“Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage.” – Julia Cameron
Each day is a new blank page in the story of our life that we are writing with our actions, thoughts and words. We either write our story or we let others write it for us.
Some days, too many days, our page is filled the scribbles of chaos, busy work, mechanically going through the motions. Some days, not enough days, are pure poetry, light and joy. Life makes sense when we connect in conversation with that quiet voice that calls us home to who we really are, not who others want us to be.
So if your story is not turning out the way you want it to or know that it can be, start changing the plot, a few new words at a time, each day. Tomorrow is a blank page.
Poetry unfolds a word at a time, with first drafts, edits and rewrites, leading us down a path to the unknown but known to us at the same time. Take your pen back and start filling that blank page with meaning, depth, dimension and lasting value. Create the life, the story you are meant to write.
“The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough” – Yoko Ono
Life is happening, whether we recognize it or not. And so often we do not. We let busy define our life, but as fast as we go, as many checks we check off our “to do” list, we remain unsatisfied, unsettled. And then that soft persistent voice whispers over and over again, “there’s more!”.
So we run faster, add more to our over-scheduled lives. Again, more incomplete. That uncomfortable, bothersome, empty feeling is our wake-up call. So stop hitting the snooze button.
No grand gestures, no complicated plan, no broken resolutions. Start now – tune in to each day and realize that the “more” is found in less, in gratitude, in slowing down, in kindness, in delight, in laughter (and even in tears), in loving more deeply, in forgiving, in living each day as if it’s our only one remaining.
Damn, it’s hard to do. But that persistent pesky voice isn’t going away. And if we don’t heed the call, our call, we will be one of the many souls that have gone before who look back in regret wanting a “do-over.”
There are no “do-overs.” It’s happening right now – life is happening. Participate.
“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line?” – Diana Nyad
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
I signed up for Goldy’s 10 mile run three weeks ago to get myself moving on training again. It’s one of my favorite spring runs, weaving through the University of Minnesota campus and along the Mississippi river. While we’ve had an early spring, winter temperatures returned today with 20 degrees at start time.
For my first long event of the season, I felt pretty good. At mile 9, I stopped for one last cup of water at the water stop before pouring it on strong for the last mile. As I turned to start out again, the water that had spilled on the ground during the morning had frozen and I wiped out, hard. If being judged in a competition for falling, this would be a 10 out of 10 for execution, style, sliding distance and landing. A solid wipe out.
After I dragged myself up, I started out walking slowly and limping a bit. After a few blocks I started into a jog, limp, skip pattern for a few more blocks until I started getting into the groove again.
As I walked away from the finish line, a young guy came up to me to tell me that he saw me fall and that I was an inspiration for getting up and finishing. I smiled wide and thanked him for the encouragement.
A few lessons from this morning…
Take the time to say a kind word of encouragement to someone every chance you get. He didn’t have to say anything but he did. It made my day and reminded me of the power of words and actions.
I’m not the fastest runner and won’t be winning any races anytime soon, or ever. I am happy to still participate, finish and push myself to stay in the game. On my 51st year in this world, I would still rather participate than spectate. Do things that challenge and even scare you a bit. You can do more than you think so start, and finish.
Life is so much more than successes and victories. It’s about how we get up and that we get up when we fall. Never give up and keep getting up, every single time.
Last lesson, water freezes and pavement is hard.
Participate, persist, persevere and show kindness. Thanks Goldy, good class today.
“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” – Mahatma Gandhi
May the hope, love, mercy, forgiveness, redemption and resurrection of Easter permeate your soul and free your spirit today and every day. Partake in the awe and wonder freely given. Each day offers a new beginning, a fresh start, a second, third and fourth chance.
“The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.” – Sue Monk Kidd
Say YES! to that still, soft, persistent voice calling you to your True Self. Let your light shine brightly, breaking the darkness.
“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Last night, I found a new show on PBS called “Sacred Journeys,” a six part series about pilgrimages people take around the world. This particular story was about wounded warriors, our veterans, going to Lourdes, France to be “cured.” Over 5 million people go to Lourdes each year for healing, a sacred place since 1858 when a young fourteen year old girl Bernadette Sourbiroux had 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin, referred to as apparitions.
Many soldiers journeyed to this sacred place without limbs, blind, suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the deep wounds of war. Through the many interviews, they made the distinction between being cured and healed. At the end of the hour, their hopes of a cure were transformed into the gift of healing, accepting, peace.
We often focus on the cure, the instant fix, the reset, when what we really need in life and in our relationships is to be healed. That is to accept our circumstances, no matter what they may be, with a peace and grace beyond understanding. For when we search for healing instead of the cure, we find the lasting cure is healing and it transforms and transcends the crosses that we all bear.
