Into the Blue

what you focus on growsWHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWS

I was feeling both convicted and uplifted by this thought this past week.  I got sidetracked by some healing worries that were robbing me of being in the moment.  I was gently reminded by someone that I was worrying and getting away from my self.  It’s true.  I was losing my way.  These were such good and loving words in a time in which I was feeling stressed — and fearful.  I love that this person cared enough to steer me back to my inner self.  To that place that lets me rest in the present moment.  All will be well.  All is well.

The power of the mind (and the heart and the soul and the spirit) never cease to inspire me into a state of wonder.  When I focus on positive things, amazing things happen.  When I focus on negative outcomes . . . I don’t feel like me.  I feel like I am being held captive by my own mis-directional thoughts.  When I no longer allow myself to be a captive, I choose to focus on those thoughts that will allow growth, healing, laughter, and love in my life.  This is SO much better.

Marianne Williamson writes in A Return to Love: “The more we learn about the light within us, the easier it ultimately becomes to forgive ourselves for the fact we’re not perfect yet.”  Perfection is one of those elusive concepts that is undefinable.  We instinctively aim toward Perfection, yet we don’t know what it looks like or where it lies.  It’s like hunting phantoms that skirt our perimeters of awareness.  We think we would know how it would feel if we “attained” it, but I am not so sure.  I think we would keep thinking that we weren’t quite there yet.  Like there is some extra super-duper level of perfect that exceeds 100%.

What all of this leads me to conclude is that Now is Perfect.  I will never experience more Perfection in my life than that which lies in this very moment.  Perfect is neither an A in French Phonology nor graduating magna cum laude with cords, pins, and honors.  It is not a promotion at work, and it isn’t a marriage proposal in Paris.  It isn’t slipping easily into your skinny jeans, and it isn’t pulling a pan of sky-high cream puffs out of the oven.

honey-beePerfection.  It is Now.  That was then, this is Now.  Life blooms into the most beautiful of moments when we least expect them to.  For this, I am immensely grateful.

blo0dyros3.deviantart.com

blo0dyros3.deviantart.com

Marianne Williamson: “A spiritual teacher from India once pointed out that there is no such thing as a gray sky.  The sky is always blue.  Sometimes, however, gray clouds come and cover the blue sky.  We then think the sky is gray.  It is the same with our minds.  We’re always perfect.  We can’t not be.  Our fearful patterns, our dysfunctional habits, take hold within our minds and cover our perfections.  Temporarily.  That is all.”

Whew.  All will be well.  All is well.  I’ve got this.  I can relax into the grey-sky moments, knowing that there is blue sky behind the clouds.  There is going to be that sunset that pierces the clouds with a radiance that inspires wonder and affirms love.  True love that douses fear with its fire.

When I remain in a loving state, I am in blue-sky country.  In blue-sky country, I feel myself re-adjusting my focus — the aim of my life’s trajectory . . . no longer toward Perfection but toward Love.  I might not always experience Perfection — in the sense of my physical humanity and the interactions that my day encounters.  But I can certainly extend the reach of my capacity to Love — which grows its own brilliant Perfection.  It is such a great feeling to reach through and part that curtain of Grey and get a glimpse of Blue.  I feel so. much. love and appreciation for those in my life who inspire me to extend my reach into the Blue.  I thank them with my love and devotion.  I feel so blessed.   toaster oven

I can pick up the phone.  Write that letter.  Express my love in action and in word.  Tell my Sweetheart: I Love You.  Completely lose myself in laughter with my Best Friend.  Encourage the special people in my life who are wondering what’s goin’ on.  Make new pathways to those who no longer feel close.  Be spontaneous in accepting the unexpected.  Show my doubts to the door.  Grow more Love.  Remember that the Grey is just a temporary veil that can and will alter its course.  Blue Sky is always there.  Is here.  “What you focus on grows”: I am focusing on Blue Sky.  It feels Perfect.

open-door

 

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Growth from Complete Destruction

seed crack growthThis is a very powerful quote.  I read this and wonder.  And think about my life.  I think about those times in my life that I would not exactly call fun.  Those times when I have felt confused, fearful, upset, angry, hurt, crushed.  None of these adjectives are new to any one concerning life, love, change, and growth. We are constantly metamorphosing within.  We present what might appear to be our “same self” to others, but we alone gauge the amount of growth that is occurring within.  And without.  There is simply so much dichotomy in life.

In botany, dichotomy is defined as “repeated branching into two equal parts.”  This allows me to look at moments of “complete destruction” as the balancing of another part.  The beautiful part that shows of promise and hope.  The Yin and the Yang.  The Passive and the Vigor.  The Interiority and the Exteriority.  The Earth and the Sky.  The Dense and the Rarefied.  The Diffuse and the Focused.  The Peanut Butter and the Jelly.  Matter and Energy.  Life balances this way, and I strive to be aware of the constant changes that are keeping me alive and growing and loving and learning and in love.  The unexpected blessings that remind me to believe in guided spontaneity.  What a gift it is when I listen to those inner voices that lovingly guide me to my bliss. Wow!      toaster oven

SproutsInception.  Origination.  Germination.  All indicate the origin of change, development, and growth.  As this quote states: “To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”  Today, I feel the balance that my experiences have created, especially during those times when I have felt like my “insides are coming out.”  Today, life feels beautiful — rendering yesterday’s testa as the reminder to grow in appreciation.  Appreciation.   Such a great thing to balance the teeter-totter of growth and “destruction.”

Oh, how I so want to be mindful of choosing grace under pressure.  Growth rewards us with gratefulness.  Deep and abiding gratitude for today.  For right now.  We are so lucky that we have the opportunity to grow and to become something new.

“If you cannot plant a garden, sow one seed.

If you cannot feed all the hungry, fill one need.

The seed you sow may someday bloom and spread

And your loaf supply a multitude with bread.”

— source unknown

vintageprintables.blogspot.com

vintageprintables.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Try Something New: Willing to Give It a Shot

Every time I see these things on Pinterest that people “totally nailed,” I get such a good laugh.  I appreciate the effort and the willingness to experiment in order to create something beautiful.  This particular batch of “Pinterest Fails” in the link below are hilarious.  At least they are to my sense of humor.   There’s something about a picture perfect specimen and its fail that make me want to Try Something New.  And try, try again.  Or not.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ newu1085/17-pinterest-fails-654m

When I see these photos, it makes me wish that I had taken pictures of all of my attempts to make extraordinary and memorable birthday cakes and Christmas cookies.  The bread “art” that I have tried to nail.  The doughnuts that looked like leaden lumps.  The pretzels that refused to “pretz.”  The French fries that absorbed well over a quart of oil.  The pasta dish made for a special event that was re-named Tuna Splat.  The chocolate chip cookie that was used as a hockey puck by restless 8th-grade boys.  The knitted slippers for Operation Toasty Toes for a soldier that wears a size 6 and has pointy elf toes.  The birthday sweater for a 7-year-old girl with a neckline that would have been loose on Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The times of trying to make a potluck item look interesting and extra appetizing.  The origami paper cranes that looked like predatory pterodactyls.

But I am thinking that I will award myself an “A+” for these creative efforts.  And send a wave of appreciation to those with the artistic fortitude that was devoted to these Pinterest attempts.  Bravo, brava, and bravi!

And there are some things in life that just come round right without me even trying or thinking. These moments are about being present.  Being.  Being open.  Opening my heart.  Feeling the world stand still.  This is what I love about life.  You never know when your simple presence may be rewarded with amazing beauty.  I send waves of appreciation to the Heavens for allowing these moments of pure Serendipity.  toaster oven

Here is the link to some more epic Pinterest attempts.  Have fun! . . .

http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/people-who-tried-things-pinterest-and-totally-nailed-it

 

Try Something New: That Which Is

I read the quote below from the back of a book printed by Bell Tower Books.  It speaks of such beauty and reminds me to celebrate Now.  To accept the present moment.  To remain focused on That Which Is.

“The pure sound of the bell summons us into the present moment.

“The timeless ring of truth is expressed in many different voices, each one magnifying and illuminating the sacred.

“The clarity of its song resonates within us and calls us away from those things which often distract us — that which was, that which might be — to That Which Is.” — Bell Tower Books

Magnifique, non?

And while I am thinking about life and bells and ringing in the truth, I thought of these Leonard Cohen lyrics from “Anthem”:

ancientpoint.com

ancientpoint.com

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

What a great reminder that even though things might not appear to be “perfect,” I still want to be a’ringin’ on the bell.  And the cracks?  Those things in life that give us pause to question?  “That’s how the light gets in.”

This thought is of enormous comfort and encouragement to me.  When we don’t try to camouflage the cracks by stuffing them with “stuff” and distractions and placebos — measures we take to disguise That Which Is — and we choose to allow the light to enter, we acknowledge our vulnerabilities, our humanity, our humility.  It speaks of allowing and it speaks of embracing.

We hear that nothing is perfect, that we should lower our expectations, that we shouldn’t always expect perfection.  That there “is a crack in everything.”  Maybe when we consciously and graciously expose our cracked bells to the light and share our vulnerability, we are creating moments of perfection that are inimitable by anyone else on the planet.

This may sound idealistic as I do protest when life is not lining up just so.  I freely admit: I do like my Days of Perfection.  But.  Then I think of my Sweetheart, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my random dance partners, my students, my pets, my neighbors, my doctors, my family who is no longer here on the planet with me . . . the list is long when I take the time to appreciate the immense support of my faltering, cracked, light-exposing humanity.

Life.  It is beyond amazing.  It is sacred and spiritual and appreciated in ways I cannot express.  I understand that these words have been spoken, sung, written before.  People have devoted their lives to ringing their bells and expressing the wonders of being alive.   Every day truly is a gift.toaster oven

There is so much going on behind the scenes in the bell tower that I am unaware of.  Good stuff that I don’t notice or appreciate.  There are those certain and special days when I get a glimpse of the magnanimous machinery that is moving to keep the planet spinning.  It is humbling in the best of ways.

My goal today: Embrace That Which Is.  Appreciate the larger picture.  Ring a bell and say thank you.  Say I love you more often today.  Smile more.  Write a real letter.  Tell a stranger that they are awesome.  Do not be embarrassed by snorting when I laugh.  [Okay, now I am really laughing out loud! :)]   Dance for the security cameras.  Leave a goofy voice mail message for someone.  honey-beeDress up in a costume with my best-est friends and make a video.  Be happy in That Which Is.

 

Good advice from Nicky-Jack

http://2nerd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Not-the-knitting-needles-again.jpg

Not the Knitting Needles Again!

Quote from Source Unknown:

“Name: Nicky-Jack Marshall (Aged 96)

Subject: Knitting

Comment: Well firstly I like to add flour to my palms as this gives a great grip on the needles. Also it’s best to keep your cat away from the wool!”

I dearly wish I could remember from where I got this excerpt so I could credit the source. [If it is you, please, let me know, and I will re-post with your reference.]  This is knitting advice from Nicky-Jack Marshall.  She provides us with tips to get a great grip on knitting needles.

And Nicky-Jack helps us to guard against prowling felines who mess up your knitting.  We all know what kind of cat she is talking about.  As you are gently jerking away at the ball of yarn at your feet, the cat pounces, and YOW!  There go those talons into your thin-skinned ankle that is the backdrop for that dancing, fuzzy string of yarn.  Nicky-Jack knows what to do to keep your Zen while knitting.  This woman is one to whom we might want to listen.

I love this woman, and I have never even met her.  In an age where people buybuybuy the best and the most beautiful supplies and tools in order to prepare to take on a new interest or hobby, Nicky-Jack just gets out her bin of flour and gets a great grip on those needles.  Cheap, clean, available.  She gives the cat a toss outside, and sits to knit.  So beautiful.toaster oven

The simplicity of this is what I want my life to reflect.  To hell with the fancy needles, the row counters, the tips for the needles to keep errant stitches from bustin’ a move off your needles in transit. Like Nicky-Jack would say: just flour up those mitts and commence to knittin’.

There is so much wisdom in simplicity.  I have dyed fleece with chemical- and natural-dyes, made my own mordants, hunted lichen in the woods, saved onion skins, spun wool, dog, rabbit, and goat.  I have plied skeins of yarn, niddy-noddied them, balanced them, and knitted with them.  I have felted wool and spun cotton.  I have made a silk cap out of a worm’s cocoon.  All of this cool stuff while Nicky-Jack was producing the goods.

I do believe that my productivity sometimes gets sidetracked by process and the hunt for technique, variety, nuance, and research.  I have experimented with dye baths of lichen and with Kool-Aid.  And I have done quite a bit of knitting.  But if I transfer her wisdom to other areas of my life, I feel pretty convicted.

Like Nicky-Jack’s needles, it’s time to dust up my chi and get a grip on that which is important to me.  On that which I hope to prioritize because it makes me happy on the inside and on the outside.  No one wants to be the teacup that looks happy on the outside but unhappy on the inside.   Dust up my my mandolin, my laptop’s keyboard, my fiddle, my running shoes, my piano, my sometimes-overwhelming research project . . . and toss that cat of distraction that is such a convenient excuse that disallows creativity and flow.  white turtleneck

 

Collaboration. It’s the Everything that creates Something.

