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Posts from the ‘Family’ Category

The Beautiful Fabric of Friendship

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” – Henry David Thoreau

“My friends are my estate.” – Emily Dickinson

Tonight, the running group gathered as usual to saunter, walk and run. In addition, we also celebrated a good friend’s 82nd birthday. Terry is a rare breed, filled with humor, great stories and light. He came back for the summer. We haven’t seen him since October when he went to California for the winter. The cool thing about this group of humans is that we come from all walks of life and welcome all who want to join and care deeply about each other. Friends who are family.

When he left last fall, we had no idea that 2020 would bring a pandemic. Tonight was a celebration and sign of opening back up, of reuniting, of valuing the deep human connection that in hindsight we took for granted.

“Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, makes someone a friend.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

It was a gift of normal. What we remember, forget and focus on frames our life. Choose well, live well. Never forget. Embrace moments. Love without condition.

“We all have life storms, and when we get the rough times and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful that you can find.” – Mattie Stepanek

“Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.” – Khalil Gibran

Setting and Rising

“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

“Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.” – Maya Angelou

May we all be blessed enough to catch the virus of love. To never succumb to the darkness. To seize the light and ensure that we cast the light broad and deep to cultivate hope, joy and peace. That is the only worthy thing to cling to, to aspire to, to work for. Be kind. Change hearts, change the world.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

 

A Good Tired

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

It’s a good tired when fun, play and joy are the reasons. A few days away on a long weekend to restore, relax and hangout in nature. Liam greeted me with a bright smile and provided his usual master class on being authentically joyful in the present moment.

From wandering in the lake with his PJs on to throw ball for Abby to relaxing in the hammock to randomly saying “I love you” throughout the weekend, it was just what was needed. I brought a backpack of reading and “to do” items and did none of it. Thank goodness or I would have missed out on eye to eye contact, holding hands, waterskiing on glass and ATV-ing through the pine tree church of the woods.

When we get lost in busy, trapped in fear and spiraling in worry, the best answer is to return to nature, spend time with kids and dogs to relearn how to live well. Stop, play and enjoy each moment as it comes with anticipation and always with a “best-case scenario” perspective.

Yesterday

“A man of courage is also full of faith.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness.” Kalidasa

Since March 20th, I’ve been writing in a journal every morning to capture this rare time (I’m not calling it unprecedented and uncertain – obvious, overused and meaningless). I put the date on each entry and often have to look at my phone to remind me what day it is. It is easy to get lost in these wandering and over-zoomed days.

This morning, I didn’t need to be reminded of what day it was. I knew it. Four years ago, my Dad passed away. I was in a plane coming back from a work trip to Boston and didn’t make it in time. Not one single day has gone by since that I have not missed him. I often want to pick up the phone and have a conversation with him, like I did every day for the past several decades. I think of the conversations that we’d have right now about these days. But I don’t have to go too far to know what he would think or say. He remains in my heart, I hear him in my own phrases and thoughts. He’s a part of my fabric and being. He and my Mom planted, fostered and grew faith, grit and strength in me, my brother and sister. Three solid traits to get through these days. Optimism is too.

So today, I ask each of you to do me one favor. Stop, call your Mom and Dad if they are still here and tell them you love them and repeat daily. Because four years ago last night, I had no idea that the next day would be the last day.

Don’t take time for granted while you are in your “yesterdays,” even in the middle of a damn pandemic. Tomorrows come and sometimes they surprise us with gifts and other times with loss which leaves us grateful for what was and in due time allows us to keep going, never forgetting and always richly blessed.

Joy Chasers

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C. S. Lewis

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” – Henri Nouwen

I need not search far for joy. In Liam’s sweet smile and laugh, in Abby’s pursuit of the ball, in Sasha’s snuggling in beside me. Simple pleasures and gifts are all around and are not dependent on circumstances. They transcend them.

“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” – Mother Teresa

The Joy Chasers Club is open and membership is free. Surely the serious business of Heaven.

“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.” – Oscar Wilde

A Few of My Favorite Things

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. – Steve Jobs

No matter the circumstances, we have a choice to lean in or bury our head, to smile or frown, to embrace or shun, to hold tight or let go. It is your choice. Suffering is optional.

Find and hold those people and things that rock your world and never let them go. They are here to show us the way. Hold tight through the storms.

We are so much bigger than the storms and stronger than the waves. Keep afloat, head up and find joy in today. For that is all we are promised. From Blake flying high to Liam’s morning zoom calls as my favorite remote worker, to Como Conservatory from the outside looking in to Sasha (Samoyed) and Abby (Golden Retriever) running full throttle through the woods on a spring, cloudy day, SEIZE this very moment and hold tight to your favorite things. Blessings in disguise.

