Friday, July 31, 2020

July 31--Hope Sustains Us

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.  --Barbara Kingsolver

     I would have to say that most of the things I have hoped for in my life have been fulfilled. I am very fortunate indeed. Just the tiniest bit of hope has pulled me through some rough times. When I "hit bottom" on my addiction, a thread of hope led me to a 12-step program, where I have lived gratefully "under the roof" of recovery for decades.
     Being the only daughter born later in my parents' lives, I will say that I am spoiled. Unlike a lot of folks, I consider "spoiled" to be a compliment. Looking back, being indulged did give me the enduring hope that if I wanted something, I could have it. I don't remember a lot of "admiring from a distance," i.e. that others could hope for such-and-such, but not me. If I set my mind to it, I generally accomplished it, "living under the roof of hope." Examples are an MBA degree, a variety of jobs I enjoyed, marriage and raising two sons, yoga teacher training, and teaching and coaching in assorted ways. 
     I wear a lot of "Life is Good" brand clothes. Living that sentiment is, for me, living under the roof of hope. 
     This is the last of July and the topic of "mindfulness." The theme for August's quotes is "perspective." 
     See you tomorrow,

Thursday, July 30, 2020

July 30--What is the Real Problem?

Often in life, the most important question we can ask ourselves is: do we really have the problem we think we have?  --Sheri Fink

     Looking over my life, it seems that when I have experienced a problem, it took a while to get to the real "root" of the problem. The apparent problem of being overweight was due to eating too much, which was due to childhood traumas and issues, which led me to recognize my food addiction, which illuminated my lack of spiritual sustenance, which stemmed from my lack of self-worth. Eating too much was not the problem, but a symptom of the problem. 
     Given a problem, are you looking at the root cause or at a symptom of the problem? This can be a powerful and enlightening question. While treating symptoms can be helpful in the short run, the only real solution is to get to the actual root of the problem. It can be a lengthy process, sometimes equated with peeling an onion--removing layer after layer till you reach the core. 
     Physical issues are a manifestation (symptom) of something going on in our consciousness. It behooves us to explore and expand the consciousness to alleviate those physical issues. Most folks don't want to do this. I speak from personal experience. This can be a lengthy, messy process. Taking a drug can relieve the symptoms much more quickly, but the drug doesn't solve the real problem. 
     Digging deeper,

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

July 29--What We Do Naturally

To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity. --Friedrich Nietzsche

     This is a bit harsh, I think. I've known folks who have beaten up on themselves mercilessly because they felt they could not figure out their purpose. The pressure to name one's purpose is just another neurosis in our culture.
     Having a purpose, on the other hand, is a very valuable and motivating thing. I've labeled a variety of purposes for myself over time. Probably my favorite is bringing people together. I was going to say that's not happening right now with the pandemic, but I am still accomplishing it via Zoom. It's simply a thing I do, it's natural for me, so I don't dwell on "purpose."
     My favorite purpose is the one named by Abraham-Hicks, and it applies to all of us: we are here for joy, expansion and freedom. Another take on that is Joseph Campbell's "follow your bliss." If we all do that, bringing the best we have to life, wow, what a world we could create. Gone would be the angst and misery of so many living a dissatisfying life.
     The way I see it, if you are mostly happy, you are living your purpose, whether or not you can name it. If you are not happy, probably some changes are in order.
     Joyfully expanding freely,

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July 28--Soul Color?

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. --Marcus Aurelius

     This is another good reason to keep a good handle on what we are thinking!
     Sometimes I like to just sit and look at people, for instance while waiting for a flight. It's interesting to ponder what they may be going through, their general demeanor, their interaction with those around them. A particularly sour-looking or cranky person makes me feel sad. Dark soul thoughts are coloring their behavior. I do believe most folks to be kind and good souls, with mostly lighter colors shining through.
     Being humans with free choice, we all have the full color palette within our souls. None of us are immune to the occasional darkness of black and grays. But what is the dominant color of my soul? Is it a jaded, bland palette of dull pastels, or the bright colors of enthusiasm for life? I'm a person who loves color like some folks love music, so this wisdom quote encourages me to keep my thoughts bright, bold and loving.
     Today's soul color--bright red, my favorite,

Monday, July 27, 2020

July 27--Magic

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
--Eden Phillpotts

     I love this quote! Just the word "magical" makes me happy. There are so many magical things around me. It is so much fun to practice noticing more and more of them. Here are some examples:

Any flower
My dog's total joy at trying to get a drink from a yard sprinkler
A weed growing through concrete
Any smile
Visiting a foreign country and talking with the locals
Airplanes that take us many miles very quickly
Christmas lights
Art museums
My husband
My husband's fabulous cooking
My sons
And on and on and on....

     Have you ever taken the time to watch a spider spin a web? Speaking of magical! And it's a very practical thing--that's how the spider feeds itself. Yet a spider web is an intricate work of art.
     Let's see if we can't sharpen our wits a bit today, shall we?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

July 26--This Is It

The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes--and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.  --Laura Ingalls Wilder

     I could certainly say that this has been the great lesson of these pandemic months. With the many ways of distracting and entertaining ourselves stripped away, we've had to learn to be content with much less activity. Hopefully, this has enabled us to "wake up," pay attention to our lives, and see beauty in everyday things.
     Sometimes my thoughts get into "when this is over" mode. In truth, I don't know if I'll be alive "when this is over." This is it. This is my life, and it's my joyful task to appreciate it as it is right now. Yes, someday I may get to travel again, and eat out in a restaurant. I've learned that I can live without travel and dining out. It's important to see this time as an opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive. Just like any time in life, we get out what we put into it.
     Having been denied the opportunity to swim at the YMCA for almost three months, I no longer take that exercise for granted. I love every moment in the water. I'm enjoying painting, gardening, and golfing more than ever. I've had a lot of time for online learning. Our dog, Barney, is the angelic epitome of "the beauty of life." He brings us loads of delight and laughter. I don't know what we'd do without him. Everyday life, everyday beauty, everyday contentment--that's living.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

July 25--Thinking Makes It So

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  --Buddha

     James Allen, in his 1903 book, put it this way, "As a man thinketh, so is he." Jesus indicated that it is done unto us as we believe. I remember very distinctly when this principle was brought home to my heart. I was sitting in a church service led by my beloved former boss and minister, Rev. John Martin. I had pretty much been of the mindset of "I'll believe it when I see it." Give me the proof, then I'll believe.
     Rev. John was able to get through to me that no, first you believe (think it), then the results show up. WOW. Turn my world around. That led to an in-depth study of Science of Mind principles, becoming a practitioner (spiritual coach), and a vastly expanded, even better life. I can sum it up in the word "empowerment." We all have control over our thoughts (whether or not we believe it or consciously use it), so we all have the power to create our lives.
     My mother-in-law, Shirley, in response to someone praising the sons she raised, would say, "I don't want to take credit for how great they are, because I wouldn't want to be blamed if they were awful." If our thoughts have created a life we love, we are happy to take credit. But if something about life is not to our liking, we have a strong tendency to blame it on God, bad luck, karma, etc. Alas, when we do that, we give up our power.
     I immersed myself in the study of this very basic principle identified in Buddha's quote at the time when my sons were teenagers and still living at home. I remember talking about it to them and getting the looks of "Mom's out in left field again," complete with eye rolls. Several years later, my older son said to me, "Mom, it's so cool... I just think something, and it happens." Really? Amazing! Yes, indeed, we do rub off on our kids some way, some how.
     Keeping my thoughts on the upswing,

Friday, July 24, 2020

July 24--Living Awareness

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware--joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. --Henry Miller

     With my adorable dog, Barney, lying serenely next to me, I think of the lofty goal of being aware as he is aware. He's always alert while in the house for any outside activity of which we should be notified. When we are out on a walk, he misses very little. Cats and rabbits are particular attention-grabbers. Other dogs cause him to lie down peacefully and await their approach. It seems to me that nearly every single blade of grass and mailbox post is worthy of intense sniffing. Barney has learned the signs of an impending walk--my putting on shoes, rounding up the leash--so he is always alert for those signs. I consider all that "joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
     Oh, to be as tuned-in and aware in each moment as my dog! Even though I love my life, I know I take so much for granted. It's easy in this pandemic to just want to make it through another day, same old, same old, missing the joys of life. I'd say for myself that "divinely" is the key in the quote above. As long as I maintain my spiritual connection to that which is bigger than me, my awareness remains high and I experience great joy in living.
     Speaking of living... the strangest ever major league baseball season began yesterday on July 23. The first Cubs game is tonight, and I'm in heaven. I've watched a couple of exhibition games, and it is exceedingly strange to watch baseball broadcast from a stadium with no fans. We are certainly learning to live in different ways. Our awareness expands and that gives us more options.
     Go, CUBS!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

July 23--Reflect and Renew

How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day. --Anne Frank

     12-Steppers know this Frank quote to be the essence of Step 10: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." It's the ongoing daily practice of looking over how I behaved, felt and thought throughout the day, considering if I need to make any amends, and pondering how I can keep myself on a positive, expanding path. It means being conscious of one's life, rather than moving mindlessly through it on autopilot. It provides the opportunity to recognize and implement changes. It allows issues to be dealt with on a timely basis, then let go, rather than forever dragging around the baggage of guilt. 
     At the start of this new day, I leave you with a quote from Rumi:
Things are such, that someone lifting a cup or watching the rain, petting a dog or singing, just singing--could be doing as much for the universe as anyone. 
     Let's be a gentle blessing to someone today...

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

July 22--Now and Then

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.  --Alice Walker

     Hmmmmm... I can't say as I'm dreaming of a future of chaos, corruption, greed, pandemic and rampant "us vs. them." I prefer to think of those things as splinters in the human consciousness, and the wholeness within us is exposing them in order to root them out. This will ultimately allow human kindness and proper caring for one another to prevail. That's the future I am dreaming.
     On a personal, one-day-at-a-time level, I love my life. I dream of being creative, useful and content, living in a divine flow of joy. I'm painting, teaching and mostly OK with pandemic life at home. We are forced to be creative with small adventures to keep us from getting too isolated. I do put effort into keeping my thoughts positive (the present I am constructing), because negativity can easily wreck both the present and the future. Ever-expanding gratitude keeps me on track.
     EnJOYing another day in paradise,

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

July 21--Are You a Great Pretender?

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. 
--Kurt Vonnegut

     Today's photo accompanying the quote is of a very elaborate mask. We all wear them in our many potential roles--parent, employee, employer, spouse, student, customer, teenager, artist, activist, caretaker, retiree, athlete, and so on. We get to choose in any given moment what the pretend role is, and that's simply life as we know it.
     The troublesome place of pretending that I witness so much of is perfectionism. There's a 12-Step saying about that: "perfectionism is the purest form of self-abuse." It's rampant in parenting--the idea that I have to be a perfect parent and my children, therefore, have to be perfect. It's insidious. It's crazy-making. It contributes to the alarming suicide rate. Certainly we want the best for our children, and that's allowing them to be who they are, "warts and all."
     Living in integrity, to me, is keeping the mask-wearing down to a minimum, or at least wearing a "see-through" one. It's treating every single person, no matter what his/her apparent status, with the same respect and consideration. That's not necessarily an easy practice, but it is certainly a worthwhile goal.
     Gratefully free to choose,

Monday, July 20, 2020

July 20--Stop and Wonder

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. 

     As a lover of gardening and life-long visitor to botanical gardens, I appreciate the nearly infinite variety of flowers on planet Earth, even marigolds, which smell nasty and are orange, my least-favorite color. There is an awe-inspiring ("our whole life would change") episode of "Moving Art" on Netflix that is devoted to flowers. Time-lapse photography enables you to see them go from bud to full flower. It is a beautiful film.
     I am sincerely hoping that the kinder energy awakening on our planet will bring with it an appreciation of the miracle that our Earth is, along with each plant, animal and human on it. With that appreciation, I hope comes a powerful desire to care more lovingly for our home. This is wisdom the indigenous peoples have practiced for centuries. 
     Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping, I'll go through the alphabet naming a flower for each letter. It's not hard for me to do that, and it leaves me with a feeling of joy and gratitude. I playfully picture Spirit for eons having started each new day with the question, "What amazing flower shall I create today?" From the common dandelion to the most exotic orchid, every single one is a miracle.
     Deep appreciation changes us for the better,

Sunday, July 19, 2020

July 19--Walk the Walk

It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.  --Jane Austen

     "Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk." I've had this reinforced for decades in the 12-Step program. It's the idea that we actually work the program and live the results, not just talk or think about doing it.
     Anyone who has raised children can attest to this fact--you can talk all you want, but it is your actions that will truly impress them, whether that be conscious or not. Children know when the verbiage and the actions are not coherent. "Do as I say, not as I do" simply does not work.
     We can spout the virtues of kindness, but do we actually express it to those who serve us? It's often too easy to offer advice, but do we practice our own advice? We recognize the value of self-care, but do we actually make time each day for it? We say we love to __________ (paint, swim, be in nature, golf, garden, visit with friends, etc.), but do we do those things regularly?
     During this pandemic, we are being called upon to see and do things differently. Despite the uncertainty swirling around us, I, for one, am ready for our doing to be upgraded.
     Doing my best to live my convictions,

Saturday, July 18, 2020

July 18--Here and Now

Not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.
--Walt Whitman

     Wow, how timely is this reminder this morning! I went through another of my (weekly? daily? hourly?) bouts of irritation at pandemic life. Leta's little temper tantrum. 64-year-old adult throwing a fit. I want all this shit to be over. I should be in Colorado right now visiting my sons, hugging them with all I'm worth, playing golf with them, which happens to be my very favorite thing to do. I want to visit my older brother and other Miller family back in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I don't want my paid-for trip to Spain and Portugal to be cancelled. I want to be able to go out in public and not fear for my life. Yep, I want my old life back, at least some parts of it.
     It's time for "big girl panties." This place and this hour ARE my life, now and forever. As I learn to accept my full range of emotions, tantrums are unavoidable, but unpleasant and unproductive enough that I don't care to hang out there for long. Wishing for other places and other hours takes my focus away from all the good I am experiencing right now. I also know that current circumstances are the uncomfortable birthing process of a new level of good. I am grateful that I do have control over my thoughts, and that I do have the ability to bring them around to the present place and hour, and all the good they contain.
     Focusing on now,

Friday, July 17, 2020

July 17--No, You Haven't Seen It All

Always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.  --E. B. White

     The photo accompanying today's quote is of a rainbow and fluffy clouds over a rocky ocean shore. Is there any wonder quite like a rainbow--the sky, water and sunshine making a ribbon of colors for us, ever so briefly?
     I fear that for assorted reasons we have a tendency to get jaded about life, feeling like we've seen it all. In one of my daily readings, I encountered this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character." Whoa! That's a good one to generate some introspection.
     If you'd like to immerse yourself in wonders, check out the Netflix series titled "Moving Art." It is a fabulous series exploring the beauty of Earth, set to music, with no spoken word. It's mesmerizing. There are infinite wonders around our magnificent Gaia.
     White's sentiment encourages us to turn off the autopilot that drives us and pay attention to what is right in front of us. Life is so much more fun if we are curiously looking for wonders rather than focusing on what's wrong with the world.
     Beauty surrounds me,

Thursday, July 16, 2020

July 16--Thought Power

Thought is invisible nature, nature is visible thought.  --Heinrich Heine

     This quote leaves me a bit unsure what to do with it, so I'll leave it mostly to my dear readers' interpretation. I'll briefly say that it reminds me of an Ernest Holmes quote: "Everything is twice created." Everything begins with a thought (first creation), then the manifested form is the second creation. As Mike Dooley states, "Thoughts are powerful, use them wisely."
     Creating beauty,

P.S. Another barn quilt completed.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

July 15--Correct Your Mind

If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place. --Lao-Tzu

     The 12-Step programs talk about maintaining "fit spiritual condition." To me that equates to correcting the mind. This is not a one-time event, but an ongoing practice requiring consistent attention.
     One of the things that Ana Forrest hammered home to us in yoga teacher training is that our bodies are energy, and that bodily problems or issues are generally stuck energy of some sort. I elected yesterday with my spiritual coach to clear some stuck gunk from my hip area, trusting the process and that my higher self would guide me. A deep dive into my mind and spirit resulted in a lot of crying ("soul rinsing") and an excellent correction in my mind. It also left my hip feeling much improved.
     The correction in my mind was allowing it to move from my head to my heart that, as a child, "I did not do anything wrong." I had assumed a lot of responsibility and guilt for things that weren't mine. I realize that it may take a bit to fully integrate this into my psyche and body, but I know that this is one piece of the puzzle enabling my life to fall more fully into place, i.e. healing.
     Correcting the mind is not necessarily an easy task, but noting today's quote, it's well worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

