“My appointed work is to awaken the divine nature that is within.” – Peace Pilgrim
Tripping Over Joy
“What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.”
― Hafez, I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
May you trip over joy and keep tripping to awaken to a steady state of gratitude that does not rely on circumstances, other people’s approval or permission, perfection that prevents action or someday thinking. “Someday thinking” steals our “this day” joy.
“I praise loudly. I blame softly.” – Catherine the Great
Start and end with gratitude, with loud praise and joy follows in ordinary days, in ordinary ways. Breathe in deeply and take notice. The symphony of birds welcoming spring, a flower reaching for the sky. All in reach. Be available, accept the invitation, linger.
by Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings
“Oh do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
‘You must change your life.’”
“Just as perennials bloom, wither, die, and turn to mulch, only to seed, break ground, and bloom again, the soul is a perennial that keeps breaking ground through the many chances we give it.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters by Mark Nepo
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” – Sitting Bull
What’s right in front, in reach, that you are missing? What else? How about? Why not? Beyond the perceived struggle is an ease, a depth, a tapestry. Broaden your view and then move closer to see the details in unexplored territory on your doorstep. Find the joy in the daily journey, participate in it.
Do not forgo your life pursuing someday, perfect circumstances, expecting others to change. You change. Control the only thing you can – you, your thoughts, attitude and perspective.
Enter your life anew daily, engage, dive beneath the surface of feelings, perfection and ego into the well of flourishing, possibility and expansion available now. Awareness, gratitude and awe fuel joy, optimism and outcomes.
Search, find and receive the joy in the journey.
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Christopher McCandless
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia
I started yesterday with focus, attention and intention. Meditation. Exercise. Positive mindset. After a day of meetings, I ended the day tired, worn out and sick of everyone. All the negativity, the weariness, the heavy weight people bear and share. Overcounting burdens, undercounting blessings, bypassing bliss. I’ve done it too. I just don’t want to stay there anymore.
We are so much more than our fickle feelings, deeper than our temporary circumstances. When we refuse to engage and respond by allowing feelings to pass by without fuel or expansion, we detach from being victims of negativity to victors of optimism, hope and resilience.
We all have bad days. Let them happen, but not too many. Precious time is being wasted in the spirals we enter and allow others to pull us in. Your mindset is under your control so allow others to be who they are and fix what’s yours to fix – your own outlook and perspective. You can have empathy and offer hope at the same time.
Looking up at the sky last night with the sun breaking through the clouds as the rain prepared to enter, my consciousness rose above the day, breaking the earthly bonds of heaviness, equilibrium returned, a steady joy state.
“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.”- Carlos Santana
Allow feelings to enter, pass and be released. Ease and peace will enter with no effort. The gift of grace. Accept it. Offer it to expand it. Fight the good fight, the right fight.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
“You must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a song.” – Sai Baba
“All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” – Sai Baba
As the week begins and the weight of all that needs to be done fills on your mind, stop. Allow play, laughter, fun in to do its work in you. Do one new activity each day this week. Swing on a playground, jump rope without a rope, walk a new path. When you find yourself complaining and comparing, count your own blessings and give away that which you most desire.
When conspiracy theories, assumptions and judgment come to the forefront, change the narrative to believing the best and in all and everything to create space for joy in simple ordinary sacred days. Expand, absorb, lighten, deepen, laugh, dance and cast light.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary
“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.” – Dag Hammarskjold
If we look at the top, the destination alone, we delay starting the journey overwhelmed by the number of steps. Get to the next plateau, one step after the other. With rapt attention, Liam climbs the rope mountain, a rung at a time. Celebrating each step and the arrival, a double blessing.
Build daily rituals to fill the well of self-care so you can care for others. On my Insight Timer app today, the notification popped up that I’ve completed 160 consecutive days of meditation (10-15 minutes a day-doable!).
This daily ritual along with morning pages, posting every day on Cast Light and getting outside for walks/runs and dog park adventures have been cornerstones of my own practice to find and bask in light, hope and joy in the ordinary. One step at a time, ceilings turn into floors.
Keep going by taking steps, create simple daily rituals and non-negotiables that feed your soul. Stop circling the same mountain of the past, expectations and limiting beliefs. Look for new mountains to climb and enjoy the journey to the destination.
“Being positive is like going up a mountain. Being negative is like sliding down a hill. A lot of times, people want to take the easy way out, because it’s basically what they’ve understood throughout their lives.” – Chuck D
“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” – Richard Wagner
“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Einstein
There is an innate joy in children, a natural smile bursting from within, rooted firmly in the soul and spirit. It never goes away but time and experience bury it as we succumb to the ways of the world. When we return to this place of optimism, joy and light, suddenly everything becomes a miracle, blessings abound.
“Thin places assure us that what we can see is not all there is, that within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us.”— Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons, Jan Richardson
Blessings and miracles are woven into our ordinary days, amidst a pandemic, politics, struggling relationships, hidden in plain sight. Our most important and only job is to notice them. In quiet meditation and reflection, gratitude, grace and awareness ensue, a full accounting of our life, an awakening.
“The best blessings awaken our imaginations. In places of difficulty, struggle, or pain, blessings beckon us to look closely rather than turn away. In such places, they challenge us not to accept how things are but to dream of how they could be transformed. They invite us to discern how God might be calling us to participate in bringing this transformation to pass.”— Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons, Jan Richardson
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil
I have had many conversations in my head with others, things I want to say to “set the record straight,” to “put them in their place,” to “lay it on the line.” Fortunately, I’ve kept most of those where they belong – unsaid. When they’ve escaped and actually came out, regret usually followed. At times, it is appropriate to not be a doormat as well and to speak our own voice.
Our choice is between reacting “in kind” – returning what’s given to us, especially the negativity and criticism or responding “in kindness” – by not returning the same so we don’t turn into that which we want to avoid. Complaint, negativity and criticism are rampant and only create a downward spiral. Gratitude, optimism and hope offer an alternative and multiplies rather than substracts, a whirlwind upward, a deep well to draw from.
So little of what people serve us in negativity, complaint and consternation has anything to do with us. When we take it personally, we allow them to steal our joy. That person who cut you off, the coworker who has a bad attitude and shares it every time you interact with her/him so you do everything to avoid her/him, the family member or friend who triggers that 10 year old in you are all carrying their own burdens and struggles. When we understand this, we have arrived at empathy and understanding and can move out from that place rather than the “what about me?” hole.
Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements are simple rules and principles to follow that can help us respond “in kindness” rather than “in kind,” freeing us from the power and winds of external forces that we allow to permeate our internal state of joy and peace:
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.
As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” We can choose to respond with empathy, understanding, positivity and optimism to combat negativity and model a different path that creates contentment and joy, which is in short supply right now.
Choose mindfully and with forethought the energy that you put out into the world. You can be that thread of hope, that beam of light, that source of joy that someone desperately needs from you now.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet
“When we’re caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form, we fail to see the opportunities for joy that are right in front of us.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The snow has begun lightly falling and tomorrow the temperatures will follow suit into a 7 day deep freeze. The fresh snow will create a new base for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and dog parking. The below zero will offer time to stay in to prepare taxes, declutter for spring cleaning and focused time for research, writing and deep work. This is only our second deep freeze this winter and the first that will stretch on this long. We have had a mild winter and good snow to get out to play in.
Within every situation and circumstance is a choice to look for the positive or to succumb to the obvious and easy negative. If you can find joy in winter, joy is rooted in your soul, anchored, unmoved and steady. The spring, summer and fall seasons of our life need no assistance to find joy in the bloom, sun and harvest.
Spring is weeks away so there is double blessing. Finding joy in this moment and in anticipation of tomorrow. We can have both at the same time. Surrender to the joy of now and tomorrow, leaving no room to carry yesterday any further than you already have done.
Carpe Diem – seize the day!
“Listen to your heart and trust the direction you are being pulled. Something inside you already knows what to do.” – Spring Washam
“There is no glory in star or blossom till looked upon by a loving eye; There is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by.” – William Cullen Bryant
It’s important to establish routines, rituals and daily practices to focus our attention, effort and time to create habits to reach goals, check off resolutions. Discipline, repetition and commitment are the ingredients of progress, growth and fruition.
In addition to the mechanics of “trail management” which include plans, goals, actions, discipline, accountability and efficiency, we also need to integrate “off trail” adventures to find joy, play, fun and magic. “Trail blazing” is messy, iterative, inconsistent, inefficient exploration that fosters imagination, creating new patterns, connections and deeper ways to see the world. Life balance comes with the integration of mechanics and magic in our daily life.
For the past nine months, almost every Sunday morning I’ve done a long run as a part of marathon training. After completing the marathon in October, I’ve continued the “Sunday practice” to stay in shape, albeit not as many miles or structure as marathon training. Jeanne would meet me with water and join me for the last 4-5 miles.
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth
This morning, we decided to break the Sunday routine, because we had the opportunity to walk with Bob at Como. One of Jeanne’s superpowers is to meet and connect with people who soon become fast friends. She “picked up” Bob, an 82 year old sweet soul who walks 1.6 miles around Como every day and has for years. Bob’s going to Arizona for a few months so he asked us if we were coming to Como today to say good-bye. Rather than a quick “hi” in passing, we opted to walk with him to enjoy conversation and connection. We stopped four times to take a break. It was the slowest and most important workout of the month.
We were wise enough to open the gift of connection, conversation and time over plans and routines. We went snow shoeing after to get an additional work out. Today we chose both trail management but more importantly trail blazing. That decision is not only is good for the body, but for the mind, spirit and soul, our whole being.
As you look at the schedule for the week filled with meetings and “trail management” activities, make sure that you start booking some “trail blazing” time to wander, to laugh, to add meaning to all of the activity. Find the joy in the JOurneY.
Now, off to do some more trail blazing tennis ball chasing activity with with Abby and Sasha in the woods. Cast light, chase joy.