“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
Each morning, set the tone for the day. This requires quiet to be able to contemplate, to see the beautiful forest rather than be lost in the trees. Decide what song you will sing and if you will dare to even dance. There are a lot of distractions, so you must make a conscious decision if you will sing and dance or if you will merely get through.
“Have tos” and “should’ve beens” are joy thieves. And we don’t realize that we’ve been robbed until we’ve wasted many days that turn into years. Struggle is certain, our response is not.
So remain in this day and give it your best voice and step. That is what we are called to do, especially when we don’t “feel” like it. Our joy is not in some far off land or mythical future when everything falls in place. It’s right now, this moment, today.
And when you sing your song and dance your dance, you give others permission to do the same.
My best friends and roommates Sasha and Abby know how to dance to be sure. Ear-flapping freestyle.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
“What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action” – Meister Eckhart
Sometimes doing nothing is everything. Time for reflection, no rushing, just being. We spend down our “back account” unaware until we are depleted. Withdraw after withdraw, going faster, winding up nowhere, running on empty.
Take it off autopilot and take back the wheel of your days. Start planting, making deposits each day so you can harvest a good life.
No planting, no harvest.
“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse
“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.” – Michel de Montaigne
I imagine that we will get to the end of our days and realize that we did not rejoice enough. Simple delight, arms up in the air, cognizant of the many opportunities for joy before us each day.
We will regret acts and words unsaid as well as the unkind ones that were spoken. What we considered so utterly important will fade to nothingness and the measure of our life will be how kind we were and how much we loved, unconditionally.
Rejoice today and carry on each day so when you look back it will be with a deep sense of gratitude and completion, knowing in your soul that the treasure of your life was well spent. Rejoice.
“It’s a deep joy that comes from making intentional choices about how we’re going to live our lives despite our circumstances. Despite the darkness of our circumstances, joy does come in the morning.” – Laura Story, When God Doesn’t Fix It: Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn, Truths You Can’t Live Without
One of my favorite musicians whose music speaks honestly and authentically to the heart and spirit is Laura Story. Her song Blessings shifts my narrow view every time. One line that stands out – “what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.” I am finishing her book on the many trials in her life and one concept hit the mark – “joy that contradicts circumstances.”
It’s easy to be upbeat and happy in the good times. It contradicts all we think we know doing the same when we are amidst the trials we all have. We should be downtrodden, we have reason, we have cause. But when we allow God’s joy to enter our hearts, it simply transcends all reason and is filled with contradictions. It’s simply unreasonable and unfathomable. And that’s why God doesn’t make sense and is the only thing that makes any sense at the same time.
Be unreasonable and radical. Choose joy that contradicts circumstances. Joy blooms every morning, breath the beauty in, accept joy.
“In contradiction and paradox, you can find truth.” – Denis Villeneuve
“Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.” – John Muir
Reflection and remembering are the stepping stones on the path of gratitude and awe. A simple walk in the woods can transform our minds and surface our spirit. Rather than busily moving through time we become immersed in it, unaware of the clock and deep in the moment.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
In quiet repose, we move from reaction and positioning to creation and mere being. Amidst the waving trees, in the rhythm of the stream, in the heart of the meadow, we are called to enter and join the sweet harmony of nature. Eternal youth flows uninhibited and free for the taking.
“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin
Today is the one year anniversary of my Dad passing away. Pictures, stories and memories flood my mind every day. Lots of tears and laughter this last year, more tears I think. Missing will never go away and gratitude for our relationship grows deeper.
I loved, appreciated and respected him while he was here and even more so now that he’s not. Yet even though he’s gone, he shows up in so many ways. In expressions, in places, in people, so he remains in the fabric of each day. Perfect by no means and none of us are but a man of integrity, faith and resilience. I carry what he taught me and try to be and do my best, again, not perfect by any means.
So hug your loved ones a bit longer today. Be grateful and find laughter in each and every single day. Celebrate and laugh more. Life is very good and we need to discover that daily so we can live a full and joyful and sometimes difficult life. Sometimes, the days are long and most definitely, the years are short.
“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo
My great nephew Liam who’s six months old actually smiles when I sing, so naturally, I sing. I downloaded a few show tunes this week to add some “depth” to my performances of made-up songs – Singing in the Rain, Good Morning and Oklahoma. A little Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds go a long way.
Music, art, prose pull us beyond our routine daily-ness to a higher calling of simple delight and soulful connection. Feeling out of sorts? Pick up an umbrella and start dancing and singing in the rain.
As I walked past my bookshelf, this old plaque on the shelf stood out – Footprints. It’s probably 25 years old and one of my favorites. I gave a more modern version to my nephew and his bride last month for one of their wedding gifts because it is a poignant reminder that when we are struggling, feeling alone, and there’s only one set of footprints, we are being carried.
God sends people (and dogs, maybe cats) to carry us. And when we are on steady ground again, we are called to carry others as well. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, this life remains a beautiful mystery filled with blessings every single day. Never alone. Cast light today.
“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge
It’s tradition to have Christmas a few days early at my sister’s house for my immediate family. Finishing a very busy day filled with meetings, phone calls, “do you have a minute” drop ins, start and stop through rush hour to get out to White Bear for dinner. With 30 minutes to spare, I ran an “errand” and went up to Manitou Station to honor another tradition. A beer with Dad before the festivities begin.
“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” – Mattie Stepanek
Sitting down at the bar in our usual spot, I moved his empty chair a bit closer and turned it my way and toasted a good life and told him what I have told him every day since April 28th – “ I miss you.” While birthdays and the holidays won’t be the same without him, I miss the daily-ness of him. We talked every day and solved all of the world’s problems. Two fellow introverts who knew each other through and through, often without words needing to be exchanged.
So if this Christmas, you have an empty chair or two around the table, give a toast to those who have gone ahead and celebrate your life now in honor of them. And make sure that you hug those who remain in the chairs around the table a minute or two longer. Life is so very short. Be kind, forgiving and fill your days with love so that when you are gone, many will raise a glass to honor your life and how you spent your time here.
“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” – Michelangelo
As we fill our days with more things to do, struggling to choose and racing through only to go backwards, we need to stop and pull over.
Pull over and look around. Our tunnel vision and desperate pursuit of what’s next blinds us to what’s right in this very moment of now. In the race for the unimportant and urgent, we miss the beauty of the daily journey, those tender moments of connection and bright lights burning through the darkness.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
When I look into my 3 month old great nephew Liam’s eyes, he gazes with interest and attention deep into my eyes, right to my very soul. And after the blunt force of this year, this thread of new life, of innocence, is pulling me through to the other side of unfathomable chaos.
Pull over and stare at the pine tree lighting up the winter night. Gaze into the eyes of another and let your souls touch if but for a moment. And as so eloquently captured in Michelangelo’s stunning Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, God reaches down from the above, our fingers touch and the world is made new.