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Thursday, December 31, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"Be at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man." 
~ Ben Franklin ~

Make this year count,
Live free from doubt,
Be clear,
Have no fear,
Steer right,
Keep your dreams in sight,
And excite and delight in your life!

I establish my direction for a year of appreciation and personal growth.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

NEW YEAR'S EVE

"A life without cause is a life without effect." 
~Barbarella ~

There's a way to approach the New Year that has nothing to do with alcohol, fireworks, or crowds of people. It's quietly and intentionally- a cleansing and a releasing rather than a frenzy. The last four years or so, we have started a New Year's Eve bonfire tradition that fits the bill. We sit in the dark country night and watch sparks float skyward, listen to the burning logs snap and pop, and think about what we are done with- what has passed, and where we need to stop holding on.
     At midnight, thanks to smart phones, we listen to a Celtic version of Auld Lang Syne and let the sound and the emotion of it sink deep within us, or rise up to our throats as the case may be. In this way, I have learned to love New Year's Eve. It is full of sweet and sad memory, self-reflection, promise, and endless hope.

I let go of what no longer serves me, and prepare to welcome the New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

GOOD LIVING

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us." 
~Hal Borland ~

Living clean is good living. There are no hidden trails, no dark secrets, no guilt, no shame, and no remorse. Everything happens above ground and in the light. It's not the way I've always lived, but it's the way I live now.
     I've had my share of seedy situations and questionable circumstances, so I know where that path leads me, and it's nowhere I want to go. We have choices in life, and I've made mine both ways across the years. I've tried to get away with things. I've tried sick relationships, dysfunctional behaviors across the board, and self-sabotage at every turn. But living with clear purpose, pure intention, and love to the core sure feels better, so that's my choice today, tomorrow, and going forth. I choose it with courage, and the willingness to step up and do my part whatever that may mean on any given day, and no matter what it takes.

I live clean and clear and in the light.

Monday, December 28, 2015

IN-BETWEEN TIME

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's winds await another voice." 
~TS Eliot ~

It always feels like a bit of a feat to have made it through Christmas intact. There is so much hope and build-up, so many possibilities for drama and hurt feelings, so much rich food, flowing alcohol, and need for appreciation. And yet, like waves in the ocean, the energy of it all rises up, and then recedes. And often, it is in the passing of it, that it feels most sweet. There is an aftermath feeling of relaxation that is unequaled any other time of the year- a lingering, lounging, almost languishing kind of stretched-out feeling that lasts until New Year's Eve.
     So let's enjoy this week for the down-time it offers. Let's reflect on what's past and think about our forthcoming journey. Let's pause and consider and be thoughtful and extra-aware. This is sacred time between the old and the new.

I relish this week between Christmas and New Years!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

GROWING UP

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around- and why his parents will always wave back. "
~William D. Tammeus ~

December 28th is an important and magical day in our family, and this year, particularly so. Sienna and Nick, who are twins, turn 21 this year. Legal, official, and fully adult, and yet still so young, and forever my babies. I remember them each at every age- learning to walk, year by year through elementary school, middle school, high school, college... And now they stand before me in all of their stature and glory; driven in the directions they are called- beautiful souls- inspired, bright, creative, and capable beyond their own knowing.
     My role now is more as a witness and less as a guide. Sienna is Fire, and Nick is Earth. They are power and wisdom and potential unleashed. May they be blessed as they travel forth, and may all of our children be blessed. May they follow their hearts and live from their guts. May they be authentic, loving, wise, and true.

     It is my distinct privilege as a parent to love my children without conditions, and to believe in them as they evolve.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

"Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts." 
~ JLW Broks ~

Food. Presents. Personalities coming together and mingling with loving intention in spite of clashing points-of-view. The desire to be honest, but not to stir the pot. Wanting everyone to be happy and get along. Music in the background. Soft and beautiful Christmas Tree. Bursting emotions held mostly in check. Gratitude. Unexpected happiness and laughter. Love and more love all tangled up with misunderstanding.
     The possibilities for this day are endless. Let's not pre-judge it, or tether ourselves to hope or sour grapes. Let's just experience the day, however it comes, and welcome it as blessing no matter what happens or how anyone else may behave or react.

I accept this day with joy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CHRISTMAS EVE

"A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away."
~ Eva Logue ~

And so it begins. Here we are, having come around to Christmas Eve yet again. All of our Christmas memories pile upon us like ghosts freed from hiding, and they are wrapped up with songs and traditions and expectations and fear.
     Compassion is the word of the day- compassion for ourselves and for all those we encounter. There is magic in the air, but also emotional disturbance, amped up energy, and heightened tension. So let's go easy today. Let's watch and smile and be curious. Let's not push. Let's not force our agendas. Let's just be, and be open, and let come to us whatever comes, and be an instrument of peace and grounding, and deep patient love.

I am calm, curious, and compassionate. I welcome Christmas with all of its possibility.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

SOCIAL SINCERITY

"Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputations, then unintelligible, then altogether, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down again without stumbling." 
~Lord Byron ~

Even with all of the socializing and gift giving and receiving that happens this time of year, we can still be authentically ourselves. We needn't posture and pretend and wear fake smiles and speak insincerely. We can be gracious. We can be comfortable in our own skins. We don't have to over indulge in alcohol or special holiday attire, or douse ourselves with too much perfume or cologne. We can just be who we are and show up however we are feeling.
     It's a refreshing gift to all those around us to be natural and unapologetic, to be ok with our imperfections and to express whatever it is that we're feeling. If our hearts are open, even our struggles and messy emotions will be understood and appreciated as pure love.

No matter the time of year or social event, I can always be exactly who I am. I don't have to drink or put on airs for anyone.

Monday, December 21, 2015

SEASONAL SADNESS

"The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist." 
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson ~

Mixed in with all of the holiday cheer, a sense of low lying sadness lingers. I am aware of it, and feel it in my bones. Our losses are more acute in times of celebration and our hearts more open to the subtleties of pain.

I patiently allow for sadness inside me, and observe how it mixes itself up with joy and anticipation. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CAN'T PLEASE THEM ALL

"To each his own." 
~ Cicero ~

It's a challenge in life to focus on the positive effect that we have on the world, and not on all of those who do not "get" us or our message. I tend to absorb the discounting of who I am and what I'm all about by those who simply can't be bothered. Not to take it personally- that's the thing to work toward.
     We live in a world that is busy with distraction and an overabundance of guidance and information. I have to trust that I will touch those who I am meant to touch, and be touched by others in the same way. Life is a learning journey, and much of our learning comes from the way that we relate- or don't- to those around us.

Some will share my path, and some will be on a different path entirely, and either way, it's ok.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

THE TYRANNY OF THE URGENT

"Quick motion creates a life-blur." 
~Terri Guillements~

If I do not pay attention, a sense of urgency becomes my default position. I go at things with an inner sense of eagerness and hurry that is not conducive to warm fuzzy feelings. It creates an underlying state of angst instead.
     But urging, like everything, is a choice, so at any time, I can choose differently, and experience something else, and something better: a more pleasant and soothing internal state.

I abandon all urging to the winds and slow down to appreciate each moment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

HOW WE GO ABOUT THE HOLIDAY

"Remember
This December,
that love weighs more than gold."
~ Josephine DD Bacon ~

This time of year, with Christmas rapidly approaching, life takes on an excessive quality that it lacks at other times. Abundant sweets present themselves before us, money for presents and decorations and special holiday foods flows out like a flooding river, and our emotions and expectations are exaggerated and intense.
     Let's go easy on ourselves and resist the urge to push and rush and create whirlwinds and wreckage. Let's take care and be delicate and appreciate the gentle side of the season, more subtle though it may be.

I stay out of the Holiday frenzy and enjoy the experience in a more quiet way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE SPEED OF LIFE

"Sometimes, I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It's passing, yet I'm the one who's doing all the moving." 
~ Martin Amis ~

Sometimes the sheer velocity of life is overwhelming. The days and weeks go by in a blur and a flurry of activity and noise. And sometimes we make good progress on our "to do" front, and sometimes the list expands faster than we can keep up.
     Extreme momentum and efficiency is possible in relatively short bursts- a few days, a week. But we cannot push on at that pace ad infinitum and expect to have any kind of quality of life. We have to allow for periods of down time and relaxation. They may not be possible when we have a cumulative influx of work, but we have to make time for them somehow, or else we will crash and burn.

I work hard in phases, and then take time to rest and relax.
  

Monday, December 14, 2015

THE ERROR OF OUR MISPERCEPTIONS

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." 
~Alexander Pope ~

We must be careful how we think about people, because more often than not, our thinking does not accurately reflect reality. We put our own stuff onto others and convince ourselves that it's them and not us. But it's always us, and our mis-perceptions are broad and vast.

We think we know about other people, but we know far less than we think.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

STOP WHINING AND CHANGE

"Untold suffering seldom is." 
~Franklin P. Jones ~

I often hear people complaining about the state of their life situation. They whine, and gripe, and bemoan their fate. But they don't seem willing to change anything, to take some kind of action, or to do something to adjust the dismal dynamic of their daily fare. They have endless excuses, and justifications galore.
     But that's a trap. The way out is through, and freedom is on the far side of facing what ails us, and change is possible, practical, and real.

I stop making excuses and set about improving my life.

Friday, December 11, 2015

DAILY ENLIGHTENMENTS AND THE ART OF GOOD HABITS

BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS!

And my new book, The Art of Good Habits is now available! You can order it online here:

Or, you can come to a book signing this weekend if you are local and available. :)

I will be at The Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St in Winchester, VA this Saturday, December 12th from 11am-1pm. (540)-667-3444
and
At Reston Sport & Health, 11445 Isaac Newton Sq S in Reston, VA this Sunday, December 13th from 10am-1pm.

Hope to see you there!

"When we are willing to take responsibility for changing ourselves, we become unlimited in potential." 
~The Art of Good Habits

Check out my website to see more! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

MAINTAINING CONFIDENCE

"It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head."
~ Sally Kempton ~

It's a challenge to maintain self-confidence, and sometimes it seems that the more successful we are the more self-doubt we are filled with. We look to others to determine our worth, and then are terrified by whatever they might say, or not say about us.
     But here's the good news: we are worthy, no matter what! We are better than we think we are, capable beyond our wildest dreams, and valuable simply because we exist.

I let go of guilt and shame over how I think I should be, and feel good about myself exactly as I am.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

COMMUTING TO WORK

"Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life." 
~ Rumi ~

I have an 84 mile commute one way to work. Because of the hours I travel, I don't deal with too much traffic, and by and large, it's highway driving the whole way. Nonetheless, when people hear this, their reactions range from disbelief to horror. "Oh my God," they say. "How do you do that every day?"
     And the answer is that I just do it, but what they don't know and are challenged to understand is that there is actually blessing in it. It is my quiet, solitary, rolling-down-the-road time. My car is comfortable, and I relish the hours it gives me to process my life.

If I have the right mindset, my whole life is a blessing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

OBSERVING BEAUTY

"We must carry beauty within us or we find it not." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

I love the discovery of beauty in the most unlikely places- in nursing homes, parking lots, handicapped bodies, and the experience of sadness. There is a soft side of life that is ever present, and if we are quiet on the inside and paying attention, it gives us sustenance, even when all else seems for naught.

I open to the experience of beauty in all places and all things.

Monday, December 7, 2015

PASSING-THE-BUCK

"'I must do something' always solves more problems than 'Something must be done.'" 
~ Author Unknown ~

Being seated in a restaurant the other day, the maitre d and I had to step around a spilled drink on the floor. It was near the table where I was seated and visually a bit disturbing, and no one seemed to be attending to cleaning it up. It was early in the evening, so the restaurant was fairly empty and lots of employees were standing around. Clearly, no one wanted to deal with the mess.
     I finally said something, and the person I told went off to find someone else, who finally came along and did a mediocre job cleaning it up. It was fascinating and a bit disturbing to watch the pass-the-buck syndrome in operation, and the sheer unwillingness among the whole group to take responsibility. If I had access to a rag, I would have cleaned it up myself.
     Let's take a lesson from this and use it to learn what not to do. Let's take ownership and take responsibility and take care. Life is too short to be sloppy.

With good nature and a desire to be helpful, I pitch in to do my part.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SEASONAL TRANSITIONING

"Look to the seasons when choosing your cures." 
~ Hippocrates ~

Winter comes with heavy frosty mornings and berries on the trees, but spots and bits of fall linger. Late changing trees, leaves that hang on and retain their bright colors, dried grasses, certain weeds, and the last-to-turn low lying bushes adamantly stand out and remind us that transition is a slow process. There is no definitive movement or sudden change. There is a slow letting go and a subtle moving forward. That is the nature of the seasons, and that is the nature of all change on all levels in every realm where life exists.

I understand the process of my life by observing the process of transition in Nature.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BEING OUTSIDE

"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her." 
~ William Wordsworth ~

I love to be outdoors, especially this time of year. It's not too hot, and not too cold yet... just perfect... for walking, for sitting and listening to the birds, for throwing the ball for the dog, for setting up a table in the sunlight and working on my computer... Just to be in the fresh air, to listen to the leaves that remain- there are still a few- rustling in the tree branches when the breeze comes along and stirs them up, to feel the shorter day sunshine warm on my face- this is heaven on earth to be sure. It pleases me on such a deep level that I am filled with joy simply to experience it! The weather! The wind! The glory of nature and the sensational delight of being alive and outside.

I take time each day to enjoy being out in the fresh air. It's good for the body and good for the soul.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

HAVING A FULL PLATE

"Everything is something you decide to do." 
~Denis Waitly ~

I get to feeling burdened sometimes with all that's on my plate, and yet, I have chosen it- down to the last morsel. And remembering that I have choices helps me. I can stop anything at anytime. There will be consequences, required changes, things that I have to adjust, but adjustment is possible- more possible than I sometimes realize.
     Plus, remembering that I choose what I do makes it feel more palatable somehow. There are reasons for everything in place in my life that are legitimate, that make sense, and that are the result of what was originally positive, exciting, and fresh.
     So I needn't whine or feel like a victim, because I am not. My life is my choice, and I make it anew every day that I live.

I recognize the power of choice in my life and appreciate all that I choose.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW

"Always when judging
Who people are
Remember to footnote
The words 'So far.'" 
~Robert Brault ~

We think we have a secret understanding of the future, of what's going to happen to people if they keep on going the way they're going. We are certain that we know best what they should do and how they should go about doing it. We get them all straightened out in our minds. If only they would listen to us!
     And yet, as experience after experience plays out, we find that not always, but often, we are dead wrong. Things work out that seemed impossible, circumstances twist and shift, accidents happen, and so do unexpected windfalls and softening edges with the passage of time.
     I think we would do better to worry about our own unfolding, and leave the journey of others up to them.

I catch myself thinking I know better in terms of other people and turn my attention back to issues of my own. 


Monday, November 30, 2015

PROCEEDING CALMLY

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." 
~ Lao Tzu ~

I commit to not rushing through my life. What's the hurry? It's as if I am afraid, and maybe I am- that I will run out of time, that I cannot keep up, that things will be out-of-control. But I am tired of rushing. I am tired of moving frantically, of feeling frantic, and of being frantic. I want calmness. I want inner steadiness. I want quietude no matter what insanity and chaos rains around me.
     And so, I commit to not rushing. Everything will get done or it won't get done. And either way, it's ok. I don't have to push myself beyond all reason every moment of every day. I can be productive, on time, and thorough without being hassled and harried. And that's the mission for the new day, and for the coming new year. I am certain that life as it unfolds, and at whatever pace it comes, can be experienced with assurance, pleasure, grace, and command.

I allow everything in my life to unfold in it's own way, and according to intrinsic timelines, rather than those I impose.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FEELING RESTLESS

"'Tis the great art of life to manage well the restless mind." 
~John Armstrong ~

I find that I get restless anticipating certain happenings, meetings, events, and milestones. To remain calm and still at such times is a challenge. I have this urgent feeling that something must be done to prepare, to insure success, to consider all possibilities and how each one will be dealt with if it ensues. So it's easier to distract myself with busyness.
     But the thing is, I think that distractions in life are just that, and as such, they keep us from the important work of self-honesty and feeling our feelings. We are a distraction rich culture. Both as a group and as individuals, we tend to avoid our inner lives with surface blustering and constant noise.
    Let's not! Let's acknowledge our restlessness and be willing to sit with it, to talk about it, and to breathe deeply. Let's be wiling to see what triggers us, and what we are afraid of, and trust in the messages that come to us from within.

I acknowledge my restlessness, but don't let it drive me. I am willing to sit with uncomfortable feelings and allow them to teach me.

Friday, November 27, 2015

THE TWO SIDES OF FAMILY

"A family is a unit comprised not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold." 
~ Ogden Nash ~

Family is at once both our rootedness and our launching pad. Our families give us connection, history, and bloodlines, but they also push us from them with their knowing a bit too much. We must appreciate where we've come from, but be willing to continuously strike out on our own two feet.

I love my family, but I have my own life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

THANKSGIVING

"Thanksgiving speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seed time and harvest, the ripe product of the year- and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God." 
~Ray Stannard Baker ~

That the pilgrims survived their first winter in Massachusetts and were able to grow sufficient crops over the summer to harvest in the fall was indeed a reason to give thanks. When we are faced with similar challenges, let's seek out the guidance of those who are more familiar, just as the pilgrims sought guidance from the Indians. And let's send a few prayers skyward, be prepared to endure some hardship, and then give bountiful thanks when we have made it through to the other side.

I give thanks today for all of my blessings, and for the lessons and learning that have come from all that I've survived.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOUGH AND TENDER

"Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman- he is a bridge and not a goal."
~Fredrich Nietzsche ~

The human spirit is strong and strapping, but it has its limits. So we must learn to balance fortitude with grace, and flexibility with being stubborn. We are hearty beyond our wildest dreams, and at the very same time, more fragile than a teacup.

I accept the balance in me of willpower and surrender.

Monday, November 23, 2015

OWNING WHAT IS OURS TO OWN

"The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge." 
~Eckhart ~

Power  is defined as the ability to direct or influence other people or the course of events. I think we misunderstand this on so many levels, believing we can strong-arm life to suit our pleasure if we just exert enough force. But real power, it seems to me, is taking responsibility for all of the things that are naturally and easily ours to control, not by force, but by diligence, by paying attention, being sincere, and taking care of what is ours to take care of: our bodies, our behaviors, our intentions, our attitude, our words, and our homes.
     We push against people and things trying to make them do what we want, and abandon ourselves in the process. Let's not. Let's step up and do right by our lives.

I stop trying to change the world and work on changing myself. That's where all great change begins.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

STEADY AND CALM

"I like the physical part, but I'm also drawn to the spiritual." 
~ Mary Glover ~

It's possible to be busy and relaxed at the same time, which is what I strive for, but it's definitely not my forte. To be able to go about things with ease and assurance- what a skill!
     We can practice this by keeping our sense of humor and remembering to breathe, by moving steadily, but not rushing, and by being able and willing to go with the flow. It's possible, though it may be something we have to work towards, to get done what we have to get done, and to do it without angst or strain.

I calmly, but efficiently, go about my business.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

THE NEED TO MOVE

"Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk."
~Rayond Inmon ~

With all of the screens that we use for business and pleasure, most of us sit far too much. Let's bring awareness to this sedentary habit. Let's get up and walk around. Let's move our bodies and stretch our muscles and enjoy the lengthening and flexibility of our limbs.

When I have been sitting too long, I get up and take a walk.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

THE BENEFITS OF HUMILITY

"Pride goeth before a fall." 
~ Proverbs 16:18 ~

Smugness, complacency, and a lack of humility are dangerous positions to hold. They beg to be struck down and right sized, and eventually that's what happens. So let's take nothing for granted. Let's remain forever grateful for all that we are given, and not be reckless or arrogant or too all-fire sure about anything.

I experience life with curiosity, wonder, and an open heart, and I appreciate and respect everyone and everything that I encounter.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

THE WAY THINGS PLAY OUT

"Let your tears come. let them water your soul." 
~ Eileen Mayhew ~

We have expectations of things and people without even knowing we have them; and so, when we are face to face with reality, we often feel disappointed, and irritable even, without even knowing that's what we're feeling. It's a sense of inner urgency and flutter- a bit of desperation, a hint of despair. We find ourselves almost irrevocably perturbed, and it's entirely likely that we know not why.
     Let's admit our disappointments and give ourselves a break. It's ok- natural even- to create a future scenario in our minds and feel certain of it, not even think to question it, and then feel let down when it doesn't play out. It's ok at both ends. It may take some time, but we will eventually come around and adjust.

I go easy on myself when I have disappointed expectations, and accept that's just the way it is sometimes. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

VISUAL SENSE BLESSING

"In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." 
~ Christopher Marley ~

My gratitude today is for my eyesight. I love colors and angles and human faces. I love structures and landscapes and shapes and lines. I love contrast, coordination, clouds, and shadows; moving bodies, art, and misty fog. It's a wondrous miracle beyond description to be able to see!

