Higher Ground

higher groundThis is such an awesome video with a very happy and uplifting message.  Plus the collaboration that went into making this recording is an example to me.  It encourages me to go beyond what I perceive to be the self-imposed borders in my life and reach out for creativity and talent and inspiration from others — even strangers.  Collaboration is the Higher Ground for growing  my dreams and expanding my ideas.

Appreciation . . . so elemental

i think you are wonderfulAppreciation:  I think you are w-o-n-de-r-f-u-l.  When I tell you that I appreciate you, I am telling you that I value you.  Value you.  It is something that is so simple and elemental and primitive.  And easy.  And fun!  Oh, my — how much fun appreciation is.  It says: I love this about you!

Appreciation says thank you on the deepest of levels.  Thank you for being YOU.  It creates mega dimensions to life and to love and to laughter and bliss and to universal Truth.  How great is this?  It is absolutely amazing.

Google’s “define: appreciation” reveals: “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”  So beautiful.  Recognizing and enjoying the good qualities of someone or something.

Appreciation: I see you.  I think you are amazing.

Appreciating you is a privilege.  When I appreciate you, you — without even knowing it — encourage me to be aware of how great life is.

Is there someone you appreciate?  Please, tell him or her today.  It will rock your world.  Isn’t that the way of following your heart?

Appreciation: I love sharing with you.  I love who you are.

I appreciate you.

Appreciation squirrel

appreciation

A Mighty Wilderness

night trailWe wake up in the morning.  We breathe and love and laugh and cry and live and eat.  Do jumping jacks and shower.  We take out the trash.  We slip a love note into our loved one’s lunch bag.  We bustle about and head to work.  We give money to the person with the sign at the freeway entrance.  We whip out our credit card and air lift a wriggling worm across the vastness of a warming sidewalk into a flower bed after a heavy rain.  (Okay, that was a true confession — I rescue worms!)  We tell the barista that we like her earrings while waiting for our coffee.  We call our brother to tell him that yes, starting his new business in this economy is a good idea.  We hug a student who is struggling with finances.  We laugh with a colleague over coffee.  Life is good.

We move beyond the familiar and engage on some small level that tells us that we are connecting.  How we do this is coincidental and mysterious.  It is all so seemingly random — at least it is for me.   I rarely set out each morning with the knowledge that I am going to change the world.  But I do.  We all do.  With small baby steps, we reach across the unknown and discover someone else’s uniqueness in this mighty wilderness.

By joining hands in the darkness, we all make the path a bit easier to navigate.  We can warn each otherwilderness about a deep dip in the trail, an exposed tree root that would send us flying off the path, an abrupt switchback.  We can hold low branches aside until the other passes and we can call out a nettles warning.  We, together, can sing a marching song from our childhood and shine our lights and guide each other into a more friendly part of the forest.

This sometimes requires me stepping outside my comfort zone.  I can’t count the times I have thought, I can’t believe that I just did that.  It’s surprising , actually.  Intuitive offers of help, advice, money, food.  Sometimes unwanted and misunderstood?  Yes.  But that is how the moments play out. I try to remind myself that we will all find our way in the darkness if we just take the risk of being misunderstood.  Of  joining hands in this mighty wilderness.

 

why gratitude?

gratitude. chopraGratitude.  Georg Simmel calls it “the moral memory of mankind.”  Gratitude feels good.  It frees us from moments that try to put us in a muddle.  It expresses joy from the inside out.  It pays attention.  It is a honeybee of movement and purpose and sweetness.  It feeds hope.  It places a necklace of sweet violets around our hearts.  It is fun.  It is the stuffing inside our childhood teddy bear.  It kicks butt on gloom and doom.  It elevates our awareness of happiness.  It deals our cosmic poker hand aces.  It laughs at the absurd and opens itself to the unlikely.  It is a lot of things that just plain feel good.  It is inspiring and edifying.  How great it is to feel gratitude.

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“Why gratitude?”  Indeed.  What a great question.  The words of wisdom in this image are so beautiful.  Universe.  Mindfulness.  Everyday.  Precious Jewel.  Joy.  Recognize.  Thankful.  Harvest.  Alive.  Moments.  Hearts.  Conscious.  Treasure.

Just reading these words makes me feel good.  And feeling these words is a true gift.  Makes me want to get up and dance. Pet the dog.  Appreciate the clean, running water from the tap.  Feel the love of my family. Enjoy a good belly laugh to the point of snorting.  So many things.  For all of them, I feel gratitude.

Please, take a few moments to enjoy this brief and very beautiful and inspiring and touching and elevating piece on gratitude below.  I try to watch it at least once a week.  Moreso if my mojo seems to have stopped working unexpectedly.  It is my hope that you have a very beautiful day filled with appreciation and gratitude.

Moving Art: Gratitude

Why gratitude?    “. . . it could be beautiful.”  

universe     mindfulness     everyday     precious jewel     joy     recognize     thankful     harvest     alive     moments     hearts     conscious     treasure     happy     healthy     blessed

Skipping in Place

needle-recordI was thinking last night about how stuck we feel when we realize we are in a negative place.  Stuck like a needle in a skip on vinyl.  

We feel that there is no hope for forward movement, and we can hear the inevitability that it is we who are going to have to make the skip stop. Sometimes we hope that the scratch is sufficiently insignificant such that we can wait out the monotony . . . when all we need do is pick up the needle and move it to the next track.  I sometimes “kick myself” after realizing that I have invested time into something that is, in all actuality, cancelling out forward movement and quality of  life.  But maybe this is part of life’s learning, and I should be easier on myself.  

Regret is an emotion wasted.  It is the groove that is holding the skip in place.  By being present and freeing ourselves from being stuck, we are renewed with the energy that fuels our happiness in the present and our dreams for the future.  By taking action and removing that needle, we allow self-forgiveness for those What was I thinking? moments.  Time to move on.  Time to put on a new album and move to a new rhythm.unstuck-2

Life is brimming with gifts and treasures and happiness.  The discovery of this abundance is the best part of life for me, like opening a box that is filled with exactly my heart’s desire.  Perhaps bumping up against those not-so-positve places is not the villain after all . . . knowing that I have the strength and the courage to get up from my spot of stagnant acceptance, pick up the needle, place it on its holder, remove the album, pick a new album, reset the needle.  And enjoy.  Sigh.  It wasn’t that hard, truly.  Time to move on to a better-feeling place and dance to some new music.

Who knew that being brave could be so liberating?  Certainly not a unique concept for those who regularly beard the lion in the den before breakfast . . . but definitely something to consider when feeling stuck in a groove that shows no promise of movement.  Move the needle or change the vinyl.  Take a chance.  You never know what wonderful thing might happen.

“F” is for Flexibility

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As evidenced by this awesome sign, whoever is running the Flying F. understands the concept of Flexibility.  I like his or her panache.

I have been told that the fishing business is a tough one.  Dangerous, risky, daring.  It requires that rare combination of luck and knowledge and intuition and quick intelligence.  But this sign is a brave testimony to being flexible.  To exploring options.  To not being afraid of announcing major changes.  To being comfortable with not entirely whiting the old options out — love the duct tape!  Brilliant!  To being transparent.  To not caring about aesthetics or what some perfectionist might fuss over.  I don’t know.  I just like what this sign says.  It says to stay flexible and ride the waves.  Roll with the tide.  Pay attention to the weather.  Be appreciative of what is available.  Make lemonade if all you’ve got are spot prawns.  Be open.  Be closed.  Sell Crab.  Or not.  Out of shrimp?  Sell prawns.  Live or Cooked? Be Flexible.

Try Something New: Enforced Restfulness

My Try Something New today: contentment in enforced restfulness.

If you light a lamp quote

The story of my past few days has allowed for some enforced restfulness.  What I have learned is that as much as I say I want a peaceful and quiet and tranquil life in the midst of my self-made chaos . . . there is another part of me that craves the hub-bub, the drama, the go-go-go, the challenges at work, the randomness of just wandering with no projected outcomes, the movement that gives me inspiration to create and to laugh and to love.

This enforced restfulness has given me time to just be with me.  And it has been nice.  And it has also been not so nice.  The nice parts have given me an opportunity to observe and take note of what runs through my mind when I am not thinking of what I am going to do next.  I am just being in the Now.  Just chilling and petting the cat and figuring out inversions on the  piano and stir-frying onions and garlic with asparagus and having long conversations on the phone with my sisters . . . this sort of thing.  I have been focusing on the simple and important things that get nudged aside or that get squeezed into the day.

The thing that has been rather bittersweet has been realizing truly how little time I create for being with me.  I find that I often am so busy projecting my light outward, I don’t replenish the source of this light within.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing . . . but  the words of my mum come to mind: Moderation in everything.  I think I have been putting too much time into outward and not into inward.

Calligraphy-Pen-500x366In high school art class, I was given a calligraphy assignment.  I was to find a proverb or quote and write it using the calligraphy style of my choice.  Wanting it to be perfect and vintage-y, I procrastinated and I remember spending more time ultimately looking for a short quote that would satisfy the assignment than I did practicing my lettering.   The quote was short, but compelling.  I knew it had a lot to say, even though I wasn’t quite certain what it exactly meant at the time.  It reads: “Contentment is the absence of selfish ambition.”  Quite the dose of profundity in only seven words.  No wonder it befuddled my teen-aged mind.  It still sort of does.

kerosene-lampWhat this enforced restfulness has done is it has slowed me to a place of seeking contentment.  By replenishing, I have refilled the lamp, trimmed the wick, and polished up the chimney.  How is my little light going to shine if I don’t take the time to fill the lamp?

I also know that this time to myself has created deep appreciation for all of those people who shine their light my way — for their “absence of selfish ambition” — for sharing who they are with me so selflessly.

Am I committed to take more time to just think and to be and to not be doing all ofcontentment the time?  Yes. Am I ready to resume my days at the speed of light?  Yes.   But this has been good.  Good for realizing that I am paying attention and wanting a life with a balance of contentment that generates and receives light and that puts a smile back into my soul and that not just enforces restfulness but embraces it as well.

 

Parles-tu français? Non? Pas de problème. Vie d’amour!

restez-calmes-et-parlez-franc3a7ais-3My Try Something New for today: I responded to a mystery text in French.

I received a random text from a man named Francis who was looking for a woman named Yvette.  In that I received his message, it appears that Yvette possibly gave Francis a wrong number.  Or perhaps Francis had a case of Fat Fumble Finger Syndrome when he was entering Yvette’s phone number into his phone.  It’s a tough call.

Francis’ message read: Is this Yvette from ______.  (wanting to keep this private for Francis’ sake)

I responded: ??

Francis: Yes or No if this is Yvette.  

Me: Nope.  

And thinking this sounded harsh, in a follow-up message, I added: Sorry.

Francis: Sorry wrong number.

Me: Pas de problème. (Translation: Not a problem.)

Francis: Huh?

Me: No problem.

Francis: Ohhhh hahahahaha.

I don’t know why I responded to Francis in French or why this was funny, but apparently it eased Francis’ disappointment that Yvette dissed him with my number instead of her own.

Responding to strangers in French  is certainly nothing that I have felt compelled to do in the past . . . not with the person who keeps trying to ask Hot Jazmyn out.  Or the person who keeps trying to tell Ted to pick up his paycheck before Friday — this has happened twice now.  Poor Ted.  And there is the man who keeps trying to schedule dates around his doctor appointments.  I guess I must have a popular number.

I mentioned this Francis-Yvette exchange to a friend of mine — who also speaks French — and she recognized Yvette’s name and the name of the bar.  She said that her boyfriend used to be roommates with Yvette, that Yvette indeed works at the place that Francis mentioned, and . . . drum roll, please . . . Yvette is from France.  Amazing?  No.  Mildly coincidental?  Sorta.

In all cases of mis-received texts, I have tried to break the truth gently.  I am not Yvette; You deserve better than Hot Jazmyn; Ted is going to be broke if you don’t try harder;and I hope that you are feeling much better, but this isn’t Connie.  My words of empathy bridging the gaps in cyber space.  Hey people!  You are all awesome!  Thanks for saying hey!

But then . . . the plot thickens.  Being one of those people who likes to keep an arsenal of Cupid’s arrows in my backpack at all times, I forwarded Francis’ message to my French-speaking friend whose boyfriend used to be a housemate with Yvette.  victoriancupid

I do not know what the outcome is at this point time, but perhaps Kismet is serving in Francis’ favor and my friend’s boyfriend will forward the message to Yvette and then Yvette can make a decision as to Francis.  Maybe she believe in Kismet, as I do, and she will give Francis a second chance and give him her real number.  (Enter: Hollywood crescendo music to indicate happy moment)

So, none of this loop would have been set into motion had it not been that I mentioned the French-reply reference to my friend.  Random?  I don’t know . . . at least not yet.  Reste calme, Francis.

I realize that this has generated quite the lively exchange of nothingness at this point in time.  But it does speak to those promptings to do something that makes absolutely zero sense at the time but could have an ooh-la-la impact in someone’s love life.

Hourra! Kismet! Et vie d’amour!  (Love lives!)

 

 

Intentional Acts of Kindness

No-Act-of-KindnessI l-o-v-e this!

Kindness.  None of it is ever wasted.  It all contributes to something that is so much greater than the sum of its whole.  So much greater than who we are.  We have every little opportunity to bestow a kindness.  Certain circumstances sometimes rob us of an incentive to do so.  When this happens, if I power past what feels like an obstacle — an I’m-not-feeling-this-in-the-least, it always feels very powerful.  Like I nudged a benevolent particle in the Universe.

Being kind to people we love is easy.  Being kind to those who irritate us or who create chaos in our lives is more challenging.  When I make a conscious choice to act in favor of kindness, I am doing this for the Universe.  For my daughters to have access to a kinder world.  For my sisters, my brother, my friends.  A conscious choice sets the ripples into broader universes.  How cool is all this?

Random acts of kindness are lovely beyond amazing . . . but what about that intentional act of kindness when we aren’t reallykindness golden and fawn feeling it?  This has immense power and reward within the doing.  This is not to advocate for supporting negativity from a damaging relationship. Rather it is for those times when our soul whispers to us to let go of the battle in favor of some inner peace.

I don’t use the word edifying very often, but this is what kindness is.  Merriam Webster defines the verb edify as a way to teach in such a way that someone’s mind or character is improved.  What is one thing you can do today to help someone learn in such an amazing way that their mind or character is improved?  I don’t know about you, but this really humbles me.  What a responsibility it is to go forth into the world every day, knowing that we have the power to improve someone else’s “mind or character.”  


kindness.smile quote
Kindness.  When I used to  think of this word, I would think of synonyms such as gentleness, humility, quietude, peacefulness . . . but I am rearranging my perception of it.  It is roars like a daisy and is powerful beyond measure with the amazing ability to transform and to improve another’s character.  Wow!  This inspires me to want to do my utmost to make a difference as I go into the day and act in terms of kindness.    

 

Are you waiting for the right moment?

The-Right-Moment-654x434

Writing prompt: Are you waiting for the right moment to do that exact thing that you want to be doing?  Learning?  Exploring?

If you are waiting, stop.  And then start.  Start.  Do something.  Do anything.  Do one little thing that will point your compass in what you think might be the right direction.  Point it in any direction.  After all, the Universe has no map.  There is no GPS for navigating Infinity.  And it is all out there — all right here — just waiting for you to start.  At the very least, put on a blindfold, spin yourself around a few times, and start moving.  You never know which donkey is going to to get a start from you pinning a tail onto its hindquarters.

pin the tail on the donkey

Simple for me to say.  I was talking to someone today who is wanting to lose weight.  She said, “Something can be simple but still so hard to do.”  I thought that this was a really profound statement.  It can be both.  But it need not be.  Or does it?

A small-scale example: I would love to have one of those garages in which I can park my truck.  The outlines of wrenches and saws and C-clamps all Sharpied on a piece of pegboard.  Bicycles hanging from racks.  Holiday paraphernalia stacked in clear, plastic tubs out of the way in the corner.  It all sounds so lovely.  And so simple.  And so hard, too.

Instead, it is all quite the jumble.  Not entirely unmanageable.  I can get to the fuse box and can find a hammer when I want to hang a picture on the wall.  I don’t know.  I am most likely being too hard on myself.  I tell the people who come to visit, “Don’t look in the garage!” but it does indeed seem like a paradox to be embarrassed by my own stuff.  There is something about this that doesn’t quite resonate with a sense of balance.  It is like wanting to distance myself from the choices I have made.

I clearly do not feel that having an amazingly organized garage is going to make me a better human being.  And it is not important enough to forfeit a sunny afternoon down by the bay.  And the time it would take to sift through the dust, memories, cobwebs, and paperwork isn’t worth not meeting friends for dinner or spending some time playing piano or taking my easel out to the back deck for some color therapy.

Is starting (and stopping) all about listening to our priorities?  Is what we truly want so evident and transparent to our Sense of Priority, that we don’t really have to think in any conscious way when we point the compass in a new direction.  Some call it procrastination, but I am wondering if procrastination is nothing more than your soul allowing your priorities to have control of the throttle.  My overall conclusion: procrastination is possibly being unfairly reviled by those who have all of the plans mapped out.  I am thinking that it is okay sometimes to turn off the Garmin and just do some meandering.map-and-compass

It is tricky to avoid mixing my metaphors when it comes to the universal sense of time and life lessons.  A compass, a map, GPS, a blindfold, a game about a donkey, an airplane’s cockpit.   No wonder I lose my path — my trajectory.   I’m all over the place!  Yet . . .all of these signs along the road.  All of these maps that point us in this direction and that direction. . . when all of what we truly and most dearly want stems from our inner world — our soul, our conscience, our spirit.

So, what is it that you are aiming for?  What is it that would be just so much fun to be experiencing right now?  Be fearless, put your compass in your pocket, don your blindfold, pick up your thumb tack and paper donkey tail, spin around, and start pinning that tail on whatever suits your fancy.  Pull back on the throttle and fly.  You never know.  Truly.  The Universe has a distinct way of rewarding our sometimes-fallible attempts to better enrich and experience life.

Thomas Edison said it so beautifully: “To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”  Love this!  This man would not be judging my garage or my sense of priority!  His words put my garage into perspective and get me outdoors on a sunny day.  Time to quit beating myself up, allow my imagination to soar, and enjoy inventing with the “pile of junk” in the garage.

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