“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” – Aristotle Onassis
It is April 9th and it snowed again. I worked half the weekend on projects and trying to get my email down which didn’t work. I’m still at 500 emails with “to dos” attached to them. Civility is at an all-time low and adult-bullying is at an all-time high. Friends struggling with death, surgery, elderly parents. And it’s Monday and my calendar is filled with meetings that will produce more “busyness.”
Insert your list here.
We all are justified to be exhausted, frustrated and fed up. But that bus trip gets you to wasted days that never return. So despite our justifications, we must cling to hope and find joy in our winter seasons.
So much of what we suffer is outside of us – circumstances, unreasonable expectations, other people, the weather. We can and must control what’s inside so we can go out into the world and be hope and joy-filled people. To contribute to light rather than darken the darkness.
We have to intentionally, mindfully and actively choose hope over despair. So write your list, acknowledge the challenges and then move on. Also, write a list of your blessing and gifts. It will be much longer and deeper than you think. Gratitude is the bus to get on.
Find your inner “Tigger” and grow flowers within when the soil outside is still frozen and barren. And go out and beam, start a domino-effect of joy. That’s powerful. Joy over despair.
Cast light, bloom, multiply joy. Now that’s worthy of our time and attention.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” – Pope John Paul II
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu
I went bowling this past weekend for a little guy’s 7th birthday party. My wrists and neck have been problematic the past five months with numbness and tingling. Several chiropractor appointments later, it’s gotten tolerable. Often our aches and pains translate into our outlook and thoughts. It is precisely then that we need our spirit to take over and rise.
Rather than sitting on the sidelines, I decided to just have fun and throw the ball. First game, lots of single pins and gutters. Game two, four strikes. The turkey plus one. “X” marks the spot. Hooting and hollering ensued.
On day two of “no complaints, only gratitude,” I am reminded that we often chain the ball of cynicism around our own neck and wonder why we’re dragged down and drowning. We relinquish our power.
Let all of the reasons and justification to complain go and dump the excuses of why you are downtrodden. Get back in the game, throw the ball and embrace deep gratitude.
“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu
When the dust settles and the noise subsides, what’s present right now, front and center matters most. Let go of the stuff that pulls you to the peripheral at the expense of what’s right in front of you. The race – where to and why? If you can’t answer then drop out of the race and pursue with vigor what has real meaning and depth.
If but for a moment, pause and discover what you already know to be true and choose your days, your life, your attention, your energy, your joy. It’s front and center.
“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” – Sharon Draper
When we get stuck in the “whys” and “whens,” we miss out on the depth of now. Without a doubt, no one gets through life without bumps, bruises and scars. But woven through it all right in front of us is a current of grace and awe.
What really matters is not that we have challenges but rather how we go through them. With angst or joy. And we have the choice. So whatever this day brings or wherever you are at on your journey right now, choose light as you move through. Do it with joy and heart all in.
“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spring comes softly with a slow melt. Winter holds a bit longer. The transition lingers, unfolding rather than rushing. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, 6-8 inches of more snow. Life ebbs and flows and then turns upside down in a moment. And the only thing promised to us is this very moment.
So whether in the storm or in the slow melt, find the current and enter into the flow. Hear and feel the music in the melt. Running through the puddle season is coming. Slowly but surely.
“Music comes from an icicle as it melts, to live again as spring water.” – Henry Williamson
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle
The joy of watching the Olympics is to witness the fruition of years of work, stories of struggle, come-backs and then after all of that a medal or just the mere opportunity to compete among the best and be counted as one.
We reach our dreams and aspirations by opening our eyes and pursuing them with diligence, grit and a “never give up” attitude, no matter what. There will be a lot of noise and clutter along the way. Tune it out and stay focused on the pursuit and most important, enjoy the journey along the way. Don’t let your “to do” list, a snarky comment from another or your own fear and doubts get in the way of becoming who you are called to be. And do it daily with great joy!
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24
“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” – John Burroughs
Even in a -25 below day, the sun remains casting light, warming the earth, reflecting off the crystals. No matter the weather, no matter the circumstances, light always remains whether we see or feel it in that moment. Knowing that puts our shadowed frigid moments in perspective as they serve their purpose of transformation. Light always remains. That pull, that thread, that knowing is called hope.
We all have our seasons, our winters to testify to this truth. So, if you are in a -25 below pocket of time right now wandering and lost, suffering and empty, light remains holding you and patiently waiting for you to find it again. Always with you, never letting go.
Winter shall pass when it has done its work, preparing you for the transformation of spring. Grit and resilience breaks the frozen ground to bloom anew to discover yet again the depth of light.
“Spring stirs under silent snow.” – Terri Guillemets
Spring comes sooner when you get out and stir some snow, break a new path. Winter lingers with hibernation. So whatever winters you are going through right now, break out of the pattern of hibernation and get out into the middle of it.
In the midst of our difficulties, there are pockets of joy to burrow into and accept if but for a moment to plant seeds of hope. Spring is stirring. Easter always comes.
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” – Frank A. Clark
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” – Saint Francis de Sales
Busyness is the ailment of our time. Hurrying from one thing to the next to keep the balls in the air, never questioning the value of the balls we frantically juggle. Breath and let go. Two very difficult tasks when we are all lathered up. But we have choices and we must act on them, never accepting what is as the inevitable.
So if it’s been one of those days or one of those months or even years, don’t resign yourself to it. Fight like hell to find peace and furrow into planting calm. Circumstances, expectations and people often won’t change, but we always can.
There’s a weariness to daily living. And when we dig a bit deeper, we quickly expose the beauty of each moment, of the present. Don’t fall for your first reaction or frustration. Wait it out, push on through and never accept mediocrity over full living.
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” – Helen Keller
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
Each morning, set the tone for the day. This requires quiet to be able to contemplate, to see the beautiful forest rather than be lost in the trees. Decide what song you will sing and if you will dare to even dance. There are a lot of distractions, so you must make a conscious decision if you will sing and dance or if you will merely get through.
“Have tos” and “should’ve beens” are joy thieves. And we don’t realize that we’ve been robbed until we’ve wasted many days that turn into years. Struggle is certain, our response is not.
So remain in this day and give it your best voice and step. That is what we are called to do, especially when we don’t “feel” like it. Our joy is not in some far off land or mythical future when everything falls in place. It’s right now, this moment, today.
And when you sing your song and dance your dance, you give others permission to do the same.
My best friends and roommates Sasha and Abby know how to dance to be sure. Ear-flapping freestyle.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer