“Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.” – Joseph Addison
In all seasons, in nature, in each day, in this very moment, light remains to hold, lead and guide. Sometimes behind the clouds. Sometimes in blue skies on a warm day in April. Sometimes introduced by deep rolling thunder and suddenly breaking through the clouds in brilliant lightning followed by soaking rain.
Seize it and find mirth in all of it. Suspend reasoning, judging and rules. Embrace gratitude, count your blessings and allow joy to enter this day. Guard it and give it away, more will come. We become what we pursue and allow in.
“I am a being of Heaven and Earth, of thunder and lightning, of rain and wind, of the galaxies.” – Eden Ahbez
“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
“For me, the reason why people go to a mountaintop or go to the edge of the ocean is to look at something larger than themselves. That feeling of awe, of going to a cathedral, it’s all about feeling lost in something bigger than oneself. To me, that’s the definition of spectacle. – Diane Paulus
Amidst my morning routine yesterday, I glanced out my front window and a herd of deer was across the street. I immediately went out in the rain to capture this rare occurrence. There’s a wooded trail a few blocks away where the girls and I normally see a few deer scattered through the trees. Delivered to my doorstep, they turned off my autopilot and pulled me into wonder and awe, a place we need to spend more time in.
Seek, invite and welcome awe and wonder in to wake you up to miracles found in ordinary days. Be open to surprise, joy and delight. Let it soak into your being to change you and how you see the world. The world needs more wide-eyed childlike optimists to show us the way. Heed the call.
We are at the foothills of mountains and looking only three feet ahead. Lift your head up and see the mountains to reset your perspective and shift into gratitude, magnitude, awe and wonder.
“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” – Wayne Dyer
“You must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a song.” – Sai Baba
“All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” – Sai Baba
As the week begins and the weight of all that needs to be done fills on your mind, stop. Allow play, laughter, fun in to do its work in you. Do one new activity each day this week. Swing on a playground, jump rope without a rope, walk a new path. When you find yourself complaining and comparing, count your own blessings and give away that which you most desire.
When conspiracy theories, assumptions and judgment come to the forefront, change the narrative to believing the best and in all and everything to create space for joy in simple ordinary sacred days. Expand, absorb, lighten, deepen, laugh, dance and cast light.
“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
“The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.” – Paracelsus
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
Last week, I stepped on a rock at an angle that stretched my foot, ankle and knee in a direction that they are not meant to go. I could feel that it was different, not just a tweak, but a jolt, something that would linger.
In the past week, I stopped running, iced and elevated my ankle regularly, wore an ankle brace to steady it to allow for healing. My normal response would have been to tough it out and work through the pain. While a slow learner, I have learned that with an injury like this, resting now will allow for running later.
We try to rush through the healing process, to tough it out, to “be strong.” Healing has its own timeline which requires patience and pause. Patience develops with experience, practice and rigor. If we are patient and rest there for a bit, we come out stronger, allowing healing to do its work in due time.
This morning, I didn’t feel pain in my ankle for the first time. It has more flexibility and range of motion. While I feel better, I’m not going to run 5 miles today, but will add activity gradually to build back up to get into the groove again.
The past year has had a tremendous impact on our collective and individual psyche. It’s important to acknowledge the “injury,” to grieve and most importantly allow for healing. We are coming closer to the end of “pandemic living” and there’s a new fear of going back out there again. Fear and grieving can wear you down and burn you out. Healing and meaning pull us through to the other side of grief, to our near future self that will be stronger, changed and renewed.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote the classic book On Death and Dying describing the five stages of grief in loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that the stages are cyclical rather than linear and they show up in various ways at different times.
He states, “The stages have evolved since their introduction and have been very misunderstood over the past four decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are.”
Allow your grief, but also allow healing and meaning to greet you with a warm embrace on the other side and in glimpses daily throughout. One day, you’ll wake up and the injury won’t hurt as much anymore. It will still be present but in a different form. Give yourself permission to find joy and light daily as you work your way through and we work our way through together.
“An exchange of empathy provides an entry point for a lot of people to see what healing feels like.” – Tarana Burke
“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Buddha
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
On our daily trip to the dog park yesterday, the girls and I wandered outside of the fenced area to the open field to wander through the maze of frozen cattails. The girls took off as fast and when they realized that they were out of my sight, they would loop back to check on me and to make sure that they still had permission to take the “field” trip. Permission granted with a smile and wave.
With great abandon, weaving, exploring, dancing, flying, all senses in play and at play.
Today is the first day of the week, the first day of the month and marks the meteorological spring. On the cusp of a new season, change is becoming more apparent. Change is always happening but it takes attention and awareness to see it, to enter it with joy and abandon. Each day is a blank slate, a white canvas to fill with colors.
This morning upon waking, I began writing an email in my head as I planned the activities for the day. After five minutes, I stopped the swirl and returned to the field yesterday with gratitude for a beautiful weekend and plans for a glorious day ahead. When we observe our thoughts, what field trip that they are taking us on and decide if we want to take the trip, we can break old patterns, stale reactions and respond with intention and attention to transformation and metanoia, a change of heart resulting in a change in way of life.
You write your own permission slip daily. Stop asking others for permission. Stop making excuses. No past. No future. Just now. What will you do and where will you go on your field trip today?
“To share out your soul freely, that is what metanoia (a change of mind, or repentance) really refers to: a mental product of love. A change of mind, or love for the undemonstrable. And you throw off every conceptual cloak of self-defense, you give up the fleshly resistance of your ego. Repentance has nothing to do with self-regarding sorrow for legal transgressions. It is an ecstatic erotic self-emptying. A change of mind about the mode of thinking and being.”― Christos Yannaras, Variations on the Song of Songs
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth
“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
Begin each day in reflection and gratitude to foster a start line of abundance that is the throughline for the entire day, start to finish;
Plant it, say it, try it, stick to it to see how your reality shifts;
No need to compete in the “I’m having a tough day competition anymore;”
The path is old and worn, the traffic is jammed and the road leads to more of the same;
Your thoughts lead to words, to actions, to perspective;
Release all that is not in your control and create a space for abundance, light and optimism;
Carefully choose where your mind goes and guard your joy to anchor when the winds rise up;
Pause three seconds to respond rather than react – 1…2…3…
Optimists International has a variety of resources to place optimism front and center so you can break the daily negativity habit. An action calendar, desktop images and their Facebook page offer daily reminders and prompts.
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
Give optimism a fighting chance by centering your thoughts and being intentional with your words and actions.
Mind your mindset and show others through your consistent actions that there is a better, different path, one of joy, abundance and light.
“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.” – Marianne Williamson
Start your day slowly, quietly and with intent. Throughout the day, listen to your own voice, seek wisdom outside when thoughts constrict rather than expand your view. Poetry, music and art are balms to the soul, a lift to the spirit.
For the past six months, the most fruitful ritual that has become a nonnegotiable is the Insight Timer app. It is the best tool to guide me into quiet, contemplation and exploration. It has changed the quality of my days, especially as we move through one year of “pandemic living.”
Amy Bost Henegar has 4-6 minute prayers that are uplifting and grounding at the same time. In the one I chose today, she referenced a poem by Ann Weems that is worth sharing as we move closer to the other side of pandemic living into whatever may come next.
We are in transformational times, struggling in the dark cocoon and preparing for the promise of the butterfly, which never fails. Resilience, optimism and hope are the fuel to move through all difficulties in life. The pandemic wasn’t the first nor will it be the last chronic and comprehensive struggle we will experience. Misery, consternation and fear do not make transformational times pass more quickly, rather they only serve to steal our joy that’s available despite circumstances, other people and even a pandemic. Dare to find awe and open the gifts in both ordinary and extraordinary days.
The Gifts of the Magi, Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem
“O Lord, I’d like to go to the stable this night! I’d run – even through the dark To lay my gifts at your feet! Lord, why couldn’t I have been there? I needn’t have been a king – perhaps just a shepherd child Or someone sent from the inn – To check on the progress of the birth… Or are you waiting this night in other stables For me – to bring my gift? Are you waiting for me to run Even through the dark and cold of the night?
“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.
“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” – Khalil Gibran
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Einstein
We fall into patterns and mindsets that don’t serve us well. Sundays before Mondays are heavy as we contemplate the “to do” list for the week. Fridays we sigh with relief that we made it through four grueling days. We find joy in three days and forego the other four.
Enough. Take each and every day back! Be as excited on Monday as you are on Friday by changing your expectations, trying new things and not falling for false narratives.
Each day is a gift ready to be seen and opened. Pay attention and tune out the noise. Be willing to accept joy in ordinary moments and create memories on a weekday rather than on vacation and long weekends.
As we come off a few weeks of holidays and respite from the grind, commit and build time into each day for self-care, delight and celebration of ordinary moments. Life is meant for the grand not the grind. Dare to be light and carefree, even and especially on a Monday. Repeat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Get into the grind of joy!
A few hours with Jeanne and the girls proved to be, yet again, good medicine for the soul.
Yeah!!! It’s Monday. May we each have the wisdom to say this daily prayer, “God, I am blessed and I know it in my bones. Thank you and Amen!”
“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” – Wayne Dyer