“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.” – Mason Cooley
“Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs
Open the windows and let fresh air into your thoughts
Breathe in the moment deeply, separate from tasks, identities and responsibilities
Be fully present today
Untangle, unwind, release
Be open to different answers than your own
The answers that already exist within you now, beyond the noise
No more wading in the shallow waters of scarcity and limitations
Take the leap into the deep end of abundance and gratitude
Run off the dock, take flight, chase the ball
Explore and wander
Keep growing, learning, creating, imagining, unlearning, dreaming, questioning, stretching, receiving, trusting, believing, embracing, loving
Evolve, unfold, become, expand, transform
See the miracle in the moment, see the miracle within you right now
“God is always bigger than you imagined or expected or even hoped.” – Richard Rohr
“You are a valuable instrument in the orchestration of your own world, and the overall harmony of the universe. Always be in command of your music. Only you can control and shape its tone.” – Suzy Kassem
“There is the music of Heaven in all things.” ― Hildegard of Bingen
Gratitude is a practice, an action, a commitment. The noise of circumstances, people, the past, our own thoughts and stories distract and delay us. Attention, intention and focus are required to stay in the moment, in abundance, in restoration, in ease, in joy. Real optimism is hard. It requires work to not succumb to the easy answer, to the peer pressure of the noise.
Orchestrate your joy through daily gratitude. Go through the gate, cross the threshold to wide open fields of possibility and delight. Create music rather than noise. Keep the faith, anchor in hope and let gratitude do its work in you so you hear “the music of Heaven in all things.”
“The soul is the greening life force of the flesh, for the body grows and prospers through her, just as the earth becomes fruitful when it is moistened. The soul humidifies the body so it does not dry out, just like the rain which soaks into the earth.” ― Hildegarde of Bingen
“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” – Jim Rohn
The winds are certain. Change the sail, seize the winds. Optimism, enthusiasm, joy, curiosity, imagination. Set the sail in the right direction and harness the wind.
“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” – Irving Berlin
“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
On a run with a friend yesterday, she shared the concept of going into “duck mode.” When someone is complaining and negative, not allowing it to change your outlook and attitude. My Dad would often say “let it (people, circumstances) roll off of you like water off a duck’s back.” Each day, we choose to flourish in decisive action and intention or flounder in indecision and consternation.
When caught or surrounded by negativity mode, trigger “duck mode” and keep swimming, undeterred and on task. Misery may love company but joy is the party to be at every time.
Duck mode! Go there.
“Indeed, this life is a test. It is a test of many things – of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and our resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires.” – Sheri L. Dew
“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.” – Josephine Hart
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”― Roald Dahl
It’s not uncommon to see deer in my daily jaunt into the woods with the girls. Yesterday, two of them were laying down. I almost missed the sighting because they were camouflaged well.
Look for the details in each ordinary day. Be willing to be surprised. Zoom in and zoom out to find the hidden treasures. Our blessings are often camouflaged, hiding right in front of us. Pay attention and participate in this day.
Things are not happening to us rather for us. Our life is not waiting in a distant someday or long gone in the past. It is now in the messiness and uncertainty, in the beauty and wonder. Awaken and reignite your senses to find the extraordinary in a routine walk in the woods. What’s camouflaged waiting to be found right now?
“The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed.” – Charlotte Bronte
“Solitude does not mean living apart from others; it means never living apart from one’s self.” – Parker Palmer
“Our task in living is how, not why. When we suffer, we get thrown into why: Why me? Why you? Why at this time? At best, why distracts us. At worst, it stalls us. What we do know is that life can be both miraculous and harsh, tender and devastating. At times, we need to feel everything to make it through. At other times, we need to empty ourselves in order to not drown in our pain.” – Mark Nepo, Finding Inner Courage
How will you respond, participate, contribute, appreciate and enter this day? How prompts awareness, presence, hope, understanding and action. Why spirals us into victim, self-pity, narrow-mindedness and a void. Visit why for a minute if you must and then move onto living in the how.
Observe. Listen. Ask the right questions and wait for the right answers.
Gratitude by Mary Oliver
What did you notice?
the low-flying sparrow;
the bat, on the wind, in the dark;
big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance;
the soft toad, patient in the hot sand;
the sweet-hungry ants;
the uproar of mice in the empty house;
the tin music of the cricket’s body;
the blouse of the goldenrod.
What did you hear?
The thrush greeting the morning;
the little bluebirds in their hot box;
the salty talk of the wren,
then the deep cup of the hour of silence.
When did you admire?