Helen Keller wrote these beautiful words: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” 

Here is Google’s “define: collaboration“: the action of working with someone to produce or create something

I like the openness of this definition.  I like the creativity for which the word something allows.  It provides Choice.  The something can be good or bad.  Mindful or careless.  Happy or tragic.  Loving or selfish.  Beautiful or stunted.

Life, at times unfortunately, allows for both.  But this duality gives us Choice.  To dream.  To build.  To create.  To collaborate.  To experience.  In my ideal world, I am opting for good, mindful, happy, loving, beautiful.  And then some.  Having this Choice leads me to consciously and unconsciously create and allow ways for these intentions to collaborate and build something that is bigger than the human spirit.  Bigger than what I could ever do on my own.  I want Positive.  This is the direction in which I want my life to travel.  And I want to travel with those who believe this same thing.  It makes life such a fun adventure.toaster oven

This OK Go video is awesome.  It is a creative masterpiece of collaboration.  I hope that you have fun watching this!

And here is a link to an article that describes the video’s selfless and fantastic motivation of helping needy animals:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/09/ok-gos-new-music-video-for-white-knuckles-features-talented-dogs-and-raises-money-for-homeless-pets.html

There are many behind-the-scenes videos and outtakes as well.  It is all just so fanciful.  I hope you enjoy this creativity!  I always feel so good after I watch this testimony to collaboration.  🙂

Begin.

“Begin doing what you want to do now.  We are not living in eternity.  We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand — and melting like a snowflake.”  — Francis Bacon

How much of life do we spend waiting?  We wait for the bus, the plane, the train.  We wait until we are tall enough to ride the big-kid rides at the fair.  We wait until we are 21 to legally drink alcohol.  To vote.  To stay up late past our bedtime.  To get our driver’s license.  To move away and go on an adventure.  To buy our first car.  We wait for the plane to land and for our first kiss and for graduation from university.  We wait for promotions, raises, benefits, and bonuses.  We wait for love — true love — to enter into our lives.  We wait.  And wait.

And then there are the snowflake moments.  We don’t wait for ice cream to melt.  We don’t wait until the last of the chocolates are gone from the box.  We don’t wait for our vacation on Kauai’ to be over.  And we don’t wait for love to end.  Like that incredible sunset on Kaua’i, we want love to last forever.  And forever — because it is just so much fun and feels so great.  It really does.  We are just so lucky when we discover a Snowflake Moment.  toaster oven

These moments feel rare.  I read once that one inch of rain is the equivalent of approximately ten inches of snow.  That is a lot of snowflakes.   It takes a lot of them to get my attention.  But when they do, I am so happy.

It doesn’t take a social scientist to see a pattern here.  We don’t wait for these Snowflake Moments because we like these moments.  We find pleasure in them.  Savor them.  When they arrive, we feel supremely happy.  Sometimes they are over far too soon.  We share them and we tell our friends about them later.  We take pictures of them and post them to our social media page.  We write about them in our journals and maybe even make a scrapbook to better remember them.  We want them to last.  We are in the moment.  The joys of coincidence and spontaneity can be found in the Snowflake Moments.

I used to live at a high elevation on the snowy side of the mountains.  I shoveled a LOT of snow.  I shoveled the cabin roof, the woodshed roof, and the cellar roof to prevent damage or even collapse.  I shoveled snow away from the windows to prevent the surprise of broken glass and to allow some sunlight to stream into the windows.  I have shoveled my truck out of ditches and paths for hauling water.  I have done my share of what best can be described as Battling the Snow.  When I read this quote from Francis Bacon, I wish that I would have read it before I experienced all of those winters in such mighty snow.  I do believe that I would have gained a better perspective on digging out after a 3-day storm.

I would have told myself: Life is short.  True, there is a lot of shoveling to be done, but just Begin.  Focus on the moment.  Not on the blessed Chinook that will eventually start to blow come March and that will take care of the ice on the lake and the snow on the trail.  A reprieve is in sight: no more shoveling for another 5 months.  Whew.  I made it with all muscles intact.

Life feels so different now.  I am mindful of cultivating some sense of Focus . . . on Now and Try Something New and Begin.   I am learning that the fleeting fragility of snowflakes is truly very beautiful.  Stacks upon stacks of them . . . maybe not so much!  But they are gone so quickly.

I love what Francis Bacon has written: “We have only this moment.”  So beautiful.