Driving into work yesterday, I prepared my mind by listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on being prisoner of hope and the energy of optimism. I stopped by my regular coffee spot to fill up my coffee mug with some delicious hazelnut vanilla dark roast. Armed with a positive mindset, intent on seizing the day, I bounced in like Tigger to be a bright light.
Twelve minutes later, the day took a detour into a technology “pothole” that needed to be dealt with right away, moving me off my tasks that I intended to conquer as I was seizing the day, being a prisoner of hope. I gathered a few staff into my office for a phone call to resolve it. As we discussed our options, I sat back in my chair and took a big gulp of my cup of deliciousness to fuel my problem-solving super-powers.
The cover was not screwed on all of the way and coffee proceeded to pour down my chin onto my sweater and pants, well beyond the help of a Shout stain remover pad to fix. It was fun to have an audience too. I whispered, “son of a b___” and continued on with the discussion. With one meeting after another, I didn’t have time to go home to change so I spent the morning with a bucket of coffee on me.
I went home at lunch to change and on the way back the necklace that I had on broke and fell in my lap. My assessment of the day was that the Holy Spirit was on my ass, challenging me to rise above circumstances and be anchored in light and optimism. The old saying is “don’t cry over spilled milk” or in this case, spilled coffee. While not perfect, I did try to make light of it and not have it ruin my day.
We get to choose each day whether spilled coffee or series of technology mishaps or imperfect people will defeat us. Despite our circumstances, we can actually be a prisoner of hope, filled with optimism that is borne within us, untouched by external distractions, disruptions and detours.
And the final lesson, make sure the cap is screwed on both your coffee mug and your head. See the humor in each day and lighten up. It’s only spilled milk.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
Our regrets lie in what we don’t do or try. Failure is not in the falling, in making wrong decisions, but in indecision and not daring to venture into new things, to be a beginner. There is a Japanese proverb called Nana korobi ya oki, which means fall down seven times and get up eight.
We learn from our successes and more from our mistakes. We never learn or grow by staying in neutral. Each step we dare to take weaves together into the hero’s journey as defined by Joseph Campbell who also advised “find your bliss.”
“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.”
Stay in the arena and never give up. Keep daring, again and again.
“Unpacking what we’ve been through in the solitude of our reflection – this is our darkroom. This is where we incubate our attempts at understanding until they are exposed, developed, and fixed as glimpses of truth and wisdom. And yet, when we hold back on developing what we know, we dodge the lesson waiting to be revealed. And when we overthink, through worry or doubt, the insight waiting to develop within us, we are burning our experience beyond recognition.
Despite the speed of our age, we need to take experience into our heart and wait for the images of life to show themselves, all of which take time. And any ounce of honest writing requires the courage to let the lessons of life leave their markings on us. In this way, the practice of listening and reflecting etches its insights into our consciousness, and expression then develops those images into stories or poems. The ounce of wisdom we offer is always the result of the slow internalization of what life does to us.” – Mark Nepo, Drinking from the River of Light
When we stop pursuing, racing aimlessly to destination nowhere, slowing into solitude and silence amidst a loud scrambling world, patterns unfold into meaning and insight.
As much as we want “cliff notes” to get to the lessons quickly, the book of life is one to be read, line by line, chapter by chapter to the last page where it all weaves together. We can fight it and remain in the shallow of busy or we can enter the deep flow of time where light reveals the lessons to a marked, worn yet open heart.
Clarity, discernment and wisdom lie dormant, preparing to rise. Life shows itself. Slow internalization.
“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Last week, I received a certificate of recognition from the Guideposts Foundation for being a member since 1986 – 34 years. I joined after reading the founder Norman Vincent Peale’s seminal book The Power of Positive Thinking. I’ve returned to this book regularly and it is foundational to who I am, want to be and fall short of often. It really defines what Cast Light aspires to be – encouragement and optimism in the midst of all that life throws at us. Joy can transcend our circumstances when we think, act and see differently, choosing gratitude and abundance over cynicism and scarcity.
“The way to happiness; keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, scatter sunshine, forget self, and think of others.” – Norman Vincent Peale
One of the main things that steals our daily joy is worry. “Someone actually did a study demonstrating the pointlessness of much of our worries. The researcher found that 40% of the things people worried about never happened; 30 percent concerned old decisions that couldn’t be altered; 12 percent were about other people’s perceptions that may or may not even be true, and 10 percent were related to health, which worsens when you worry. Them remaining 8 percent of worries might possibly be called legitimate,” stated Norman Vincent Peale.
92% of worry is about things that never happen, the past, false perceptions and health. Guard your joy daily and diligently direct your thoughts. Release worry, restore your energy and invest your power in worthy pursuits.
Free your mind and go be a light in the world! No worries!
We go into a new year looking to change, “fix” and improve who we are. To be better, to hit the high mark, in hot pursuit of our best selves.
We are halfway through January – the most motivating month of the year – a fresh start and new beginning. Before you let the month, the next day, slip away in pursuit of something “better” than you, stop, celebrate and honor you as you are right in this very moment.
No changes, no improvement, no perfection. Not future you, not high performance you. You as you are right now, unapologetic, imperfect and beautiful you filled with strength, resilience and character. What you’ve overcome, rode straight though, survived and thrived to arrive at the person you are right now.
We wane on our resolutions because we don’t recognize, appreciate and notice the person we already are right now. Time to light the fireworks, bring out the balloons and strike up the band to celebrate current you just as you are.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton
I found this card and wanted to keep it as a reminder that the line from A to B in this life is not straight, no matter how much we prepare, worry and plan. We forget to find joy in each day in pursuit of someday, the next thing and perfection. Rather than keeping it, I gave it to a friend at work for her birthday. I thought it was an excellent birthday reminder to celebrate the other 364 days during the year, not worrying about the detours, potholes and traffic on the path. Enjoy the daily journey, no matter what course you’re on right now.
Life is short and we realize that when we have less of it left. Figure that out early and start enjoying the journey today. We get distracted about the details of the map and struggles along the way that we miss the beautiful scenery on the path.
The swirls on the journey are often the sweetest moments. And we miss them thinking that we should be somewhere else. Slow down, see today and enjoy the swirls that always get us to our right destination. Follow the signs and signals in your heart rather than loud distracting horns of the world.
The journey always makes sense going backwards. Flip that truth and know that the path you’re on will make sense someday. Enjoy your forwards while you are present in them.
Practice 360 degree gratitude for where you’ve been, where you are and the promise of where you’re going. Enjoy the your journey, swirls and all.
Today, the most sacred of days for Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, a baby born in a barn, rejected from the beginning. As I savored Celine Dion’s renditions of Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Oh Holy Night, it occurred to me that we are called to invite not only the faithful, but the faithless, hopeless and lost into the miracle of today.
No religion or denomination owns today or fully comprehends the grace, love and mercy that is given without condition. It is a celebration for all humankind – the hurting, the struggling and the imperfect.
And those of us who believe in the birth, crucifixion and resurrection are expected to share the love, kindness and awe born on this day. Less talking, more showing in how we live it out each day. It requires humility, forgiveness, acceptance and a big dose of joy.
Today and each day ahead, a weary world rejoices. Join us in unexplainable hope, faith, love and light. We are the imperfect, the faithful that falter and the found who go astray. There’s plenty of room at the table. Oh holy night indeed.
of your own way;
of the fast lane;
of your limiting thoughts;
of judgment and assumptions;
of unforgiveness and regret;
of your ego;
of the past;
of what others think.
Get into …
fresh crisp air;
the slow lane;
cutting new paths;
assuming the best;
a new mindset filled with possibility, joy and growth;
a soft heart filled with empathy and compassion;
advice-free and quiet listening.
Empty the old to make room for new. Out and in.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
“Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don’t forget when you leave why you came.” Adlai Stevenson I
Serenity Now is one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes when Frank Costanza gets a relaxation exercise tape to practice saying “serenity now” to calm down. It starts out with a soft chant and quickly becomes a loud frustrated yell. My favorite gift this year so far is the serenity now button from my hair stylist Christine.
We do need serenity now and it’s in our reach.
Rest and recharge daily;
Stop spiraling thoughts and negativity;
Let go of the past, all of it but the lessons;
Release resentment, it’s only hurting you;
Stop comparing and complaining;
Anticipate and plan for good days;
Believe beyond current understanding;
Lighten up and pursue your lost sense of humor;
I haven’t been practicing what I preach above the past few weeks but intend to recommit to real serenity now.
This time of the year is difficult for many people with loss of loved ones, fractured relationships and frustration with life not going as planned. In parallel and along side loss, we can and must choose hope, joy and delight to hold our hand on this winding journey. You have permission to both laugh and cry. You are not alone and are very human.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
“Be soft, don’t let the world make you hard. Be gentle, don’t let the people make you difficult. Be kind, don’t let the realities of life steal your sweetness and make you heartless.”― Nurudeen Ushawu
Outlook is grounded in what’s inside. Be careful with your words and thoughts for they create the path on which you walk. Nurture and foster goodness and light, letting the noise and distractions fade away. Never give into circumstances, outside negativity and easy cynicism.
Own what is yours and let others own what is theirs to own. Show relentless empathy. Forgiveness is freedom. Break no one’s spirit, especially your own.
Optimism is a daily choice worthy of practice, discipline and rigor. Build your mental toughness so you remain soft, capable of delight in the smallest of things. Gratitude is the fuel.
Focus your thoughts, expand your life. See colors, there are many to see. Be foolishly positive and trust the unfolding of each day, anchored firmly in possibility and awe. Any other path is a dead end.