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Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

Stem Straw

I didn’t notice it until I pulled a drooping flower from the bouquet that I got on Mother’s Day from my niece Emily. There was a green plastic straw at the bottom of the daisy. When I slid it up, the flower popped up back in upright position. I looked it up and found that florists use stem straws with certain flowers that have soft stems to hold up the heads. What a brilliant idea.

As I think back on the past few weeks, I am grateful for those stem straws who have propped my head up as struggles have been winning the day. People who remain steady and who say the right thing at the right time and don’t even know it. Abby and Sasha never waiver and are my constant stem straws when circumstances and daily living become too heavy.

When we remain steady and keep going, transformative moments come in due time as we make our way through “dark nights of the soul” periods in our life. Growth comes with struggle and ends with joy. Be open up to new things, be ready to drop old things and trust the process of transitions and transformation. There is a real peace that passes all understanding for each one of us. We need to be open to accept that gift.

Whether we know it or not, we have several opportunities each day to be a stem straw. To prop up and draw another’s eyes up to see a broader perspective beyond the chaos and drama of intense moments. Be a stem straw that provides that extra support that can change someone’s day, change their perspective and offer hope that sustains us to the finish line of fruition.

Rollercoaster

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”― Julian of Norwich

There’s a weariness to rollercoaster living. I had a wonderful 3 days off last week (the first 3 this year) with open space to think, reflect and plan. Enter this week of back to work and the same old rollercoaster of meetings, problems and fundamental stupidity.

Also some wonderful moments which included a goat, guacamole, a running event, May Day and a beautiful painting from a co-worker (all which will be shared in future posts). A mixed bag to be sure.

Yesterday, when I was tired from it all, I missed fully engaging in a wonderful phone conversation with one of my favorite people I’ve met through work. She is kind, a kindred-spirit, honest and warm. She started the conversation with the quote above from one of her favorite saints – Saint Julian of Norwich.

I was listening, but I was worn out from the rollercoaster and missed out fully engaging and being present.

Waking up this morning, determined to make this a good day, I looked up some quotes from Julian of Norwich. When we get our mind off of ourselves and take a break from stupidity, we can choose to engage with others so we don’t miss moments that last long past the rollercoaster living that we’ve grown accustomed to and are way too accepting of. Make up your mind to enjoy today.

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” ― Julian of Norwich

Live gladly today.

Granted

“Most people fill their schedules with work, and leisure only happens when there’s time left over. But it’s impossible to live a rich and full life without doing things that give you joy. Forget about productivity once in a while and give yourself permission to goof off.” – Amy Morin

Standing in the coffee shop waiting for a cup of coffee after a fun run and conversation with Jeanne and thinking about the list for the rest of my day, the coffee carrier right in front of me popped out at me and got my attention with this quote on permission. I went to get my phone to take a picture for this post.

“Become slower in your journey through life. Practice yoga and meditation if you suffer from 'hurry sickness.' Become more introspective by visiting quiet places such as churches, museums, mountains and lakes. Give yourself permission to read at least one novel a month for pleasure.” – Wayne Dyer

“Become slower in your journey through life. Practice yoga and meditation if you suffer from ‘hurry sickness.’ Become more introspective by visiting quiet places such as churches, museums, mountains and lakes. Give yourself permission to read at least one novel a month for pleasure.” – Wayne Dyer

What a simple and brilliant reminder that we are the only ones who can grant ourselves permission to make our day, to explore our environment, to choose our path. We wait for permission from others to live our own life, to choose the activities of the day.

So if you are waiting for permission, stop and grant it to yourself. Sign off and send yourself on the way to explore the possibility in today. It only takes one decision in your own mind to give yourself permission and responsibility to enjoy your day. The coffee carrier and I are happy to remind you and me that it’s time to explore and stop asking permission. It’s yours to give and to grant. It belongs to no one else. Granted.

Open Space

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” —Hans Hofmann

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” —Hans Hofmann

We must create open space each day to enter our thoughts, hear our voice and witness the unfolding of our purpose for being.  I can multitask with the best of them with meeting after meeting and saying “yes” way more than I should or have the capacity to do.

When we say “yes” to more, we say “no” to what we should really be doing. Urgent trumps important again and again, quickly followed by disappointment and a longing for something real. Jamming more into the day is crippling out ability to do what we want, to rest and to engage our imagination.

We have too much clutter both externally and internally. And our frustration is rooted in the fact that more stuff does not, cannot and will not equate to contentment and happiness.

The Japanese concept of “MA” (pronounced “maah”) is about creating space. When we stop our pursuit of more, we can create space and open ourselves up to enough, depth and meaning.

Slow down, listen, say “no” more so you can say “yes” to what’s important and create some open space today. Here’s to more MA!

Carry On

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging and remembering Dad’s passing 3 years ago today. But rather than talk about what was, I’m going to ponder and reflect on what is. In addition to losing my Dad in 2016, I lost both of my dogs – Molly in June and Lily in October. It was relentless. And yet, amidst the deep loss and sorrow of 2016, there was a bright light. Liam was born in August, bringing love and hope.