July 14--Time

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. 
--Rabindranath Tagore

     Author Gay Hendricks in "The Big Leap" discusses "Einstein time." His premise is that we create time, and we can create as much of it as we want. While this may sound completely wacko at first, it's true. I practice it. So, like the butterfly, I have time enough. One of my favorite quotes from the book is "You'll never have enough money to buy all the things you don't need, and you'll never have enough time to do all the things you don't want to do." Ponder that one for a bit!
     Clocks and our obsession with time are human inventions. Have you ever noticed how time flies when you are having fun, or how it drags when you are in unpleasant circumstances? That's because we create time. I can't explain it all here--read the book. Knowing that I create time helps me to stay in the present, as in the butterfly quote--not counting the future months but enjoying right now, relaxing because I don't need to be in a rush for any reason. 
     Please explore your personal understanding of time. It can be very enlightening!
     On time,

Monday, July 13, 2020

July 13--Appreciating Silence

Every word has consequences. Every silence, too. --Jean-Paul Sartre

     In other words, what we don't say can be just as potent as what we do say. Being a teacher in various ways, I do like to talk. I have, however, been encouraging myself to be silent and listen more than speaking. Fortunately I am not one who is uncomfortable with silence. I actually crave it. While some folks are content with music or TV chatter constantly surrounding them, I'm usually enjoying silence (or as close to silence as I can get). In our world that seems to be constantly making noise of some sort, silence is refreshing and calming.
     I'm off to appreciate the silence of swimming--just my breath and the water...ahhhh, peace.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 12--Where'd It Go?

Happiness rarely is absent; it is we that know not of its presence. 
--Maurice Maeterlinck

     Wise Abe Lincoln is credited with the quote, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." So happiness is a choice. Occasionally we forget that and think outer circumstances control where we are landing on the happy scale. Happiness is an inside job, so it is never absent. Alas, sometimes we forget where we put it.
     Several friends and I have a long-standing joke regarding happiness. One asked another, "Are you happy?" and the response was, "Well, I'm not skippy happy." I'd offer that there are degrees of happiness, from gentle contentment to ecstatic (skippy) happy. It's one of the joys of being human to experience the full spectrum of happiness. 
     I've been feeling some general angst lately. I work long hours during tax season to support my travel habit the rest of the year. All the travel plans I had have been cancelled. While I consider myself a "home body," I can only take so much "home" before I get a bit bonkers. I'm reminding myself that despite occasional angst, I am happy. That's the "bottom line" that matters most to me right now. 
     Doing the next right thing,

Saturday, July 11, 2020

July 11--Sweet!

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.  --Emily Dickinson

     I'd have to say "melancholy sweet." I felt a bit melancholy when I first read this. Yes, it's the unique and unrepeatable experiences of life that make it so sweet, but dang, I'd sure like to hold on to or repeat some of those things. Life moves on. Ultimately I am quite grateful that we can't go backward, that we can't unlearn anything.
     Life is simply to be enjoyed. Abraham-Hicks tells us we are here for joy, expansion and freedom. All of those are quite sweet features of earthly life. Having lived well more than half my life, I often wonder if I'm enjoying life enough. The cursed "shoulds" escape their hiding place and show up in self-talk... "You should do more." I herd them back into the closet, reminding myself that I am happy, and generally, I'm doing what and as much as I want. Life holds plenty of opportunity for me, and that's sweet.
     One day at a time,

P.S. Another barn quilt completed.

Friday, July 10, 2020

July 10--Using Words with Care

Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.  --Khalil Gibran

     Words can wound and words can heal. While I'd like to think that we remember loving, comforting, soothing words just as long as wounding ones, I doubt that's the case very often. Wounding words seem to stick within us, uncomfortably showing us their timelessness. I remember much more the times my parents lashed out at me rather than their offerings of praise or appreciation.
     Words, for me, are a way I express who I am. While I can't say that I LOVE to write, it's a part of my spiritual practice that keeps me connected to Spirit. I feel compelled to write. I also like that writing can be a legacy for me. Having written and published two books, I have something timeless of myself to leave my sons, should they someday be interested.
     My mother-in-law, Shirley, is astounding in her ability to use words effectively. She is hilarious, and she can accomplish great things with her very talented selection of words. She can politely rip you to shreds and leave you asking for more. Her sons and their families refer to the practice as "using our inner-Shirley" when we have to use words carefully and effectively in a challenging situation.
     How about we strive to keep our "timeless words" on the uplifting, positive end of the spectrum? I'm in.
     Breathe joyfully!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

