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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.

Expectancy

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.” – William Wordsworth

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.” – William Wordsworth

We create, accept and follow rigid rules and expectations, borne of others and our own thoughts. Guided by past narratives framing today and charting tomorrow.

Flip it. Do the opposite today. View it from a different view. Observe quietly. Step away from absolutes, black and white, assumptions, either/or thinking and your rules for a day.

Lay it down to free your arms to gather and hold all of the gifts that are present right now. No regrets. No judgment. No “no’s.”

Say “yes!” without hesitation.

Allow color and hue. Depth and dimension. Water flowing over rocks down the river. Forgetting time. Moving between spectating to participating with no expectations. Filled with expectancy, anticipation and gratitude.

Push the reset button on your senses to see the same new, to hear for the first time, to breathe in fresh air. Expectancy and light.

Daily Legacy

There is power and potential in each day, in one act of kindness, in a soft smile and easy step. Our  legacy is built daily through intentional actions, thoughts and words. In what we say and don’t say. What you do today will be a thread in the fabric of your life.

Live with intention and purpose. The substance and matter of our life is steeped and found in the middle of each day. Write a beautiful page of your legacy today and make someone smile. It’s just that simple. Cast light. It’s a worthy daily legacy.

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.

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