facing the days

 

I’ve missed being here…writing and sharing quotes, perspectives, thoughts and feelings. It’s been a desert of late. These times can be challenging to navigate when one enjoys writing as much as I do and have in the past. Even my journal had become a drought-ridden area that I simply could not walk through or even attempt to nourish.

There are many reasons for this, as my life these last few months has seen quite a few challenges. Navigating our interior spaces when the challenges outside of us seem to be never-ending can often keep us separated from the best of who we are. I did find myself listening more intently to my higher self, or God, or whatever you call that which is in everything. That alone probably kept me from taking a deep dive into dark places within that I have committed to not return to again. I am human, after all.

More than once during this period, Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, popped into my head. I thought on several occasions to go find it to read and re-familiarize myself with its words and inherent intentions and meaning. I finally did this last evening. Slowly reading through it, I was reminded that indeed, being human can have some challenges; and for some of us, these can come quite regularly at various periods in our lives. I was further reminded that the ways in which we greet these “arrivals”; the choices we make about how to receive and experience them makes the difference…all of the differences. How we feel, how we see other things in the day, the week, others in our lives and many times the places we visit or otherwise inhabit are all affected by who we are and how we feeling within ourselves.

I leave it here for you to read and interpret or intuit its meaning for yourself.

Namaste.

The Guest House

JELALUDDIN RUMI, TRANSLATION BY COLEMAN BARKS

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

With gratitude to Loco’s Photo’s for her willingness to allow me to include her photos in my blog posts. You can learn more as well as see some of her latest photographs on the Images page on this site.

resistance

This is NOT about resisting any government actions, beliefs, or an individual’s ideas and words about what we should be doing, thinking, etc.

What we resist, persists.

 – Carl Jung

I could write even more about an externally focused and instigated resistance. In fact there are many examples of this all around our world today. However, the resistance that I am focused on today is our internal resistance to ourselves. Many are not even aware of this internal resistance. Over the years, I referred to it as my head being out of sync with my heart. Even as I knew that I nearly always listened to the messages in my head rather than deeply listening and following the soft path my heart was leading me to.

The messages my head were completely influenced by people, ideas, training, and experiences designed to keep me in “my lane” and better prepared to “fit in”. This is where the conflict with my heart was most present. So, does resistance at this internal level influence the external resistance? I feel that it does in BIG ways. For example, if we are not listening to the soft entreaties of our hearts, how will we ever hear the voices of others who may not see things as we do?

Distinguishing the origin of the messages we hear from within can be tricky when we are new to the idea that there are multiple sources from within.

What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I, then?’ The one who sees that.
– Eckhart Tolle

Trouble is, we are moving too fast, driven by the messages in our heads that we “must do this”, and then “get that done” and “don’t forget that you have to get to this thing, too.” In some ways, slowing down feels like laziness; non-productive time and we cannot allow ourselves to BE that! Slowing down is opposite what we have been told, shown, taught and what we hear over and over.

And yet, that is the first step. Slowing down. Allowing yourself to be still long enough to notice your mind running, spouting messages, reminding you of what you have yet to DO, reminding you of something in the past, judging you for it and causing you to fear something in the future related to that past experience. Sound familiar? Ugh…tiring and worrisome. Still, allowing some time to be still so that we can notice that voice and know that we are NOT that voice is key to beginning to experience the inner voice (of the heart, your intuition) and trusting that it has your best interest at “heart” – and oh yes…it’s the heart. Trust…learning to trust ourselves. Until we do, we live in resistance.

Here’s another way we resist ourselves.

Have you ever had an experience in which you just didn’t feel like going to the gym or to some class, and part of that reason is that you don’t feel physically well or would prefer to prepare yourself a cup of tea and allow some time to read that book, or sit quietly to enjoy a view, or spend time with a trusted pet? Many of us have…or are still having them from time to time. Rather than honoring to the desire to be gentle with ourselves – the tea, the quiet, the book or time with a pet – we give into the impetus to get going, get to the gym, get a shower and get on with the day. We have one more time missed an opportunity to listen to the softer message of our heart. Perhaps our body needs rest, rather than more intense exercise. Perhaps we need to be quiet in our personal space rather than be in the loud noise and frenetic energy of the gym. There is a time and place for everything. Ours is to discern what is best for us now…in this moment. We have the ability, the power – all that we need – to discern what is best for ourselves.

We will continue to resist many experiences, or potential experiences, externally if we are not beginning to address our internal resistance.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

 – Wayne Dyer

Slow down. Listen to yourself. See what changes for YOU!

elevating the conversation

I’ve been listening to a few podcasts this week. I’ve enjoyed listening again to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah discussing Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. These podcasts are taken from their 2008 series of webinars in which they discussed each of the ten chapters in the book. The podcasts have served as a powerful review of this profound, timeless material.

I also listened to a podcast conversation between Oprah and Charles Eisenstein which I believe was originally recorded in late 2016 from a Super Soul Sunday show. Eisenstein is the author of several books, including The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. As I returned to his website after not having perused it in a while, I came across a stunning video, A New Story of the People. I encourage you to consider taking seven minutes of your day to view it.

Finally, I saw that Marianne Williamson declared her candidacy for President earlier this week. She is a non-traditional candidate…and we’ve been there before, yes? By all that I have observed thus far, particularly the comments on some websites which are quite nasty, I am reminded that we are not yet at the tipping point in our awakening as a nation or as citizens of this planet. Many agree that we are nearly at a point of “breaking open”. We are not there yet, apparently.

I am not advocating for or supporting a party or a candidate. I AM calling us to consider elevating the conversation about our collective human condition at the causal level. We have many symptoms. We are not having a broader discussion of the causes. To solve the many symptoms which have the capacity to undo democracies, or destroy life altogether, we need to step back and become observers rather than “reactors”. Becoming more objective will allow us to enter into service to the whole from a very different place. More conscious, we can take small steps toward healing and righting our collective ship of dreams of “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”

May we seek to listen to each other without judgment so that we thoughtfully engage from our hearts.

 

Desiderata

This is a favorite. It has been for a very long time. It fell to the back of my memory for a very long time and I was absolutely delighted when it reappeared, triggered by the simple memory of one phrase  – “you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

My framed print of this has been in storage for nearly three years, and again, I remembered it when considering a verse to write in a book, a gift for a baby, yet to be born.

As I reread it this morning, I was reminded of the beauty and the simple, inherent inspiration of its universal truths. I offer it here as a reminder for us all in this new year of possibility. May we all be grateful.

Namaste

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1952

gratitude

To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes to the countless ways we are supported by the world around us.

-Gregg Krech

Seems many have resolutions, words, phrases or commitments for a new year. I shared in my previous post that last year, I held the Zen Proverb of “let go or be dragged.” Yes, I “held” it as an intention. In the process of reminding myself of this intention, many things seemed to change. I can honestly say that 2018 was a lovely year, even thought it had a very rocky start. I had to let go of that, too.

Gratitude is more than an intention for me. It is a way of being, of living, of seeing experiences – mine and others – for what is. “What is” can often be challenging to observe and experience. We are accustomed to jumping in to fix, or clean up whatever is broken, or not going the way we think it should go or be. When we let go, and see what is there (without attachment to specific outcomes), we are free. We are free to see more clearly; free to feel what we feel and free to allow “it” to be as “it is” without judgment, angst or any other action oriented emotion that we may stuff back in, only to stoke more of the same until it becomes toxic.

Sounds easy enough. And it’s not always that easy. I am human and can find myself facing experiences or people, that might trigger something in me (that I wasn’t aware was still there) or I am otherwise vexed by what I observe as their apparent behavior. Both of these can take me away from the essence of myself and keep me from seeing what may be there for me to see or better understand about myself. And, as I am disconnected in those moments, I may not see what is really there in someone’s behavior beyond my own negative feelings. In other words, I may not see with my heart. Compassion would not be the first feeling that arises when I am triggered – not for me and certainly not for the other.

So, how does all of this relate to gratitude? Well, for me it is this way. As I have worked on becoming more of an observer of my life, my experiences – past and present – I see the “what is” as exactly that. It is “what is” right now…in this very moment. There is no need to hang on, become emotionally triggered or jump into the old habits of behavior that many (including me) expected. For all of this, I am grateful. In fact, when I AM triggered or vexed, I am grateful for those moments as they are revealing to me something else that has been “in there” and not yet disinterred for observing and healing.

As humans, we are very powerful. Our thoughts matter; and with our words, our reality unfolds before us. Now that I am clear about the impact of my thoughts, words and actions on my individual experience, I find that observation is even more important. When we slow down to observe; to pause and not react, we find a different response – if any response is necessary at all. That is something for which I am deeply grateful.

