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Posts tagged ‘Mindfulness’

Long and short, mostly short

“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

In the past month, two colleagues and friends have passed away. One was 67 and on the brink of retirement after a tremendous career. An author, scholar, professor – authentic, big-heart, generous, brutally honest and funny as hell kind of guy. The other, a 36 year-old brilliant, positive, sweet young woman who I worked with for over 10 years. There’s a quip at work about “work wives’ – that person you can talk to, you have things in common with and she understands you. One of the greatest desires that each of us has is to be understood without having to explain things. She was my “work-wife.” Even though she worked remotely in Montana, we spoke every day, we could complete each other’s sentences and had the same geeky joy for data, learning and caring about the work and the outcome.

We need to grieve loss, to honor a people who have had an impact on us. Both of these individuals had tremendous impact in the world, well-beyond their immediate sphere. I saw each of them “give a damn,” get burned and yet they got back up and kept swinging, caring. They didn’t allow circumstances, small-minded negative people or challenges get in their way. They kept moving through life with vigor, humor and passion.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with our self-created busyness and chaos of daily life. To ride the surface and not go deep. You certainly don’t get burned that way. No one can catch you long enough to get burned. But when we do that we shortchange ourselves and the world. If others don’t give a damn, that’s precisely the time to care even more.

With my own busyness (non-stop meetings and ridiculous demands of work), I’ve been on the brink of joining the rest of the pack in not giving a damn. There’s even a book that’s a best-seller on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” I started reading it, but I didn’t get far. I want to give a “f*ck” and get burned. The opposite of love and joy is not hate but apathy.

As I reflect on my two professional colleagues who became friends over the years, I am reminded that often the days are long, but the years are short, too short to be sure.

Dig in, care, give your best without counting and fully grasp each day and the blessings that surround you. There are many gifts present right now in your life if you stop complaining and gossiping long enough to see them. Live the life that you were put here to do. Whether it’s staying where you are at or moving on.

Choose depth, awe and light. The rest of it is really a waste of very, very precious time. And when I forget, I can remember two role models who lived fully even though they were not granted the full time that they should have been. No guarantees for any of us really.

If we allow, loss fosters gratitude. Be grateful now and kind to others so when you’re gone like we all will be one day you will be greatly missed because you made a difference in other peoples lives.

The Pond, The River, The Harbor

Mornings at Blackwater by Mary Oliver, Red Bird

“For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.”

Fill your mind and heart with beauty and light to stay positive, to live positive and to never succumb to the magnet of negativity. Guard your heart, keep it soft. Fill your thoughts with love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding – those things that make absolutely no sense and are not warranted. And yet there is no peace without them.

Fight the good fight and live YOUR life. No regrets, unrelenting joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

Mosaic

Go deeper.
Stay longer.
Surface for air.
Let go sooner.
Change the stories that don’t serve you well.
Release yourself from perfection, rules and regret.
Write a new page, a different ending.

Worry less.
Give yourself and others a break, be a sucker and believe the best.
Be kind and awake in the moment.
Break the pattern.

Create a mosaic from the pieces and see the whole imperfect, beautiful mess.
It’s yours alone.

Be present to it all.
Every bit of it.
Author of your life? – You.

Just One More Thing

“All the windows of my heart I open to the day.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

“Thou hast given me so much to me. Give one thing more, – a grateful heart.” – George Herbert

Too much of our precious and finite time is spent chirping – gossiping, being offended, yipping about the weather (too cold, too hot), offering judgment before compassion and the bigger winner – complaining.

Thanksgiving should be the culmination of a year spent in gratitude. As you enter this week and the holiday season that ensues, take time each day to quietly reflect on the many gifts that you have been given as well as those that you have to offer. We are bigger than we allow ourselves to be. Let wonder back in by opening your eyes to daily blessings. Life is found hidden in moments.

This year, we took the shortcut to January in Minnesota. Single degree temps and windchill. We know winter is coming every year and yet somehow are surprised when it arrives. Rather than run from it, run right into the middle of it. Discover the gifts that even winter has to offer like a stunning sunrise on a newly frozen lake before a 3-mile run.

Just one more thing that I ask for – a grateful heart filled with awe, curiosity and wonder. Embrace Thanksgiving this week and the days to follow with an open heart and mind and a loving spirit. Gratitude brings the world to light and light to the world.

Just Wandering

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” – Socrates

Coming off my first week of vacation this year, I am relaxed and settled. Away from obligations of nonstop meetings, other peoples’ (ridiculous) expectations coupled with my own set of “rules” made up of “shoulds” and “musts” with little consideration for why. Faster at the expense of better.

