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Freeze Frame

 

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

On Saturday, Molly turned 8 years old. Indeed, how the time has “flewn.” I remember the road trip across Wisconsin with Dad to bring this sweet girl home and so many ordinary days filled with extraordinary joy in between. My best friend’s son went off to college this weekend. I remember the first time I met Sharon at the University of Minnesota freshman orientation 29 years ago. Unbelievable. Friends getting married, becoming grandparents, kids off to their first day of kindergarten. The mix of life’s sweet celebrations.

Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, engagements, weddings fill our calendars. We plan, prepare, anticipate, party, laugh, cry and wish we could freeze these frames of life. As we “mark” these big moments, remember and savor all of the little moments that fill each day. Time will not stop for us to figure it all out and regret only wastes more time. With a grateful heart, dive deep into these ordinary days with awe and wonder. Maybe the only way we can slow time just a bit.

 

Under Construction

“The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me.” – Thomas Merton

“The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me.” – Thomas Merton

“Every human being is under construction from conception to death.” – Billy Graham

The joke (a bit of truth) in Minnesota is that there are two seasons – winter and road construction. All four seasons are beautiful. We’re just keeping it a secret. Although there are days when we contend with, nay survive, 30 below wind chill. It builds character and it’s all a part of the journey.

When we accept rather than lament the detours, potholes, bumps and delays on our journey, we can stop asking“why” and move deep into living well (not perfect) through the valleys and mountains, remaining steadfast as our purpose unfolds.

God either changes our situation or he changes us to get through to the other side – not around it but rather right through the flipping thick middle of it. The reason will be revealed later as we look in the rear view mirror. In the meantime, we must trust it and ride it out.

We are all under construction, a work in progress.  Succeeding, failing, tripping, up, down, winning, losing, tired, invigorated, falling behind, inspired, inspiring, laughing, crying and ultimately getting back up again and again, moving ever so clunky to our  destination.

We need only to overcome our assumptions and move beyond the whys, whens, hows, the past, regret, worry or what if. When we accept that our path often times won’t be what we planned, but it’s meant to be, we can get back to living, learning, getting through, helping others and getting back on the road.

Under construction and on my way.

Arise

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Morning welcomes and invites us to begin anew, leaving yesterday to rest and tomorrow to rise in its own time. Completely present and alive, ready to be fully awake to each moment’s beauty.

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver

The sun rises and so must I. To greet the day welcoming the work to be done in us and around us, for promises to be fulfilled. We are called to rise fully to shine our light that is but ours alone. To absorb, reflect and cast light. Anything less is not meant to be, so do not hesitate, hide or ponder any longer. Breathe, think, enjoy and love. Ah, the promise of morning and for the fortitude to carry it through to sunset.

Be Kind

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

Never underestimate the impact of small acts of kindness, simple gestures. A hug or high five to celebrate a win. A gentleman lifting his hat and politely saying hello as we pass by on a morning run. A smile and laugh to slow and create meaning in the middle of an intense day. Again and again, it proves to be true – we have the power to make a big impact with small acts.

It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of the moment, join in the chatter of the complainer, succumbing to shadow of pessimism. It’s logical, almost natural.

At the end of today, a young staff person walked into my office to thank me for always responding with kindness and patience to her requests. She appreciated it even more when a customer snapped at her. I was taken back that she took the time to stop by in person. There are moments when I am feeling the exact opposite, when I let the naysayers win. What a wonderful gift at the end of a 10 hour Monday.

May we never ever ever be too busy to be kind each day, early and often. Our words, actions and thoughts have an impact inside and out. We need to decide what kind of an impact we want to make – light or shadow. Be illogical – be kind, cast light.

In This Place

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought ‘surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.'” – Genesis 28:16

How often we are asleep as we walk through our days, missing the goodness, blessings and gifts. Wake up, you’re in the middle of your day, your life and God is surely in this place. Aware, grateful and awestruck – three really good places to be in. Cast light and let light be cast on you.

Becoming You

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” – John Jakes

“The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

“The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

A wish, a meditation, a prayer that we all, each and every one of us, responds to the still small voice whispering in our heart to become what we have been created to be. Like none other before or none after. You.

To do what we are here to do. To make a difference by our presence. To say “yes” to the journey from potential to fruition, with exuberance, without delay. You are called. Heed the call. Shine your light. Finish your story, every sentence, paragraph, chapter.

Encouragement

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” – William Wordsworth

Criticism and cynicism is a wide and well-traveled road. A jam-packed highway in fact. Encouragement and gratitude may be the road less traveled, but it sure makes the journey sweeter. A simple acknowledgment, a compliment, a smile, a “hello”, a kind word can change a moment, a day, a life. It’s that powerful.

Too often we buy into scarcity. There’s more than enough encouragement, recognition and edification to go around that never depletes the well, but rather replenishes it. We are steeped in abundance, the well will not run dry.

Recklessly and with great abandon, turn yourself inside out and embrace those in your world with kindness and encouragement. Win hearts, feed souls, lift spirits, cast light.

Rise and Set

“The sun is new each day.” – Heraclitus

May you rise and set as easy and sure as the sun. Grateful for the day that has passed, moving softly into rest to prepare for the next. Renewed and ready to receive the gifts of a new day. Deep and steady in each moment, each day, confident that it is enough, more than enough.

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” – David Viscott

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” – David Viscott

Unfinished

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” – Albert Schweitzer

Another email with a last minute request late in the day after a long week. Redoing work that wasn’t done right in the first place. Road construction that blocks every possible route. Someone talking when busy checking email for more unreasonable requests. Unending meetings. Frustrations, interruptions, irritations, unmet expectations, disappointments. All blocking us from where we “need” to be. But where is that exactly?

When we use our heart instead of our head, we soon discover that we are all unfinished. We aren’t meant to be complete with all of the pieces fitting together perfectly. That’s our journey – to become complete, to accept help and to help others along the way. To teach, to learn, to grow, to do it over and over again, with compassion and kindness. To engage in each others lives, not to check off our “to do” list and increase our efficiency. Where are we going so fast?

Our daily interruptions and frustrations are gifts in disguise. They slow us down, move us past and beyond our initial reactions, plans and expectations into something much deeper and more meaningful.

After this hit me last night, the woman and two kids who ran up to me this morning to see Molly and Lily became the gift of the day. It was no longer an interruption but an opportunity to stop and participate in life. They beamed as they petted them and the girls soaked it in as well. A simple moment, a simple act, a brighter day for all of us.

We are here to be instruments and channels of patience, love and light. To give and receive. Looking forward to some more “interrupting” moments tomorrow.

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.” – Kent Nerburn

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.” – Kent Nerburn

 

Authentic Leadership

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

I asked Jeanne to teach me how to do speed work so I could mix up my running routine, making it a little less routine. It’s easy to get into a rut even in good habits. Tonight, she taught me and made it fun. There are many more lessons I’ve learned from her through the years. She’s magnetic and draws people to her with who she is to the core.

Jeanne will often say she’s a follower not a leader. It could not be farther from the truth. Authentic leadership is unselfish, shining the spotlight on others. Authentic leadership shares knowledge with actions more than words, with genuine enthusiasm more than pontificating. Authentic leadership is ego-free and generous in spirit, actually making us believe that we know more than we do, building our confidence to keep trying.

So when I look for models of leadership, I am certainly not looking at those in politics, entertainment or most businesses. Real leadership is modeled by those in our daily lives who quietly, unassumingly and authentically live it out each day, reaching outward rather than calling attention to self.  Natural and real, building others rather than themselves.

Outstanding lesson in not only speed work, but authentic leadership in so many areas of life – thanks Jeanne, your grateful student.

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