Liam is joyful and filled with life lessons that I learn every time I’m with him. And while it’s important to remember and honor those who have gone before us, we also must carry on and celebrate and honor what and who is present in this very moment.

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

On Friday, Liam and I wandered up to the park and climbed on ladders, flew down slides and hopped on the swing for some air time. And when we are around humans like him, they invite, encourage and allow us to come out and play in the same all out like no one’s looking kind of a way. Uninhibited and unapologetic.

So today I celebrate a life well-lived and see Dad in each day from sayings I now say, to my work ethic and values, to a deep faith in God that carries me through whatever life brings. And I also celebrate a life filled with light, joy and laughter who’s got a lot of living to do but it’s ok if he takes his time growing up.

Carry on and savor today. It is the only gift worth opening.

A Year from Now

“In basic research, the use of the electron microscope has revealed to us the complex universe of the cell, the basic unit of life.” – Gunter Blobel

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” – Henry Ward Beecher

While I encourage savoring the moment and being present in today, we also need to put the microscope down and pull out our telescope to look to the stars, trigger our imagination and get a new perspective when life’s challenges get too close.

Moments are rich with joy that can be discovered with a microscopic view. When the details of the day are steeped in chaos, it can distort our view requiring the use of our telescopic view. Pulling back and getting a new view. Moments are snapshots that accumulate into the entire album of our life.

Using both our microscope and telescope at the right times keep us balanced through our day to prevent “rollercoaster” living. Zooming into to see moments of connection, joy and delight in simple interactions. And then, when necessary, pulling back to remind ourselves that “this too shall pass.”

So, do both. Savor the moment, the beauty and detail in the petal of a flower. And when things get distorted and lead us down “frustration lane,” look up and remind yourself that you won’t be here in a year or even tomorrow for that matter.

Carry your microscope and telescope with you today and use each one appropriately so you can enjoy the gift of this day.

Amazing Grace

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

It’s illusive. Hard to define, to harness the concept. Grace. A gift from God given to us freely with no strings attached. An assurance that we are being held whether we are aware of it or not. Worry and fear try to stop us, often successfully. Yet, grace remains. Quietly, steady and patiently waiting for us to notice. And merely to accept and fall into it.

God is always next to us, in front of us, behind us, around us and especially within us. God’s presence is not dependent of our awareness. But when we are aware and enter it fully without question, our days are transformed, becoming new again and again. Grace has no explanation, logic or reasoning. It just is.

Grace wakes us up, jolting us from our busy trance and worldly slumber to see a sunset for the first time. To find the hope in a hand held. To seize the utter joy hidden in simple moments. Grace is a free pass for being human. It is love without condition, the only real love that there is.

Grace allows us space and time to move through dark days, confused and afraid and to savor deeply the arrival to the other side. It is patient, kind, a warm embrace that never let’s us go. We need not pray for grace for it is given independent of our control or worthiness. Pray for the awareness of the seeing grace that is already present right now, ready to heal and make us whole.

And in the grateful awakening, we can dare to extend grace to others. Gently opening the door to peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, empathy and awe.

Wake up to grace in your life. And the only thing you have to do is accept it without question and enjoy the ride. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound.

Teflon

So much of the narrative of our life is defined by others, our past and what we all have allowed in. Change the narrative, change the story. Be mindful and careful of what you allow in and keep out.

Like Teflon, don’t let fear, other people’s shallow criticism and comments control your now and your future. Our regret rarely lies in what we’ve done but rather what we haven’t done. Dreams we didn’t pursue, activities we didn’t try, things we didn’t say.

Worry and fear hold us back from trying at all ages and stages of our life. And with one step, we can change it all. Do it afraid. Silence those voices by trying things, learning and growing until your last day on this earth.

Like a sponge, soak in possibility, confidence and hope. Let that feeling of “I Can” stick. Fear is a liar.

“When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar”

Zach Williams, – Fear is a Liar

Get your Teflon on.

Look Back, Move Forward, Anchored in Today

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Sasha’s second birthday was on Thursday. Both Sasha and Abby were as happy as they were the day before. That’s the thing that dogs and kids have in common. The ability to be fully present in today and to achieve one thing – joy.

And in their process and pursuit of joy, we witness for ourselves the possibility that resides in each one of us and in each day. The capacity and the call to simply be present and aware without going too far back or reaching too far ahead.

The past has gotten to us to today so it serves to provide lessons, ground us in memories keeping those who have gone ahead of us on their journey in this world in our heart and builds our resilience. The future provides hope, fuels anticipation for new beginnings and comes slowly then quickly.

The present is the real gift hidden in ordinary moments, conversations and quiet reflection filled with gratitude, if we choose.

Be open to and seek joy and depth in today. The past is not the map to your future. Been there, done that. New, wonderful and abundant living lies ahead only to be discovered by you one day at a time. Today, that’s it.

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.

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