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New Mountains

“You have stayed at this mountain long enough.” – Deuteronomy 1:6

The Israelites journeyed in the wilderness for 40 years. The distance to the promised land should have taken 11 days.

We spend way too long in the wilderness looking for the shortcut, lost in our rules and assumptions, making the journey longer than it has to be. We then get comfortable in the wilderness rather than finishing the journey and preparing for new mountains.

You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Stop circling the same mountain and move on. Comfort and familiarity are not goals to aspire to in this one short precious life. New, exciting and fulfilling mountains ahead so keep moving forward. Let go of what was and move into your becoming.

“Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

The Summer Day —Mary Oliver

Joy Pursuit

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

We pass through happiness, but we are succumbed by joy. Happiness comes in waves, in achievements, celebrations and milestones. Joy is a state of being, unmoved by circumstances and anchored in each day. Both are good. If I had to choose, I choose joy. It’s deeper, a steady loyal friend.

May you pursue and find joy that lives in a flower, a glance, a laugh, a memory and inside you. And in your pursuit and discovery of joy find a lasting happiness and well of gratitude.

“We can help create happiness, but we are seized by joy. We are pleased by happiness, but we are transformed by joy. When we experience joy we often feel we have glimpsed into a deeper and truer layer of reality.” – David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life

It’s Impractical and Makes Perfect Sense

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton

It’s been in the back of my mind for the past two months. And now that we are close to getting a few offers on my parent’s house, it moved front and center. Dad grew up playing pool and after much debate, he splurged and got a pool table years ago. He really enjoyed playing and never declined when asked to rack ‘em up.

I thought about keeping it and putting it in my basement. I then quickly dismissed the idea as impractical. It faded to the background and lingered at the same time.

Today, I measured my basement and then remeasured the pool table. It fits and it’s fitting. It is absolutely impractical and makes perfect sense. Despite the practical and logical reasons, I still want the pool table.

While it won’t bring Dad back, it’s something we shared and enjoyed. It is a place of conversation, confidence and lessons on how to see different angles, to think a few steps ahead to see where you want to go and how to spin avoid the scratch.

When I remodeled my kitchen 20 years ago, I wanted slate blue counters. I hesitated choosing the color, concerned about resale rather than picking something I really wanted. I went with the blue and never looked back.

We move too far into the future and miss fun that is rooted in today. Get the pool table, go with the blue counter, be utterly impractical if your heart is pulling you in that direction. Regrets are grounded in what we don’t do rather than what we do. Impractical and frivolous often makes perfect sense.

Now, rack ‘em up.

Taking Flight

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou

I have been writing Cast-Light for 8 years with almost 900 posts and intend to continue. And because of this endeavor, I am also launching a new website called Start3Things. It’s been ruminating inside of me for over 3 years and today, on Freedom Day 2019, I am lighting the bottle rocket and launching this new endeavor. It is unfinished and still evolving just like me, but it’s time to launch so it can get momentum that comes from starting, committing and doing the work every day.

I’ve shared the depth of this concept for the past few years with co-worker and good friend Nicki Brunner, Minnemama. She listened, questioned, looked confused and then pushed me to finish the sentence per se. She is a phenomenal human being, artist and writer who designed my Cast-Light logo and designed the Start3Things (S3T) website, which will eventually become my “retirement” business in a decade as it evolves into additional income through subscriptions, e-books, freelance writing and whatever else comes up as it transforms and takes on a life of its own. Maybe even a book – who knows? That’s the goal and the dream. And now comes the work to get there.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s “official” launch article:

“The original concept was based on doing 3 things everyday that move you to your purpose. To becoming the you that you are called to be. And it’s still true today but I realized a few months ago that it’s more than starting and finishing. I’ve been caught the last three years in the middle. I started and then I sputtered and stopped. We have hundreds of ideas of starts but not a proportional amount of finishes. Why? The middle – the working ground. Starting again and where we are at is where living and being intersect.

So S3T started to make more sense as the concept evolved and I evolved my thinking along with it. The only way to the finish is starting but we need that grit and fortitude in the middle to keep going.  Starting is easy compared to the work demanded in the middle to finish.

And the concept of 3 took on more itself as well. Life is a series of beginnings, middles and ends. It’s cyclical and dynamic. And in all areas of our life in one of those areas all at the same time. We are complex beings living in a chaotic world. And the one thing we all have in common to be sure is that we are here for a purpose in our daily life, on our years and in what we leave behind.”

Over the next month, I will be digging in with discipline and rigor to research, curate and write content including a weekly enews, building out pages and articles and posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram. Over time, I will be looking at a mobile app and other features to make this a valuable resource to return to again and again.

Thanks to all who have followed Cast-Light, encouraged me with comments and likes and helped me improve my writing. I am grateful and excited to continue to evolve and develop my writing and have fun along the way with both Cast-Light and Start3Things.

Happy Freedom Day!!

“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change for poets and artists. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next.” – Louie Schwartzberg

Understatement

There are days when “rough road” is an understatement.

“Am I blessed? That would be an understatement.” – Amruta Khanvilkar

“Am I blessed? That would be an understatement.” – Amruta Khanvilkar

The rough patches serve their purpose of building patience, resilience, fortitude and trust that God’s got this so we can let go our expectations, ideas, assumptions and rules of what should be. And it can’t be overstated that there are more days that are filled with beauty and peace on the road less traveled.