Never Again and Always Remember

Never again will I take for granted…

God, who carries us and is in control despite our best efforts to take over;
The value of community and need for connection, even for an introvert like me;
Hugs from family and friends;
The brilliant blue sky and the warmth of the sun;
Conversations over dinner out;
The resilience, fortitude and grit of the human spirit;
Long stretches of open space and time and to do something with it;
Our capacity for creativity and need to pursue it daily;
The power of hope, faith, trust, optimism and laughter;
The journey within to listen to my own voice;
The brevity, fragility and value of life.

I will always remember to…

Hug family and friends a minute longer;
Weave slow, quiet time into each day so busy and noise don’t take over again;
Never look back and be open to new beginnings and endings;
Be deeply grateful for all of the blessings and gifts that are already present;
Lead with kindness and empathy rather than judgment and assumptions;
Check in on others to make sure that they are really alright;
Pursue purpose and calling;
Be a better listener;
Sleep without an alarm more often;
Quit complaining and enjoy what already is;
Keep the clutter clear and stop buying stuff;
Listen to music, read and write poetry, appreciate art;
Let go of the past, be immersed fully in each day and to not get too far into the future;
Keep trying new things and always be willing to be a beginner ready to learn and grow;
Write in a journal every single morning;
Pray in the good times too;
Keep going for long runs and extra walks with the girls;
Laugh more and lighten up;
Make the most of the days that remain;
And to always play hopscotch when given the opportunity.

The Cutest Virtual Worker

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” – Deepak Chopra

“Our present moment is a mystery that we are part of. Here and now is where all the wonder of life lies hidden. And make no mistake about it, to strive to live completely in the present is to strive for what already is the case.” – Wayne Dyer

My great-nephew Liam – a regular character on this blog – has been calling me the last few mornings on his Grandpa’s work headset. He’s at home from school learning, playing and joining the virtual meeting world that we are all in right now. He is a steady, consistent force of optimism, delight and enthusiasm and my best life coach.

Many coworkers and colleagues are at home with kids and four-legged family members working through this “new normal.” While it may not be as fun for the parents, I am really enjoying seeing the energetic kids and happy dogs.

Each day, we own the choices we make that create our perspective. Choose abundance over scarcity. Generosity over hoarding. Empathy over judgment. Energy over order. Joy over fear. This is a call to enjoy these close, irritating and home bound days.

We will long for this time again when we get to the other side. See the good in this moment, savor this time and prepare for the #otherside.

Pay Attention

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.” – Eckhart Tolle

The only thing that is real is this very moment. The past is done, it has had its turn, served its purpose and need not be repeated. The future is unknown, despite best-laid plans. Distractions steal our days, our years, our life.

Pay attention to the abundance of gifts hidden in plain sight. See the people you pass by unnoticed, redirect your thoughts that wander to someday, pursue rapt awareness and gratitude of what is right now, imperfections, complexities and all.

I hung out with my nephew Liam tonight on his request to come see me. Be still my heart. We went to Target to get a few things (a few toys made it into the cart). When I was taking him out of the car, he noticed that I had a new jacket and told me he liked it.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso

Three years old and he has more awareness and empathy than most adults that I encounter on a daily basis. Empathy is the greatest gift we can instill in our children and re-instill in ourselves daily.

Pay attention to others, to yourself and to the messy beauty abound while you are right in the middle of it. Ordinary moments are the thread that make up an extraordinary life. Eyes, heart, mind and spirit wide open to take it all in.

PAY ATTENTION followed by a thank you and AMEN.

First Real Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”― Lewis Carroll

“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

This morning we got our first real snow. The snow that’s heavy, plowable and will probably be the base snow that will remain until April. The proclamation that Fall has officially done its job and it’s winter’s turn. Transition time over.

It’s beautiful, fresh, clean and a big inconvenience on the busiest travel day of the year as we kick off six weeks of holiday busyness.

This kind of snow slows us down. And there in lies the gift.

Slow down and celebrate the gifts that you already have right now. Not the ones you’ll race to get on Black Friday. Don’t miss what already is present in search of presents that can never replace a long meaningful conversation, a call or text to check in on someone who’s lost someone this year and this is the first holiday without a loved one, a hug that softly whispers “you’re not alone, and it’s going to be alright.”

Be grateful for all that is, was and will come. God weaves life with both struggle and awe. So often, we only see the struggle and miss the awe. Abundance is an attitude and awareness, not a bank account and pile of gifts. Gratitude is the best gift you can give and receive.

Even in Minnesota, when we know that winter never skips a turn, we are taken back when it hits. So rather than enjoying the beauty and slowing that winter brings, we shift our attention to what we can’t control – the weather – and the complaining ensues.

Abby and Sasha had the appropriate response to the snow this morning. They leaped, created new paths and chased each other, rolling in delight. They saw the gift immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you be grateful each day for your blessings that are hiding right in front of you. Slow down and go make some snow angels.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

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