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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category

The Unmaking

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”― Seneca

Change and transitions invite us to awaken, observe and be opened. The struggle is not in change itself, but in the resistance to it. The process of being “broken” releases the power of transformation and transcendence of circumstances, other people and our own ego.

When we observe our life broadly and deeply, we uncover and discover that blessings are woven through burdens. The uncertainty and struggle that accompanies, is our calling to the “unmaking” of what has accumulated and collected, been protected and fed.

We own our response, create our daily condition and influence the outcome. When we choose the transformative journey over the shortcut, we go deeper into “demolition day” to start again, daring to be made new with no desire to return to the old. The lyrics of Nicole Nordeman’s The Unmaking say it so well:

“This is where the walls gave way
This is demolition day
All the debris and all this dust
What is left of what once was
Sorting through what goes and what should stay

What happens now?
When all I’ve made is torn down
What happens next?
When all of you is all that’s left
This is the unmaking
Beauty and the breaking
Had to lose myself to find out who you are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking”

If willing and open, release the old to create space for the new. “Before each beginning, there must be an ending.” Welcome the endings so new beginnings can ensue. New heart and spirit.

Optimism and hope show us the finish line, providing the fuel to get there. Never underestimate the power of gratitude, laughter, joy and light to change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has or ever will. Keep searching for light, accept it and cast it back out again in ordinary everyday exchanges. We are the heroes and authors of our own life. Write your story well.

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” – Ezekiel 36:26

What’s Your Mark?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

“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.”― Maya Angelou

Yesterday, I purchased a new car. My car was almost 9 years old so it was time and the interest rate was excellent. After online research and insights from family and friends, I narrowed my search to two models. When I went into the dealers, my first questions were about the towing capacity and the drivetrain. I don’t think he was assuming those would be my first questions, but I could hear my Dad asking these. This is the first car that I bought without him with me. He passed away in 2016 but remains a part of my day-to-day.

The lessons that are instilled were more from his actions and deeds rather than his words. He had quiet strength, humble confidence, soft-spoken with nothing to prove to anyone. Live a good life, work hard, be kind, generous and hone your critical thinking skills so you make good decisions.

After I finished at the car dealer, I went to show my Mom and sister and then drove to the cemetery to thank Dad for his help. I was excited about getting my first red car. It may not have been his first choice but he would have loved it because I did.

Each of us has the power to instill lessons, be a positive impact in our world and be remembered for our love and contribution rather than our opinion or judgment. What are you casting out into the world? What’s your mark?

Lecture or respectful exchange?
Judgment or acceptance?
Taking or giving?
Laughter or complaint?
Ego or empathy?

We will all leave our mark behind and how we are remembered will be in how we made people feel through our actions and deeds. Love, kindness, laughter, listening with full attention and how to pick a good car transcend time and place. Make your mark and desire to be missed deeply.

Opposite, Dichotomy, Pattern and Connection

“Life is a great tapestry. The individual is only an insignificant thread in an immense and miraculous pattern.” – Albert Einstein

“I believe we create our own lives. And we create it by our thinking, feeling patterns in our belief system. I think we’re all born with this huge canvas in front of us and the paintbrushes and the paint, and we choose what to put on this canvas.” – Louise L. Hay

In our effort to prove our rightness and others’ wrongness, we diminish the complexity and depth of the world and our place in it. While it may provide temporary comfort, we miss the rich essence of living fully by both observing and participating, listening before speaking, conversation rather than pontification.

Life is filled with dichotomy and opposite as well as pattern and connection. When we put down our ego, listen and open our eyes, we find that we share the road on this journey, with no one right about everything. In the blending, depth and connection, there are patterns, insights and answers that have been present waiting to be discovered through thoughtful, quiet inquiry.

A meaningful and content life emerges when we ask, “what am I to learn?” and “how can I give rather than take?”

While I may not agree with others, I can still maintain my principles and beliefs without diminishing them in the process. I can even go so far as being kind and generous, especially to those I don’t agree with.

