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If You’re Not in One of These, Start Living

As I was driving back to work after a chiropractor appointment to ease some chronic wrist, hand and neck pain, I pulled up behind a hearse at a stop light. I didn’t really notice it until I came along side it on the road.

It woke me up out of auto-pilot as I was thinking about the 500 emails I was returning to and the nonstop meetings and interruptions that make up a regular work day.

Bottom line – if you’re not in a box riding in the back of a hearse, start living! It may sound morbid but what’s even more morbid and morose is our complacent acceptance of the daily minutia and grind that steals the beauty and joy that we are meant to partake in and offer while we are here for a very short time.

So next time you’re stuck in a negative mood or worse, in a state of numb, wake up and enjoy each day starting now. Take the last-minute trip, call your Mom and Dad if you are fortunate to have them still here, laugh more, try something new, dare to be bold and bright.

Because if you’re not in one of these, you are obligated to live fully, to walk softly and to embrace your days with delight and awe. No regrets. Start living.

Soak in Your Blessings

“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

If you make only one resolution this year, make it daily gratitude. Commit each day to soak in your blessings. We move so fast that our blessings that we are showered with barely touch our skin, much less soak in.

Soaking and depth demand quiet and connection. Be grateful and all of your other resolutions that are meant to be will fall into place.

Our cup is not only half full, it’s overflowing. Soak it in.

“I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

Start Today

“Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep.” – Anthony Hitt

As the holidays wind down with the new year around the corner, the next thing on “the list” is the obligatory list of new year’s resolutions. If we are not really resolved and ready to commit, they fall by the wayside by the end of January. And we get disappointed in ourselves and fall back into the same old rut perplexed that we are getting the same results.

Rather than a laundry list of well-intended but uncommitted to items of what to fix, lose or remove, choose what you will add to your life. Actively and consciously choose how you will spend your time and what you will give yourself to.

Be present in the moment, spend quality time with family and friends, carve quiet into each day, commit to running or walking at least one mile every day, vow to not hibernate over winter, play more. Being active, eating better, resting more, having fun and being curious will bring daily contentment and lasting results. We never really start over, we start where we are at. And we’re farther than we think we are.

No need to wait for January 1 to live more fully. Start today.

Make Room at the Inn

“God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.” – Adam Hamilton

We fill our days with busy and often little substance in the pursuit of whatever. We have no room left for awe and holy to enter. Christmas invites us to wait, anticipate and prepare for the most sacred birth, for us to be reborn to possibility, hope and joy.

There was no room at the Inn so Jesus was born in a barn. The beginning of His life started with rejection and love still entered ever so bright. And the end of His life on this earth was the most unimaginable and unfathomable. Both His birth and death were to save us, even in this very moment.

So if your “Inn” is filled with loss, regret, unforgiveness, loneliness, make room for Christ to enter this week and to remain during the ordinary days ahead. Create some room in your heart and let it be filled with light and love.

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” – Dr. Seuss

“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 Kubler-Ross

Chisel

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo

Daily life is often unclear, messy and loud. With an abundance of options and directions, we bury ourselves in the mundane pursuit of tasks and find ourselves in a hole of scarcity. We don’t see the exact path, so we don’t take the first step.

But just one step beyond the noise, grey and cloudiness, we are called to carve out our lives with what we are given in this very moment. Each step prior has prepared us for steps unseen. Discovery and delight  are found in daily pursuit of joy, unfolding the statue inside.

So instead of over-analyzing and over complicating, simply start chipping away each day to carve out the life you are meant to create. Take the chisel back from others and hold it in your hand firmly. Set the angel free.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

Off the Grid

“So many things show their beauty when we go quiet. So many truths are present when we look up from under our trouble. To fall below the world while still living in the world makes us remember that the truth waits under our opinions is our home.” – Mark Nepo, Things that Join the Sea and the Sky

No excuses or exceptions. Carve quiet into your day – get off the grid of technology, distractions and demands. Morning is the perfect time to start slow, anchor in truth and then enter the day with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. We too easily allow ourselves to be pulled aimlessly in several directions. A pin ball machine on steroids, missing the beauty ever present in moments. We are lost and searching for something that is right in front of us, in us.

Get “off the grid” and fly below the noise and distractions. And then the beauty you’ve been missing and searching for will suddenly appear.

Soft Sweet Light

“Earth is crammed with heaven.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

There are certain days that it doesn’t feel like earth is crammed with heaven. Many days, we are reminded of loss. If not our own, others. Death of a sister, a dad, a grandma this past two weeks. It’s been a year and a half and not a day goes by that I don’t miss Dad. And loss grows heartfelt empathy for others when they enter where you’ve been.

And at the same time, others are experiencing great joy. The innocent child-like anticipation of Christmas. And there in lies the essence of life – the weaving of struggle and delight, loss and gain. A pendulum of sorts.

The passing of time brings a certain acceptance and perhaps even a bit of peace. And in the loss, we gain a new appreciation for the moment, for forgiveness, for letting go, for loving without condition. Even in the dark, light remains constant, ready to slowly pull us back into the earth that is crammed with heaven when we are ready to re-enter.

So as Christmas is at our doorstep again, be light for those who are amidst loss and grief. Show them that even in the struggle, joy can and must co-exist so it can lead us back to our new normal, to our next self. Be the window to a bit of heaven for another.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

To Be Dazzled

“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.”
– Mary Oliver

Today, and as many days going forward, dare to be dazzled, to be willing to explore, to do something you have always longed to do. For when we “float a little above this difficult world,” we discover the beauty, brevity and brilliance of creation and our place in it.

Embrace the best and let the rest go by the wayside where it belongs. Breath in light and joy and cast it back out. Abby and Sasha are my joy coaches so when I forget to follow what I believe and write, I need not look too far to be brought back to center. Be dazzled.

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

Advent

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

Advent, the season of waiting, of anticipation, of long moments leading up to promises fulfilled. Slow down this busy season and engage in the waiting, grow your depth of patience and attention. In the waiting, we hear our own voice. In the waiting, silence fills the void with answers to be heeded.

Nature knows how to wait, to rest, to furl, to follow, to lead, to flow with the seasons. Find pockets of quiet and solitude each day so the fullness of each moment can unfold as the noise subsides. And the most precious sacred gift of awe is opened.

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

Wag More, Bark Less

No better way to start a Monday after a long holiday weekend than with sage bumper sticker advice – “Wag more, bark less.” Pretty much sums it up. The road to a happier life is noticing and celebrating simple moments, every day. The gifts of being present daily are available to all of us. So unwrap the gifts and start wagging that tail.

Barking leads to more barking and diminishing joy. Let go of judgment, complaining, cynicism, assumptions and the stories that we tell ourselves about scarcity. Abundance comes from wagging, not barking.

Wag a lot more and bark a lot less. Then every day, even Mondays, become Fridays.

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