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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Mitch2
It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since my brother died.

Anniversaries are always… well, they are always something.

Sometimes they are hard and you can barely get through them, sometimes they pass more silently, sometimes the anticipation is harder than the day itself, but always it is made easier by all those who remember, who tell stories, who help remember and who help comfort.

I have learned a lot in the past 7 years, but the thing that sticks out today isn’t what was fixed, because something like that couldn’t be fixed, but instead what fills my heart is an immense gratitude for the times people have been there, with hands and hearts outstretched, willing to do whatever needed to be done.

And sometimes all that was to be “done” was to sit with us as we cried, got angry, laughed and then cried some more.  Please know that your presence, your love, your kindness has helped our family heal.

Glennon Melton Carry On Warrior2

This little gem is from Glennon Melton’s WONDERFUL book-

Carry On Warrior-The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

(if you haven’t read it what are you waiting for?!?!)

For those of you who have been my “In Case of Emergencies” I thank you, for the nights when you heard my sobs over the phone, or in person, for those times you just showed up for a hug, for those times you sent a card to let me know you hadn’t forgotten, the random texts at Facebook messages at just the right time, for those times you would offer to take me out to dinner to get away from it all, I knew I was never alone.  And for that I can never thank you enough…

Thank you for not taking away my pain, but being willing to walk through it with me.

Thank you for all the times you hurt for me, and yet you did the hardest and most loving thing, to let me have my sacred journey and instead reminded me (early and often) that I wasn’t alone.

Thank you to all of my In Case of Emergencies… you are so very precious to me.

 

 

 

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I found this little gem of a poem on Heather Plett’s website on the page Connecting With the Sacred.   Part prayer, part invitation it spoke to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Every time I stumble across Mary Oliver’s poetry it is like connecting with the Sacred for me, it causes me to sit up straight, allows light to flood into my being and it invites me to breathe deeply knowing this moment is enough.

Her poetry is simple observation, combined with deep wisdom and an expanse of stillness that fills me up every time.

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

 

My prayer for you today:

May you seek what fills you.

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Sunflower

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Peacock

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed. ~Mary Oliver

(thanks to Amy from the Messy Middle for that gem from Mary Oliver)

My prayer for you today…

Wherever you may be, may you trust in the little moments of grace that sustain us,

may you take a moment to soak in all of the beauty that surrounds you,

may you seek beauty in the midst of your life,

and may you stand where ever you are and receive the blessing that awaits you.

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If you haven’t ever done it before head over to see the pure awesomeoness that is Danielle LaPorte, brilliant and straight to your heart her words simply shimmer.  And her latest post did what it always does and hit me straight in my heart.

We need to know about your joy. (And other conversations of fulfillment.)

We need you to tell us your good news. Tell us how deeply in love you are. Tell us how your life is rocking. How free you are these days. Tell us how wonderful your family is. How many opportunities are coming your way. How great it feels to make your work in the world. How lazy, luxurious, or revitalizing your holiday was. Tell us how fulfilled you feel in your job. How sexy you felt on the dance floor, on your bike, in the interview. Tell us how well you’re being loved. How delicious your dinner was. How healthy and sturdy you are these days. Go ahead, tell us how lucky you are.Do you feel so utterly blessed at times that it blows your mind? Ya? Tell us about it. Please.

Even if you have to stretch to find the one golden thing in your existence right now, accentuate that. And give it to us.

We need you to light up our realities. Don’t shrink from sharing the story of your good fortune. Give us examples of well-loved living. Give us evidence of the rewards of courage, that it pays to hold out, or to go wild, or to burn prayer candles.

Declare your fulfillment without restraint.

Create conversations of fulfillment so we can step away from the shadows of media madness and habitual, repressive, dampening complaining of the day.

Forget about arrogance and your britches. Never mind potentially envious reactions — envy can be a positive agitator. Yes, be gentle in the face of another’s lack, but still, let them know that certain happiness is possible — you’re living proof.

Tell us what’s good in your life so that we can believe in it for ourselves, so that we can reach out and join in.

Speak of your joy. Whatever it is. Often. twit bird We need to know about your joy. (And other conversations of fulfillment.)

Wise words from Danielle LaPorte
I have been thinking a lot about this concept lately.
I have friends struggling with some big things, medical issues, relationships shifting, cracking, adjusting to big changes in so many ways… and when you are in the midst of those deep shifts it can sometimes be daunting to see other people’s highlight reels… but there is another side to that.
When I see someone deeply reveling in their joy, when I see them fulfilled by their perfectly imperfect life it reminds me to do the same.  When I see someone celebrating the gifts they have in their life I receive it as a personal invitation to celebrate my own gifts that are waiting to be noticed, to be discovered, to be opened, to be shared.
It is good to be reminded that there is always another story to be told, one of abundance, of joy, of gifts… even in the midst of the darkest nights there is light to be found, peace to be shared, joy to be experienced…
So dear ones… tell me of the beauty you see before you right now, in this very moment.

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In our Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook obsessed culture we tend to believe what we see and we forget that there is a story behind every picture, behind every post.  Sometimes there is a larger story that we don’t know, and sometimes we assign stories where there are none.

There is a balance to walk, a fine line.  Currently I am going through a difficult period of my life, relationships shifting, anniversaries of difficult things, learning more about some situations that bring sadness. And yet, in spite of it all I am experiencing a deep sense of peace, of connectedness and of deep trust through it.  And through it all there is so much to celebrate- births, beauty, deepening of relationships, love and so much more.

It is the Cone or Crap debate from the Ted Talk- Gratitude, Gifting and Grandpa by John Halcyon Styn … which do I focus on, what habits do I cultivate, what tools do I have to help me navigate the difficult places.

Grandpa & Halcyon – Tickled Pink

I realize now that it is this mental discipline that determines the degree in which you enjoy your life. It is so simple: Focus on the good.

But in our modern world it isn’t simple at all. Our advertising bombards us with the message that we are not enough and we do not have enough. Or news relentlessly tells the story of doom and fear.  It is no wonder that so many of us struggle with unhappiness and depression.  It takes a committed practice to stay focussed on the good.  (Or frequent visits to an especially magical Grandpa.)

But since Grandpa is no longer here physically, I developed a  little trick to snap myself into the Grandpa mindset.  It is called, “Crap or Cone.”

Visualize yourself  holding an ice cream cone in one of your hands…and with dog crap on one of your shoes.  This is the state of our lives at every single moment.

At every moment there are aches and pains, work to be done and people who don’t like you.  At the very same moment, there are gorgeous flowers, laughing babies and your favorite foods.  There are always both. And the degree in which you live in Heaven or Hell is determined by where you place your focus.

This is not the same thing as pretending that you have no problems.  Time and energy should be put towards addressing the crap on your shoe.  (My grandpa spent a few moments EVERY DAY writing his congressional representatives.  But he didn’t spend the rest of the day complaining about the issues.)

The problem comes when we make our lives all about the crap.  And in a world so focused on problems, that crap-focus is an easy trap to fall into. In fact, it is scary how often you will see people set down their cone, take a huge whiff off their shoe and demand, “Oh this is horrific…you have GOT to come smell this!”

Some people will argue that focusing on the good is simply not facing “Reality.”  But reality has almost an infinite amount of things for us to pay attention to.  Yet, our lives have a finite amount of moments.  Where we place our focus is everything.

When you start practicing focusing on your cone, you start to realize just how much there is to be grateful for.  So much in nature. So much in our own bodies. So much in our fellow human beings.  We are practically swimming in an avalanche of ice cream.

 John Halcyon Styn

Concentrating on the crap won’t make my dear one’s cancer disappear, or bring back a loved one, or keep another from her hurting heart… but only focusing on the cone, the delicious parts of life like the beauty of the autumn light, the fact that my words have been pouring forth and I feel connected to the juice of life in so many ways, that doesn’t fit entirely either.  When we aren’t honest about where we are really at, where we struggle, how we are really doing there is the loss of the opportunity to make a connection, to really meet each other where we are at. And I have found that my relationships have thrived where I share all of me, the cone and the crap, and where I make space for people that I love to be who they are and where they are at.

At the same time I have started to set more boundaries around how much crap talk I can handle, and I no longer spend the amount of time I used to

Those who are interested in living wholeheartedly know that behind the perfectly captured photo of the angelic toddler there were the moments before with the meltdown because they didn’t want to wear matching socks, or because they wanted to do it “all by myself”.  And we have those same tantrums as adults, we just seem to hide them more effectively.

And as I strive to live a life where words like- authentic, congruent, intentional, wholehearted, clarity are used daily. I find myself celebrating the cone, but acknowledging the crap and learning to walk that balance.

And it has been a helpful practice to remember that people’s cultivated lives aren’t always a reflection of the entirety of their lives… and there are people that are brave enough to share all of themselves with people who have earned the right to hear the entirety of the story:

Share tenderness with people who have earned it. Trust is built in small moments over time. Work through your stories one-on-one before sharing them publicly. Be careful whom you trust with your tender places. Hence, boundaries are important.

