Saturday, December 31, 2011

In the Living Room of the World

Every once in awhile a book comes along that really changes my life. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it really changes things. The last book that did this was The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's based on Toltec knowledge passed down from generation to generation. It was published in 1997, but I don't believe I came across it until a few years later. I still stumble from time to time in my practice of these tenets, but I continue to hold them up as lights on my path. When I practice them consistently, life becomes a much more loving place to be. Perhaps you're familiar with them, but I post them here as much a reminder to myself as anything else.

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of the Word in the direction of Truth and Love.

2. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.

4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Life, to me, is a continual unfoldment and years are simply human constructs meant to give us a sense of order and to delineate the human condition. Still, I will be quietly celebrating the turning of the page. I plan to pop the cork on a bottle of homemade wine made by my son, Coleman, from the grapes that we gathered from my vine back on that sunny day in mid-September. No dirty dancing in a bar at midnight with someone I barely know, as I did way back when, when way too many Cosmopolitans and a sad heart made me think that was a good idea, or a reasonable facsimile of one.

No, tonight will be just Buddy and me in the comfort of low light in our living room. I'll say a little prayer that I might practice those Four Agreements more consistently and then one for the world, that we might all learn to, and not just practice them, but live them.

Andrew Wyeth, "Long Limb"
Winslow Homer, "Bridle Path, White Mountains"


  1. What a less confusing world this would be if people would only say what they mean! I get so tired of sideways remarks and obfuscation.
    Let's talk truth to one another!

  2. Hear, Hear, Ms. Sparrow. I completely agree!

  3. I have that book, too. I've never had any trouble with 1 and 4. In fact, my parents didn't ask me what I was up to as a teenager because they knew I would tell them the truth and they didn't want to hear it--LOL!

    I'm so happy to be as old as I am and to have traveled to where I am now. I had some wild dancing days in my past, too. ;)

    Have a glorious year, Sweetness! :):)

  4. This is perfect for the new year...such wise and simple rules. The difficulty comes in always following them. But I think it is definitely worth a gallant effort in 2012 and always.
    Have a wonderful, peaceful new year!

  5. I say what I mean - I suffer from hoof'n'mouth disease. This is nothing new... born that way. What I need to do is learn not to be bothered by those who can't understand someone who does speak her mind.

    Interesting ain't it.

    When someone wants the truth but can't stand to hear it... it's a tricky trip... to be me...

    Again you inspire Teresa... I see a blog post coming on... ;)

    I'm trying desperately to find a pal... a crowd to feel comfortable in. I'm almost committed to attending a Free Thinker's New Year's pot luck tonight...

    I'm afraid because .. what if they aren't what they proclaim to be. I've tried so many times only to be disillusioned... but what the hey

    Somewhere... some place there are people who truly practice what they preach...

    again... I quote ... ol Dr. Seuss..

    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter won't mind and those who mind don't matter.

    and... don't let the bastards get you down... yay! onward to 2012

    Happy New Year! May we live with hope and gratefulness

  6. Rita, #2 and 3 are the hardest to practice, and for that very reason the most important, perhaps. I used to balk mightily at them, but when I learned to see the world through the practice of them, life got oh so much easier and I was easier on myself, too.

    We'll dance by ourselves (well, you with Karma and me with Buddy) at the turning of the page and celebrate All that brought us to Here. :)

    LadyCat, Yes! A gallant effort! And a wonderful 2012 to you!

    Carolyn, I Love that you speak your mind and are willing to put your true self out there. I have thought of a group, and that Free Thinkers sounds good, but in my experience someone's ego usually tries to dominate and then it cannot be what it could have been. Groups are over-rated, but a singular friend who understands and accepts you just the way you are is priceless. IMO.

    To Hope and Gratefulness!

  7. It's interesting that ancient wisdom is still so relevant today. I'm very taken with the supporting ideas under 1, and I wish I had learned 2 very early in my working life! Thanks for another thoughtful post, and I wish you a wonderful 2012.

