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Posts from the ‘Clarity’ Category

Blue or Grey or Both

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” – Pema Chodron

“To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
― e.e. cummings

What do you see? The grey clouds or blue skies peeking through. Or both. What you look for, you find. If you look for the blue, you find it, not denying the grey, for the clouds make the blue even more brilliant. Take off old glasses and put on new glasses to see the same in a new light.

Become aware of your thoughts, words, what you see and do not see. Who influences you, who inspires, who leads you away from you? Return to yourself and keep on the path to becoming, unfolding and discovering. Look and listen without judgment or assumption, allowing wonder and awe to make their way through the cracks of time and experience. Create new experiences.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

Keep paying attention to find new things that are not ahead or behind but all around and available in this very moment.

“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile”
― e.e. Cummings, e.e. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962

Claim the Sky

“A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wing in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.” – Maya Angelou, Caged Bird

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” – Alice Walker

Church is not a place to go or not go once a week for an hour to check the attendance box and return to “normal” life. We are the church, not a building. Individually and collectively, we make up the church. What we believe in, what altars we kneel at, who we become if we dare to take the journey within and venture out.

We put ceilings up to limit God, circumstances, other people, self to be comfortable, safe and certain. We want to know the ending, but the ending is being written each new day in choices, thoughts, actions and inactions.

Our willingness to expand and open without fear of losing our sense of security and stability is the dance, the balance beam, the inflection point that pulls us into this moment, this day, aware of the mystery and entering it without full knowing but trusting it will unfold as it should.

“There is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don’t even know it. — Sue Monk Kidd

Regret’s only purpose is to change our behavior and actions. Carrying it further slows and stalls the journey forward. When we stop circling the same mountains looking for new terrain, we can venture off trail cutting new paths to new mountains.

Life is a series of interwoven journeys, moments to savor and memories in the making. Be present, feel the ground under your feet, expand your lungs with a deep breath.  Grasp the immensity and breadth of all that is before you and most importantly in you.

Allow the mystery to unfold and be revealed in quiet reflection and inquiry. Feel the pull of gravity. Follow the compass of intuition. Trust the soul’s compass. Ask the questions. Listen for the answers. There is no ceiling, just sky. Claim the sky.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” —Henry David Thoreau

Steep

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Tea time is a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate our surroundings.” – Letitia Baldrige

It’s going to break into the teens today and 20s this weekend. After two weeks of below zero temps, 20s will be balmy. Dog parking, snowshoeing and running will commence today with a deeper gratitude and appreciation for the outdoors.

The past year of a pandemic, weeks of below zero and weather extremes across the country have steeped us like teabags in hot water. It’s been long enough, the tea leaves have dissipated in the water, there’s no flavor left, pull us out already. The tea is dark and strong.

Our timing and God’s timing are rarely in sync, and God is always on time. While steeped and stuck in the hot water, in the desert and winters of life, rather than longing to be pulled out already, perhaps the answer lies in us listening quietly, observing with rapt attention and opening up our being to receive the cues, clues and signs that we are surrounded with in this present moment.

We have had a combination bootcamp/master class this year in self-awareness and gratitude, the first ingredients to empathy and transformation – the ability to go outside ourselves and see our connectedness to others, awakening to our shared path and grateful for what already is present. Rather than pass hard and fast on the left in a rush to what’s next and new, we can move alongside each other and continue our journey together on our journey to return home to authentic self and becoming.

The only way to the other side is right through the middle. Not around or about but through. We fritter away a lot of time looking for shortcuts and loopholes rather than do the root work of seed germination that’s required to break ground, unfold into bud and burst into beautiful bloom.

Do not forgo this time. Go deep until the tea bag has expended all the flavor into the water. Steep and when it’s time, savor.

Red, Yellow, Green

“Intuition is the very force or activity of the soul in its experience through whatever has been the experience of the soul itself.” – Henry Reed

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

Red light – hard stop
Yellow light – in between, stop or go, make a decision, choose the brake or the gas
Green light – hard go

Much of our time and energy is spent in the comfort of the yellow light zone, vacillating between stop and go, searching for signs of red or green, clarity, specificity, direction, an obvious sign, a detailed map, a guarantee. There are certainly clear reds and greens, but the in decisions that truly matter, that move us to purpose and meaning, in change and new directions off the beaten path, direction is found in quiet, in trust, in our own intuition.

