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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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DEALING WITH AGGRESSORS

"To speak and to speak well are two different things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks."
~Ben Jonson ~
 
We want to be polite, and do our best to do just that, but when others encroach aggressively on our personal space, politeness only seems to encourage their encroachment. And rudeness, in such a situation, easily escalates things to becoming potentially dangerous. So what's the answer?
     Neutrality, it seems to me, mixed with calm, but firm assertiveness, has got to be the better way. We don't have to be doormats, and we don't have to be nasty. We can simply honor ourselves, and honor the other, by stating the straight facts.
 
I respond to others crossing my personal boundaries with clarity, assertion, and inner calm.

Monday, August 3, 2015

CLAIMING OUR POWER

"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are."
~ RoyDisney ~

It's not a terrible thing to return from vacation, when you fundamentally enjoy your life, which I do. I love the changing light and the mountain views around our small farm, and I love walking and hanging out with our dog Boss. I love to eat lean food that makes me feel lean- something that is always a challenge on vacation-  the routines around waking up and going to sleep, and the active nature of my life working at the gym- being fit, and helping people to feel good.
     But I haven't always experienced my life this way. I used to have in place all kinds of daily habits that contributed to my angst and discomfort, and I would have regular little temper tantrums over the way things were. But I have learned that we have the power to change anything and everything in our lives that is not working, from our belief system to our behaviors, and I employ this power all the time, so I can live well, and be well, and enjoy the process of each day.

I make appropriate daily choices so that I can enjoy the richness of my life.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

THE TRUTH MAKES SENSE

"Honesty is the best policy."
~ Ben Franklin ~

I find advertising and political promises of all kinds insulting to my intelligence, and consequently, disrespectful. Common sense is enough to dispute a multitude of statements that are presented to us as absolute truth. Equally so, lies of any kind frustrate me. To be told things are one way, when clearly, they are not, discounts my ability to understand, to be compassionate, and to be able to handle things exactly as they are... even if they're not perfectly comfortable.
     The truth is refreshing. It feels better, sits better, and simply IS better. Let's have the courage to be honest and upright, even if that's not what our culture promotes.

I live and speak the truth.