“Celebrate life in all its glory – challenge yourself to let the routine sing, and the new dance.” – Maximillian Degenerez
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings
May you say YES! again and again to joy, to delight, to wonder each and every day;
Open to awe, to surprise, to adventure;
Inviting possibility, welcoming gratitude, embracing the present moment;
Expanding, exploring, smiling with glee, steeped in grace;
YES! to leaping, to blue sky, to ears flapping in the breeze.
“Render yourself free to choose, to be, to live, to see.” – Maximillian Degenerez
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Our daily ritual of going to the dog park invites joy and delight in the ordinary. When I turn left on Larpenteur Avenue, they know the destination and perk up in anticipation. With enthusiasm and excitement, they pull me down the hill to get into the park to run off leash, greet other dogs and then return to me to begin ball throwing and exploring activities.
When we go in the morning, we are usually by ourselves and they pal around searching for left behind balls and checking out the scents from previous visitors. When we go at dusk, the place is bustling with dogs letting out a day of energy, chasing each other and running in circles. It’s happy hour for dogs, a party every time.
When get bound in a busy, efficient “to do” list mindset, we need to break the meaningless grind with play, wondering and wandering to create meaning and purpose to being.
Rituals, practices and open spaces are ways to embed joy and meaning into daily living. A trip to the dog park, snowshoeing, reading and writing, cross country skiing on a fresh layer of snow are invitations back to self, to fill the well so the “doing” is not so futile.
Separate your being from your doing. No ego, release attachment to work, approval, rules, judgment and assumptions. Enter quiet so you can hear your intuition and follow your internal compass. Nothing to prove, no comparison or competition, no one to outrun. Savor simple moments, return to home to yourself early and often. Sacred, off-leash, ordinary moments.
It’s happy hour somewhere. Start running in circles, dancing with delight.
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore
“On your journey, don’t forget to smell the flowers. Take time out to notice that you’re alive. You can only live in one day.” – Ray Fearon
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – William Morris
Last week, I took Abby and Sasha for the first time to a dog park in Hastings when meeting a friend to pick up a Christmas gift that she painted. When we first arrived and I took them off leash, they were perplexed. Surely I made a mistake, they were in open space with other dogs and new territory to explore. Once they acclimated, they absolutely loved it.
Abby chased tennis balls with her usual vigor and delight. Sasha was the social director, introducing herself and making friends with other dogs inviting them to chase her and she would reciprocate. I was so pleasantly surprised and wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner.
There’s a dog park just blocks from my house that I’ve passed for years and never stopped. This week, we went there every day. Each time, they were excited as the first time, meeting new friends and dancing through leaves to hunt balls.
So often, we have places, people and blessings in plain sight, right in our own “backyard.” We miss them going on to the next thing, to the “better” yard, the “other person’s” yard. We pass them each day, not noticing, taking them for granted, as if invisible. In the middle of our ordinary days are extraordinary gifts.
Start noticing and exploring your own “backyard” with gratitude, awe and joy. It’s a beautiful view right outside your window.
“God is in the details.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
“Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour.” – Eckhart Tolle
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell
Abby is nonstop in the water at the lake, a dog fish chasing ball. After returning from dinner, rather than calling it a night, we went back down for one more leap into the lake. A little skinny dipping by the moonlight.
When presented with the option to go to bed or to go down for one more dip in the lake, always choose skinny dipping by the moon. Joy is soon to follow. Adventure is available to all!
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
“Wherever you are, be there totally.” Eckhart Tolle
No matter the season, these two always know how to have fun. Summer brings rolling in the grass and some serious ball chasing. When I get caught up in my “to do” list and my swirling thoughts, they bring me back to focus on gratitude, presence and joy.
Life is not a continuous puzzle to solve, a checklist to be checked off, a hot pursuit of what’s next. Life is hidden right in front of us in simple moments, in a walk with a friend, in laying next to your best pal and flipping a tennis ball into the air to show off your ball handling skills.
Breathe, laugh and take it all in.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“When we can live our stories and not be ruled by them, we love ourselves into being. There is a Spanish saying, Se tu vida, which means “Be your life.” This is all that is asked of us. And yet, in doing so, we can get lost in all that living engenders.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
Every time I want to pull back, to hesitate, to delay, to question, to judge, I hope to dive. To jump in without knowing the ending, to jump in and get wet, to jump in and do a belly flop. May we always jump into life with joy, with abandon and the capacity to be surprised and delighted.
