"How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year."
~ Thomas Wentworth Higginson ~
With a quick glance, it might seem that trees and bushes are dead in the winter, but closer study demonstrates that they clearly are not. Winter is the time of berries and bud preparation- the retreat and silent solace before the big burst of spring. Winter is vibrant with colors of its own, and subtleties that are easily missed by the careless gaze.
I see and experience the life that lives in winter.
"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will."
~ James Stephens ~
Curiosity is a good thing. It keeps us mentally lively and engaged in the process of learning. Wondering why, how, where, which, and what is an adventure in exploration. Searching for answers and finding them expands our mind.
Nothing is off limits. If a question arises within us, we have to answer it somehow, and the answer itself is what grows us and evolves us and enlarges our world.
Every day is a great learning adventure! I am curious about people and things and the whys and hows of life.
"After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value."
~ George McCauley Trevelyan ~
The air some days is so fresh it's like food for the soul- alive with nutrients and vitality- thin. crisp, and delicious!
I love the fresh air. I love walks outside no matter the weather. I love the way it feels to be outdoors, in the elements, part of nature, and breathing in life.
I walk outside daily and appreciate the fresh air.
"Simplicity and harmony are the ultimate conditions to be attained in all things."
~ Horace Fletcher ~
Chaos used to hold some kind of appeal. It felt artsy and communal somehow- bohemian- emotionally cluttered in an almost cozy kind of way, and interesting above all else. But chaos is no match for what is clear and simple and pure. Low drama living is good living, and clear spaces, both physically and emotionally, are good for the soul.
"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
~ Pablo Picasso ~
For a long time, I have wanted to be rid of fear, but lately it's occurred to me that even fear has its purpose and its own kind of goodness. Fear is a motivator in its own way, and a protector. It's our warning system, our adrenaline, and our challenge to rise.
And so, by looking at it in the right way, I can be grateful for my fear. It has its place and its purpose. The challenge, and the goal, is not to be rid of it, but to feel it and keep on.
I appreciate the valuable role that fear plays in my life.
A bit of inspiration is like rocket fuel. It wakes something up inside of us; lights a fire and starts a buzz. I'm not sure that we can achieve greatness without inspiration in our lives, but with it, we are unstoppable.
The trick is to maintain inspirational momentum- to seek it in others when we cannot find it in ourselves, and to feed it with energy and action and courage and faith.
Inspiration fuels my passion and passion fuels my life.
"The hardest arithmetic for us to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."
~ Eric Hoffer ~
Every so often we need to pause and acknowledge our gratitude for the blessings in our lives, and for God's unending Grace- that we live, that we love, that we learn and grow and get one fresh start after another every day that we wake up. Life is good, but getting tangled up in the tyranny of the urgent it's easy to forget that. But when we pause, when we step back, and when we consciously look, we will see the goodness and the beauty, the possibility and the light.
"Never let your emotions rule, but always let them testify."
~ Robert Brault ~
What we remember about people is how they make us feel- not their words, their advice, their clothes, or their level of fitness, but the emotion they convey. We remember feeling judged, hurt, suspicious and fearful as well as inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and loved.
And so, considering the reality of this great truth, we must ask ourselves, and honestly, what feelings are we spreading? When we're with other people, how do we make them feel?
I am willing to share my loving heart and positive energy with all those I encounter.
"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost."
~ Marion C. Garretty ~
Eighteen years ago, this is the month that my only sister killed herself. We all tried to understand her and fix her for years, but her path led her where it led, and perhaps she wasn't broken after all- just born to die young, and teach us all about ourselves as we traveled the layers of her emotional pain, and our own.
I like things neat and tidy and I keep them that way as much as I can, but life is often messy in spite of my efforts, and the more I stomp around in other people's business thinking I know what's best, the messier it gets.
I am willing to surrender my understanding to the mysterious process of life.
"When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace."
~ Author Unknown ~
When we release tension, we increase energy. All that has been held taut and "in check" suddenly moves freely and a sense of ease pervades. And we can accomplish this release of tension with something as simple as a deep breath. We can let go of stress and strain and worry and angst all by breathing in and breathing out, consciously, and with an "ahhhh" sound as we exhale.
When I am feeling tense and pinched, I breathe deeply and feel the tension release.
"When you're going around in circles, it is not progress to report an increase in circles completed."
~ Robert Brault ~
Interruptions are a plague of modern life. With our smart phones and ready accessibility, it's nearly impossible to complete a task without someone or something tugging at our metaphysical pant leg, unless we set ourselves apart to get the job done. Let's practice setting boundaries around our work so that we can complete it and move on with the business of living our lives, instead of trying at it piecemeal and feeling frustrated every time our attention is pulled away.
Let's do the work and then let the distractions in. That way, they are a pleasure instead of an annoyance, and we are productive instead of constantly stuck in the mud.
I dis-allow distractions until I have the job done.
We gripe about our problems, but the fact is that life without a challenge is a lusterless affair. Ideally perhaps, we'd like to pick the things we have to face and make them all exciting and rewarding and fun! But a challenge, by its nature, is a summons to our inner selves and a call to action that says, "Face this!" whatever "this" is, and so we must.
Life throws down the gauntlet, and we can leave it lie, collapse in a heap and start to cry, or pick it up and see what we are made of.
