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Thoughts-Filled

“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” – Swami Vivekananda

Left unattended, our thoughts can lead us to dead ends, detours and delays. What’s on our mind becomes where we will go, or more importantly where we won’t go because we are bound up with fear, diminishing our relationships, our potential, our purpose.

Listen to your thoughts, attend to them. What’s reeling through your mind distracting you from the depth of the moment? – the past, regret, to do list, worry, offenses, conversations, assumptions, unforgiveness, disappointments. Days in the past get rewound and replayed over and over again.

We can stop reliving our days and start living each day moment by moment, step by step, doing the work of work, play and rest. Our thoughts are the first step to our day and what will come tomorrow and the next. What we give credence to is what our life becomes.

We can set a new pattern and fill our mind with thoughts that propel instead of paralyze. Thoughts filled with possibility, enthusiasm, joy, dreams, laughter, love, compassion, delight. Centering and calming as the ocean rolling in, a soft breeze, a long run, a sunset. Fill your thoughts on purpose each day and make sure that they inspire, edify, grow, build and excite you and watch what happens.

As Simple as a Smile

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?’ These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” – Henri Nouwen

A simple smile can change the moment, the day. Three easy steps: 1) Curiosity 2) Discovery 3) Joy. Lighten up and cast light in the process. My where a smile can lead…

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” – Joseph Addison

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” – Joseph Addison

Part-time Living

“We were born whole, and yet most of us are living as partial human beings. We each have the capacity to leave the world a better place than we found it. We are meant to discover our authentic nature – the state of being in which we are inspired by ourselves, turned on, lit up, and excited about who we are.” – Debbie Ford, The Shadow Effect

Whether in career or in relationships, transitions make us choose a path among many. During many transitions, I’ve often moved to get away from what’s behind rather than moving forward to what’s ahead. Instead of lunging head first into the future with anticipation and excitement, we drag our feet with one eye fixed in the rear view mirror with trepidation. Choosing the path of seemingly least resistance, we surrender to less than what we are called to do and be, in reality choosing more resistance.

We give up and away too much of ourselves to doubt, fueled by our own thoughts and others uninformed opinions. Instead of sabotaging ourselves, we can openly and confidently receive the plan that was written for us and get out of our own way. Not only fanning the flames, but stoking the fire. Burning every inch of the wick in the candle until the wax is melted completely. To cast our full light, with no apologies or apprehension.

Living to our full capacity is a full time job. So live each day with enthusiasm, hope and faith that we are moving deeper into ourselves when we move beyond the easy and obvious. We are becoming who we are meant to be step by step, transition to transition. No more part-time, half hearted living. Full time while we have the time.

Buoyant

“Recognize the possibility of the divine in any given moment.” – Dani Shapiro

“Recognize the possibility of the divine in any given moment.” – Dani Shapiro

“I awoke only to see the rest of the world was still asleep.” – Leonardo da Vinci

A sunset breaking through the paint brushed clouds and resting on the sleeping water show us how to return to our true north, our center. The sun rises and sets. The water ebbs and flows. Lighting and reflecting all of the beauty that surrounds it. In tune with its nature, rising above the fray. Buoyant, strong, at ease and steady.

We may get pulled under the water now and then, but we are built to be buoyant, returning to the surface. We need only to let go of the anchors that keep pull us under. Wake up, let go and float.

A Drop

“A jug fills drop by drop.” – Buddha

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes

A drop, a gesture, a step, a smile, a glance, a song, a walk, a flower, a hug, a laugh, a beam, a rainbow, a moment. It all adds up and creates a life. Skies darken and the rain pours down. Clouds clear and the dark is overcome by warmth and light. A drop at a time.

Long Slow Summer

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…” ― Susan Polis Schutz

As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. - A. C. Benson

As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. – A. C. Benson

To a cool breeze that touches the soul. To the warm sun that ignites delight. To long walks that stop time. Awe found, slowly and deeply. Summer amplifies our blessings with vibrant colors, sweet fragrances and the music of nature. Summer frees us to live by the moment, present and aware.

Go slow summer, go slow.

Blooming Process

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” – Saint Francis de Sales

The lilies bloomed late this year, but bloom they did. Sometimes we’re in full bloom on time. Other times, we are folded up tight in retreat, waiting for the blooming process to ensue. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow.

Perfection tells us it’s all or nothing, providing an excuse to hesitate or stop completely. Don’t. Keep moving, even in waiting. There’s a lot of “in between” time when we are amidst growth, being transformed into something new, unfamiliar and beautiful. The blooming process unfolds in its own time, for its own purpose.

