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Spilled Milk or Coffee in this Case

Driving into work yesterday, I prepared my mind by listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on being prisoner of hope and the energy of optimism. I stopped by my regular coffee spot to fill up my coffee mug with some delicious hazelnut vanilla dark roast. Armed with a positive mindset, intent on seizing the day, I bounced in like Tigger to be a bright light.

Twelve minutes later, the day took a detour into a technology “pothole” that needed to be dealt with right away, moving me off my tasks that I intended to conquer as I was seizing the day, being a prisoner of hope. I gathered a few staff into my office for a phone call to resolve it. As we discussed our options, I sat back in my chair and took a big gulp of my cup of deliciousness to fuel my problem-solving super-powers.

The cover was not screwed on all of the way and coffee proceeded to pour down my chin onto my sweater and pants, well beyond the help of a Shout stain remover pad to fix. It was fun to have an audience too. I whispered, “son of a b___” and continued on with the discussion. With one meeting after another, I didn’t have time to go home to change so I spent the morning with a bucket of coffee on me.

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” – Saint Augustine

I went home at lunch to change and on the way back the necklace that I had on broke and fell in my lap. My assessment of the day was that the Holy Spirit was on my ass, challenging me to rise above circumstances and be anchored in light and optimism. The old saying is “don’t cry over spilled milk” or in this case, spilled coffee. While not perfect, I did try to make light of it and not have it ruin my day.

We get to choose each day whether spilled coffee or series of technology mishaps or imperfect people will defeat us. Despite our circumstances, we can actually be a prisoner of hope, filled with optimism that is borne within us, untouched by external distractions, disruptions and detours.

And the final lesson, make sure the cap is screwed on both your coffee mug and your head. See the humor in each day and lighten up. It’s only spilled milk.

Today, I am going into work with a helmet on.

Crystal Clear

Glorious, awestruck, taken-aback, stupendous, magical, delightful.

When is the last time that you’ve used one of these words to describe something, anything. An activity, a conversation, a sunset. Gliding across the snow last night with fresh snow falling was glorious. That’s the word I used this morning as I wondered why my back was sore and then remembered the source.

We should be on the hunt daily for reasons to use theses descriptors. They are much better than busy, tired and overwhelmed which is more of our reality in our fast pursuit to nowhere. Faster, “better,” productive.

The problem when we use these words sparingly, for the vacation, for fictional “someday” when things are perfect, when we lose 20 pounds, when this person gets out of the way, when circumstances change, is that we are missing daily joy that is abundant and available to all of us despite the excuses and hurdles that we put in our own way. Pursue awestruck in what already is, not what will be when all of the conditions fall into place.

Life is messy. Relationships, death, illness, politics, things that didn’t work out according to our plan. And right in the middle of the mess is capacity for joy and contentment within, waiting to be called out to play, dance and sing, loudly.

We choose daily what we put in the forefront, on center stage. We do, no one else. That’s powerful and daunting when we can’t blame someone or something else. We have the power to shift our attention from our self-inflicted problems to our reservoir of light within.

Foster, feed and bring that inner joy within to fruition so you expand your vocabulary and starting using glorious, awestruck, taken-aback, stupendous, magical, delightful on a regular basis

At the beginning of the year, I made a new “intention” bracelet that I wear almost every day with the word “clarity” on it. That is what I am seeking. What we seek actively, we find.

Not right. Not left. Not right. Not wrong. Not more. Not less. Clarity for what already is in this very moment.

Pick a New Mountain

“There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

We circle the same mountain, again and again. Same stuff, different year. Stuck in the same place, expecting new scenery. Move on. Pick a new mountain and start climbing to your new summit.

Thoughts, words, actions are the map to your destination. If you are in circle mode, at the base of the same old mountain, change your map. You have a great adventure ahead awaiting your arrival.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

No and Yes Checklist

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca

In order for us to say YES and count each day as a separate life, we need to also say NO to:

Negative thoughts
Toxic people
Assumptions
Drama
Scarcity
Regret
People-pleasing
Perfection
Cynicism
Unforgiveness
Busyness
Victim mentality
Multitasking
Past
Fear

Say YES to:

Abundance
Gratitude
Joy
Laughter
Quiet
Music
Fun
Play
Trying
Practice
Starting
Imperfection
Purpose
Wonder
Discovery
Curiosity
Delight
Art
Nature

Start checking off your YES list by checking off your No list.

Forward, Full Speed Ahead

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

We spend so much time running FROM things – change, the past, regrets. What if we invested half of that time running TO things, head on, full speed, filled with optimism? Planning for the best-case scenario rather than settling for worst-case thinking that steals our joy.

My latest article on Start3Things is on releasing the vise grip of limiting beliefs. Change your thoughts, change the depth and quality of your days.

One of my favorite daily activities is to run the dogs up to a wooded path where they can run off leash. Sasha wanders and explores while Abby stares until I throw the ball. She chases every ball like it’s the first time she’s ever chased a ball. Rigorous, focused, disciplined play.

Stop running from the dark and run swiftly to the light. Hurl yourself forward into awe and wonder.

