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Posts from the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Mirth

“Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.” – Joseph Addison

In all seasons, in nature, in each day, in this very moment, light remains to hold, lead and guide. Sometimes behind the clouds. Sometimes in blue skies on a warm day in April. Sometimes introduced by deep rolling thunder and suddenly breaking through the clouds in brilliant lightning followed by soaking rain.

Seize it and find mirth in all of it. Suspend reasoning, judging and rules. Embrace gratitude, count your blessings and allow joy to enter this day. Guard it and give it away, more will come. We become what we pursue and allow in.

“I am a being of Heaven and Earth, of thunder and lightning, of rain and wind, of the galaxies.” – Eden Ahbez

Check Your Sources

“To find a new word that is accurate and different, you have to be alert for it.” – Mary Oliver

Check your sources is a fundamental tenet of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists has defined four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism:

  1. Seek truth and report it;
  2. Minimize harm;
  3. Act independently;
  4. Be accountable and transparent.

No worries – this will not be a dissertation on politics, the “free” press or the first amendment – although those certainly all weigh on my mind as a citizen.

However, the media does have an impact on your outlook so before you believe Facebook or your way left or way right friends or family members, check your sources to verify the facts and understand the complexity of issues on your own.

These are also good principles to follow as you write the narrative of your own life.

  1. Seeking truth takes inquiry and investigation. Let go of assumptions and ask one more question to get the complete picture, all sides. Seek understanding, offer compassion.
  2. Minimize harm to others and yourself by being mindful and in control of your attitude, words and actions. Go beyond not harming to offering radical joy, love and acceptance. Be a light.
  3. Be your own person and stop following the crowd. Independence is freedom. Write your own story and stop surrendering the pen to other people, circumstances, offense from the past or fear of the future. This is your life, own it.
  4. Accountable and transparent – you are accountable for yourself so stop trying to fix others. Self-awareness is a one-person job so work on yourself and let others come unto their own if and when they are ready, if ever. Transparency is honesty. Be open and let go of the drama, conspiracy theories and plot twists. Fear is an old story, choose fierce.

Life is short so savor, seek and find joy daily. Perhaps Mary Oliver asks the most important question that you can ask yourself daily, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Field Trip

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Buddha

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

On our daily trip to the dog park yesterday, the girls and I wandered outside of the fenced area to the open field to wander through the maze of frozen cattails. The girls took off as fast and when they realized that they were out of my sight, they would loop back to check on me and to make sure that they still had permission to take the “field” trip. Permission granted with a smile and wave.

With great abandon, weaving, exploring, dancing, flying, all senses in play and at play.

Today is the first day of the week, the first day of the month and marks the meteorological spring. On the cusp of a new season, change is becoming more apparent. Change is always happening but it takes attention and awareness to see it, to enter it with joy and abandon. Each day is a blank slate, a white canvas to fill with colors.

This morning upon waking, I began writing an email in my head as I planned the activities for the day. After five minutes, I stopped the swirl and returned to the field yesterday with gratitude for a beautiful weekend and plans for a glorious day ahead. When we observe our thoughts, what field trip that they are taking us on and decide if we want to take the trip, we can break old patterns, stale reactions and respond with intention and attention to transformation and metanoia, a change of heart resulting in a change in way of life.

You write your own permission slip daily. Stop asking others for permission. Stop making excuses. No past. No future. Just now. What will you do and where will you go on your field trip today?

“To share out your soul freely, that is what metanoia (a change of mind, or repentance) really refers to: a mental product of love. A change of mind, or love for the undemonstrable. And you throw off every conceptual cloak of self-defense, you give up the fleshly resistance of your ego. Repentance has nothing to do with self-regarding sorrow for legal transgressions. It is an ecstatic erotic self-emptying. A change of mind about the mode of thinking and being.”― Christos Yannaras, Variations on the Song of Songs

A Bit Longer

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” – Henry Ward Beecher.

“Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” – C.S.Lewis.

When I went into the kitchen to get my water with lemon and coffee to start the day, one of the stems of my amaryllis plant with three blooming flowers had broken overnight, holding on by a thread and laying to the side of the pot. I cut the thread that remained away from the bulb, filled a crystal pitcher and promptly put the stem in the water to see if I could hold on a bit longer to the full bloom. When it withers and has its full time, I will discard it, but for now I’ll linger in gratitude of the beauty that is available to me now.

