Spirituality

A Room With a View


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The view from my red Poäng Ikea chair comforts me.  Most early mornings find me there, journal on my lap and Jazzy at my feet, writing, reading daily wisdom and contemplating my day.

Perched just so in the corner of my writing studio (also known as an office, but when I’m feeling particularly creative, it’s a studio, den or nook), I can nearly feel the sun warming the bricks on the other side of the wall.   I watch Old Sol’s rays creep around the corner and splash the yellow daylillies with light.

This morning, before picking up my pen, I sat for the longest time allowing my gaze to rise and fall and then rest on little pieces of inspiration scattered around the room.

The ebb and flow of my flow is symbolized here, I realized, in photos of joyous times and containers of ashes from lives ended.  One wall and surface commemorates college pride; its facing wall is a colage of hearts representing my decades of love and fulfillment.  In between trinkets sparkle, slogans affirm and book titles inspire me to reach and stretch until I touch my very own star.

It is here that I believe all things are possible.  Here, in this place, there is nothing left unfulfilled.  My space, my place, my sanctuary, my soft landing, my firm grounding.

From this chair I can look upon pink hibiscus and purple Texas lilacs.  When I let myself just be here, the physical me almost melts into ephemeral weightlessness and time is nothing more than tick tocks.

I close my eyes and murmur, be here.  The words bubble from my soul for I didn’t make a conscious decision to voice them.  I only know they’re here now, sitting, being, no expectation beyond this holy instant.

Oh that everyone could have a view like mine.  Please, find yourself a chair and position it so you can sit for a spell, to pause and simply breathe.

Go ahead.   You must be first in your day, for this is the point on which the remainder stands.

Give in.  You want to, don’t you?  If you need a reason or a label, call it self-care.  Or call it Dalai Mama time (or Dalai Papa if appropriate).

Sit and soak in the goodness from your spot in heaven’s presence.

Sit and breathe, trusting that you are filling your spiritual tank with the fuel–only the highest octane, my dear–to help your engine run smoothly today.

Sit and take it in because you may need to return here in your mind’s eye before the day is through.

Your place, a sacred spot, is calling to you.

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

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

Heartwood: It Grows in Layers


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Heartwood:  “It grows in layers, like the spirit does.  That’s what Grandpa Sam used to say, anyway.  You just got to keep the roots in a clear stream and not let nobody taint the water for you.”  ~ Billy Bob Holland’s father in James Lee Burke’s Heartwood

As a lifelong tree lover, when I stumbled across the above passage in Burke’s book over the long Memorial Day weekend, I was fascinated by the idea of heartwood.

So I dug a bit, if you’ll pardon the pun, and did a little research via two well-known online resources:  Google and Wikipedia.  With the word heart in my Google search for heartwood, y’all know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Wise old Wikipedia

“Heartwood is wood that, as a result of a naturally occurring chemical transformation, has become more resistant to decay.”

Apparently the formation of heartwood is spontaneous and doesn’t occur in all types of trees.  And some trees, like chestnut and mulberry, start forming a heartwood core early while pine and maple wait until the tree is older before beginning to form heartwood.

One thing is for sure, rings of heartwood are strong, solid and nearly impenetrable.  In his novel, James Lee Burke writes that saws tended to bounce right off a tree with a heartwood center.

How cool is that?

Can humans grow heartwood?

I suspect many of you already carry a nucleus of heartwood.  You just might not know it until the proverbial saw strikes you, maybe in the form of a job loss or a death in your family.  It might not even be something quite so catastrophic; I know that strife in my life commonly appears as hurt feelings or perceived injustice.

Wouldn’t you like to think that the saw will deflect off the strength of your inner being when pain or worry or major fear strikes you?

For anyone who has been knocked down by significant change in her life and risen again, I submit that you do have a thick core of heartwood.  Good for you!  That means you’re resistant to decay just like the mightiest of stately trees!

I wonder if, like the trees, we have an inherent chemical disposition that causes a similar transformation in us?  I believe transformation is possible for anyone, but it’s certainly easier when we recognize the existence of the chemical disposition, a.k.a., a spiritual connection.

For those of you who believe that everything is created by a loving and gracious power of the universe, why wouldn’t we humans receive a similar heartwood composition like God gives trees?

This weekend when you’re on the nature trail or maybe just relaxing in your backyard, give a mental shout out to the trees.  Heartwood:  it’s the trunk of life.

Photo courtesy of Alvimann

You Are Loved and Chosen


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Anne Lamott spoke in Fort Worth a couple of months ago; I really dig her work and the sheer nerve it takes to reveal her thoughts, feelings and passions.

She is the real deal.

Anne said many, many cool things that night, things like, Jesus says “this is a come-as-you-are” party.  She also said, in referring to the traumas in our lives, “I don’t think we ever get over anything.”  In other words, the history of our past stays with us, even as we learn to move on around it.

There were three words she said, though, that have stayed with me, running through my head at random times like intermittent rain showers in south Florida.

Loved and chosen

In her book, Grace Eventually, Thoughts on FaithAnne tells the story of gathering kids for Sunday School and beginning with the “loved and chosen” game.  One by one, she picks a child, seemingly (to the child) at random (“Does anybody know somebody wearing a Texas Rangers t-shirt today?”) to come sit beside her.

She welcomes each of them with the words, You are so loved and chosen.  No one is left out.

It’s true.  Everyone–absolutely everyone–is loved and chosen, because as she explains, “God loves.”

When Anne spoke those words in Fort Worth, I had just been let go from my job and I thought to myself, “My boss?  Even her?  She’s loved and chosen?”

Stepping on God’s toes

A few years back, I got into a tiff with a friend over another friend’s callous and rude behavior.  I dropped into my perverse, gossipy self and said in my best holier-than-thou voice, “Well, just who does she think she is?”

Can’t you just picture my stance?  Feet firmly planted 18″ apart, hand on hip, lips pursed and nose in the air?

My friend looked at me and said in a drop-dead calm voice, “You better be careful, my dear.  Sounds to me like you’re making a judgment and on the off-chance that you are, you’re acting like you know more than God because God loves everybody the same.”

Ouch.

The point is that we all have stuff.  We all have days when we show up with our C, D or F game instead of our A game.  And we are much harder on ourselves than anybody else.  Am I right?

Before you take one more step on the day when you’re reading this post, think about this:  You Are Loved and Chosen.

When you forget to put the coffee in the basket and pour the water through the pot, you are loved and chosen.

When you back your car into the cart-corral in the grocery store parking lot, you are loved and chosen.

When you forget your anniversary, you are loved and chosen.

You know, there would be no need for forgiveness if you never screwed up.  And forgiveness is a beautiful thing; it brings healing and growth to your inner world.

Now, go on about your day, and if at any point it turns south, stop where you are and say, “Do I know anybody wearing jean shorts, a Ft. Lauderdale t-shirt and no shoes today?  You are loved and chosen.”

Photo courtesy of lisafanucchi