Wandering always leads back to wonder. And for the wonder to stick, we must “schedule” pockets of unscheduled time each day and not wait for the next vacation. We are bound by time but must unbind ourselves from doing more and more to quietly being, observing and witnessing. Gratitude ensues.

Consciously choose to live with and on purpose. Wander, listen, be present and allow wonder to re-enter and remain. Pursue light and cast it.

Freedom

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

When we step back, remove ourselves from the chaos of busy to get a more complete and full view, we discover the freedom that we already have right now, should we choose to exercise it. Our thoughts and assumptions can either free us or imprison us. If we live only with a snapshot view that this moment will be forever, we surrender our joy and freedom to be content and grateful where we are no matter the circumstances.

Life is made up of moments that weave together to create a bigger story, a beautiful fabric. Sometimes it makes sense, other times it doesn’t. But it unfolds as it should. Trust in the story as it unfolds and embrace your freedom to choose the next chapter.

If changes need to be made, make them. If they don’t, change your view. And by all means, soar.

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” – Carl Sandburg

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” – Carl Sandburg

It’s a Job

“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

Joy is a job. It takes effort, rigor, repetition and practice to get good at it. We look for the shortcut and expect it to be innate. But often, it’s not. So rather that succumbing to the negativity, gossip and cynicism, get to work.

Focus on being grateful, even when the struggle is so very real. Lift your head and open your eyes a bit wider to see the beauty that is within reach right now. Ignore those voices in your head that serve no purpose but to prevent you from becoming you, the real one.

When I forget and get distracted by the minutia, I simply take the girls for a run into the woods and let them run off leash in the open field to pounce, chase and explore. It works every, single time.

“Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” – Jimmy Buffett

“Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” – Jimmy Buffett

Make joy a priority and let it take root. Welcome it home like a long lost friend. And by all means, share it with others. Joy is a job and the most important one that you will ever have. Hunt, pounce, chase, explore and sniff it out daily.

When joy is your job, life becomes less work.

The Pen

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

We so often use the pen to merely check off our “to do” list. Initially satisfying and then suddenly shallow. Go deeper, do less, be more and create real meaning.

When we go below the surface of transactional busy living and enter what’s beneath, we expose the stories we tell ourselves. Those stories that tell us to spend time on obligations, over committing, over doing.

Each of us has a purpose, gifts to unwrap and release into the world. Spending our time and attention on these pursuits makes the world better, one dream fulfilled at a time. Yep, I get it – you have to make a “living”. Been doing that for 30+ years.

Joy and fulfillment come when we align who we are, our gifts, what we do and who we do it with. In relationship, in play, in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves and in being present in each day while it’s occurring.

I just started a new book – Redirect, Changing the Stories We Live By, by Timothy D. Wilson on the stories we tell ourselves and what we can do to change the stories that hold us back. I am looking forward to diving deep into it this weekend and not checking off the “to do” list. When we expose and let go of those old stories, we can rewrite our own story starting today.

Pick up the pen and write down what your assumptions are, what you want to do, and what “rules” that you’ve created that need to be broken. Stop asking for permission to live your life. Time to start a new chapter of thinking, doing and most importantly, living with joy, awe and even some fun. Life is short, find your light and cast it wide.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace “The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace

Within

“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.” – Oscar Wilde

“Every thought, word and deed is a pebble in a pool. The ripples circle outward. They eventually reach the shore and then return to us. We are the creators of the life we are living. If we do not like our present circumstance, we have only to look within to see the choices we have made that have brought us here. Only through inner change can we hope to transform our external experience. The work always lies within. – Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery

As the seasons change, so must we. Summer awakens as spring lets go into blooming flowers. Fall’s chill is tempered with a tapestry of vibrant leaves floating to the ground. Each season has its purpose, its job. Transition calls for acceptance so we can move fully into what’s next, into transformation.

Fighting change only slows the journey and steals our daily joy. Let go of the consternation that is rooted in fear of change. Grasp it, fully confident that it is leading you exactly where it should, where you need to be.

It’s within you. Go there and become new.

Butterfly Glide

“If we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world.” – Sri Chinmoy

Out of nowhere, a butterfly appears, gliding by with ease and grace;

A brilliant angel awakening us to the holiness of a moment;

To the magic of mere being;

Bursting with color and curiosity;

Not lingering in the past, nor going too far into the future;

Celebrating the victory of breaking free from the cocoon;

Filled with gratitude and joy;

Showing us how to lighten up, to lay down the load that is not ours to carry;

Resting softly on a fragile pillow of petals.

Amen.

“Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the Infinite.” – Francis Bacon

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