“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” -Desmond Tutu
It’s the last day of July and I realized I haven’t posted this month. I recently got back from a special trip visiting family in England. Here is a collection of memories captured in our hearts:
Anxiety before traveling soothed by precious times with family
Cooking vegetarian meals from around the world together
Dancing to Bob Marley while cooking – “Don’t worry be happy”
Singing to the Beatles bringing back childhood memories
Letting go of worries, embracing family love
Sweet experience of picking Georgie up at school seeing kids run with delight when teachers point to their family
Enjoying a polo match together listening to the thunder of horses’ hooves
Flying paper airplanes with Georgie giving them back to Uncle Gary for reconstruction
Watching Georgie and Uncle Gary walk hand in hand
Feeling comfort from being together
Walking around Stroud taking in its old history and charm
Strolling through a peaceful walk at Rococo Gardens in Painswick
Shooting pool, bowling together, celebrating my birthday on the last night
Pleasure of being in the moment, not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Too many things going on in our personal life combined with pressures of the world can be overwhelming. During these times, I remember the quote of taking one day at a time. The thought behind this principle is to just deal with what’s happening today. Don’t worry about tomorrow, next week … Getting through one day gives us strength and hope to move forward.
It’s like breaking down projects into manageable steps. Tackling one task at a time gives us reward and momentum to accomplish the goal. Inspiration for Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird came from her father’s advice to her brother’s frustration on completing a book project on birds. “Just take it bird by bird, buddy.”
Another important reminder is to not take on too many commitments. Let go of expectations and focus on priorities. When we take time to rest and reflect in between activities, we become more productive and ready to face challenges and the journey ahead.
“Live in the Sunshine, Swim the Sea, Drink the Wild Air” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last Friday, clouds loomed looking like it could rain any minute. I needed a walk on the beach to soak up energy from the ocean. When I stepped outside, it started to sprinkle. Oh, there goes my walk I thought. My adventurous side kicked in and said, are you kidding? It’s a perfect time to go.
Bundled in a hoodie and scarf, the wind whipped my hair while seagulls suspended in air catching a free ride on the current. Waves crashed over rocks. The sun peeked out long enough to create sparkles on the water. Saying Yes to an out of the ordinary experience pulls us from our comfort zone, opening our perception and new opportunities.
I just talked with a friend about knowing when to say No. We both decided when we no longer enjoy something, need a break from commitments, or want to do something different are all times to say No. As we move forward in life, we realize the benefits of doing things that make us happy, taking time for ourselves, and drinking the wild air.
“You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.” – Wayne Dyer
Our mind and thoughts are powerful. The placebo effect is an example. If you believe something is making you feel better it will. A positive, determined spirit is the first critical step of the healing process. There are countless stories of people who willed themselves to live, fight disease and make miraculous recoveries.
The personal stories of Paralympics athletes prove the amazing things you can do when you believe it’s possible. Mike Schultz lost most of one leg in a snowmobiling accident. He not only raced in the X Games afterwards, he built himself a better prosthetic leg to allow him to motocross race. That’s determination! He won a gold medal snowboarding this year.
At nineteen, Amy Purdy lost both legs from bacterial meningitis. Since then she won a bronze medal snow boarding in Sochi, won runner up on Dancing with the Stars, wrote a book: On My Own Two Feet, and won a silver medal this year despite suffering from a serious health condition in her arms leading up to the games.
There are countless other inspiring stories like these. Keep your thoughts positive and believe in the power to make them your reality.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside you.” – Deepak Chopra
I am humbled by the infinite stillness of the ocean, not one wave flowing into shore. No ripples or boats mar its reflection of the sky’s quiet mood. It’s as if it’s frozen in time as I take time to capture this moment letting go of all worries and busyness.
Admiring peacefulness of the vast ocean fills my spirit with content knowing nature is always there for us, taking us back to our core existence. Letting go of technology and to-do lists, understanding that these experiences of true awareness feed our soul, keep us sustained in our daily lives, help us pursue goals and face challenges.
