Presence and Peace

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

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“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” ~ Eric Butterworth

The calendar reads Spring, and while many parts of the U.S. are still blanketed in blustery cold and snow, many of us are experiencing rising temps and warm rays.  Be consoled, my northern friends!  At least your knees and backs aren’t aching from spring planting;  I’m finally starting to recover from last weekend.

Our climates may be different, but we can share a different kind of spring right here, right now–the spring planting of new thoughts and attitudes.

You don’t have to channel Tiny Tim

If you’re a child of the ’60s or early ’70s, you may recall a long-haired, ukulele-playing guy who sang “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in a high, falsetto voice.

Let that image go!

Instead, let the images of spring–the tulips, cherry blossoms, redbuds and the myriad of other flowering plant life–stoke your desire for this to be your  Spring Extraordinaire.  Determine that this is the year you will clean your mind of old mulched and rooted thoughts.

Turn your mental ground, till the soil and make ready for a new crop of fertile ideas.

The winter of your discontent has given way (or will soon!) to the Spring of your dreams.

Preparing for new growth

I’ve written quite a lot lately about losing my job and starting a freelance copywriting business.  (By the way, thanks for indulging me.  Writing here has been great therapy.)

Last weekend, I hit the nursery on Saturday looking for bedding plants.  I walked the aisles, stuck my fingers in the dirt checking moisture and started planning which plants could go where in our little townhouse garden area.

I talked with other patrons about their plans, joked with the guy in line behind me who was also buying a dozen bags of mulch (and then helped me load mine in my car–spring does great things to people), and drove home with the windows down and the radio up.  I felt alive!

Sure, lots of stuff has gone down lately; some of it has been rough.  But there was something about having living things in my hands that made me feel bright with possibilities.

Sunday was planting day.  My sweetie and I assembled our tools and dug in.

Working the soil, whether in your garden, or in your mind, is hard work, especially if you have years of old growth to cut through.  I discovered though, that chunking through all the clay to stir in fresh new loose soil said a lot about my desire to do the work.

If you want a refreshed garden or a renewed mind, you have to be willing to go to the earth.

You have to be willing to cut away old stuff to root the new.

Once the work is done, you can’t just walk away.  You have to be willing to feed and water your new growth.  (It’s only been four days but I think I heard the lilies and columbine and phlox whispering their thanks.)

In the end, new growth is about your willingness to be a bloomer.  Through the challenges of the last two months, I’ve made the decision that I am a bloomer.

Doesn’t matter if you’re early or late to blooming, so long as you bloom.  Are you ready to tiptoe through your mind’s tulips?

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Are You Daring Greatly?

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Early into the OWN Network’s Super Soul Sunday yesterday, Brené Brown mentioned her detractors and how it hurt to read bad reviews.

I thought, “Are you kidding me??”  How is it possible that Brené Brown, who not only knows her stuff (she is a research professor and has a PhD in social work, for goodness sake), but is so authentic, how is it possible that she has detractors?

Brené and Oprah were discussing Daring Greatly, Brené’s new book about taking risks and leaning into the power of vulnerability.

I was mesmerized by this woman who so thoroughly walks her talk.  While Brené is quick to point out her imperfection when it comes to the practice of vulnerability (She talks openly about allowing her therapist and her husband to right-size her.), she has a down-to-earth ability to look you in the eye and call a spade a spade.

Would you like a similar approach to life?

You can have one!  According to Brené, it’s called wholehearted living, a means of meeting the world around us with grace and self-worth.  She created 10 “guideposts” that direct us along the path to wholehearted living.  They are:

  1. 1.  Cultivating authenticity:  letting go of what people think
  2. 2.  Cultivating self-compassion:  letting go of perfectionism
  3. 3.  Cultivating a resilient spirit:  letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  4. 4.  Cultivating gratitude and joy:  letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
  5. 5.  Cultivating intuition and trusting faith:  letting go of the need for certainty
  6. 6.  Cultivating creativity:  letting go of comparison
  7. 7.  Cultivating play and rest:  letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
  8. 8.  Cultivating calm and stillness:  letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  9. 9.  Cultivating meaningful work:  letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  10. 10.  Cultivating laughter, song and dance:  Letting go of being cool and “always in control.”
  11. * All 10 are described in-depth in Brené’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection.

