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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

Flowering

“One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” – Joseph Campbell

Always think the best of others and choose the bright side. The alternative is dismal. You have no idea what others are going through, so lighten their load with a smile, a shoulder, an empathetic heart. And give yourself a break in the process.

We are all traveling this short journey together in pursuit of purpose, joy, and fulfillment. New eyes, new world.

“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Harvest

“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” – Orison Swett Marden

I’ve just started to wear my “gifts of the spirit” bracelet the past few weeks to remind me to be open to receive those gifts given freely without effort or merit. This week, I was then prompted to buy a “fruits of the spirit” bracelet to remind me of how gifts and fruits are inseparable.

When we are given gifts, we are called to give them away, to plant and cultivate them in order to produce fruit.

We must go beyond our one dimensional understanding and seek a higher understanding, a deeper meaning to live this life well.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

When we are given gifts, they expand and multiply when we give them away, producing fruits. They move us from “me” living to “we” living.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, chastity.

Seven gifts creating twelve fruits. Pretty good odds to bet on.

Be open to gifts. Plant seeds. Harvest fruit. Gifts to fruit every time.

An Appointed Time

Our deep losses are always interwoven with blessings and gifts. Mixed in with our joy, threads of sorrow and loss. Life is a woven fabric of brilliant hues and worn strands of a single fiber.

As tears have taken their turn with laughter this week, I recall two simple words of John 11:35 when Jesus found out Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” An invitation and permission to be real, to grieve, to be emptied and lost. At the same time, a promise of hope, grace and light. And while it will never be the same again, it will be alright.

In the dichotomy of daily living, Ecclesiastes seemed like a solid first reading for the funeral mass for my Aunt this Friday. It also turned out to be the foundation for a pretty good Byrd’s song too – Turn, Turn Turn.

“There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace,
and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit have workers from their toil?
I have seen the business
that God has given to mortals to be busied about.
God has made everything appropriate to its time,
but has put the timeless into their hearts
so they cannot find out,
from beginning to end,
the work which God has done.
I recognized that there is nothing better
than to rejoice and to do well during life.
Moreover, that all can eat and drink
and enjoy the good of all their toil,
this is a gift of God.
I recognized that
whatever God does will endure forever;
there is no adding to it, or taking from it.
Thus has God done that he may be revered.
What now is
has already been;
what is to be,
already is:
God retrieves what has gone by.” – Ecclesiastes 3.1-15

Aunt Terry

This day is one of those days you would run from in the morning if you knew where it would lead to 12 hours later. One of those “you never know what’s going to happen” days. In a split second, it twists and turns in directions never imagined.

There are no ordinary days, so do not treat one more as if it is. I don’t want to write this but I need to mark this day. To honor my Aunt Terry who passed away at 10:41 am this morning. Our last earthly tie to Dad. We never really grieve for the dead, but for those left behind.

87 years old young. Up until last Thursday, driving, booking three appointments each day, swimming at the community center, playing cards, picking up friends for lunch, making soup or ham salad and dropping it off. Always ready to go out and grab a beer or her favorite – a brandy manhattan. One tough, outspoken, soft-hearted friend and soul. That is what is worth celebrating. Her spirit, spunk and energy up until the very end.

She fell last Thursday walking into the eye clinic to have her glasses adjusted. 9 hours later in St. Joseph’s Hospital, with a broken bone in her neck and several facial fractures, still fiery as ever. Her cane was safely tucked away in her car. Second guessing and “what ifs” always catch us up in useless pondering.

After a weekend checking in and out, meeting the outstanding compassionate nurses and doctors, today was the day she was actually going to make it out with a broken-damn neck to transitional care. After we left yesterday afternoon, she called and said she was getting out today to go home. I told her she would be making a pit stop at transitional care first. And rather than calling her nurse, I was prompted to go down in person (thank God) to talk to her nurse in person and check in on Terry.

She never swore and didn’t like it at all. But she called the pureed food, “shit on a shingle.” She told me last night that the phrase came from the soldiers in World War II. She was a soldier for sure. She sang in the choir up until a week ago, sang at hundreds of funerals, checked on friends and all of us.

I told her last night that I would swing by this morning on the way to work for 30 minutes to verify what transitional care she was getting into, make sure it was a private room and hopefully in the new part of the building.

When I arrived at 8:03 to get my badge, they said she changed rooms. As I went up on the elevator, I thought “what the hell for?” I high-stepped it down the hall, turned the corner to a blue light blinking (code blue – one step before the final lights – code red) and medical personnel rushing into the room. Praying it wasn’t her room, but I knew. They quickly escorted me down the hall to the “waiting room” – that familiar room we spend many years of our life in. Not before I asked “what the hell is going on?” Cardiac arrest. Frantic phone calls and more waiting. A total of three cardiac arrests later, it was time to let go and say good-bye until we meet again.

There actually is real comfort in imagining the family reunion and pure peace that comes with passing. The only comfort actually.

