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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

Once, Forever

“Life is once, forever.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

This quote is on the top of my ongoing “to do” list to remind me of what is more important than checking off tasks.

With little desire to prove anything or climb “the” or any ladder, I find joy and delight in learning, growing and not making the same mistake over and over again. A few lessons that I remind myself of often include:

  1. Stop worrying about what others think;
  2. I can only change myself so stop trying to change others;
  3. Fear is a liar, do it afraid;
  4. Love is where it starts and finishes – inside and out;
  5. Assumptions and judgments are usually wrong so don’t bother, assume the best;
  6. Intentions matter, action on them matters more;
  7. Everyone is going through something, be kind;
  8. Work less, play more;
  9. Timing is everything, try it again – you may have tried too early;
  10. Seeds must be planted and cultivated to get a harvest;
  11. Kids, dogs and flowers bring heaven to earth;
  12. Faith, love, grace, patience, mercy, joy, kindness are the main ingredients of a good life;
  13. Water the grass you are standing on right now and watch what blooms.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” – Neil Barringham

 

 

 

Cosmic Dance

“No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, nor stain the joy of the cosmic dance, which is always there. – Thomas Merton

I had a different post ready on pruning, cutting the dry branches for the good of the whole. But I was compelled to change the topic based on conversations, exchanges and observations today. It feels like a pep talk is in order to offer hope, hold out a hand and cast light rather than offer insight and analysis.

Each one of us will face depths that we can never explain, plan or prepare for but must walk through. No one is immune from the side effects of daily living.

A grandmother who suddenly fades and lands delicately on the pivot point of life and death. A halt in our daily activities from an injury that makes it painfully difficult to stand, to walk with ease. And then the regular old self-centered, ego driven actions of humans.

And despite the noise and chaos, there remains an anchor, an unshakable foundation of hope in a friend who listens without giving advice, in an encouraging word and smile that says “I’ve been there and it’s going to be o.k.”

So if you are in that spot right now, hold tight and go through it. Don’t try to take a shortcut or bypass the depth. It won’t work and you won’t stay there. The other side is always waiting for you to arrive when the time is right and the proper work is complete. And if you are not in that spot right now, assume the person next to you is and be kind.

The cosmic dance knows the song so stop trying to lead. Simply let go, follow the steps and dance.

Stem Straw

I didn’t notice it until I pulled a drooping flower from the bouquet that I got on Mother’s Day from my niece Emily. There was a green plastic straw at the bottom of the daisy. When I slid it up, the flower popped up back in upright position. I looked it up and found that florists use stem straws with certain flowers that have soft stems to hold up the heads. What a brilliant idea.

As I think back on the past few weeks, I am grateful for those stem straws who have propped my head up as struggles have been winning the day. People who remain steady and who say the right thing at the right time and don’t even know it. Abby and Sasha never waiver and are my constant stem straws when circumstances and daily living become too heavy.

When we remain steady and keep going, transformative moments come in due time as we make our way through “dark nights of the soul” periods in our life. Growth comes with struggle and ends with joy. Be open up to new things, be ready to drop old things and trust the process of transitions and transformation. There is a real peace that passes all understanding for each one of us. We need to be open to accept that gift.

Whether we know it or not, we have several opportunities each day to be a stem straw. To prop up and draw another’s eyes up to see a broader perspective beyond the chaos and drama of intense moments. Be a stem straw that provides that extra support that can change someone’s day, change their perspective and offer hope that sustains us to the finish line of fruition.

Carry On

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging and remembering Dad’s passing 3 years ago today. But rather than talk about what was, I’m going to ponder and reflect on what is. In addition to losing my Dad in 2016, I lost both of my dogs – Molly in June and Lily in October. It was relentless. And yet, amidst the deep loss and sorrow of 2016, there was a bright light. Liam was born in August, bringing love and hope.

Liam is joyful and filled with life lessons that I learn every time I’m with him. And while it’s important to remember and honor those who have gone before us, we also must carry on and celebrate and honor what and who is present in this very moment.

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

On Friday, Liam and I wandered up to the park and climbed on ladders, flew down slides and hopped on the swing for some air time. And when we are around humans like him, they invite, encourage and allow us to come out and play in the same all out like no one’s looking kind of a way. Uninhibited and unapologetic.

So today I celebrate a life well-lived and see Dad in each day from sayings I now say, to my work ethic and values, to a deep faith in God that carries me through whatever life brings. And I also celebrate a life filled with light, joy and laughter who’s got a lot of living to do but it’s ok if he takes his time growing up.

