Presence and Peace

Perfect, As Usual!

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I know I’m in a place of deep contentment and peace when I sleep really well at night.

Some people can lay their heads on the pillow at the end of the day and consistently conk out–that’s not the case for me.  If I’m not careful, nighttime can be a brooding time for me . . . thinking about projects, pondering the perpetual to-do list, and yes, worrying about those dear to me.

There are also times when I’m in the middle of something new or preparing for a new adventure and I’m too excited to sleep because I might miss something!

Surely I’m not the only one.

Deep contentment

Then there are periods like now, when I’m so okay that I slip right into dreamland with little effort.  But these times are fairly rare, so in an effort to hold onto the feeling (and continue to sleep), I decided to delve into the idea of deep contentment.

First, I think deep contentment requires feeling comfortable in the present moment.  No matter what stimuli is flashing around me (and coming off the Independence Day weekend, there have been plenty of flashing, star-lit stimuli), I can let it happen on the periphery. I’m good right where I am.

Second, I believe deep contentment requires a healed heart.  Life dramas grip us from time to time; small or major, they press inward with increasing pressure until fissures appear in our hearts.  When my heart hurts, even minor pain caused by a misunderstood deed or a misinterpreted conversation, I struggle with contentment until the salve of forgiveness soothes the wounded place.

Finally, deep contentment requires being willing to let go, to surrender to the natural state of my being where only good is intended.  This is the place where I don’t play the gloomy music of the world, where I know that everything in this moment is perfect as it is.

Perfect, as usual!

I like this place of deep contentment so much that I’ve decided I’d like to stay here.  Wouldn’t you?  So, let’s make a pact:  whenever we slip away from deep contentment for a while, we’ll get back as quickly as possible.

One avenue back is the “perfect, as usual” response.

Imagine that you walk into a room where your child or your grandchild is eating cereal from a bowl.  You glance at the soggy contents and think it looks kind of gross.  But you keep your thought to yourself and instead ask, “How are your corn flakes?

The child replies, “Perfect, as usual!”

Whether the moment includes milky corn flakes or a broken down car, the moment, not the circumstances, is perfect.  What if we adopt that idea as a default setting, as an automatic response to the poopiness in our lives?

You see, “perfect, as usual” aligns with our natural state of goodness.  God’s vision for us is deep contentment and peace.  When I consciously decide to move my daily vision closer to God’s vision, I feel contentment and peace.

The bonus is I get to sleep better!  How are you sleeping these days?

Photo courtesy of clarita

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Happy Half Year!

file000514157119 1024x768 Happy Half Year!

Today is the 182nd day of the year and the first day of the second half of 2013.

Reaching the mid-point of the year may cause heavy sighs and eye rolls for some.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Jeez, I started the year with so many things I wanted to do, with so many goals, and I’m not even close to finishing half.  Thanks a lot for pointing out my lack of productivity.”

Others may react to the mid-year news like my dog Jazzy an hour before her suppertime:  jumping and spinning with “bring it on” anticipation.

For the record, I don’t fall into the latter category.  Like many of you, I spend a fair amount of time wallowing in guilt slop for not reaching milestones that put into place.  When I’m not wallowing, I’m taking aspirin for self-inflicted head-slaps.

Throw away your annual list

Let’s do it.  All that stuff we intended/desired/imagined doing in 2013, let’s toss it.  Or burn it.  Or stick it in the shredder.  Maybe let the dog eat it.

I’ve spent the last five and a half  months trying to reassemble my list after it exploded on January 11, the day I was laid off from my national non-profit job.  Don’t get me wrong, most days I’m gleeful and satisfied with self-employment.  But there have also been many, many days since January 11 spent worrying and fretting and gnashing my teeth.

My career is definitely not where I imagined it would be; thankfully, my heart is where I’ve always wanted it to be so my career is transitioning into its natural place.  I’m comfortable now dumping that big list.  I’m much more interested in being here now and going with the flow of life.

Create a new or different picture

You have a blank page, a do-over of January 1.  Now it’s July 1 and you get to look at this year with refreshed senses.

Pretend you have a brand new box of colored pencils.  The old list is gone; your task now is to begin to sketch the ending of 2013.

The only rule is you can’t use numbers or bullet points.  Instead, use your colors to create the montage of how the remainder of the year feels to you.  Focus on what makes you feel good right now.

Do you enjoy the sun warming your face?  How about the tingling sensation on your skin when you dive into a summertime pool?

Maybe you feel the bursting pride of watching your children building blanket forts on a lazy no-school morning?  Or feel the thrill of a ball cracking against a bat and sailing high and deep over the outfield fence?

