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Posts tagged ‘Daily Life’

Carry

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.

footprints

A Beer with Dad

“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

“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.

Pull Over

“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

“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.

Pull over.

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

Permission to Play

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” – Marianne Williams

In the past months, I’ve been asked a lot “how are you doing?” While I appreciate the concern, I feel obligated to say “good,” to avoid talking about how I am really feeling, to not share the impact and depth of loss since who really wants to hear it. I often don’t want to hear it, say it or feel it myself.

But to be straight up and honest – Lily and me miss the members of our pack and best friends – Molly and Dad. It’s been a month for Molly and three months for Dad. Each day that passes eases the sharp and deep blow, yet a steady melancholy remains. Loneliness is hard to explain. Yet we all carry loss. How we carry or acknowledge or don’t acknowledge it varies.

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” – Iyanla Vanzant

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Tonight I arranged a “play” date with Lily and her cousins Chloe and Grace. The past few times we’ve been together, Lily has been tentative and stayed in the house as a spectator rather than a participant. Tonight, it took a bit, but Lily let go and gave herself permission to play, to let loose. It was fun to see her chase the girls and to allow her smile to light up, if but for a short time.

No matter what we carry, we can lay it down for a moment and be carried by light and frivolity. It plants a seed of hope that this too shall pass with healing that time gives. And letting our burdens go to delight in the moment doesn’t erase or diminish loss. It reveals the sacredness and redemption of joy.

No matter what you may be going through, or what may come, give yourself permission to play like a kid or puppy. Forgetting where we are exposes that shadows are momentary and that momentous light remains steady and strong. Search for, delight in and cast light each day.

Ask, Listen, Ask Again

“Standing as a witness in all things means all things – big things, little things, in all conversations, in jokes, in games played and books read and music listened to, in causes supported, in service rendered, in clothes worn, in friends made.” – Margaret D. Nadauld

In loss, we vividly see the gain, the depth, the abundance of what was AND what IS right now. Big events, milestones – birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals – make us stop to witness and celebrate our individual lives together, in community.

If we are present daily, aware and alive in the moments that create memories, weaving the fabric of our lives a stitch at a time, we can witness and celebrate each and every day as well.

Don’t speed through this day, planning for the next milestone, missing the moments, the substance of life. Put your phone down, have an in person conversation, look at someone, anyone, everyone in the eye with rapt attention. Learn something new about the world, your neighbor, your family, yourself. Go deeper, gaze longer, notice all that is contained and offered in this very day.

We are called to witness and participate in not only our own life but others as well. Ask, listen, ask again.

An Ordinary Day

“Nothing is too small. Nothing is too, quote-unquote, ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they’re the things that sustain us. And they’re the things that certainly can become worthy of poetry.” – Rita Dove

We live our days steeped in habits, following routines, checking off lists, getting things done. We feel satisfied but not quite complete. Relationships, thoughts, words, how we give and live each moment completes the whole picture.

April 28th was just another ordinary day. Work travel, quick trip to Boston for a potential client presentation. The night before, my regular goodnight call with Mom and Dad for “small” talk, love you and talk to you on the way back and we’ll see you on Friday. Another ordinary day.

Ten minutes before the flight back from Boston with co-workers/boss/friends, I get the call from my brother John. Dad fell. He’s done that before – broken arm, broken hip. I told him that I would get wireless on the plane and to text updates. A two and half hour flight and I’ll be there. Five minutes before departure the text came in that it was serious. Ten minutes later, the last rights. An hour later, “Dad has passed.” Another ordinary day that is nowhere near ordinary.

As I’ve pondered, wandered, contemplated, laughed, hugged and cried my way through the past 19 days, things that bothered me before don’t mean much anymore. Little things, memories of ordinary days with Dad, Mom, family and friends have amplified. Daily moments keep appearing to remind me of living and loving well.

I keep noticing the “little things,” – the replacement trees that Dad and Mom gave to me to plant some new life after two of my trees fell on my house are hearty and full. Rain, sun, seasons and time have done their job. The recliner in my living room that was “Dad’s” chair.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung

When I would leave Mom and Dad’s house on Sunday, I would get the girls in the car, go back in for one more hug and Dad would stand in the door with his hand raised, as I did the same in return until the end of the driveway. The door slowly closed as I glanced left for one more look.

The overwhelming, kind and compassionate support of so many has moved us through these days gently. In cards and conversations, I’ve realized what’s causing the most angst. The suddenness of it all. A fall and four hours later gone.

Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus about four years ago. Each time, we went to the Mayo Clinic every three months, we quietly prepared for the “worst case scenario.” Dad was scheduled to go back to the Mayo Clinic last week for his one year check up. It was the longest time that they gave him since the diagnosis was good. We had prepared for a “long” goodbye, not for a short one.

So as we reluctantly accept our “new normal,” I am vividly reminded that there are no ordinary days and it is the ordinary days that will be remembered and treasured the most.

Absorb, celebrate and appreciate each and every ordinary day. All stringed together they culminate into a beautiful, meaningful, memorable and purposeful life that is filled with sweet memories and depth. Plant and grow many trees in this life, a forest.

Thoughts and Prayers

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

Never, ever underestimate the power of thoughts and prayers. Hundreds of people who have crossed my family’s path in the past seventy plus years gathered to honor my Dad and to carry us through with thoughts, prayers, cards, texts, emails, calls and by being present to share or listen to stories. Many we’ve never heard, and some we have long forgotten. Some made us cry, many made us proud and even more made us laugh.

There’s a certain comfort that we are all on this journey together, that we really are connected and not alone. And we can, if we choose, have a tremendous impact on others with our words, actions, encouragement and prayers.

With heartfelt gratitude, we are deeply aware of our oasis of blessings as we make our way through this desert stretch of our journey. Whether you find yourself at the oasis or in the desert, reach outside of your current state and witness the entire landscape with its vibrant strokes of color amidst the grey hues. And in those moments of clarity, let a deep sense of awe and thankfulness touch your very soul.

Create this Day

“We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. “ – John O'Donohue

“We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. “ – John O’Donohue

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” – E. M. Forster

Lest we forget, the sun rises to awaken us to the power of light, the blessing of a new beginning, the transformation of reflection. Lest we forget, the sun sets closing the day, inquiring and calling us to acknowledge what we have done with the gift of this day. We are given all that we need in this very moment. Create this day.

Bouquet

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov

In a crisis-filled world, some chance and much self-inflicted, may we move into each day with intention, fortitude and utter gratefulness of our gifts. Blessings are rooted deeper than weeds, yet we often miss them as we lament the weeds. When we lighten up, laugh and let go, we awaken to our life that is planted and blooming in everyday, simple and profound moments.

May your senses be overwhelmed with the fragrance, boldness and beauty in each petal of the bouquet of this day.

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