“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Dr. Seuss
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
There are many quotes from my day with Liam today. My favorite one is “You have to use your imagination.” Well isn’t that an underused muscle. My worry, complaint, uncertainty, judgment, work too much, multitasking and consternation muscles are very strong. They get a lot of use, overuse actually.
This weekend, I am going to “imagination bootcamp” with my camp counselor Liam and his capable assistants Abby and Sasha. Two trips to the playground, a pizza party and three ball throwing practices later, it is a good start to bootcamp. What’s next? Toy Story 2 snuggling next to my best pal of course. Tomorrow – Como, swimming, tennis ball hitting and some Disney movies later, there should be many lessons to be learned.
This is a no work, no worry weekend. Let the games begin. Imagination, look out, we’re coming for you!
“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” – Joseph Joubert
“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
“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Meditation is an attempt to stop rowing and let the water of life go clear, so you can see through to the bottom of things. Let’s try this now. Put down your oars and drift. Center yourself and breathe slowly. Whatever the day holds can wait. The first oar to leave alone is your mind. Inhale and exhale deeply. The second oar to ungrip is the oar of fear and worry. Inhale and exhale slowly. Simply breathe and let the water of your life settle and calm. Let your breathing quiet the ripples. Let the water of all life settle and calm. Look through the calm, not searching for anything, just seeing what’s there.” — The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
Stop rowing. Let the water settle so you can observe, listen and be present. Our thoughts, opinions, judgments either contract or expand us. When we drift and observe, we choose expansion and mystery.
Dare to be quiet long enough to awaken your senses to see to the bottom of things. Put the paddles down each day to cultivate clarity and joy. We cast light by allowing light in.
“We’re put here on Earth to learn our own lessons. No one can tell you what your lessons are; it is part of your personal journey to discover them. On these journeys we may be given a lot, or just a little bit, of the things we must grapple with, but never more than we can handle.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” – Henri Nouwen
How we go through is more important than what we go through. The past four months have certainly tested our resolve, resilience and grit. Accept the gift of grace, embrace the hope that is proven with the fullness of time and apply the lessons of joy.
The clearing is ahead. Until then, keep the faith and learn the lessons, the lasting ones that change us forever, that transform, that create new life.
Joy over despair. Hope over angst. Clearing at the end and beginning of the journey.
“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” – Henry Miller
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” – Martin Luther
The sun amplifies the depth and dimension of clouds. The sun always remains, sometimes in the forefront, sometimes from behind.
Anchor up to the light, to frivolous joy and irrational optimism. Anything less is not worthy of our time. We are so much bigger, deeper and brighter than we allow. Let go of your rules, your assumptions, your limitations. Live bigger, brighter and deeper. If not now, when?
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”― Julian of Norwich
A long walk on a summer-like evening with the girls and friends followed by fellowship, snacks and a few beverages closed the day in gratitude. As I drove home anchored in a state of ease, I thought of the old hymn, It is well with my soul.
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
When explanation, logic and sense making no longer make sense and we stop the “why” and “when” pursuit, we discover an acceptance and clarity of what we can control and that which we cannot And suddenly, it truly is well with our soul.
Each day, find a wellness in your soul and keep going. How we go through defines the experience of the journey. Choose light and joy.
“All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness.” – John Ruskin
“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
“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” – Anne Frank
“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” – Anne Frank
Today lived up to its Monday-level reputation. The rush, the rally of activity disguised as strategy. Noise to fill the open space. Optimism is hard. It’s rigor, discipline and fluid. We need to be open to having sucky, shitty days and know that they are few and far between, letting them happen so they can pass like a kidney stone. Honest and real today, unapologetic. And it all reveals the most important strategy that we must execute consistently – simple. real. optimism with a side of hope. Optimism is the only real and sustainable option worthy of our passion and pursuit.
As I concluded the day with a walk in the woods, sharing the same sucky day stories with my best friends – one human, two dogs, two beautiful deer appeared in the woods feeding on some leaves, unassuming, unfraid and at ease. God’s brilliant reminder that He’s got this, so settle in for the ride. It’s quite simple, keep it that way.
Tomorrow – a clean slate, another day. Simple. Real. Optimism.
“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.” – Anne Frank
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer
“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” – Khalil Gibran
To long runs to prepare for a marathon that will probably be canceled in October. To time with family to celebrate motherhood. To friends who show up in texts and call checking in. Good days are available right now, not in the pandemic-free future, if there is one. Look around and take inventory of all that is present and good right now in this very moment. These are abundant, blessed days. Never, ever give up. Naïve – hell yeah and necessary.
“Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown
What are you chasing? When we pursue the right things, the ones that are woven with flow, meaning and purpose, the chase becomes the destination. Choose the chase with intention in hot pursuit of pure joy.
“Joy is of the will which labours, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.” – William Butler Yeats
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”― Henri J.M. Nouwen