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Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

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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Beaded Beauty

Another Erica Experiment.

It started with a necklace.

A friend who liked it, who needed some beauty in her life at that moment and a little note to remind her of the beauty that was yet to come in her life.

Then there was a friend’s sassy new haircut that needed some sassy new earrings and it just so happened that I had created some fun ones recently.  So out the door and into the mail they went to find a new home and some new lobes to decorate.

Then there was the closet that was too full, and yet things that didn’t make me happy, or things that were either too big or too small, or in some other ways not “just right”.  And there are lots of other bodies that would be blessed by them, and that would be “just right” on… so out the door goes another 20 items.

And it occurred to me that it might be fun to add them up.  To keep track of the ways, and times I give… both as recognition for myself on the days when I wonder if I am “doing enough” or am “enough” and also to remind myself of the ways that I am here to give, to be of service, to use my gifts to make others lives just a little bit better.

I spent much of the last two years learning how to receive.  I had focused so much of my life on giving, and on the kind of giving until I was depleted, until I had nothing left, giving that left me empty.  And now after getting better at the receiving of gifts I am ready to learn my own balance… to be more open to the flow of giving and receiving.  To pay more attention to the giving that gives to me as well… and more importantly to get rid of my own bias that then it must not be “giving” if I get something too… so there was only one rule…

The only rule with these gifts, these 1,000 ways is that they must leave me feeling more full…

And it occurs to me that I have already received so much from these gifts.

I had the honor of seeing the necklace looking stunning on my friend’s neck and seeing her smile.

Getting a text from my friend who had gotten the earrings made me smile ear to ear.

And sometimes it is the intangibles… today it was a wonderful interaction with my favorite guy at the Post Office, the one who calls everyone by name and greets everyone with a smile.  Today it was a gift to give him a smile and return the favor.

And then it was to go to my local coffee shop to purchase some surprise coffee’s for the people at the Print Shop who went out of their way to help reduce my stress and print my items ahead of schedule.  And when I was at the coffee shop I ran into several people and of course great conversation and connecting ensued.

Getting a chance to connect with all of my friends and to feel like I live in a welcoming community where my participation, my gifts are valued.

So much receiving in the midst of giving.  It is all so intertwined and beautifully connected, just as we all are.

I am learning how to build my muscles… because I believe much like anything we need to flex and exercise these muscles too… The more I think about giving and receiving, the more I practice them both, the more they become like breathing… a part of my life that comes naturally, that keeps me lit with joy and that brings meaning.

The more I have acknowledged and honed my gifts the more easily I see how they can be of use.  Which reminds me of Marge Piercy’s words given to me by a dear friend years ago that still resonate today.

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil, 
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used. 
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real. 

Marge Piercy

I love seeing how life interweaves gifts, giving and receiving often making them impossible to pull apart.  Love weaves them together creating a beautiful gift in the entirety of it all. The ordinary creating extraordinary, the light merging with the dark and beauty shining through.

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One of the most beautiful things about noticing beauty, or joy, or pretty much anything is that the more you pay attention the more there is of it.

What are you paying attention to these days?

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More…

August 7th.
This used to be just like any other day, passing uneventfully by until 8 years ago my grandmother passed away, then three years later I am finding myself again frantically making phone calls throwing clothes in a suitcase and trying to make a flight from South Carolina to Minnesota as quickly as possible.

And now tonight five years later, gathering again with family eating together sharing more laughter than tears I can’t help but think how much has changed.

I am to the place now where the sharp pain has subsided, where life has woven itself back into the tapestry of my life and where chances are the mention of Mitch or Grandma will bring warm nostalgia and the desire to share a story.
And as I think about what has changed the most it all revolves around the word more…

If you ask anyone who has lost someone recently what they want it would be more…

More time

More chances to share the love they have

More time to mend the fences that were built to keep a safe distance

More appreciation of the gifts of the ordinary days, the lazy Sundays together, the impromptu picnics in the backyard just because, a moment of appreciation of a shared meal, of having someone to share your day with, the voice at the other end of the line

More appreciation of life as a precious gift

More laughter

More…

One of the gifts of grief (be it from a death, a loss of a dream, a loss of the life you thought you wanted etc.) is that when your heart is broken open it naturally creates more space for love if you let it.  The walls that we have built to keep ourselves “safe” no longer do, and the world suddenly seems like a very difference place and it is up to you how it changes you…

For me so many things have changed…

Hugs are longer and tighter.

