True Directions & Higher Ground

Wise words and beautiful music to point you in your true directions:

IMG_3112. true directions

theunseenwordsproject.com

“To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.” – Seneca

“To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act. – Anatole France

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill

Happy Tuesday, good people.  It is my hope that you have a day of True Directions.  Follow that dream.

Please, click Play and listen to this fantastic music from Playing for Change: such beautiful people offering such wonderful music.  If I watch this once, I have to watch it twice.

 

Life + Movement = Balance

bicycle einsteinCan you remember that first time you were actually pedaling, steering, and balancing a bicycle all by yourself?

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein has had so many wonderful and uplifting quotes attributed to him.  Not only was the man a genius, but he was also very wise.

Life is like riding a bicycle.  If you are riding a bicycle and you stop moving, there’s a good chance that your balance will go all cattywampus and you will fall down. Boom and Ouch.

When it comes to bicycling and balancing, your options are somewhat limited: keep moving, stop moving and fall on the ground, or get off the bicycle completely and start walking.  And when it comes to life, we intuit and believe and know that out life options are not somewhat limited.  In fact, some of us believe that our options are infinite.  But are they?  I’m just wondering aloud here . . . what do you think?   I think that Einstein’s brilliance might be the answer here: Our options stay alive when we stay in balance our Higher Self with the pavement beneath us.

I like the spirit of Einstein’s quote and how he has reduced this simile to its simplest terms: ride or fall.  Keep going or get stuck.  And I do believe that some life changes have necessitated the need to trade in an old ride for a new one.

There are times in my life that I look back on and now can see that parking the bicycle was the best thing I could have done.  After living in a state of stagnancy, falling to the ground numerous times, and feeling the Ouch Factor, I finally came to my senses and parked the bicycle and walked away.  Heck, I didn’t even bother locking it up to a bike stand or a nearby tree because I knew that I was never going to give that bicycle another go.  Let someone else have it!  Some events in life are Good Riddance worthy.  At times like this, it is always good to select a new (and healthy!) set of wheels and ride like the wind off into a new paradigm.

Life, like a bicycle, is the vehicle we are riding.  Our infinite options in life are actually the directions in which we point our front tire.  The secret is to keep riding toward what we know are true directions to our Higher Self.  I have felt my spirit’s unsettling, intuitive nudge when I know that I have been pedaling in the wrong direction, and I have certainly experienced that feeling of What the heck have I done? right before crashing and falling.  Again.  My takeaway?  Patch up any scrapes and get back on the bicycle and find a balance point and keep moving forward.

Can you remember that first time you were actually pedaling a bicycle all by yourself?  It felt so liberating and exhilarating.   There was that split second when you felt your big brother’s hand leave the back of your bike seat and you felt your sense of balance kick into gear.  I so vividly remember this.  I went shooting down the driveway (and thank God that no car was coming up the street!), banked to the left and rode down the street to the cornfield that bordered the cemetery.  (Yes, I grew up in a very weird Midwest town!)

It was that split-second feeling that has stuck with me.  The second when I knew that I was balancing all on my own.  No sibling to steer for me or to keep us upright on two wheels when I was bumming a tandem ride on a back fender.  Just me, my hand-me-down sky-blue Schwinn, and the open road.  I rode all afternoon in the relative safety of the cemetery — the roads there being so peaceful.  I found My Balance while I practiced right turns and left turns.  Stopping and getting started again.  I arrived home feeling triumphant.  Liberated, actually.  I had discovered my independence.  My Movement.

Yup.  Einstein had it right.  Movement and Balance are key.  And let’s not forget Risk with a capital R.  It takes a lot of guts some days to take a deep breath and sail down the driveway, not knowing if you are going to keep riding or if you are going to crash to the pavement.  I believe that we all crave that feeling of Triumphant Balance in our days.  That feeling deep inside that tells us we are doing life justice with the right amount of movement and balance.

Today?  I am going to get back up on my Bicycle and ride like the wind.  There is no cemetery down the road from where I now live, but I am going to head there in my mind.  Back to that ultra-satisfying feeling of Balance and Movement.

The Meaning in the Count: Making Life a Noncount Noun

IMG_3357Numbers.

When I really stop to think, my Conscious Day is spent counting.  It starts out with counting and it ends with counting.  Minutes left on my snooze alarm.  Pounds on the bathroom scale.  Dollars in my checking account.  Minutes before I have to leave for work.  Pages completed on my writing project.  Calories.  Fat grams.  Minutes.  Hours.  Shots of coffee.  Pieces of toast.  Am I the only one who is consumed with and by counting?

Counting and measuring and weighing.  Reality dictates that I take care of my health and that I maintain a healthy weight.  That I pay my bills on time.  That I be punctual at work. That I move my dream project forward.  That I hold myself to some level of accountability concerning my food choices.  That I caffeine-ate fully and properly each morning.  That I try to stay under the speed limit when I am running late for work.  That I care about things in life that involve the measuring and weighing by number.

I know me.  Without counting, life would be a free-for-all that does not allow for any accountability to myself or to others.  While I think on this, I search for the value, the meaning in the count.  We have all wrestled with the concept of weighing quality over quantity.  But even here . . . we are still measuring and weighing the benefits.  We are taught to think that quality is more important than quantity.  But still.  Like the little girl that would rather have five pennies over one nickel, there are areas in my life where I tend to shoot for quantity.

Quantity in my hand.  Quality of the moment.  Where is the Real Value in the midst of the day and its ticking clock?  Daily, I put my day on pause for five minutes of meditation.  Are these five minutes worth more than five minutes spent watching silly videos on youtube? Research tells me that, yes, meditation is so good for us on so many levels.  And I will continue to take those five to reset my inner self.  But why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we aren’t doing that which is “good for us”?  Yes, I know that I can lose that final ten pounds, but is it worth beating myself up each time I get on the scale?  Am I really going to care, one way or the other, once I hit that Maui beach in December?  After all, it’s difficult to be hard on yourself when you are living in paradise.

But being a linguist, I very much like the semantics that extend beyond grammatical agreements.  For example, we English speakers agree to add the letter -s to most nouns to make them plural.  Lest we get into the exceptions such as person/people, tooth/teeth, mouse/mice, and ox/oxen, we can agree that adding the letter -s to a noun will signify that we dealing with the Concept of More Than One.

And then there are those tricky count and noncount nouns and their plural forms or lack therein.  According to the Purdue OWL, The Basic Rules for count and noncount nouns are as follows:

A count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an “s.” For example, “cat—cats,” “season—seasons,” “student—students.” A noncount noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example, “milk,” “water,” “air,” “money,” “food.” Usually, you can’t say, ‘He had many moneys’ . . . 

Count nouns refer to things that exist as separate and distinct individual units. They usually refer to what can be perceived by the senses.  Noncount nouns refer to things that can’t be counted because they are thought of as wholes that can’t be cut into parts. They often refer to abstractions and occasionally have a collective meaning. 

best when freshThere is simply so much cool stuff going on there.  Quantity vs. quality.  Count vs. noncount.   We think of a life — a count noun — and we count the number of lives on the planet.  But when we think of our our own life?    We think “in terms of wholes that can’t be cut up into pieces.”  It’s one whole life.   It’s my life!  And like grass, rice, and money . . . we don’t actually cut our own life up into pieces . . . even when we think in terms of annual events such as birthdays and anniversaries.  It’s all one big whole that we truly prefer not to relegate to the Noun Category of Count.  We want to make it count in the ways that are important . . . not in some grammatical or statistical way.

There is counting . . . and then there is making life count.  As I go through the days and I count and I measure the pluralizations that I prioritize . . . I wonder.  I wonder about the importance of quotas at work and pounds on the scale and hits on my website.  I wonder about making my life count.  So much to wonder about.  Thank God that wonder is a verb in this context.  Otherwise, I would be inclined to start counting the many wonders in the world around me.

IMG_2800My advice to self:  Just live and give it your best in the moment.  You’ve got this.  While I appreciate the concepts of mindfulness and how important it is to be aware and to be positive, there is more.  There is life as a noncount noun.  It’s okay to count the little things as long as I remember the bigger picture.  And sometimes it is so hard to keep sight of this enormous, huge, ginormous Universe of which I am but a tiny speck.

I think I answered my own Life Question About Counting.  Stop counting.  And when I do count — which I will surely continue to do — I will try to do so with wild abandon and appreciation for the abundance within life’s “separate and distinct individual units.”

How big is your Brave?

How big is your Brave?  

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  She also said, “Do at least one thing every day that scares you.”  Eleanor Roosevelt was not one to ignore our human need to be brave.  Bravery.  It calls to us and it asks us to listen.  And to act.  To do that which intimidates us yet still draws our attention, rallies our inner forces, and knits our talents together.  To simply be who we are and to not worry about what others may say or think.  As my wise, wise sissy tells me, “What another person thinks is none of your business.” Truth, Sis.  This is one of the many reasons I appreciate you.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  Do the thing you think you cannot do.”  I strongly suspect that Eleanor was one heck of an advocate.  I surely would want her on my team.

This song (video below) by Sara Bareilles is inspiring to me.  And it is so sweet, too! Firstly, I very much like the concept/quality/action/trait (I don’t know what to call it) of Bravery.  When I act in Bravery, I am stretched in ways that preclude my ego and encourage me to stand up and take a stand.  For others.  For me.  And for those who don’t have a voice.  When I am Brave, I give myself permission to say or do something that might lead to judgment or reprisal . . . but I say or do it anyway because my moral compass is in the driver’s seat.  Being more of an introvert, afterward, I am always a little surprised and shook up that I took a stand without even really thinking about.  It just felt like the right thing to do.

I also like that the video below chose dancing on a public street to symbolize Brave Expression.  Have you ever danced in public when others are looking at you and saying, “Huh?”  Or have you ever been the first one out on the dance floor?  Or do you dance for the security cameras just because they are there?

See, that’s the thing.  Dancing is one of those forms of personal expression that can be intimidating to a lot of people.  I think this is true because dancing taps into a part of our inner soul and allows it a splashy escape to the outside world.  Very few people think that they, themselves, are amazing dancers.  Am I a fantastic dancer?  No, not really.  Do I love dancing?  Yes!  This is why I don’t want to wait for permission and squander some awesome dance music while waiting for someone else to break the ice and get the party started on the dance floor.  I guess I feel that there is a shortage of live-band, dance-worthy music in my life. . . so, as a rule, I’m not going to miss a single second.  It is so fun to dance!

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for your free journal download.  It is written with the idea of inspiring Brave in your life.  An action of being Brave provides one of life’s rewards that leaves a shadow of inspiration behind.  It doesn’t feel like it stays for very long, but I think that it does.  I believe that being Brave grows us from a deep part within.

Your Amazing Aqua-Blue Journal Prompt:

Your Brave. journaling prompt

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and start your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

Sara Bareilles – Brave

Try Something New: What’s Stopping You?

IMG_3357Is there something that you have been wanting to learn?  To do?  To try just once to see what it would feel like?

Is the Fear of Failure holding you back? Does it feel like a lack of resources is underwhelming your life?  Is there someone in your life who is telling you that you procrastinate and you never finish anything?  Is there a voice in your head that always gives you bad advice?  Don’t start.  You have so much to do around the house.  You have to get up early in the morning. You haven’t done laundry for a week.  The garage is a disaster.

Do you feel like you simply do not have enough time to even think about starting something new?

You make the choice.

Well, there’s bad news and good news.  The bad news:  You don’t have enough time.  The good news: You do have enough time.  You choose which news you want your inner soul to hear.  You choose.

I kept delivering the bad news to my heart, my mind, my hands, my spirit, while forestalling the good news for an unspecific time in the mythical future when “I had more time.”  I was living in a steady hum of constancy that was focusing on everything that wasn’t quite right with my life: playing an elaborate shell game with finances, juggling too many jobs with school and homework, barely keeping up with household chores, and feeling like my life had all the fun sucked out of it by some cosmic vacuum cleaner.  All of this MindSpeak was proving to be so exhausting to my Inner Spirit that I simply stopped trying to inject newness or creativity into my day.

It felt like I was buried by life’s stuff.

I wasn’t merely stuck.  I was buried.  I would find myself paying bills online while listening to a class-assigned podcast while brushing the dog while folding the laundry while feeding the cat.  I was all over the place.  All of this multi-tasking madness. . . until I thought to add a new personal challenge to the day’s mayhem: Try something new every single day.

In the beginning . . .

In the beginning, this challenge verified the bad news –> it was something that felt like an added extra that felt to be overwhelmingly huge and impossible.  My MindSpeak went into hyper-mode: When am I going to have the time to try something new every single day?!  My days already feel like pasta in a pot of water — on constant boil and threatening to spill over onto the clean stove top at any given second.

The Wooden Spoon Trick

IMG_3360But I was so craving Different in my life.  Better.  More centered and mindful.  I remembered reading that if you lay a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling  pasta that it won’t over-boil.  The pasta can boil merrily away with no more messy stove to clean up.  So simple and easy . . . and it works!  This Wooden Spoon trick reminded me that life need not be so overly complicated.  Just try . . . and do . . . and lay the spoon across the pot. And try again.  It is absolutely possible to turn a moment of my day into a gesture of mindfulness.  I can make it happen.  I will make it happen.  I scrawled across the top of the wall-mounted white board in my office with my blue marker: You’ve got this!  Try Something New!  Today!  I mean it!

It has proven to be a bit of an experiment to see how it works.

I originally intended on focusing on one single something new to try for the 30 days — in an effort to create a positive new habit.  My thought: develop some consistency and build some sense of discipline by adding only one thing for an extended period of time.  Like one of those scary-clown jack-in-the-boxes, all sorts of ideas came popping up out of my mind’s Procrastination Department.  Play piano every single day.  Save on gas and ride my scooter to work every single day.  Eat a healthy breakfast every single day.  Work out every single day.  Sort through one box in the garage and get rid of stuff.  Do one or all of these things every single day for 30 days.

What did these things have in common?

But I found that these ideas weren’t working — and they weren’t very inspiring either. And besides, everything that I was thinking of involved fulfilling some obligatory should: be healthier, practice music, save the environment, clean the garage.  All of which are very lovely ideas, but still . . . This challenge was supposed to be fun and invigorating.

As I was casting about for the best way to implement my challenge, I discovered that was working was trying something different, unique, and unexpected every single day.  Examples?  I started piano lessons — and have been pretty disciplined regarding playing everyday.  I went dancing at a casino — great stories as a result of this adventure.  I broke out the new orange-and-white kitchen towels that had been preserved in their pristine state in my kitchen drawer — now brightening my kitchen and thoroughly broken in with the hues of red wine, carrot juice, and tomato sauce.  I introduced myself to a stranger — and we have since become acquaintances.

IMG_3317You get the idea.  I called an old friend just to say hi.  I bought Swiss chard at the vegetable stand.  I wrote a long overdue letter.  I told someone about my current writing project.  I had dinner at a restaurant that I had been wanting to check out.  I took photographs of garbage.  I added kale to my morning smoothie.  I had fun with some color and painted on canvas.  And another new thing for me? I set aside judgment of “what is good” when I was done painting.  I simply valued the experience and the time spent swirling color around.

IMG_3355I started reading my horoscope.  I subscribed to a new-word-of-the-day website.  I started blogging.  I bought three tiny wooden tops, which are proving to create a really relaxing “stop point” during work and study time at my desk.  I spin the tops and, while they are spinning, I do absolutely nothing.  I learned that an absence of activity can feel pretty good.

My Try Something New Challenge has proven to be that magical wooden spoon on the pasta pot.  I not only have enough time to Try Something New, I have plenty of time.  Life’s harried pace has reduced its boil a bit.  Not completely, but a bit, nonetheless.  Nothing is boiling over and making a spilly mess that I have to clean up.

It feels like I have effected change.  Like the motion of the little tops, the vibrational ripples have been spreading.  There have been some really fun and surprising and happy results from being willing to shake things up.   I don’t understand the way that time has expanded, but it has.  What I learned about this personal challenge: The hard part was starting.  The easy part is enjoying the expansive feelings of reward and appreciation.

You’ve got this!

Vision Board 058Would you like to share in this challenge with me?  Is there something new that you have been really wanting to do?

Please, leave a reply and post your One New Thing and share how it is enriching your life.  We all would love to hear about it!

Life is a lively event.  

Try something new, spin some tops, & effect the ripples of happifying change.

What’s stopping you?

Embrace Your Inner Honey Badger & Make Some Mud Balls

Escape your present reality and think like a honey badger.  Every time I watch this BBC documentary clip of the honey badger, I am so inspired by this animal’s persistence.  The honey badger’s focus on escaping the enclosure is nothing short of amazing.  It uses any and every resource it has to get to where it wants to go.  This animal truly is a marvel.  And what a lesson to all of us who doubt or fear or give up or don’t believe that something is possible.  The message straight from the honey badger itself: It is possible.  Just watch the video (4:12) and you will see what I am saying.  It is a hoot!

When I watch this video, I think about my life and about where I want to go.  Where I know I want to be. What I want to accomplish.  I am reminded of that quote by Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Well, the thing is: I do know . . . and I am expending personal resource: time, energy, creativity, etc.

But still . . . am I using every resource that is available to me?

This honey badger’s tenacity shows me that the answer to my question is Absolutely not.  The thing is: I know that I am capable of so much more.  Perhaps this is what drives the pistons of life’s dissatisfaction or confusion or self-defeat within my inner world.  I know that I have so much more inside of me to create, to offer, to be.  In the video, the honey badger even makes mud balls (!) to stage its escape.  Mud balls . . . an escape prop out of dirt and water.  Maybe I am easily moved, entertained, and inspired, but I find this very inspiring.  This honey badger never ceases to execute the next escape plan with what diminishing resources are available.  It uses ingenuity to make its goal happen, no matter what “tools” are available.

The word escape has so many different connotations.  It can mean that I am escaping from something that isn’t pleasant or that is demoralizing.  Or it can mean that I am experiencing a moment of escape, like the feeling of reveling in the sunshine on that Maui beach . . . but still with life’s root-of-reality reminding me of that which I will be returning to once vacation is over . . . something that isn’t bad but that isn’t all that great either.

Watch the video below (4:12), be inspired, and then click on the aqua-blue link to a fun and inspiring journaling prompt below.  Have fun with the prompt.  It could very well have the power to create a ripple effect into how you choose to live your life.  I wish you the very best of energy with your respective dreams and goals.

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for today’s journaling prompt: Your Great Escape Plan

Your Great Escape Plan

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and add it to your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

IMG_0703

 

Your Personality . . . & the Glory of the Choice

Vision Board 058Your personality . . . what is it exactly?  Aside from the usual adjectives of fun or moody or sunny or temperamental or intense or Type A or laid back or . . . what exactly? What does it really mean to be assigned a personality type?

We’ve all pondered the big debate of Nature vs. Nurture . . . how the spark of life is blessed/cursed/or combination-therein by congenital behavior . . . or wait!  Is it actually shaped by environmental and emotional factors?  And then these is all of the vice-versa stuff that leads one to accept and embrace both and then not think much about it.

Fascinating research points to many interesting findings that help us to understand Who We Really Are, our emotional and social intelligence, and our perception of positive and negative influences.  Nature or Nurture?  It is an enormous question that no one can really answer with total authority.  Take the story of the two children — identical twins, actually — standing on the ocean shore.  They are enjoying themselves while the salt water is gently lapping at their toes.  Suddenly, a rogue wave washes over the top of them.  The same wave, the same temperature of water, the same element of surprise.  One of the twins starts to cry and scream and run from the water. The other twin splashes back at the wave while laughing.   While this story would neither withstand nor support the rigors of a research study focused on Nature vs. Nurture, I like it nonetheless.  It gives me pause: Why not laugh?  It’s a heck of a lot more fun than crying and screaming.

And in the midst of all of this wondering and debating and agreeing, I do believe that there is much to be said for the concept of timshelthe Hebrew word for thou mayest.

When I think on topics of this sort, my mind wanders back to a Time of Great Impressionability in my life, and I was reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  What a book!  Well, “the story bit deeply into me,” and Lee’s treatise on timshel has stayed with me all of these curious years later — a testimony to the notion that life is one great impressionable moment after another.

It is my hope that sharing this gem of Steinbeck’s brilliance and wisdom will not act as any sort of spoiler.  The book is brilliant and one worth reading.  Like life, Steinbeck’s writing is intense and provocative and profound.  He writes the sort of story that stays with you throughout the years.  I thank Mr. Steinbeck for opening my eyes, my mind, my heart, my soul, and my sense of wonder to the notion of thou mayest“the glory of the choice.”

Last week, I came across this quite lovely Personality Test online.  I normally don’t click on these tests, expecting some sort of hook to be set before you receive your “results,” but something prompted me to go ahead and try this one.  Before reading any further, go ahead and click on the link and visualize your responses to the prompts.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliapugachevsky/this-cube-personality-test-will-absolutely-blow-your-mind?utm_term=.onK9zJNbz&sub=4259074_8744597

All done?

What do you think?  How much of the explanation of your visuals did you feel was accurate?  At the very least, I felt that I was given a sideways glimpse into me — parts of me that are actually true that I generally don’t consciously associate with my “personality.”  I think about Steinbeck’s artistic weaving of timshel into East of Eden . . . and I am reminded that thou mayest carries with it a personal(-ity) responsibility of creative and paradigm-shifting mindfulness that requires daily cultivation, acknowledgement, and celebration on my part.

Personality assessment aside . . . overall, we need not be so hard on ourselves.  I think we sometimes embrace the opinions of  people — people who truly don’t know us — with far too much zeal, and we assign too much authority to the editorializing that is done by others.  We have a proclivity toward jumping into the sinkhole: a morass of self-blame, regret, and guilt that we assign to nature- and nurture-defining personality quirks . . . epic actions that play with our hearts and attempt to define how we choose to forge present moments into future goals and dreams.  Or . . . is this just my personality?

I used to have a quote taped up in every room of my house: Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  In the midst of one particularly Challenging Time, I was re-reading the quote, and I realized that I needed to make an edit.  I crossed out about to happen and scribbled in happening right now:

Always believe that something wonderful is happening right now.  

The current paradigm of Overwhelm in that moment screeched to a halt, and life felt like it took a gentler curve toward heart-healing and happiness.  When I realized that I had a choice to become someone new on the inside, my whole life shifted.  This epiphany didn’t segue into some neat and tidy story-book ending, but it did nudge me into a new place, such that I could get back into a timshel state of mind: “the glory of the choice.”

toaster ovenI leave you today with the prayer, the wish, the hope, and the thought that today is a good day for you.  A truly good day.  One of gratitude and filled with micro moments that tell you that Now is Now and life is evolving, constantly evolving, as something that is wonderful.  If this moment isn’t all that great, just wait for the next one.  It will be here before you know it — full of promise and full of timshel.  With some refining, life really can be borne from “the glory of the choice:  . . . keeping “the way open.”

Click on the highlighted link below to download today’s free journaling exercise.  Have fun journaling and putting a new spin on perceptions and keeping your way open!

The Glory of the Choice. A Different Spin. journaling prompt

IMG_0703

A reminder that gifts of beauty await when we keep our hearts open.  So lovely.

 

[P.S. Here is the real Spoiler Alert: To read a longer excerpt that discusses timshel in greater detail from East of Eden, click here.  If you are planning to read the book . . . do not click here.]

No Hesitation

Please, watch this five-minute video of Candid Thovex skiing.  It is nothing short of amazing.

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/01/watch-the-gnarliest-ski-video-ever-made

What struck me about this video is not simply the skill, commitment, dedication, and fearlessness that Thovex has devoted to his skiing.  What struck me is that there are many moments on the video — if not throughout its entirety — where it feels that if Thovex had hesitated for one micro-second, he might have crashed into a tree or gone flying off the mountain into a rock wall.  Mission Not-Accomplished.

I am not and have never been one to seek thrills by daredevil skiing down the mountain or by catching air on my kiteboard in ultra-cold seawater or by jumping out of an airplane.  I love to hike the trail but am not interested in rock or ice climbing.  Still, I was thinking about how this incredibly gutsy video parallels my life.

I actually can see how it does apply to my fiddle playing or my writing or my positive intending or my Thoreau-esque sauntering down the road through the forest or . . .  you get the idea.  Not exactly the stuff of thrills, spills, and chills to an observer.  But this is my life.  It matters to me how I feel as I absorb and interpret the environment that I have chosen to live in.  Without hesitation.

Hesitation.  It has its merits.  I have certainly jumped all willy-nilly into certain situations and have not emerged with what has felt to be at the time the best of outcomes.  And before I am too quick to judge a crazy outcome, I do realize that there is a bigger picture I cannot see.  An unfinished play that has not been yet written.  A dance that is still being choreographed.  An elaborate tapestry that only allows me to see the underside — the side with the knots, the threads, and the inevitable slubs — all the while knowing that there is a gorgeous pattern seen from above.  There is fate and there is destiny.  There are many metaphors, allegories, analogies, and similes that I have read and that I have tried to apply like a Band-Aid to my wounded soul when I have really mucked up.  Depending on the degree of mucking, these word pictures have provided temporary solace and have gotten me through to the next time I did not hesitate.  And knowing me, the opportunity would certainly be there.

leap of faithI have thrown caution to the proverbial wind and plunged into relationships, jobs, adventures at random.  My brother and I are still laughing about the night that we got frozen out of our March camping trip without a tent in the unexpected snow and had to seek free hospitality à la couch surfing (we were broke: hence why we were snow camping) from one of the Lower Tavern’s regulars (stranger to us), Duane.  Not exactly flying down a mountain at incredible speeds like Thovex but a leap of faith, nonetheless, that resulted in a high-speed Dukes-of-Hazzard car chase up an S-curved gravel road (we were actually the pursuers, not our host Duane).  Yes, a leap of faith and a lengthy journal entry and a re-affirmation of my knowing that angels do exist.  At the very least, I can say that we were not in Hesitation Mode.

Still, hesitation is not all that it is billed to be.  It can really mess life up.  If there are Band-Aid moments when I have not hesitated, I am thinking that there are exponentially more times when I have hesitated.  Waffled.  Procrastinated.  Buried my head in the sand.  Dinked around.  Hoped it would go away or resolve on its own.  I didn’t know what to do, so I hesitated.  At the time, I simply didn’t realize that not making a decision is still making a decision.  I am wanting to grow my awareness of this now.  To hesitate or not to hesitate is not the question.  They are exactly the same thing.

leap-of-faith1Although I am mightily aware of my propensity to jump first and think later, my perspective has changed slightly.  There is the juxtaposition of spontaneity and hesitation.  And there is the contrasting effect of believing and knowing.     We believe with our minds, but we know with our hearts.  We say what we think, but we act with our hearts.  And . . . “Sometimes your only transportation is a leap of faith.” — Margaret Shepard

I have a research-oriented mind.  And a creative heart.  Maybe this is the challenge I create for myself.  Perhaps I am so busy dissecting experiences into rational bits of mind and body and soul, I am creating moments of hesitation that would be best lived by just allowing my knowing self to have the wheel.  Put my believing into the back seat — certainly invite it along — without the benefit of a spare steering wheel.

Can there really be so many complex parts to such a simple whole — this thing called life?   Believing is important.  Knowing is important.  Really knowing. When I allow the seamless marriage of these two . . . Pilgrim, look out and hold on!  Things are going to start happening in ways that my mind could not have ever imagined on its own.

One of my favorite quotes is “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  This has been a guiding quote through some challenging times in recent history.  I have this quote scattered throughout my house.  It is written on the front of my journal.  I really value this quote.  But I am adding to it today:

Always know that something wonderful is happening right now.  Right now.  

Walt Whitman wrote: “To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”  There are feelings of comfort, peacefulness, appreciation, and joy in not only believing this but knowing that this true.

Miracles happen.  They do.  Every single moment.  I KNOW this to be true.  My awareness of an “unspeakably perfect miracle” erases the seam between my believing and my knowing.  Embrace the moment.  Ski the mountain.  Know the miracle.  Without hesitation.

 

 

Important Encounters

Important EncountersI read this quote today while reading an article on soul mates.  The article outlined the 10 elements of a soul mate and made a lot of sense in the ways of recognizing serendipitous miracles.

Sometimes soul mates enter into our world as a result of intense and focused intention.  Sometimes they grow from a professional or academic relationship.  Sometimes it is a brother or a sister who so generously allows you to be you.  It is a daughter or a son who loves you because you are you . . . because of your flaws and your zaniness and your creative forgetfulness.  Sometimes your soul mate comes as a complete and absolute and amazing surprise.  You are standing in line one evening and someone turns around and says, “Hello.  Do we know each other?”

My soul responds, “Yes, we do.”  We didn’t before this moment, but we did.  We do now.  toaster oven

These are the fabulous contradictions of every day miracles.  The surprise of the known.  The immediate recognition of the familiar in the unanticipated.  And it is all quite amazing actually.  We weave our hearts and souls into our respective days.  We tie off loose threads and we pull some length from the hanks of color that ribbon throughout and within.  We offer our dynamic colors and texture and entwine them into the tapestry of our lives.  We recognize that there is a Higher Power at work.

weaving with feathersWe are mindful to occasionally view the tapestry from above — not just from the underside where the slubs,
knots, and loose ends dangle.  If we cannot see the beauty from above, we close our eyes and open our hearts and imagine the beauty.  We keep on weaving.  Our souls so want to be expressed in threads that honor our unique and lovely ways.

There are some beautiful and magical writings that celebrate the metaphors, similes, and analogies of life with weaving and tapestries.  So many!

This quote from Yeats is magnificent and beautiful:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, en-wrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet: but I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
(W.B. Yeats, 1899)

A great image.

Dreams are fragile. They are but vapor in another’s soul.  They grow in body and in strength when treated gently.  As Yeats has written, soul mates tread ever so softly — so gently — on another’s dreams.  They see another’s dreams as beautiful and invaluable.  They celebrate another’s patchwork of reality.  They see themselves in the other’s dream.

Albert Einstein was so smart and wise.  He wrote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  I want to live my life as though everything is a miracle.  Everything is sacred.  And amazing.  And beautifully woven together.  “Hello.  Do we know each other?”  Yes.  And Yes.

Tibetan wool, Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal 20131229

 

 

 

 

The byline for the day: Just Believe.

Coffee cup - cup of coffee 2 with clipping pathThe image from this morning left me momentarily breathless.  It slowed me to a halt.  I witnessed an act of beauty – the anatomy of a miracle.

First, the sinking dismay that accompanies preventable, regrettable loss.  And second, the joyful bounce of unexpected prayerful return.  Kill the fatted calf – my long-lost has returned to me.

All of this amazingness – while driving downtown to my favorite coffee shop for my morning joe.  Generally, I prefer to pay homage to the four fundamentals of coffee brewing – freshness, grind, water, proportion – in my own kitchen.  But the clock had been hounding me from the moment my eyes caught their first peep of fresh morning light.  The alarms had done their jobs of multiple snooze . . . still, I had overslept.  I dashed through my morning routine: showering, picking out which pair of shoes would dictate the dress for the day, untangling some knots in my hair born from a fitful dream, walking the dog, feeding the cat, finding my keys.

Rush, rush, rush.  I met with every red light through the downtown district on my way to connect with some caffeine.  All of those courteous drivers who were yielding to pedestrians not at crosswalks or allowing other drivers to get into the lane ahead of them.  I was all but gnashing my teeth while murmuring my own dialect of cussing: toothpicks, trashbucket, rubybum, jesusmaryandjoseph.

I was at my 8th light when I saw a real-world diorama on the northwest corner of Holly and State.  There were three people waiting to cross at the light: a woman, a young-ish boy approximately nine years old, and a little redheaded girl dressed in pale pink tights, yellow dress, and black shiny shoes.  She was at that enviable age where tears can dry instantly and miracles still have the power to go unnoticed.

Life is all flow at that age.  I do remember.  So much stuff – the wheat and the chaff – pours into one vessel when you are three years old.  Entire lifetimes can occur in a single day – a single action – a single moment.  When you are three-years-old, life is in spontaneous mode.  Your awareness of control is underdeveloped.  You don’t exactly wonder how things are going to get sorted out.  They either do.  Or they don’t.  You might hope for the former, but there is the possibility of the latter inspiring some tears.

keep-calm-and-don-t-walk-runMovement caught my eye as I waited for the green.  The little ginger was pointing across the street.  Her hands pressed to her cheeks.  Her mouth a perfect O.  There, on the other side of the street was a bright pink hat.  The kind of hat you wear to church on Easter Sunday.  The woman was holding the hand of the little girl while pulling back on the hood of the boy’s green sweatshirt.  A veritable push-me-pull-you in action.

It did not require an advanced course in reading lips or body language to be able to hear their conversation . . . a study in exclamation marks.  The woman: An emphatic Stop!  You, come closer!  Wait!  You, be careful!  From the boy: Let me go! From the little girl:  Hurry!

The light changed to WALK, the woman released her grip on the boy’s hoodie, and the boy made his dash to the other side of the street.  Scooped up the ruby pink hat.  Loped back.  Plopped the hat on his little sister’s head all catawampus.  The little girl looking up at her brother: My hero!  Her hands adjusting her hat tighter to her head.  It was going to be a good day after all.

While watching, I couldn’t help but hope that the light wouldn’t change so I could see the rescue.  Vicariously experience the resolve.  The driver behind me laid on his horn.  His scowl and middle finger in my rearview told me that I hadn’t been paying attention to the light, the traffic, or my hurry.  I had been transfixed by the story.  Me: the one in the big rush, the one who had been cussing at courteous drivers, the one who had been tailgating law-abiding drivers.  Me: holding up traffic while watching something random and amazing.

The colors: the blue sky; the red hair and pink hat and new pale-pink tights; the baggy green hoodie and crayon-purple stocking hat.  The rescue: the heroes in this life.  The miracle: the joyful reunion.  The lesson: life does provide the chariot to our wishes.  The reminder: Hold loosely but hope for the best.  The hope for the return of some things in life is worth wishing for.  The magic: Just believe.  Life is good.  One never knows when a miracle is about to happen.  They happen every single day.  For this, I feel an immense and abiding abundance of gratitude. toaster oven

miracles can happen