  8. Seems like perfect timing for those 4 guidelines to come my way. No such thing as coincidences! Thanks!

  9. These four tenets are so wonderful to remember. I am going to link this post in my blog today, so that others who might not follow you can read this lovely post.

    Thank you for putting this on here today, I'm new to the book but not to the need for these reminders. I wish you and yours a wonderful new year, filled with joy. :-)

  10. There is so much comfort in the shared experience. We're lucky to have this community linking our thoughts.

  11. I have not read that book but I will soon. I think I have tried to live my life this way but unless you practice this every day you lose it. It was very revealing when my dad passed last month...all the things that were said but not done...just everything. I had decided to take the month of Dec to just be with my thoughts and poeple could just not understand that. Finally, I quit answering the door and turned the phone off..

  12. BLOG Nancy, it seems the ancient wisdom is the most relevant and timely. A wonderful 2012 to you and your family, as well.

    Pogonip, I'm so glad you dropped by and that these ideas spoke to you. It's always gratifying when the things I'm lead to post reach others. No coincidences. I agree.

    DJan, You are so dear and I value our friendship very much. A joy-filled New Year to you!

    elroyjones, I like that idea of linked thoughts and completely agree. It is a wonderful community for which I'm very grateful.

    ain't for city gals, I know you've had a difficult month with the passing of your dad. Sometimes, we simply Must do what we must do to take care of ourselves.

    I need to re-commit myself to these agreements often. They really have changed my life and my perceptions.

  13. Hi! I came over from DJan's Nice to meet you..I see we are from the same State..where many are cold but few are actually frozen! :)

    I so need to work on #2..why oh why do I struggle so with this one?? (perfectionist..perhaps)
    Great points..Happy New Year:)

  14. I really need to work on number 2...I have a tendency to be soft hearted when I hear a comment and I tell myself it's not about me, but then, what if it is? a huge bump in my road...nice blog Teresa...

  15. Far side of fifty, Thanks for stopping over. It's not the tundra many imagine. A little snow this morning was nice.

    Happy New Year!

    Tracy, That's the tough one, isn't it? Even when we think it's about us, it isn't. That's the key. :)

  16. Ahhh! I see this book when I am out and about quite often...I have yet to read it, however. I think I will add it to my list of books to read in 2012. Thanks for another great post.

  17. Confessionista! Thanks for reading and responding. It's such a simple read with profound ideas. And you are most welcome.

  18. DJan mentions you in her blog. I am thrilled to read your post and everything in your sidebar. I am absorbing like a sponge. Thank you for being you and for writing in your blog.

  19. Hi CiCi, I'm so glad she sent you my way. She's such a cool lady and a dear friend. It's nice to know my sidebar is getting some attention. Thank you. I've just been over to check out your place and it looks like you're having a good time over there, and that you're sort of the new kid on the block, only blogging since last month. I trust you're having fun and the New "year" will find you having even more.

  20. Those four agreements, widely practiced, would certainly help solve a lot of our world's problems, wouldn't they!

    Happy New Year!

  21. Happy New Year to you. Lovely thoughts to bring in another year in our existence.

  22. Montucky, Yes, when viewed in the light of the bigger picture, they are just as essential to practice. That's one of the thing I love about them. Happy New Year.

    Steve, A Happy New Year to you. May your new surroundings provide many new adventures and insights.

  23. Happy New Year, Teresa! I can think of no better way to start a new year than to meditate upon the four tenet of this book. If you can honor the four tenets and keeps Buddy at your side, you probably have everything you need in life. Best wishes.

  24. Thank You, George, for that thought. It's so very true. Best wishes to you.

  25. I too agree with the four tenets. Hope you have a wonderful New Year and may all your dreams come true!

  26. Bob, I wish the same for you, with Happiness at every turn.

  27. Ah, #2 . . . this is a problem spot for me, this taking things personally. I will put this where I can see it often, Teresa, for I think it will serve me well in the coming year and beyond.