I am thankful for my eyes and the gift of sight.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

SEEKING APPROVAL

"When weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in that blanket to let the soul out." 
~ Martha Graham ~

I'm not sure why we want our fathers to be proud of us, but somehow, I think most of us do. And so many fathers, especially old-school ones, are incapable of articulating that even if they feel it. Or maybe they're really as judgmental as we fear they are, and maybe we can't ever measure up to their impossible yardstick.
     But whichever way, it doesn't really matter. Our worth is not determined by anyone else's opinion of us, but by the fact that we are alive and we have our unique gift to contribute. Not all will appreciate it, and that's ok. We are not here to please everyone.

I am grateful to those who appreciate what I have to offer, and understanding with those who do not.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

OWNING OUR POWER

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
~Reinhold Niebuhr ~

There are so many things that we can't control in life, and that we have to surrender to, or else suffer the consequences that come from resisting. But there is a balance of things that we can control. So the question is, why do we abdicate our power where we have it, and why don't we more readily take responsibility for the changeable portion of our lives?

I step up and take ownership of the things in my life that I have the power to change.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

THIS GLORIOUS TIME OF YEAR

"Falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly." 
~ John Bailey ~

There's something gracious about the fall. The trees are regal in their splendor and dignity, and they drop their leaves like a bejeweled skirt. Fall color softens the hard edges of the world. The process is slower than we think, and more subtle. Everything changes in phases and waves like a firework display. One tree fades out and another lights up.
     But unlike fireworks, there is no grand finale. There is a slow, and almost sensuous diminishing of color. And when it seems to be ending, a lone lingering tree bursts forth bright yellow amidst the empty branches of neighboring others, and bushes burn red, and grasses dry in shades of beige.
     And in the midst of this glorious scene, holly berries and pine cones come to the fore with their unique appeal in anticipation of the winter season to come. It's a continuous process of transformational beauty.

Fall leaves are a magnificent and sensually satisfying spiritual delight.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

THE PRIMARY EXCHANGE

"Man is a knot into which relationships are tied." 
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery ~

Our purpose doesn't have to be some great, achievement-driven thing. It can be about being loving, self-reflecting, expressing joy, or the thirst for knowledge. It can be the appreciation of music, being mindful of the present moment, or delighting in our natural gifts.
     But purpose does need to happen in some kind of relation to others because of the way we are interconnected. It cannot happen in a vacuum, or in total isolation- not with any satisfaction. Real life purpose for all of us has to do something with the natural processes of sharing and caring, output and input, speaking and listening, the generosity of giving and the ability to receive.

Give and take is the natural purpose of my life.

Monday, November 9, 2015

EXQUISITE BEAUTY

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour if we will only tune in." 
~George Washington Carver ~

There is so much beauty in the world that we so often miss by being busy in our minds- leaves rustling and falling, a handful of birds scattering out of a bush, the subtleties of lengthening light, and the ever-changing sky. To notice these things is a great joy to the spirit and a gift to the heart. And if we are aware, and care enough to notice, nature delivers up endless such blessings in the course of each moment, and over and over in the course of each day.

I still my mind and look around at the beauty of the world around me.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

THE POWER OF FILM

"We love films because they make us feel something... They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into the eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. they fill us with longing. But also, they tell us to remember; they remind us of life."
~ Nina LaCour ~

I love going to a movie of my choosing. I sit close to the screen and allow the bigness of it to carry me. I am lifted, engaged, and inspired by the dialogue and cinematography.
     And when it's over, I am renewed and refreshed. It's a mini-vacation and a source of artistic inspiration. It's a salve for the accumulated wounds of the week and a sense of wholeness restored.

I appreciate the power of a good movie to restore my faith and recover my soul.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

REFRESHMENT

"Human nature, if healthy, demands excitement."
~ Oswald Chambers ~
Occasionally I feel extreme exhaustion. And though I may not show it externally, on the inside I am dragging and life is hard work. But I find, in such cases, that rest is not the only thing that can restore me. Something that captures my imagination and my intellect with intrigue is often as effective, or more so, than a good night's sleep. 
    
Sometimes my exhaustion is more about too much repetition rather than lack of sleep, and what's required is fresh inspiration rather than excessive slumber.
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY

"We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth."
~ GB Shaw ~

We need each other. We cannot produce anything of value except in some kind of cooperation with others. We need an expert, an audience, a listening ear, or a helping hand. We cannot operate in a vacuum, though the idea of doing so may appeal to us.
     We are interconnected at a deep level: individual and absolutely unique, yes, but also inevitably, intrinsically, and infinitely linked.
 
I understand and appreciate my connection to others, and that I am one of many- a garden variety member of the human race.

Monday, November 2, 2015

FRESH THINKING

"The Possible's slow fuse is lit
by the Imagination."
~Emily Dickenson ~

Creative inspiration is energizing. It awakens my spirit and invigorates my mind. Excitement grows in me, and I look forward to evolving the idea.
     But I have to create silence and space enough for the creativity to come forth. So long as I stay busy and push on without ceasing, nothing fresh can be born in me, and in that case, I feel tired instead of vital and alive.

I make time and space in my life for creative inspiration.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WHAT'S UNDERNEATH

"At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled."
~ Marshall B. Rosenberg ~
 
Anger indulged is limited in its effectiveness, though the sensation itself has a powerful purpose in our lives. It signals us that something is off- that our boundaries have been crossed or something hidden has been triggered and woken up.
     Having a hissy fit or temper tantrum does not solve any problem, but acknowledging our hurt, or disappointment, or fear does. So let's feel our anger, but express it in a constructive way, with honesty and ownership, and a willingness to forgive where necessary and stand up where needed.
 
I appreciate my anger as a messenger that points to the need for honesty, courage, and steady resolve.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

AUTHENTIC POWER

"Put your creed into your deed."
~ R.W. Emerson ~

Authenticity is profound power- the power to inspire, encourage, comfort, and lead. Lacking pretense, we are a beacon for others: to be natural, be sincere, and be exactly who we are.
     But authenticity is more challenging than it might seem. In our modern era of success defined by materialism and egos enlarged, being authentic requires great courage. Nonetheless, for the risk it takes, the reward is tenfold.

I boldly share my authentic self with the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LANE ENDS, MERGE LEFT

"Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams."
~ Mary Ellen Kelly ~

A road construction bumper-to-bumper traffic jam is a bitter pill to swallow. And yet, it happens.
     I find I can be patient for so long, and then my hamstring starts to lock up and I get restless and impatient and feel like enough is enough and get me out of here. But there's no getting out. There's only getting through. Isn't that always the way?

I accept that life has construction zones, and sometimes I am forced to slow down.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CONSIDERING THE RAIN

"Let the rain sing you a lullaby."
~Langston Hughes ~

Lasting rain creates its own kind of symphony: rain on the roof, rain on the windshield, road spray, wiper blades, gutters that drip. And I always find rain rather humbling as well- the way it just falls and falls and falls until it stops.
     It can be cozy or dreary depending on our outlook and what we have to do, and it can soak in or be sloppy overkill. But whatever else it might be, the rain is a gift: fresh clean water falling all over us from the sky.

I am grateful for the rain even if it interferes with my plans.

Monday, October 26, 2015

FORWARD MOTION

"Life is a commitment. You have to commit to something."
~ Vasant Patel ~
 
We are so afraid of unknown outcomes that we would often prefer to do nothing than to take a risk, even if it's a calculated one. And yet, we end up living in a kind of wish-wash that way, instead of clearly proceeding in a particular direction.
     Moving towards something gives our lives direction and purpose, and although we push off and head out, we can always re-chart our course. Nothing is absolute and there's not much that's guaranteed, but forward motion keeps us going, and gives us something to wake up for and work towards, and in this way, our commitment to progress enriches our lives.
 
I courageously move forward in life, even though I can never be entirely sure where the path may lead.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

TRAVELING THE WORLD

"Change of place imparts new vigor to the mind."
~ Seneca ~
 
We don't have to travel far to have an international experience. We can go to a Chinese spa, an Indian movie, a French restaurant, and a Mexican grocery store, and each of these is authentic in its own way. We get the flavor and the feeling- the language, the colors, and the foreign point-of-view.
     I appreciate that. I love other cultures. All of the customs and attitudes fascinate me and enrich my world. So when I get a hankering to travel, I have only to seek out the right local spot, and I can get my fix and expand my world- right here... in my own backyard.

I enjoy the rich international heritage that is the modern global culture.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING

"Love is not consolation. It is light."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~

Love is the answer to every question that we have, but it doesn't translate well. It's easily misinterpreted as sex, romance, obsession, and need. But all it really is is gentle and kind, compassionate and warm, allowing, forgiving, and ever at ease.

Love is the answer. What's the question?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CRITTER COMFORT

"It is never too late to have a happy childhood."
~ Tom Robbins ~

I loved stuffed animals when I was a girl. They were my closest friends and confidants. I could tell them things and share myself with them in a way that I could not with living humans. And every once in a while, even as an adult, I come across one that warms my heart and carries me back to that original stuffed animal feeling of love, comfort, and the surety that everything is, and always will be, absolutely ok.

In the right circumstances, a stuffed animal can make a pretty good friend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

VISION

"Nature does not hurry."
~ Lao Tzu ~

Limited vision cannot be expanded without time. We see things when we see them. It's part of a natural process that can't be forced by either urging or demand.

I accept my vision as it is- better some days than others.

Monday, October 19, 2015

THE REAL STORY OF MARTYRDOM

"Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant."
~Tony Robbins~

Martyrdom is a cover story for not honoring the self. We direct fury and righteousness outward, when what is needed is a bit of breathing room and self-reflection. We cannot operate on all cylinders non-stop for days on end and not pay a price for it. And it's not anyone else's fault.
     We do what we do because we choose to do it. We have to get real about that. We can change our pace, change our attitude, and change our life circumstances. The details of it all are up to us.
     So let's stop blaming others for our self-imposed hardship. Let's take ownership of our limitations and be kind to our burned-out souls.
 
Martyrdom mode is a wake-up call for greater personal stewardship.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

OVER THINKING

"We spend our days in deliberating, and we end them without coming to any resolve."
~ L'Estrange ~

We can over think ourselves into stalemate and exhaustion. Too much back and forth and second guessing gets us nowhere but stuck. So when we feel ourselves going into angst and mental strain, we need to back off and ease up. We need to make room for flow and inspiration. As long as we insist on answers and demand deadlines, we cannot hope to achieve them.

I give my problems and inquiries space to breathe.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

GETTING INVOLVED

"We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth."
~GB Shaw ~

If we want to feel like we are a part of something, we have to throw ourselves into it. We cannot linger on the outskirts, judge critically from the sidelines, hardly participate, and expect to feel fulfilled.
     It is our engagement in life that determines our well-being. It's up to us to step up, get involved, and care.

I actively engage in my life experiences so that I can feel like I'm part of the big picture, and not isolated and alone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WAXING POETIC

"It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things."
~Stephen Mallarme ~
 
Hot, cold,
young, old,
fertile, bold
and incandescent.
 
Straight, bent,
heaven-sent,
mortgage, rent,
and fields of glory.
 
Bright, dark,
cardinal, lark,
cluttered, stark,
and luminescent.
 
Real deal,
take the wheel,
learn to feel,
and share your story.
 
The variety of life pleases my soul.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

MOVING TOWARDS GREATNESS

"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."
~Raymond Lindquist ~

It's exciting and scary to try new things. Anticipation amps us up. Planning, preparing, getting our ducks in a row- figuring it out... There's pleasure in all of it, and plenty of colloquial butterflies in the stomach at the same time.

I enjoy the swirling emotions of new ventures, and relish the process every step of the way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

THE THINGS WE TELL OURSELVES

"If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise."
~Johann von Goethe ~
 
For the most part, our insecurities are self-imposed. We think ourselves into smallness and separation and make excuses for all of the reasons that we are not liked, not appreciated, and not enough. The good news is that we can build confidence in ourselves the same way. All we need is a bit of self-directed compassion and encouragement.
     We are good souls doing the best we can with the information and experience that we have, and blessings abound. This is certainly as true, if not more so, than the negative mindset that we tend to wear instead. Undraped, we are glorious and full of light.
 
I embrace the goodness in me instead of the insecurity.
 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

LIFE'S DAILY FARE

"What gets measured gets managed."
~ Peter Drucker ~

Not knowing the future feels like a burden sometimes. How can we make plans if we don't know? How can we adequately prepare ourselves? We can't and therein lies the blessing.
     We live our lives piecemeal, one day at a time, and that's what makes them digestible. The way our experiences are served to us makes them a gourmet feast instead of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I welcome the tastes of the day.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

THE BASICS

"I was right not to be afraid of any thief but myself, who will end by leaving me nothing."
~ Katherine Anne Porter ~

Running on empty and strung out from a lack of sleep makes us less than optimally productive and pleasant to be around. We need our sleep, sustenance, and restoration. Let's stop abandoning ourselves and insist upon our own good care.

I eat regularly, move daily, and get enough sleep.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

MOTHER NATURE

"For I have learned to look on Nature not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity..."
~William Wordsworth ~

If we are observant, we can see all of the drama and resolve of our daily lives play out in Nature- in storms and seasons and the pecking order of hens. We can watch a brook slip merrily along over pebbles and around branches and stones, and then get stuck in pools of congested leaves and a back-up of sticks. Birds have to work with and not against the wind. Sun shines and then is covered by clouds, and leaves fall only to bud again.

I learn about myself by watching patterns and happenings in Nature. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

KEEPING FAITH

"Faith is the bird that sings to the dawn while it is still dark."
~ Tagore ~
 
Sometimes it seems like we will never get to where we're going; like the pain won't end, the ship won't sail, and we can't possibly figure out whatever it is we're trying to figure out. And yet, we do, and it does, and truth is always revealed to us at exactly the right time.
 
I trust the journey of my life.
 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

THINGS HAVE A WAY OF WORKING OUT

"Confidence is born of experience."
~Paul Ferrini ~

I am grateful to be older and wiser than I used to be. My historical hard-headedness and intensity were difficult to live with. They urged me into things with frantic panic and the belief that I knew more than I actually did. I ran my life on catastrophic thinking.
     And though I can still be intense and hard-headed at times, it's no longer my ruling principle. I have learned how to be patient, and how to better trust time.

I stay calm no matter what, and understand about resolution and the next right thing.

Monday, October 5, 2015

RELEASING CONTROL

"Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today."
~ Anonymous~

Accepting our inability to control other people and outcomes is a relief. The burden of worry is lessened as we surrender our position to the unknown and the yet to be created. There is freedom in acceptance, and space is opened for blessings and possibility.

When I can stop forcing my agenda on all the things I can't control, I am relieved of stress, conflict, worry, and despair.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

REMAINING CALM

"(Be) like an open door providing a kind of cross ventilation so that the air of divinity can move through you."
~ Gurudev Shree Chitrabhanu ~

Life has been unusually challenging lately, but rather than freak out and feel excruciating tension and strain from worry and fret, I have had a kind of inner steadiness and calm. I can't quite explain it, and it would likely be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate, but I rest in the blessing of it and feel deeply grateful. Life can be supportive, creative, and beautiful in spite of my struggles.

I appreciate the grace of inner peace, wherever and whenever it occurs.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

FEELING STUCK

"Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

I have recently come through a bought of self-doubting and self-pity; feeling overwhelmed by life, and all of the courage that each day requires. But the problem with self-pity is that it can't move me forward. All it can do is stick me in the muck where there's no vision and no inspiration.
     Eventually, I just have to move forward in spite of my doubts, and allow the movement itself to sustain me until I am in the flow of hope and goodness yet again.
 
I allow for periods of self-pity, but don't over-indulge it. What helps me most is getting back on track.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DEALING WITH LANDMINES

"Forgiveness is rediscovering the shining path of peace that... you thought others took away..."
~Dodinsky ~

Our days are full of land-mines- all kinds of things that set us off, twist our moods, and sour our good time. And once we've been tripped, it's hard to bounce back. We reel from the impact, inconsequential though it may ultimately be.
     It's a process to restore ourselves to well-being. It would be nice if we could make the decision to let go and then just let go. But instead, we have to consider what triggered us and why; acknowledge human error and limitation on every front; engage forgiveness and compassion where necessary, and then turn our attention back to the moment and the business at hand.

We live in a world of error and miscalculation so forgiveness is a large part of our daily fare. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

HONORING THE PROCESS

"Time takes time"
~ Ringo Starr ~

We are so anxious to get to the other side of things- especially unpleasant things- that we rush them and force them along instead of allowing for the natural process of time and grace. We impatiently insist on our own timing- on what coordinates with our schedule and all of the things that we have to do. We can't be bothered, and we strongly resist being held back.
     And yet, all of our resistance changes nothing, so we would do far better to accept things as they are, and let the process play out as it will.

I make room in my life for the natural process of time.
 

Monday, September 28, 2015

ABANDONING THE BEST MADE PLANS

"He is making you more flexible, and for this, be thankful."
~ Terri Guillemets ~

It's infrequent at best that things play out as we hope they will. Our plans can take us only so far, and then we have to rely on instinct and guidance. We have to surrender our agendas to the reality of what is. This is a humbling business. It seems easier to be insistent. It seems easier to muscle our way through to the other side. But it's not.
     What's easiest is to admit the truth as it presents itself, admit we might have been wrong about it, and appreciate the beauty of things exactly as they are.

I surrender to the plan beyond my plan and trust the bigger picture.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TRAVELING THE ROAD

"No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world."
~ Frances Willard ~
 
We learn as we go- that's just the way things happen. Try as we might to be fully prepared and well-educated in advance, it is only experience that gives us the tools and strategies that we need the most.    
     We have to show up for new adventures, as prepared as we can be, but open to whatever may come. The adventure itself will guide us, if we let it, and continue to instruct us and lead us as we make our way.

The journey of life stretches before me like a road in the distance. I have to keep on driving in order to see what comes next.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

THE NEED FOR DISCUSSION

"Communication- the human connection - is the key to personal and career success."
~ Paul J. Meyer ~

Getting a human being on the phone these days is an extreme challenge, and often, an impossibility. I love my email and text communication as well as the next guy, but there are times and situations when we need to have an actual conversation. Certain intricacies, delicacies, and details require verbal communication, and without it we are handicapped. In such cases, we need the back and forth, the discussion option- two human beings working together to work something out.
     I am not a huge fan of talking on the phone, but there are times when it is necessary, helpful, and good.

In spite of texts and emails and instant communication, I appreciate the need for occasional phone conversations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MANIPULATIVE INQUIRY

"Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone."
~ Mary Astor ~

Sometimes we ask a question and pretend to be innocent about it, but we actually have an agenda. We want our question to lead somewhere, to develop into something in particular, to get the person we're asking to realize something, or behave a certain way.
     Let's be honest about this and not fool ourselves into thinking that we're less manipulative than we are.

I ask questions free from motive or agenda, and simply because I want to know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

PROCEEDING WITH CARE

"To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work."
~ Mary Oliver ~
 
Making assumptions, being too quick to act, and not paying attention are three behaviors that can, and will, get us in trouble. We make errors this way that end up taking us more time in the long run. It's a kind of carelessness really. So many of our little daily dramas and frustrations could be avoided or ameliorated if we would just slow down and take our time from the get-go.
 
I take care as I go about doing things, and this saves me a world of angst down the road.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NO FEAR

"The whole secret of existence is to have no fear."
~ Swami Vivekananda ~

Fear is disabling. It cowers and caves us, and makes us a shell of ourselves. Let's make the decision to trust the process and fear not.

I face my fear with courage and faith.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

ALL THAT WE'VE SURVIVED

"Fear elevates pain beyond reasonable limits into mental agitation."
~ Rodney Smith ~

Sometimes it's harder than others to let go of the things that happen to us in the course of daily life. It's all that stuff we can't control. How will it play out, and what if it just doesn't? What if we are made to suffer, or made fun of, or what if we can't handle whatever comes? What if everything collapses?
     These are the subterranean questions that run through us when we get stuck in fear. We forget what we have already survived, and our resilience and our faith. Let's reclaim it, and carry on.

I trust in my experience and remember that things have a way of working out.
    

Thursday, September 17, 2015

STEP UP

"The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense."
~ Thomas Edison ~

Stop doing something that is not serving you, start doing something that serves you better, and sustain the new behavior until it becomes automatic and involuntary. This is how we contribute toward our own evolution.

I change my habits to improve my life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

SHIFTING LIGHT

"Autumn's the mellow time."
~ William Allingham ~

I love observing the changing, shifting, seasonal light. It soothes my spirit and reminds me of the beauty of changing leaves and fall afternoons soon to come.

