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The Next Chapter

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” – Jimi Hendrix

The story of our life, each chapter, unfolds as it should. This year, the chapters that I’ve written and that have been written for me, I do not understand right now. But each chapter builds on the next as the plot thickens and the characters that enter our story gently hold our hand and lead us deeper into our story.

For many years, I’ve shared the stories, antics and adventures of Molly my Samoyed and Lily my Golden Retriever. My parents made it in here quite a bit as well. They have been the main characters for so long that where they end and I begin is hard to separate. We define each other. Those closest to us make us our best self as they patiently hold us through our not-so-best self.

Losing Dad in April, Molly in June and Lily in October has left me wandering a bit, trying to get back to my center. As I have bided time, as we all must, I’ve have accepted my “new” normal and continue on. And while it often seems like forever, we do heal, we do become whole in a different way.

And now the next chapter.  Abby, a sweet golden retriever who will be joining my family on December 16th. As we mark our days of loss, we must also mark our days of joy and anticipation. And joy is so much sweeter when we’ve been on the other side.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Abby follows a long line of best friends who have come before to shape me with their canine wisdom and unconditional love, making me a better human. Greta, Misha, Elly, Molly, Lily – my characters that have come before remain in my story even today. No one or nothing that ever comes before is ever truly gone. The best of them remain in us. Abby joins a line of wonderful characters and she will be her own unique character, bringing all new adventures and creating the next chapter.

Our life is not one word, one line, one page, one chapter. It is woven together making up a composition. Keep writing your story and allow others to write on the pages as well. The final chapter will come all too soon, so enjoy today’s page and cast light.

Pull Over

“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” – Michelangelo

As we fill our days with more things to do, struggling to choose and racing through only to go backwards, we need to stop and pull over.

Pull over and look around. Our tunnel vision and desperate pursuit of what’s next blinds us to what’s right in this very moment of now. In the race for the unimportant and urgent, we miss the beauty of the daily journey, those tender moments of connection and bright lights burning through the darkness.

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

When I look into my 3 month old great nephew Liam’s eyes, he gazes with interest and attention deep into my eyes, right to my very soul. And after the blunt force of this year, this thread of new life, of innocence, is pulling me through to the other side of unfathomable chaos.

Pull over and stare at the pine tree lighting up the winter night. Gaze into the eyes of another and let your souls touch if but for a moment. And as so eloquently captured in Michelangelo’s stunning Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, God reaches down from the above, our fingers touch and the world is made new.

Pull over.

Acceptance

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The core of the serenity prayer is “to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can.” How much of each day do we spend on trying to change things that we can’t change at the expense of those things we can change?  Namely “me.”

So often our frustrations are rooted in trying to change others and our circumstances. The first step to changing our circumstances and those who are in our daily life is to change ourselves.

When we let go of our rules on how things and others should be and change our perspective and attitude, our world changes, for the better. Pay attention to what you focus on and embrace all of the possibilities for a good life that are waiting and worthy of your time and attention.

There is wisdom in accepting now and changing what you need to and can change. Serenity indeed.

For

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings

For…

Brilliant blue skies that draw our eyes up to You
Rolling waves that draw our eyes down to You right here with us
Family who create the beautiful, imperfect fabric of our life, even when we take them for granted
Friends who show up to celebrate and remain in the hard times
Strangers who cross our path for reasons we do not know, showing us that we are all connected
Dogs who are both family and friend, modeling unconditional love when we forget
Children’s innocence and joy reminding of us where we started and where to return to
First snow sparkling in the sun and the fresh fragrance of spring, displaying the rhythm of the seasons
Challenges that make us grow, let go and dive deeper than we thought possible only to rise again different, with a steely tenderness
Music to dance and sing uninhibited
Laughter that let’s our spirit come out and play
Discernment to make better choices
Quiet to calm the soul
Faith to know that it will be o.k. and we are not alone
Peace within so we can create peace in the world
Grace that carries us and never fails even when we do
Poetry that shows us the strength of words
Kindness that shows us the strength of actions
Love, the only reason we are here

For all of this and abundance abound
For this and so much more…

Thank You

Simple Acts

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” – Henry Van Dyke

Last week, I was running back from the gym and it started to rain. I was a block away from home and a neighbor stopped to see if I was alright and offered a ride. In the middle of routine, a simple act of kindness breaks through and pierces the wall of attention.

We “attend” to so many things and over-commit that our attention is scattered in dozens of directions. Distracted by tasks, we miss so many opportunities to notice, extend or accept simple acts of kindness. To be present in the gift of now.

It is so very easy to be jaded by the world-view – the bias and cynicism of the news, the incivility of politics, the sheer speed that technology demands of our time. Our perspective on everything can get skewed by our assumptions, judgments and swift conclusions and then onto the next for more of the same. We live our days in a series of quick transactions rather than fostering meaningful relationships that require time, attention and effort.

A simple kind act received or given can shift your perspective, lift your spirit, change the direction of your day. This, by far, has not been my “favorite” year and I look forward to the year winding down. Yet woven throughout this year, these many difficult days, have been so many moments of kindness from others, joy found in simple exchanges and the gratitude of what has been lost and in all that remains.

So as we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving this week and as the holiday season moves into full swing, pause for a moment or two each day and reflect on all that you have to be grateful for right now. And then take the next step to express and share your thankfulness with others. This year, I do truly understand, vividly and deeply, how difficult the holidays will be with those who’ve gone on ahead. But they will be honored and remembered through simple acts of love that have been received and more importantly by simple acts yet to come.

Notice today and cast light.

Cocoon Transformed

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach

The caterpillar transforms to a butterfly by digesting itself. When we die to self – our ego, expectations and assumptions – we find our true self, the one that keeps quietly knocking to enter into our every day. Not only do we transform, the world follows in suit.

As you struggle in the cocoons of life, questioning if things will every change, your butterfly moment is coming at just the right time. Stay in the moment and then suddenly that next moment, your brilliance appears in full color and you will float among the fragrant blooms.

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Thrive

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

Where we invest and exert our attention, efforts, thoughts, heart, acts and words make up our life. We define what our life is and what it becomes, not the government, our workplace, other people, our circumstances. What we choose to do, see and be each day is what we have control of. The rest will be what it is – noise and distraction. When we focus all that we are and do into what’s good and true, we will have spent our very short time on this earth well.

Be kind, grateful, considerate and listen, really listen – to others and that still small voice that calls us to become our best selves. Each of us has a tremendous capacity and calling to love and act on that love, especially for those who are difficult. Go deeper, stay longer, beyond easy answers based on judgments, biases, assumptions and fear. We are complicated beings and there’s always more to the story than you know.

Create rather than criticize. Make music rather than noise. Choose abundance over scarcity. Cast hope, joy, awe and light. Each moment, of each day. And by all means, thrive.

Permission Granted

“Every truth ever discovered, each new spiritual light that will ever burn bright has already been seeded in our consciousness.” – Guy Finley

“Every truth ever discovered, each new spiritual light that will ever burn bright has already been seeded in our consciousness.” – Guy Finley

“That perfect bliss and sole felicity, the sweet fruition of an earthly crown.” – Christopher Marlowe

The leaves do not ask permission to turn brilliant orange. They become what they are meant to be in due time, right on schedule. Stop asking permission to live your life. Let go of what others think or what you think that they think. And do not be a barrier to their becoming either. Be kind, tender, yet tough enough to move on when you must.

Life is filled with real drama – beauty, joy, despair, redemption, delight. No need to make it up.

We change when we allow ourselves to be changed. Become the bright orange that you’ve been hiding, waiting for permission to come out. Permission granted.

May I

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare

May I see . . .
the beauty that is hidden in plain sight, everywhere
the depth of another, found through the door of their eyes

May I hear . . .
the symphony of the wind, inviting all to dance
the brilliant advice and answers offered only in silence

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Theodore Roethke

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Theodore Roethke

May I feel . . .
compassion for others, knowing that we all share the weight of struggle
joy in my heart that surpasses circumstances

May I be . . .
grateful for the blessings, even during difficult times, especially perhaps
present and at peace knowing that I am where I am meant to be

May I not seek permission to live but do so with all the I see, hear, feel and am. Every day, with all that I have in that moment.

Ever-ness

“Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the wildflower and the bull thistle and the coreopis with the greatest of respect. – Mary Oliver, Upstream

When I turn my attention away from thoughts that do not serve, the world is new and so am I. Dismiss the noise and move to that longing deep within, the whisper that will not go away until heeded.

Pay close attention to what you are paying attention to. Move softly and intently into that sense of ever-ness.

"Attention is the beginning of devotion." - Mary Oliver

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” – Mary Oliver

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