Love is more freely given and received.

It is easier to discern what is truly important.

What has gotten me through the past five years without a doubt is the love of friends and family, those who went out of their way to take care of me when I needed it most, those who shared their stories of grief and loss and growth, those who let me be where I was… some days in the darkness of loss, and sometimes in the light of all the gifts that have been shared… all of those who with words, thought and deed held me in love as I stumbled my way through a difficult time.

Today I am more grateful, more appreciative, more overwhelmed by beauty, more present in the moment, more authentic, more honest, more open, more compassionate and more forgiving.  Not every day of course, and I have my days when I don’t even want to be with myself… but more days that I live in the place of genuine gratitude for the gift of one more day in this life, of one more day being surrounded by the people I love and that love me so deeply and fully.

So here is to more…

More appreciation of each other right now in this moment.

More fun and laughter.

More enjoyment of each day.

More life squeezed out of each day.

More love.

More love, I can hear our hearts cryin’
More love, I know that’s all we need
More love, to flow in between us
To take us and hold us and lift us above
If there’s ever an answer
It’s more love.

Dixie Chicks

 

 

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Joy!

For years I have chosen focus words to help define and shape my years.

Lately I have been doing sort of theme months… and one of the words that has been coming back to me is Joy.

So I went on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find joy in my recent pictures and this is what I found:

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Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.

As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.

—Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966 

I have a wise friend who when I was in the midst of a whirlwind of change gently asked if perhaps instead of focusing on the what of the changes, the what of what I wanted to be and accomplish I would instead focus on the who.

This one shift altered everything.

Rather than looking at my list of to do’s trying to figure out if I was “doing” enough, instead I focused on whether or not I was who I wanted to be in the mist of it all.

It forced me to discern what kind of a person do I want to be, to really chew on that, to figure out what it would truly look like.  Do I want to radiate joy, do I want to be a generous listener, do I want to live out my compassion, what does a life of intention and integrity look like… what kind of a “who” would that be.

Who would I be if I lived out my principles in a more intentional way, if I fully leaned into a wholehearted life of being generous in spirit, in love, in honesty, in joy.

So that has been my latest Erica Experiment… looking at the “Who” of me and letting go of having to know the “What”.

And what has surprised me is that the whats generally fall into place on their own, they don’t need the attention I was lavishing on them, writing and rewriting my to do lists, adding to my dreams, berating myself for having such similar lists week after week because there are only so many hours in a day.

Instead asking at the end of the day if I crossed off enough on my list I have been asking questions like: did I live out love, did I offer my gifts to another, did I connect in a meaningful way, did I share laughter with someone?

Somehow life seems more full, and with less stress I am getting more done, and with more joy, with more gratitude and more grace.


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There are certain things that I know that I need, that are non-negotiables for me- yet time and time again I find myself putting many of these things on the back burner as life crowds in.  And sometimes weekends away are just the thing to reset, reboot and remind myself of all that I had forgotten.

I recently spent the weekend with some of my favorite girls in Boulder, Colorado followed by spending some great time with family.  It was an amazing time and a weekend that came at just the right time for all of us for various reasons.

There were basics I needed to be reminded of…

It is fun to get away every once in awhile, to completely change scenery.

Hydration is really important.

Working out keeps me sane.

There is nothing better than laughing with my girls.

I needed to be reminded of how loved I am, and that even the things I think are insurmountable aren’t, and that I am not alone in facing them.

AND…

I needed to be in awe again.

I had forgotten how good it felt to be delighted and inspired by the expanse around me.

And how good it was to be delighted by surprises around every corner.

We Found Mater!

And how much fun it was to capture beauty with my camera.

And how much fun it is to spend time with family, especially when you don’t get a chance to see them as often as you would like.

And sometimes it is just good to not set an alarm clock, to be reminded that there is more to life than what you look at every day, and that there is an adventure around every corner when you are looking for it.

May you seek out beauty every day.

May you remember what it is that you are certain of.

And may you find something to delight you that leaves you in awe.

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