Without questioning, we put our trust in the world, in institutions, in parties, in others, in systems, in our own limiting beliefs and narratives. But when God asks us to trust in Him, in His plan, in your own purpose for being, we balk. Hard stop. It cannot be that simple and that hard at the same time. There must be more.

When we do our part of listening to the soft whisper, we can move into each day taking a step at a time in gratitude and trust, guided by the compass of intuition rather that a detailed step-by-step map down the world-approved obvious road. God always does His part to show us green lights, red lights, when to pump the brakes, to hit the pedal, to idle in patience and when to pull off to the rest for a bit.

Signs and signals are woven into each day showing the path, one step at a time, when to stop, to go, to simply remain. Look, listen, trust. Eyes on the road ahead, glancing only but for a moment in the rearview mirror to see how far you have already come.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is What it is

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” – John Keats

We are creatures who thrive on control and certainty. The past year has been filled with uncertainty and chaos. Lately, I hear a lot of people say “it is what it is,” a statement of acceptance, a prompt to let go of what’s not in our control. Some circumstances, other people, a pandemic, the past belong in this “bucket.” However, our attitude, thoughts, actions, reactions and perspective are not in this bucket. We have agency over these and should not “surrender” to mere acceptance and resignation.

As I look at the date today when I began writing, I realize that we are coming up on the one-year of the pandemic becoming part of the world’s everyday reality. I also realize that it’s in the backdrop for me, not the forefront. The distribution of the vaccine is in the forefront, promising hope and anticipation of getting to the other side of the pandemic and not returning to pre-pandemic times but to a new and even better tomorrow.

We are not there yet to be sure and many have lost loved ones the past year so we are amidst the grieving and trauma of what the pandemic has left in its wake. The dailyness of “pandemic” living has also taken it’s toll. Moving through grief and trauma, whether it be a pandemic or other life altering event, is the only way to the other side.

Daily rituals can expand “it is what it is” thinking to include anticipation of “what’s possible.” My strategies over the past year that have helped me move the pandemic to the backdrop rather than the forefront include training for a marathon, exercising, writing daily, going to the dog park with the girls and meditation/prayer using Insight Timer.

On Insight Timer this morning, I decided to listen to a Ted-Talk by Dr. James S. Gordon founder of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine on Fulfilling Trauma’s Hidden Promise. It is a compelling talk that offers strategies from a psychiatrist, which I am not so I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to listen. Optimism is a strategy and fuel for living that can break patterns that bind. Creativity and meditation are conduits to healing and joy.

“Trauma comes to all of us, and its consequences can be terrible. The good news is that all of us can use tools of self-awareness and self-care to heal our trauma and, indeed, to become healthier and more whole than we’ve ever been.”― James S. Gordon, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma

There is good news to be found in each day. Pursue it. Each of us are the authors of our own life, so choose the “pen” of hope, faith, anticipation and light to write a beautiful narrative and happy ending.

 

The Certainty of the Rooster

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Within our obstacles and struggles lie the answers and insight necessary to move beyond feelings, automatic reaction and shallow perspective to understanding, clarity and transformation.

Getting the right answers requires asking the right questions. If we dare to enter the space of honest inquiry, choosing to linger, we move past trite and obvious answers to deeper meaning found in “root” work. With time, patience and faith, we trust that the rooster will crow and the darkness of night transforms to the breaking of day and gift of light.

In Jewish tradition, they refer to “the wisdom of the rooster.” The rooster is the first to sense that the day is breaking and announces the coming of light. Knowing that the light always enters at the right time offers hope in the certainty of transition from dark to light.

Wait and anticipate the call of the rooster announcing the breaking of dawn and entrance of light. What follows is discovery, clarity and light that transforms our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows into meaning, joy and purpose.

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

Walls, Windows and Doors

“Depth must be hidden. Where? On the surface.” – Hugo von Hofmannsthal

“The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.” – Julien Green

Teaching is the activity, learning the outcome, growth the reward. You cannot teach people who don’t want to learn, starting with, including and ending with you. Our futile efforts to change others, circumstances beyond our reach drains energy, shadows light and surrenders the joy of the journey.

If but only for a few minutes a day, lay down your expectations, assumptions and opinion long enough to examine them with sincerity. Determine what’s on you, on others and on no one. What’s fact or fiction? Internal or external? Road marker or roadblock? There are signs and wonders abound when we pause long enough to see what is already in front, within and surrounding us.

When observation and reflection do their job without assistance, create two piles. Rocks and flowers. Leave the rocks behind and pick up the flowers to move forward with ease. This is the lifelong process of becoming and unbecoming, planting and harvesting, learning and growth, caterpillar to butterfly ,a thousand deaths and two thousand rebirths.

Search for information, you get knowledge. Keep going, insight. Keep going, changed behavior. Keep going, invisible walls appear, crumble and transform to windows and doors. Go beyond information to knowledge to insight to action to transformation. It is on you and in you, hiding in plain sight the entire time.

It’s impossible to have four walls with no windows and doors and expect to thrive. To journey beyond survival, we need windows for light and fresh air and doors to cross thresholds to our ever becoming.

God’s not waiting on others to change or your circumstances to change. He’s waiting patiently and lovingly for you to change, unmoved by others or circumstances, from a place of abundance, not scarcity.

A hammer swing at a time, start breaking holes in the walls to create windows and doors. Let light and fresh air in to heal and restore. Enter wide open spaces, breath deeply, absorb and cast light.

“Surely there is grandeur in knowing that in the realm of thought, at least, you are without a chain; that you have the right to explore all heights and depth; that there are no walls nor fences, nor prohibited places, nor sacred corners in all the vast expanse of thought.” – Robert Green Ingersoll

Emanate Calm

“Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

“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

Create space each morning to reconnect and take hold of yourself so you can enter the world anchored, quiet and calm. When we focus on our sphere of influence – our thoughts, actions, reactions – with measured response, we invite others into peace and calm.

Each of us can be apart of a worldwide movement to INCITE PEACE! Hold up your signs, go out into your world and respond with kindness, thoughtful discourse, active listening and sincere inquiry to understand rather than be understood.

More dialogue. Less monologue. Let’s take the world back with civility, diversity of thought, generosity, humor and a sense of wonder.

The first step to healing is fostering and nurturing calm within and emanating it without. Peace! Be still.

Slowly then Suddenly

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Growth is iterative. It feels like nothing, repetition, a standstill. Then suddenly, an inflection point, a still point where the disparate pieces come together and make sense. Our assumptions, perspective and priorities shift to where they should be through the gift of new eyes. No turning back and looking forward to the road that lies ahead.

Keep taking steps each day. Progress and transformation happen slowly and then suddenly. When we find home within, it matters not where we go.

What we hold tight to, holds us tighter. So let go of circumstances, approval, permission, expectations and allow the awakening to do its work. Slowly, then suddenly.

Finish the Sentence.

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Life is circular and cyclical and we live it linearly. When we think we’re done, beyond and past something, it pops up again to remind us to “finish the sentence.” We need to cross the “t” and dot the “i” before we can complete the sentences with a period rather than a comma.

Emotions, triggers, attachments that weigh us down and keep us circling back to learn the lesson, to see ourselves differently and act accordingly. Until we resolve and integrate our experiences, disappointments, incomplete narratives, we will keep going back to finally learn the lessons so we can move on. It requires us to keep rising up, never giving up. When we get caught in the net of the same and progress seems distant, the question to ask is not why or when but “what is the lesson I need to learn?”

Some lessons are harder, deeper and more complex. Keep at it and unravel the mystery. Class is always in session, learning is optional. When we don’t learn the lessons, we remain in the same “grade” until we do. Disparate pieces come together to complete the picture when we step back and find the missing pieces and fill the hole. The full story always comes looking back so keep working your way through the middle to the finish line. And when you arrive, celebrate and know that you are prepared for the next start line.

“‎Though nobody can go back and make a new beginning… Anyone can start over and make a new ending.” ― Chico Xavier

And in the learning, always be open to hope, joy and light. It is a journey, enjoy it.

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