And when we find healing within, we can begin to fill the void of that often hollow and distant platitude of “peace on earth”. For when we foster peace within our hearts, souls and our homes, we will bring the world one step closer to peace, justice and love. And we need not go to Lourdes to find it.
May this season bring you healing and in turn real peace on earth.
“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell
A few weeks ago on the national nightly news there was a “doing good” segment at the end, perhaps to balance the 25 minutes of “all that’s wrong with the world.” It was about a couple of college kids at St. Thomas University in Minnesota, so I perked up since my nephew graduated from there.
They had an idea and a few years later it’s now a 501(c)3 nonprofit called the Love Your Melon Foundation. Mission: To put a hat on the heads of all children battling cancer in America. How: You buy a hat (made in the USA to create jobs here) and they dress up as superheroes to deliver hats to kids going through cancer treatment. Buy a hat and one is given away. Simple and awesome.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
My hat came in the mail yesterday and I wanted to share so this idea can continue to cast light for kids battling cancer and to honor the perseverance of a couple of college kids who pushed this idea into reality. We all have the power to do good. And when the ideas and goodness in our hearts are set free, each of us can change the world one person at a time. That’s the real news.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
I asked Jeanne to teach me how to do speed work so I could mix up my running routine, making it a little less routine. It’s easy to get into a rut even in good habits. Tonight, she taught me and made it fun. There are many more lessons I’ve learned from her through the years. She’s magnetic and draws people to her with who she is to the core.
Jeanne will often say she’s a follower not a leader. It could not be farther from the truth. Authentic leadership is unselfish, shining the spotlight on others. Authentic leadership shares knowledge with actions more than words, with genuine enthusiasm more than pontificating. Authentic leadership is ego-free and generous in spirit, actually making us believe that we know more than we do, building our confidence to keep trying.
So when I look for models of leadership, I am certainly not looking at those in politics, entertainment or most businesses. Real leadership is modeled by those in our daily lives who quietly, unassumingly and authentically live it out each day, reaching outward rather than calling attention to self. Natural and real, building others rather than themselves.
Outstanding lesson in not only speed work, but authentic leadership in so many areas of life – thanks Jeanne, your grateful student.
“If small things have the power to disturb you, then who you think you are is exactly that: small.” – Eckhart Tolle
Try as we may, we sweat the small stuff. Those people that cause the most consternation only have an impact because we give them permission, even though we know better. We often become that which we try to avoid. Instead of getting the last word in or a flip remark, choose your words and silence carefully. Often silence is the better option.
Each day, we must choose between our authentic self or our conforming self. And if we have a nagging feeling inside, we’ve chosen to conform. Instead of grand gestures, we can simply offer the subtleness of a gentle tone, the gift of civility and eye contact with a smile that says, “I’m listening.”
Cast light and worry not of the darkness around you. It’s longing for light too.
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Seuss
Combine imagination with a pair of sunglasses and the six foot wave of snow in my front yard transforms into waves rolling in on the beach in Malibu, Kona, Monterey Bay, Cancun (insert your favorite beach here). Surfs up.
When we are not overcome by the trivial, each day becomes “show and tell.” A simple shift and we’re laying on a beach, warm sun on our face, relaxing to the music of the ocean waves dancing on the beach. Imagine. Delight. Lighten Up.
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
Before diving into next year with a slew of the same unfulfilled resolutions, take a moment and look back at the year that has gone by. If you take photos on your phone, this is a great way to sum up a year quickly. As I looked at both my photos and my calendar, I am surprised at how surprised I am. It’s been a year.
February in Washington D.C. for work; March on a cruise; in Spring, my nephew graduated from college and my niece graduated from high school; my brother ran his first marathon; my niece ran her first half marathon; I trained all summer for my second marathon; back to DC in July with Emily; a summer of Sundays on the pontoon; chickens moved into the neighborhood, making walks with Molly and Lily an adventure in excitement everyday; an intense year at work with 27 website transitions in 8 months and an acquisition, etc… and life goes on, and on. And it does whether we recognize it or not.
If I thought too much about what was to come, I would have frozen in my tracks. We may make plans and some will work and others won’t. As Woody Allen observed, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” As much as we think we are in control, we are not. It’s not what we go through, but how we go through it. I passed on some fronts and failed on others, but humbly keep getting back up and trying to do and be better.
In the new year, my resolutions, more importantly, my promises to myself are to recognize the boundless gifts that are embedded in each day, to keep growing into the person I am meant to be and to give more than I receive. I can accomplish this through living a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle – running, eating well, faith, prayer, gratitude, compassion, choosing love over assumptions and judgment, light over shadow.
Life is made up of the sum of our decisions, actions and inactions each day. Choose well.