Flowers, music, art, quiet time, reflection are simple ways to foster a sense of gratitude, deepen awareness of the present moment. We have an accurate count of what is missing in our life, perhaps even an inflated one. Focusing on the depth of the valleys, we forego the height of the mountains that exist along side concurrently.

We discard and dismiss, racing off to what we think will want, only to be disappointed when we arrive to our destination and it is not what we thought it would be. It is impossible to find happiness outside of self.  It is the root, the start and the end. Embrace the present in deep gratitude and awareness while glancing to the future filled with hope and anticipation. The past, our circumstances, other people are out of the realm of our control. Our attitude and outlook is ours alone.

Lyrics from Kathy Mattea’s song Standing Knee Deep In A River sums it up well – “knee deep in a river, dying from thirst.”

“Why I ever let them go…
They roll by just like water, and I guess we never learn.
We go through life, parched and empty
Standin’ knee deep in a river, and dying of thirst…”

Root each day and every day in gratitude. Knee deep in a river, overflowing in abundance and satisfied with now. Capture and take full account of both blessings and burdens, valleys and the mountains. Stay a bit longer in gratitude, steeped in the present moment.

The Premise of Enough, The Promise of Abundance

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” -Wayne Dyer

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.” – Marianne Williamson

When we begin with the premise of being “enough,” we stop the futile, exhausting search to find ourselves in far off places, different circumstances and other people. Enough is the invitation to journey within. Stop adding, comparing and counting. By taking inventory, we find all that is hidden in plain sight under the piles of self-made clutter that we’ve accumulated in our pursuit of more.

Create two piles – what to discard and what to keep. Get rid of the discard pile to create space for abundance. Leave it in the past, integrate it and move forward. Take back your power by detaching, discarding and begin to fill the space with only what’s necessary and nurturing.

Move to the “keep” pile, create order for easy access. The categories include lessons, habits, practices, rituals, dreams and plans. Fueled by optimism and abundance, begin using the “keep” pile to build something from the materials that you already have available right now. It’s been beneath the clutter of “someday” and “more.”

You’ve already arrived and today is your “someday.” Begin with enough and move forward from a place of abundance to pursue contentment, joy and discovery of your unique place in the world, your purpose for being.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.” Brene Brown

A Year Ago, A Year Ahead

“A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb

We mark our lives remembering successes, losses, anniversaries. Yet most of our life is filled with ordinary moments that fill the gaps in between milestones. In our daily busyness, we are unaware of moments, their capacity for joy and how they weave together into the fabric, nuance and richness of life. When we move between both epiphany and ordinary, we opt to live a deeper, hopeful and lighter life with purpose, grace and meaning.

A year ago, we had no idea that we were on the cusp on a worldwide pandemic. The signs and signals, cues and clues pointed us in that direction, but we didn’t think it would happen to us. And then it did. We have harsh words with others, hold tight to broken relationships rather than healing or pursuing a “truce” because we think we have forever. And then we don’t. That person is suddenly gone, leaving us with deep regret we carry forward.

This is a blunt and loving reminder that a year ago is over and we can’t change it. However, we do have power over today and what we will do with it. If you are not different and changed from this last year, you have missed the master class that has been given to us all. The lessons include empathy, compassion, savoring, gratitude, connection, purpose, generosity and joy. It’s been one hell of a wake-up call to hope, to optimism, to dream. We will be in a new place a year from now. What will you do today to ensure you are different?. As Red said so well in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living or get busy dying.”

 

Full Bloom

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”- Wayne Dyer

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

Ease into the unknown, embrace uncertainty, hold what’s necessary and release what weighs you down, what blocks your path. Lessons often unfold in hindsight with time and distance, with no recourse to change course. Awareness beckons, invites and welcomes learning in real time, in the very moment, deepening moments and amplifying time.

Awareness first. Lessons in the moment. Change certain, growth optional. Choose growth, expansion, gratitude and joy. Fight the good fight.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl

To or For Us?

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E. M. Forster

Often we assume that things are happening to us rather than for us. Immediately going to “worst-case” scenario thinking, we shut the door on exploration, insight and expansion. Abundance to scarcity in a split second. Assumptions, judgments and the past serve as the lens for the present and a map for the future. How many times have we been “saved” from something in hindsight that at the time felt like we were being “screwed over?”

A woman last week was standing in the middle of the road when Abby, Sasha and I were on the way to the dog park. Her back turned toward me, she was waving her arms to stop a truck. At first, I was irritated that she was in my way, so I turned into the parking lot to go another direction. As I looked closer, she was in the middle of the road because a live wire was down and she was stopping traffic from driving over it. In that moment, I realized how quickly we jump to the wrong conclusions and race to judgment. I was grateful that she just didn’t drive away when she saw it but stood there preventing others from driving over it. Generosity, kindness and empathy in a simple act.

In our need to understand and control, we put everything and everyone in a box that serves our narrow narrative, our biases that experiences often reinforce if they go unchecked. How many awesome people have you never really met because you labeled them before getting to know them?

Amidst the pandemic, civil unrest is surging and anger rising. Rooted in bias, hatred, social inequities, conspiracy theories on all sides, arrogant institutions and political parties that never have learned the necessity to work together to create policies and frameworks for the whole rather than advancing their power and position.

In the days ahead, take a breath, go within and check your own assumptions and biases. Contribute to peace and understanding through reflection, thoughtful discourse and empathy. We always have been and always will be in this together. How we choose to shape the future depends on our individual response and contribution to understanding, peace and solving problems together.

So much is happening “for” us rather than “to” us. See today with fresh, unassuming eyes and make something positive, meaningful and lasting of your time on earth. Be remembered for light, not darkness.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

 

Yeah! It’s Monday!

“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

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Einstein

We fall into patterns and mindsets that don’t serve us well. Sundays before Mondays are heavy as we contemplate the “to do” list for the week. Fridays we sigh with relief that we made it through four grueling days. We find joy in three days and forego the other four.

Enough. Take each and every day back! Be as excited on Monday as you are on Friday by changing your expectations, trying new things and not falling for false narratives.

Each day is a gift ready to be seen and opened. Pay attention and tune out the noise. Be willing to accept joy in ordinary moments and create memories on a weekday rather than on vacation and long weekends.

As we come off a few weeks of holidays and respite from the grind, commit and build time into each day for self-care, delight and celebration of ordinary moments. Life is meant for the grand not the grind. Dare to be light and carefree, even and especially on a Monday. Repeat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Get into the grind of joy!

A few hours with Jeanne and the girls proved to be, yet again, good medicine for the soul.

Yeah!!! It’s Monday. May we each have the wisdom to say this daily prayer, “God, I am blessed and I know it in my bones. Thank you and Amen!”

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” – Wayne Dyer

Binoculars

“For me, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, or for flowers or beast or bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly and perfectly alive.” – Al Purdy

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” – Victor Hugo

For the past week, small crowds have gathered (socially distant of course) to witness a rare sighting of the mountain bluebird at our usual running spot at Como Lake in St. Paul, Minnesota. In awe, the birders quietly gaze with binoculars to observe the bird in the tree. The finches have gathered in the dry winter grass and flowers in disguise to watch as well.

We spoke to one of the birders and with excitement, he explained that the mountain bluebird is home to the Rocky Mountain area and it doesn’t belong here. I’m sure that bird is wondering what happened to his internal GPS and what the hell are those people doing down there with big glasses on.

This year has been a year where we have felt that we don’t belong here either. Stop the ride, I want to get off! But we do belong where we are at for some unknown reason(s) and can choose to learn the lessons that each day offers. Apply the lesson, let go of the pain of learning it. When we think we are lost, we are actually on the path of being found, of becoming our authentic self – imperfect, raw, real, egoless, generous, holy and beautiful.

Contemplate and reflect on the burdens and more importantly, the blessings. They co-exist and always will, it’s called life. I hope and pray that the burdens of the pandemic fade to our memories in 2021 and the world is healed in many ways. May we be more kind, grateful, joyful, faithful, empathetic, in awe, aware, mindful, curious, responsive, peaceful, proactive, delightful, purposeful, forgiving and enthusiastic.

With rapt attention, put binoculars on and see the detail, ordinary miracles and beauty in each day. These days shall not return and they our are currency for a good life. Look for, be and Cast light!

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