Take the wholehearted living test

This isn’t a graded test, nor is it a pass-fail exam.  Think of it as a personal assessment of how wholehearted your life is right now.  Remember:  there are no right or wrong answers and possessing three or eight of the guideposts makes you no better nor worse than the rest of us.

As you contemplate the 10 guideposts, you’ll probably feel a gradient.  Maybe there is one or two you’re certain you’ve cultivated well; but with others, maybe you can claim 25% or 50%.  Remember there are no rules, merely awareness!

Even Brené confesses that when she first started working with her theory of wholehearted living–that it is the opposite of people who live in deep shame–only two of the 10 guideposts registered with her.  You’ll be in good company if your self-assessment is lower than you’d like at first!

Your mission–should you choose to accept it!–is to learn a bit about yourself and to determine whether you wish to go deeper into wholehearted living.

Being called to wholehearted living requires many things, perhaps none more meaningful than courage and vulnerability.  Daring Greatly, this book that compiles insights through research and life revelation, provides a bright light for the journey.

Please read it, share your thoughts, and above all, dare greatly.

Photo courtesy of franthony

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The Wisdom to Know the Difference

serenity prayer The Wisdom to Know the Difference

The title of this post is lifted from the beloved Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and for me, is the precursor to surrender.

The lines preceding this one are clear-cut in their instruction . . . accept the things I cannot changechange the things I can . . . but the wisdom line, well, it’s a little bit murky for me.

A Serenity Prayer story

The last two months have been challenging following the loss of my job.  I know many of you can relate, especially those of you who are passionate about your work.  When you have a dream career and your job suddenly becomes non-existent, a piece of you sort of dies.

The job is a great part of you are as a person.  It’s a natural fit in your life .  And then one day, in a matter of 30 minutes, who you are, maybe even what you are, vanishes.

Or at least it feels that way for a while.

Over the course of the next days and weeks, you work through it, maybe even uncover a sense of unexpected relief.  After all, seldom do we like every part of our work.  With me, I had long ago grown weary of traveling for work–I’d been a sky-flyer for the better part of 30 years–so I was okay with letting go of that part of my work.

You start making the changes you can.  Maybe you decide to move in a brand new work direction or finally decide to live your life’s dream.  Those steps are relatively easy.

You’ve even accepted most of what you can’t change and work toward making lemonade out of lemons.

And still, there’s one thing, maybe more, that lies in the muck between what you can’t change and what you can.  You struggle with it, inwardly knowing you should let it go, but you also believe the old adage that you must do everything you can to eliminate any future regrets.

So you search for something–anything–to make the unacceptable acceptable.  You spend countless hours researching, talking to qualified professionals, pursuing all options.

You lose sleep and serenity.

Control slips from your grip yet you clutch and grab for the fraying strings of what you hope will be the one answer that eludes you.

When you least expect it, the wisdom comes.

I was sitting in a business meeting at my 12-step group over the weekend.  As is our custom, we opened the meeting with The Serenity Prayer.  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

The letters hit my mind in flashing caps.  I knew I was done.  It was time to unlock the vise grip I held on what I instinctively knew I couldn’t have.

Suddenly the only thing that mattered was letting go.

Thanks to the wisdom to know the difference, I finally could.

Photo courtesy of belief.net’s Bliss Blog.

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7 Ways to Say, “I Believe in You”

The Peace Love Train photo 7 Ways to Say,  I Believe in You

Some weeks back, during a period of low self-esteem, I opened a Hallmark greeting card from my sweetie.  It read:

“Life is easy,” says the cloud.

“No, life is hard,” the rock replies.

“Long, long,” the mountain echoes.

“Oh, so brief,” the snowflake sighs.

“Nothing changes,” yawns the sun.

“It’s always new,” exclaims the tree.

“Full of tears,” the ocean murmurs.

“Full of sweetness,” hums the bee.

Every life on earth is different.  

Every heart must figure out how to find real happiness and what this world is all about.

Let that little voice inside you guide you and you’ll make it through.

You’ve got everything it takes.

Believe in that.  

Believe in you.

The card sits on my desk still and periodically she reminds me that she believes in me and my dreams.

