“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“The truth is that, given enough time, life bestows its gifts, a drop at a time, if we find the courage to stay open to the mysterious flow that is larger than any one event.” – Mark Nepo, Finding Inner Courage
It’s but one day, but this year, there’s a heavy sigh of relief with the calendar turning to 2021. This new year is an invitation to release the weight of 2020, while holding tight to the plentiful lessons. 2020 has been a master class in empathy, hope, resilience, priorities, generosity, kindness, authenticity, and the power of the human spirit to persevere and overcome.
While “pandemic class” is still in session, the distribution of vaccines offers hope of better days coming soon. And we don’t have to wait for better days when we become prisoners of hope and chasers of joy.
Beyond circumstances or events, even a pandemic, we have a blank page each day to write our own story, to find joy in moments, to break trail, exploring the unknown with optimism, gratitude and wonder.
What story will you write this year? The pen is and always has been in your hands. Pursue, hope and create your own path. Happy New Year!
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee
“A merry heart does good like medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17
On a quiet Christmas morning, we were greeted with a fresh blanket of snow on our daily trip to the dog park. The new snow creates a challenge for ball chasing if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. If Abby looked too far ahead or back in anticipation, she missed the ball when it went deep in the snow. She searched with intent and focus to look for the lost ball.
This season is a time to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus who entered a broken world in a stable filled with animals and ordinary people. The promise and gift is that He remains with us each day on our imperfect, beautiful and flawed journey. He searches for our time and attention to lighten our days and create meaning from the journey.
The Christmas story is not one of the past but of what’s present and available to us now. Today and every day, heaven comes to earth to save us from ourselves. Accept this incomprehensible, undeserved gift of peace, grace, mercy, light and love. It’s as real today as it was that cold, lonely, miraculous day in a stable for there was no room at the Inn. Make room at your “Inn” for God to participate in your life.
Not too far back or ahead, keep your eye on the ball. Merry Christmas.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” — Henry David Thoreau
Nature never fails to restore, rejuvenate and refocus our energy. After rushing the past few mornings, I started today fully present listening to the Earth, Teach Me meditation on Insight Timer. I thought of it again when I went for a run into the woods with the girls this afternoon.
Walk softly, listen with new ears, look with fresh eyes, open your mind and heart to lessons that earth teaches us every day. Class is always in session. Are you willing to learn?
Earth, Teach Me – A Ute Prayer (Native American)
Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.
“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s simple math. We need to make more deposits than withdrawls to stay out of debt, paying high interest rates, falling behind. This principle applies to our daily life too. We can’t keep spending without replenishing our account.
We’ve had a lot of withdrawls on our “account” this year. Lots of overdrafts to be sure. COVID month 9, remote work and school, lockdown, social distancing, health concerns, job loss, businesses closed, holidays canceled, an election season, winter around the corner and the list goes on. Too many big withdrawls.
And yet, we’ve also had deposits along the way. Time with family. Slowing down to question where we’ve been rushing to. Gaining a real understanding of gratitude. Experiencing a shared understanding, a leveling of sorts. Discovering the healing power of nature and long walks. Home projects that finally got done. Books read. Our resilience and empathy muscles have been strengthened and will serve us well now and in the future.
Small deposits each day add up. Take that walk. Buy snowshoes and keep walking through the winter. Start a new book. Try a new hobby. Decorate for the holidays. Meditate every morning – even if only for 5 minutes to ground yourself in the present moment. Take a nap. Daily journaling to unravel and uncover your thoughts. Text an encouraging word. Send flowers. Buy flowers for yourself. Be kind. Do something for someone else. Generosity pays double back into the account.
Joy, contentment, hope, faith, creativity, purpose, laughter, optimism are the dividends of daily deposits. Outstanding return on investment.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” – Carl Jung
“The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” – Carl Jung
Every time I let others get to me, not in a good way. Every time, I get off the positivity path and wander into a cloud of negativity. Every time, I choose dark over light. I soon wake up and rediscover blessings and gifts that are already present and available when I look with new eyes. My wake up call comes in a text from a friend, a dog with a toy, the brilliance of a flower or a child in their natural state before we make them “grow up.”
We must never surrender our power and responsibility to be joyful, playful, grateful and in awe. Especially right now when the world is upside down.
Don’t let others get you down. Do your part to lift up, look up and never, ever give up. I am deeply grateful for my tribe who inspire, listen and love unconditionally, moving me rapidly through moments of scarcity and comparison into abundance and purpose. Get out and play and invite others to join you.
“The mind cannot long play the heart’s role.” – Francois de La Rochefoucauld
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
“Wherever you are, be there totally.” Eckhart Tolle
No matter the season, these two always know how to have fun. Summer brings rolling in the grass and some serious ball chasing. When I get caught up in my “to do” list and my swirling thoughts, they bring me back to focus on gratitude, presence and joy.
Life is not a continuous puzzle to solve, a checklist to be checked off, a hot pursuit of what’s next. Life is hidden right in front of us in simple moments, in a walk with a friend, in laying next to your best pal and flipping a tennis ball into the air to show off your ball handling skills.
Breathe, laugh and take it all in.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel
“Get busy watering your own grass so as not to notice whether it’s greener elsewhere.”― Karon Waddell
On our daily jaunt into the woods, I let the girls off leash to run full throttle. Abby chases balls in an open field trying to catch them on the first bounce and Sasha chases her. It brings a new joy to them each day like it’s the first time. Dogs and kids are experts on being fully present and aware of the moment at hand, or paw in this case.
When I threw one of the balls, it went over the barbed wired fence by the water tower. I threw the second ball but Abby was intent on the ball on the other side. She suddenly downgraded and became human, focusing on the other side while a ball was by right next to her and easily accessible. How often do we reach for something out of reach when the same and often better is right in front of us?
Wake up and see what’s in reach and embrace it with gratitude. If we don’t recognize the blessings that are already in front of us, it’s impossible to receive new blessings. The grass and the ball are not always greener on the other side.
Happy ending to the story – I decided not to scale the barbed wired fence, but my arm did fit underneath and Abby walked out of the woods with two balls in mouth. Big win.
“All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.” – Plato
As I took a 5-minute break from a day jammed with “zoom” meetings, I looked at Abby sprawled on the couch and she sent me a glance to remind me to settle in, stretch out and relax. She’s a wonderful relaxation coach.
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” – Thich Nhat Han
With the completion of my home project – painting and new floors – and a few big projects at work, I’m ready to jump into the next activity to keep “busy.” We are made for more than busy and activity. We are built for purpose and depth with a side of delight.
Celebrate the finish, be open to see new beginnings and enjoy the journey of mere being.
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” ― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
“Pray thee, spare, thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work.” – Thomas Aquinas
When we settle in and settle down, allowing relaxation to restore and rejuvenate, we gain new perspective. A shift, a turn of the head and the world becomes new from the inside out. Don’t waste days wallowing, wading and willowing. Rest up, look up and relax. It’s all good and going to be good with the fullness of time. In the meantime, let go and relax.
This public service announcement is brought to you by my life coaches Abby and Sasha – the model fun makers and relaxation queens. Lighten up, it makes the journey so much sweeter.
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer
“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” – Khalil Gibran
To long runs to prepare for a marathon that will probably be canceled in October. To time with family to celebrate motherhood. To friends who show up in texts and call checking in. Good days are available right now, not in the pandemic-free future, if there is one. Look around and take inventory of all that is present and good right now in this very moment. These are abundant, blessed days. Never, ever give up. Naïve – hell yeah and necessary.
“Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus