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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

Walk Into It

“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk into it.” – Isaiah 30:21

So often we force things. We try to make the puzzle pieces fit where they just don’t fit. Square peg, round hole activities. There is value in allowing things to arrive rather than to always be in hot pursuit. When we allow God to do his work in us, we unfold. A good place to be and remain, a holy sacred ease.

Trust in the mystery. Don’t assume you know the final chapter before you write the first ones. The path appears as we walk into it and at the right time which is often not on our watch. And as the chapters weave the story together, we can find joy in each day, no matter the circumstances.

If you’re at a crossroads or you can’t quite find the road right now, it’s alright. Trust, listen and be open to that soft yet firm voice that whispers, “this is the way, walk into it.”

“A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.” – Picasso

You are an unfinished beautiful work of art that is being revealed, finished and yet never done, unfolding as you should. Ease up and enjoy the walk.

Carrying Sunday into Monday

“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

It Adds Up

The steps that you take today add up. What they add up to is up to you. Fulfillment and fruition require effort and time. Short cuts are detours that take us off the path we are intended to take.

Do today’s work, allow time to do its work and be gratefully present in this day. Be positive, kind, hopeful, generous and lighten up. Laugh, sing and dance along the way too. We are a work in progress, called to daily joy, growing in preparation to bloom in due time.

Daily Gratitude

“It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.” – W. H. Davies

“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

A simple glance to the left and the rainbow caught my attention and awe entered, setting the tone for the day. That’s all it takes. Opening our eyes to what is present in this very moment and rediscovering gratitude in daily encounters.

According to research, simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain:

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions;
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it;
  3. Gratitude’s benefits take time;
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.

For more inspiration and ideas on living well, check out the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley which I just tripped on looking for quotes on gratitude. The joy that comes from simple pursuits indeed.

To be more grateful, lift your head up, open your eyes and find the rainbows woven through each day.

Insulate

“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

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

As the snow continues to pile on and winter lingers, beneath the insulation of the snow lies the earth quietly preparing for spring. Preparation, waiting and anticipation are fundamental to the seasons in our life to unfold as they always do in due time.

We grow weary in the waiting and must insulate our minds and hearts from the blustery winds of negativity and fear. We know spring comes yet we get caught in a winter-mindset. A bad day turns into a “bad” life. A snapshot into the photo album. A scene into an entire movie. We turn temporary bumps into insurmountable mountains.

We long for change and then fight it when it arrives. There’s comfort and safety in the familiar to be sure. And yet that yearning inside incessantly whispers to us that we are made of more than we allow ourselves to be.

Insulation keeps the cold out but it also breaths so we don’t suffocate. In order to enjoy each day, no matter the circumstances, we need to be porous, letting the fresh air in and keeping the stale, cold air out. We need a Tigger mindset in an Eeyore world, with a spring in our step and spring in our heart.

Never let anyone’s opinion or narrow view define your life. Each of us is called and expected to define our own life, make our own way, help others along their journey and become our true self in the process. No matter where you are at or how old you are, you can always change your perspective, outlook and path.

“If nothing ever changed, there would be no such things as butterflies.” – Wendy Mass

No Reason at All

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs

While running a few errands this morning to pick up the “must-haves” that I forgot at the store run yesterday, I walked by the flowers and stopped for a moment. And then I thought “why not?” So along with the necessities, I frivolously bought an $8 bouquet of carnations for myself for no reason at all. Often no reason at all turns out to be a very good reason. Flowers are a simple and attainable way to be reminded of God’s brilliance bursting in bud of a flower. Now that’s a very good reason.

We so often look for our circumstances or someone else to give us what we need – flowers, affirmation, acceptance, happiness. We search wide and far, often trapped in the past, yearning for what was or what didn’t happen or caught up too far in the future in worry or waiting for the “perfect” time that is bound to come.

When we pause our busy, errand-running life for a moment, we discover that all that we need is within each of us. And it can be found in daily simple acts of buying flowers, lighting a candle and listening to music. In quiet moments, we find the silence that we need to hear our own voice and chart a path to our own daily contentment.

Go buy some flowers for yourself and enjoy today. Pretty simple.

What Stops You in Your Tracks? Anything? The Right Things?

“On your journey, don’t forget to smell the flowers. Take time out to notice that you’re alive. You can only live in one day.” – Ray Fearon

As we rush onto the next thing on our “to do” list, we race past those daily track-stopping moments. In our nonstop, do more and more with less and less working longer days to create mediocre work, we are losing our sensitivity meter to notice the simple track-stopping beauty that surrounds us right now.

Looking directly into another human’s eyes, an embrace, the sculpture forming in a pile of snow by the mail box, the edges of a flower shining in the sun at a conference hotel where you are working for six 16 hour days, a bouquet of balloons at the same hotel that look like big jewels, your best friend savoring a cookie-frosting first of course, your other best four-legged fluffy friends playing and resting after play. These are the things that stop me in my tracks and make me smile from inside. And they are what matter the most – the symphony in a noisy loud world.

The blessing of the cell phone is not the technology of being on our email 24/7 or on social media liking someone’s dinner choice – that’s the curse. The blessing is the camera that allows us to capture moments that stop us in our tracks, that make us see our blessings while we are in them, that remind us to be grateful, and that show us the stupidity of our never-ending pursuit to be busy and “productive.” Efficiency at the loss of meaning and depth – blah.

Wake up and be open to being stopped in your tracks today. And stop.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker

 

 

2nd Thought

“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

Gifts AND Fruit

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

We are all given gifts, but we often fall short on producing fruit. When we don’t fully engage and release our gifts, we don’t fully produce fruit and bloom. Recognize, be grateful and accept your gifts and start producing some fruit to nourish and light the world.

There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, Piety

There are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control

Imagine if we align with the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. A very worthwhile life. No small ball. Play it big, all out.

Gifts AND Fruit, a power combo.

White Space

“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?

 

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