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Posts from the ‘Friends’ Category

Good Days – Create Them

“Animals praise a good day, a good hunt. They praise rain if they’re thirsty. That’s prayer. They don’t live an unconscious life, they simply have no language to talk about these things. But they are grateful for the good things that come along.” – Mary Oliver

“Every day should be a good day. People fool themselves that they’ll be here forever.” – Stephen A. Schwarzman

A walk with friends by the river with the girls. House chores to prepare for new floors on Monday. The plumber. Comcast for a new cable box. A long ride with Mom and the girls. Sasha chasing geese in the field. A drop by my sister’s house as she gazed into the eyes of her grandson with pure joy. A stop to pick up dinner. A few more chores. Sit down and watch a movie.

No meetings. No zooming. No tech. Flat as hell hair and it isn’t going to get prettier with the state locks down stay at home until May 18th and a perm reschedule, yet again, for Memorial Day weekend. A simple day, a good day.

Don’t miss good days. Create them and accept nothing less. Not defined by accomplishment or to dos but by presence and ease. Deep gratitude for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Good days – create them.

“Every day should be a good day. People fool themselves that they’ll be here forever.” – Stephen A. Schwarzman

Yep, I put the quote in twice because we forget. We will not be here forever.

Allow Surprise to Enter

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” – Henri Nouwen

“Patience doesn’t mean making a pact with the devil of denial, ignoring our emotions and aspirations. It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that’s unfolding, rather than ripping open a budding flower or demanding a caterpillar hurry up and get that chrysalis stage over with.” – Sharon Salzberg

Let’s be honest and real. There are not a lot of good surprises right now. Optimism and delight are not natural choices and we can easily forebode joy so as not to be more disappointed than we are right now in this rare and unclear time (again, not using uncertain and unprecedented, see previous posts).

We are being conditioned to prepare for the worst, to hunker down and to operate in survival mode. Not a great way to live a rich whole life. There’s fear, consternation, overwhelm and it’s palpable. I have chosen to not steep in hours of news and to look at our circumstances in an optimistic light, even though I don’t feel it all the time. I also realize that each one of us is in a different place and empathy calls us to both celebrate and mourn in the same breath. To feel joy and to understand that not everyone does so to be present for them to hold their hand through it.

I’ve been a bit weary from the nonstop meetings as many equate activity with innovation, busyness with strategy. Amidst a lot of egos and positioning, I had two wonderful surprises today that provided hope for a more authentic, relevant and real future, not the BS that’s spinning around.

A friend called me to tell me she was checking in on me and that she was planning on doing this daily with her friends. We had a wonderful connection and talked about how we could creatively get through to the other side and thrive. A refreshing, restorative and energizing conversation.

A few minutes later, I heard a knock at the front door and there were flowers on my front steps. A beautiful bouquet with a card thanking me for leading during social quarantine and that I was doing an amazing job. What a kind and thoughtful gift. It was anonymous but I guessed who it was and called to thank her for her generosity and kindness. She is an amazing, talented and brilliant person so a note and flowers from her mean a lot to me. I am grateful for all that she does and should be sending her flowers daily.

So rather than succumbing to the noise, arrogance and predictions of the crowd, choose to create space for surprise. Be deeply grateful for those bright lights in your life who take the time to be authentic, vulnerable and kind. And pass it on.

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.

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

To Be Seen

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” – Ann Landers

Sasha and Abby follow me around and keep a close eye on me. When we go for a run, they glance back to make sure that I’m still there. This adoring unconditional love is why we love our dogs – they are both friend and family, teaching us to be better humans.

Each day is a relentless pursuit of more joy than the day before. They look deeply into our eyes, wanting to be seen as much as they see us. They make it easy to love them.

If only we would love and treat people in the same way that we love our dogs. Unconditionally, loyally, with concern and care, drawing out the best in them and accepting their faults and foibles. It’s not easy to love humans a lot of the time but somehow dogs have figured out how to do it. Seeing the best, forgetting the worst.

If you want to experience the deep colors and hues in the world, open your eyes and see others with no judgment, assumptions or angst. When we look deeply into the eyes of others, we see ourselves, sharing the same imperfect, finite and beautiful journey.

If you need a model of eternal optimism and unconditional love, look no further than our four-legged, bright-eyed furry friends.

See and be seen. Cast light!

