“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” – Agnes de Mille
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
To mix it up, I took the girls to a new dog park at the end of the day. Acres to explore, fresh ground to dance on. When we crossed through the gate, leashes came off and they bolted into the field with joy and delight. They kept circling out and back to ensure that I would be a part of their adventure.
We need not travel far to find fresh ground to plant seeds of exploration and reap the fruit of play. Dance on fresh ground, feel the earth under your feet, breathe in the immensity. Expand.
“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
“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” – Annie Leibovitz
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg
With workdays filled with back to back meetings, an unstructured day is a gift. I’ve been weaving a day off here and there to open space. Yesterday, after a slow start, I took the girls to the dog park, unhurried, no rushing, no watch watching, no place to be, nothing to do. Sauntering, wandering and throwing one ball after the next. With a string of sunny warm days, the snow is almost gone, soft fresh mud taking its place. As we wandered down the path along the field, Sasha and Abby jumped over dead trees, ducked under branches and explored with great abandon.
As we were walking back for some more ball throwing, the girls decided to dive into the swamp where ice was last week. They could not have been more pleased with their decision. While I wasn’t too delighted, I decided to respond with laughter rather than angst. It was fun to witness their joy. As Sasha worked her way out of the water, she emerged looking like a skunk. The walk turned out to be a good bad decision because I chose to to go with the good rather than the bad. A choice each of us has every day.
The next stop was the self-serve dog wash. While the dirt washed out, the fun remained fully intact. We jam our days with meetings, activities and busywork with little room for good “bad” decisions of frolic, play and exploration.
Make room each day for silly, goofy and even a little mud. Make a cannon ball into the deep end of the pool of delight and splash some joy on others. It is not only good for the soul, it is required.
“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.” -Charles Schaefer
“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.
Many will tell you that you don’t wear a lion suit that’s too small for you on a Sunday afternoon.
Many will tell you, do it my way, it’s better.
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
“There is no glory in star or blossom till looked upon by a loving eye; There is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by.” – William Cullen Bryant
It’s important to establish routines, rituals and daily practices to focus our attention, effort and time to create habits to reach goals, check off resolutions. Discipline, repetition and commitment are the ingredients of progress, growth and fruition.
In addition to the mechanics of “trail management” which include plans, goals, actions, discipline, accountability and efficiency, we also need to integrate “off trail” adventures to find joy, play, fun and magic. “Trail blazing” is messy, iterative, inconsistent, inefficient exploration that fosters imagination, creating new patterns, connections and deeper ways to see the world. Life balance comes with the integration of mechanics and magic in our daily life.
For the past nine months, almost every Sunday morning I’ve done a long run as a part of marathon training. After completing the marathon in October, I’ve continued the “Sunday practice” to stay in shape, albeit not as many miles or structure as marathon training. Jeanne would meet me with water and join me for the last 4-5 miles.
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth
This morning, we decided to break the Sunday routine, because we had the opportunity to walk with Bob at Como. One of Jeanne’s superpowers is to meet and connect with people who soon become fast friends. She “picked up” Bob, an 82 year old sweet soul who walks 1.6 miles around Como every day and has for years. Bob’s going to Arizona for a few months so he asked us if we were coming to Como today to say good-bye. Rather than a quick “hi” in passing, we opted to walk with him to enjoy conversation and connection. We stopped four times to take a break. It was the slowest and most important workout of the month.
We were wise enough to open the gift of connection, conversation and time over plans and routines. We went snow shoeing after to get an additional work out. Today we chose both trail management but more importantly trail blazing. That decision is not only is good for the body, but for the mind, spirit and soul, our whole being.
As you look at the schedule for the week filled with meetings and “trail management” activities, make sure that you start booking some “trail blazing” time to wander, to laugh, to add meaning to all of the activity. Find the joy in the JOurneY.
Now, off to do some more trail blazing tennis ball chasing activity with with Abby and Sasha in the woods. Cast light, chase joy.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran
As you enter this new year, focus on resolutions, rituals and commitments that bring you joy, delight and ease. Regular play should be on the top of the list. Creativity, exploration and adventure multiply and deepen our sense of wonder and gratitude. Focus less on outcomes and more on the process of unfolding, becoming and blossoming. Venture and wander daily and experience your life by actively participating in it while it’s happening.
Last week, Liam was skating on the pond practicing hockey. Suddenly, he decided that it was time to make a snow angel. He skated to the side, dropped his stick and plopped down, promptly beginning the snow angel making process in fresh snow. Sasha joined him to ensure that he did it correctly with abandon and delight.