All these things won’t earn a huge paycheck for you or advance your career.  You won’t win a prestigious award, the lottery or an engraved watch.

But capturing the colors of your world right now will fill you with an intimate sense of delight.  You’ll feel yourself smiling while no one is watching.  Like the Grinch looking down on Whoville, your heart will grow in proportion to your hues of gratitude.

Happy Half Year!  My prayer is that when December 31st rolls around, you’ll look again at your colorful creation and feel satisfaction in knowing you captured the essence of all that is truly you, one beautiful day at a time.

Photo courtesy of mconnors

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5 Stories to Test Your Goose Bump Meter

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You and I get goose bumps.  Call them goose flesh, goose skin, or even one of several scientific terms, piloerection (don’t go there, people!).

Over the years, I’ve developed what I call a goose bump meter.  When I read, see or hear something that strikes an emotional chord in me, I can feel the hair standing up on my arms.  When something is really good–like a couple of Sundays ago when our church choir was outstanding–I stick out my right arm and exclaim, “Man!  That was fantastic!”

Sharing my goose bumps

For this edition of Mindful Monday, here are five pieces that rang the bell on my goose bump meter.  Each of them reflects a bit of how I’d like to show up in life and all of them share a lesson.  Check them all out today or savor them one-at-a-time throughout the week (spoiler alert:  the fifth one is a YouTube video that will knock your socks off!).

The other four are in not in order of significance; each one rests on the strength of an incredible message.

If you like this Mindful Monday edition, let me know in the comment section because I’m considering putting it in the monthly rotation.

Have fun, enjoy, and B INSPIRED TO B YOU!

Just for you . . .

The Bridgemaker, Healing the Broken Ones http://www.thebridgemaker.com/healing-the-broken-ones/

Alex is one of the first people I connected with in the blogging community.  We’ve corresponded via social media and have spoken over the phone but never met in person (although we will one day since he lives in the metro area I visit several times each year), but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Alex is in my corner.  He’s that kind of guy.

This post is a sweet picture into his heart and soul.

Hannah Brencher, Maybe No One Ever Told You, But Yeah, You’re Kind of Deep  http://hannahbrencher.com/2013/06/04/maybe-no-one-ever-thought-to-tell-you-but-yea-youre-kind-of-deep/

I first stumbled across Hannah when she did a TedTalk about this little idea she had that blossomed into MoreLoveLetters.com.  I love this post because I’ve never seen anyone describe me in quite the way she does.  I am the person who sucks at surface conversations.  I jive and thrive on the gutsy talk that connects two or more people in a string of God-moments.  Like Hannah, that’s the person I want to be, and I suspect many of you want to join us.  Come on down!

Danielle LaPorte, The Real You is Waiting. In Here. Not Out There http://www.daniellelaporte.com/inspiration-spirituality-articles/the-real-you-is-something-that-emerges/

Danielle is gritty in a no-bullshit kind of way and I love reading her stuff.  When I think about authenticity, she pops into my mind.  This quote from the post is a gem:

The real you emerges.
When you are courageous enough to be still. When you act on your inclinations.
When you …
Put your preferences on the altar of your life and say, “THIS. THIS is what compels me.”

Kathy Kruger on Tiny Buddha, Life is Practiced Rather Than Perfected http://tinybuddha.com/blog/life-is-practiced-rather-than-perfected-balance-is-good-enough/

I’ve followed Tiny Buddha for years (even been published there!) and the posts are always first-class.  I love Kathy’s guest post because it addresses a subject I struggle with and maybe of you do as well:  Balance.  She gives me permission to look at my life at the end of any given day and say to myself:  “I’m good because I may not be perfect, but I am good enough.”  Sleep tends to come much easier that way.

The Mariachi Kid With Perfect Pitch and a Perfect Attitude http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=CFIyUJHEaSE

Finally, this video and story about 11-year-old Sebastian De La Cruz from San Antonio, has made national news, so you may have heard about it.  I love his voice and talent, love the outpouring of support he received from NBA heroes on down to everyday people, but most of all, I love his attitude about the persecution he received on social media following his performance at Game 3 of the NBA Finals.  Be sure to watch through to the end.

Much love and goose bumps of joy to you this week!

Photo courtesy of matthew_hull

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Decisions, Decisions

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One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes . . . and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

How many times have you stood before two (or more!) sets of circumstances, tapped your finger against your lips and said, “Hmmm, decisions, decisions”?

You may struggle with deciding but isn’t the power of choice an amazing thing?

What happens when you can’t decide which circumstance to choose?  You make a pros and cons list.  You talk it over with your most trusted “advisors.”  You pray.

And you’re still at a loss.  By now, you’re threatening to tear out your hair.  Your teeth are sore from gnashing.  Your sleep is completely screwed up by your lack of decisiveness.

Plus, you’re eating way too much chocolate.

Get out of waiting hell

The purgatory of waiting can be miserable.  I’m doing a bit of that right now as I wait for contract jobs to finalize so money will flow into my bank account.

These are circumstances not in my control, yet I’m doing my best to force them to a rapid conclusion.  Yes, I’m in waiting hell.

But I can decide to leave and I have.

I am still waiting, but my body and my demeanor feel looser as I realize that I am giving money way too much power in my life.  I’m changing my thoughts from believing that money buys happiness and walks on the beach into realizing that money is useless and pointless if I’m not already happy.

In truth, I have no need for money if I’m trusting in a power greater than me to guide my decisions.  Now, instead of fretting about money, I wait in the knowledge that everything is good and right and perfect in this moment.

Trust your gut

Do you trust yourself to make good decisions?  Over the years, I’ve learned that my gut–my intuition–is seldom wrong.  My gut knows the truth behind the decision long before my brain starts yearning for peace.

In the meantime, my monkey-mind has been so very busy trying to cajole the rest of me into a decision.  Monkeys have a way of looking at situations from all the different angles and my monkey-mind is no exception when I let it run around unsupervised.

Once I’ve exited Waiting Hell, however, Monkey Mind quiets and decides to take a nap since it has become weary from the constant motion.

Quiet little monkeys no longer have to maneuver around negativity showing up as doubt, fear, guilt, judgment or condemnation.

They can just rest and trust that they will intuitively know if they want to eat honey-coated bananas  or ants-on-a-stick for supper.

They will know when they know and not a moment sooner.

My dear monkey-minded friends, I encourage you to relax into waiting.  Your bananas will come even if it seems like you’ll have to subsist on ants forever.  Just wait; you’ll see.

Photo courtesy of richard_b

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Remembering Memorial Day

file9111246754332 1024x685 Remembering Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day set aside for honoring soldiers who have died in service for our country.

Maybe I’m growing a bit more patriotically sentimental as I age because this year, I find myself drawn to the history of the holiday, to its original meaning and to the ways in which it is ignored by a large part of the population.

Perhaps I feel caught up by the recent human catastrophes here in America at the Boston Marathon and closer to home for me, the tragic loss of life in Moore, Oklahoma.  Both events make me want to hug everyone and wish them well.  To paraphrase Maya Angelou, both Boston and Moore cause me to contemplate the regular moments during our days when we should come together regardless of skin color, religious preference or sexual orientation as one people under God.

I suppose it’s possible that I’m more aware of Memorial Day this year because I’m generally more aware.  I’d like to think so.

A historical perspective

President Lyndon Johnson declared in May of 1966 that Waterloo, NY, was the birthplace of Decoration Day (the original name for Memorial Day).  However, it is more likely than many cities and towns in the 1860’s established a tradition of placing flowers on graves to honor servicemen who had died during wars.

I tend to agree that there was a simultaneous gathering of folks that “tapped into the general human need to honor our dead,” as the website called usmemorialday.org states.

General John Logan, commander of the  Grand Army of the Republic decreed the first Decoration Day as May 30, 1868.  After World War I, the holiday was changed from honoring only those who had died while serving int he Civil War to those who fought and died in any war.  Interestingly, several southern states still observe separate dates to honor their Confederate dead.

Then, in 1971, Congress changed the Memorial Day observation from May 30 to the last Monday in May so that it became a federal three-day holiday weekend.

We do so love our long weekends.

Putting the observation back in Decoration Day

I grew up with my parents “decorating graves.”  I also grew up believing that Memorial Day was for placing flowers on any loved ones grave.

Plus, as long as I’ve been old enough to notice, the three-day weekend symbolized the start of summer and celebrated my youngest niece’s birthday on the 28th.

I might catch a news story about honoring soldiers and I’d think, “That’s nice.”  Sadly, I’m one of the many who no longer gives Memorial Day much more than a passing thought.

Until this year.

At some point today, I’m going to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation of what it means to have soldiers die for this country.  I’m going to think about the precious gift of freedom.  And then, at 3 p.m.local time, I’ll observe a moment of respectful silence, as suggested by President Bill Clinton when he passed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution in May of 2000.

It’s really the least I can do.

Photo courtesy of kconnors

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