Carry on and savor today. It is the only gift worth opening.

Somewhere In Between

Yesterday, I listened to my favorite songs loudly on the way into work and decided it was going to be a good day. And not only was it a good day, it was an outstanding day. One of the best in a long time because I set the stage, I made a plan, set my mind and stuck to it. Enjoy the day and have some fun. It worked.

Today, I had the same intentions. Hit the repeat button and let’s do it again. Same intentions, not same results. Pretty strong start to the day with some engaging conversations and meetings. And then mid-afternoon, it unraveled. Tech issues with our internet that I had been asking our vendor about for the past month, only to be ignored, and then the internet went down for the entire office for two hours with no back up and while I was in the middle of a client meeting. Other than getting them to fix the connection, I couldn’t talk to them today because I knew it wouldn’t be a constructive conversation that I would be proud of.

We live in extremes – way up or way down. And both are exhausting if we remain in them too long. Most of living is found somewhere in between the highs and the lows. I went home quietly to push the reset button again which consists of wandering in the woods with the girls and throwing balls in an open field while listening to nature party.

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." -Saint Bernard

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” -Saint Bernard

And then as the night progressed and errands took my attention, I realized that three years ago on this Thursday evening, I was going 60 miles an hour down West 7th to rush to Regions Hospital after getting off a flight from Boston, even though I didn’t need to rush. It was too late. I didn’t make it in time, Dad had already passed away in the hospital. This Sunday, April 28th is the actual date and not a day has gone by where I haven’t missed him and haven’t wanted to pick up the phone after a day like today to talk to him about it and have him masterfully put it into perspective for me. Not one day. And I know my brother, sister and Mom feel the exact same way. One big hole.

It sure puts in perspective a stupid preventable tech failure or another day at work putting in too much damn time thinking more time at work will make an impact other than to the bottom line of someone else.

Pick up the phone, drop by and never let anything go unsaid to your loved ones. I am happy to say that’s how it was left with Dad. In an instant the internet can go down. And, in an instant, you can lose your best friend. Don’t waste your time pining on stupid problems and caught up in the BS people throw at you all day. Spend time with family and friends who really make life worth living and rich with joy. You can find them “in between” it all.

A Year from Now

“In basic research, the use of the electron microscope has revealed to us the complex universe of the cell, the basic unit of life.” – Gunter Blobel

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” – Henry Ward Beecher

While I encourage savoring the moment and being present in today, we also need to put the microscope down and pull out our telescope to look to the stars, trigger our imagination and get a new perspective when life’s challenges get too close.

Moments are rich with joy that can be discovered with a microscopic view. When the details of the day are steeped in chaos, it can distort our view requiring the use of our telescopic view. Pulling back and getting a new view. Moments are snapshots that accumulate into the entire album of our life.

Using both our microscope and telescope at the right times keep us balanced through our day to prevent “rollercoaster” living. Zooming into to see moments of connection, joy and delight in simple interactions. And then, when necessary, pulling back to remind ourselves that “this too shall pass.”

So, do both. Savor the moment, the beauty and detail in the petal of a flower. And when things get distorted and lead us down “frustration lane,” look up and remind yourself that you won’t be here in a year or even tomorrow for that matter.

Carry your microscope and telescope with you today and use each one appropriately so you can enjoy the gift of this day.

Hope Always Remains

The international treasure, historic 850 old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was consumed by fire yesterday. As the fire settled and smoke rose, the cross remained. One image summarizing the end of the story of Holy Week, the hope of Easter.

As we go through our own Last Suppers and suffering of our daily crosses, remember that the end of every story is always Easter. The cross always remains through the fires of hell. Hope remains. Always. Cling to hope no matter what you are going through now. The third day comes, resurrection and new life from ashes.

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

Clarity in the Morning

There’s a clarity in the morning like no other time of day. Fresh from resting if we allowed ourselves to lay the day down the night before to recover, refresh and renew. It’s a new start, a clean slate, an opportunity to do better. No distractions or interruptions. Quiet time to get a perspective that will be challenged, tested and pushed around the rest of the day with the demands of long to do lists, last minute requests due to lack of planning usually caused by putting out the last fire from the last round of lack of planning and forethought.

It’s good artificial intelligence is coming since real intelligence is in short supply. And humans will be able to teach the machines how to do it. Factory line, grind it out, more with less, get better by the hour, productivity, keep going even if it’s in the wrong direction. And certainly don’t let relationships and emotion get in the way. Busy, busy. Sounds great doesn’t it?