“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

Turn Up the Volume!

If you spike the ball when Friday hits that you made it through another week and lament the brevity of the weekend, it’s time to change your mindset from survival mode to thrive mode, from scarcity to abundance. I certainly have fallen into the trap of Friday delight and Monday dread.

Time for some seven-day living filled with joy, laughter and some serious play. Negativity is a spiral that produces more of the same useless, time-wasting, life-sucking results. Optimism multiplies, fuels, energizes, creates light, uncovers possibility available right in this very moment. A much better choice for thriving no matter the circumstances. No more dabbling in optimism – commit.

Looking for a way to shift your perspective? Go opposite. Too close, pull back. Too far out, pull in. See the whole picture. Can’t come up new ideas, stop trying and let them find you by taking a walk.

The quickest way to shift your perspective – music. I’ve started a “dance party” playlist and just added Lizzo’s Good as Hell – “I do my hair toss, Check my nails, Baby how you feelin’?, Feeling good as hell!” I can’t help but smile, sing loudly and bust a move.

Music, art, nature are all gifts that remind us to lighten up and enjoy this very moment. Change the playlist in your mind and let your heart, spirit and soul out to dance every single day. Turn up the volume! Hair toss, check nails, feeling good as hell!

Keep Daring, Again and Again

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Our regrets lie in what we don’t do or try. Failure is not in the falling, in making wrong decisions, but in indecision and not daring to venture into new things, to be a beginner. There is a Japanese proverb called Nana korobi ya oki, which means fall down seven times and get up eight.

We learn from our successes and more from our mistakes. We never learn or grow by staying in neutral. Each step we dare to take weaves together into the hero’s journey as defined by Joseph Campbell who also advised “find your bliss.”

One of my favorite quotes that Brené Brown starts her book Daring Greatly with is Teddy Roosevelt’s, The Arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Stay in the arena and never give up. Keep daring, again and again.

Fresh Water

“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?” – Alice Walker

“For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.” – D. H. Lawrence

No special occasion. No waiting on someone else. On the weekly grocery list. I buy flowers for myself like I buy lettuce. Nutrition for the soul to savor the fragrant brilliance found only in a party of fresh blooms. Each one unique, brimming with beauty. Showing off as they should. Unapologetic.

A florist once advised me that to make the flowers last longer, freshen the water daily. Solid advice for living too. Dump out the stale, clouded water and begin each day a new. Fresh water, fresh blooms.

 

Slow Internalization

“Unpacking what we’ve been through in the solitude of our reflection – this is our darkroom. This is where we incubate our attempts at understanding until they are exposed, developed, and fixed as glimpses of truth and wisdom. And yet, when we hold back on developing what we know, we dodge the lesson waiting to be revealed. And when we overthink, through worry or doubt, the insight waiting to develop within us, we are burning our experience beyond recognition.

Despite the speed of our age, we need to take experience into our heart and wait for the images of life to show themselves, all of which take time. And any ounce of honest writing requires the courage to let the lessons of life leave their markings on us. In this way, the practice of listening and reflecting etches its insights into our consciousness, and expression then develops those images into stories or poems. The ounce of wisdom we offer is always the result of the slow internalization of what life does to us.” – Mark Nepo, Drinking from the River of Light

When we stop pursuing, racing aimlessly to destination nowhere, slowing into solitude and silence amidst a loud scrambling world, patterns unfold into meaning and insight.

As much as we want “cliff notes” to get to the lessons quickly, the book of life is one to be read, line by line, chapter by chapter to the last page where it all weaves together. We can fight it and remain in the shallow of busy or we can enter the deep flow of time where light reveals the lessons to a marked, worn yet open heart.

Clarity, discernment and wisdom lie dormant, preparing to rise. Life shows itself. Slow internalization.

8 Percent

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Last week, I received a certificate of recognition from the Guideposts Foundation for being a member since 1986 – 34 years. I joined after reading the founder Norman Vincent Peale’s seminal book The Power of Positive Thinking. I’ve returned to this book regularly and it is foundational to who I am, want to be and fall short of often. It really defines what Cast Light aspires to be – encouragement and optimism in the midst of all that life throws at us. Joy can transcend our circumstances when we think, act and see differently, choosing gratitude and abundance over cynicism and scarcity.

“The way to happiness; keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, scatter sunshine, forget self, and think of others.” – Norman Vincent Peale

One of the main things that steals our daily joy is worry. “Someone actually did a study demonstrating the pointlessness of much of our worries. The researcher found that 40% of the things people worried about never happened; 30 percent concerned old decisions that couldn’t be altered; 12 percent were about other people’s perceptions that may or may not even be true, and 10 percent were related to health, which worsens when you worry. Them remaining 8 percent of worries might possibly be called legitimate,” stated Norman Vincent Peale.

92% of worry is about things that never happen, the past, false perceptions and health. Guard your joy daily and diligently direct your thoughts. Release worry, restore your energy and invest your power in worthy pursuits.

Free your mind and go be a light in the world! No worries!

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