We need to both insulate the noise that distracts us and absorb the rhythms to create music. When we are too close, we need to pull back. When we are too far, we need to move in. From simple to complex and back to simple again. Going deep, then rising to the surface.

Be open to seeing patterns and connections amidst the dichotomy and opposites. There is far more beauty than we account for as we count the wrong things. Be willing to learn and as a result, grow and change.

Design Your Life

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” – Samuel Butler

“The fullness of one’s soul evolves ever slowly. We’re asked only to go within to gestate the newness God is trying to form; we’re asked to collaborate with grace.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Each day is a blank slate. Shake off yesterday’s marks that serve no purpose in your becoming and transformation. We write our own story or it is written for us. And our story unfolds one day at a time with an abundance of grace.

Seize the pen and fill that blank page with words and lines that shape into art. Design your life as only you can.

“As the memory evaporated into the autumn afternoon, I walked on, hope rising in me. Hope for you and me and the journeys we undertake. Hope that we would trust our waiting hearts enough to risk entering them, that we would listen for the Voice that bids us come to the edge, and that we would welcome the gentle push of God, who is both our wings and the wind that bears them up.” Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Walk Into It

“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk into it.” – Isaiah 30:21

So often we force things. We try to make the puzzle pieces fit where they just don’t fit. Square peg, round hole activities. There is value in allowing things to arrive rather than to always be in hot pursuit. When we allow God to do his work in us, we unfold. A good place to be and remain, a holy sacred ease.

Trust in the mystery. Don’t assume you know the final chapter before you write the first ones. The path appears as we walk into it and at the right time which is often not on our watch. And as the chapters weave the story together, we can find joy in each day, no matter the circumstances.

If you’re at a crossroads or you can’t quite find the road right now, it’s alright. Trust, listen and be open to that soft yet firm voice that whispers, “this is the way, walk into it.”

“A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.” – Picasso

You are an unfinished beautiful work of art that is being revealed, finished and yet never done, unfolding as you should. Ease up and enjoy the walk.

Deep Freeze

“Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring.” – Terri Guillemets

We are about to enter a deep freeze in Minnesota. Schools closing in anticipation of -35 degree temps coupled with additional -30 degrees wind chill in the next few days. The weather, circumstances and the world can freeze us in place.

While we should prepare and hibernate when weather gets severe to be safe, we should do the opposite when stuck by our own thoughts, others’ opinions and life’s challenges that rise-up, keeping us frozen in place.

It is precisely then that we should risk moving out of our comfort zone, to crack the ice, thawing to keep our hearts open to the ebb and flow of life. Worry and fear are thieves that steal our joy.

Frozen in place? Look up to the sun and let the thaw begin. And spring soon follows in due time.

Come Out and Play, Now

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa

Can Kathie come out to play?

We rush, multitask and race through the day with little thought but to keep up the pace and get to the next thing. Wishing for time to pass quickly in struggle and linger longer in bliss.

Looking back, we long for more time, a chance to have one more deep conversation and long hug from someone who’s gone. Looking ahead, we fear change, clinging to what’s familiar, even if it’s uncomfortable. At least we know it.

And in the process of this back and forth, this paradox of living, we miss the only thing we truly own – this very moment, this day. The joy, delight and power of now. This is the stuff that the past is made of and directs what the future will hold. What we think, feel and who we interact with and how we do so. This is it, it’s not an illusion. This moment, the present is where we are called to be.

Stop. Look around and settle your thoughts long enough to be grateful and allow contentment to enter and remain. Your presence in this very moment is requested and required to open up to the joy awaiting illusively in this very moment and hour at hand. Not back, not ahead. Right now.

The search is complete. Engaged and immersed in awareness of your next breath, your next thought and the words that can gently and softly roll off your tongue. All of your senses sharpened in silence to anchor the day ahead in full presence and anticipation. What you think, say and do today determines your future past.

