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Monday, March 31, 2014

HUMAN FENG SHUI

"Man is but the place where I stand, and the prospect hence is infinite."
~ HD Thoreau ~

I am bright as copper,
and rooted in the earth;
Inspired by the heavens,
and smooth as polished wood.
I am fluid as a river,
and lit by flames within.
 
I am full of the elements of life!

Friday, March 28, 2014

GOODNESS ABOUNDING

"We aquire the strength we have overcome."
~ RW Emerson ~
 
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that if we can stop fighting situations as they arise and let things be what they are, then lessons and goodness abound. I believe that there is goodness even in hardship, love in pain, and grace in suffering.
     It's not that life is bad when it challenges us, or evil, or even unfair, but only that it is a mysterious journey where more often than not, we find our faith and our courage through the situations and circumstances that push us past our limit, and challenge us the most.

I believe in silver linings, and that opportunity exists in the least likely of places.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

EQUANIMITY

"Try hard as you can to calm the water with your hands and you will succeed in agitating it further. Let it stand undisturbed a while, and it will calm down by itself."
~ Koichi Tohei ~

The Buddhist concept of equanimity interests me and appeals to my soul. It speaks to the fact that we cannot live other people's lives for them, no matter how much we may want to and how much we may feel certain about the right course of action for them to pursue. Equanimity says I love you and I have compassion, but I cannot rise to your challenges or right your wrongs. I am unlimited in my capacity to love but not in my capacity to "do for."
     I have to stand back. I have to let go of my desire to control outcomes, and I have to allow others the dignity of choosing their own way. I have to stop running interference and turn my attention to working on my own stuff. If I am honest, and willing to see it, there is more than enough on my own plate to keep me busy for as long as I live.

I love others will all of my heart, but I cannot live their lives for them. I focus on living my own life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GENEROSITY

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
~ James Matthew Barrie~
 
"How far that little candle throws his beams."
~Shakespeare ~

Generosity is its own reward. When we give of ourselves to others and do it authentically, they respond in kind. They open and smile and blossom before us. And that makes us feel good.
     Generosity is good medicine all around, and good sense. It benefits all that it touches and spreads appreciation and love like butter on French Toast.

When I give generously to others, grace and blessings rain down.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MARCH SNOW

"Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring."
~Terri Guillemets ~
 
It is not the outdoor temperature and the threat of snow that dictates the establishment of spring in the world, but the light. It is the length of days and the height of the sun that urges daffodils upward and grows buds on trees. Spring is here. It's a subtle layer of color in branches and bushes. It's in the sky, and in the shedding winter coats of animals and the awakening of bears from their dens.
     So who cares whether we have yet another snowstorm? It will not linger long. If we look around we can see it. Spring is here!

I don't gripe about spring snowfalls. I celebrate the light of longer days instead.

Monday, March 24, 2014

ARROGANCE

"If you yearn for holy felicity, shed your arrogance and become a seeker of hearts."
~Rumi~
 
Arrogance is a scourge. It thinks it knows what it cannot possibly know. It struts and puffs and postures. It condescends. Arrogance passes itself to others in a look, a judgment, in scorn, and in an absolute lack of compassion. It sits above and feels superior.
     But sitting above others, arrogance misses out on the warmth and camaraderie of being like everyone else- of being human, of being vulnerable, and of being able to relate to anyone and everyone and what they may be going through.
     We all have moments of tending towards arrogance, but they are not our best moments. Let's be equal to others instead, and include ourselves among the masses.
 
I have unique gifts and talents to offer the world, but these do not make me better than anyone else. They simply make me me.



Friday, March 21, 2014

THE CHANGING OF PEOPLE OVER TIME

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself.
(I am vast, I contain multitudes.)"
~Walt Whitman~
 
 
I can't always explain or understand why people do what they do, but it's important that I let them do it, and refrain from judgment or criticism. I can trust that they have their reasons. It's easy to make assumptions about others, to pigeon-hole them, and to feel certain that we know what motivates them. But we don't know, not really, not even with the people we love.
     So our best bet is to remain curious and observant and compassionate, and to let each and every situation and every behavior- in ourselves as well as others- teach us something. We are not here to judge, but to learn.
 
I don't presume to know how others feel. We are all constantly changing, and what was certain yesterday may no longer be certain today.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NO REGRET

"With the past I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
 
Everything can change in an instant, and sometimes does. And when it does, we often look back with regret. We wish we had said this or done that or worked less or laughed more- or whatever it may be.
     Let's live without regret. Let's live in such a way that even if everything changes in a flash, we can say that even if we could have, we wouldn't have changed a thing.
 
I don't wait for tomorrow to live my best life. I wake up and live it today!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THE VAGARIES OF YOUTH

"It's sad to grow old, but nice to ripen."
~Brigitte Bardot~
 
"There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you."
~Carol Grace~
 
 
We are often wistful and nostalgic about our youth. "Ah, to be young again," we sigh. We romanticize what is behind us and long for what we remember most fondly from our past. And there's certainly nothing wrong with enjoying our memories.
     But I don't want to go back there, not really. Every day that passes grows me, and I wouldn't want to give up the bits of wisdom that I've gathered and the peace of mind that I've come to know. With age comes life's real blessings- comfort in our own skin, appreciation of the here and now, mature love, and the ability to laugh at ourselves and at life.We learn to roll with the punches. We learn silence and patience. We learn to really feel and honestly express deep gratitude for God's grace.
 
I celebrate another year of life and appreciate the calm and wisdom that grow within me as I age.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NEGATIVITY

"Relish small pleasures."
~H. Jackson Browne Jr.~
 
Expecting the worst- of people, of situations, and of our days to come, is an ugly business. This is going to be horrible, and how will we ever get through that? How will so and so mess with us tomorrow? What's up with her and what's his problem? With our luck it's all going to be a disaster before it even begins.
     What nonsense! With our luck, it's a miracle that we feel anything other than gratitude- for our blessings and our opportunities and our clean water and all of the accidents that we have missed. Thank God for mercy instead of justice. Our lives are nothing short of a miracle, every day that we live. 
 
I choose gratitude today over negative expectations. Life is too short and too beautiful to feel anything other than blessed.

Monday, March 17, 2014

THE SOUL OF THE BODY

"I sing the body electric."
~Walt Whitman~

Let's be grateful for our bodies. Let's celebrate our breathing lungs and hearts that beat. Let's appreciate our incredible eyes, and ears, and fingers, our senses, and our instincts.
    Let's be grateful for goose-bumps and stamina and digestion and arousal. Let's be grateful for spines and shoulders and knees that bend. Let's be grateful for all of our flesh and bones, our muscle, nerves, glands and ducts.
     Our bodies are beautiful miracles of design. Let's be grateful that we are here and that we function. Let's be grateful for this solid form to negotiate this solid earth.

I appreciate my body with all of its miraculous moving parts.

Friday, March 14, 2014

IN MEMORIAM

"A human life is a story told by God."
~Hans Christian Anderson~
 
We are burying a friend today, a member of my family by marriage and a good man. He took an unexpected turn and hit a downhill slope and died without much warning or any real lead time. Today, he gets the full military send-off at Arlington National Cemetery.
     He was fun. He was clever. He was a great partner to Aunt Pat and a chef extraordinaire. In honor of John Bender and the legacy he leaves behind, let's celebrate life today. Let's celebrate life and remember to remember all of the ones we have lost too soon.

I hold a special place in my heart for all of those who have died before their time.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WELCOMING THE NEW

"Nought may endure but Mutability."
~Percy Bysshe Shelley~
 
I am unafraid of change and progress. I welcome adventure into my life. I get stuck sometimes- fixed in a mental position or a physical rut. This is my reminder... to open myself to fresh perspectives and the clean air of new approach.

When I get to feeling stagnant, I have the courage to change.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

THE EGO BALLOON

"True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes."
~Edward Frederick Halifax~
 
I like feeling in demand and in command. It feeds my ego, pride, and sense-of-self. But it's also a trap. Such feelings hamper my humility and inflate me like a balloon. So maybe, if I'm really honest, I don't actually like these things as much as I think I do. Because if I am a balloon, then I am susceptible to pin-pricking, and far too easily popped.

I bring awareness to the posturing of my ego and make an effort to keep it in check.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HONORING MY NEEDS AND LIMITATIONS

"I was right not to be afraid of any thief but myself, who will end by leaving me nothing."
~Katherine Anne Porter~
 
I spend a lot of time unconsciously trying to prove myself, trying to prove that I'm not only good enough, but that I'm somehow the best there is. I force myself to do more, be more, and give more than is reasonable day after day after day. This practice relieves me of guilt and helps me sleep well at night, so that's a payoff, but the cost is equally high, if not greater.
     Such extreme daily effort takes a toll on my body and my spirit. By the end of the week I am dried up and worn out so that I thank God for the weekends to lick my wounds and re-group. But then, only partially recovered, I start all over again on Mondays, so that I am operating continuously in a state of depletion.
     Living this way is not a necessity, though I might pretend that it is. It's a choice. So this is my confession. I want to make a few small conscious changes in adjusting my schedule in order to better care for myself. If I make decisions that honor the limited resource that is me, then maybe I will feel better all around and all the time.

My self-worth begins with the way that I value myself.

Monday, March 10, 2014

SPRING AT LAST

"Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn."
~Lewis Grizzard~
 
After a long and unusually cold winter, spring is finally awakening. The clocks have changed in honor of the lengthening light and bulbs are pushing their way up through the ground.
     Let us open our hearts and our spirits to the renewal of trees and bushes and the grass beneath our feet. Let us welcome the breezes and the feeling of hope returned that all of this brings. Let's renew ourselves to accompany the burgeoning spring!

I am grateful for longer, warmer days, and the beginning of everything being in bloom.

