“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum
The past two days, I’ve had the privilege of picking up my great nephew Liam from full-day school. It’s been the highlight of my week since he’s my life coach and best friend. Each day, 10 minutes into the drive back to my house, he’s fallen asleep exhausted, out like a light. I’ve looked at him and it sums up the way many of us are feeling these days.
After hour upon hour of zoom meetings and running as fast as possible to figure out how to save the world of business and take care of our family, it’s natural to be worn out. So as we move through this reality, I’ve come to two conclusions:
Go easy on yourself and allow yourself space and grace to feel what you feel without judgment;
When you’re ready, ask “now what?” – we need time to process and grieve and then we need to figure out what’s next and what we are going to do about it.
This is one rare occasion in our collective life that we are really “all in this together” so let’s give each other a break, be kind, empathetic and supportive.
Rest, give yourself a break. There is light, joy and hope now and ahead.
We go into a new year looking to change, “fix” and improve who we are. To be better, to hit the high mark, in hot pursuit of our best selves.
We are halfway through January – the most motivating month of the year – a fresh start and new beginning. Before you let the month, the next day, slip away in pursuit of something “better” than you, stop, celebrate and honor you as you are right in this very moment.
No changes, no improvement, no perfection. Not future you, not high performance you. You as you are right now, unapologetic, imperfect and beautiful you filled with strength, resilience and character. What you’ve overcome, rode straight though, survived and thrived to arrive at the person you are right now.
We wane on our resolutions because we don’t recognize, appreciate and notice the person we already are right now. Time to light the fireworks, bring out the balloons and strike up the band to celebrate current you just as you are.
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”― Ernest Hemingway
I went to quite a few funerals in 2019. 2020 is kicking off with two this week. Our time is limited and precious. Wasting it complaining, in unforgiveness, in being “right” only harvests regret and remorse. As the pastor said today, death pushes us to think about our own life and can prompt us to make a “course correction.” That certainly is the gift if we choose to open it.
Each of us has the choice to make a course correction. We can’t go back, but we can change the direction of where we go forward. Apologize, forgive and forget before it’s too late. Do something you’ve always wanted to – take the trip, write the book, take an art class.
Life is finite so make the most of your moments. Let all the stuff go that really doesn’t matter and enjoy this day. Don’t wait for a funeral to make your course correction.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton
It’s been in the back of my mind for the past two months. And now that we are close to getting a few offers on my parent’s house, it moved front and center. Dad grew up playing pool and after much debate, he splurged and got a pool table years ago. He really enjoyed playing and never declined when asked to rack ‘em up.
I thought about keeping it and putting it in my basement. I then quickly dismissed the idea as impractical. It faded to the background and lingered at the same time.
Today, I measured my basement and then remeasured the pool table. It fits and it’s fitting. It is absolutely impractical and makes perfect sense. Despite the practical and logical reasons, I still want the pool table.
While it won’t bring Dad back, it’s something we shared and enjoyed. It is a place of conversation, confidence and lessons on how to see different angles, to think a few steps ahead to see where you want to go and how to spin avoid the scratch.
When I remodeled my kitchen 20 years ago, I wanted slate blue counters. I hesitated choosing the color, concerned about resale rather than picking something I really wanted. I went with the blue and never looked back.
We move too far into the future and miss fun that is rooted in today. Get the pool table, go with the blue counter, be utterly impractical if your heart is pulling you in that direction. Regrets are grounded in what we don’t do rather than what we do. Impractical and frivolous often makes perfect sense.
“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.” – Billy Graham
For Lent, I decided to not give up something but to gain something – patience. To be more patient and not allow the little stuff, irritating people, busyness and interruptions to affect my attitude. And, of course, more patience will result in less swearing, even though studies show that people who swear are more intelligent. It’s easy to be positive and peaceful on Sundays. It’s the Monday-Thursday time frame that’s problematic.
We are not perfect and are not built to be. Perfect is God’s job, not ours. What I missed in my intention to be more patient was involving God in the process, allowing him to do his work rather than trying harder.
As soon as we set intentions, forces enter to block and tackle to ensure we are tested. On the way back to work on Thursday (note, the day after Ash Wednesday, within 24 hours of my intention setting), I was driving back to work after letting the dogs out at lunch and bringing three cups of coffee back to friends at work. Rushing to get back to the next meeting, I was three blocks away from the office and the idiot in front of me (note, no patience) stopped quickly for no apparent reason and I hit the brakes. Three large cups of Americano on the passenger side floor flew across the mat, opened up and spilled all over the place.
“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” – Brennan Manning
Needless to say, swearing ensued. The construction workers at our building learned a few new words that day as I pulled out the cups and tray and stomped and kicked them. Within the first 24 hours of setting my intention, I blew it big time. Nowhere near the mark.
If we allow, time gives perspective and offers up lessons. If I want more patience or anything else, I need to allow God to do his work in me and be open to change. We think that if we work harder and faster and do more, we can find the shortcut to our best self.
When we do less, let go and listen more, we soon discover that where we are right now is for a purpose and when we fail, we need to get back up again and again and keep trying, accepting and offering grace and moving forward to learn and grow. To be better, not perfect.
When we are rooted in the peace and beauty of Sundays, steeped in God’s grace, we can transform Mondays and every other day into opportunities to be fully present, grow in our imperfection and enjoy each day.
“Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality.” – Jen Sincero
When I pulled into work this morning, my front tire was flat and a bit shredded. No patching this one. While a “what now” thought initially ran through my mind, I immediately went to my second thought of gratitude. Grateful for making it to work safely in below zero weather, for not being on the highway. I called a tow truck and at the end of day, I had four new tires since you can’t replace just one without causing alignment issues with the car. $850 later I have a new set of tires.
Inconveniences and irritations are a part of daily life but they need not define the quality of our days. When we give them too much power, we surrender our joy and diminish all of the blessings and gifts present to us each day. Loosen up, get a perspective and don’t allow pebbles in the road to become boulders on your back. Get past your initial reaction, take a breath and let a calm second thought in to put it all in perspective. A flat tire need not deflate your day. Move on to your second, third and fourth thoughts to go deeper to that well of gratitude.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton
“All the windows of my heart I open to the day.” – John Greenleaf Whittier
The last day of January. At the beginning of this month, we made our resolutions with conviction, energy and vigor. As time moves on and our resolve and intentions wane by the dailiness of life, we’ve moved on from those resolutions and on to the busyness of our “to do” lists and multitasking to merely stay in second to last place with the world’s race to nowhere. We make up excuses, we blame our circumstances, other people and then move onto self-loathing for being weak.
But wait, there’s good news! IT IS NOT OVER YET! Rather than unfulfilled new year’s resolutions, start making new day resolutions. Accept that none of us are perfect and our circumstances will never be perfect either. We live in a very imperfect world filled with flawed people just like ourselves, so often defeated by our own thoughts and stupid “rules.” The one thing that we absolutely can control is our thoughts and mindset. If we are breathing, we can still learn, grow and laugh.
In the past month alone, three people I know have passed away. Young, middle aged and older. No matter how old, always a deep loss for those who love them and are left behind. Pondering what ifs, if only and why. All different circumstances, all with the same ending. Death.
The one sure gift that death gives those who are left behind is a call to live fully in this very moment with gratitude, joy and wonder. To celebrate today. We can’t change the past and the future deals us a hand from decks unknown. We only can be sure of this very day and our opportunity and calling to be fully immersed in it.
Forgive, let go, take your little irritations much less seriously, laugh, sing, hug longer, look deep into another’s eyes, say “I love you” every single day, release petty grudges, stop judging others since you have no idea what they’re going through, move on from thoughts, assumptions and judgment that do nothing but steal your joy and drain your energy.
Create the white space needed to reflect, dream, smile and enjoy this day. New year’s resolutions? Nope. I’m going with new day’s resolutions and doing the work daily to meet longer term goals, forgiving myself and others when we come up short and then proceeding with grace to the finish line soaking in the scenery along the way.
Each new day presents a blank page to write our life, one page at a time. Be aware and awake to now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Create white space, allow time to unfold and to witness the day. Slow down, breathe and find joy in simple moments. Open up and take it all in.
Today is a clean slate, a blank piece of paper. What will you write?
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa
Can Kathie come out to play?
We rush, multitask and race through the day with little thought but to keep up the pace and get to the next thing. Wishing for time to pass quickly in struggle and linger longer in bliss.
Looking back, we long for more time, a chance to have one more deep conversation and long hug from someone who’s gone. Looking ahead, we fear change, clinging to what’s familiar, even if it’s uncomfortable. At least we know it.
And in the process of this back and forth, this paradox of living, we miss the only thing we truly own – this very moment, this day. The joy, delight and power of now. This is the stuff that the past is made of and directs what the future will hold. What we think, feel and who we interact with and how we do so. This is it, it’s not an illusion. This moment, the present is where we are called to be.
Stop. Look around and settle your thoughts long enough to be grateful and allow contentment to enter and remain. Your presence in this very moment is requested and required to open up to the joy awaiting illusively in this very moment and hour at hand. Not back, not ahead. Right now.
The search is complete. Engaged and immersed in awareness of your next breath, your next thought and the words that can gently and softly roll off your tongue. All of your senses sharpened in silence to anchor the day ahead in full presence and anticipation. What you think, say and do today determines your future past.
The true gift of children and dogs is that they understand and embrace the magic of being fully present in the moment with no regard for the past or future. Mere, pure being fully in the moment free to let loose and explore.
So go for a run, throw a ball, play hopscotch, jump a rope, pick up that book that you’ve been reading three pages at a time for the past three months. Be frivolous, unplanned and unstructured for a slice of each day, woven through every hour and in between the busy.
Break free of the illusion of looking back or too far ahead and seize this day. There is awe, ease and wonder right around the corner. Come out and play.
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer
Our days are defined by what we hold on to and what we let go. The balls we chase and the ones we don’t. The stories that we tell ourselves and the stories others put on us that hold us back, that preach scarcity and fear.
What has been cannot be redone or undone, and it all has its purpose in the full story. The future is so much more than the repetition of the past if we dare. We get to choose what’s next for us at any age. Not what is supposed to be or what others think it is or should be.
Be open, in tune to that quiet voice and change your story by widening your view. Hold on to what’s most important and let go of everything that does not complete your story. There are signs and signals all around guiding, directing and hollering at us to get our attention.
Chase the right balls and enjoy the daily pursuit of simple joy. Dream and then do the work.
“Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there.” – Whitney Wolfe Herd
“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” – Jim Rohn
Bending and not breaking. That’s what we are made of. To flex, to move, to flow, to dance. When we stop fighting change and move into it, we find our strength. There is magic in the mystery of not knowing everything and allowing life to unfold. Set your sails.
“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” – Aesop