Light waits patiently for us, steady and unwavering. We may bloom late, but it’s never too late to bloom, again and again. Blooming time is right around the corner, cultivated with patience, time, hope and persistence.

“The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” – Jean Giraudoux

“The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” – Jean Giraudoux

Resistance

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

We let resistance prevent us from living the life we are meant to live. And for convenience, we identify resistance as other people and our circumstances instead of owning it ourselves. The best thing about ownership is that we can do something about it because we have power over it.

“The gracious, eternal God permits the spirit to green and bloom and to bring forth the most marvelous fruit, surpassing anything a tongue can express and a heart conceive.” – Johannes Tauler

“The gracious, eternal God permits the spirit to green and bloom and to bring forth the most marvelous fruit, surpassing anything a tongue can express and a heart conceive.” – Johannes Tauler

We dabble and dip our toe into our dreams. But until we commit and do the work, they remain dormant. We avoid weeding because we know that it’s a task that never ends. The weeds keep coming back. But if we weed correctly and get the root, we get the entire weed. We can then move on to planting flowers and the art of blooming. Blooming into the life we’ve left unlived for far too long. Overcome resistance by opening up to the possibilities held deep within and let them bloom.

Lesson Plan

“You can never regret anything you do in life. You kind of have to learn the lesson from whatever the experience is and take it with you on your journey forward.” – Aubrey O’Day

This month marks my 25 years in association management. I’ve been thinking about it the past few months – how the time has flown and moved slowly at the same time. Moments of success and failure that have culminated into a career that I am proud of. And I haven’t thrown in the towel  yet – I’ve got some good years in me still.

Today one of our new interns interviewed me on my career for her class project. Her questions made me hone in and reflect on lessons learned. She asked for advice that I would give to someone starting out in their career.

So here goes, the lessons I’ve learned, relearned and keep learning even after 25 years:

Stay positive and never let negative people make you stray off course. It’s only noise to distract, tune it out. Be patient and let time do its job. Work hard and be focused. Play hard so you can keep working hard. When you are at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home. Laugh early and often, especially at yourself. Intensity is good at times, but not all of the time. Lighten up.

Trust yourself. Listen. Don’t let others criticism or praise define who you are – you only need to account for what you’ve contributed to this world while you are here so keep your eyes on your own paper. Take ownership for your professional and personal development. There will never be “free time” that suddenly opens up for learning. You need carve it out of your schedule each day and make it a priority. Be curious and ask questions. Always do your best – it develops character, strength and results.

Make time for art, music and literature to spark a continual flow of creativity which every profession can benefit from. True leadership is a quiet endeavor that always shines a light outward, not to self. Help others grow and you will grow yourself in the process. Enjoy the journey, it goes fast. Create, foster and build relationships – those are what will be remembered long after we pass by and through.

As in all lessons, I wish I would have learned them quicker than I did. The good news is that I am still a willing student ready to learn even more as the journey continues.

 

The Human Spirit

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph

Another Grandma’s marathon, another first marathon to celebrate. This time it was my niece Emily’s turn and she did it! The first marathon is about finishing. It’s the “I think I can and I’m ready but I’ve never done it before” elusiveness.

Four to five months of training, commitment and hard work gets you to the start line. You learn the value of preparing your mind as much as your body as well as your spirit. All play an important role in getting to the finish line.

Many training runs by yourself convince you that you are alone in this effort. But when you get to marathon day, you soon realize through the support and encouragement of family, friends and complete strangers along the way that you are in no way alone in the endeavor, or in life for that matter. The cowbells, people yelling your name, the texts from family and friends checking in, the running by your side the last mile show how many people are cheering for and sharing in your success.

“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources.” – Luc de Clapiers

“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources.” – Luc de Clapiers

Whether it’s a marathon or another dream or goal, the meaning comes from the journey before ever getting to the start line. It’s the unfolding and freeing of the human spirit that deepens the meaning and calls us to seek more challenges and dreams. There are no short cuts – the secret is in the intersection of time, effort, focus, consistency, faith, optimism, persistence and determination.

Pick your “marathon” and go for it with your whole heart, mind and spirit. We all have longings that pull at us to go out into the world to give and be our best, beyond what we could ever imagine. We need only to take the first step and each that follows become second nature. Your human spirit is ready and waiting to take flight.

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