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Draw

“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Kids section. Dollar Store. Drawing book. Try something new, frivolous and creative. Dive into the unknown with joy and a sense of exploration and adventure. Cling to new and what’s next because it IS coming. In addition to planning for painting in a few weeks, I ventured outside, stocked up on cleaning stuff, cleaned and wrote “Is This Y(our) Renaissance? on Start3Things today. I also checked to make sure work technology is still up and running for my awesome coworkers who are in this to overcome and prevail to the other side.

I intend to post daily for Cast Light to offer up light, optimism and joy amidst “reality.” Pick up a coloring book, dare to draw and journal daily to tap into your very soul. Get out and give nature a warm long embrace. Forgive. Love. Laugh. – yep, laugh. Be vividly aware and deeply grateful for what already is right now amidst chaos. Do NOT miss this moment fully and deeply. Rapt attention.

Pick up the pencil and start drawing.

The Sun Within

“When you look at the sun during your walking meditation, the mindfulness of the body helps you to see that the sun is in you; without the sun there is no life at all and suddenly you get in touch with the sun in a different way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

Plenty of ink has been spilled on the paper of the internet filled with predictions, fear and consternation on COVID-19. It is serious. I will keep up with the news on a limited basis, social distance and wash my hands to a thousand “happy birthday” songs.

However, I am consciously and rigorously choosing to not succumb to hopelessness and doomsday predictions. Each day has become more urgent, vibrant and precious. I will cling to faith, joy and gratitude of all the blessings that remain.

After a week of diligent preparation, dozens of meetings and technology testing, a 15 minute ride around the lake at sunset brings it all into clear view. A vivid reminder that we are still here and the brilliant magical sun remains. We are strong, resilient and will overcome.

So if you are looking for “harsh reality” predictions, worst-case scenarios, blame games or complex theories of how this will all play out, this will not be the place to visit. This will be a garden of encouragement, frivolity, awe, positivity and deep confidence in our resolve and capacity to be bigger, stronger and kinder than our current circumstances. Light resides in each of us ready to be cast out.

In the silence of these days, let the sun within light the way through to the other side which always arrives. We are all in this together and are in the middle of a world-wide lesson in empathy. Be gentle, offer a genuine smile and feel the warmth of the sun within you. Look up, see the light and find the way.

Swim in Silence, You Won’t Drown

“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” – Albert Einstein

Amidst the not knowing remains a knowing, a certainty within. Get comfortable with quiet that has been calling you to enter for so long. Busy is no longer an excuse. Time is no longer an excuse. Stop trying to fill the space and let it remain open and wander on in. Listen. Listen harder.

In uncertainty, we awaken to what already was and is – we don’t know everything but we do know what we should if we listen. When outside circumstances out of our control take over, we get lost and forget what we know inside. Don’t. Stay focused on what you can and let the rest go. Embrace solitude, distance, intuition, your gut so you can re-enter the world anew, changed for good, for better.

Sink into unknowing with open hands, no struggle. The quiet you’ve longed for, the unbusyness, the distance is here right now. Do not let this slip away steeped in worry, trying to predict what no one really can. While a pandemic is certainly not the way that we would have chosen to get to slow and silence, it has arrived, nevertheless. The quiet calls, it longs, for you to ponder, to wander and to rediscover wonder, gratitude and awe. Be fully present and do not miss this opportunity to engage in open space, in searching, in finding and in discovery of what already is within.

In the going through rather than around, we arrive precisely where we should. So gently release into the deep quiet that has been thrust upon us all with no fear. Seize nature. Go for a run. Write. Read. Think. Don’t think. Start those activities and hobbies that are on your list. This is your chance. Go deep, in preparation to surface again, changed, anew, and ready for what’s next with confidence, grace and resolve.

“Listen to silence. It has so much to say.” – Rumi

And Yet, Beauty Remains

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

These are tumultuous times to be sure. Uncertainty. Social distancing. Unprecedented. Our lack of control exposed. The outcome unknown.

Being positive is naïve and unreasonable. And yet, beauty remains, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Worry produces scarcity and fear. When the waves pound, the clouds block the sun and uncertainty rules, this is the precise time to trust, be aware, let go and allow hope to rise.

Beauty remains, offering respite and repose. Take this time to reflect, go deep and take account of where you are and make plans for where you will go with intent and enthusiasm when the time is right.

“You have to be in the world to understand what the spiritual is about, and you have to be spiritual in order to truly be able to accept what the world is about.” – Mary Oliver

Be kind. Be present. Be grateful.

 

Happy Bird

“If you want to be happy, be.” – Leo Tolstoy

My nephew Liam loves going to Target. I enjoy taking him and watching him pick out a toy. Our last trip, he picked an Angry Birds playset. In addition to the ritual hanging on the side of the cart through the store, he politely asks the cashier for a sticker when we are checking out. This trip, he hit jackpot and got four stickers. His forehead was an obvious place to put one of them.

As he was examining his new toy, I asked him if he was an “angry bird.” He promptly responded “no, I’m a happy bird.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Liam is innately happy, joyful and an empathetic soul and spirit. He generously shares that light with all who cross his path. For a 3.5 year old, he is a sage, figuring out the secret of life.

Practicing and mastering optimism, joy and delight are the only reasonable approaches to daily living. Anything else just leaves us angry birds. No hesitation – be a happy bird!

Commercial Break

“When you are grateful – when you can see what you have – you unlock blessings to flow in your life.” – Suze Orman

“Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in.” – Sebastian Vettel

With Netflix and other streaming services, we can “binge” watch series one after another without being bothered with commercial interruptions of network and cable television. Sitting for hours on autopilot without stopping to take a break or breather.

