“What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.” – Samuel Johnson
Last Friday, I did a 9 mile run in preparation for the Twin Cities 10 miler which is in conjunction with the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1. I’ve completed three marathons and all were at the Twin Cities Marathon – a beautiful course. I felt good that I made 9 with my sporadic and mixed training as of late. The 9 mile run builds confidence that you can do the 10 miles so that’s the main purpose of the longer run. But what really matters is the time and effort in all distances, consistency and time on your feet.
I took it easy on Saturday and did a 6 mile run on Sunday. I got my stride, my flow and was reminded of all of the reasons that I run. It was like I was floating on air and one with the run. Those joy-filled moments when all of the pieces of work and effort come together in a beautiful symphony of cadence.
So often we focus so much on the work and effort, we miss the ease of flow and cadence of the input. When we experience it, we must celebrate it by simply taking it in and letting it move us. Daily living is a mix of ups and downs, momentum and struggle. It is the downs and struggle that are the foundation of the ups and momentum, of the cadence.
Keep moving, knowing that it won’t always be easy, but we find ease and flow when we move our mindsets out of the way and let our heart and spirit lead the way into whatever path is in front of us. Practice, repetition and getting back up every single time. With each strike of your heel, you build your cadence. And suddenly effort becomes effortless.
“The more I practice the luckier I get.” – Arnold Palmer
Lately, I’ve been listening to the songs of one of my favorite artists, Mary Chapin Carpenter. The lyrics and notes are like a warm blanket, comforting and familiar. One of my favorite lines from The Jubilee – “When we look back and say those were halcyon days we’re talking ’bout jubilee.” Halcyon is defined as a period of peace and happiness; an idyllic time.
We so often look back longing for what was because we miss the beautiful fabric of each day while we are busily on our way to the next thing. May we all realize and deeply appreciate our hacyon days and moments while we are right in the middle of them. So we can be doubly blessed now and when we look back in fondness for what was and a renewed hope for what is to come. Simple moments make up our halcyon days. Simple moments.
“If you are paying attention, then the day is going to be pretty joyful, and a lot of delight will fill it.” – Greg Boyle
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn
Words matter. Actions even more. We so often have an opinion on everything and advice for others that we wouldn’t take ourselves. The noise of nothingness is loud, drowning out what’s real and true.
There are more good people than bad, and everyone has a story that we don’t know. Ask and then listen. There is more depth and substance to people, so go beyond the surface and dig a little deeper. It’s easier to define others and put them in a box than to find our common humanity and complexity. We’re all trying to figure this life out, become who we are called to be and fulfill our purpose. Hopefully. And if we focused on that, what a world this would be.
Give the benefit of the doubt, be kind, lighten up, laugh more, drop your perceptions which are often misperceptions and be naively hopeful and filled with joy. Take the time to encourage someone each day rather than say nothing or worse, being critical. It is often hard to do in world that asks for more and more of us and gives less and less. But I am convinced it’s the only viable choice that we have to live well and in the moment each day.
Cast your light today, early and often. Words and actions.
“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Breathless, we flung us on a windy hill, Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.” – Rupert Brooke
You know you’re having fun when you have a grass stain on your head and a smile ear to ear. When is the last time you had a good grass stain and a hearty smile? Too long for me I must say.
Lighten up and take it all with a bit less seriousness. Too much worry, too much work and no play makes our days drudgery. Our regrets will center on not being in the moment when it was happening and realizing the joy that was ours for the taking. “Someday” is an excuse to put off your life.
Schedule time each day to search out a good grass stain and a smile that sprouts from within.
“Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.” – Swami Sivananda
We so often think struggles linger forever and bliss is but a rare passing moment. Even in our struggles, we can find bliss. They co-exist. Yet, we can choose which one we will amplify, what tune we will dance to.
Things are settling down for me for the first time in a long while and new things are entering. But not completely, there are still moments of struggle. But I am not going to forebode bliss to anticipate and plan for struggle. Accept the bliss and keep it close to guide you through the struggle. It lives and breathes beside and within us.
When I lose the path to my bliss, I need not look far to be reminded of the joy found in daily life. A dog’s smile, a baby’s laugh, a heartfelt conversation with a trusted friend. These are the places of true, deep bliss amidst the simple moments in life. March in.
“Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake
“Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
The innate beauty of wild flowers is their carefree nature and brilliant color. They bloom strong in tall grass and weeds, taking root and standing tall. Nothing snares them from fruition. Nothing and no one.
What’s holding you back? Your made up “rules and regulations” of what should be or should have been? What others think? Fear or worthiness?
Release the past and the future. Go uninhibited and with vigor into each moment and day, knowing that this is your one and only precious life. And stop asking permission to bloom.
Talk a walk on the wild side. Show your colors wild thing.
“Well, that’s what life is – this collection of extraordinarily ordinary moments. We just need to pay attention to them all. Wake up and pay attention to how beautiful it all is.” – Alexander Payne
It’s been five years since I’ve done a big yard project. Last week, I rented the roto tiller and tilled up the weeds along the side and back of the garage. Yesterday, I finished the resetting the block edging, Today, the rock and dirt were delivered. Seven hours later, the rock is in its place. Dirt spreading and grass seed is on the agenda tomorrow.
Five years ago, the project was tilling and sod after the back yard tree was removed with a crane. Today, the missing piece in this yard project was Dad. And it’s days like these that I miss him most. He would have gone with me to the rock store after he measured the area and did the calculation to get the exact amount of rock that I needed. He would have handed me the shovel and held down the landscape fabric. After we were done, we would go grab a beer and toast to getting the job done.
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” – Earl Nightingale
While I always appreciated the help, what I really valued the most was the easy conversation and time spent with my best friend and Dad. As I shoveled the rock into the wheel barrel today, I imagined Dad sitting in the adirondack chair just hanging out with me making the hard work enjoyable.
The daily moments and ordinary days are what we remember the most so don’t miss them while you are in the middle of them. Be present and deeply grateful for those oh so ordinary days.
“Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.” – John Muir
Reflection and remembering are the stepping stones on the path of gratitude and awe. A simple walk in the woods can transform our minds and surface our spirit. Rather than busily moving through time we become immersed in it, unaware of the clock and deep in the moment.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
In quiet repose, we move from reaction and positioning to creation and mere being. Amidst the waving trees, in the rhythm of the stream, in the heart of the meadow, we are called to enter and join the sweet harmony of nature. Eternal youth flows uninhibited and free for the taking.
“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.” – B.C. Forbes
I’ve had two fifty year old trees fall and have to be cut down in my yard in the past 10 years. After clearing them, I immediately planted new trees, knowing that it wouldn’t be in my lifetime that I would see the same beauty and shade that those wise old trees had given.
As I looked out my window tonight on the pink sky with soft rain falling, I saw the outline of that little tree that was planted not so long ago and how far that it had come. It’s offering its own beauty and shade.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
When it comes down to it, we can hold to the past and long for what was, not moving forward or we can plant new seeds and anticipate new bounty and beauty for us to be nourished by.
Plant seeds each and every day and let time do its work. Suddenly, you’ll look up and there will be a lush tree where there was once seemingly barren ground.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore
There are many steps between starting and finishing. Starting is always the first step, so get to it. The secret to finishing is to keep going, moving through the stops, detours and falls. Our plans, the maps we draw out with great precision, so often don’t work out exactly as designed. Go where you are being drawn to and let go of the map when necessary. We so often are found amidst being lost.
So if your “plans” don’t seem to be working out and the finish seems far off, you are where you need to be in this moment. And you are closer than you think so keep going. There are not a lot of straight, short roads from start to finish on what’s most fulfilling.
The formula: start, stop, detour, lost, found, start again, finish. Most importantly, enjoy the journey, it’s a short one to be sure.