

I’m from a time when we believed we could make a change–The Freedom Marches, changing the dress code in schools (Long hair and beards were looked down upon for heaven’s sake). Gays were bashed, Blacks couldn’t swim in public pools or drink from public fountains. And still, race is an issue?

I thought we learned.

Silly me.

So, let’s go back to our creativity. That’s where we sparkle.

We need sparklers.