“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams
“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” – E. M. Forster
Change it up. Take a different route. If you always do something at the end of the day, do it in the morning to see it from a different view.
Snowshoeing at sunrise this morning flipped the day. A simple shift can break patterns, create new patterns and connections. Build your capacity for awe in ordinary, daily miracles of a sunrise, of fresh air in your lungs, of the joy of mere being.
Gratitude, optimism and hope are powerful actions accessible to all. Use them early, often and without fail. Allow the sunrise and sunset to enter your life. A simple shift.
“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
“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The science on meditation and mindfulness shows the real impact on daily living. We get skeptical about adding one more thing to our daily to do list, but meditation is worth the 10-30 minutes a day. In addition to training for a now virtual marathon, journaling every morning since March and daily meditation guided by the Insight Timer app has been worth the effort and investment.
We need to do less so we can experience more. Let go of old stories, hold on to things worthy of our valuable time. Create space for new possibilities, joy and abundance.
Let go of the unnecessary so you can hold on to the necessary. Carve quiet so light can enter and reveal the magic of living.
“Peace in ourselves, peace in the world.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The interview this week on Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Byron Katie, The Work was filled with wonderful insights including four questions to ask yourself to change the narrative you tell yourself and the power to change it to serve you better:
“Is it true?”
“Can I absolutely know this is true?”
“How do I react when I believe this thought?”
“Who would I be without this thought?” Then turn it around and say “What is the opposite?”
A few other takeaways:
You are your own way out. It begins and ends with you.
Don’t feel guilty for believing what you believe.
Freedom and happiness are your birthright.
We choose our own thoughts so we have the power to change our world. Explore abundance, create your days, see the brilliance in the petal of a flower.
“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.
“Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.” – Epictetus
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.” – Marcus Aurelius
They make balance bikes to get kids to learn how to balance before they start to bike. There are nuances in balancing. It’s both science and art. And when gravity wins and you fall down, get back up to try another run at balance until it strikes.
Watch a child learn to balance so you can relearn it yourself. Because we understand it, we pursue it and we so often forget it.
“Love grounds you. It orients you. Love brings your awareness to others and yourself. Love opens your mind and heart to others and yourself. Love settles you and gives you balance.” – Gary Zukav
“Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou art full, that thou mayest be filled with that whereof thou art empty.” – Saint Augustine
Empty the vessel to create space for new narratives, abundance and delight in the ordinary. Empty and fill.
Each day, we need to get out of our own mind to enter new worlds of books, of nature, of quiet, of thoughts that recreate our mind. When we continue to grind, going through the motions expecting different results, we run dry and unfilled. It is in wrestling in unknowing and letting go of our own answers, we discover an immense world beyond our own experience. Allow imagination and innate creativity to enter and wander with them each day.
Daily habits, plans and rituals are important to keep us on task and doing things. But in order to be drawn into meaningful things that last and add value, we must carve time to restore, replenish and feed our mind, body and spirit.
Daily journaling, reading, running and wandering into the woods pull me out of my limiting thoughts, assumptions and keeping score. It is in these activities that I am moved to deeper work, to pursuit of purpose, to richness of meaning.
Be diligent in both emptying the vessel and filling it with the things that give you peace, joy and contentment.
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” – Epictetus
Resolve to not be defined by this time but define it for yourself. Be the author of your own story. Write each act with intention and diligence. We are more than our circumstances and limitations that we put on ourselves, so very much more.
The pen is in your hand, the time is now and yours alone. Write this chapter and the next, so when the third act has arrived, you have defined and owned the life you have lived. Run the race, fight the good fight, remain in the game.
“Unpacking what we’ve been through in the solitude of our reflection – this is our darkroom. This is where we incubate our attempts at understanding until they are exposed, developed, and fixed as glimpses of truth and wisdom. And yet, when we hold back on developing what we know, we dodge the lesson waiting to be revealed. And when we overthink, through worry or doubt, the insight waiting to develop within us, we are burning our experience beyond recognition.
Despite the speed of our age, we need to take experience into our heart and wait for the images of life to show themselves, all of which take time. And any ounce of honest writing requires the courage to let the lessons of life leave their markings on us. In this way, the practice of listening and reflecting etches its insights into our consciousness, and expression then develops those images into stories or poems. The ounce of wisdom we offer is always the result of the slow internalization of what life does to us.” – Mark Nepo, Drinking from the River of Light
When we stop pursuing, racing aimlessly to destination nowhere, slowing into solitude and silence amidst a loud scrambling world, patterns unfold into meaning and insight.
As much as we want “cliff notes” to get to the lessons quickly, the book of life is one to be read, line by line, chapter by chapter to the last page where it all weaves together. We can fight it and remain in the shallow of busy or we can enter the deep flow of time where light reveals the lessons to a marked, worn yet open heart.
Clarity, discernment and wisdom lie dormant, preparing to rise. Life shows itself. Slow internalization.