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Speak first, then listen and then listen again

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn

Be careful of what you say and what you hear. I was reminded of this today on several fronts while laying around with the flu. People just want to be heard. No need to solve their problem or give dime store advice. Just listening will do. Well-meaning helpfulness, advice, assumptions and opinions have ruined a good many relationships.

For the quiet ones, slowly expressing and at times pining allows their voice to eventually make sense of thoughts that swirl around inside looking for a place to land. For the exuberant extroverts, sharing is a natural discourse with little effort, and at times, without stopping to consider what comes next. The quiet ones could use less forethought and get it out through the shortcut. The not so quiet ones could use more forethought before racing past the afterthought, taking the longcut.

Don’t interpret yipping as a request to solve a problem and don’t accept silence as agreement or consensus. The good news is that we are not all the same.

Thanks to all who have been patient enough to listen to me through the years on Cast Light on mere observations and my interpretation of the world. Just one voice looking for a place to land.

A good writer can make you feel like they know you. A great writer is an observer who is both self-aware and also aware of the relationships and connections outside of themselves while searching for understanding of the big picture. They may know part of you and they challenge you to keep seeking, asking and going until you transform your perspective for the good.

I hope to be a great writer someday with practice and time.

And while connecting some dots along the way, I’ll have fun sharing through writing rather than speaking.

So lighten up. I plan to do much more of that going forward. I fondly remember my Dad once saying, “if you want to know what’s on Kathie’s mind, read Cast Light, otherwise you’d have no idea what she’s thinking.” He knew me the best of all because he was just like me or vise versa. That’s the thing with both understanding and being understood. Together, they are rare and oh so special. St. Francis nailed it:

“Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned”

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

With a bit less pining and consternation, there’s more time for the fun stuff. And the really good posts are always about Abby and Sasha who have no struggle casting light. They just love being, and they’re good listeners too. Can’t imagine what they think of me, but I’m opting for the good version.

Speak and more importantly, listen.

Unseen and unknown

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” – James E. Faust

In our need to know things before we should, to see things before we proceed, we miss the present moment. When we accept the job that has been given to us in this moment without seeing and knowing, we can fully enter now and engage fully in the present.

You are where you need to be right now unless you are not safe or are being harmed – if so, leave and get help. But in our regular ordinary days, we are where we need to be and are needed. Stop falling for the fictional “somewhere” else or longing for a perfect peace from the world. There is a perfect peace that gets us through our difficult and delightful days and it’s not rooted in the world.

At the end of our rope is a new rope, ready to be seized, and can only be fully attained and grasped with two hands, so we must let go of the other one. And the minor inconveniences that we have amplified into major problems that control our perspective, take their proper place as minor. We are blessed and abundant beyond our imagination. We just need to be reminded of it from time to time and let it in to change our view.

Accept the job that God has given you and stop complaining about it (lecture to self). You are exactly where you need to be, now get to work. And in all circumstances, a peace and joy that passes all understanding can get you through the unseen and unknown. And what follows is seeing today with new eyes and absence of worry. Good trade off.

“Dare, dream, dance, smile, and sing loudly! And have faith that love is an unstoppable force!” – Suzanne Brockmann

Stem Straw

I didn’t notice it until I pulled a drooping flower from the bouquet that I got on Mother’s Day from my niece Emily. There was a green plastic straw at the bottom of the daisy. When I slid it up, the flower popped up back in upright position. I looked it up and found that florists use stem straws with certain flowers that have soft stems to hold up the heads. What a brilliant idea.

As I think back on the past few weeks, I am grateful for those stem straws who have propped my head up as struggles have been winning the day. People who remain steady and who say the right thing at the right time and don’t even know it. Abby and Sasha never waiver and are my constant stem straws when circumstances and daily living become too heavy.

When we remain steady and keep going, transformative moments come in due time as we make our way through “dark nights of the soul” periods in our life. Growth comes with struggle and ends with joy. Be open up to new things, be ready to drop old things and trust the process of transitions and transformation. There is a real peace that passes all understanding for each one of us. We need to be open to accept that gift.

Whether we know it or not, we have several opportunities each day to be a stem straw. To prop up and draw another’s eyes up to see a broader perspective beyond the chaos and drama of intense moments. Be a stem straw that provides that extra support that can change someone’s day, change their perspective and offer hope that sustains us to the finish line of fruition.

Rollercoaster

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”― Julian of Norwich

There’s a weariness to rollercoaster living. I had a wonderful 3 days off last week (the first 3 this year) with open space to think, reflect and plan. Enter this week of back to work and the same old rollercoaster of meetings, problems and fundamental stupidity.

Also some wonderful moments which included a goat, guacamole, a running event, May Day and a beautiful painting from a co-worker (all which will be shared in future posts). A mixed bag to be sure.

Yesterday, when I was tired from it all, I missed fully engaging in a wonderful phone conversation with one of my favorite people I’ve met through work. She is kind, a kindred-spirit, honest and warm. She started the conversation with the quote above from one of her favorite saints – Saint Julian of Norwich.

I was listening, but I was worn out from the rollercoaster and missed out fully engaging and being present.

Waking up this morning, determined to make this a good day, I looked up some quotes from Julian of Norwich. When we get our mind off of ourselves and take a break from stupidity, we can choose to engage with others so we don’t miss moments that last long past the rollercoaster living that we’ve grown accustomed to and are way too accepting of. Make up your mind to enjoy today.

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” ― Julian of Norwich

Live gladly today.

Granted

“Most people fill their schedules with work, and leisure only happens when there’s time left over. But it’s impossible to live a rich and full life without doing things that give you joy. Forget about productivity once in a while and give yourself permission to goof off.” – Amy Morin

Standing in the coffee shop waiting for a cup of coffee after a fun run and conversation with Jeanne and thinking about the list for the rest of my day, the coffee carrier right in front of me popped out at me and got my attention with this quote on permission. I went to get my phone to take a picture for this post.

“Become slower in your journey through life. Practice yoga and meditation if you suffer from 'hurry sickness.' Become more introspective by visiting quiet places such as churches, museums, mountains and lakes. Give yourself permission to read at least one novel a month for pleasure.” – Wayne Dyer

“Become slower in your journey through life. Practice yoga and meditation if you suffer from ‘hurry sickness.’ Become more introspective by visiting quiet places such as churches, museums, mountains and lakes. Give yourself permission to read at least one novel a month for pleasure.” – Wayne Dyer

What a simple and brilliant reminder that we are the only ones who can grant ourselves permission to make our day, to explore our environment, to choose our path. We wait for permission from others to live our own life, to choose the activities of the day.

So if you are waiting for permission, stop and grant it to yourself. Sign off and send yourself on the way to explore the possibility in today. It only takes one decision in your own mind to give yourself permission and responsibility to enjoy your day. The coffee carrier and I are happy to remind you and me that it’s time to explore and stop asking permission. It’s yours to give and to grant. It belongs to no one else. Granted.

Open Space

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” —Hans Hofmann

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” —Hans Hofmann

We must create open space each day to enter our thoughts, hear our voice and witness the unfolding of our purpose for being.  I can multitask with the best of them with meeting after meeting and saying “yes” way more than I should or have the capacity to do.

When we say “yes” to more, we say “no” to what we should really be doing. Urgent trumps important again and again, quickly followed by disappointment and a longing for something real. Jamming more into the day is crippling out ability to do what we want, to rest and to engage our imagination.

We have too much clutter both externally and internally. And our frustration is rooted in the fact that more stuff does not, cannot and will not equate to contentment and happiness.

The Japanese concept of “MA” (pronounced “maah”) is about creating space. When we stop our pursuit of more, we can create space and open ourselves up to enough, depth and meaning.

Slow down, listen, say “no” more so you can say “yes” to what’s important and create some open space today. Here’s to more MA!

Carry On

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging and remembering Dad’s passing 3 years ago today. But rather than talk about what was, I’m going to ponder and reflect on what is. In addition to losing my Dad in 2016, I lost both of my dogs – Molly in June and Lily in October. It was relentless. And yet, amidst the deep loss and sorrow of 2016, there was a bright light. Liam was born in August, bringing love and hope.

Liam is joyful and filled with life lessons that I learn every time I’m with him. And while it’s important to remember and honor those who have gone before us, we also must carry on and celebrate and honor what and who is present in this very moment.