But that is not how we are built. The frustration, exhaustion and emptiness keeps showing up in the pathetic 32% employee engagement number that Gallup regularly measures. I would suspect that it will drop even further as we tout how artificial intelligence and machine learning will put you out of a job and really change the world for the better, again. Same empty promise, get rich quick scheme we bought into with the proliferation of technology giving us more time back. How’d that one work out?

Don’t get me wrong, a big part of my career is built on technology and what it can do to actually make our life better and connect the world to do cool things for humanity if we choose. But we fall for the shortcuts, the quick fixes, the 21 day solutions, the 10 minute a day train for a marathon formulas, the magic pill. How’s that working?

No matter how far we frantically search to discovery that “thing” that will change our lives forever, it comes down to what’s inside of each one of us and in messy, complicated, illogical relationships with others. How we play with others on the playground.

So from this morning clarity and rambling, I come to a few final thoughts since this will break into a longer version article when I have the time to go deeper someday (that’s also what we tell ourselves too often – “someday I will…”)

So someday is today:

  1. Slow down and breath at regular intervals today, take 5 two minute breaks from the action and the “ASAP” lists people keep creating for you. Let clarity be a part of your entire day rather than just the morning when people aren’t around to mess up your plans;
  2. Be a human being. Offer grace and generosity of spirit to others who disappoint you and come up short all of the time, despite your perfection. Show and share your humanness, flaws and all. Kindness to others begins with kindness within. You’re not perfect and no one else is either. Celebrate your imperfections;
  3. Choose empathy over apathy, even though apathy is what makes complete sense;
  4. Laugh, until it hurts, which I actually did last night. I pulled a muscle in my abdomen from laughing with friends. When I self-diagnosed myself last night with Dr. Google, you can actually strain muscles in your abdomen, proving the need to strengthen your laugh muscles every day. I’m sure there’s a 21 day fix for this. I’ll google that later, when I have time;
  5. Take full inventory. So often we count the hassles, set backs and losses making them larger than they warrant. Choose abundance over scarcity and make sure that you at least equally count the many blessings and gifts in your life. It’s irritating when someone says “be grateful” because they’re right.

That’s right – 5 Easy Steps to Happiness Today, with a money-back guarantee of your success. And order within the next 60 minutes and we’ll send 2 sets for the price of shipping.

Lighten up and cast some light today. Now, go get em! Your head lock is waiting.

Amazing Grace

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“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’s illusive. Hard to define, to harness the concept. Grace. A gift from God given to us freely with no strings attached. An assurance that we are being held whether we are aware of it or not. Worry and fear try to stop us, often successfully. Yet, grace remains. Quietly, steady and patiently waiting for us to notice. And merely to accept and fall into it.

God is always next to us, in front of us, behind us, around us and especially within us. God’s presence is not dependent of our awareness. But when we are aware and enter it fully without question, our days are transformed, becoming new again and again. Grace has no explanation, logic or reasoning. It just is.

Grace wakes us up, jolting us from our busy trance and worldly slumber to see a sunset for the first time. To find the hope in a hand held. To seize the utter joy hidden in simple moments. Grace is a free pass for being human. It is love without condition, the only real love that there is.

Grace allows us space and time to move through dark days, confused and afraid and to savor deeply the arrival to the other side. It is patient, kind, a warm embrace that never let’s us go. We need not pray for grace for it is given independent of our control or worthiness. Pray for the awareness of the seeing grace that is already present right now, ready to heal and make us whole.

And in the grateful awakening, we can dare to extend grace to others. Gently opening the door to peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, empathy and awe.

Wake up to grace in your life. And the only thing you have to do is accept it without question and enjoy the ride. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound.

Teflon

So much of the narrative of our life is defined by others, our past and what we all have allowed in. Change the narrative, change the story. Be mindful and careful of what you allow in and keep out.

Like Teflon, don’t let fear, other people’s shallow criticism and comments control your now and your future. Our regret rarely lies in what we’ve done but rather what we haven’t done. Dreams we didn’t pursue, activities we didn’t try, things we didn’t say.

Worry and fear hold us back from trying at all ages and stages of our life. And with one step, we can change it all. Do it afraid. Silence those voices by trying things, learning and growing until your last day on this earth.

Like a sponge, soak in possibility, confidence and hope. Let that feeling of “I Can” stick. Fear is a liar.

“When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar”

Zach Williams, – Fear is a Liar

Get your Teflon on.

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