September sunshine is good for my soul.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

THE LESSONS OF PAIN

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding."
~ Khalil Gibran ~

Pain is distracting and debilitating. It interferes with pleasure, function, and ease. And I think that the more we resist it, the sharper and more unbearable it becomes. If we can welcome it somehow instead, and ask what it has to teach us, then perhaps that might soften it and sweeten it and allow it to slowly dissolve.

I stop fighting my pain and let it teach me instead.

Monday, September 14, 2015

THE SOLUTION WHEN THERE IS NO OTHER

"A loving heart is the truest wisdom."
~Charles Dickens ~

In most situations, and with even more people that I can begin to realize, the best thing I can do is be loving. I cannot fix, mend, convince, or force. Love is the balm, the sweetness, and the only answer. Nothing else even comes close.

In the most challenging life circumstances, the only answer is love.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

FOLLOW-THROUGH

"Vision without action is a daydream." 
~ Japanese Proverb ~
 
I love seeing what I can manifest. Anything is possible in life if only I set the target and proceed in an orderly direction to meet it, and don't stop until I get there. It's the follow-through that separates the dreamers from the dream.
 
I pursue my goals with dogged persistence and steady resolve.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

SOWING AND REAPING

"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
~ M Gandhi ~

The more seeds we plant, the more things will grow in our lives. And some plants won't make it past the sprout phase, but others become sturdy and solid and firmly established. How colorful and varied we want the gardens of our lives to be is up to us. We have simply to till and sow and attend with care as new life breaks the surface and drives upwards towards the sun.

In my life situation, I plant what I want to grow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

VERBOSITY

"Brevity is the soul of wit."
~ William Shakespeare ~

I think we have a tendency to over-explain ourselves- as if we like the attention and the sound of our own voice. And sometimes, in a good story, a little extra filling makes for a juicy tale. But sometimes- more often perhaps- crisp clarity is better, and less is actually more.

I am clear and succinct and speak directly to the point.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

ONWARD AND UPWARD

"Do not let your shadow walk you. You are not a slave of the past."
~ Dodinsky ~
 
One lesson at a time, one day at a time, and one love to hold it all together. These are the tenets of my forward progress through life.
 
I proceed forward orderly, one step at a time.

Monday, September 7, 2015

ANGER

"At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled."
~ Marshall B. Rosenberg ~
 
I rarely feel anger, but when I do, it's usually one of two things: I have been blatantly disrespected, or I have unresolved emotional buildup lingering beneath the surface of my cool fa├žade. My ire comes as an indicator light: pay attention, something is amiss.
     And just because I feel anger rising doesn't mean I have to act on it, but it's not helpful to suppress it either. Like all things, it must be acknowledged, considered, and processed in time.
 
I let my anger guide me rather than control me. It is a warning sign and not necessarily a green light.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

FEAR AND HOPE

"Hope is a roving gypsy."
~ Dora Read Goodale ~
 
My life is full of wonderful things- exciting opportunities, new adventures, information, education and developing passions. But it also has its share of challenge and emotional weight. And sometimes, it's hard to keep my fear at bay, in spite of my hope. But I keep on anyway, and let things unfold as they will.
 
A whole life is full of tribulation as well as inspiration, and trouble as well as delight.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

BLESSED AND OPPRESSED

"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~

When life bears down heavily on us, it's easy to feel a bit oppressed. Nonetheless, all the blessings of our life remain, and we have only to notice them, acknowledge them, and appreciate them. And if we do this, like a train that is ramping up to full speed, we build momentum for gratitude, and our burden is lightened by the ever-present gifts of grace.
 
I acknowledge and appreciate my immeasurable blessings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

GIVING OURSELVES A BREAK

"Stress is the trash of modern life- we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life."
~Terri Guillemets ~
 
It's ok to give ourselves a break when we need one; to ride ourselves a little less hard, relieve ourselves of condemnation and criticism for a spell, and watch movies all day if we need to for our mental health.
     This is not an endurance contest where whoever puts the most hardship on themselves wins the prize. It's a journey and an adventure and we can float along every once in a while. It's not always about the paddling and the pushing and the distance traveled from point A to point B.
 
I allow for rest and rejuvenation when I need it. My life is about more than just survival.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BUMPY ROADS

"But ne'er the rose without the thorn."
~ Robert Henrick ~

We can use absolutely everything that we experience as an opportunity for growth and personal evolution. And perhaps, the more difficult the lesson, the greater our opportunity. We learn the depth of our strength and the power of our resilience; how sturdy or flimsy is our faith, and how universal is our suffering. We learn patience and courage and how to survive in spite of our fears.
    
I believe in blessings and goodness, no matter what I experience.

Monday, August 31, 2015

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE

"It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things."
~Stephen Mallarme ~

Life is poetic, but our minds have to soften and quiet enough for us to experience it that way. There is extraordinary beauty in people's faces, the sounds of traffic, the touch of clothing, the taste of sweetness, and the scent of leaves, fresh air, cut grass, and the wet earth after a rainstorm.
     Our senses are antennae for poetry, and they are always picking up delicacy and deliciousness, but we over-power them with our obsessive and incessant thoughts. We must learn to let the noise of our minds slip though our consciousness like flour through a sifter, so that we can be fully present for whatever rhythmic rhapsody there may be.

I experience the poetry of life.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

BELIEVING IN WHAT'S POSSIBLE

"An acre of performance is worth a whole world of promise."
~ Willliam Dean Howells ~

There's a difference between believing in what's possible and expectations that can let us down. The one is aiming with care, precision, and faith; and the other is banking on a projected mirage.
     Let's choose to believe in what calls us. But as for counting on the delivery of expectations that are self-directed and self-imposed, we'll do better to leave them on the back porch.

I have strong faith and lots of hope, but no specific expectations.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

WISHFUL THINKING: RAINSONG

"I yearn for the flowers that bend in the wind and rain."
~Tso Ssu ~
 
Rain soothes the parched August earth, and is a balm for the spirit as well as the dirt.
 
I celebrate the soaking rain!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DEALING WITH LIFE CHALLENGES

"Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies."
~Erich Fromm ~

Among the people I am close to, here is an array of situations we are dealing with: active alcoholism, stroke recovery, Alzheimer's, depression, joint replacement, grief, chronic pain, salmonella, panic attacks, nerve issues, and autism. And that's the short list. We all have our turn in the barrel.
     What helps me is knowing that I am not alone- that we are all struggling, and that we are all faced with challenges that seem impossible to face. And yet, time cycles us round as time does, and we rise and dip. One challenge passes away and then another emerges. We learn, we heal, we feel compassion, and we keep on. Humor sustains us, and community, and the common pleasures of sunlight, gentle breezes, changing seasons, and everlasting love.

I share the challenges of my life experience with others, receive theirs in kind, and together we are strengthened and comforted and strangely blessed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE COMING FALL

"Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell- some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power."
~Northern Advocate ~

I feel fall coming in the light and the air and it quickens my heart. Fall is renewal and refreshment after the long, hot summer, and I'm grateful for the hint of it that I am aware of now!

Anticipation enriches my experience.