The true gift of children and dogs is that they understand and embrace the magic of being fully present in the moment with no regard for the past or future. Mere, pure being fully in the moment free to let loose and explore.

So go for a run, throw a ball, play hopscotch, jump a rope, pick up that book that you’ve been reading three pages at a time for the past three months. Be frivolous, unplanned and unstructured for a slice of each day, woven through every hour and in between the busy.

Break free of the illusion of looking back or too far ahead and seize this day. There is awe, ease and wonder right around the corner. Come out and play.

The Pen

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

We so often use the pen to merely check off our “to do” list. Initially satisfying and then suddenly shallow. Go deeper, do less, be more and create real meaning.

When we go below the surface of transactional busy living and enter what’s beneath, we expose the stories we tell ourselves. Those stories that tell us to spend time on obligations, over committing, over doing.

Each of us has a purpose, gifts to unwrap and release into the world. Spending our time and attention on these pursuits makes the world better, one dream fulfilled at a time. Yep, I get it – you have to make a “living”. Been doing that for 30+ years.

Joy and fulfillment come when we align who we are, our gifts, what we do and who we do it with. In relationship, in play, in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves and in being present in each day while it’s occurring.

I just started a new book – Redirect, Changing the Stories We Live By, by Timothy D. Wilson on the stories we tell ourselves and what we can do to change the stories that hold us back. I am looking forward to diving deep into it this weekend and not checking off the “to do” list. When we expose and let go of those old stories, we can rewrite our own story starting today.

Pick up the pen and write down what your assumptions are, what you want to do, and what “rules” that you’ve created that need to be broken. Stop asking for permission to live your life. Time to start a new chapter of thinking, doing and most importantly, living with joy, awe and even some fun. Life is short, find your light and cast it wide.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace “The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace

In Our Depths

“The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.” – Sue Monk Kidd

Gratitude and grace remind of the gifts that are present and remain ever present especially in difficult times.

It’s a heavy season right now. Serious cancer diagnoses for friends, beautiful courageous young women. No words can adequately express the deep concern and care of many who just want to do something, anything to make it better.

We so often don’t have answers to what life deals us. It requires us to let go of our plans, to trust in the darkness, to exist in the unknowing. It’s not easy. But while we are here in this place, breathing, we must continue to get up and come out swinging. Hope and trust in the waiting.

And a simple reminder to all. We never fully know what someone is going through, so always error on the side of kindness, compassion, empathy and love, without condition. Be present and fully aware so you can be a gift that someone may desperately need. Go deeper, stay longer and never give up.

You Never Know

“I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.” – Steven Pinker

“Love is the strongest and most fragile thing we have in life.” – Vanessa Paradis

“Love is the strongest and most fragile thing we have in life.” – Vanessa Paradis

Two years ago on this Sunday, I backed out of my parents’ driveway after spending the day with them as I often did every weekend. Molly and Lily in the front seat with me and my Dad standing looking out with his hand in the air waving and watching until I reached the end of the driveway.

It turned out that this would be the last day I would see him alive. He died on Thursday while I was stuck on a plane coming back from a work trip. I didn’t make it back in time to say good-bye. We spoke everyday and nothing was left unsaid, so no regrets. Only deep loss and missing him every day since and until I see him again. This coming Saturday on the two-year anniversary of his passing, I will be back on a plane for another work trip. Flying has never been the same since that day two years ago.

In a moment, life changes. And then we are reminded again of that which we so often forget. Each day is a gift and joy is found in simply spending time together.

Be present, grateful and profoundly aware of all that surrounds you each and every single day. We have no guarantees of what is to come. Love fiercely. Hug longer. Forgive often. Laugh hard. Soak it all in.

Today was a beautiful sunny day as the 60+ degree temperature slowly melted the late snow away and spring softly enters a bit late. There are many doors and seasons we pass through. Each one has its own gifts. Open them all.

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