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The Next Chapter

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” – Jimi Hendrix

The story of our life, each chapter, unfolds as it should. This year, the chapters that I’ve written and that have been written for me, I do not understand right now. But each chapter builds on the next as the plot thickens and the characters that enter our story gently hold our hand and lead us deeper into our story.

For many years, I’ve shared the stories, antics and adventures of Molly my Samoyed and Lily my Golden Retriever. My parents made it in here quite a bit as well. They have been the main characters for so long that where they end and I begin is hard to separate. We define each other. Those closest to us make us our best self as they patiently hold us through our not-so-best self.

Losing Dad in April, Molly in June and Lily in October has left me wandering a bit, trying to get back to my center. As I have bided time, as we all must, I’ve have accepted my “new” normal and continue on. And while it often seems like forever, we do heal, we do become whole in a different way.

And now the next chapter.  Abby, a sweet golden retriever who will be joining my family on December 16th. As we mark our days of loss, we must also mark our days of joy and anticipation. And joy is so much sweeter when we’ve been on the other side.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Abby follows a long line of best friends who have come before to shape me with their canine wisdom and unconditional love, making me a better human. Greta, Misha, Elly, Molly, Lily – my characters that have come before remain in my story even today. No one or nothing that ever comes before is ever truly gone. The best of them remain in us. Abby joins a line of wonderful characters and she will be her own unique character, bringing all new adventures and creating the next chapter.

Our life is not one word, one line, one page, one chapter. It is woven together making up a composition. Keep writing your story and allow others to write on the pages as well. The final chapter will come all too soon, so enjoy today’s page and cast light.

Acceptance

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The core of the serenity prayer is “to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can.” How much of each day do we spend on trying to change things that we can’t change at the expense of those things we can change?  Namely “me.”

So often our frustrations are rooted in trying to change others and our circumstances. The first step to changing our circumstances and those who are in our daily life is to change ourselves.

When we let go of our rules on how things and others should be and change our perspective and attitude, our world changes, for the better. Pay attention to what you focus on and embrace all of the possibilities for a good life that are waiting and worthy of your time and attention.

There is wisdom in accepting now and changing what you need to and can change. Serenity indeed.

Cocoon Transformed

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach

The caterpillar transforms to a butterfly by digesting itself. When we die to self – our ego, expectations and assumptions – we find our true self, the one that keeps quietly knocking to enter into our every day. Not only do we transform, the world follows in suit.

As you struggle in the cocoons of life, questioning if things will every change, your butterfly moment is coming at just the right time. Stay in the moment and then suddenly that next moment, your brilliance appears in full color and you will float among the fragrant blooms.

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Ever-ness

“Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the wildflower and the bull thistle and the coreopis with the greatest of respect. – Mary Oliver, Upstream

When I turn my attention away from thoughts that do not serve, the world is new and so am I. Dismiss the noise and move to that longing deep within, the whisper that will not go away until heeded.

Pay close attention to what you are paying attention to. Move softly and intently into that sense of ever-ness.

"Attention is the beginning of devotion." - Mary Oliver

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” – Mary Oliver

The Flow

“So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.” – Mary Oliver

As fall fluctuates between summer and winter-like temperatures, not choosing, I am reminded that the seasons of life are not clear cut either. No “10 easy steps to …” formulas or short-cuts. No hard and fast date that everything changes to the next and all is conveniently wrapped up, move on to the next.

Ebb and flow, back on forth, moving an inch at times and then suddenly a mile. It’s an unfolding of sorts, a slow yet deep transformation. And when we loosen our life jacket of “security” and ease the grip on the paddle, the flow carries us where we are destined to go, even if it’s not on our map.

Winter will come when ready, even in summer sometimes. Spring will follow on its time. When we let go of our expectations and “rules” of what should be, we discover the joy in going with the flow.

Thrust

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts

Often change is thrust upon us and we have absolutely no control. Bouncing relentlessly on the waves, our boat a drift, we long for the shore. Yet during the storms, we can anchor ourselves in that which we can control, shifting our eyes to the light that guides us to shore when the time is right.

And when the waters calm, and they always do, we discover yet again what is most important and worthy of our attention, effort and awe.

Amidst the ebb and flow of life, in the storms and the calm, search for moments of joy and peace. They surround us hidden in the every day.