The Dew of Little Things

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” – Khalil Gibran

One of my favorite Fall weekends is the Twin Cities 10 mile run and Marathon. I’ve done three marathons and today was probably my 15th 10 miler. It’s fun to see friends and family running, people encouraging others on the sidelines and finishing a good run on a cool, sunny morning. The fruition of months of work for thousands of weekend warriors.

This group has run many events with me through the years, both running on the road and all of life events, both victories and losses. We meet up twice a week to run and enjoy a meal and always to gather on this weekend to celebrate the human spirit and resolve. They all make my life better by their presence.

Physical activity releases endorphins, changes our mood and keeps us young. And decades of research shows the value of relationships is the key to our longevity. So get your dose of friends, fun and moving your bones – your best prescription for a very good life.

To understand and to be understood. Let there be laughter!

Not easy, not perfect but GOOD!

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” – Kevyn Aucoin

After a pretty good run this morning, Jeanne and I stopped for coffee before getting to the details of the day. Another running friend Soni – 80 years young – stopped by to say “hi.” She was telling us that she’s got some knee problems so she’s only running 2 miles every other day until she can get back to her daily schedule. She runs early in the morning and could outrun people half her age.

Jeanne and I were sharing our own ailments and injuries preventing us from doing what we want to do. All of us were in agreement that while we may be slowing down, we’re not stopping.

Soni then summed it up “it’s a bitch” and then we all started laughing – it set the tone for the day. And her t-shirt was perfect too – “Life isn’t easy. Life isn’t perfect. Life is good.” Jeanne told her that she was her hero and Soni’s response was “I don’t feel very heroic.” Moving through life with joy despite circumstances and challenges is heroic indeed.

The gospel this week was the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was working hard, preparing and in full worry mode. She was upset when Mary chose to not help her but rather to rest at Jesus’ feet and be with him fully. When Martha lamented to Jesus about Mary not helping, he responded -“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Let Martha rest and put on your Mary today. Enjoy what is present in this very moment and remember, life really is good.

Stem Straw

I didn’t notice it until I pulled a drooping flower from the bouquet that I got on Mother’s Day from my niece Emily. There was a green plastic straw at the bottom of the daisy. When I slid it up, the flower popped up back in upright position. I looked it up and found that florists use stem straws with certain flowers that have soft stems to hold up the heads. What a brilliant idea.

As I think back on the past few weeks, I am grateful for those stem straws who have propped my head up as struggles have been winning the day. People who remain steady and who say the right thing at the right time and don’t even know it. Abby and Sasha never waiver and are my constant stem straws when circumstances and daily living become too heavy.

When we remain steady and keep going, transformative moments come in due time as we make our way through “dark nights of the soul” periods in our life. Growth comes with struggle and ends with joy. Be open up to new things, be ready to drop old things and trust the process of transitions and transformation. There is a real peace that passes all understanding for each one of us. We need to be open to accept that gift.

Whether we know it or not, we have several opportunities each day to be a stem straw. To prop up and draw another’s eyes up to see a broader perspective beyond the chaos and drama of intense moments. Be a stem straw that provides that extra support that can change someone’s day, change their perspective and offer hope that sustains us to the finish line of fruition.

Rollercoaster

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”― Julian of Norwich

There’s a weariness to rollercoaster living. I had a wonderful 3 days off last week (the first 3 this year) with open space to think, reflect and plan. Enter this week of back to work and the same old rollercoaster of meetings, problems and fundamental stupidity.

Also some wonderful moments which included a goat, guacamole, a running event, May Day and a beautiful painting from a co-worker (all which will be shared in future posts). A mixed bag to be sure.

Yesterday, when I was tired from it all, I missed fully engaging in a wonderful phone conversation with one of my favorite people I’ve met through work. She is kind, a kindred-spirit, honest and warm. She started the conversation with the quote above from one of her favorite saints – Saint Julian of Norwich.

I was listening, but I was worn out from the rollercoaster and missed out fully engaging and being present.

Waking up this morning, determined to make this a good day, I looked up some quotes from Julian of Norwich. When we get our mind off of ourselves and take a break from stupidity, we can choose to engage with others so we don’t miss moments that last long past the rollercoaster living that we’ve grown accustomed to and are way too accepting of. Make up your mind to enjoy today.

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” ― Julian of Norwich

Live gladly today.

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