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Be Honest

Let’s be honest. Starting out positive is no problem. Maintaining optimism in the “real” world and finishing strong is hard. It’s easy to join the complainers, but the satisfaction is shallow and short-lived. And they have plenty of players on their team.

I commented to friends that this past year would make a good country song. My lawn mower died. My roof rotted 15 years early. My furnace and air conditioner croaked. My new tires are worn. I am earning an honorary degree at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital with Molly (torn ACL) and Lily (allergies). Family health challenges including hip replacements, knee replacement, breast cancer and other daily ailments …

Life becomes linear and flat when we keep score, especially when we only count the “losses.” We have many more points in the “win/blessings” column than we count or appreciate. And when we are too busy keeping score, we are not playing and enjoying the game. We keep swinging the bat and missing the ball.

Who we become through life’s unfolding takes us well beyond merely tallying points. We choose to move through our life with grace and gratitude or self-pity and complaint.

Let’s really be honest. We have what it takes to rise higher and discover the depth and dimension of a life well lived. And when we fall short, we get back up and keep fighting the good fight. Never giving up on seeking, finding and sharing the light that is the true essence and mystery of life.

Hope and encouragement win the day.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

Simple Delight

“All around us is the cosmic game, the cosmic play. The universe is full of joy, inner and outer. When realisation takes place, we have to feel the necessity of manifesting this constant delight in our heart. The delight glows, but does not burn. It has tremendous intensity, but it is all softness and absolutely sweet-flowing nectar.” – Sri Chinmoy

Every morning without fail, Molly picks up a toy to lead Lily and me outside. She knows it makes me laugh every time. This morning, my sox were behind Lamby-boy too. She signals to Lily it’s time to start the day with play and simple delight.

“I've heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I've brought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” – Dr. Seuss

“I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” – Dr. Seuss

Walk through today lightly. Be filled with gratefulness rather than grief. Leave behind smiles instead of sighs. Give more and you won’t need to take. It returns all on its own, tenfold.

Unknowing

“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” – Eckhart Tolle

When I awake to now, there are no problems to be solved, no places to be and gratitude fills the space. Release moments that have passed, let moments to come unfold to what they will be, immerse into this very moment. Happiness is a daily decision, a habit that takes hold through practice and ours to claim if we so choose. A simple decision.

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” – Eckhart Tolle

By Surprise

“We seem to thinks that God speaks by seconding the ideas we’ve already adopted, but God nearly always catches us by surprise. If it’s God’s Spirit blowing, someone ends up having feathers ruffled in an unforeseen way. God tends to confound, astonish, and flabbergast. A Bethlehem stable, a Roman cross, an empty garden tomb. We might as well reconcile ourselves to the fact that God’s truth often turns up in ways we don’t expect.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

When reading books, I mark pages with flags when the words jump off the page and hug me like an old friend who knows my heart. Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite authors and I was drawn to pull When the Heart Waits off the shelf last night. As I turned each flagged page, the quote above called to me.

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

May each day be filled with surprises, confident that each unforeseen encounter is leading you where you need to go. And while you are on your journey, you are also an important part of others journeys as well, helping them, if you choose, to unfold into their best self as well. Be kind and generous.

Last week, I wrote my 500th post on Cast Light. This journey that I tripped into, or rather was lead to, has been one of the most transforming and meaningful activities for me in many years. Each one of us is called beyond busily making a living to something much more. Whatever is whispering to you softly, get quiet enough to get clarity and follow it. There are so many reminders of life’s brevity. Start today, one new and simple step at a time.

It’s Just the Battery

“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

My scooter, aptly named the Buddy, has been sitting in the garage collecting dust, not starting for the past three summers. Each summer I kept charging the battery and it wouldn’t start. Thinking there was a bigger problem, l let it sit to deal with it later. Later never came.

“I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.” – Evel Knievel

“I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.” – Evel Knievel

Realizing summer is winding down, I picked up a new battery this week to see if it could be as simple as that. When I tried to start it, nothing but it sounded different than before. I tried again and again but no spark. Not wanting to drain the new battery, I tried the manual kick start. Two, three, four…and seven was the lucky kick. Tentative, the engine sputtered. After a moment, I revved the engine and a puff of black smoke came out, clearing three years of idleness out of the engine.

More confident that it wouldn’t kill, I headed down the street, gradually picking up speed. After a few times around the block, I went full throttle, wind in my face, claiming victory with a few hoots and hollers. The Buddy rides again! As I pulled her back in the garage, I turned her off and then on again just to be sure. Fired right up.

Sometimes, many times, we make a bigger deal of things and hesitate to try and take action, even one step. We put it off until later and later never comes, only regret for not trying. Our mind is a powerful creation – it can hold us back or when we align it with our heart, it can propel us into endeavors we’d never dare. We risk disappointment and dive in with great abandon.

Most of the time, it’s something as simple as replacing the battery, nothing more. Start changing some batteries, dive in and enjoy life.

Enlightenment

“Life is full of miracles disguised as the ordinary. Enlightenment is the ability to see them in the commonplace.” – Joan Chittister

Our perceptions, expectations, assumptions, reactions and actions are all in our control. The world changes when you stop being driven by others and take that wheel, driving fast and furious on the road of goodness, fullness and light. May your ordinary day be filled with enlightenment fueled by fire. Expect, be and do more.

“To be filled with the fire of life is to be grounded in goodness and freed by the spirit to do more than life would normally expect of us.” – Joan Chittister

Return

“We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul.” – Deepak Chopra

The unrest and uncertainty is not the yearning for more but for true and lasting meaning. Our soul invites us each day to start and finish in quiet reflection, to find joy and awe in the moments that make up our life. We mistake solitude for loneliness, fearful of what we may hear and what we may be called to do about it. Listen and do something about it.

Each day, I pray that I will choose:

Gratitude over regret;
Action over inaction;
Optimism over cynicism;
Civility over aggression;
Kindness over selfishness;
Hope over despair;
Laughter over drama;
Risk over complacency;
Light over shadow;
Love over apathy.

Return to yourself each day so you can enter the world with clarity, peace and purpose beyond yourself. Return.

“The mind ought sometimes to be diverted that it may return to better thinking.” – Phaedrus

“The mind ought sometimes to be diverted that it may return to better thinking.” – Phaedrus

Surround

“To all the other dreamers out there, don’t ever stop or let the world’s negativity disenchant you or your spirit. If you surround yourself with love and the right people, anything is possible.” – Adam Green

“The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

“The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Surround yourself with that which gives you joy. Ground yourself in simple joy and release that joy to the world. Life is filled with reminders of its brevity. Wake up and live fully each day with no guarantee of anything more. Surround, engage and multiple a life well lived. Now, no excuses, without constraint or delay. Dive deep, rise, float.

Pink Clouds

“The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” – Gary Zukav

“Not a breath of air stirred over the free and open prairie; the clouds were like light piles of cotton; and where the blue sky was visible, it wore a hazy and languid aspect.” – Francis Parkman

“Not a breath of air stirred over the free and open prairie; the clouds were like light piles of cotton; and where the blue sky was visible, it wore a hazy and languid aspect.” – Francis Parkman

We often think what will this day bring? Flip it.
What will I bring to this day?
With intention, forethought and action, bring light that transforms the room, delight that only laughter can draw, softness that makes no sense considering the burdens we bear.

Be like a weightless cloud floating in the sky with depth, texture, character, light, anchored by letting go.

Don’t wait for others to go first. Go first, cut in line. Open and unfold to the promise of what we long for yet often do not dare, as we wait for it to happen. Make it happen.

Radically bring to this day your very best. Pink clouds filled with love, light, kindness and joy.

The Whole Pie

“The thing that grounds you, and the thing that really gives you a sense of wholeness, is your family, friends and your community. Those are the things that can mirror back to you what you’re experiencing, and can affirm to you that the stories you are telling are true.” – Dan Chaon

After Sunday and Monday traveling for work with delayed flights and stuck for about 12 hours each day in airports waiting, I spent the last leg of the re-booked late Monday night flight not doing work, listening to music, watching the sun glow above the pillows of clouds as the moon entered, reflecting off the wing.

This year, I’ve traveled more for work than I have in the past three years combined. In addition, there have been a lot of family health issues and challenges – stage 4 breast cancer, Mayo Clinic trips, hip replacement, dog ACLs repairs, dog allergies and a roof replacement for 9 year old roof … and the list goes on.

Exhausted and on the verge of feeling sorry for myself, I started to scan all of the pictures on my iPad from the past seven months. And that simple exercise gave me the entire picture – vacations with friends and family, special moments, running events, a college graduation, birthdays and celebrations. I’ve got a GOOD life with wonderful people/dogs scattered through all of it.

We can easily focus on the slices of life that test our mettle, patience, faith and resolve. But when we look at the whole pie, we immediately discover the wholeness and holiness of our life. While we often don’t see it in the midst of the moment, challenges grow our soul and spirit, teaching us to let go of that which is not worthy of our desperate grip. We become more compassionate, less judgmental, more accepting, loving unconditionally and simply amazed.

When on the tipping point into the hole of self-pity, take a step back, a deep breath, be quiet, reflect and thank God for all of the blessings bestowed on us through grace alone. Life is as good as we allow it to be. Start living each day with a light heart, heavy joy and deep gratefulness. Eat the whole pie.

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” – Francis of Assisi

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” – Francis of Assisi

 

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