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,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
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.
“You have to sniff out joy. Keep your nose to the joy trail.” – Buffy Sainte-Marie
Don’t let your guard down. Be intentional. We can easily stray off the joy trail by meaningless distractions, busyness, over-committing, trying to jam one more thing into a minute so we miss the minute that we’re in.
As you enter into these final days of Advent and the dawning of a new year, put on the brakes, pull over and take in the beautiful scenery. Be aware and awake and most importantly, in awe. Choose quality or quantity, essence over efficiency, wow over worry, relationship over transaction, slow over fast, quiet over clanging, depth over width.
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” – Guillaume Apollinaire
Hunt for joy with vigor, hope and assurance that it is there to be found, not too far in the distance. If there’s a road I intend to travel in 2019, it certainly is the joy trail. Join me so we can take this journey together. Today is the only day promised to us. Don’t miss it.
“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” – Deepak Chopra
When it all doesn’t fit together, keep putting the pieces of the puzzle together one at a time. The big picture, the next step, the purpose will show itself when enough of the little pieces come together. Don’t overthink, freeze or give up. One piece at a time, with time and it all comes together. Faith is active. Keep the faith, and use it.
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley
Magic happens when we open our eyes to see what’s in front of us now. It’s not in the past or the future. Life is happening right in this very moment. Notice, grasp and soak it in. This day will not return so make the most of it while in it.
Children remind us of what we must return to so we can live fully. Wonder, laughter, silliness, delight, awe, no judgment, unconditional love.
Find joy today. Simply, open your eyes anew.
“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.” – Kailash Satyart
“An anxious hear weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” – Proverbs 12:25
At the beginning of this day, set the path. At the end of this day, while the path may not be what was set, it will have been completed with intention and awareness. No matter what comes today, say a kind word or two. You will change someone else’s path and your own as well.
Seize the day with enthusiasm, joy and kindness.
“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
Dry bones come alive. Heart, mind, actions.
“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.
“The ocean is a mighty harmonist.” – William Wordsworth
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton
There’s a rhythm to life. An ebb and flow. When we only focus on the ebb and ignore the flow, we fight the rhythm that remains steady and strong. We wrestle with God by clinging to our own plans, our own limited view, our past, our future and to our stubborn ways.
Ease up and enter into the ebb and flow. Find the rhythm, dive deep into gratitude and be confident in the unfolding of purpose and meaning that will be revealed.
“Any form of complaining is the small self becoming lost in self-importance. So much energy needed for awakening is wasted on complaining. We many not be able to change our external reality, but we can transform the negative thoughts and feelings that are our reaction to that reality. We have a chance to awaken from the nightmare we create through our resistance to what is. Stopping all complaining is one of the first steps. When we cease to complain, we conserve life force for what really matters. A new world begins. Each event becomes a mysterious opportunity rather than an inconvenient vexation. A tremendous amount of life force, once bound up in feeling sorry for oneself, is released. Where there was frustration and self-pity, there is now space for appreciation to bloom. The misguided belief that life should be other than it is dissolves and in its place, acceptance flowers, joy awakens, patience blooms, and peace permeates.” – Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery
It may be justified. It seems reasonable. It seems like it should help, but it makes it worse. Complaining is wasted energy that blocks gratitude. Rather than being a release, it traps us in our thoughts of scarcity, comparison and self-pity.
Last week summed up to be a bust. And I made it worse by letting external things get internal and define my entire week. And then three things happened to shift my limited view, to open up my senses again.
My sister sent me beautiful flowers. A friend texted me after our run yesterday letting me know she noticed I was quieter and that she was thinking about me. I told her I was trying to get my inner “Tigger” back and send “Eeyore” on his way. She told me she likes “Eeyore” too and it’s ok to not be “Tigger” sometimes. And then I walked by a book that I got from a friend years ago and opened it up to the page with the passage above.
These three encounters brought gratitude back into view and where it should remain, front and center. I can’t guarantee that I won’t trip and fall into the complaining trap again. But it’s worth trying to keep space open for the gifts of acceptance, joy, patience and peace.
I am grateful for those kind souls who took the time to notice and offer encouragement and support rather than answers, platitudes or solutions. We sometimes need to be merely seen. Remember, your light can bring someone else’s back. Cast light.
“Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” – Leon Trotsky
Real contentment takes root in difficulty. When we can find contentment in the days that the struggle is too real, we know that the struggle has a purpose. To be honest enough to acknowledge frustration and then to use it to prompt change is what raises us above the temporary difficulties into the extraordinary.
I would rather be frustrated and fight for something different than to succumb to apathy and accept what is without question. So when you are tired and worn out from the fundamental stupidity of the world, keep going and never ever give in to apathy. Do the work with care, lighten up, let the worry go and the results be what they will be.
Life is no easy matter but we can choose how we move through it.
“Every doorway, every intersection has a story.” – Katherine Dunn
Some days feel like we’re merely going around in circles. Stuck on a ride going nowhere, up and down, slow and fast. It is especially in these very moments, we are growing the most, transforming into what we are called to be to enter what will follow.
Patience, persistence, perspective and perseverance mixed in with a strong sense of humor are required to thrive and learn the lessons before us.
“You loved ferris wheels more than roller coasters because life shouldn’t be lived at full speed, but in anticipation and appreciation.” – Amy Harmon
No moments or days are wasted no matter whether on a roller coaster twisting and turning at great speed or a ferris wheel going slow and easy. Enjoy the ride.
Today is a page in the book of you that is being written. Never surrender the pen. Write your story.