July 9--Open Up

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.  --Thich Nhat Hanh

     "Don't make assumptions." This is one of the Four Agreements described in the book by that name, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. Too often we go into a situation or a relationship with assumptions or pre-conceived "views" about it. I would venture a guess that in most cases this is not a very helpful practice.
     What if we went into each new encounter or circumstance with a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity? Just completely open, allowing it to simply unfold? Having pre-conceived views can easily lead to disappointment, misunderstanding, confusion and resentment.
     I had a lively discussion with a group of friends last evening about the upcoming presidential election. Abandoning our views about who we prefer to win, we all agreed that we want to be at peace and without fear relative to the outcome, able to dwell in a higher consciousness knowing that good is expanding no matter what the voting results. From a place of peace, faith becomes a powerful ally as "things reveal themselves to us."
     Practicing life,

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

July 8--Go for It

Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep to really sleep. When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive.  --William Saroyan

     This quote says, to me, to full-out be yourself. One of the many things Ana Forrest brought to our attention in yoga teacher training was the societal pervasiveness of "women should be seen and not heard." So many of the young women were afraid to use their voices, to be fully present as their authentic selves. I, on the other hand, with two or three decades of age on them, was labeled by one fellow student as "bossy like my mom." Trust me, Forrest Yoga teacher training brings out "alive" in myriad ways.
     The pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate what "alive" means to us. For me, it has been a very deepening appreciation of the "typical day." I am breathing deeply as I teach Melt Method and yoga twice a week via Zoom, and in daily meditations. I am thoroughly enjoying my husband's excellent cooking, as we rarely eat out anymore. We laugh a lot, especially at our "so cute" dog, Barney. Sleep varies night to night at our age, and a good night's sleep is priceless. I do enjoy some self-righteous anger now and then, but I must say that serenity feels more alive to me than anger.
     Alive and appreciating this day,

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 7--Alive

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  --Thornton Wilder

     I choose two words that are key to me in this quote: "conscious" and "hearts." We are only alive when we are conscious, truly present to what's going on around, through and in us. Otherwise we are operating on some sort of robotic autopilot wherein noticing of our treasures is impossible.
     Playing around with "hearts"... research is showing that the heart has its own "brain," a special set of sensory neurons that communicate with the brain. What was once thought to be a one-way communication, brain to heart, turns out to be two-way. Our hearts are the center of feeling, and it is in those moments of deep feeling that we are conscious of our treasures. Certainly we can be smart head-wise, but true wisdom, true gratitude, true aliveness--these all come from the heart.
     Try this exercise: place a hand at your heart, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, and think of someone or something you truly love. Breathe that love into your heart, and on exhale, let it flow from your heart throughout your body. Feel the energy flow. That's being alive! It's a simple practice you can do often to stay conscious of your treasures.
     Energized in the heart,

P.S. Want to explore the wisdom of your heart? I highly recommend the science and techniques of HeartMath: (No math involved!)

Monday, July 6, 2020

July 6--Get the Inside Right

Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. --Eckhart Tolle

     I've spent much of my lifetime interested in what goes on inside me. It's been a fascinating exploration and excavation.
     I'm guessing that we all start out trying to get the outside right, i.e., trying to control people, places and situations. That fairly quickly proves to be a frustrating and impossible attempt, although that doesn't stop some of us from continuing to try. I was raised by the poster child for control freaks--my mother had a lifelong, unsuccessful obsession with control. 
     I was very fortunate that my addiction led me, decades ago, to a 12-Step program where I learned how to "get the inside right." I've also pursued considerable spiritual development opportunities over the years. Getting my inside right hasn't always been a pretty process, but I can verify that it has made the outside "fall into place." I'm comfortable in my own skin. My life, family, home and work are all wonderful. I rarely get vastly off-center in any way. The key thing is that I've learned that "inside" is the place of empowerment. I can change me, but no one else. I'm good with that. Giving up the control gig frees up a lot of energy to be used in much more enjoyable and successful ways. It also makes for much happier relationships.
     Feeling good inside and out,

Sunday, July 5, 2020

July 5--Sunflower

Please notice when you are happy--and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." --Kurt Vonnegut

     Today's photo in "Daily Peace" is a close-up of a sunflower, which reminds me how much I love my home in Kansas, the Sunflower State. A field of blooming sunflowers is one of the most magnificent sights you may ever see.
     The operative word in Vonnegut's quote is "notice." That's the whole point of July's theme of mindfulness. We tend to move too quickly through life on autopilot, anxious to check off another item on the to-do list.
     Yesterday being the 4th of July, we went on a drive after dark in search of fireworks. We were surrounded. I do love fireworks, and the in-the-moment nature of them. Each "ooooo" or "ahhhh" lasts only a couple of seconds. Color and light make me quite happy, so fireworks are a treat.
     I am happy most of the time, and it is quite nice. I'm grateful for my happiness. It's been a long inner journey to reach this place of happiness. I would make no changes in that. I'm thankful that I took it to heart long ago that happiness is an "inside job," not something we acquire from outside ourselves. That gave me the power to turn my life toward a much more pleasant trajectory.
     Please notice sometime today how nice a moment of happiness is.
     Smiling for no reason,

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4--Enjoy 'Em While They Last

Some things are more precious because they don't last long.  --Oscar Wilde

Fireworks (Happy 4th!)
Christmas lights
A lifetime

Celebrating the completion of a successful art project, with thanks to my wonderful husband for the installation work.

Living life in color,

Friday, July 3, 2020

July 3--Miracles

The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
  --Storm Jameson

     The pressure! While I whole-heartedly agree with this statement, it feels like a lot of pressure to me to make each minute extra-special. But so much of life is fairly mundane--stuff that we do daily that is pretty ordinary. Oh, I get it! It's seeing each minute, each act, no matter how mundane, as unique and worthy of appreciation. I brush my teeth--I'm grateful I still have teeth to brush. I shower--I'm grateful for my body, clean water, and the ability to care for myself. I walk the dog in the stifling heat--I'm grateful for my dog and all the joy he brings to our lives, and for the ability to walk and cope with the heat.
     Then there are the really "mountain-top" moments--being hugged by my sons, playing golf with them, seeing my extended family, traveling to other countries, seeing a glorious sunrise. All these are, in that very moment, unrepeatable miracles.
     "Unrepeatable miracle" = contentment and appreciation in the present moment. I can practice that.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July 2--Heart Overflowing

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.
--Paulo Coelho

     My heart is overflowing with blessings right now. Despite all sorts of ugliness in the world, I am choosing to focus on all the good I am experiencing. Yesterday, my car's air conditioning system was repaired. The first repair estimate we had was around $2,000, which I refused to spend. The actual bill, at a different service establishment, was under $1,000. After suffering with the broken AC for over two miserably hot summers, this is a huge gift from my husband. 
     Also yesterday, my husband started the project of hanging the barn quilts I have been painting on our backyard shed. This would have been a very difficult exercise for me, but he has taken to the project with great enthusiasm, helped along with the purchase of a new drill, and the mathematical puzzle of it all. One of my friends responded to my facebook post with "Nothin' beats a man with a level." JOY!
     I have wonderful friends and family whom I dearly love. I've been able to stay in touch with them via Zoom. Our home is comfortable. We have been eating very well due to my husband's skill and enthusiasm at cooking. I have the opportunity to be creative and I am learning a lot. I'm back to swimming and playing golf. I have a doggie I dearly love, who brings great laughter and joy to our lives.

     Focusing on the treasures in my life is a lot more rewarding than reading the news.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 1--Right Now

Forever is composed of nows. --Emily Dickinson

     July's theme from the "Daily Peace" book is mindfulness.
     I receive a daily writing by Richard Rohr from the Center for Action and Contemplation. In today's message, he offers several questions to help us consider how present we are in the now...
How often do we take a deep breath and appreciate—really appreciate—the air we breathe? How often do we savor the food we taste and smell the flowers along our path? When was the last time we listened to our child, laughed with a friend, embraced our spouse? It is true that the best things in life are free, but we are often too distracted or too busy to see the simple treasures of life right in front of us.
     The pandemic and staying close to home have caused me to take a good look at how I spend my time, and what is truly worth my attention. I realize how much time I spent "numbing out" watching basketball and baseball. I'm not saying I'll never watch again, but I believe I can create more balance. I've had a lot of time for learning and creating, and I feel like my spiritual life has expanded dramatically as a result. Almost daily my husband and I enjoy pre-supper hanging in the backyard with our dog, Barney. We talk, we enjoy each other's company, we laugh at Barney's antics. It's comfortable. It's something we both look forward to. It's a "simple treasure."
     Enjoying writing, right now,