Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

Good-bye, Again

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” – Nikki Giovanni

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

We did the final haul out tonight of the few remaining items in my parent’s house. 41 years of memories, now empty rooms for someone else to fill up. Bittersweet to be sure, but it’s time. Over 3 years after Dad has passed with Mom only there a few days a week, it time to say good-bye again, let go and move on.

As with all transitions, we know when it’s the right time and yet we linger and hang on one more minute, or year or more. A lot of good memories have been built through the years in this place, but the memories were with the people first, place second. Any yet we are still tied to place, even though home is within and with others.

So good-bye old friend and welcome new memories in new places with the same and new people.

Closing is Thursday. The final good-bye of many over the past 3 months of preparation. And then moving on. So often we only see the loss and miss the gain in the process. We cling to things so tightly that we miss the gifts of now and the promise of what is to come.

There are times and seasons for everything. Let go, move on and open your arms and heart to what’s new, next and calling. Life is about experiences and relationships not about stuff and structures.

Camouflage

“The key to nature's therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There's amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted - but that's not your act of creation, it's your act of joining in.” – Victoria Coren Mitchell

“The key to nature’s therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There’s amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted – but that’s not your act of creation, it’s your act of joining in.” – Victoria Coren Mitchell

Each day, hide in plain sight, under the radar;
Tune out the noise;
Reflect, rejoice and renew;
Take a deep breath and tap into the sweet nectar of ordinary days;
Listen for and to your own song;
Re-enter the world anew;
Join in and find your place.

Expectancy

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.” – William Wordsworth

“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.” – William Wordsworth

We create, accept and follow rigid rules and expectations, borne of others and our own thoughts. Guided by past narratives framing today and charting tomorrow.

Flip it. Do the opposite today. View it from a different view. Observe quietly. Step away from absolutes, black and white, assumptions, either/or thinking and your rules for a day.

Lay it down to free your arms to gather and hold all of the gifts that are present right now. No regrets. No judgment. No “no’s.”

Say “yes!” without hesitation.

Allow color and hue. Depth and dimension. Water flowing over rocks down the river. Forgetting time. Moving between spectating to participating with no expectations. Filled with expectancy, anticipation and gratitude.

Push the reset button on your senses to see the same new, to hear for the first time, to breathe in fresh air. Expectancy and light.

Clarity in the Morning

There’s a clarity in the morning like no other time of day. Fresh from resting if we allowed ourselves to lay the day down the night before to recover, refresh and renew. It’s a new start, a clean slate, an opportunity to do better. No distractions or interruptions. Quiet time to get a perspective that will be challenged, tested and pushed around the rest of the day with the demands of long to do lists, last minute requests due to lack of planning usually caused by putting out the last fire from the last round of lack of planning and forethought.

It’s good artificial intelligence is coming since real intelligence is in short supply. And humans will be able to teach the machines how to do it. Factory line, grind it out, more with less, get better by the hour, productivity, keep going even if it’s in the wrong direction. And certainly don’t let relationships and emotion get in the way. Busy, busy. Sounds great doesn’t it?

But that is not how we are built. The frustration, exhaustion and emptiness keeps showing up in the pathetic 32% employee engagement number that Gallup regularly measures. I would suspect that it will drop even further as we tout how artificial intelligence and machine learning will put you out of a job and really change the world for the better, again. Same empty promise, get rich quick scheme we bought into with the proliferation of technology giving us more time back. How’d that one work out?

Don’t get me wrong, a big part of my career is built on technology and what it can do to actually make our life better and connect the world to do cool things for humanity if we choose. But we fall for the shortcuts, the quick fixes, the 21 day solutions, the 10 minute a day train for a marathon formulas, the magic pill. How’s that working?

No matter how far we frantically search to discovery that “thing” that will change our lives forever, it comes down to what’s inside of each one of us and in messy, complicated, illogical relationships with others. How we play with others on the playground.

So from this morning clarity and rambling, I come to a few final thoughts since this will break into a longer version article when I have the time to go deeper someday (that’s also what we tell ourselves too often – “someday I will…”)

So someday is today:

  1. Slow down and breath at regular intervals today, take 5 two minute breaks from the action and the “ASAP” lists people keep creating for you. Let clarity be a part of your entire day rather than just the morning when people aren’t around to mess up your plans;
  2. Be a human being. Offer grace and generosity of spirit to others who disappoint you and come up short all of the time, despite your perfection. Show and share your humanness, flaws and all. Kindness to others begins with kindness within. You’re not perfect and no one else is either. Celebrate your imperfections;
  3. Choose empathy over apathy, even though apathy is what makes complete sense;
  4. Laugh, until it hurts, which I actually did last night. I pulled a muscle in my abdomen from laughing with friends. When I self-diagnosed myself last night with Dr. Google, you can actually strain muscles in your abdomen, proving the need to strengthen your laugh muscles every day. I’m sure there’s a 21 day fix for this. I’ll google that later, when I have time;
  5. Take full inventory. So often we count the hassles, set backs and losses making them larger than they warrant. Choose abundance over scarcity and make sure that you at least equally count the many blessings and gifts in your life. It’s irritating when someone says “be grateful” because they’re right.

That’s right – 5 Easy Steps to Happiness Today, with a money-back guarantee of your success. And order within the next 60 minutes and we’ll send 2 sets for the price of shipping.

Lighten up and cast some light today. Now, go get em! Your head lock is waiting.

Amazing Grace

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

It’s illusive. Hard to define, to harness the concept. Grace. A gift from God given to us freely with no strings attached. An assurance that we are being held whether we are aware of it or not. Worry and fear try to stop us, often successfully. Yet, grace remains. Quietly, steady and patiently waiting for us to notice. And merely to accept and fall into it.

God is always next to us, in front of us, behind us, around us and especially within us. God’s presence is not dependent of our awareness. But when we are aware and enter it fully without question, our days are transformed, becoming new again and again. Grace has no explanation, logic or reasoning. It just is.

Grace wakes us up, jolting us from our busy trance and worldly slumber to see a sunset for the first time. To find the hope in a hand held. To seize the utter joy hidden in simple moments. Grace is a free pass for being human. It is love without condition, the only real love that there is.

Grace allows us space and time to move through dark days, confused and afraid and to savor deeply the arrival to the other side. It is patient, kind, a warm embrace that never let’s us go. We need not pray for grace for it is given independent of our control or worthiness. Pray for the awareness of the seeing grace that is already present right now, ready to heal and make us whole.

And in the grateful awakening, we can dare to extend grace to others. Gently opening the door to peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, empathy and awe.

Wake up to grace in your life. And the only thing you have to do is accept it without question and enjoy the ride. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound.

Look Back, Move Forward, Anchored in Today

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Sasha’s second birthday was on Thursday. Both Sasha and Abby were as happy as they were the day before. That’s the thing that dogs and kids have in common. The ability to be fully present in today and to achieve one thing – joy.

And in their process and pursuit of joy, we witness for ourselves the possibility that resides in each one of us and in each day. The capacity and the call to simply be present and aware without going too far back or reaching too far ahead.

The past has gotten to us to today so it serves to provide lessons, ground us in memories keeping those who have gone ahead of us on their journey in this world in our heart and builds our resilience. The future provides hope, fuels anticipation for new beginnings and comes slowly then quickly.

The present is the real gift hidden in ordinary moments, conversations and quiet reflection filled with gratitude, if we choose.

Be open to and seek joy and depth in today. The past is not the map to your future. Been there, done that. New, wonderful and abundant living lies ahead only to be discovered by you one day at a time. Today, that’s it.

Daily Gratitude

“It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.” – W. H. Davies

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

A simple glance to the left and the rainbow caught my attention and awe entered, setting the tone for the day. That’s all it takes. Opening our eyes to what is present in this very moment and rediscovering gratitude in daily encounters.

According to research, simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain:

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions;
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it;
  3. Gratitude’s benefits take time;
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.

For more inspiration and ideas on living well, check out the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley which I just tripped on looking for quotes on gratitude. The joy that comes from simple pursuits indeed.

To be more grateful, lift your head up, open your eyes and find the rainbows woven through each day.

No Reason at All

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs

While running a few errands this morning to pick up the “must-haves” that I forgot at the store run yesterday, I walked by the flowers and stopped for a moment. And then I thought “why not?” So along with the necessities, I frivolously bought an $8 bouquet of carnations for myself for no reason at all. Often no reason at all turns out to be a very good reason. Flowers are a simple and attainable way to be reminded of God’s brilliance bursting in bud of a flower. Now that’s a very good reason.

We so often look for our circumstances or someone else to give us what we need – flowers, affirmation, acceptance, happiness. We search wide and far, often trapped in the past, yearning for what was or what didn’t happen or caught up too far in the future in worry or waiting for the “perfect” time that is bound to come.

When we pause our busy, errand-running life for a moment, we discover that all that we need is within each of us. And it can be found in daily simple acts of buying flowers, lighting a candle and listening to music. In quiet moments, we find the silence that we need to hear our own voice and chart a path to our own daily contentment.

Go buy some flowers for yourself and enjoy today. Pretty simple.

7300 Days

On Ash Wednesday, February 17, 1999, I went to mass at the St. Paul Cathedral and came back to the office to a voicemail from the Doctor. The previous Friday, I went in to have a mole on my right arm checked because it was itchy and changing color. They took a biopsy. I had gone to the clinic in early January, but there was no Doctor available so the nurse measured it and I came back for in February for the biopsy. I called the clinic back asking for Jan who wasn’t available. The operator asked for my name and immediately said hold on and I’ll get Jan. At that point, I figured Jan and I weren’t about to exchange our favorite recipes. Jan came on the line and told me she made an appointment for me on Friday to come in for a wide excision (cut it out) – “you have melanoma.”

I sat quietly in my chair at my office for a few minutes and then started to make calls to my family – tough calls. Blew off work (still need to do more of that), went to the Mall of America to watch an afternoon movie and hang out with family to pass the next 48 hours.

Friday comes. I go in ready to get this thing done and move on only to be told that it wasn’t a in office procedure since in the month between appointments, it went from Stage 1 to 3 of 5. They needed to schedule a hospital visit to do a sentinel node where they put dye in the area of the mole and track it for a few hours to see if the cancer spread to the lymph nodes by putting a big metal door next to your face to take pictures for 10-minute stints. If it did, then the procedure is to be put fully under, dig deep into the arm and then take some lymph nodes.

This appointment was yet another month later in March. Waiting was fun. Sure enough, three lymph nodes came back suspicious so they cut deep into my armpit to remove and test those little buggers, which then determines the post-surgery treatment plan. My wake up requests were a diet Mountain Dew and Hot Tamales and my wish was granted as we waited for the results. Most excellent news – the lymph nodes came back negative so no chemo or radiation. Regular visits to the dermatologist and hold out for that 5 year mark which is a great anniversary in cancer land.

Fast forward 7300 days – two decades later – and I celebrate 20 years cancer free. My story was a lucky one. I have many friends and family who had to do chemo, radiation and experimental drugs in the past two decades. Some haven’t won the battle.

I’ve decided to frame the celebration in days rather than decades as a reminder to be live and be present in each day because they quickly add up to decades and we don’t know where they’ve gone when we don’t participated fully in each day.

The most valuable gift that cancer gave me is an acute awareness of the brevity and fragility of life. The result is a shift in perspective to lighten up and take all the chaos that life throws at us much less seriously and know that there’s more to the story than we know.

A few more lessons: Enjoy each day and laugh. Judge less and love more. Tune out negativity. Let go. Keep learning. Age is number, stay young by being active. Pray, a lot. Keep trying. Worry less. Ask for help. Offer help even when it’s not asked for. Be kind. Change the stories that you tell yourself that hold you back. Feed, cultivate and activate faith, hope and joy. Let God be God – He’s got it and doesn’t need my help to screw up the plan. I do forget all of this often, but always return when I get off track. Returning home to all that’s real and true, that which I know deep in my soul that quietly whispers to me – “come back home, keep unfolding”.

So how does all of this lead to the picture of a snow blower? We’ve been throttled with snow this winter. We now get to win the most snow in February award in Minnesota. Spike the football – we win! Last night, on my second round of snow blowing the dense pile of snow at the end of the driveway from the snow plow, the snow blower didn’t start. Damn it! We’re going to be getting more snow and buying a new snow plow now when they are in demand is not the best purchasing decision. Buying a lawn mower would be good now since it’s going to be 6 months for the snow to melt. I picked up the old shovel and started digging. That’s what we need to do when an obstacle pops up – shut up, stop complaining, dig in and keep moving.

As I shoveled in the quiet dark evening, it occurred to me that I bought that snowblower 20 years ago with my Dad after I had surgery and couldn’t move my right arm for a month while the incision healed. A few days after my surgery, we got dumped on with 12 inches of snow. My Dad and neighbor dug me out. At that point, it was time for the snowblower. I think about my Dad every time I start that snow blower and so I wanted to take a photo to capture and hold that memory if the snowblower is going to the snowblower cemetery.

Long story today, but short lesson – enjoy your days, all 7300 of them. Go deeper and be present today. Each day adds up to make up your life. No do overs. Keep going.

What Stops You in Your Tracks? Anything? The Right Things?

“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

As we rush onto the next thing on our “to do” list, we race past those daily track-stopping moments. In our nonstop, do more and more with less and less working longer days to create mediocre work, we are losing our sensitivity meter to notice the simple track-stopping beauty that surrounds us right now.

Looking directly into another human’s eyes, an embrace, the sculpture forming in a pile of snow by the mail box, the edges of a flower shining in the sun at a conference hotel where you are working for six 16 hour days, a bouquet of balloons at the same hotel that look like big jewels, your best friend savoring a cookie-frosting first of course, your other best four-legged fluffy friends playing and resting after play. These are the things that stop me in my tracks and make me smile from inside. And they are what matter the most – the symphony in a noisy loud world.

The blessing of the cell phone is not the technology of being on our email 24/7 or on social media liking someone’s dinner choice – that’s the curse. The blessing is the camera that allows us to capture moments that stop us in our tracks, that make us see our blessings while we are in them, that remind us to be grateful, and that show us the stupidity of our never-ending pursuit to be busy and “productive.” Efficiency at the loss of meaning and depth – blah.

Wake up and be open to being stopped in your tracks today. And stop.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker

 

 

%d bloggers like this: