“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
Joy is a job. It takes effort, rigor, repetition and practice to get good at it. We look for the shortcut and expect it to be innate. But often, it’s not. So rather that succumbing to the negativity, gossip and cynicism, get to work.
Focus on being grateful, even when the struggle is so very real. Lift your head and open your eyes a bit wider to see the beauty that is within reach right now. Ignore those voices in your head that serve no purpose but to prevent you from becoming you, the real one.
When I forget and get distracted by the minutia, I simply take the girls for a run into the woods and let them run off leash in the open field to pounce, chase and explore. It works every, single time.
“Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” – Jimmy Buffett
Make joy a priority and let it take root. Welcome it home like a long lost friend. And by all means, share it with others. Joy is a job and the most important one that you will ever have. Hunt, pounce, chase, explore and sniff it out daily.
When joy is your job, life becomes less work.
“The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall.” – Helen Garner
The girls always find time to enjoy their time. Even on a rainy day. Wrestling with a toy, gazing out the window, laying around belly up. No matter the weather, no matter the conditions, there’s always an opportunity to remain in the moment and grasp delight.
“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.” – Langston Hughes
We live in extremes. Too fast that we can’t see what’s right in front of us. And on a rainy day, too slow that we try to fill the quiet so as not to hear our own voice telling us that we are going too fast. Slow and fast. Quiet and noise. But life is not simply an either or. It is a weaving of all of it. Whether sun or rain, we have the choice to see the beauty in all and to enter completely into the moment. Even, perhaps especially, on a rainy day.
“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” – Gary Zukav
Abby loves to chase a ball. The challenge and precision of catching it on one bounce. Sasha will watch Abby chase the ball but has no interest in it. Sasha finds her joy in chasing butterflies. Pouncing from one to the next. Looking up and down and all around to share in the butterflies’ delight, in their freedom.
“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
The butterflies dance and then still themselves in an instant and then take flight as if for the first time. Released from the cocoon, conquering gravity. From struggle to gradual transformation in due time into a brilliant, beautiful butterfly. Hope, grace, glory. Repeat again and again. The cycle of life.
Chase some butterflies. It’s good for the soul.
“Take life on life’s terms – one day at a time. And have fun while you’re doing it.” – Joe Perry
When I get too far ahead into the future or lag behind tangled up in the past, I need not look far to be reminded to stop, breathe, laugh and have some fun right now!
Let go, be grateful and embrace today.
“Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.” – Barbara Kingsolver
GOOD NEWS! You are in control of you – your thoughts, moods, assumptions. So carefully and mindfully make right choices each day. Change your thoughts, change your world. Get beyond the “why me” and worrying mindset and meditate and take action on what is most important.
It is a guarantee – we will all have setbacks and disappointments. Everyone of us. And when we move through the grief and frustration of often times deep loss and change, there will a pivot point when you must move to what is new and next.
And when defeated by the cumulation of little things, pause, take a deep breath and push the reset button. Each day is a brand new opportunity to start again. Stop carrying all of that stuff that is dragging you down and shake it off. Gratitude and a hearty smile will change your world.
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” – Mother Teresa
“Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.” – Paul Cezanne
When “busy” is the only answer that you can muster when asked, “how are you?” It’s time to question the value and meaning of what you are busy with and at what expense.
Redefine the quality of your day not by the number of items checked off your “to do” list. Rather define it by depth, width and height of each day that you are awake and aware. Of moments steeped in gratitude grounded in experiences rather than mere activities.
Day 3 of no complaints, only gratitude – slow down, look around in close proximity and be in awe of the many gifts and blessings in your life right in this very minute.
“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu
When the dust settles and the noise subsides, what’s present right now, front and center matters most. Let go of the stuff that pulls you to the peripheral at the expense of what’s right in front of you. The race – where to and why? If you can’t answer then drop out of the race and pursue with vigor what has real meaning and depth.
If but for a moment, pause and discover what you already know to be true and choose your days, your life, your attention, your energy, your joy. It’s front and center.
“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 love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.” – Mary Oliver
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Sasha is one year old today. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries all mark days to remember and celebrate. But they not only honor the person or dog in this case, they remind us of how their presence in our life changes us, makes us better, more kind.
People and dogs enter and exit our lives in a flash. Yet their imprint and impact on our lives remain. When someone leaves, we are never the same, yet we go on while a part of us goes with them. And when someone enters our story they weave their way in and their birthday becomes our own as we are reborn to new possibilities for joy.
May we all have the joy that a dog is and a dog brings to each day. We would be better humans to be sure. Happy Birthday Sasha and me!
“Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you’ve got.” – Tim Cook
“Beauty is a fragile gift.” – Ovid
Amidst our “first world” problems of unattainable deadlines, traffic delays, acceptable incivility and general daily irritations, life is happening right before our eyes. These days are the days – the good ole days we’ll look back on and long for even though we missed most of them in pursuit of the nonexistent.
Wake up and be present so you feel the depth and breadth of each day. This is it. Chase the ball and keep having fun in the pursuit of simple daily joy. Join in life and start participating, praising and celebrating all that is right now.
Play the board game with the kids. Make snow angels. Throw the ball. Chase the ball. Be silly. Dance like you don’t give a damn who’s watching. Laugh every flippin’ day. One life. This is it. Start living each day. Beauty abound. You now have the secret, the shortcut, the formula. Today. Be present.
“Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.” – William Alexander
No matter what the season or the day of the week, there’s more underneath the surface of our daily grinding. We need to trade in the grind for joyful daily living. In the moment, present to all that is being offered and confident that beneath the four feet of snow, Spring is in there coming in due time. In the meantime, we can make snow angels and dive into the pile of fresh snow. That snow shall do its job and awaken the ground with living water. Do your job. Enjoy this day and bring that joy to others.
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” – Sitting Bull