Everyone needs someone who says, “I believe in you.”

The words are easy enough to say, but harder to have their meaning felt.  Let these seven belief-starters help you get the ball rolling.  Notice that the sentences are present, not future-based.

I believe you are achieving . . . 

. . . the dreams you were born to experience. Your intuitive nature and your creativity brings you right-place, right-time circumstances that boggle your mind and tickle your toes.

I believe you are reaching . . . 

. . . for the you that only you can be.  Reaching is good for you because it stretches you beyond what you thought were your capabilities.  We’ll soon be calling you Gumby!

I believe you are tackling . . . 

. . . life’s challenges, one-by-one.  There is no need to feel overwhelmed.  Listen to your gut (but ignore the hunger rumbles!) because it’s closely connected to your heart.

I believe you are enjoying . . . 

. . . all the health, happiness and prosperity that you deserve.  Do not ever think you are unworthy!  Don’t make me stop this car!

I believe you are filled with . . . 

. . . the compassion and peace that makes you a friend to many.  Why do you think people call you and say, “Do you have a minute?”  It’s not because they want your recipe for butterscotch mousse.

I believe you are living . . . 

. . . in harmony with your faith and values.  Does “to thine own self be true” ring any bells?

I believe in you because . . . 

. . . you are strong and competent and talented.  And because no one can be the glorious you that is you.

If you’re feeling out-of-touch, off-balance, a little down or off-your-feed, as my mother used to say, consider yourself touched by one who believes in you.

Rest assured, there are others.  Believe me.

Photo courtesy of The Peace & Love Train

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The Bible TV Miniseries: This Is It!

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When you read this post, the first night of the epic television docudrama and miniseries, The Bible, is history.

I’m eager to hear your thoughts and impressions.  Maybe you watched it and plan to tune in for the next four Sunday nights.  Maybe you didn’t see it because you didn’t know it was scheduled to air (on the History channel, reportedly the only network interested in the project).  Maybe you don’t care–and that’s okay with me.

Hollywood couple Mark Burnett (producer of Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice and The Voice) and Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel), created The Bible and see its story as a love story between God and mankind, according to an article in Charisma News.  

What’s not to love about a good love story?  No doubt there will be diverse interpretations of the series, from evangelical to mystical.  I hope that love and tolerance are at the heart of all the conversations.

Mega-church leaders like Joel Osteen, T. D. Jakes and Rick Warren, plus many community-based churches have built curriculums around The Bible.  It’s getting a secular push too from movie theater trailers (that’s where I first learned of it) and Facebook.

Let the conversation be inclusive

The airing of The Bible has the potential to be the modern-day Ten Commandments; in fact, with electronic and social media, interest will probably surpass the Charlton Heston classic.  I know it holds my fascination as both an entertaining movie and as a storytelling portrayal of the best book ever written.

Here’s my hope for the conversation around The Bible:  that no one–from the Bible’s literal interpretation believers to New Thought followers–claim an exclusive view.  Please, let’s be inclusive.

Joel Osteen says The Bible will “impact believers and non-believers alike,” according to Urban Christian News.  From my vantage point, about seven hours prior to its airing, I’d like to take it a step further.  I think the show’s impact will reach far beyond traditional church ideas.

While churches discuss its significance, perhaps the miniseries will kick-off a pre-Easter tide of community conversation as well.

Let love be the keystone

In the end, The Bible is entertainment.  Its special effects are eye-popping, reason enough for watching.

The real significance of its entertainment, however, is the impact it has on its viewer.  Many people simply want to be entertained–the “watch and walk away ” crowd.  Nothing wrong with that.

Many others–myself included–want the movie’s entertainment to leave us thinking.  What is the show’s meaning?  What is it’s purpose?

Could it be love?  Is The Bible the ultimate love story?  If so–and I’m going out on a limb since I’m writing this pre-airing–then let’s let love be the focal point of any conversation we have.

Tolerate those with whom you’re discussing the movie.  Accept their right to their beliefs without trying to change their minds.

Most of all, in any conversation you have, let love set the tone, let love be the keystone.

I predict amazing results and I can’t wait to hear yours.  Will you post them in the comments section below?

Thank you, Inspiration Showers, for the photo.
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