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Posts from the ‘Gratitude’ Category

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!

Right in Your Own Backyard

“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

Stop, Sense, Savor

“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.” – Moses

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” – Anne Frank

After the slowest and longest 10 months ever, we can feel the familiar rush to the holidays, even if they are going to be different this year. The need to be busy all the time, to fill open space, has desensitized us to the blessings in the present moment – no past, no future, this very moment.

While not always feeling it daily, the “gift” that I have received from the pandemic is the opportunity to stop, be quiet, listen to what’s whispering deep within and to dare to respond with changed behavior and new habits. New input = new output. In addition, I’ve found a deeper sense of gratitude and empathy. This year, the world was “in this together.” Witnessing the heroism of everyday people beats the smallness and toxicity of institutions and politicians. The human spirit and resilience is alive and well.

When we look at challenges and difficulties as burdens alone, we miss the complexity of living an integrated full life. We trick ourselves into thinking that after the pandemic, the difficult relationship, the insert your struggle here:_____, it will be better in the future. Our burdens are often blessings that we don’t realize at the time. How we respond and what we do with both our blessings and burdens is what makes a difference in our daily experience.

If we only see the burdens, daily life is a continuous struggle and we miss out on simple joy and contentment available when we stop, sense and savor the sweetness rather than pine about the bitterness. Sweet and salty.

Each of us chooses whether we will live from a place of gratitude and joy or consternation and dread. Foreboding joy to avoid disappointment only fosters more disappointment and lost time that will never return. There are no “do-overs” in life, only learn and do differently. When we dare to find joy, laughter and delight amidst challenges, we foster contentment and steady state living. Life is a mixed bag of joy and sorrow, victory and defeat, awe and irreverence. Simplicity and complexity. Dichotomy, yin-yang.

Most of the time, no one is better off than you so stop counting and begin investing. Choose to live in a space of hope, optimism and light. There’s plenty of room here for more participants and the team needs more players.

As 2020 comes to a close (AMEN!), take inventory of your blessings that have been woven through this year. The burdens are obvious and have taken up too much of our attention and time. With a balanced view, we discover that the blessings beat the burdens, again, there are exceptions to this as well.

Take the next few weeks to stop, sense and savor. Next year won’t be perfect either but we can enter it with anticipation and hope. It will present the same opportunity to choose our perspective and to see both the blessings and burdens while enjoying moments with gratitude and awe.

Cast Light!

“How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.” – Bram Stoker

Better Days = Better Life

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth

According to research, 40% of our happiness relies on our thought patterns and behaviors, 10% our circumstances and 50% our genes. If we focus on the 40% in our control, we may also be able to shift our perspective on our circumstances, making it 50% in our hands to make better days. And better days = better life.

Sonja Lyubominsky, The How of Happiness offers ten ways to boost happiness.

  1. Practice gratitude – list three things that you are grateful for each day (three of mine are in the photo);
  2. Be kind – assume the best in others and show empathy. You never know what someone is going through and you can be that beacon of light that pulls them through;
  3. Practice optimism – stop the spiral of complaining, comparing and criticizing and fill that space with imagination, play and positivity. Flip worst-case scenario thinking to best-case scenario;
  4. Avoid rumination – let it go. When thoughts bounce in your head like a pinball machine, stop and ground yourself in the present. The past is done, move on.
  5. Physical exercise – training for a marathon which turned into a virtual marathon kept me focused this year. You don’t need to run a marathon. Getting out every day into nature and moving your bones is good for your soul;
  6. Meditation – I’ve tried meditation on and off over the years and it wasn’t until I downloaded the Insight Timer app that it stuck – 80 consecutive days and counting. Download it – 5-10 minutes in the morning and meditative music to fall asleep to will shift your very foundation;
  7. Religious/spiritual observance – I strive for deep faith and meaning beyond myself. It’s the anchor, the rock that has held my hand through life and particularly valuable this year. No preaching, just fact – God’s holding all of us, let Him;
  8. Forgive others – we free ourselves when we forgive others. Let it go and live your life;
  9. Pursue goals – set goals and develop the steps to get there. The world needs you to bloom and give away your gifts and talents;
  10. Savor – stop the monkey mind and be fully present in this moment and allow joy to soak in. Each of us can find things to be grateful for. Gratitude shifts our energy and attention and lifts our spirit.

You find what you are looking for so look for light, joy and laughter, available to all of us if we choose to partake.

Down to Earth

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” — Henry David Thoreau

Nature never fails to restore, rejuvenate and refocus our energy. After rushing the past few mornings, I started today fully present listening to the Earth, Teach Me meditation on Insight Timer. I thought of it again when I went for a run into the woods with the girls this afternoon.

Walk softly, listen with new ears, look with fresh eyes, open your mind and heart to lessons that earth teaches us every day. Class is always in session. Are you willing to learn?

Earth, Teach Me – A Ute Prayer (Native American)

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.

Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.

Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.

Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.

Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

 

Below the Surface and Floating Near

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

“Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled—

to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even

to float a little

above this difficult world.”

― Mary Oliver

Just below the surface, a bit deeper, listen and look in the quiet of soft reflection and pause. The texture and richness of life is more buoyant than circumstances and opinion. Look beyond momentary struggles and allow gratitude in. Discover what already exists, letting go of the unnecessary and always reach for whimsy and delight.

May you grasp your blessings, may you find moments of joy each day, may you be grateful for all that was, is and will come. Happy Thanksgiving today and each day ahead.

“to live in this world

you must be able

to do three things

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go”

― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume One

Open Doors

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell

Yesterday, I rushed to get ready to drop the car off for a 7:30 am appointment. I skipped writing morning pages (uninterrupted stream of consciousness writing prescribed by author Julia Cameron), multi-tasked through morning meditation (Insight Timer – the best app that makes mindfulness doable) and rushed through strength training (burpees still suck).

I’ve been doing all of these morning rituals long enough to know that when I don’t do them, the “open doors” during the day will let out the heat, wasting my energy on circumstances and my interpretation of other people, rather than letting in fresh air and light in to facilitate flow and ease. Best-case scenario thinking of optimism turns rapidly into worst-case scenario thinking of pessimism.

We know our triggers and still we let them trigger us every time when we don’t anchor our thoughts and “GPS” our actions for the day through habits and rituals.

This year, it feels like all of the doors have been closed. But if we look deeper and longer, we realize that there are new doors that we can open to find blessings and gifts right in the middle of a pandemic.

Yesterday, the news announced a third vaccine. There is real light at the end of this long tunnel, as there always is during all tunnel sections of life. If we can find joy and light amidst a pandemic and be grateful, we have discovered the most important vaccine ever! Our joy and happiness are rooted within ourselves, in our control the entire time.

We choose daily whether we will be victims of circumstances, people, our own narrow thinking, limiting beliefs or even a pandemic. We have the responsibility, honor and gift of choosing which open doors to walk through, which ones to close and to keep searching to find new doors.

No matter what, believe that hope, joy and light have the strength to not only hold you but to also catapult you forward into transformation, becoming and fruition. So many beautiful doors. The cocoon always births the butterfly. Always.

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