Let your guard down, along with reasoning and certainty. Our days our numbered. Make them count.
“Given our entanglements, one of the most difficult acts of presence is not to vanish when overwhelmed by conflict or hardship. The simplest teachers in nature, such as the sun, the birds, and the flowers, are quietly heroic in this regard, not because they achieve anything, but because they remain completely true to their own nature, regardless of what happens to them.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel
“Get busy watering your own grass so as not to notice whether it’s greener elsewhere.”― Karon Waddell
On our daily jaunt into the woods, I let the girls off leash to run full throttle. Abby chases balls in an open field trying to catch them on the first bounce and Sasha chases her. It brings a new joy to them each day like it’s the first time. Dogs and kids are experts on being fully present and aware of the moment at hand, or paw in this case.
When I threw one of the balls, it went over the barbed wired fence by the water tower. I threw the second ball but Abby was intent on the ball on the other side. She suddenly downgraded and became human, focusing on the other side while a ball was by right next to her and easily accessible. How often do we reach for something out of reach when the same and often better is right in front of us?
Wake up and see what’s in reach and embrace it with gratitude. If we don’t recognize the blessings that are already in front of us, it’s impossible to receive new blessings. The grass and the ball are not always greener on the other side.
Happy ending to the story – I decided not to scale the barbed wired fence, but my arm did fit underneath and Abby walked out of the woods with two balls in mouth. Big win.
“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.” – Helen Keller
My niece Emily and son Liam dropped by today and spent the day with my Mom and me. Liam was styling a day robe, excited to show me his water balloon filler where you can fill a dozen balloons at once. Brilliant, efficient fun. Since it was a bit cool to throw them at each other, we launched two sets over the fence under a cloudy sky and watched them burst open on the ground. More playing, a trip to Target for some toys, dinner, movies and falling asleep in my lap ended a wonderful day.
My normal day is usually hyper-focused on work, how much and efficiently that I can get things done, racing to cut the grass before it rains, training for a marathon and regular old housework. What a wonderful non-normal day as Liam instructed me through actions and few words on how to be not only a joy chaser but a joy catcher. I told him that he made my day and he came back with “You made my dreams come true.” My heart skipped a beat. What a sweet boy.
Don’t worry about tomorrow or what’s next. It’s futile and steals our joy in the process. Putting off joy for someday or when “it’s appropriate” locks us in foreboding. This day is all that we are promised so stop focusing on checking off transactional items on your “to do” list. Take moments in and be transformed by joy.
It’s going to rain most of the day tomorrow. We don’t know what the next month will bring. We’re not perfect. It’s tough some days. And none of this, none of it prevents us from capturing joy in ordinary moments. Don’t wish, waste and wither your days away in pursuit of someday. Your someday is today. The rest of the stuff out of our control (the majority of the stuff we pine about) will take care of itself in due time.
Now off to bed to rest up from joy catching and to prepare to cast a net for more joy catching tomorrow.
“Only by joy and sorrow does a person know anything about themselves and their destiny. They learn what to do and what to avoid.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.” – Plato
As I took a 5-minute break from a day jammed with “zoom” meetings, I looked at Abby sprawled on the couch and she sent me a glance to remind me to settle in, stretch out and relax. She’s a wonderful relaxation coach.
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” – Thich Nhat Han
With the completion of my home project – painting and new floors – and a few big projects at work, I’m ready to jump into the next activity to keep “busy.” We are made for more than busy and activity. We are built for purpose and depth with a side of delight.
Celebrate the finish, be open to see new beginnings and enjoy the journey of mere being.
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“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 well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” ― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
“Pray thee, spare, thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work.” – Thomas Aquinas
When we settle in and settle down, allowing relaxation to restore and rejuvenate, we gain new perspective. A shift, a turn of the head and the world becomes new from the inside out. Don’t waste days wallowing, wading and willowing. Rest up, look up and relax. It’s all good and going to be good with the fullness of time. In the meantime, let go and relax.
This public service announcement is brought to you by my life coaches Abby and Sasha – the model fun makers and relaxation queens. Lighten up, it makes the journey so much sweeter.
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts