Quit your whining. Move.

Running. Trying to run.

Gasping. Stopping. Whining

Two weeks off.

A trip.

Of gastronomic proportions.

Eating. It all.

Jet lag.

No movement.

One with the couch.

Gasping. Last one in at run’s end.

Feeling bitchy about how easy it doesn’t feel.

Round the corner.

Head down. Eyes to the ground.

Almost.

There.

Glint. In my eye.

A car. Parked. The door opens.

Eyes still down, in view are two rubber stoppers.

Those things at the bottom. Bottom of crutches.

Two stoppers. One shoe.

Shit.

I have two legs.

Shit.

Run. Run. Run.

Dig deep, woman.

YOU.Can.Run.

Heart rate picks up. Pace picks up.

Momentum surges.

Still last runner in.

Still gasping.

But running.

On two legs.

Quit your whining.

Move.

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This memory, from a few months back upon returning from our Paris trip, is still SO vivid in my mind, in ME, and was triggered by yet another  lapse in momentum.

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Pieces | Does it Matter?

When you find something that resonates with your spirit,
does it matter where it comes from?

First, read the following three comments (there might be a quiz):

“Knowing there is a world that will outlive you, there are people whose well-being depends on how you live your life, affects the way you live your life, whether or not you directly experience those effects. You want to be the kind of person who has the larger view, who takes other people’s interests into account, who’s dedicated to the principles that you can justify, like justice, knowledge, truth, beauty and morality.”  – Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist


  “In the theater you create a moment, but in that moment, there is a touch, a twinkle of eternity. And not just eternity, but community. . . . That connection is a sense of life for me.”  – Teller, illusionist


“Joy is human connection; the compassion put into every moment of humanitarian work; joy is using your time to bring peace, relief, or optimism to others. Joy gives without the expectation—or wish—of reciprocity or gratitude. . . . Joy immediately loves the individual in need and precedes any calculation of how much the giver can handle or whom the giver can help.”  – Erik Campano, emergency medicine


Then, ponder: What do these all have in common?

Other than being reflective, positive, thoughtful and other-centric?

All three are responses to questions posed to Atheists about their moral values and motivations…what gives them joy and meaning.


In reality, when asked about their moral values or what motivates them in life, atheists use words that sound downright spiritual, very much like the words religious people use in fact, with a few noteworthy differences. To create his book,  A Better Life, Photographer Chris Johnson asked 100 atheists about what gives their lives joy and meaning. To some Christians the question is equivalent to asking an elephant where he gets his chocolate ice cream. The answers might surprise them even more. Themes include love and connection, compassion and service, legacy (leaving the world a little better), creativity and discovery, gratitude, transcendence, and wonder—all heightened by a sense that this one life is fleetingly transient and precious.


Another piece in this interesting, slowly forming puzzle. One that clearly requires an open mind.

For more thought provoking responses, you can read the entire article or dive deeper and get the book.

This has me intrigued. I’d love to know what you think, when you find something that resonates, does it matter where it comes from?

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Bat Cracking Crystal Clarity

When I was much younger, I sought out the insight and guidance of a counselor/therapist to help me sort out a significant relationship that had crashed down all around me, taking me with it. I was in the throes of picking myself up off the ground, trying to decide if I believed the sky was blue because people told me it was, or if I truly knew that. The betrayal and disappointment of the crumbled relationship left me feeling the expected sad, heartbroken and angry mixed up emotions; but I also felt so disoriented and unsure. My foundation felt as if it had been rocked and it took me quite a time to inside out and right side up myself.

In this process, I remember distinctly, in one of the sessions; we talked about about choice. About connection. About trusting self. The therapist waxed eloquent about many things; she was really good.  That conversation is mostly, now, simply an essence in my mind these many years later. But what I can still hear, crystal clear, is a statement she made. I can hear her to this day, with the clarity of clinking wine glasses or a bat and ball connecting on a grand slam. She simply said that we must look for and choose people to surround us who ‘inspirit us’ and to selectively limit those who ‘disinspirit us’; then we talked for awhile about what this meant and how to recognize it going forward.  To seek out those who breathe life into us, and to be cognizant of those who leave us feeling deflated.

I return to that idea, that template if you will, often. It’s one of those moments that rang so true for me, made sense on such a foundational level; it was a pivot point in the right-siding-up process for me.  In crisis, is also an opportunity to begin to see things in new ways.

Like many good life lessons we collect along the way; it stayed with me but I will be honest and tell you that it was and is not always top of mind; we lose perspective. We get distracted. We get lazy; complacent. With healing, comes too the risk of receding from the active state of intentional growth. It’s hard work. Life delivers so many lessons to us; it seems fair to say that they can sometimes feel like a rolodex, spinning from one to the next.

At a point in my life where I feel drawn to think carefully, choose as wisely as I can – to be intentional in all things – I once again find myself bumping up against this way of thinking.

The life-rolodex has spun me back to the letter I…intentional, inspirit.

Flash forward some twenty years and over a recent lunch with a treasured friend who also happens to be a gifted therapist; and while deep in conversation about marriages, friendships, partnerships, relationships – all of the people we bring into our lives – she eloquently rolls off her tongue the idea, this truth, that when any relationship requires us to be small, remain small or somehow get small in order to sustain the relationship, to keep it alive – we have to ask ourselves if it is worth it. Is it right?

I made her stop. Say it again, and then again, so I could write it down. There was that ringing clarity again.

I also see now that if we have to be small, we cannot feel inspirited by another – for implicit in the idea of being inspirited is a sense of expansion, taking in oxygen and feeling filled with life and joy.

No, the two are contrary to each other.

But, to be intentional about who we invite into our lives, as friends, business partners, lovers, spouses, friends, requires that we identify and know what we need to feel inspirited. And, that we also have the capacity, yes, to be inspiriting to others?  I read the other day that

Over time, as we grow, we have to remember that we gradually learn to be less focused on personality and to identify more closely with essence, the true nature of ourselves and others.   – Wisdom of the Enneagram

In my never ending and seemingly bottomless-pit quest for understanding, peace and direction, I found myself nodding and finding some resonance in a comment on a blog where the person shared that after much hurt and consternation when things in her life were just not going right, with time and careful discernment it came clear to her that she wanted someone –  companions – friends –  people in her life – who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.

someone who feels like a warm sunny summer morning.

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The way I see it, that’s a great way to frame it!   The feeling of those words echoed a true and clear resonance.  They remind me, in their own way, of choosing a word to guide our year. Allowing essence to guide our connections.

Click. Clink. Crack.

The words leaped off the page and into me and answered questions I didn’t quite realize I had already begun asking myself.  And connected themselves readily to these ideas of inspirit and taking up the space of who we really are. Not shaving off corners and bits here and there.

If we are really paying attention to the quiet still parts of ourselves – not always easy to do – perhaps we can learn to better recognize those who inspirit us, those who make room for us no matter our ‘size’  and who feel like a warm sunny summer morning.

Or maybe for some of us it is a clear spring day?  Or a crisp autumn afternoon? Or a cozy fireside seat on a brisk blustery evening? For each of us the essence will be unique; what’s important is finding out what it is.

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Perspective. Well Played.

The question is not what you look at,

but what you see

 -Henry David Thoreau

 

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What Is It?

 

The other day I talked about perspective, and how sometimes we need to let things unfold and be open to seeing things in new ways.

Then, the very next day, this came across my view. Perhaps I was being tested?

Look at the image above. What do you see?

Are you sure?

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Believe it or not, but this is a woman.

***

In full body paint.

***

Look again.

Her left leg is pointing down like a tail.

Her right knee is drawn up.

Her right arm is braced on the stump. Her other arm is folded over her head.

The bird’s eye is in the center of her forehead.

The longer you look, the easier it is to see her.  She’s sitting on the wood stump.

***

Now, where did the bird go?

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Playtime Perspective

This is my busiest time of the year at work; year-end events, culminating projects, reports, graduation ceremony and most of the time my head feels it’s going to bust a nerve.  Each year this cycle repeats itself; I find myself closing my eyes and hoping that when I open them, that it’s June 1.

Last night, I decided to play a little after work; mix it up a little for myself and grabbed my camera and went out to the backyard. This time of year, there is a passion-flower vine that is blooming and I love these beautiful blooms – so unique and strange.

I snapped on to my camera a creative lens set I had purchased a few years ago and had forgotten about. I was just playing, trying to learn how to use it the way it’s intended and overall it was a frustrating experience. I just couldn’t get the images to turn out the way I thought they were supposed to. What saw in my mind didn’t happen. What I was seeing in the viewfinder isn’t what I saw in the resulting image.

I didn’t like not knowing how to capture the image I wanted to get and yet I kept snapping, taking photos of the flowers, my sprinkler head, wine corks and a piece of metal – just to see what might happen.  Testing this, trying that. Determined. But having fun.  I have a lot to learn with this creative lens thing-a-ma-jig, but what I realized – yet again – is that sometimes we just need to get out of our comfort zone, let things unfold as they will and be open to seeing things in new ways.  And that learning through play is always a good idea!

You could say I am developing a passion for getting perspective!  🙂

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Where the Cool Birds Hang Out

During what we know as the darkest days of winter, one of my close friends took me out one early December morning to see the geese.  This might seem a bit unusual but the back story is that years ago I fell in love with Canadian geese after reading James Michener’s “Chesapeake’ while living not far from the eastern region of the Chesapeake Bay.  I was mesmerized by how Michener’s geese became prominent characters in his epic generation-spanning story.

My friend is a professional photographer with a specialty in avian photography. You should see this man’s work.  He knows where all the cool birds hang out; and I doubt there is a bird he hasn’t met. He knows of my affinity for these beautiful creatures and their V-formations and for the last few years has been inviting me out to see them while they make our area their winter home. It finally worked out with our lives and schedules.

I will be honest; I was hoping, expecting really, to see them in the hundreds of thousands. I wanted that immediate, dramatic visual impact. The wow of what that would be like. The images I could capture. As it turned out, the geese had chosen a location other than the spots we picked; we weren’t invited to their morning party.  We certainly saw some geese, just not hundreds of thousands

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There they are, my geese. Beautiful in any amount.

I had my camera with me of course. We talked, I snapped. We walked, I snapped; my shutter punctuating the easy, comfortable conversation between my friend and I. We are like family to each other; he much like another older brother. I asked him a deeply personal question at one point in one of our many meandering conversations and as soon as I asked, I offered him an out, letting him know I understood the depth of what I was asking and that I understood if he didn’t want to respond. His reply to me was to proceed with answering my question.

I kept taking photos, sure that in the early morning, dreary overcast light, and no geese to speak of, that my attempts to capture anything were futile, but far be it from me to lay off the shutter when that camera is in my hand. I had to move on in my day when we got back; I put my camera away, changed and resumed my busy day. The holidays were upon us and combined with life, work, shopping, wrapping, baking and the kiddo, I totally forgot about my images from that morning.  I think too, that I somehow, at some level, assumed I would be disappointed when I went back to look at them; kind of the one eye shut with a sideways grimace, thinking to myself:  “That’s all I got? Bummer.

I just went back to my photos from that morning a few days ago, and while smiling at the memory of the time shared; seeing the images after weeks had gone by, I also remembered something important.

We can tend to set ourselves up with our expectations.

We go into a situation or moment with our minds made up of what it is supposed to be, or look like, or turn out like.  We often forget to just let ourselves see the moment for what it really is. Just because it looks different than we expected, is it less than? Is it not as good?

Perhaps it’s in some way so much better than we expected. Or maybe even better for us in ways we just simply cannot see yet? I don’t know the answers to these questions, I just know they are important questions we can ask ourselves in these moments. That disappointment can cloud our ability to see what is, when we are more focused on what is not.

I don’t think it is a matter of placing value on the outcome: good, better, or worse.  I am thinking that it is more about somehow finding a way of allowing ourselves to see things as they are. 

In reviewing my images, I noticed a few things I didn’t expect, didn’t think was there…

…I could see that the dreary, cold, overcast morning lent itself to a beautiful palette – a dramatic monochromatic background.

…I remembered that in the fallow season of winter, when all signs of life feel dormant; there is something to behold in the stark contrasts of the landscape. That something is happening even when we don’t see the obvious signs. Life is preparing for, well, life.

…I could see that the absence of geese in large amounts, reminds me that sometimes there is beauty in flying solo. 

winter collage

Flying solo

I realized, with a new perspective, that if we are open to the possibilities, that sometimes we learn that what we didn’t expect to find – can be just as beautiful as what we had in mind – in just a very different kind of way.

In looking back at this morning, seeing through my images from a day that finally came to fruition, spending time with my good friend, safe in his trusted presence, I understand in a new way how sometimes we need to not only be open to what is right in front of us, but also be willing to step away for a time, and then come back to look at things with new eyes.

It’s more than possible that when we find what we didn’t expect, it can be just as beautiful as what we had in mind. That what is beyond our mind is limitless.

C’mon, take a walk with me…click on the images below to hang out with all the cool birds….

What might this day reveal to each of us?

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