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Posts from the ‘Encouragement’ Category

2nd Thought

“Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality.” – Jen Sincero

When I pulled into work this morning, my front tire was flat and a bit shredded. No patching this one. While a “what now” thought initially ran through my mind, I immediately went to my second thought of gratitude. Grateful for making it to work safely in below zero weather, for not being on the highway. I called a tow truck and at the end of day, I had four new tires since you can’t replace just one without causing alignment issues with the car. $850 later I have a new set of tires.

Inconveniences and irritations are a part of daily life but they need not define the quality of our days. When we give them too much power, we surrender our joy and diminish all of the blessings and gifts present to us each day. Loosen up, get a perspective and don’t allow pebbles in the road to become boulders on your back. Get past your initial reaction, take a breath and let a calm second thought in to put it all in perspective. A flat tire need not deflate your day. Move on to your second, third and fourth thoughts to go deeper to that well of gratitude.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

Gifts AND Fruit

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

We are all given gifts, but we often fall short on producing fruit. When we don’t fully engage and release our gifts, we don’t fully produce fruit and bloom. Recognize, be grateful and accept your gifts and start producing some fruit to nourish and light the world.

There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, Piety

There are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control

Imagine if we align with the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. A very worthwhile life. No small ball. Play it big, all out.

Gifts AND Fruit, a power combo.

Joy Habit

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

Just like exercise and good nutrition, joy is the result of habit and discipline. Repetition, practice and doing the work daily to reach our long-term goals and aspirations. Our intentions, thoughts and actions lead us down the path to fruition. And no matter where we are at in our journey, even if we are steeped in difficulty, we can experience joy, daily.

Our own joy does not reside in others, in circumstances, in the past or in the fictional “someday” we’ve created in our mind. We search broad and far until we figure out yet again, joy is borne within. The secret is found in returning to ourselves. Joy always comes from within and is available right now, experienced fully in this moment. Joy is a choice and a habit.

Joy strengthening exercises: gratitude, generosity, laughter, reflection, forgiveness, compassion, prayer and throwing ball in a field with your best friends witnessing the delight and awe in simple, soft moments.

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” – W. Bruce Cameron

There is discipline in joy and joy in discipline. Practice, practice, practice. The journey is completed one habit, thought, action, day at a time. Get in the habit.

White Space

“All the windows of my heart I open to the day.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

The last day of January. At the beginning of this month, we made our resolutions with conviction, energy and vigor. As time moves on and our resolve and intentions wane by the dailiness of life, we’ve moved on from those resolutions and on to the busyness of our “to do” lists and multitasking to merely stay in second to last place with the world’s race to nowhere. We make up excuses, we blame our circumstances, other people and then move onto self-loathing for being weak.

But wait, there’s good news! IT IS NOT OVER YET! Rather than unfulfilled new year’s resolutions, start making new day resolutions. Accept that none of us are perfect and our circumstances will never be perfect either. We live in a very imperfect world filled with flawed people just like ourselves, so often defeated by our own thoughts and stupid “rules.” The one thing that we absolutely can control is our thoughts and mindset. If we are breathing, we can still learn, grow and laugh.

In the past month alone, three people I know have passed away. Young, middle aged and older. No matter how old, always a deep loss for those who love them and are left behind. Pondering what ifs, if only and why. All different circumstances, all with the same ending. Death.

The one sure gift that death gives those who are left behind is a call to live fully in this very moment with gratitude, joy and wonder. To celebrate today. We can’t change the past and the future deals us a hand from decks unknown. We only can be sure of this very day and our opportunity and calling to be fully immersed in it.

Forgive, let go, take your little irritations much less seriously, laugh, sing, hug longer, look deep into another’s eyes, say “I love you” every single day, release petty grudges, stop judging others since you have no idea what they’re going through, move on from thoughts, assumptions and judgment that do nothing but steal your joy and drain your energy.

Create the white space needed to reflect, dream, smile and enjoy this day. New year’s resolutions? Nope. I’m going with new day’s resolutions and doing the work daily to meet longer term goals, forgiving myself and others when we come up short and then proceeding with grace to the finish line soaking in the scenery along the way.

Each new day presents a blank page to write our life, one page at a time. Be aware and awake to now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Create white space, allow time to unfold and to witness the day. Slow down, breathe and find joy in simple moments. Open up and take it all in.

Today is a clean slate, a blank piece of paper. What will you write?

 

Deep Freeze

“Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring.” – Terri Guillemets

We are about to enter a deep freeze in Minnesota. Schools closing in anticipation of -35 degree temps coupled with additional -30 degrees wind chill in the next few days. The weather, circumstances and the world can freeze us in place.