    A wonderful post with which to herald in a new year. I don't make resolutions, but, these would be good lanterns to also light my own path. Thank you, Teresa, and best wishes for you in this New Year.

  28. Dear Teresa,
    How brilliant it was to come today to my computer and find your words! How lovely of you to spare me a thought during the most busy and full time of the year!

    I love this post, how true are the tenets, I shall be transcribing them into my journal. And oh o! Another book I need to add to my humongous wish list. My family think we'll need a bigger house soon, I received twelve books for Christmas.

    Wishing you a VERY Happy and Healthy New Year Teresa,I always look forward to visiting here, I love your Blog!

    Hugs to you, Jane x

  29. Penny, Yes, lanterns to light our path. I will be working on these, too. They take practice, and practice does make perfect, eventually. Perhaps I should add: it allows us to See our perfection, eventually. :)

  30. Penny, May I add: a wonderful New Year to you and your family. I look forward to our continued friendship.

    Jane, I love how, on several occasions, I've thought of you, wondered how you were doing, and then you pop up, sometimes after a bit of an absence, and I know you're fine, of course.

    The Twelve Books of Christmas, one for every month of the new year, or the first twelve weeks, anyway. :) The idea of a bigger house to accommodate new books is an image I Love! Just think of all the great ideas contained therein!

    A Very Happy and Healthy New Year to You! And a big Hug!

    BTW: LOve those snazzy new socks and PJs

  31. I may just have to get that book as I need to be reminded of a couple of those from time to time. Happy New year to you, we stay in most holidays including new years quietly reading or watching an old movie. This new years I wondered if I was the only one worried about all the dogs and cats and birds and wild creatures scared to death at all the fire crackers. Glad the night is over with. By the way how was that homemade wine? hope is turned out well.

  32. Amazing. Sometimes you and I are on the exact same wavelength. I was just reading The Four Agreements yesterday, and made it a part of my resolutions for 2012 to better apply them. It can be very difficult. As soon as you vow to "not take anything personally" for example, life will send you ample opportunities to practice. It's not easy being a Toltec warrior! Last night I gave an angry ear-full to a annoying drunk on the bus, and my speech was far from impeccable. Thus my first failure of 2012. Glad I got it out of the way early, lol. Oh well, live and learn and get back on the horse. Thanks for the post. Happy New Year, T :)

  33. Hi Linda, It was quiet here, too, but my sister reports her two little mini schnauzers did not like all the noise.

    The homemade wine was wonderful! We had a "tasting" here a couple of weeks ago, to make sure it was ready, and although many would advocate waiting longer to drink it, I wanted to drink it in the year the grapes were picked. But, that's just me...

    Wishing you and Gary a wonderful New Year!

  34. Will, We do seem to experience this frequently. I can't tell you how often I go to your site and find Exactly what I need to be reminded of or to be encouraged in at that moment. No, it's not easy, a bus on New Year's would be a good testing ground, it seems. Perhaps it wasn't a failure, but exactly what that person needed to hear, albeit a gentler tone is often more in line with who we want to be. :)

    I'm laughing at your description of it as "my first failure of 2012." Back on the horse and Onward, the standard held high!

    I'm so looking forward to all we will have to share in this wonderful New Year.

  35. Thank you sooooo much for reminding me of The Four Agreements. I read the book and found it very meaningful, but I had forgotten the four tenets in recent years. So much wisdom if four simple principles. Our lives would be so much better if we followed even one of them.

    By the way, my nephew's name is Coleman! An unusual name. He goes by the name Cole.

    Happy New Year!

  36. GP, Isn't it funny, how we read something so meaningful yet we need reminders, and often. :) They really have made a huge difference in my life.

    Coleman is an unusual name. We call him Cole sometimes, and being Mom I still call him Colie once in awhile. He's 25 now. My baby!

    Happy New Year.

  37. Hi Theresa....I just found you......I love this book....and have read it many, many times...Am still trying to incorporate it into my life on a daily basis. Some days are "a hit" some days are "a Miss".



  38. Jo, Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm glad you found me. These agreements aren't easy to practice consistently, but they sure make life a better place to be, don't they?

    I went over to your place and checked it out. You have a beautiful blog. There's something about those soft creamy pink roses....

  39. Wishing you a beautiful New Year!
    xo Catherine

  40. If this is your New Years resolution, these four wonderful ways of living, I can't imagine a better one. Not taking things personally would be tough for me. But I really understand that when I do that it is simply my ego speaking! Thanks!

  41. Cat, wishing you Much Happiness in the coming year.

    Wild Bill, I'm trying to live these agreements more and more each day. It sounds like taking things personally is a bugaboo for many of us. It seems to go hand in hand with making assumptions. And so I will keep practicing, until I get it right.

  42. I gave that book to our only child near her graduation from college..Her grandmother died the day after her graduation..She is a lovely young lady of few words but the book comforted her and she in turn comforted her daddy and myself her mother...One doesn't read minds and to take what others say personally to me is a big waste of time..also to speak softly and clearly, concisely and not too much is the best way to go, I speak to much and I am almost always misunderstood when I mean something entirely the opposite that others think they hear me speaking..also why be mean to others we are here a few short years (my personal opinion) why can't we be sweet and kind and gentle this terrestrial is better off for our listening than speaking..enjoying your blog a lot, you speak from a loving and kind heart..happy new year and many hours of joy, peace, health and love to you.......

  43. Anon. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your response. I love what you've said about speaking softly, clearly and concisely. "This terrestrial is better off for our listening than speaking." So very true.

    Thank you so much, and a happy new year to you, as well, one filled with kindness everywhere.

  44. I've not heard of this book or its teachings, but they certainly mirror some of my most fervent convictions, particularly about the importance of integrity in speaking and writing, and the need for self-acceptance.

    A pastor I once knew phrased #4 differently, but certainly caught its spirit. He liked to say, "Once you've made a decision, let it go. Otherwise, if you were right, you'll spend the rest of your life congratulating yourself, and if you were wrong you'll continually beat yourself up."

    "Live and let go" is so wise - and yet how hard we try to cling!

  45. shoreacres, That sounds like a very wise pastor. Both parts of his statement are important to remember. Letting go has been a valuable aspect to this past year for me. And it's ongoing....

    Thank you for your comments. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.

  46. I always try to do my best. So I've got that covered. But there is always room for growth. Thanks for sharing.

  47. Sharon, Lord, don't I know it. It is an ongoing practice, and I'm getting better at all four, but I have a ways to go...Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  48. To speak with integrity we must think with integrity, and that means not tearing ourselves down with thoughts from our own minds. I have too often allowed myself to suffer the abuse of my own negative, angry and self-critical thoughts, thereby destroying my own potential for good. This is not a healthy relationship to have with one's self. To use the power of the word in the direction of truth and love with others, we must allow it into ourselves and practice it every day. This practice creates the path to a better life and a better world for all. Our biggest obstacle is the fear of our own freedom. Let's make 2012 the year we choose to overcome it.

  49. HI Will, I used to spend a major portion of my waking hours in mindless chatter inside my own head, creating possible scenarios that made all sorts of assumptions and taking everything personally. I tell you, these really have changed my life. I'm much better than I used to be, but I've so much farther to go for anything close to mastery.

    Yes, let's make 2012 the year of overcoming those bad habits of thought.

    You have so much to offer this world. You really have wonderful posts and your poetry is eloquent in its simplicity and beauty.

    Thanks for returning and offering these words of encouragement.

  50. Hi Teresa,

    Oh how I remember the time in my life where "dirty dancing in a bar at midnight with someone I barely know" was exactly how I spent my time. Fun but definitely not fulfilling.

    I know that feeling of having a transformational response to a book. I can recall only two books that prompted that kind of response from me -- Covey's, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Fulghum's, It Was On Fire When I Lay Down on It.

    1. Love your honesty, Ray. It's refreshing. We never know what is going to speak to us on another level of thought and change everything.