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The Next 50

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sophia Loren

I am taking a few days off to relax and enjoy the remaining hours of my 49th year. People asked what I am going to do and I told them that I am going to reflect on the past 50 years and think about what I am going to do with my next 50 years. Time moves quickly and slowly at the same time. We wish days away and then suddenly we’re 50 and feel like 30.

If we don’t pause along the way to witness what was and is right now, we miss the gifts and blessings that surround and embrace us. Regret can only be avoided if we remain present in each moment and aware of our power over our own lives and not distracted by the noise.

When we’re younger, we work on getting experience to get to the next thing, the next promotion, the next opportunity, the next trophy… Now I am more interested in experiencing each day giving my best regardless of recognition, learning new things, gaining insight, creating meaning, traveling lighter, letting worries go, trying to be much less serious and making good use of the experience I have earned by growing others.

Looking back, I don’t have the life I thought I would have but I have the life I was meant to and doing my best to live it well. And each day is overflowing with gratitude, grace, love and sprinkled with delight in the simple moments. Figure out what really matters right now and make each day its own end. So instead of the next 50 years, I think I’ll focus on the next 50 minutes.

True North

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.” – Albert Einstein

When I lose my way, may I always be brought home to a smile, a warm greeting and undivided attention. And when I go back out, may I carry that with me and offer the same that I have been given and restored by.

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” – Khalil Gibran

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” – Khalil Gibran

Boundless

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

Every moment, each day is overflowing with promise when we give ourselves permission to accept that simple premise. Too often, we forego awesome people, beautiful places and the depth of the present as we opt to predetermine what lies ahead while clinging tightly to what has gone before.

I knew that this past week was going to have long hours and busy days. But instead of dreading it or wishing them away, I decided to move through each day open to what it may offer, no preconceived notions or conclusions. By letting it flow and unfold, I found a certain ease and renewed energy. I got to know others better, shared a bit about myself and listened intently. No judgment. No controlling. Just connecting with all that was present right in the moment.

I have surrendered too many days to assumptions, misperceptions, frustrations, drama and self-made complexity. If we start with the assumptions that people are good and our options are many, the world is transformed into endless possibilities. Naïve? Perhaps. Will we be disappointed? Absolutely. But living bound up in what has been or what may come steals this moment and the best in us and others.

We all just want to be called out to play, given permission to participate, invited to be seen and heard. Seize the boundless promises waiting to be fulfilled in your day, in your life.

Wide Open Spaces

“We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” – Romans 5:1-2

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” – Frances E. Willard

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” – Frances E. Willard

When we reawaken our senses and look to the expansive and deep horizon beyond our self made tunnel of urgency and scarcity, we suddenly discover the wide open spaces ready to be explored, received and celebrated. In gratitude and quiet reflection, take a moment or two or several dozen today to throw open the doors of grace and let your spirit be lead to where it longs to go.

Alignment

“Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.” – Spanish proverb

Align your best self and intentions with your thoughts, actions and words every day with forethought and planning. We easily wander off course if we are not mindful and aware of the power of words and of silence. We live fractured days when we are out of alignment, so keep readjusting. It’s not simply done once and done. It’s ongoing. Change your thoughts, change your life. Make kindness your start and finish and the rest will fall into place.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg

Encourage, construct, help, heal. Cast light with your presence, words and silence.

Silly Hats

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” – Theodore Roosevelt

I gave my niece Emily a silly hat as a little gift for running me in at the marathon last week. I thought it was fun but I wasn’t sure if she’d actually wear it. She was very excited and in her sage wisdom said she’d wear it everywhere now that she doesn’t care what other people think.

It takes some of us many years to get to that point, some never do. Instead of unfolding and blossoming into who we are, we hide and keep true self to ourselves. Pleasing others, making decisions from the outside instead of inside. The sooner we become at ease with ourselves, the sooner we can live a good life being the person we are born to be. Acceptance is a beautiful gift.

Be yourself, unencumbered and unafraid. Let go of expectations and judgment on yourself and others and release your true self to the world, silly hats and all.