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” – Willa Cather

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” – Willa Cather

Mark This Day

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

I need to mark this day. A day of loss and one of deep gratitude as well – often what life is made of – a mix of both.  So many of the good lessons I’ve learned over the years have come from Lily. My funny, goofy best friend who always knew how to brighten a room with her levity and capacity for sheer delight.

After over a month struggling with an auto-immune disease, I needed to make a choice for her today, not me. Even after two blood transfusions, multiple tests and over eight medications, she wasn’t bouncing to her natural state of joy. As soon as she generated blood red cells, they were destroyed. After her second transfusion on Sunday, her red blood count dropped to half where it should be at a minimum. She wasn’t who she was and she was suffering.

It’s never easy to make the decision to say goodbye to a loyal and loving friend, but when you see the relief in her eyes as the pain releases from her body, you know it’s the right decision. She was only six years old and was still heartbroken over losing Molly in June and Dad in April. We were making our way, marking our days together, mending each other’s heart.

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Mark your days – each and every one – the good ones and the oh so difficult ones. And know underneath someone else’s distant or distracted nature, something very difficult may be going on in their life and most likely is. It happens to all of us to be sure. Be kind and compassionate especially if you don’t feel like it. And remember that we don’t have forever, so start enjoying your life today.

Lily showed me unconditional love, how to lighten up and how to greet others – with wide open eyes, boundless energy and an unending smile. And, if necessary, gently holding your arm in her mouth.

Safe travels to heaven Lily and give Molly and Dad a big hug from me. You’ll be sure to make your mark there like you did on my life here. Thank you love.

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Glory

“Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” – Deepak Chopra

Without hesitation, the morning glory opens in full beauty awakening with the sun when the moment calls. Even the shadow cannot hide its brilliance. Texture, hue, crisp edges define it’s joy.

Glance only a few feet ahead and windows to the world are open. Embrace each moment today and be inspired by the abundance all around and within.

This is Your Life, Are You Who You Want to Be?

“We ‘reorder’ our lives when we choose spirit over the illusions of physical circumstances. With each choice we make, we either become more involved in the illusory physical world, or we invest energy into the power of spirit… Each time we choose to enhance our internal power, we limit the authority of the physical world over our lives, bodies, health, minds, and spirits. From an energy point of view, every choice that enhances our spirits strengthens our energy field; and the stronger our energy field, the fewer connections to negative people and experiences.” – Caroline Myss, PhD, Anatomy of the Spirit

As I was driving to work yesterday on autopilot, my thoughts focused on my overwhelming “to do” list, one line from a song playing on the radio suddenly caught my attention – “this is your life, are you who you want to be?”

Songs, books, nature, art all have a way of capturing our attention, bringing us back to center, to the important questions that need answers. Signs, seeds, and clues surround us begging for our attention, to wake us up and give meaning to our days.

Take yourself off auto pilot, cruise control – look and listen to what’s all around. You will be surprised what you see and hear. Suddenly, awe and wonder enter into your noisy busy, busy world that you’ve convinced yourself that you must participate in. Slow down so you can answer the questions that really matter, that define your life.

This is your life, are you who you want to be? If you don’t like the answer, do something different. Not sure what to do? Listen closely, the answers are there.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“You and I have been created for greater things. We have not been created to just pass through this life without aim. And that greater aim is to love and be loved. Give yourself fully to God, who will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness. Never think that a small action done to your neighbor is not worth much. It is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing.” – Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is being canonized a saint today. We often think of saints as being super-human, perfect, without flaw. I was surprised to learn that for most of her life, with the exception of one month in 1958, she lived in spiritual darkness, feeling abandoned by God. Saint John of the Cross called this “the dark night of the soul.” We all go through dark nights of the soul, but to spend a life there and still love the way Mother Teresa did is stunning.

Saint Mother Teresa lived out unconditional love her entire life despite what she felt inside. She chose every day to enter deeply into a wounded world to love and heal others. Despite her spiritual turmoil that lasted for most of her life, she saw beauty and light in the world, serving God faithfully with an unfailing trust.

Each of us is called to pursue with vigor and resolve our own blooming, our best selves, our calling. Saint Mother Teresa is a wonderful model and inspiration to show us how to cast light regardless of what we are going through. Welcome to the communion of saints Mother Teresa.

“As long as we are persistence in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

“As long as we are persistence in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

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