“Any form of complaining is the small self becoming lost in self-importance. So much energy needed for awakening is wasted on complaining. We many not be able to change our external reality, but we can transform the negative thoughts and feelings that are our reaction to that reality. We have a chance to awaken from the nightmare we create through our resistance to what is. Stopping all complaining is one of the first steps. When we cease to complain, we conserve life force for what really matters. A new world begins. Each event becomes a mysterious opportunity rather than an inconvenient vexation. A tremendous amount of life force, once bound up in feeling sorry for oneself, is released. Where there was frustration and self-pity, there is now space for appreciation to bloom. The misguided belief that life should be other than it is dissolves and in its place, acceptance flowers, joy awakens, patience blooms, and peace permeates.” – Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery
It may be justified. It seems reasonable. It seems like it should help, but it makes it worse. Complaining is wasted energy that blocks gratitude. Rather than being a release, it traps us in our thoughts of scarcity, comparison and self-pity.
Last week summed up to be a bust. And I made it worse by letting external things get internal and define my entire week. And then three things happened to shift my limited view, to open up my senses again.
My sister sent me beautiful flowers. A friend texted me after our run yesterday letting me know she noticed I was quieter and that she was thinking about me. I told her I was trying to get my inner “Tigger” back and send “Eeyore” on his way. She told me she likes “Eeyore” too and it’s ok to not be “Tigger” sometimes. And then I walked by a book that I got from a friend years ago and opened it up to the page with the passage above.
These three encounters brought gratitude back into view and where it should remain, front and center. I can’t guarantee that I won’t trip and fall into the complaining trap again. But it’s worth trying to keep space open for the gifts of acceptance, joy, patience and peace.
I am grateful for those kind souls who took the time to notice and offer encouragement and support rather than answers, platitudes or solutions. We sometimes need to be merely seen. Remember, your light can bring someone else’s back. Cast light.
“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.
“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
“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.
“Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.” – Mahavishnu John McLaughlin
When an opportunity arises that is spontaneous and a bit frivolous, do it. And then do it again. These are the experiences that create golden memories and remind us of what’s most important in life.
One of those opportunities arose this past weekend when I was in Chicago for a meeting and then stayed an extra day to meet up with my best friends Sharon and Tim from California who were going to South Bend for the Notre Dame vs. USC football game.
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” – Henry Miller
The older I get the more I treasure time with those who mean the most to me. And I never want to let “common sense” to ever stop me from staying engaged and chasing joy.
Each day, be open to spontaneity and act on it. Create those golden moments.
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
“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Breathless, we flung us on a windy hill, Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.” – Rupert Brooke
You know you’re having fun when you have a grass stain on your head and a smile ear to ear. When is the last time you had a good grass stain and a hearty smile? Too long for me I must say.
Lighten up and take it all with a bit less seriousness. Too much worry, too much work and no play makes our days drudgery. Our regrets will center on not being in the moment when it was happening and realizing the joy that was ours for the taking. “Someday” is an excuse to put off your life.
Schedule time each day to search out a good grass stain and a smile that sprouts from within.
“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.