“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron
What is one less thing you can do? Not more, less.
What we say “no” to gets us to the richness of the “yes” things we long for and are called to do. I jam as much activity into a minute better than most and it merely fosters more activity. Yet that which I value most is not quantity of tasks but quality of moments of depth that comes from “single” tasking.
A long run, throwing the ball for the girls, writing, reading more than 3 pages in a book, prayer and reflection that leads to gratitude and grace, a walk in the woods, undivided attention and device free moments with family and friends. That’s my list. What’s yours?
And when we get to more “yes” things that matter, the other stuff that makes up our ridiculously long “to do” list gets done. And if they don’t then maybe those things shouldn’t be done in the first place. Add more quality to your days and your tasks by doing less so the things that you spend your precious and limited time on bring more joy and discovery to your days. Remove items from the list so you can fully participate in life rather than be a “productive” machine.
Add by subtracting. It’s the new math.
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” – Saint Francis de Sales
Busyness is the ailment of our time. Hurrying from one thing to the next to keep the balls in the air, never questioning the value of the balls we frantically juggle. Breath and let go. Two very difficult tasks when we are all lathered up. But we have choices and we must act on them, never accepting what is as the inevitable.
So if it’s been one of those days or one of those months or even years, don’t resign yourself to it. Fight like hell to find peace and furrow into planting calm. Circumstances, expectations and people often won’t change, but we always can.
There’s a weariness to daily living. And when we dig a bit deeper, we quickly expose the beauty of each moment, of the present. Don’t fall for your first reaction or frustration. Wait it out, push on through and never accept mediocrity over full living.
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” – Helen Keller
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
Each morning, set the tone for the day. This requires quiet to be able to contemplate, to see the beautiful forest rather than be lost in the trees. Decide what song you will sing and if you will dare to even dance. There are a lot of distractions, so you must make a conscious decision if you will sing and dance or if you will merely get through.
“Have tos” and “should’ve beens” are joy thieves. And we don’t realize that we’ve been robbed until we’ve wasted many days that turn into years. Struggle is certain, our response is not.
So remain in this day and give it your best voice and step. That is what we are called to do, especially when we don’t “feel” like it. Our joy is not in some far off land or mythical future when everything falls in place. It’s right now, this moment, today.
And when you sing your song and dance your dance, you give others permission to do the same.
My best friends and roommates Sasha and Abby know how to dance to be sure. Ear-flapping freestyle.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer
As I was driving back to work after a chiropractor appointment to ease some chronic wrist, hand and neck pain, I pulled up behind a hearse at a stop light. I didn’t really notice it until I came along side it on the road.
It woke me up out of auto-pilot as I was thinking about the 500 emails I was returning to and the nonstop meetings and interruptions that make up a regular work day.
Bottom line – if you’re not in a box riding in the back of a hearse, start living! It may sound morbid but what’s even more morbid and morose is our complacent acceptance of the daily minutia and grind that steals the beauty and joy that we are meant to partake in and offer while we are here for a very short time.
So next time you’re stuck in a negative mood or worse, in a state of numb, wake up and enjoy each day starting now. Take the last-minute trip, call your Mom and Dad if you are fortunate to have them still here, laugh more, try something new, dare to be bold and bright.
Because if you’re not in one of these, you are obligated to live fully, to walk softly and to embrace your days with delight and awe. No regrets. Start living.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
If you make only one resolution this year, make it daily gratitude. Commit each day to soak in your blessings. We move so fast that our blessings that we are showered with barely touch our skin, much less soak in.
Soaking and depth demand quiet and connection. Be grateful and all of your other resolutions that are meant to be will fall into place.
Our cup is not only half full, it’s overflowing. Soak it in.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown
“Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep.” – Anthony Hitt
As the holidays wind down with the new year around the corner, the next thing on “the list” is the obligatory list of new year’s resolutions. If we are not really resolved and ready to commit, they fall by the wayside by the end of January. And we get disappointed in ourselves and fall back into the same old rut perplexed that we are getting the same results.
Rather than a laundry list of well-intended but uncommitted to items of what to fix, lose or remove, choose what you will add to your life. Actively and consciously choose how you will spend your time and what you will give yourself to.
Be present in the moment, spend quality time with family and friends, carve quiet into each day, commit to running or walking at least one mile every day, vow to not hibernate over winter, play more. Being active, eating better, resting more, having fun and being curious will bring daily contentment and lasting results. We never really start over, we start where we are at. And we’re farther than we think we are.
No need to wait for January 1 to live more fully. Start today.
“God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.” – Adam Hamilton
We fill our days with busy and often little substance in the pursuit of whatever. We have no room left for awe and holy to enter. Christmas invites us to wait, anticipate and prepare for the most sacred birth, for us to be reborn to possibility, hope and joy.
There was no room at the Inn so Jesus was born in a barn. The beginning of His life started with rejection and love still entered ever so bright. And the end of His life on this earth was the most unimaginable and unfathomable. Both His birth and death were to save us, even in this very moment.
So if your “Inn” is filled with loss, regret, unforgiveness, loneliness, make room for Christ to enter this week and to remain during the ordinary days ahead. Create some room in your heart and let it be filled with light and love.
“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” – Dr. Seuss
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo
Daily life is often unclear, messy and loud. With an abundance of options and directions, we bury ourselves in the mundane pursuit of tasks and find ourselves in a hole of scarcity. We don’t see the exact path, so we don’t take the first step.
But just one step beyond the noise, grey and cloudiness, we are called to carve out our lives with what we are given in this very moment. Each step prior has prepared us for steps unseen. Discovery and delight are found in daily pursuit of joy, unfolding the statue inside.
So instead of over-analyzing and over complicating, simply start chipping away each day to carve out the life you are meant to create. Take the chisel back from others and hold it in your hand firmly. Set the angel free.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
“So many things show their beauty when we go quiet. So many truths are present when we look up from under our trouble. To fall below the world while still living in the world makes us remember that the truth waits under our opinions is our home.” – Mark Nepo, Things that Join the Sea and the Sky
No excuses or exceptions. Carve quiet into your day – get off the grid of technology, distractions and demands. Morning is the perfect time to start slow, anchor in truth and then enter the day with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. We too easily allow ourselves to be pulled aimlessly in several directions. A pin ball machine on steroids, missing the beauty ever present in moments. We are lost and searching for something that is right in front of us, in us.
Get “off the grid” and fly below the noise and distractions. And then the beauty you’ve been missing and searching for will suddenly appear.
“Earth is crammed with heaven.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
There are certain days that it doesn’t feel like earth is crammed with heaven. Many days, we are reminded of loss. If not our own, others. Death of a sister, a dad, a grandma this past two weeks. It’s been a year and a half and not a day goes by that I don’t miss Dad. And loss grows heartfelt empathy for others when they enter where you’ve been.
And at the same time, others are experiencing great joy. The innocent child-like anticipation of Christmas. And there in lies the essence of life – the weaving of struggle and delight, loss and gain. A pendulum of sorts.
The passing of time brings a certain acceptance and perhaps even a bit of peace. And in the loss, we gain a new appreciation for the moment, for forgiveness, for letting go, for loving without condition. Even in the dark, light remains constant, ready to slowly pull us back into the earth that is crammed with heaven when we are ready to re-enter.
So as Christmas is at our doorstep again, be light for those who are amidst loss and grief. Show them that even in the struggle, joy can and must co-exist so it can lead us back to our new normal, to our next self. Be the window to a bit of heaven for another.
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale