“From a little spark may burst a flame.” – Dante Alighieri
“All thoughts, all passions, all delights Whatever stirs this mortal frame All are but ministers of Love And feed His sacred flame.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
When your light within is dim or distinguished, do not go into mere acceptance of the inevitable. Fight. Rekindle and spark the flame. The world will not reignite your internal light so stop going to that dry well. Feed, foster and fan your internal flame to go from darkness to light.
Quiet reflection, prayer, reading, trust, hope, optimism, empathy, compassion, gratitude, joy, generosity are fire-starters. Take an active role in your thoughts and actions and do not succumb to worry, consternation, complaint, fear, judgment.
Choose love, especially when it doesn’t make sense. Starting with yourself first and then moving into the world. Reignite your light so you can cast it into the world which is in desperate need of it right now.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” – Colin Powell
“But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.” – Elizabeth Edwards
It was Sasha’s fourth birthday yesterday. We celebrated with new toys, walks, the dog park and birthday bones. Kids and dogs show us how to remain in the moment and lean into joy with a grateful heart.
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In Between”
We get stuck in between, not fully joyful, not fully miserable. Rocking aimlessly from side to side as if we have no rudder to steer our own boat, allowing others water to get into our boat and sink it.
Optimism and positivity are not easy. They take work, intention, attention and focus. Listen to your own thoughts and words as well as others around you – complaining, gossip, negativity, chirping, glass not even half full but empty and dry?
Make a hard stop, take a sharp turn and go the opposite direction. Double down on the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and certainly don’t mess with “Mr. In Between.”
“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
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg
What you say to yourself and others matters. It carries an energy. Positive or negative. Full or empty. Be mindful so you bring positive energy to create enthusiasm, optimism and light.
In a meeting yesterday, one participant was clearly having a bad day and showed it in words, facial expression and heavy sighs. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life at any particular moment so you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But this person is this way a lot and it sucks the energy out of the room, even on a zoom call.
It was a good reminder to me to be aware of the energy that I am exuding in my own exchanges with myself and others. We all have a bad day but string too many of them together we arrive at a bad life. Be in tune with your energy level and make sure daily self-care is on the list to balance out stress so you have positive energy which creates positive outlook and outcomes. Awareness, mindfulness, intention can change the trajectory of the day and infuse it with optimism.
Gratitude is fuel to power through the day. Pursue optimism vigorously so negativity and cynicism don’t take permanent hold. It’s hard to shake it off. Check on your own energy which is the only thing that you control and it can influence others in a good way.
Read, write, laugh, walk in nature, look at photos, count your blessings and seek joy. Choose your thoughts and words carefully and make something good of this day. Cast light!
“Optimistic people play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives. Their decisions make a difference; they are inventors, entrepreneurs, political and military leaders – not average people. They got to where they are by seeking challenges and taking risks.” – Daniel Kahneman
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
We have been out of our comfort zone for a year now.
The pandemic has put us into this place.
Or has it?
We are stuck.
Or are we?
Question your assumptions, dare to entertain a different answer, flip the narrative.
The pandemic is certainly not nothing and it is also not everything.
We long for certainty, take comfort in familiarity and sameness to ground us.
Were we comfortable and content before the pandemic?
When the pandemic is over, you’ll need another excuse.
Difficulty makes us grateful for what is gone.
Gratitude can be a way of life rather than a momentary feeling.
What we think serves us, often binds us.
Scarcity, fear, negativity, assumptions, stories, a pandemic justify our “stuckness,” frame our view, limit possibility.
In protecting ourselves from uncertainty, chaos of circumstances, unreasonableness of others, not us of course, we create blind spots and live small.
We long to figure out the ending before we take a step, find comfort in blame and try to organize life into boxes we can label and understand.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
We are meant for joy, light and fruition.
Born with a purpose and purposes, with talents and gifts to give away not to bury.
To move forward pre, middle and post pandemic and any other life transition and transformation, we must lay down what we think has served us well.
Moving forward does not negate the past, it honors it by living in the present and writing a deeper narrative by taking hold of the pen and finishing our own story.
Move into the day from a place of abundance, a thirst for mystery and a capacity for joy.
Open up to ambiguity, uncertainty and possibility found in a blank page, in the confidence and trust that we are built for metamorphosis, going from cocoon to butterfly hundreds of times though life.
Finding the holes, problems and gaps in our life, in others and in the world traps us in rearview mirror living, scarcity and cynicism. Identify and integrate the lessons and move to the next grade by applying them. Open up to new learning and expansion. Release offenses both received and given to transform the holes into wholehearted joyful daily living.
There is no real comfort in comfort zones. Ground in abundance and optimism, fueled by light and energized by possibility.
Brave, bold and brilliantly break the patterns and narratives that bind and restrict. Dare to be enthusiastic and optimistic found in wholeness rather than holes. Abundance, possibility and joy right now, today, not delayed for tomorrow, not post-pandemic or “someday” when things are perfect (not happening). From the comfort zone of the cocoon to the flight of the butterfly.
This is what my Dad would call a “kick in the ass” post. We need those now and again to wake up. I need it daily and miss him daily so this one is for you Dad.
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth
“Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality.” – Jen Sincero
Begin each day in reflection and gratitude to foster a start line of abundance that is the throughline for the entire day, start to finish;
Plant it, say it, try it, stick to it to see how your reality shifts;
No need to compete in the “I’m having a tough day competition anymore;”
The path is old and worn, the traffic is jammed and the road leads to more of the same;
Your thoughts lead to words, to actions, to perspective;
Release all that is not in your control and create a space for abundance, light and optimism;
Carefully choose where your mind goes and guard your joy to anchor when the winds rise up;
Pause three seconds to respond rather than react – 1…2…3…
Optimists International has a variety of resources to place optimism front and center so you can break the daily negativity habit. An action calendar, desktop images and their Facebook page offer daily reminders and prompts.
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
Give optimism a fighting chance by centering your thoughts and being intentional with your words and actions.
Mind your mindset and show others through your consistent actions that there is a better, different path, one of joy, abundance and light.
“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.” – Marianne Williamson
“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” – Randy Pausch
“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
A fresh coat of snow last weekend created the conditions for a winter playground and few turned down the invitation. In the forefront, two broomball games, in the background cross country skiing, snowboarding and sliding on the side hill with blue sky and warm sun filling the horizon. A glorious day!
The purpose of play, for rest, for wandering is to restore, rejuvenate and refuel. When we “schedule” play throughout each day, not just weekends, we keep our “tank” full rather than pushing to empty, exhausted and drained.
Polarity and extremes are on the world stage right now and it begins with individuals. Heal yourself, heal the world. Choose a different path that brings internal and eternal peace through balance, reflection and play. Perhaps if each of us committed to focusing on our own peace, empathy and understanding, we could do our part to heal the world.
Open spaces, quiet, fun, laughter, meditation, music, art, craft, nature all restore our capacity for joy, contentment and flow. Each day, lay down your burdens for a few minutes, recalibrate and balance. Within our burdens are seeds and roots of blessings. When we lay the weight that we carry down if but only for a moment or two, we get a glimpse of abundance and instructions on a new way to live. Exposed long enough to quiet and reflection, our scarcity mindset transforms to abundance.
In the nourishment of play, our dry bones come alive again. We need 8 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated. Create daily rituals to hydrate your spirit and soul as well. Oasis activities of a few minutes of meditation using Insight Timer, journaling, going for a walk, listening to music, reading, sliding down a hill are the “reps” we need to build our joy muscles. Patience, hope, ease, balance, generosity, humor, enthusiasm and energy are the outcomes of oasis practices.
“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
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E. M. Forster
Often we assume that things are happening to us rather than for us. Immediately going to “worst-case” scenario thinking, we shut the door on exploration, insight and expansion. Abundance to scarcity in a split second. Assumptions, judgments and the past serve as the lens for the present and a map for the future. How many times have we been “saved” from something in hindsight that at the time felt like we were being “screwed over?”
A woman last week was standing in the middle of the road when Abby, Sasha and I were on the way to the dog park. Her back turned toward me, she was waving her arms to stop a truck. At first, I was irritated that she was in my way, so I turned into the parking lot to go another direction. As I looked closer, she was in the middle of the road because a live wire was down and she was stopping traffic from driving over it. In that moment, I realized how quickly we jump to the wrong conclusions and race to judgment. I was grateful that she just didn’t drive away when she saw it but stood there preventing others from driving over it. Generosity, kindness and empathy in a simple act.
In our need to understand and control, we put everything and everyone in a box that serves our narrow narrative, our biases that experiences often reinforce if they go unchecked. How many awesome people have you never really met because you labeled them before getting to know them?
Amidst the pandemic, civil unrest is surging and anger rising. Rooted in bias, hatred, social inequities, conspiracy theories on all sides, arrogant institutions and political parties that never have learned the necessity to work together to create policies and frameworks for the whole rather than advancing their power and position.
In the days ahead, take a breath, go within and check your own assumptions and biases. Contribute to peace and understanding through reflection, thoughtful discourse and empathy. We always have been and always will be in this together. How we choose to shape the future depends on our individual response and contribution to understanding, peace and solving problems together.
So much is happening “for” us rather than “to” us. See today with fresh, unassuming eyes and make something positive, meaningful and lasting of your time on earth. Be remembered for light, not darkness.
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa
“As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin
“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” – Gary Zukav
After 100+ days of a morning meditation with Insight Timer, I have attained equanimity – mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper. By no means a perfect record, the daily ritual is moving me to a new ease. Self-awareness, kindness, self-care all lead to changing the only person we can change – me.
In addition to self-reflection through meditation and prayer, the way to make it “stick” is adding affirmations. We not only need to identify and remove the negative, we need to replace it with optimism and action.
Start the journey back to yourself. Be selfish, work on yourself before trying to fix others. May we all be patient and aware enough to keep moving through the process of transformation. From caterpillar to butterfly, again and again.
“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