So to Aunt Theresa Valarie Pugaczewski. Thank you for your dedication, opinions, sass, vigor, generosity, unconditional love, complaining about the right cottage cheese – Land O’Lake 2% over Kemps every damn day of the week and peach Activia yogurt. I told her speech therapist and nurse who cried with us today that they could keep the unopened cottage cheese and yogurt we picked up yesterday and that they should recommend Land O’Lakes to the hospital.

As I left last night, Terry did inform me that I didn’t bring the right things in the bag I packed last Thursday and that she would make a list. Last night, I told her I would get whatever she needed tomorrow if I missed something (internally a little pissy – again, thank God). When I opened her address book today at her house to begin preparations for her funeral with the family, she had that damn list written out. Oh, how I wish I could be irritated and fulfill my orders right now.

Long detailed story for a reason. Please value each day as if it may never come again with those you love, because one day, you will be right. No regrets for me at all. God gave me the gift and others in my family to be irritated one more time this weekend and to be present in tough times. To hold her hand and walk in on a code blue and wait is something I didn’t get with Dad three years ago. Being there when it happened was a gift too.

As Laura Story so brilliantly says in her song Blessings,

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”

So, this day will be marked like a birthday, celebrating loved ones being born. Today, we honor a life of 87 years well lived, generously, honestly, abundantly, gratefully, imperfectly, faithfully, humanly and lovingly. Aunt Terry, give Dad one long hug for me and thank you for a life well lived. Well done, good and faithful servant!

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”– Matthew 25:23

Lean

“Your inner knowing is your only true compass.” – Joy Page

“Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.” – Elie Wiesel

Even flowers know to lean into the light. Light warms the heart, exposes color and hue, cultivates gratitude, builds resilience and pulls us from the depths of indifference. Lean to the light and let it do its work on you.

August Bloom

“As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

“As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

“Change is a continuous process. You cannot assess it with the static yardstick of a limited time frame. When a seed is sown into the ground, you cannot immediately see the plant. You have to be patient. With time, it grows into a large tree. And then the flowers bloom, and only then can the fruits be plucked.” – Mamata Banerjee

There’s something special about an August bloom. Spring invites bloom, so there’s no surprise with the accompanied delight. A late bloom shows us the capacity we all have to continue to change, grow and bloom into beauty.

Keep planting seeds, cultivating the soil, soaking in the rain and be ready for your burst of brilliance. It happens in all seasons.

Persistence. Time. Fruition.

Design Your Life

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” – Samuel Butler

“The fullness of one’s soul evolves ever slowly. We’re asked only to go within to gestate the newness God is trying to form; we’re asked to collaborate with grace.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Each day is a blank slate. Shake off yesterday’s marks that serve no purpose in your becoming and transformation. We write our own story or it is written for us. And our story unfolds one day at a time with an abundance of grace.

Seize the pen and fill that blank page with words and lines that shape into art. Design your life as only you can.

“As the memory evaporated into the autumn afternoon, I walked on, hope rising in me. Hope for you and me and the journeys we undertake. Hope that we would trust our waiting hearts enough to risk entering them, that we would listen for the Voice that bids us come to the edge, and that we would welcome the gentle push of God, who is both our wings and the wind that bears them up.” Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Joy Pursuit

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

We pass through happiness, but we are succumbed by joy. Happiness comes in waves, in achievements, celebrations and milestones. Joy is a state of being, unmoved by circumstances and anchored in each day. Both are good. If I had to choose, I choose joy. It’s deeper, a steady loyal friend.

May you pursue and find joy that lives in a flower, a glance, a laugh, a memory and inside you. And in your pursuit and discovery of joy find a lasting happiness and well of gratitude.

“We can help create happiness, but we are seized by joy. We are pleased by happiness, but we are transformed by joy. When we experience joy we often feel we have glimpsed into a deeper and truer layer of reality.” – David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life

Flex

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale

In the past 6 months, I’ve lost 32 pounds. I set my mind in December, got on a program and did the work. The main goal was and is to lose and then get stronger. I started with a trainer this week for strength training. I just completed my third weight session this morning and feel terrific. I’m sure there will be many more lessons as I go down the strength training path.

Strength training is a daily commitment with work and rest to recover to build muscle and gain strength.  And one muscle that we often ignore is our joy muscle. Expanding our capacity to remain present in the moment aware of the beauty abound takes work and effort. We create our daily reality and our future through our intentions, thoughts, words and actions.

Pay attention and bring joy to the forefront. Proactively and intentionally build your joy muscle so you can flex it daily.  As we strengthen our joy muscle, our circumstances, other people and our own perspective suddenly change and become new.

A few interval sessions to build your joy muscles include smiling, laughing, listening, looking up preparing for flight.

Liam, Abby and Sasha are my joy trainers. Never failing, they always bring a smile, a laugh and push my reset button to focus on joy when I get distracted.

Get your superwoman and superman on today. Flex that joy muscle.

 

Harvest Joy Today

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – James Allen

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – James Allen

What are you going to do today to make this your best day ever? In your thoughts, words and actions, plant some seeds. Water your garden. Cultivate each interaction with another. Harvest joy in each moment.

You are the only one who can make this the best day ever.

Get to it.

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