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Posts tagged ‘Encouragement’

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

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

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

We have been out of our comfort zone for a year now.
The pandemic has put us into this place.
Or has it?
We are stuck.
Or are we?
Question your assumptions, dare to entertain a different answer, flip the narrative.
Go deeper.

The pandemic is certainly not nothing and it is also not everything.
We long for certainty, take comfort in familiarity and sameness to ground us.
Were we comfortable and content before the pandemic?
When the pandemic is over, you’ll need another excuse.

Difficulty makes us grateful for what is gone.
Gratitude can be a way of life rather than a momentary feeling.
What we think serves us, often binds us.

Scarcity, fear, negativity, assumptions, stories, a pandemic justify our “stuckness,” frame our view, limit possibility.
In protecting ourselves from uncertainty, chaos of circumstances, unreasonableness of others, not us of course, we create blind spots and live small.
We long to figure out the ending before we take a step, find comfort in blame and try to organize life into boxes we can label and understand.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

We are meant for joy, light and fruition.
Born with a purpose and purposes, with talents and gifts to give away not to bury.
To move forward pre, middle and post pandemic and any other life transition and transformation, we must lay down what we think has served us well.
Moving forward does not negate the past, it honors it by living in the present and writing a deeper narrative by taking hold of the pen and finishing our own story.

Move into the day from a place of abundance, a thirst for mystery and a capacity for joy.
Open up to ambiguity, uncertainty and possibility found in a blank page, in the confidence and trust that we are built for metamorphosis, going from cocoon to butterfly hundreds of times though life.

Finding the holes, problems and gaps in our life, in others and in the world traps us in rearview mirror living, scarcity and cynicism. Identify and integrate the lessons and move to the next grade by applying them. Open up to new learning and expansion. Release offenses both received and given to transform the holes into wholehearted joyful daily living.

There is no real comfort in comfort zones. Ground in abundance and optimism, fueled by light and energized by possibility.

Brave, bold and brilliantly break the patterns and narratives that bind and restrict. Dare to be enthusiastic and optimistic found in wholeness rather than holes. Abundance, possibility and joy right now, today, not delayed for tomorrow, not post-pandemic or “someday” when things are perfect (not happening). From the comfort zone of the cocoon to the flight of the butterfly.

This is what my Dad would call a “kick in the ass” post. We need those now and again to wake up. I need it daily and miss him daily so this one is for you Dad.

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

 

It is What it is

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” – John Keats

We are creatures who thrive on control and certainty. The past year has been filled with uncertainty and chaos. Lately, I hear a lot of people say “it is what it is,” a statement of acceptance, a prompt to let go of what’s not in our control. Some circumstances, other people, a pandemic, the past belong in this “bucket.” However, our attitude, thoughts, actions, reactions and perspective are not in this bucket. We have agency over these and should not “surrender” to mere acceptance and resignation.

As I look at the date today when I began writing, I realize that we are coming up on the one-year of the pandemic becoming part of the world’s everyday reality. I also realize that it’s in the backdrop for me, not the forefront. The distribution of the vaccine is in the forefront, promising hope and anticipation of getting to the other side of the pandemic and not returning to pre-pandemic times but to a new and even better tomorrow.

We are not there yet to be sure and many have lost loved ones the past year so we are amidst the grieving and trauma of what the pandemic has left in its wake. The dailyness of “pandemic” living has also taken it’s toll. Moving through grief and trauma, whether it be a pandemic or other life altering event, is the only way to the other side.

Daily rituals can expand “it is what it is” thinking to include anticipation of “what’s possible.” My strategies over the past year that have helped me move the pandemic to the backdrop rather than the forefront include training for a marathon, exercising, writing daily, going to the dog park with the girls and meditation/prayer using Insight Timer.

On Insight Timer this morning, I decided to listen to a Ted-Talk by Dr. James S. Gordon founder of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine on Fulfilling Trauma’s Hidden Promise. It is a compelling talk that offers strategies from a psychiatrist, which I am not so I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to listen. Optimism is a strategy and fuel for living that can break patterns that bind. Creativity and meditation are conduits to healing and joy.

“Trauma comes to all of us, and its consequences can be terrible. The good news is that all of us can use tools of self-awareness and self-care to heal our trauma and, indeed, to become healthier and more whole than we’ve ever been.”― James S. Gordon, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma

There is good news to be found in each day. Pursue it. Each of us are the authors of our own life, so choose the “pen” of hope, faith, anticipation and light to write a beautiful narrative and happy ending.

 

Your Lion’s Suit

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” –  Thucydides

I stopped by to visit and drop off a few coloring books for Liam who was just getting up from a Sunday nap. He walked out in his lion suit, a costume sewed decades ago by my Aunt Terry for my niece Emily for Halloween.

A random day in February and it was lion suit day. I’ve written often in Cast-Light about my dogs, Liam, friends and family. All sources of inspiration and frustration (humans can do that), light and love. Who and what we surround ourselves with defines the quality of our life. As important, perhaps more so, is who and what we surround our self with inside of thoughts, mind and actions – the me in the we.

When we are our most authentic self, showing up in our own lion suit and not the one others think we should be wearing, we come home to joy, purpose, clarity and contentment.

Many will tell you what “suit” they expect you to wear.
Don’t listen.
Many will tell you that you don’t wear a lion suit that’s too small for you on a Sunday afternoon.
Don’t listen.
Many will tell you, do it my way, it’s better.
Don’t listen.

Wear your lion suit with joy, awe and wonder, entering your own space, completing your own assignment. When I drift and wander, listening to everything but my own voice, I find the courage of a lion again when I see Liam in his lion suit, unapologetic, filled with joy and coloring outside the lines.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:11-18 NIV

February Promises

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

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

As February enters, the energy, enthusiasm and rush of New Year’s resolutions have waned. You’ve either made progress, are stuck, disappointed, encouraged or a combination of it all. We make big plans and forgo the daily practices and habits to transform them into changed behavior and new destinations.

While it feels like it’s time to give up on resolutions, now is the precise time reflect, recalibrate and promise to keep moving and starting new each day. Promises are commitments that we make with our heart. If your heart isn’t in it then you’re going in the wrong direction. Spend the next week asking yourself what you want more of in your life like laughter, joy, a renewed sense of wonder.

In the beginning of January, I chose to do the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge with Insight Timer, in addition to my daily meditation practice. I wrote everyday for Cast Light. Not all of the posts were complete, perfect or finished to where they could have been, but I overcame resistance by doing it imperfectly. I’ve been active daily with snowshoeing or running, “dog parking” with the girls to be reminded of simple joy of open spaces to run freely and with abandon.

Make promises to yourself and hold them up with resolve and daily imperfect action.

“Wise to resolve, and patient to perform.” – Homer

The Certainty of the Rooster

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Within our obstacles and struggles lie the answers and insight necessary to move beyond feelings, automatic reaction and shallow perspective to understanding, clarity and transformation.

Getting the right answers requires asking the right questions. If we dare to enter the space of honest inquiry, choosing to linger, we move past trite and obvious answers to deeper meaning found in “root” work. With time, patience and faith, we trust that the rooster will crow and the darkness of night transforms to the breaking of day and gift of light.

In Jewish tradition, they refer to “the wisdom of the rooster.” The rooster is the first to sense that the day is breaking and announces the coming of light. Knowing that the light always enters at the right time offers hope in the certainty of transition from dark to light.

Wait and anticipate the call of the rooster announcing the breaking of dawn and entrance of light. What follows is discovery, clarity and light that transforms our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows into meaning, joy and purpose.

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

The Paths

“You can’t change who you are, but you can change what you have in your head, you can refresh what you’re thinking about, you can put some fresh air in your brain.” – Ernesto Bertarelli

“If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” Heraclitus

We drive to our “regular” places on the same road, no map, on autopilot. Passing the same landmarks again and again. The periphery unnoticed as we spin on repeat, unaware. Patterns, habits and familiar paths remove the need to overthink and choose from too many options. We are information rich and insight poor. Autopilot in the transactional areas of our life allow us to keep moving, making simple decisions and completing necessary tasks.

However, if our days only consist of task checking off activities, our lives become stale and shallow. Turn off autopilot daily and weave adventure, trail blazing and wandering to foster wonder, joy and adventure. Keep autopilot on to get the mundane tasks off your list as soon as possible to create time and space to break off the beaten path into the mystery of fresh ground.

The world around you right now is abundant with unbroken paths ready to be explored, traveled and danced upon. Feed your sense of awe, delight and adventure by breaking new paths each day. Turn off autopilot, take the wheel and steer into places unknown. The road awaits your paving.