Friday, March 7, 2014

PROCRASTINATION

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."
~William James~
 
I'm not much of a procrastinator, but on occasion, with certain things, it seems almost impossible to get going. And I'm not sure why. Usually, I plunge forward with enthusiasm and take pleasure knowing that I am on the way to checking another item off of my to do list. But now and then, I find myself hung up in the most unusual way and in the most unlikely place, completely lacking my familiar let's get it done attitude. I feel almost paralyzed. Perhaps it's fear.
    Perhaps I am afraid of whatever I may perceive the likely outcome of my action to be. Or that I somehow won't be able to measure up. Or, perhaps I feel lackadaisical about getting going because I am certain that no matter what I do it won't be perceived as being enough, so I will have to do it again, and perhaps, again. Re-doing things causes me a fair bit of angst. Maybe I procrasitnate when I am faced with the same thing for the second time... or the third.
    But no matter the reason behind my not taking action, the only way out and through and beyond is to is to act, so act I must. I just have to do it, and then it will be done.

I do whatever is before me, even if I'm not particularly looking forward to it. The sooner I get to it, the sooner I will be able to move on.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

BEING SICK

"God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them. "
~John Aughey~

It's rare for me to be sick, but on occassion, as with all of us, it does happen. I recently got knocked down by a stomach bug that sent me to my bed- good for nothing but lying there in and out of pain and sleep. My mind was poisoned like my stomach. Tree branches out the window looked like dragon snake heads coming towards me. And at such times, that's just the way it's going to be and the way it has to be... for who knows and how long. All we can do is endure.
     But eventually, we come around again, slowly, and by degrees. And when I came around, I made assumptions that I was all better and behaved in ways that knocked me backwards yet again. I overdid on multiple fronts. And that's my pattern. I have a tendency to over-do. Which is maybe why I had to get knocked down in the first place.
     It's a lesson in humility and limitations. It's a lesson in patience. There is nothing to do but get through it. No matter how we may muster our minds our our hearts we are down for the count, and that's where we have to stay and have to be until we have learned our lessons and done our time.

I appreciate the lessons of sickness. They remind me that I am not nearly so tough as I think.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SELF-DOUBT

"Action will remove the doubts that theory cannot solve."
~Tehyi Hsieh~

Self-doubt is a slippery deal. It tells us we are kidding ourselves. It asks us who do we think we are? It eats at us from the inside like termites and gnaws away at the foundations of our hopes and dreams. Sometimes self-doubt has the voice of our parents and sometimes the voice of our peers. And sometimes it is in our own voice exclusively, but it is always mocking and always shaming.
     Who are we to think we have a chance? Or that we deserve to enjoy our lives? Or that it is ok to live in the manner that best suits our own souls if it clashes with cultural standards, or with the standards of those who know us best?
     Other people will readily tell us what we ought to do and how we ought to behave and what we ought to try, and it takes a lot of courage and character to stand square in the river of doubts and hold our own against the current. But hold our own we must, or we will get knocked down and pummeled by the rocks. And if we can manage to cross the river, then goodness and beauty await us on the far side.

I quiet the voices of self-doubt within me by continuing steadily along the path that calls me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SKUNKED!

"Good manners are the way we show people that we have respect for them."
~Bill Kelly~

Recently, I got skunked. Our dog got sprayed and by the power of the poison it ended up all over me too- in my skin and hair and on my clothes. Skunk odor still lingers in the house over a week later.
     In Native American Indian tradition, when animals show up in our lives they are meant to teach us things. Their presence is believed to be symbolic and each animal has its own particular "medicine" for us. The skunk is all about respect.
     Disrespect is something I slide into unintentionally. I get so wrapped up in myself and my self-centered angst and drama that I forget to be considerate of the ones I love the most. If everything is not exactly to my liking I can get to acting pouty and put-upon, victimized almost, as if the world at home should revolve around me.
     But we are all just doing the best we can, that's the bottom line, and none of us is more important or deserving or entitled than anyone else. Respect is due us all. And painful as the lesson has been, I'm grateful for the skunky reminder.

Whether at home or at work, I treat others with the respect they deserve.

Monday, March 3, 2014

SNOW DAY

"When snow falls, nature listens."
~Antoinette van Kleeff ~
 
Perhaps there is another way to look at all this snow. It's a game changer. It takes us out of our regular routines and our comfort zone. Maybe we get the day off of work. Or maybe we get a couple of days off. Or maybe we push on as usual in spite of the weather, but everything feels a little different. We are challenged in new ways. We are newly grateful for small blessings. One things for sure, there's nothing we can do to change what's happening so resistance is utterly and completley futile.
     Let's take the lead from our dogs and delight in all this white stuff. It won't last, but it's here for today and there's nothing we can do about it. So let's enjoy it. Let's enjoy the prettiness of it and the freshness of it and the change of pace that it insists upon.

I accept the snow and feel grateful for the fresh perspective that it casts on life.