I am proposing something that may be radical, perhaps antithetical to your thinking. No matter the circumstances of your life, you possess an essential inner joy that you can access even as you navigate whatever turbulence or disharmony may be present. How can that be? You’ve had this great loss, disappointment, betrayal. How can you possibly feel joy in the grief of the moment? Perhaps at that moment you can’t. But there is always another perspective waiting to present itself. Eventually, what’s next or how you can move forward is revealed. As you allow this process to unfold, joy is waiting patiently to glow again inside you. Let’s explore how to cultivate joy.
Life is constantly presenting us with opportunities to learn, grow, love, and live more fully. Yet, we sometimes are stuck or bogged down in situations or relationships that cloud our view and prevent us from moving forward. It’s as if we no longer see the blue sky because we’re looking through dirty windows. In order to see blue sky again we must understand what is obstructing our path. Continue reading
“The should road…the could road…the one day road… the someday road…
should only ever be taken in moderation, and on your way to the MUST road.”
Life circumstances rarely happen by chance, and in some of our endeavors the first go-around may be riddled with misfortune, making a second chance seem impossible. Yet all first acts contain seeds of second, third, and even a multitude of chances to try again—to grow, change, and transform throughout one’s life journey. However, like in any garden, in order to blossom or bear fruit, these seeds need to be cultivated with proper soil, water, and nutrients, or they lie dormant. Continue reading
If you were a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water, you’d leap right out, wouldn’t you? But if you were a frog placed in a pot of cool water that was very slowly heated, you would be more likely to become lethargic, unaware that you were gradually and languidly moving towards your demise. This metaphor can serve to remind us that we’re not always motivated to make changes even though our lives are finite. Have you ever inquired into your core motivation? Read on. Continue reading
As a child, I heard the Native American proverb “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” How does one walk in another person’s shoes? How can we know what they’ve experienced or how they feel? Why does it matter? It matters because we matter. You and I inhabit this world along with billions of other people, many of whom have difficulty getting along with one another. Empathy is the key component, and it is very powerful.Continue reading
Are you in your body? You might be saying, Of course I am. But are you fully present in your body? In this moment, how do your hands feel? Are they cool or warm, heavy or light? When you are happy, anxious, or angry, where do you feel this in your body? Are you aware of how certain thoughts trigger emotions and sensations in your body? If you are perplexed by any of these questions, you are not alone. Learning the importance of the body has been part of my life journey. Let’s explore how to experience our body’s pathway to harmony.Continue reading
There are special times in our lives when we can truly benefit from reflection and introspection. This may be at the beginning of a new year, following a loss of a relationship or job, or simply when we are feeling stuck or blocked from moving forward in our lives. During these times it’s easy to beat ourselves up for what we could have or should have done differently. We certainly can learn from the past, but putting ourselves down serves no purpose, except to hold us back from moving forward. So, we need to ask, what’s next in my life?
As the years move swiftly by, I find myself more and more aware of the finiteness of my life. I ponder questions like, when it’s all over what are the things I will be most proud of? Did I engage with the best of who I am? Did I love enough, laugh enough, give enough? Did I dance enough to my own music, or only follow someone else’s lead?
I do this review from the perspective of this moment forward. In other words, what is done is done. I can’t change the past. Nor can I program the future. But I can have a lot of influence on what’s ahead of me. I begin by asking what I really want, what it is that I most desire for my life.
Clearing the path
When I recently – very unexpectedly – lost my 94 year-old friend Mae I’d been caring for, a wise friend said to me, “we are never prepared for the inevitable.” How true. When things are going along well we get set in our routines with the assumption that things will continue on for a good while longer. And then we are caught off guard. Sometimes this may be a dramatic change that didn’t even seem inevitable at the time, such as a relationship, job or financial loss. Whatever the circumstance a period of grieving and reflecting inward allows for the process of letting go, just as nature does, to provide space for new seeds to be planted and nurtured for future growth to blossom and allow for an opening of the pathway to what’s next for our lives.
I’ve recently been drawn to the word “vocation,” which comes from a Latin word meaning “to be called,” or “a calling.” This word may convey many things: an occupation or profession, a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career, a divine call to service, or the vocation of marriage and parenting.
While in the process of letting go of the old and starting anew it’s helpful to ask yourself what is your calling. What are you being called to do in this precious life you are living? How are you using, or how can you better express your gifts and talents? Your deepest identity can be reflected in your calling. This can be revealed in what you desire most in life, what you care about, what moves you, touches you and what you are drawn to. This is not a selfish desire, but one that is filled with possibility, joy and delight.
There is a still small voice of our true self deep within that is constantly calling for our attention asking us to live from the fullness of our being. Clearing the channels to hear this voice requires us to uncover and move through barriers such as fear or heartbreak that hold us back from hearing this message.
Life doing you
Parker Palmer, an author, educator and activist, shares that a sure sign of a vocation is something so compelling that you “can’t not do it.” Rather than asking what you’re supposed to do with your life, he suggests asking, “What is your life trying to do with you?” This resonates with me, as I often have succumbed to callings I never guessed I would be engaged in – and later reflected on how it enriched my life or prepared me for something else.
Meditative and contemplative practices can be invaluable in helping us uncover our true reality and calling. Palmer suggests that contemplation can be anything we do that can penetrate beneath the ego and programming of our life and help us touch reality. This can be experienced in everyday life: anything that can help us become more awake, aware and alive, and help you notice when feelings of joy, love and compassion or empathy are present.
As I let go of one of my callings of caring for my beloved Mae and prepare to welcome in what’s next, I plan to listen more to that small voice inside and focus more on the things I “can’t not do.” How about you?
What were you thinking about before you started reading this? Do you ever notice an obsessive chattering inside your head when you’re not totally engrossed in something? Your mind is like popping corn, jumping from one thought to another. Mindlessness is pervasive in our culture. At times, most of us have functioned on autopilot, as though we were sleepwalking, not paying much attention to anything but the endless dialogue in our heads. Continue reading
Have you ever spent time watching children in the joy of play—or animals, puppies, or kittens? What did you see? Spontaneity, curiosity, joyfulness? Did you have feelings of timelessness, purposelessness, or freedom? Did it summon memories from your own childhood? Do you wish you could be that playful child again? The truth is, adults need to play just as children do. Scientists have studied playing and determined that it is part of our biology. Continue reading
Following the high energy that surrounds the summer solstice, July and August invite us to sit back, feel the energy of the crops ripening and wait for the harvest. August ushers in a settling or resting type of energy that connects us with the earth. Earth is our home and she provides us nourishment, support and life, as well as the cycles, rhythms and patterns of our lives. Learning how to adapt our busy lives to these cycles and rhythms can help us eat and sleep better and contribute to our overall health and well-being.Continue reading