"The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches."
~ ee cummings ~
No matter what's happening with the weather, it gives us something to talk about. It's too hot or too cold, or can you believe the rain, wind or ice? The weather is a universal experience. We can all relate. It's the great common ground. And though we may not all feel the same way about what's happening outside- some like it one way and some another- it gives us a language we can all understand.
I appreciate the weather as the great equalizer of mankind.
There are things we must do. Our spirits insist upon it. Our dreams, in some way, are less dreams and more possibility visions. They point the way and show us who we are, even if we can't fully own it yet- even if we're unsure or feeling stuck. Little hints and inner whispers taunt us and plague us until we wake up to our purpose.
And if we don't, that is our loss, and also our choice, but it's not for lack of knowing. No one can follow our dreams but us.
I pay attention to my inner calling and follow the call.
I love the power of books! We can learn anything, explore anything, adventure anywhere, follow our passion, investigate our past... All of the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of humankind is available to us in books, and they are free to use and peruse at the library and near-free on Amazon.
What a thing if we made the decision to entertain ourselves less and educate ourselves more- on any subject or any multitude of subjects. We can learn forever using the power of books.
"One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake."
~ Anton Chekhov ~
Let's not be afraid to fail. As a general rule, we let fear stop us in our tracks, block us from getting started, cripple us, shrink us, and keep us down low. But what if we didn't? What if we tried everything that spoke to us just for the adventure of it? What if we were willing to risk even a little? What if we were willing to risk a lot?
In failure is blessing so that's never quite the end of the game; and looking at it that way, maybe there is really no such thing as failure at all, and what we think of as failure is just a lesson we learn along the path.
I have the courage to risk failure knowing that even in loss there is gain.
"I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself."
~ Michel de Montaigne ~
I like everyone to be happy with me at all times which is its own kind of dysfunction. Wanting to please others, being afraid of disappointing them, going out of my way and beyond my own limitations to make sure that everyone around me is taken care of and feels good is a personally costly way to live.
Being kind, generous, and compassionate is one thing, but sacrificing our own well-being for the well-being of others as a habit and a rule is something else entirely. We can be loving and do good without giving ourselves entirely away.
"Man is never alone... That which dreams through him is always there to support him from within."
~ Laurence van der Post ~
Sometimes, for our own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being we have to drop everything and put ourselves first. We can become so much about doing for others that we forget who we are and what revives us. We become bedraggled and worn out.
And if we have become utterly habituated to doing for others, putting ourselves first for a change might induce guilt in us, but it needn't. Self-care is the main ingredient, and arguably the most important ingredient, for good living and good health.
I let go of misplaced guilt and take time for myself when I need restoration and solitude.
"Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes."
~ Sara Teasdale ~
It is often the things I feel most internally petulant about having to experience that end up giving me the greatest satisfaction. They turn out differently than I had expected, and decidedly better. So the lesson, and the consideration to carry forward, is that the more I can free myself from preconceived ideas about the way things should be, the more I am pleased and delighted by the way they actually are.
I release the need for a fixed agenda and let life unfold as it will.
"Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle."
~ Bill Phillips ~
Sometimes the pressure we impose upon ourselves is disabling and there's no reason for it- pressure to succeed, to excel, to be perfect somehow, or perhaps, pressure to cut corners, or be less good than we actually are. It pulls us in all directions and every which way and we get caught in the middle feeling the strain.
Let's set a course to give us focus, stay on it, and be ok simply doing the best we can. That way, we can let the pressure that wants to sink us flow around us instead, and be rooted in our purpose and steady on our path.
"You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time."
~ Pat Schroeder ~
Regarding some changes I have no fear and only excitement, and other changes leave me so fearful I am almost unable to make a move except by a sheer force of my will. And I'm not even sure what I'm afraid of- that it will not play out as I hope, or that it will...
I find myself stalemated and procrastinating unnecessarily, maybe because I know that once I begin there is no turning back. As long as I am in preparation mode, anything is still possible, and there is a certain kind of a backward, stagnant safety in that. But forward is the way and forward is the hope and the light so that's the way I need to orient my being and my faith.
I have the courage to move forward, trust in the future, and face dynamic change.
"Happiness is a place between too little and too much."
~ Finnish Proverb ~
Although we don't think of it in these terms, sugar is a powerful drug- maybe one of the most powerful. It's habit forming and creates a craving in us. It gives us a little buzz of sweetness and good feelings, and then drops us on our backs.
And we play around with it like it's nothing- like it's innocent and innocuous, but it's not. It will trip us up sure as cocaine. In light of this reality, let's be sure we are properly managing our sugar intake, and that it is not managing us.
I interact cautiously and respectfully with sugar knowing that it can hook me sure as any drug.
"Be at war with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better Man."
~ Ben Franklin ~
Life is a slip-sliding affair. Once we lose our footing and get off track, a self-perpetuating cycle from the inside out wants to keep us off track, and it takes character and discipline to end the cycle and re-route us in the direction of goodness and light.
And that's what the first of the year requires of us- that we examine all the ways we've gotten sloppy, admit to them, and then decide and commit to straighten ourselves out. Life will continuously come along and want to slide us down a slippery slope, so we must be vigilant and steady in order to experience the benefits of a life rightly lived.
I recognize where I have slipped and find my way back to upright and steady.