“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.” – Muriel Strode

A Year Ago, A Year Ahead

“A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb

We mark our lives remembering successes, losses, anniversaries. Yet most of our life is filled with ordinary moments that fill the gaps in between milestones. In our daily busyness, we are unaware of moments, their capacity for joy and how they weave together into the fabric, nuance and richness of life. When we move between both epiphany and ordinary, we opt to live a deeper, hopeful and lighter life with purpose, grace and meaning.

A year ago, we had no idea that we were on the cusp on a worldwide pandemic. The signs and signals, cues and clues pointed us in that direction, but we didn’t think it would happen to us. And then it did. We have harsh words with others, hold tight to broken relationships rather than healing or pursuing a “truce” because we think we have forever. And then we don’t. That person is suddenly gone, leaving us with deep regret we carry forward.

This is a blunt and loving reminder that a year ago is over and we can’t change it. However, we do have power over today and what we will do with it. If you are not different and changed from this last year, you have missed the master class that has been given to us all. The lessons include empathy, compassion, savoring, gratitude, connection, purpose, generosity and joy. It’s been one hell of a wake-up call to hope, to optimism, to dream. We will be in a new place a year from now. What will you do today to ensure you are different?. As Red said so well in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living or get busy dying.”

 

Return to Center

“When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day.” – Lynda Resnick

“The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.” – Empedocles

Honestly, the last few days have been a bit of a struggle culminating from at least a three week build up. The reasons don’t matter. How I respond does. Each of us can change our perspective. Rather than defaulting to the easy answer of things happening “to” us, we can transcend to see the whole picture and discover all that is happening “for” us. Blessings and meaning can always be found when we look for them.

The common thread of our discontent usually returns to other people and circumstances, not getting our way assuming our way is the right way. It may very well be, so keep going. Don’t let external forces knock you off your center of knowing, your intuition, your light. If it is you, face it, be honest and don’t react with the same behavior that has never served you well. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”

Before reacting, pause and choose to respond with ease, positivity and kindness. I am in the middle of unfolding a lot right now so I am returning to center to mindfully respond rather than randomly react. When we get our equilibrium back, the thin crack of light bursts open for more light to shine to illuminate the path forward. As the sun greets the morning or bids adieu to rest at days end, center on the light.

Let bliss find you and embrace light, so you can release it again and again.

“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.” – David Lynch

Full Bloom

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”- Wayne Dyer

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

Ease into the unknown, embrace uncertainty, hold what’s necessary and release what weighs you down, what blocks your path. Lessons often unfold in hindsight with time and distance, with no recourse to change course. Awareness beckons, invites and welcomes learning in real time, in the very moment, deepening moments and amplifying time.

Awareness first. Lessons in the moment. Change certain, growth optional. Choose growth, expansion, gratitude and joy. Fight the good fight.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Not More of the Same

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” – Henri Nouwen

“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” – Hannah More

The past year, the past few weeks and yesterday in particular, being positive, hopeful and optimistic feels like a futile pursuit. If we believe that all of humanity is what’s represented on the news and Facebook, it does seem hopeless. The world is disappointing because it’s made up of flawed, broken and imperfect humans. Humans are fundamentally good. Our circumstances, other people and our own thoughts inflict pain that’s carried forward from one generation to the next, continuing the cycle of hatred, self-loathing and scarcity.

We are put here to bear fruit, to be salt and light, to walk peacefully with others not on them. Real, meaningful answers come through difficult conversations, hard work and resilience in the face of obstacles and complexities. If we focus on the destination and accept that the solution doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, we can get to the hard work that requires authenticity, strength and resilience to stick to it and keep going. Cynicism, hatred, judgment drain our capacity and energy to do the necessary, difficult work grounded in love.

Stop the rhetoric, stop the “they” accusations, stop pouring gasoline on open fires. Start with yourself first before casting stones. Self-awareness leads to empathy, kindness, conversation, forgiveness, compassion, honesty, generosity, accountability, grace, mercy, optimism, hope, understanding and love. Hatred never has and never will be the answer to anything.

The pain in this world is very real. Healing is optional. Choose to be an outlier, a rebel. Dare to be optimistic, hopeful and be light. Enter the world with enthusiasm and resolve to be part of the solution, not the problem. We don’t need more of the same of either side. We need different and more of it. Sow seeds today, cast light.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” – Francis of Assisi

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