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

On Friday, Liam and I wandered up to the park and climbed on ladders, flew down slides and hopped on the swing for some air time. And when we are around humans like him, they invite, encourage and allow us to come out and play in the same all out like no one’s looking kind of a way. Uninhibited and unapologetic.

So today I celebrate a life well-lived and see Dad in each day from sayings I now say, to my work ethic and values, to a deep faith in God that carries me through whatever life brings. And I also celebrate a life filled with light, joy and laughter who’s got a lot of living to do but it’s ok if he takes his time growing up.

Carry on and savor today. It is the only gift worth opening.

Somewhere In Between

Yesterday, I listened to my favorite songs loudly on the way into work and decided it was going to be a good day. And not only was it a good day, it was an outstanding day. One of the best in a long time because I set the stage, I made a plan, set my mind and stuck to it. Enjoy the day and have some fun. It worked.

Today, I had the same intentions. Hit the repeat button and let’s do it again. Same intentions, not same results. Pretty strong start to the day with some engaging conversations and meetings. And then mid-afternoon, it unraveled. Tech issues with our internet that I had been asking our vendor about for the past month, only to be ignored, and then the internet went down for the entire office for two hours with no back up and while I was in the middle of a client meeting. Other than getting them to fix the connection, I couldn’t talk to them today because I knew it wouldn’t be a constructive conversation that I would be proud of.

We live in extremes – way up or way down. And both are exhausting if we remain in them too long. Most of living is found somewhere in between the highs and the lows. I went home quietly to push the reset button again which consists of wandering in the woods with the girls and throwing balls in an open field while listening to nature party.

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." -Saint Bernard

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” -Saint Bernard

And then as the night progressed and errands took my attention, I realized that three years ago on this Thursday evening, I was going 60 miles an hour down West 7th to rush to Regions Hospital after getting off a flight from Boston, even though I didn’t need to rush. It was too late. I didn’t make it in time, Dad had already passed away in the hospital. This Sunday, April 28th is the actual date and not a day has gone by where I haven’t missed him and haven’t wanted to pick up the phone after a day like today to talk to him about it and have him masterfully put it into perspective for me. Not one day. And I know my brother, sister and Mom feel the exact same way. One big hole.

It sure puts in perspective a stupid preventable tech failure or another day at work putting in too much damn time thinking more time at work will make an impact other than to the bottom line of someone else.

Pick up the phone, drop by and never let anything go unsaid to your loved ones. I am happy to say that’s how it was left with Dad. In an instant the internet can go down. And, in an instant, you can lose your best friend. Don’t waste your time pining on stupid problems and caught up in the BS people throw at you all day. Spend time with family and friends who really make life worth living and rich with joy. You can find them “in between” it all.

Easter Promise, Fulfilled

A somber weekend
Silence and contemplation
Rest and restlessness

The third day arrives

Hope complete
Spring blooms
Waiting finishes its course

Easter promise, fulfilled

Time for celebration
For the sun to invite the next season to begin
Flowers dance

The gift of Spring

Open and savor
Drink it in
Summer stands by ready for its turn

Transformation

Not too soon
Not too late
Always in due time

Rend thy chains

“It is the hour to rend thy chains, the blossom time of souls.” – Katharine Lee Bates

A Year from Now

“In basic research, the use of the electron microscope has revealed to us the complex universe of the cell, the basic unit of life.” – Gunter Blobel

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” – Henry Ward Beecher

While I encourage savoring the moment and being present in today, we also need to put the microscope down and pull out our telescope to look to the stars, trigger our imagination and get a new perspective when life’s challenges get too close.

Moments are rich with joy that can be discovered with a microscopic view. When the details of the day are steeped in chaos, it can distort our view requiring the use of our telescopic view. Pulling back and getting a new view. Moments are snapshots that accumulate into the entire album of our life.

Using both our microscope and telescope at the right times keep us balanced through our day to prevent “rollercoaster” living. Zooming into to see moments of connection, joy and delight in simple interactions. And then, when necessary, pulling back to remind ourselves that “this too shall pass.”

So, do both. Savor the moment, the beauty and detail in the petal of a flower. And when things get distorted and lead us down “frustration lane,” look up and remind yourself that you won’t be here in a year or even tomorrow for that matter.

Carry your microscope and telescope with you today and use each one appropriately so you can enjoy the gift of this day.

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