While we should prepare and hibernate when weather gets severe to be safe, we should do the opposite when stuck by our own thoughts, others’ opinions and life’s challenges that rise-up, keeping us frozen in place.

It is precisely then that we should risk moving out of our comfort zone, to crack the ice, thawing to keep our hearts open to the ebb and flow of life. Worry and fear are thieves that steal our joy.

Frozen in place? Look up to the sun and let the thaw begin. And spring soon follows in due time.

Give Into It

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)”

― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver passed away last week on January 17th. Grateful for her beautiful words and observations that inspire reflection and attention to what is before us right now.

Read poetry, write poetry, live poetry. Give into daily joy. In this very moment.

Long and short, mostly short

“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

In the past month, two colleagues and friends have passed away. One was 67 and on the brink of retirement after a tremendous career. An author, scholar, professor – authentic, big-heart, generous, brutally honest and funny as hell kind of guy. The other, a 36 year-old brilliant, positive, sweet young woman who I worked with for over 10 years. There’s a quip at work about “work wives’ – that person you can talk to, you have things in common with and she understands you. One of the greatest desires that each of us has is to be understood without having to explain things. She was my “work-wife.” Even though she worked remotely in Montana, we spoke every day, we could complete each other’s sentences and had the same geeky joy for data, learning and caring about the work and the outcome.

We need to grieve loss, to honor a people who have had an impact on us. Both of these individuals had tremendous impact in the world, well-beyond their immediate sphere. I saw each of them “give a damn,” get burned and yet they got back up and kept swinging, caring. They didn’t allow circumstances, small-minded negative people or challenges get in their way. They kept moving through life with vigor, humor and passion.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with our self-created busyness and chaos of daily life. To ride the surface and not go deep. You certainly don’t get burned that way. No one can catch you long enough to get burned. But when we do that we shortchange ourselves and the world. If others don’t give a damn, that’s precisely the time to care even more.

With my own busyness (non-stop meetings and ridiculous demands of work), I’ve been on the brink of joining the rest of the pack in not giving a damn. There’s even a book that’s a best-seller on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” I started reading it, but I didn’t get far. I want to give a “f*ck” and get burned. The opposite of love and joy is not hate but apathy.

As I reflect on my two professional colleagues who became friends over the years, I am reminded that often the days are long, but the years are short, too short to be sure.

Dig in, care, give your best without counting and fully grasp each day and the blessings that surround you. There are many gifts present right now in your life if you stop complaining and gossiping long enough to see them. Live the life that you were put here to do. Whether it’s staying where you are at or moving on.

Choose depth, awe and light. The rest of it is really a waste of very, very precious time. And when I forget, I can remember two role models who lived fully even though they were not granted the full time that they should have been. No guarantees for any of us really.

If we allow, loss fosters gratitude. Be grateful now and kind to others so when you’re gone like we all will be one day you will be greatly missed because you made a difference in other peoples lives.

The Pond, The River, The Harbor

Mornings at Blackwater by Mary Oliver, Red Bird

“For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.”

Fill your mind and heart with beauty and light to stay positive, to live positive and to never succumb to the magnet of negativity. Guard your heart, keep it soft. Fill your thoughts with love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding – those things that make absolutely no sense and are not warranted. And yet there is no peace without them.

Fight the good fight and live YOUR life. No regrets, unrelenting joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

Daily Rules

“Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.” – William Shakespeare

I got away to a friend’s cabin (house actually) for a few days. Relaxing, spending time together, playing several Scrabble games (still my favorite game). The world slows down between Christmas and the new year inviting us to slow down as well. And in the quiet unstructured time, we can actually hear that still small voice calling us to go deeper, observe what is present and be refreshed and renewed.

While it’s easier to rediscover our thoughts and dreams in down time, we can carry that quiet within as we enter in to a new year with a clean slate. And we are offered a clean slate, a fresh start every day. The lessons we learn in quiet are meant to be carried back into ordinary daily living, making it less chaotic and more meaningful.

“Cabin Rules” should be our daily rules so we have that get-away vacation feeling every day. It is offered to us all if we dare slow down daily to see our blessings, be grateful and offer each day our best.

Happy New Year and may the resolutions on your heart be reality in March. Keep that new, resolved feeling beyond the next few weeks. Cabin rules rule.

In the Life of Winter

“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” – Gary Zukav

There is plenty of life to be found in winter. In rest, reflection and in getting out into the middle of it to discovery its own special beauty. Winter is not meant for hibernation alone. Its gifts are preparation, silence and transformation. Winter does the work so spring can get the praise.

Never succumb to the “dead” of winter. Be open to life that winter offers in frozen ground, preparing the bud for bloom in due time. Daily gratitude, in each season.

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” – Anton Chekhov

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