Be present today. Get off the sidelines, move from spectator to participant. Stay in the arena of life. Strive. Try again and again. Err. Miss. Victory. Enthusiasm. Devotion. Dare greatly. Keep going.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
“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
“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.
“Gratitude is not a limited resource, nor is it costly. It is abundant as air. We breathe it in but forget to exhale.” – Marshall Goldsmith
“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
Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius was the Roman Emperor during the Antinone plague which lasted 15 years, resulting in 5 million deaths, 1/3 of the population lost. During this time, his journal turned into the classic Meditations, which can inform and guide us especially now. In our most challenging times, we must choose to keep going in the darkness and to never let our spirit be kept down but for more than a brief moment. Fall two times, get back up three times.
Focus on what’s good, hold tight to hope and never ever give up. There are plenty of dark and heavy moments. And woven through it all is goodness, light and growth. Light always remains and works its way through. Streams, beams and then full sunlight. Take time several times throughout the day to stop and breathe.
Strength, resilience, gratitude, joy and hope. Carry on. Breathe. We are and will be alright.
“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
“For me, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, or for flowers or beast or bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly and perfectly alive.” – Al Purdy
“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” – Victor Hugo
For the past week, small crowds have gathered (socially distant of course) to witness a rare sighting of the mountain bluebird at our usual running spot at Como Lake in St. Paul, Minnesota. In awe, the birders quietly gaze with binoculars to observe the bird in the tree. The finches have gathered in the dry winter grass and flowers in disguise to watch as well.
We spoke to one of the birders and with excitement, he explained that the mountain bluebird is home to the Rocky Mountain area and it doesn’t belong here. I’m sure that bird is wondering what happened to his internal GPS and what the hell are those people doing down there with big glasses on.
This year has been a year where we have felt that we don’t belong here either. Stop the ride, I want to get off! But we do belong where we are at for some unknown reason(s) and can choose to learn the lessons that each day offers. Apply the lesson, let go of the pain of learning it. When we think we are lost, we are actually on the path of being found, of becoming our authentic self – imperfect, raw, real, egoless, generous, holy and beautiful.
Contemplate and reflect on the burdens and more importantly, the blessings. They co-exist and always will, it’s called life. I hope and pray that the burdens of the pandemic fade to our memories in 2021 and the world is healed in many ways. May we be more kind, grateful, joyful, faithful, empathetic, in awe, aware, mindful, curious, responsive, peaceful, proactive, delightful, purposeful, forgiving and enthusiastic.
With rapt attention, put binoculars on and see the detail, ordinary miracles and beauty in each day. These days shall not return and they our are currency for a good life. Look for, be and Cast light!
We’ve all said it, “let it go.” And then proceed to hold on tight as ever. We can’t “let go” of our circumstances, difficult people, a pandemic. In Abby’s case, she can’t let go of her tennis ball after I throw it which is why I carry three balls. When she sees me ready to throw the next one, she’ll let go of the one so she can pursue the other. So many of the things that we cling to, try to control that we can’t, end up controlling us.
When we shift our focus on what we can control – our perspective, imagination, attitude and outlook – letting go is possible.
There are a few more steps in the process of letting go. Letting it be and letting it come. Letting it be allows us to stop, quiet the noise so we can get a full perspective to determine if “it” is in our control or not. If yes, then it’s time to proactively respond and develop a plan on what to do that will make a difference. If no, then it’s time to lay it down and let it go for good. No returning, no more controlling our time and attention. For the letting go to stick, we need to fill the open space with what will come. Anticipation, preparation and planning for what’s next shifts our attention to what can come if we allow it to.
We choose familiarity over change. Our fear of change keeps us stuck in old thinking and in situations we should have left a long time ago. We make change hard by assuming that it’s not going to be good. Change is not only inevitable, it’s required for growth and fruition. When change stops, so do we.
If we “let it be” long enough to gain clarity and work on what we can, we can move onto “letting it go” followed by moving on. Let it be, go and come. There’s always going to be a new ball to chase when we are ready to lay the old one down.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver
“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.”
― Mary Oliver
Just below the surface, a bit deeper, listen and look in the quiet of soft reflection and pause. The texture and richness of life is more buoyant than circumstances and opinion. Look beyond momentary struggles and allow gratitude in. Discover what already exists, letting go of the unnecessary and always reach for whimsy and delight.
May you grasp your blessings, may you find moments of joy each day, may you be grateful for all that was, is and will come. Happy Thanksgiving today and each day ahead.
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell
Yesterday, I rushed to get ready to drop the car off for a 7:30 am appointment. I skipped writing morning pages (uninterrupted stream of consciousness writing prescribed by author Julia Cameron), multi-tasked through morning meditation (Insight Timer – the best app that makes mindfulness doable) and rushed through strength training (burpees still suck).
I’ve been doing all of these morning rituals long enough to know that when I don’t do them, the “open doors” during the day will let out the heat, wasting my energy on circumstances and my interpretation of other people, rather than letting in fresh air and light in to facilitate flow and ease. Best-case scenario thinking of optimism turns rapidly into worst-case scenario thinking of pessimism.
We know our triggers and still we let them trigger us every time when we don’t anchor our thoughts and “GPS” our actions for the day through habits and rituals.
This year, it feels like all of the doors have been closed. But if we look deeper and longer, we realize that there are new doors that we can open to find blessings and gifts right in the middle of a pandemic.
Yesterday, the news announced a third vaccine. There is real light at the end of this long tunnel, as there always is during all tunnel sections of life. If we can find joy and light amidst a pandemic and be grateful, we have discovered the most important vaccine ever! Our joy and happiness are rooted within ourselves, in our control the entire time.
We choose daily whether we will be victims of circumstances, people, our own narrow thinking, limiting beliefs or even a pandemic. We have the responsibility, honor and gift of choosing which open doors to walk through, which ones to close and to keep searching to find new doors.
No matter what, believe that hope, joy and light have the strength to not only hold you but to also catapult you forward into transformation, becoming and fruition. So many beautiful doors. The cocoon always births the butterfly. Always.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle
As COVID cases spike, the holidays will not be the same as we lock down to try to stop the spread and buy time for two vaccines to be distributed. Some days, this year feels like it’s been five years. There’s a weariness that will linger for months more. The only real thing that we have control over is our response. This has always been true and even more important as we move through a worldwide pandemic.
Each of us has the choice on how we move through it. We can struggle or embrace. Complain or create. Dance or be disappointed. Laugh or cry. We have justification for a wide range of emotions right now. Some days are good and some days are not-so-good. Never forget the strength and resolve of the human spirit. Be generous and find gratitude in simple daily gifts that remain.
Choose light, color and delight to lighten the load for yourself and give permission to others to do the same if they choose. When others are struggling, listen with empathy and offer encouragement. And when you’re struggling, accept grace and light.
Joy is a powerful vaccine that’s available to all right now. Daily doses required.