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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

Return to Center

“When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day.” – Lynda Resnick

“The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.” – Empedocles

Honestly, the last few days have been a bit of a struggle culminating from at least a three week build up. The reasons don’t matter. How I respond does. Each of us can change our perspective. Rather than defaulting to the easy answer of things happening “to” us, we can transcend to see the whole picture and discover all that is happening “for” us. Blessings and meaning can always be found when we look for them.

The common thread of our discontent usually returns to other people and circumstances, not getting our way assuming our way is the right way. It may very well be, so keep going. Don’t let external forces knock you off your center of knowing, your intuition, your light. If it is you, face it, be honest and don’t react with the same behavior that has never served you well. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”

Before reacting, pause and choose to respond with ease, positivity and kindness. I am in the middle of unfolding a lot right now so I am returning to center to mindfully respond rather than randomly react. When we get our equilibrium back, the thin crack of light bursts open for more light to shine to illuminate the path forward. As the sun greets the morning or bids adieu to rest at days end, center on the light.

Let bliss find you and embrace light, so you can release it again and again.

“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.” – David Lynch

Breathe

“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.

Binoculars

“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!

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

“A merry heart does good like medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

On a quiet Christmas morning, we were greeted with a fresh blanket of snow on our daily trip to the dog park. The new snow creates a challenge for ball chasing if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. If Abby looked too far ahead or back in anticipation, she missed the ball when it went deep in the snow. She searched with intent and focus to look for the lost ball.

This season is a time to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus who entered a broken world in a stable filled with animals and ordinary people. The promise and gift is that He remains with us each day on our imperfect, beautiful and flawed journey. He searches for our time and attention to lighten our days and create meaning from the journey.

The Christmas story is not one of the past but of what’s present and available to us now. Today and every day, heaven comes to earth to save us from ourselves. Accept this incomprehensible, undeserved gift of peace, grace, mercy, light and love. It’s as real today as it was that cold, lonely, miraculous day in a stable for there was no room at the Inn. Make room at your “Inn” for God to participate in your life.

Not too far back or ahead, keep your eye on the ball. Merry Christmas.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Open Doors

“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.

Joy Vaccine

“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.

The Other Side of the White Out

“When you quiet your mind, you can enter a world of clarity, peace and understanding.” – Alice Coltrane

“Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things – with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope.” – Corazon Aquino

The past nine months has felt like a nonstop white out in winter. Limited visibility, slow going, uncertain of what’s ahead, fish tailing on the ice, with a few spin outs into the ditch. And like winter, this is a season, a long one albeit.

We have the capacity to experience both sorrow and joy at the same time. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. Keep moving until the snow clears and the horizon shows itself.

We are deeper, wider and stronger than we realize. Never, never, never give up. Accept the rollercoaster of emotions and go through them to the other side.

God gives us grace to embrace what is and asks us to pass grace on so it multiplies. Accept and give grace, allow imperfection and invite delight into each day.

Joy, hope, resilience, gratitude and faith move us through the white outs, without fail. The other side is just ahead, keep moving, smiling, crying, mourning and celebrating! Create clear skies and sunshine within and patience, perspective and peace will follow.

Daily Deposits

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s simple math. We need to make more deposits than withdrawls to stay out of debt, paying high interest rates, falling behind. This principle applies to our daily life too. We can’t keep spending without replenishing our account.

We’ve had a lot of withdrawls on our “account” this year. Lots of overdrafts to be sure. COVID month 9, remote work and school, lockdown, social distancing, health concerns, job loss, businesses closed, holidays canceled, an election season, winter around the corner and the list goes on. Too many big withdrawls.

And yet, we’ve also had deposits along the way. Time with family. Slowing down to question where we’ve been rushing to. Gaining a real understanding of gratitude. Experiencing a shared understanding, a leveling of sorts. Discovering the healing power of nature and long walks. Home projects that finally got done. Books read. Our resilience and empathy muscles have been strengthened and will serve us well now and in the future.

Small deposits each day add up. Take that walk. Buy snowshoes and keep walking through the winter. Start a new book. Try a new hobby. Decorate for the holidays. Meditate every morning – even if only for 5 minutes to ground yourself in the present moment. Take a nap. Daily journaling to unravel and uncover your thoughts. Text an encouraging word. Send flowers. Buy flowers for yourself. Be kind. Do something for someone else. Generosity pays double back into the account.

Joy, contentment, hope, faith, creativity, purpose, laughter, optimism are the dividends of daily deposits. Outstanding return on investment.

Always Earned

This afternoon, I received the Marine Corp Marathon shirt and medal for finishing. This year was different, which is an understatement to describe 2020. I registered in March, trained all spring and summer and it was canceled in August.

I trained for months, so I decided to keep going through fall and run it in the Twin Cities in October. I ran it a week early to beat a possible October snow. Sure enough, it snowed the week after I ran it. I was grateful to run in 30 degree sunny weather rather than snow. I’ve taken the past week and a half off to rest up from over six months of training five days a week. I’m getting restless and thinking about the next goal line, the next long run.

I’m not one for medals, but this one is a special one to be sure. It marks an earned effort over months to run 26.2 miles and finish, even if I was not able to run it in Washington DC with the Marines.

This year has been marked by a tremendous amount of uncertainty and angst. And also along side of it, plenty of blessings and self-awareness, even joy if we chose to succumb.

No matter what happens after the election or where this pandemic will lead next, we are bigger, stronger and deeper than our circumstances. Keep rising while also allowing yourself to indulge in generous self-care.

No one knows what will happen next, but we do know the strength and resilience of the human spirit when set free.

Meaningful progress and outcomes – always earned. Hope and grace – always given.

Let Go to Hold On

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The science on meditation and mindfulness shows the real impact on daily living. We get skeptical about adding one more thing to our daily to do list, but meditation is worth the 10-30 minutes a day. In addition to training for a now virtual marathon, journaling every morning since March and daily meditation guided by the Insight Timer app has been worth the effort and investment.

We need to do less so we can experience more. Let go of old stories, hold on to things worthy of our valuable time. Create space for new possibilities, joy and abundance.

Let go of the unnecessary so you can hold on to the necessary. Carve quiet so light can enter and reveal the magic of living.

“Peace in ourselves, peace in the world.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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