With old network television, before DVRs, commercial breaks would allow you to get up and go to the kitchen or let the dog out, etc.

We need more “commercial breaks” in our day to get out of the trance of binge living, checked out of the reality of joy and delight. Whatever you are binging – entertainment, work, lousy relationships – take a break and pull your head up to see the world in its entirety, overflowing with possibility. There’s more right in front and available to you than you dare to believe.

This is your “commercial break” to stop and choose differently. To get off autopilot and start directing the plane of your life, to aim in the direction of your dreams and purpose.

Abby, Sasha, a run in the woods, friends and family, writing are my “commercial breaks.” Reminders to stop and steep myself in gratitude. Our tomorrow is determined by today’s decisions of how we spend our time. When say “no” to more work, no to mind-numbing entertainment and no to negative thinking, we discover joy in ordinary moments. Weave more “commercial breaks” into your day. Be fully present and deeply aware of gifts you should open and enjoy. Binge on gratitude and joy, so worthy of our time and attention.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

Spilled Milk or Coffee in this Case

Driving into work yesterday, I prepared my mind by listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on being prisoner of hope and the energy of optimism. I stopped by my regular coffee spot to fill up my coffee mug with some delicious hazelnut vanilla dark roast. Armed with a positive mindset, intent on seizing the day, I bounced in like Tigger to be a bright light.

Twelve minutes later, the day took a detour into a technology “pothole” that needed to be dealt with right away, moving me off my tasks that I intended to conquer as I was seizing the day, being a prisoner of hope. I gathered a few staff into my office for a phone call to resolve it. As we discussed our options, I sat back in my chair and took a big gulp of my cup of deliciousness to fuel my problem-solving super-powers.

The cover was not screwed on all of the way and coffee proceeded to pour down my chin onto my sweater and pants, well beyond the help of a Shout stain remover pad to fix. It was fun to have an audience too. I whispered, “son of a b___” and continued on with the discussion. With one meeting after another, I didn’t have time to go home to change so I spent the morning with a bucket of coffee on me.

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” – Saint Augustine

I went home at lunch to change and on the way back the necklace that I had on broke and fell in my lap. My assessment of the day was that the Holy Spirit was on my ass, challenging me to rise above circumstances and be anchored in light and optimism. The old saying is “don’t cry over spilled milk” or in this case, spilled coffee. While not perfect, I did try to make light of it and not have it ruin my day.

We get to choose each day whether spilled coffee or series of technology mishaps or imperfect people will defeat us. Despite our circumstances, we can actually be a prisoner of hope, filled with optimism that is borne within us, untouched by external distractions, disruptions and detours.

And the final lesson, make sure the cap is screwed on both your coffee mug and your head. See the humor in each day and lighten up. It’s only spilled milk.

Today, I am going into work with a helmet on.

Crystal Clear

Glorious, awestruck, taken-aback, stupendous, magical, delightful.

When is the last time that you’ve used one of these words to describe something, anything. An activity, a conversation, a sunset. Gliding across the snow last night with fresh snow falling was glorious. That’s the word I used this morning as I wondered why my back was sore and then remembered the source.

We should be on the hunt daily for reasons to use theses descriptors. They are much better than busy, tired and overwhelmed which is more of our reality in our fast pursuit to nowhere. Faster, “better,” productive.

The problem when we use these words sparingly, for the vacation, for fictional “someday” when things are perfect, when we lose 20 pounds, when this person gets out of the way, when circumstances change, is that we are missing daily joy that is abundant and available to all of us despite the excuses and hurdles that we put in our own way. Pursue awestruck in what already is, not what will be when all of the conditions fall into place.

Life is messy. Relationships, death, illness, politics, things that didn’t work out according to our plan. And right in the middle of the mess is capacity for joy and contentment within, waiting to be called out to play, dance and sing, loudly.

We choose daily what we put in the forefront, on center stage. We do, no one else. That’s powerful and daunting when we can’t blame someone or something else. We have the power to shift our attention from our self-inflicted problems to our reservoir of light within.

Foster, feed and bring that inner joy within to fruition so you expand your vocabulary and starting using glorious, awestruck, taken-aback, stupendous, magical, delightful on a regular basis

At the beginning of the year, I made a new “intention” bracelet that I wear almost every day with the word “clarity” on it. That is what I am seeking. What we seek actively, we find.

Not right. Not left. Not right. Not wrong. Not more. Not less. Clarity for what already is in this very moment.

Pick a New Mountain

“There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

We circle the same mountain, again and again. Same stuff, different year. Stuck in the same place, expecting new scenery. Move on. Pick a new mountain and start climbing to your new summit.

Thoughts, words, actions are the map to your destination. If you are in circle mode, at the base of the same old mountain, change your map. You have a great adventure ahead awaiting your arrival.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

No and Yes Checklist

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca

In order for us to say YES and count each day as a separate life, we need to also say NO to:

Negative thoughts
Toxic people
Assumptions
Drama
Scarcity
Regret
People-pleasing
Perfection
Cynicism
Unforgiveness
Busyness
Victim mentality
Multitasking
Past
Fear

Say YES to:

Abundance
Gratitude
Joy
Laughter
Quiet
Music
Fun
Play
Trying
Practice
Starting
Imperfection
Purpose
Wonder
Discovery
Curiosity
Delight
Art
Nature

Start checking off your YES list by checking off your No list.

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