Gratitude is being grateful. Gratitude is taking the time to offer a “thank you” to another person or to the Creator (God, Spirit or whatever you call him/her). Gratitude is a celebration. Gratitude is life. Gratitude is love.

“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”
– Elie Wiesel

The greatest “thank you” we can offer is expressed in one of my favorite quotes from Meister Eckhart.

If the only prayer you said was “thank you”, that would be enough.

 

“a new day” by Loco’s Photos. Thank you, Lori.

 

 

 

inspiration…and leadership

To my dear Readers:

I read a letter yesterday and again this morning that I felt warranted sharing with all of you. You may well have read it, too. Before you get to the link below, I wish to offer a few words for your consideration.

This website, which contains among other pages this blog, is entitled Lead Our Lives  for an important reason (to me, anyway). I believe we are each fully and completely responsible for our lives; for living them, for leading them in the ways which honor who we truly are. We often look to other formal leaders for their leadership and for inspiration. The contrasts in leadership which inspires and leadership which instills fear and threatens to rob us of our inner peace are stark and very visible, if we care to look. Let’s begin with ourselves…let’s lead our lives as love and with authenticity.

Reading the letter at the link below, I am reminded once again of the importance of leadership – our leadership – of ourselves. I’ve said many times that seeking someone outside of ourselves to save us, is an exercise in disappointment and giving up of personal power. This is not to say that we abandon the tenets of service, democracy, and peaceful co-existence in any place in the world. However, it is clear that seeking for anything outside of ourselves, perhaps because we feel powerless or lost, is to essentially perpetuate those very conditions. As many authors have encouraged, “Go within or go without,” and “Know thyself.”

With all of this in mind, may we continue to lift and inspire each other – through service and kind words  – so that we make the positive contributions which are essential to lives well lived. This is true leadership.

May I introduce to you, the poet, author, and speaker – David Whyte. If you are familiar with his work, you will enjoy this letter even more. If you are not familiar with him or his work, I hope you will find something resonant in this letter:

Letter From the House – Winter 2018 – 2019

Lion sounds that have not grown from the mouse may exude naked power… but cannot convey any wisdom or understanding… The initial steps on the path to courageous speech then are the first tentative steps into the parts of us that cannot speak.
– David Whyte

 

This photo was taken by Lori Coleman, whose images I share here with her permission. I encourage you to check out the Images page on this site to learn more about the gifted photographer who captured this image and others from the eclipse and nature. Many of her images are available for purchase.

There is a Contact page on this site which you can use to send a private message to me. 

 

 

reflections on love

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

 – Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was looking for quotes, poems, or verses to read at my son’s wedding, when I found the above quote by the late Maya Angelou. What a lovely quote and how timeless! As we observe our world, it is easy to see how money and power seem to be in the driver’s seat. And love? Where is love? Relegated to the back seat or the trunk? We need only look into our hearts to know where it may be in our lives. We say we love…some people, some things, some places. Do we honestly look at others with the eyes of our hearts?

At a time in our history, when there is so much before us that doesn’t feel or look like love, I found these words a refreshing reminder of what is possible…when we open our hearts while laying down our biases.

I have enjoyed riding the “high” that has been the effect of the beautiful gathering of family and friends, from far and near – despite losses, heartaches and other challenges – to celebrate the wedding of my son and my daughter-in-law. The love in the space was palpable. Yes, I know you can say or think, “Of course she felt that way. It is her son, after all.” You would be correct and it was the energy in the space, the looks on the faces, the smiles and embraces of people across multiple generations, past family difficulties, and many, many miles.

Although I did not read the above quote or the poem which follows at the wedding*, I appreciate today the way these words have so beautifully and eloquently captured the moments of that magical weekend.

~ * ~ * ~

Touched by An Angel

by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
lived coiled in shells of loneliness
until loves leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us in into life.
Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet, if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
 ~ * ~ * ~

 

Love may be something we think we do. In fact it is who we are…and we often forget when we get angry or judge another harshly. In those dark, fear-based moments, we have forgotten. Perhaps we find ourselves too busy to love. “Oh, when I finish this project, I’ll spend more time with my family,” is just one of any number of reasons why we may keep ourselves from our very essence and the beautiful exchange that occurs when we are present to anyone.

I am reminded of one final quote, which I hold dear and read often – to remind me what I am here to be.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 – Rumi

May we slow down to reflect on our barriers to love; that our hearts may open just a little more to acceptance of ourselves, those whom we regard as different and those closest to us who most cherish our presence.

Namaste

*The bride and groom chose an excerpt from a wedding ceremony I shared with them, from the book, Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson.

 

thanksgiving

The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks, we give ourselves.

– Br. David Steindl-Rast

 

Thank you, all, for reading what I offer and for your acknowledgements. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here, now.

Enjoy this beautiful reminder of the gifts we receive every day.

A Grateful Day

Love and peace to all.

 

gratitude for love

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

 – L. R. Knost

Here in the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Some may feel that there is not much to be grateful for, given all of the natural disasters, gun violence and other such tragedies which have befallen us in this year. Many more look to those in government for help, assistance or to simply be saved from all that is negative in their lives. We often forget our own power, our inner light, the love which burns brightly within each of us, if we have not buried it with fear, anger and unacknowledged grief.

Perhaps it is easier for many of us to continue to carry these concepts forward – to write about them, speak about them and live them – when we are otherwise apparently comfortable, not having visibly (to others) suffered any real traumas.

This is a good time to be reminded that none of us ever doesn’t suffer some type of painful experience, trauma or significant loss. Some experiences are simply more visible than others. And yet, think of the stories that you’ve read or heard about, in which an individual or group is out helping others, even though they may have suffered some unimaginable loss of their own.

This is a good time to be reminded that we all have the capacity for love, because that is who we are…LOVE.  We come from love and to love we will return. At this time of year, especially as we observe losses, traumas, and unimaginable circumstances in our world, may we remember LOVE.  May we remember our own individual eternal light, shining from within. As we share the light that is our love, the light shines even more brightly. We become a beacon for others.

So why not tap that limitless source of love and light that comes to us, through us, and connects us all….to each other?

Love intentionally…even if it hurts at first. Love is also the salve that heals brokenness.

Love extravagantly…our hearts have great capacity; and even when broken, are broken open…and that creates even more space and increases capacity.

Love unconditionally…reach out to those who are different; allow others who see or believe differently than you to simply be as they are. Acceptance is a practice with rich rewards.

Be grateful for love. It opens, teaches, offers, supports and returns…again, again and again.

So go.

Be love.

 

 

questioning how we “see”

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.

 – Johann Wolfgang Goethe

We often wonder how people make the choices they make, see what they see in certain circumstances, or behave and feel they way they do. Each of us is a complex symphony of many experiences, beliefs, and feelings contained in bodies with minds that are prone to over thinking, at times. Is it any wonder then, we find ourselves often scratching our heads when someone we think we know well, who seems to be so very kind, caring, loving and compassionate, makes choices that are so very different from our own?

Being human means there’s a wall-builder in each of us. Our minds naturally divide the world into me and not-me, us and them. For thousands of years, our sages have taught that we’re all one, yet we still divide wherever we look.

 – Robert J. Waldinger

Many of us seek change as a result of the recent elections in the US. Many others do not want the changes, and in fact are quite satisfied with the state of things as they are, or preferred the state of things prior to this past Tuesday. Truly, the news for all of us is that we are presently on an unsustainable path, regardless of where we “stand”, what we believe or how we see what we see

If we love with our open hearts enough, we will see how fear, anger and deep grief, are keeping us from seeing each other, the peril of our planet (which includes ALL inhabitants), or anything else that might be considered as a place of commonality…from which to begin.

We are human.We have hearts. We have pain. Many suffer in that pain.We do not always listen to something or someone whose words do not align with ours, or our way of communicating. Many are so afraid and looking for a savior – and I’m not talking about a religious savior.

We’ve been told that we must “see it to believe it.” Dr. Wayne Dyer offered many ways in his comments over the years, for us to trust (that is to have faith in the transcendent energy or “Godhead” as he referred to it) and that when we “believe it we will see it.” These phrases are a bit oversimplified in concept and words, and when we slow down to contemplate their intention, we begin to “see” differently just how much our individual beliefs impact our experience.

A favorite quote reminds me that even the simplest thought, word or gesture can, indeed, impact the whole.

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.

 – Rumi

See yourself as the ocean in a drop and see if you begin to question what you believe; how you make choices; what you think when you see someone whose words and actions do not align with yours. We can make a difference. In every moment, every thought, every word, every action.

Namaste.