The Choice to Choose

IMG_0719I found this quote by Marianne Williamson as I was clicking through folders on my external hard drive.  I tried to remember the circumstances under which I felt compelled to take the time to copy this quote and save it under the folder entitled “Choices,” but the date stamp of over 2 years ago on the document was not enough of a clue.  What was I doing, feeling, or thinking two years ago?  Was I at some intersection of hope and denial . . . and a’waiting some guidance to come traveling my way?

“The choice to follow love through to its completion is the choice to seek completion within ourselves. The point at which we shut down on others is the point at which we shut down on life. We heal as we heal others, and we heal others by extending our perceptions past their weaknesses. Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who that person is. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is. Forgiving others is the only way to forgive ourselves, and forgiveness is our greatest need.”  – Marianne Williamson

This is a great quote.  Marianne Williamson is an inspiring and excellent writer.  Whenever I read her writing, I feel inspired to stretch a little further and search a little deeper.  It is good to read words that encourage me to grow in exponential directions.  I find that I can only read so much of Williamson’s writing before it is time to set the book aside for some absorption time. It makes for a slow read this way, but I always feel enriched and guided by the thoughts that are inspired by her words.

I do not create very much time to read in my daily life and, as a result of this non-priority, I have been carrying the same book by Marianne Williamson on various vacations for over 5 years.  The book has a lot of notes scribbled in the margins and the pages are curled along the edges.  There is beach sand embedded where the pages meet the binding.  If you hold the book open and fan the pages, the reminder of Hawaii will sift onto the table.  The cover is faded from sunlight, and the pages have been dog-eared and un-dog-eared.  I am about 1/3 of my way through the book.  It looks like this book is going to see a lot more travel by the time it is retired on the bookshelf.  It is too worn and weary of a passenger to be passed on to a different reader.

Besides, trying to decipher someone else’s notes in the page margins always breaks the flow for the new reader.  It leaves one wondering why the passage on this page is so significant that someone took the time to pen a remark.  The new reader feels that he or she perhaps missed some essential point that the previous reader clearly pounced on and duly noted.  I find that it is better to start with a fresh book than to try to analyze another reader’s scribbles and observations.  Maybe I am odd that way, but I like to create my own flow.

I thought I lost the book on one of my trips to Hawaii, so I bought a new copy that was all clean and smooth.  Then the old copy re-surfaced in a carry-on bag while packing for a trip, so I switched the newer version for the original version.  Back to Square One in the home-i-est of fashions.

So, I was reading from my well-traveled book the other day — now that I am traveling for a few months — and thinking about how life has moved me into a blessed place in time: an imaginative and real culmination of a dream I have nurtured for well over 10 years.  It feels as if I am in a magical bubble that is allowing for me to pursue interests and dreams and disciplines that have felt to be so distant from my daily reality.  I am exercising everyday again.  I have all of my instruments out of their cases and at-the-ready to be played.  I l-o-v-e this.  I have my laptop set up in an inspiring spot in the new house I am renting for the winter — with a view to the west and to the north.  I am cooking from recipes — not simply broiling a quesadilla or throwing compatible food ingredients into a pot and calling it good.  I baked chocolate chip cookies yesterday.  For those of you who regularly bake, this may not seem like such an extraordinary thing.  But for me?  It has been many years since I have done anything even remotely this wonderfully culinary.  The cookies came out too dark, flat, and lacy at the edges . . . not my preferred genre of cookie. Still.  I made cookies and the house smells great.

I feel that I am in this gracious bubble of choosing to make conscious choices.

IMG_0739Still, being in this extraordinary moment is the culmination of many challenging times and sometimes-awkward choices.  I have stated my preferences and not stated my preferences.  I have turned left when it might have been more advantageous to have turned right.  I have laughed when it was inappropriate and I have cried when the tears weren’t worth the effort.  Everything has all somehow flowed into one channel that has led me to a time of feeling peaceful and fulfilled. With life’s chaos reigning these past years, I have the awareness to appreciate the bubble while it is floating.  And it feels great.

I sometimes feel as if we are afraid to celebrate too loudly . . . these delightful and surprising moments of awesome-icity that just make for incredibly-saturated present moments and delicious memories.  If I celebrate too loudly, will moments like this ever return to me?  Haven’t I been trained to hide my ecstatic joy under a bushel basket, lest it be conceived as a negative sort of expression that speaks too loudly?  I don’t know.  Maybe I was raised in a more stringent time or culture — one in which we are taught to not proclaim feelings of joy too loudly.  It might make someone else feel badly.  Or it might be perceived as bragging or trouncing someone else who is struggling.  Or it might be simply bad manners.

Is it?  I hope not.  That would never be my intent.  Never.  I am just simply feeling the atmospheric joy of the bubble. toaster oven

What’s next?  I wrote in my journal yesterday.  I thought of several things and wrote them down in my signature columns and charts and boxes that organize my thoughts.  Then I realized that what has essentially led to Now has been honoring my intentions, my dreams, and my goals.  The lines from all of those columns and lists and analyses have been blurred into Now.

Events, blessings, and surprising circumstances are possible.  The bubble is real.  Dreams may not line up in my presupposed perfect chronological order, but I received the encouraging confirmation this winter that if I keep the dream safe to my heart and extend it to the greatness of the Universe, it will all come ’round right.

I tell myself everyday, “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.”  Some days I don’t believe in this as ardently as other days.  But today?  Today has been an extraordinarily good day.  I walked in the forest and on the beach.  I didn’t see another soul the entire time I was out.  I wrote.  I played my mandolin and kept my own time without a metronome.  I finished baking the second half of the chocolate chip cookie batter, hoping that by refrigerating the dough overnight the cookies might look better coming out of the oven.  They didn’t.  They are even more burnt looking and lacier-edged, and flatter.  They are stored in the freezer for some hapless house guest who will be offered a frozen, home-baked cookie.

Life is good.  I l-o-v-e this song!  Kool and the Gang are awesome!

Celebrate good times, come on!




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.

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.