“Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.” – Paul Cezanne
When “busy” is the only answer that you can muster when asked, “how are you?” It’s time to question the value and meaning of what you are busy with and at what expense.
Redefine the quality of your day not by the number of items checked off your “to do” list. Rather define it by depth, width and height of each day that you are awake and aware. Of moments steeped in gratitude grounded in experiences rather than mere activities.
Day 3 of no complaints, only gratitude – slow down, look around in close proximity and be in awe of the many gifts and blessings in your life right in this very minute.
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.” – Mary Oliver
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Sasha is one year old today. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries all mark days to remember and celebrate. But they not only honor the person or dog in this case, they remind us of how their presence in our life changes us, makes us better, more kind.
People and dogs enter and exit our lives in a flash. Yet their imprint and impact on our lives remain. When someone leaves, we are never the same, yet we go on while a part of us goes with them. And when someone enters our story they weave their way in and their birthday becomes our own as we are reborn to new possibilities for joy.
May we all have the joy that a dog is and a dog brings to each day. We would be better humans to be sure. Happy Birthday Sasha and me!
“Earth is crammed with heaven.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
There are certain days that it doesn’t feel like earth is crammed with heaven. Many days, we are reminded of loss. If not our own, others. Death of a sister, a dad, a grandma this past two weeks. It’s been a year and a half and not a day goes by that I don’t miss Dad. And loss grows heartfelt empathy for others when they enter where you’ve been.
And at the same time, others are experiencing great joy. The innocent child-like anticipation of Christmas. And there in lies the essence of life – the weaving of struggle and delight, loss and gain. A pendulum of sorts.
The passing of time brings a certain acceptance and perhaps even a bit of peace. And in the loss, we gain a new appreciation for the moment, for forgiveness, for letting go, for loving without condition. Even in the dark, light remains constant, ready to slowly pull us back into the earth that is crammed with heaven when we are ready to re-enter.
So as Christmas is at our doorstep again, be light for those who are amidst loss and grief. Show them that even in the struggle, joy can and must co-exist so it can lead us back to our new normal, to our next self. Be the window to a bit of heaven for another.
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.” – Muriel Rukeyser
A beautiful Sunday drive brought Mom and me through the “old” neighborhood. First past her home on Sixth Street, then to Dad’s house on Earl Street where his parents landed after they immigrated from Poland. We finished the “tour” by the still white house on Ivy where they came together to raise our family. All three are within a few miles or so of each other. Families back then didn’t land too far from home. It was both familiar and distant.
“We come to beginnings only at the end.” – William Throsby Bridges
Many good memories with neighbors who remain friends still. Beginnings anchored in hard work, struggle, laughter and faith. By today’s standards, the houses are small and yet somehow we made it through with one bathroom, sharing a room with my sister and a small kitchen with no dishwasher. Those were the days with alleys where the neighborhood kids gathered to play boot hockey, ride bike and make forts from piles of snow.
“The journey is my home.” – Muriel Rukeyser
Every now and then, we need to go back to our beginnings to see how far we have come as well as be reminded where we need to return to. Seeds and roots.
“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” – William Gibson
“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ― David Steindl-Rast
There is always something to be grateful for. Always. And the fruit of gratitude is joy. Slow down, take a breath and fully receive the blessings planted throughout each day. What is right in front of us is so often what we miss. Open your eyes and heart.
Jeanne gave me a grateful sign for my birthday. I put it in the living room right next to the television so I can’t miss it. Don’t miss the signs and follow accordingly.
“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.” ― David Steindl-Rast
“Calendars and clocks exist to measure time, but that signifies little because we all know that an hour can seem as eternity or pass in a flash, according to how we spend it.” – Michael Ende
We measure our years with birthdays, but we experience the soul of life in moments. As we grow older and time moves faster, we discover that our cup is over flowing when we measure the right things. And the hot pursuit of position and accumulation of stuff comes up empty. Less really is more. Depth over distance. Connection over chaos. Quality over quantity.
Beauty, spring, winter, loss, light, dark, laughter, tears, delight all merge into a tapestry of color and pattern that is all our own yet we share the same journey that takes us each down different paths. The gains and losses. The joy and trials. A thousand hellos and two thousand good-byes. All of it binds together to shape us and prepare us for what’s next.
So as I celebrate my 53 years on earth today and Abby’s 1 year, I am mindfully aware and grateful for all of my blessings that came with many sunrises and sunsets, of days filled with joy and even the ones with the seemingly endless challenges. The authentic life has it all.
Ride the jet ski at 81, throw the ball (again and again) and never lose your sense of humor. And above all, be kind. And that includes to yourself. Cast light, measure the right things and choose abundance and joy.
Lately, I’ve been listening to the songs of one of my favorite artists, Mary Chapin Carpenter. The lyrics and notes are like a warm blanket, comforting and familiar. One of my favorite lines from The Jubilee – “When we look back and say those were halcyon days we’re talking ’bout jubilee.” Halcyon is defined as a period of peace and happiness; an idyllic time.
We so often look back longing for what was because we miss the beautiful fabric of each day while we are busily on our way to the next thing. May we all realize and deeply appreciate our hacyon days and moments while we are right in the middle of them. So we can be doubly blessed now and when we look back in fondness for what was and a renewed hope for what is to come. Simple moments make up our halcyon days. Simple moments.
“If you are paying attention, then the day is going to be pretty joyful, and a lot of delight will fill it.” – Greg Boyle
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George A. Moore
Home is not only place. It goes beyond place. Home is people, pups, (cats even), safety, warmth, belonging and place. Savor and pursue those moments of silliness, light and joy. Conversations with friends, connections, eyes that meet and look well beyond the surface.
That’s home and what makes life not only tolerable but wonderful. Ordinary moments that transform us and make life extraordinary. We too often succumb to dull and despair without ever giving delight a chance to show its face.
Savor all that is and hold tightly only to now, releasing the past and future to depth of being present in this very moment.
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” – Mother Teresa
“We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more.” – John O’Donohue
The pure joy of being around dogs, often more than humans, is their innate ability to enter each day with a clean slate. No grudges, regrets, needless worries or consternation. Just letting go into the sheer delight of seeking and finding adventure in the ordinary. May we all be blessed with daily gratitude, a deep sense of play and heartfelt silliness so we can awaken to the blessings abound and share them generously with others.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
Dive into each day with a simple, naïve and irrational openness and awe. The other way of living really doesn’t add up to much so there is no real choice. It’s pretty obvious. Don’t overcomplicate it and enjoy today.
Get your eraser out. Wipe the slate clean.
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
It’s been a wonderful week witnessing Abby and Sasha bond and become best of friends. There’s a glean in their eyes and bounce in their step. I’ve taken their lead as well.
When walking Abby and Sasha a few days ago, Abby started taking Sasha’s leash a block from home to guide her in. Today, Sasha started to do the same for Abby as well. It was very sweet.
“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.” – Herodotus
We are on this journey together and have the opportunity, perhaps even the obligation, to walk by each other’s side and guide each other home.
Be a good friend to those you know and kind to those who cross your path who may need a friend. Take the leash.