Take a moment to stop what you’re doing, breathe in a moment of solitude and silence and appreciate the amazing beauty surrounding us.
“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go” – Rumi
Balance comes into play in so many ways in our life. Achieving a work/life balance makes us happier and healthier. Our lives are enriched when we engage in activities, volunteer for a worthy cause, learn new skills. Just as important is making time to rest and nurture ourselves. As Rumi states, it’s an ongoing cycle of opposite energies.
Yin and Yang has been a Chinese principle for thousands of years. It represents opposite yet complimentary forces which dynamically join together to create harmony. We see numerous examples of this in nature: day and night, hot and cold, shadows in sunlight. Autumn prepares for the barren, stillness of winter. Springtime is a time of growth and renewal. Opposite forces create the flow of life.
Another perspective of balance is the tipping factor. Being in tune with our body and spirit helps us to understand our equilibrium point. It’s the process of knowing when to make adjustments before we tip over. Finding balance is an interconnected process as life changes. The one thing we can count on is feeling peaceful and content when we’ve achieved it.
“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.” – Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
I’m one of those people who strike up a conversation with strangers in the market, while petting their dog, or dining at a community table. Connections with people can be just for that moment or they can last a life time. Once when attending an event without my spouse, a group asked me to join them seeing I was eating alone. We’ve been good friends ever since.
“Research shows the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter,” says Matthew Lieberman, author of Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect. Studies show social connection improves health, strengthens our immunity system and increases longevity.
It’s heart touching to hear about children who sit next to the kid at lunch who is all alone. The book and movie, Wonder is a powerful example of reaching out to people who are isolated because they’re different.
This is a particularly difficult time for people who are alone or without a family. When we take time to reach out to people, it’s a gift to see their face light up when we connect with them. Spread joy this season – Best wishes for the New year!
“Make peace with the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
A friend told me today I seem more calm and content. It pleasantly surprised me she noticed. I’m working on going with the flow and not getting upset by things I can’t control. I try to take time to pause before responding to something. Just taking a breath helps me feel more peaceful in that moment.
Yesterday I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Her guest was Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. They discussed conflict and divisiveness in the world today. Oprah asked, “Are we taking steps back in consciousness or is this happening to raise consciousness?” Eckhart explained it is not a linear process. Like our development in life, we experience challenges and obstacles to help us grow. When we have setbacks, we need to pause and observe. It’s not what happens to us but how we react to it.
He says stress is wanting something to be the way it isn’t. Look at the situation without belaboring it. When something happens to upset you, watch your mind and what it’s telling you. “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.”
If you would like to hear him talk more about this concept, here’s a 2 ½ minute Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys17xPHS2Q8
“It’s not the things we get but the hearts we touch that will determine our success in life.” – Mac Anderson
When we share our personal stories with others, telling them our challenges and also what keeps us positive and strong, it lifts spirits. Recently this happened with two women I met.
One woman told me she came alone to America from Equador when she was twenty-one. She became a Nanny, learned English then received certification for massage therapy and Reiki. We talked about meditation, saints, and healing. I asked her if she heard of the Meditation on Twin Hearts with Master Choa where he honors saints, Mother Earth and sends blessings to all beings. I literally saw her face light up. She told me she felt sad lately and I was an angel sent to lift her sadness.
The other young woman was from Vietnam. She asked me if I had children, then told me about her struggles with the possibility of not having children. “Do you think it’s ok to not have children?” Absolutely, I told her. I don’t have children and neither do many of my friends. We’re fortunate today to not be pressured or expected to raise a family.
Both expressed sadness but then we talked about things that pick us up – music, dancing, learning new things, meditation, keeping a positive spirit, connecting with like-minded people. I left them feeling lighter myself knowing what a difference we can make when we touch hearts.