“Cross the meadow and the stream and listen as the peaceful water brings peace upon your soul.” – Maximillian Degenerez

“Cross the meadow and the stream and listen as the peaceful water brings peace upon your soul.” – Maximillian Degenerez

Go off road. Embrace and succumb to the extraordinary in the ordinary which really is the understatement. Gratitude, grace and joy are gifts that await opening again and again. Breathe in the fragrance of the day and enter fully into now.

“Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” – Georgia O'Keeffe

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

The Deep End

Abby, Sasha and I went up north this weekend to my sister-in-law’s family cabin. This was the first time at the cabin without Grace, my brother and sister-in-law’s black lab who died in Winter, way too young from lymes disease.

When the girls jumped out of the car, they enthusiastically ran to the cabin door looking for Gracie to ask her to come out and play. But Grace was not to be found.

Grace loved the cabin and swimming. She was the head of the pack and would lead the girls around showing them the ropes of cabin living. Diving off the dock again and again in pursuit of the perfect jump to get the ball as it floated on the water. In awe, Abby and Sasha would watch her dive long and deep and then run off the dock to enter the water from shore to meet her the middle.

After bringing in bags to the cabin, we walked down to the lake with tennis balls in hand. I threw a ball for Abby off the dock, assuming that she would come off the dock and enter the water from the shore. But this time, Abby dove off the dock, a bit tentative but a solid first time effort. Swimming to shore, back on the dock, she pursued the ball yet again diving off the end of the dock with more confidence this time. And it continued.

With a big smile inside and out, I thought of how proud Grace would be of Abby diving off the deep end, learning the lessons that she taught her over and over. Sasha gazed on and then ran off the dock to enter the water by shore and met Abby in the middle as she proudly swam to shore with ball squeaking away.

Without Grace by their side, they hesitantly carried on. A timely reminder that in the depth of our loss, we honor those who have gone before us by carrying on. A bit of solace on the fourth Father’s Day without Dad by our side to honor in person.

In the midst of loss, we remember, we miss, we regret, we wish for one more day and most importantly, we carry on. And we honor those who have gone ahead by diving off the deep end in pursuit of daily joy and adventure. Carry on, the deep end is calling.

Flex

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale

In the past 6 months, I’ve lost 32 pounds. I set my mind in December, got on a program and did the work. The main goal was and is to lose and then get stronger. I started with a trainer this week for strength training. I just completed my third weight session this morning and feel terrific. I’m sure there will be many more lessons as I go down the strength training path.

Strength training is a daily commitment with work and rest to recover to build muscle and gain strength.  And one muscle that we often ignore is our joy muscle. Expanding our capacity to remain present in the moment aware of the beauty abound takes work and effort. We create our daily reality and our future through our intentions, thoughts, words and actions.

Pay attention and bring joy to the forefront. Proactively and intentionally build your joy muscle so you can flex it daily.  As we strengthen our joy muscle, our circumstances, other people and our own perspective suddenly change and become new.

A few interval sessions to build your joy muscles include smiling, laughing, listening, looking up preparing for flight.

Liam, Abby and Sasha are my joy trainers. Never failing, they always bring a smile, a laugh and push my reset button to focus on joy when I get distracted.

Get your superwoman and superman on today. Flex that joy muscle.

 

Harvest Joy Today

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – James Allen

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – James Allen

What are you going to do today to make this your best day ever? In your thoughts, words and actions, plant some seeds. Water your garden. Cultivate each interaction with another. Harvest joy in each moment.

You are the only one who can make this the best day ever.

Get to it.

Once, Forever

“Life is once, forever.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

This quote is on the top of my ongoing “to do” list to remind me of what is more important than checking off tasks.

With little desire to prove anything or climb “the” or any ladder, I find joy and delight in learning, growing and not making the same mistake over and over again. A few lessons that I remind myself of often include:

  1. Stop worrying about what others think;
  2. I can only change myself so stop trying to change others;
  3. Fear is a liar, do it afraid;
  4. Love is where it starts and finishes – inside and out;
  5. Assumptions and judgments are usually wrong so don’t bother, assume the best;
  6. Intentions matter, action on them matters more;
  7. Everyone is going through something, be kind;
  8. Work less, play more;
  9. Timing is everything, try it again – you may have tried too early;
  10. Seeds must be planted and cultivated to get a harvest;
  11. Kids, dogs and flowers bring heaven to earth;
  12. Faith, love, grace, patience, mercy, joy, kindness are the main ingredients of a good life;
  13. Water the grass you are standing on right now and watch what blooms.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” – Neil Barringham

 

 

 

Cosmic Dance

“No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, nor stain the joy of the cosmic dance, which is always there. – Thomas Merton

I had a different post ready on pruning, cutting the dry branches for the good of the whole. But I was compelled to change the topic based on conversations, exchanges and observations today. It feels like a pep talk is in order to offer hope, hold out a hand and cast light rather than offer insight and analysis.

Each one of us will face depths that we can never explain, plan or prepare for but must walk through. No one is immune from the side effects of daily living.

A grandmother who suddenly fades and lands delicately on the pivot point of life and death. A halt in our daily activities from an injury that makes it painfully difficult to stand, to walk with ease. And then the regular old self-centered, ego driven actions of humans.

And despite the noise and chaos, there remains an anchor, an unshakable foundation of hope in a friend who listens without giving advice, in an encouraging word and smile that says “I’ve been there and it’s going to be o.k.”

So if you are in that spot right now, hold tight and go through it. Don’t try to take a shortcut or bypass the depth. It won’t work and you won’t stay there. The other side is always waiting for you to arrive when the time is right and the proper work is complete. And if you are not in that spot right now, assume the person next to you is and be kind.

The cosmic dance knows the song so stop trying to lead. Simply let go, follow the steps and dance.

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