It’s a privilege to see me outside of my armor. People have to earn that right. There are people who are not safe, so limit time around them or else be armored / boundaried around them.

Thoughts from a talk by Brene Brown on Bettina Shzu’s blog

We are all in process, we are all doing the best we can with what we have, and we are all deserving of so much love and kindness.

If anything I would ask that you remember that what you see often isn’t the entirety of the story, and that sometimes we forget that other people have the same fears, struggles and issues that we do.  We are so similar and we tend to spend so much time making ourselves so separate, so special… and yet… what peace, what wonder is found when we realize that we are all such magical beings full of light, love, tender moments, frustrations, fears, regrets, anxieties with a hope that is woven through.

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Fall Flowers

One of my favorite things is to listen to the essays of This I Believe… just hearing the beginning introduction I will pause, stop whatever I am doing, let out a sigh and settle in.  I have yet to listen to one that doesn’t make me think, ponder or look at the world in a slightly different way.

These two ideas from Kevin Kelly and his essay The Universe Is Conspiring To Help Us caught my attention and have been playing in my head and my heart since I heard them…

I have developed a belief about what happens in these moments and it goes like this: Kindness is like a breath. It can be squeezed out, or drawn in. To solicit a gift from a stranger takes a certain state of openness. If you are lost or ill, this is easy, but most days you are neither, so embracing extreme generosity takes some preparation. I learned to think of this as an exchange. During the moment the stranger offers his or her goodness, the person being aided offers degrees of humility, indebtedness, surprise, trust, delight, relief, and amusement to the stranger.

And this…

When the miracle flows, it flows both ways. With each gift the threads of benevolence are knotted, snaring both giver and recipient. I’ve only slowly come to realize that good givers are those who learn to receive with grace as well. They radiate a sense of being indebted and a state of being thankful. As a matter of fact, we are all at the receiving end of a huge gift simply by being alive. Yet, most of us are no good at being helpless, humble or indebted.

One of the gifts that being broken open has taught me is to learn about the heartbeat of generosity, that there is a moment in-between when we allow ourselves to be open enough to receive, or when we can choose to block the gifts that are in front of us.

It has become my prayer to remain open to the gifts, the love, the abundance that is laid before me on my path.

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There has been a lot of learning happening for me lately (Note To Self- that is what happens when you ask for seeing where you can grow).  And as always life is happening despite my best efforts to catch it, quantify it, name it, control it or stop it, it keeps going.   Themes keep popping up as they often do even though it is different places, different people and I don’t have to fear because if I don’t pay attention there are always other opportunities to learn, relearn, remember and re-frame.

In the midst of relearning a particularly difficult lesson a friend wrote a blog post that spoke straight to my heart.  When I had asked if she had written it just for me she responded with this:

It’s the most magical thing about blogging: every post is like a message from my wisest, kindest self to the soft and confused animal me, but when I publish, it also seems to be just what someone else needed to hear.

From the beautiful and brilliant Jill over at A Thousand Shades of Gray.

How often do we assume that we are the only ones struggling with something, to wrestle alone with our thoughts, fears and doubts only to hear when we finally gain the courage and bravery to share we hear “Me too.” (one of the themes that has been in several places)

When I write I am able to be wherever I want or need to be.  Writing allows me to go to the spaces I haven’t yet claimed for myself, it allows me to play with new ways of being, new ways of thinking about things.  It reminds me that even in the midst of my deepest doubts there is some wisdom to be accessed, some new way of looking at things.  I believe that we all have that wise self within, some call it a Higher Self, some call it God… that little voice that travels along with us for the journey.  For me the best way to access it is through my words.

At one point I struggled with that… shouldn’t I be writing what is true?  What is “real”?  And yet, it occurred to me after rereading Rilke’s quote one day:

…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet

For me that is one of the most beautiful gifts that writing offers the ability to live (or in my case- write) into the answers. There are so many times that I have reread journal entries knowing about who I wanted to be, what I wanted to have for myself and I find myself now living those things as my truth.

And perhaps that is what true friendships do as well, they allow us to try on new ways of being, little changes to see what works for us and holds us gently as we do that.

Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light.

– Jennie Jerome Churchill

My prayer for you today is that you put yourself in the best light, and allow yourself permission to be exactly where you are right now, knowing that you are living your way right where you need to be.

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