The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit;
the carrot, rising in its elongated waist;
the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand;
at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid beauty of the flowers;
then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.
What astonished you?
The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.
What would you like to see again?
My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,
her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue,
her recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness,
her strong legs, her curled black lip, her snap.
What was most tender?
Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root;
the everlasting in its bonnets of wool;
the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body;
the tall, blank banks of sand;
the clam, clamped down.
What was most wonderful?
The sea, and its wide shoulders;
the sea and its triangles;
the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine.
What did you think was happening?
The green beast of the hummingbird;
the eye of the pond;
the wet face of the lily;
the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak;
the red tulip of the fox’s mouth;
the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve of the first snow—
“I’m not interested in blind optimism, but I’m very interested in optimism that is hard-won, that takes on darkness and then says, ‘This is not enough.’” – Colum McCann
We narrow, compartmentalize, bucket, silo, create constructs, order, simplify to feed our need for control. Pour the buckets out into a pile, sift, discard and reorder. Shift your thoughts, attention and lay down your rules. Let go of certainty to broaden and expand your perspective, to discover your depth and complexity.
For the past year, the world came to a grinding halt and took us with it. We ventured into territories that we’ve never been or expected to go. We did things we never did before. We naturally count what we lost rather than what we gained. It’s the human condition of more, comparison, linearity, worst-case scenario thinking, the past is the future. What the past year has shown us is how resilient and strong we are and our ability to overcome and grow.
Forced to contract externally invited us to expand internally. Accept the invitation and expand, explore and discover. Bust the old narrative, change your thoughts, break out a clean page and write what today and tomorrow will be. When the time is right for you, and don’t allow it to turn into years, let it go, heal, integrate and take it with you to create a deeper life filled with gratitude, joy, laughter and light.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”—Sir Winston Churchill
“To lean into life requires a quiet courage that lets us find our aliveness. And the reward for leaning into life is that everything hidden becomes sweet and colorful. Or more, we’re finally present enough to receive the sweetness and color that is always there. Consider how a flower opens. It doesn’t prepare for a particular moment but stays true to a life of opening and leaning toward the light. When a flower blossoms, it turns inside out and wears its beauty in the world. In just this way, a soul opens over a lifetime of leaning into life.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters by Mark Nepo
“Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light He came as a witness to testify to the light.—John 1: 7 Blessed are you who bear the light in unbearable times, who testify to its endurance amid the unendurable, who bear witness to its persistence when everything seems in shadow and grief. Blessed are you in whom the light lives, in whom the brightness blazes—your heart a chapel, an altar where in the deepest night can be seen the fire that shines forth in you in unaccountable faith, in stubborn hope, in love that illumines every broken thing it finds.”— Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons by Jan Richardson
We don’t “nail” every day. Some days we stumble, fumble and go off course. Detours and delays are woven into the journey. Detach, embrace, move through and keep going. Moments become lifetimes so invest well.
When stuck in a rut, go in the opposite direction. If bound by spiraling thoughts, get outside your head, read poetry, examine a flower. If overwhelmed by the noise of the world, go in, seek and read your soul, that soft voice that calls you home. In and out.
Back and forth. Float and dive. Right and left. The pendulum of life swings. Remain steady, venture out, observe, anchor, sail, grow, shift, breathe, break patterns, create new connections.
From bulb, to breaking dirt, to bud, to bloom. The flower reaches up, unfolds and bursts with beauty in due time. Remain present in all seasons, steeped in wonder, anchored in gratitude and open to the grace of joy hidden in each moment. The perspective of a flower – look up.
“Given our entanglements, one of the most difficult acts of presence is not to vanish when overwhelmed by conflict or hardship. The simplest teachers in nature, such as the sun, the birds, and the flowers, are quietly heroic in this regard, not because they achieve anything, but because they remain completely true to their own nature, regardless of what happens to them.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters by Mark Nepo
“If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” – Robert Baden-Powell
“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King
The noise of opinions, the false certainty of “rules” that have set in over time, shallow assumptions of others all run rampant through our daily thoughts, shape our perspective and blur our vision. We are overflowing with judgment, criticism and narrowmindedness.
Turn down the external noise, observe quietly, listen to expand rather than contract. Pay attention, allowing new voices to enter, renew your spirit and change the narrative.
Each of us is the author of our own life, what we take in and what we put out. Be aware and own the story that you are writing. Dare to create a fresh narrative, to change the arc of the story.
Talk less, listen more. Seek and cast light.
Praying by Mary Oliver, Thirst
“It doesn’t have to be
The blue iris, it could be
Weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”