When caught in the “doing” grind, break the pattern and rest in being, in frivolous activities that restore your capacity for awe and wonder. It’s a pretty simple formula. Go for a walk. Try something new for 10 minutes. Flop down and make a snow angel. Today is your “someday,” so be present. No past. No future. The gift of now.
“Life is an adventure, it’s not a package tour.” – Eckhart Tolle
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell
Abby is nonstop in the water at the lake, a dog fish chasing ball. After returning from dinner, rather than calling it a night, we went back down for one more leap into the lake. A little skinny dipping by the moonlight.
When presented with the option to go to bed or to go down for one more dip in the lake, always choose skinny dipping by the moon. Joy is soon to follow. Adventure is available to all!
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
We often think that we are done with something, it’s over, and then it comes back again. Sometimes finishing takes a bit longer and it’s more of a circular rather than linear path.
We allow outside circumstances and people to limit and control our own outlook, keeping us from seeing the full beautiful, complicated view. Our outlook begins and always remains with what’s inside. We own it. Our view of the world is in our hands not others so stop trying to pass off the responsibility of ownership.
Kids have their Ph.D. in a joyful perspective, and so many other areas as well – multidisciplinary to be sure. They know how to suck the most out the present moment and simply engage in possibility.
It’s the second week of April, the start of Spring. And, yep, one more round of winter. From 50s to snow, ice and cold. When visiting my nephew Liam yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to build a snowman. It took 10 seconds for him to rush the closet in search of his boots. And being the sweet, intuitive guy that he is, he handed me a hat from the hat bin before he put on his own to ensure I was prepared for this adventure as well.
And thus the launching of a special memory and actual fun amidst the “catastrophe” of winter’s return. We can flip our perspective in but a minute and turn our winters into “invincible” summers by doing the opposite of our natural inclination to complain. Dive in and make some fun.
Snow? Go build a snowman. Rain? Go dance in it. Sun? Go soak it in to refill your inner light.
Winter, again? Preparing for the brightest of Spring blooms. Start budding.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” ― Dr. Seuss
“Now this relaxation of the mind from work consists on playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times.” – Thomas Aquinas
I sure did get a lot done this week on my ridiculously long and unreasonable list. And yet, there’s little satisfaction in that because as soon space opens up, it is immediately filled with the next thing, the next deadline, the next urgent request.
Humans are built and made for more than production.
There’s a restorative power in play, in rest, in space. When we get off the treadmill of our “to do” list and wander about with no agenda, no task, no deadline, we restore our capacity to be present in our own life and grateful for what we already have in this very moment.
Each day, we must carve time for play. Book a meeting with yourself to reconnect with what’s most important. Play, be frivolous, lay upside down with a ball.
There’s joy to be harvested in each day. Don’t get tangled up in the weeds of “one more thing to do.” Plant playful seeds and enjoy the harvest. There is a lot of sense in nonsense. Get that on your list and get it done.
“Your soul is infinitely creative. It is alive and expansive in nature. It is curious and playful, changing with the tides of time.” – Debbie Ford
“Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.” – William Alexander
No matter what the season or the day of the week, there’s more underneath the surface of our daily grinding. We need to trade in the grind for joyful daily living. In the moment, present to all that is being offered and confident that beneath the four feet of snow, Spring is in there coming in due time. In the meantime, we can make snow angels and dive into the pile of fresh snow. That snow shall do its job and awaken the ground with living water. Do your job. Enjoy this day and bring that joy to others.
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” – Sitting Bull
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.” – Kailash Satyarthi
It was a two-plow snow yesterday. As the snow softly and slowly fell into the night, the wind did its work to create beautiful sculptures. This is the kind of snow made for childhood fun. The fort-making type to be sure. It stops and detaches you from the complexities of the day to enter into the playground and gallery of nature.
Like it was last week, I remember the delight when a snow day was declared. We geared up in polyester snow suits, hats, mittens and moon boots to make our way out to create our own sculptures of snowmen and angels in the fresh frozen fluff. Skating for hours, sliding down dead man’s hill until dark.
A serious snow that keeps you in the house until they plow the streets and that you snow blow the driveway a few times to keep ahead of it. And, of course, right when you are done, the snowplow drives by and creates a two foot barrier of heavy thick snow that triggers the snow blower again.
Adrift for but a while to be transported back to the simplicity and delight of childhood. To that feeling that remains in us and need only be awakened with a beautiful deep snow. A place to return to often even without the snow.