For a while now I’ve been noodling over a little piece of advice that I found on Instagram: "Do it from love, not for love." The idea feels huge. Like freedom and generosity and happiness and wisdom all rolled up into one well-crafted little sentence. What does it look like? Where does the love that inspires these gestures come from? Read on ...
Finish lines are funny. Some, as my brother did in every race he ran, we dash towards with a mind only to get there. Some make us dawdle, pretending they are not looming. I handled all three of my kids' senior years of high school like this. What if we could treat endings as just another step? When we do, we find freedom and an openness to what is next that allows us to savor each step along our way. We find that we are starting to trust that, while not always obvious, all endings - all of them - lead to new beginnings.
When it turned out that skiing for the first time in ten years was not exactly like riding a bike for me I had a little meltdown. And then, thanks to my mindfulness practices, a part of me that was deeper and wiser than my dejected skier-self realized that I had to the power to choose how I would experience the remainder of our vacation. I am so grateful that I was able to let go and thereby free myself to enjoy the gifts we’d given ourselves by taking a family vacation - the rare opportunity to spend time together with all of my grown children and the even rarer chance to play with one another. I am thankful for the reminder that mindfulness really is a superpower.
On the first night of our family vacation, I had a moment of perfect contentment. It was late. We were hungry. The restaurant was too loud, too warm, too crowded, too slow. AND I was perfectly happy. Happiness and contentment are not around the corner in some imaginary future. They are right smack in the middle of each messy, hangry, less-than-perfect, hilarious moment along the way. All we have to do is notice.
Life is made up of as many bumps in the road and flies at the picnic as it is sweet, easy, sunny days. While it doesn't make the hard times any more fun, it is possible – with tears, sarcasm, humor, profanity, or whatever else you need - to shift your focus from the current mess to the preciousness and wildness of this one life of yours.
I believe that little worldly happenings are one way that God reaches out to let us know that we are not alone, we do not have to shoulder it all, and we are always being cared for. I recently found a little angel made of construction paper, Elmer's glue and glitter in my attic that I made when I was a little girl. Her reappearance in my life has me thinking about all the angels and tiny miracles that have shown up in my life exactly when I needed them. Keep an eye out as you zip around your own life. Miracles are all around us - especially when we are looking for them!
When a friend asked me if I set New Year’s resolutions I told him that I like to set a tone for the New Year rather than setting a particular goal. This felt like one of those spontaneous “straight from mind to mouth” answers that gets right to the truth. The "tone" I am choosing for 2023 is love. I’d like to be clear that, though I am a girl who appreciates Rom-Coms perhaps more than most, this is not the “tone” of love that I am choosing for this new year. I’m choosing instead a “tone” of love that aligns more with loving-kindness than romantic love. Loving-kindness focuses on friendliness, benevolence, good-will, and an active interest in the well-being of others. I'd love to know what "tone" you are setting for 2023! Let me know!
Sending and receiving Christmas cards is a reminder to me of how much I love and am loved. I closed the note in our card this year with a heartfelt truth, “Please know that each time you cross our minds, which is way more often than you hear from us, you make us smile.” For the opportunity to realize how fortunate I am and to be able to express this gratitude to those I love, I am grateful for this seasonal tradition. These weekly musings are yet another opportunity for me to feel grateful for the web of love and support that life has weaved for me. So, I’ll close this last essay of 2022 the way I closed the note in my Christmas card – in gratitude: “Mwah! Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for making my world a better place. xoxo”
There is so much heaviness in the world today. Big, sweeping suffering - from the savagery being wreaked on the people of Ukraine to the plight of the polar bears - can leave us feeling small and powerless. My tendency to believe in the power of light, love, and the general goodness of humankind can feel a little naïve in the face of it all. Could the practices, perspectives, and philosophy that I teach to so many possibly help anyone navigate the hazards of our time? Is it foolish to invest such energy seeking insight, harmony, and connection rather than answers and actions to solve hundreds of problems I can barely begin to understand? These were my thoughts this morning when I rounded a corner on my walk and received glorious affirmation in the goodness at the heart of life in a magnificent sunrise sky.