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Posts from the ‘Friends’ Category

Hope Pulls Us Forward

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

I started this week at a funeral of a 36 years old colleague and friend. When I met her Mom, she was stunned that I had flown out for the funeral. I knew I had to be there to honor her too short life. Seeing her tribe, the ones who knew her the very best, I could see where she derived her joy, grit, work-ethic, resilience and get-it-done with a smile attitude. On my second hug with her Mom, I told her how sorry I was for her loss and she said she was sorry for mine. What a generous loving response.

Many tears, laughs, sweet conversations and honoring a wonderful person who will be deeply missed. In addition to the conversations with family and friends, the words that remain are from the priest as he concluded with a profound insight and reminder – “hope pulls us forward.”

So no matter what is going on in your life right now, hope does pull us forward and holds us when we can’t hold ourselves. Cling to that, knowing that in the fullness of time, it will be more than alright. And when we stop asking the “unanswerable in this moment” why, we can go deeply in moments of struggle and loss to find hope, gratitude and meaning.

Be grateful, generous and kind today. It will make a difference for others and yourself. It’s a win-win proposition, one that you will never regret.

“Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.” – Mary Oliver

Long and short, mostly short

“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

In the past month, two colleagues and friends have passed away. One was 67 and on the brink of retirement after a tremendous career. An author, scholar, professor – authentic, big-heart, generous, brutally honest and funny as hell kind of guy. The other, a 36 year-old brilliant, positive, sweet young woman who I worked with for over 10 years. There’s a quip at work about “work wives’ – that person you can talk to, you have things in common with and she understands you. One of the greatest desires that each of us has is to be understood without having to explain things. She was my “work-wife.” Even though she worked remotely in Montana, we spoke every day, we could complete each other’s sentences and had the same geeky joy for data, learning and caring about the work and the outcome.

We need to grieve loss, to honor a people who have had an impact on us. Both of these individuals had tremendous impact in the world, well-beyond their immediate sphere. I saw each of them “give a damn,” get burned and yet they got back up and kept swinging, caring. They didn’t allow circumstances, small-minded negative people or challenges get in their way. They kept moving through life with vigor, humor and passion.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with our self-created busyness and chaos of daily life. To ride the surface and not go deep. You certainly don’t get burned that way. No one can catch you long enough to get burned. But when we do that we shortchange ourselves and the world. If others don’t give a damn, that’s precisely the time to care even more.

With my own busyness (non-stop meetings and ridiculous demands of work), I’ve been on the brink of joining the rest of the pack in not giving a damn. There’s even a book that’s a best-seller on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” I started reading it, but I didn’t get far. I want to give a “f*ck” and get burned. The opposite of love and joy is not hate but apathy.

As I reflect on my two professional colleagues who became friends over the years, I am reminded that often the days are long, but the years are short, too short to be sure.

Dig in, care, give your best without counting and fully grasp each day and the blessings that surround you. There are many gifts present right now in your life if you stop complaining and gossiping long enough to see them. Live the life that you were put here to do. Whether it’s staying where you are at or moving on.

Choose depth, awe and light. The rest of it is really a waste of very, very precious time. And when I forget, I can remember two role models who lived fully even though they were not granted the full time that they should have been. No guarantees for any of us really.

If we allow, loss fosters gratitude. Be grateful now and kind to others so when you’re gone like we all will be one day you will be greatly missed because you made a difference in other peoples lives.

Cease to Complain

“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.

 

Front and Center

“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“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.

Soft Sweet Light

“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

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

The Root

“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

“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.” ― David Steindl-Rast

Measuring Cup

“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.

 

Golden

“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

“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.

Halcyon Days

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

“If you are paying attention, then the day is going to be pretty joyful, and a lot of delight will fill it.” – Greg Boyle

Savor Home

“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

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” – Mother Teresa

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