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Paying Attention

If you are bored, you are not paying attention. Fritz Perls

I came across this quote recently and it really spoke to me. As I continue to shelter in, taking precautions to protect myself and others, I find it is easy to get cabin fever. I realized I am truly only bored when I am thinking of the future, wondering what it will look like, and worried about how I shall live my life. Leonard Cohen once said, “When there is less of me, the happier I am.” Yes, when I am caught up in my own life dramas, my old storyline, I am unable to be present to the life that surrounds me.

Paying attention to the present moment, I am filled with awe, wonder, and gratitude. My garden nourishes me with its beautiful flowers, the array of birds that come to my feeders, and even the squirrel I do daily battle with over the suet bring me joy. My daily connection with friends and family through texts or phone calls enrich my life. Getting caught up in my life dramas creates suffering. Being fully present to this moment takes me out of myself and connects me to the greater whole. Being mindful of the present is a practice of paying attention to what surrounds me and looking for “joy moments.”

It is very easy for me to get caught up in the political hate-filled divisiveness, feeling overwhelmed, angry, and grief stricken. I am learning to accept my feelings as they arise and then slowly letting them go, knowing I only have control over my responses. I choose not to live in an inner world of angst and turmoil. I can only take action where I can and move on. Voting is a positive action I can take to respond to the current chaos by giving voice to my preference.

Joyce Rupp states, All I need is beauty to keep my heart alive and all beauty needs is my attention. May we all find ways to pay attention to all the good, the beauty, the possibilities that surround us.

Reside in Gratitude

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and mywhite-crane-bird-635622-2
children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief, 

I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I return to this poem to remind myself to rest in the grace of the world. We are all living through the fear, anger, and sadness of the coronavirus. Being separated from family, friends, and work has been difficult as we continue to practice social distancing and wearing masks. This past week has been the most tumultuous for me. Such grief and sadness abound as we marked the 100,000 death in our country due to Covid 19.

We also are witnessing the cultural wars that divide our country. First, clashes over something as simple as wearing a mask. Then this past week we are again confronted with the racial divide in our country. Another black man murdered by police in Minneapolis, MN. We are witnessing so many deep divides in our country. How can each of us begin to bridge the gap? It will begin by reaching out to one another with an open heart, compassion, and empathy, plus a deep desire to listen to each other.

I woke this morning and knew I had a choice. I could stay angry and grief-stricken or I could choose to reside in gratitude. Returning to gratitude, I felt my whole body unwind. I have so much to be grateful for.  My friends and family, my clients who entrust me with their stories, my garden filled with spring flowers, and the birds that grace my feeder. These are what bring me joy in life. When I reside in gratitude I am present to all that surrounds me.

I will not bury my head in the sand. I’ll continue to take action when I feel others are being unjustly treated, but I choose not to linger there. I choose to return to gratitude, joy, and hope. May you choose to reside in gratitude for your health and well-being as you move through these difficult times our country is facing.

This is a modified version of an earlier post.
Photo by David Dibert from Pexels

 

I Didn’t Know I couldn’t do it, so I did.

After being on a five month hiatus from my blog, I am pleased to share a guest blog from a good friend, Sandy Sarr.

Three nights ago, in my sleep, these words came to me:

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This is the tree I climbed 50 plus years ago.

I didn’t know I couldn’t do it, and I went forth and did it.

I often don’t remember dreams or words that come in the night, but these words insisted I remember them.

Today, seemingly unrelated to the dream words, I thought about climbing a hugh elm tree that became know as the “high spot” because no other kid in the neighborhood had climbed as high into the tree’s branches as I did when I was eight.  I climbed up and up and settled into a crook, where the branches cradled me, a perfect perch to look down at the ordinary world. My new friends marveled at my climbing skills.

I don’t know when I became afraid of sitting up there in the old leafy tree across the street from my grandmother’s house in Chaska Beach, Ohio. But I have a memory of my father standing beneath me, arms up stretched, saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!” And I felt more afraid of jumping toward him than I did sitting there and getting myself back down to the earth. I never jumped. I climbed back down from my sky haven to safety only to return to the high spot again and again.

That memory involving my father may be a childhood fantasy that took root in my imagination like the roots that held the tree and me aloft. I only saw my father three times growing up and never again as an adult. Perhaps It was a desire my father would be there for me, and that he would watch me and protect me from danger.

Whether he was there or not, I got myself to the high spot, and I got myself back down to the ground.

I didn’t know I couldn’t do it, and so I did.

And now something wants me to know that I can get to another kind of high spot yet again, if only by the mystery propelling each small movement forward to new vistas.

Sandra Sarr, is a writer and poet living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she works at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine telling the stories of animals and those who bring them for healing. With bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology and a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing, she is revising her novel, The Road to Indigo. Her poem, Strange Currency, will be published in an anthology titled, Alone Together, in September.

Winter Solstice

A Wsnow-covered-pine-trees-910311.jpeginter Solstice Blessings

May you find peace in the
promise of the solstice night,
That each day forward is
blessed with more light.
That the cycle of nature,
unbroken and true,
Brings faith to your soul
and well-being to you.
Rejoice in the darkness,
in the silence find rest,
and may the days that follow
be abundantly blessed.

Rilke considered the cold season the time for tending one’s inner garden. “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

May you find peace and rest in the invincible summer within you.

Happy Holidays!!

 

Simple Abundance

It was 25 years ago that I was introduced to Sarah Ban Breathnach, book Simple Abundance: A DayBook of Comfort and Joy. It was the perfect book for me at that

photography-of-trees-covered-with-snow-773594-2.jpeg

time in my life. After spending a year with her daily meditations, this book found a home on my crowded bookshelf.

This December crept up on me and I began thinking about the busyness, chaos, family and friends the holiday season brings. It also is a time to hunker in as the days grow short. A time to be still and listen to Spirit’s movement in our souls. It is hard to balance these two seemingly opposing views. As I pondered how to honor both in my life, I thought about Simple Abundance,and the six qualities she shares in her book to bring peace and happiness. Below is an excerpt from this lovely book.

“These are the six threads of abundant living which, when woven together, produce a tapestry of contentment that wraps us in inner peace, well-being, happiness, and a sense of security . First there is gratitude. When we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed. Gratitude gives way to simplicity–the desire to clear out, pare down, and realize the essentials of what we need to live truly well. Simplicity brings with it order, both internally and externally. A sense of order in our life brings us harmony. Harmony provides us with the inner peace we need to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us each day, and beauty opens us joy.”                        

What wonderful words to reflect upon and determine where they are in our lives. My advent will be spent with these words–gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. What powerful qualities to integrate into my life on a daily basis. I am taking each word and asking myself, “How do I live out this word?” “What are the challenges and gifts this quality poses?”

I invite each of you to spend time in quiet stillness and ponder the power of these essential principles in your own life. May your holidays be filled with an abundance of gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy.