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Posts from the ‘Friends’ Category

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.

Somewhere In Between

Yesterday, I listened to my favorite songs loudly on the way into work and decided it was going to be a good day. And not only was it a good day, it was an outstanding day. One of the best in a long time because I set the stage, I made a plan, set my mind and stuck to it. Enjoy the day and have some fun. It worked.

Today, I had the same intentions. Hit the repeat button and let’s do it again. Same intentions, not same results. Pretty strong start to the day with some engaging conversations and meetings. And then mid-afternoon, it unraveled. Tech issues with our internet that I had been asking our vendor about for the past month, only to be ignored, and then the internet went down for the entire office for two hours with no back up and while I was in the middle of a client meeting. Other than getting them to fix the connection, I couldn’t talk to them today because I knew it wouldn’t be a constructive conversation that I would be proud of.

We live in extremes – way up or way down. And both are exhausting if we remain in them too long. Most of living is found somewhere in between the highs and the lows. I went home quietly to push the reset button again which consists of wandering in the woods with the girls and throwing balls in an open field while listening to nature party.

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." -Saint Bernard

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” -Saint Bernard

And then as the night progressed and errands took my attention, I realized that three years ago on this Thursday evening, I was going 60 miles an hour down West 7th to rush to Regions Hospital after getting off a flight from Boston, even though I didn’t need to rush. It was too late. I didn’t make it in time, Dad had already passed away in the hospital. This Sunday, April 28th is the actual date and not a day has gone by where I haven’t missed him and haven’t wanted to pick up the phone after a day like today to talk to him about it and have him masterfully put it into perspective for me. Not one day. And I know my brother, sister and Mom feel the exact same way. One big hole.

It sure puts in perspective a stupid preventable tech failure or another day at work putting in too much damn time thinking more time at work will make an impact other than to the bottom line of someone else.

Pick up the phone, drop by and never let anything go unsaid to your loved ones. I am happy to say that’s how it was left with Dad. In an instant the internet can go down. And, in an instant, you can lose your best friend. Don’t waste your time pining on stupid problems and caught up in the BS people throw at you all day. Spend time with family and friends who really make life worth living and rich with joy. You can find them “in between” it all.

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

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