“If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

First Sight Again

“We all walk around within the numbness of our habits and routines so often that we take the marvels of ordinary life for granted.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Let yourself and all that you carry from the past, from yesterday and about the future, about tomorrow and leave it where it was or will be. Sink deeply into the moments of today. No judgment, measurement, comparison, heaviness, preconceived notions, worry or hesitation.

See as if for the very first time all that surrounds you. With a grateful heart, dancing spirit and open soul, be new and renewed by the beauty and simplicity of the ordinary.

Cast light, first sight.

Behind the Medal

“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” – Therese of Lisieux

There’s so much more behind the engraved medal at the end of the marathon. Traveling as light as possible, I don’t carry my phone so I can’t capture the beautiful scenes on the journey. But each mile has pictures engraved in my memory.

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho

At the start line, thousands of runners gather hopeful and excited, sprinkled with a bit of fear of what’s to come, but starting just the same. My first marathon with my brother John and both of our third marathons.

From start to finish, people gather along the streets clapping, jumping, cheering for strangers – scattering flowers. A mom stops to kiss her husband and kids who are beaming with pride in her feat. Dads and daughters running along side each other.

Mile 17, questions on my sanity sneak into my thoughts then shift quickly back to what I said to myself at mile one – how do you run a marathon? – one mile at a time, break it up. Mile 21, I can make it, take it all in, walk when you have to, keep going. Passing runners at the medical stations exhausted and injured reminds me that there are no guarantees. Anything can happen on marathon day. Everyone does not finish.

I don’t visualize the finish line as much as mile 24.5 where family and friends are gathered, standing for over five hours in 40 degrees cheering thousands of runners on and waiting patiently for me to finally show up. Scattering flowers.

Mile 23.5, my niece Emily runs up to greet me with a hug and smile and starts running me home. She ran her Dad to the finish and came back out for me. My left calf knots up and she stops to rub it out. Scattering flowers.

We approach 24.5 to my cheering crowd – hugs and hoots all around as if I’ve won the marathon. Emily continues on with me and Linda, who has an injured knee, joins us to run me to the finish. Just down the road, Jeanne is waving her arms, doing jumping jacks and joins my finishing pack. Scattering flowers.

The finish line. The medal. The journey that started four months ago and hundreds of miles is complete with the final 26.2. And each mile of the journey, I’ve never been alone. I’ve been gathering flowers.

Detours

“I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.” – Emily Bronte

On my way to a meeting yesterday by my house, I knew the shortest route to get there. When the road was backed up, I changed my route even though it was a bit longer. As I drove down the altered path, I realized its familiarity.

All summer long, I ran this path for my marathon training many early Saturday mornings. And this morning’s detour shifted my worry about Sunday’s marathon to excitement and calm. Doubts suddenly overcome with ease in knowing that I did the work and the results will unfold as they are meant to.

This journey is complete. And what remains is getting to the start line, joining thousands of runners who share similar stories of set backs, personal records, injuries and fatigue from four months of training in the middle of life that’s filled with too many commitments, deadlines and distractions. And yet, they showed up, despite those voices of dissent.

The detours, wins, ties and losses are all part of our life, our path transforming us into who we already are. All of the altered paths lead us to what’s next and what’s right for us. Put down the map and take in the scenery. It’s a beautiful path, especially the detours.

Pebble

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” – Blaise Pascal

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” – Blaise Pascal

“God wants us to know that life is a series of beginnings, not endings. Just as graduations are not terminations, but commencements. Creation is an ongoing process, and when we create a perfect world where love and compassion are shared by all, suffering will cease.” – Bernie Siegel

What will you create today?

Laughter, light, meaning, value, joy, depth? Will your drop in the ocean sink to the bottom or ripple outward in all directions to move another, to inspire. One small deed. A smile. Undivided attention. A word of encouragement.

We create our own world and cast light or shadow outward. A symphony or a clanging drum. A sigh of relief or signal of distress. If we choose worry, it takes front and center stage. If we choose to murmur, it keeps coming out and expands to fill the room with noise, creating pockets of void.

Kindness, gratitude, compassion and love move mountains, create a new landscape, raise us up. Release the best in you and create a new world right where you stand. One small beautiful act at a time. New beginnings, not endings. Create.

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