Monday, August 24, 2015

COSTCO BUTTERFLY

"A butterfly goes wherever it pleases, and pleases wherever it goes."
~Author Unknown ~

I was shopping in Costco the other day, and there was a big butterfly flying all around the cash register area. Most people didn't seem to notice him, and on a different day, I probably wouldn't have either. But nonetheless, whether we noticed him or not, there he was.

All kinds of marvelous surprises await me each day, but I will only see them if I am looking.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

THE STORIES WE SHARE

"I learned more about economics from one South Dakota dust storm that I did in all my years in college."
~ Hubert Humphrey ~

Hard times make for good stories. Stories connect us to others, and others remind us that we are not alone, and that we all have stories. They are part of the ride and part of the dance.
     But mixed in with the hard-time stories are the beautiful moments, awe-inspiring views, and delicious meals; the music, the sunshine, and the deep satisfying sleeps.
 
Life is a mix of hard times and beautiful moments and I welcome them both.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

REDEMPTION

"Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul."
~Henry Van Dyke ~

Redemption often comes in the aftermath of a crash and burn event. Some of us have to sink before we can rise, and almost die before we can fully embrace our lives. It may not necessarily be what we wish for ourselves or for others, but that doesn't make it any less true.

I appreciate that no matter how grim a situation may appear, there is always the hope and possibility of redemption.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

BUILDING WHAT MATTERS

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." ~Donald Kendall ~

The way we build something of value is through consistency over time: consistency, repetition, and the steady beat- like a heartbeat- of our daily movement through life.

I do the next right thing- consistently, and with resolution.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

EMPOWERING OTHERS

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."
~ John Gardner ~

It can be a hard-to-identify line between empowering and enabling others, and it takes some thoughtful reflection and consideration to be able to see clearly in each and every situation. Empowering, by its definition, is giving power to the other- the power of choice and the power of personal responsibility. If we take power away in any manner that is, by definition dis-empowering, and it is that which actually enables feelings of victimization and self-pity.
     We have to let people live their lives and suffer the consequences of their choices. This is what strips them of excuses, and this is what gives them their best shot at good living.

I stop enabling others and empower everyone I encounter to take responsibility for their own lives.

Monday, August 17, 2015

THE GIFT OF CHALLENGING MOMENTS

"Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself."
~Thomas Jefferson ~

My sister's death empowered me in ways I cannot express. That I lived to memorialize her life in a church and scatter her ashes on the raw earth gives me a reservoir of strength. If I can do that, what can't I do? Most things seem routine by comparison.

Getting through difficult times gives me deep wells of strength.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

MAXIMIZING POTENTIAL

"I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung."
 ~Tagore ~
 
I like the word "maximize," and though it is somewhat like, and rhymes with, "super-size," I think its perspective is markedly different. To maximize something is to get the most out of it, not to push it to the limit and beyond. There's a distinction, and it matters.
     Let's maximize our potential. Let's live and be and do our best. This is how we feel good- not by shirking our duties and copping out on life, but by stepping up, stepping forth, and having the courage to live large and from the heart.
 
I make the most of the gift of my life.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

MEETING OTHERS WHERE THEY ARE

"It's an odd thing about this universe that, though we all disagree with each other, we are all of us always in the right."
~Logan Pearsall Smith ~
 
We have to meet others wherever they are, and meet ourselves the same way. Let's stop with the judgment, criticism, and blame. Let's be appreciative and encouraging instead: compassionate, forgiving, and full of kindness. We are all where we are due to the paths that we've chosen, and some that have chosen us; and we can learn from each other- all kinds of things. Let's close our doors of judgment and open our hearts instead. We never know when a fresh breeze may blow in.
 
I welcome and appreciate points-of-view that are different than my own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

BLOOD RELATIVES

"Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies."
~Shirley Abbott ~
 
Families are imperfect and that's what makes them interesting. All kinds of human elements collide around the table and across the years, and yet, beneath it all, no matter what, there is connection. We share something special and particular with our blood relatives that we can share with no others.
 
I honor and appreciate my family of origin, imperfect though it may be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ALL THE THINGS WE MISS

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or last time."
~ Betty Smith ~
 
Food shopping the other day, I noticed a whole mural of people eating fruit and vegetables around the ceiling of the produce section, and I have never noticed it before, although I have been shopping there for years. I was surprised, delighted, and somewhat amazed to discover it. I don't think it's new. I just think that I have never bothered to look up. I wonder what else I haven't noticed.
     Let's pay attention and look around. Let's be present, open, and fully aware.
 
I take notice of what's around me, and observe my environment with care.

Monday, August 10, 2015

PRODUCTIVITY

"The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge."
~ Eckhart ~

Productivity is about yielding positive results. There is a certain surrendering built into it, and it isn't necessarily accomplishment specific. Productivity is more experiential than that. To have a certain grounded balance within- that's productivity: to not hamper ourselves with guilt or dysfunction or faulty patterns of behavior. When we feel good, we do good, and we experience life as good. And so, if we look at it in this way, then the ultimate root of productivity is proper self-care.

I do right by myself and experience well-being and good living as a result.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

ONE-OF-A-KIND

"There is just one life for each of us: our own." 
~ Euripides ~

When people tell me I am "like" someone else- even if the someone is quite glorious in their own right- it bothers me. I recognize that I share certain perspectives and philosophies with people of all kinds, but the exact mix of me is unique.
     We may remind someone of another, but if they got to know us better they would see that for all we share- being human, experiencing the ups and downs of life on earth, the grace of love and compassion, and the reality of suffering- it is nonetheless the case that we have our own particular personality, and that we are, and shall ultimately and absolutely remain, one-of-a-kind.

We are at once the same as others and uniquely ourselves.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time."
~James Taylor ~

Spending a bit of the time at the beach realigns my spirit with the natural cycle of rising and falling tides, and helps me to remember that all of life is like that. Our energy, like the sun, rises up over the horizon in the morning, shifts into full gear by noontime, blasts us through the afternoon, and then passes away again over the far hills at dusk.
     Getting in synch with the rhythm of nature soothes the soul, and reminds us of our inner tides. We needn't be so rushed and harried. Life is a process, after all, and a cycling; not a first-one-to-the-finish-line kind of event.

Time is a cyclical, organic process, and not a race to the end.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

THE FEAR OF DEATH

"All say, 'How hard it is that we have to die'- a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live."
~ Mark Twain ~

We are so afraid of death- our own as well as those we love- and yet, death is as natural as birth, and as natural as life itself. I'm not sure why we resist it the way we do; perhaps, because it's impossible to know the absolute outcome and ramification of it, and we are fixated on knowing, and understanding, and certainty. But it may be this exact attitude that causes so much stress in our lives. We impose certainty and the illusion of control over the wide world in which we live and our miniscule place in it.
     Perhaps, if we could learn instead to accept and even embrace this living journey exactly as it comes- unknown and impermanent- instead of demanding it be some other way for our sense of comfort, we would actually be more comfortable, and feel better in our skins.
 
I accept that death is a natural part of any and every living cycle, and I find a way to become ok with it.