365 Grateful: With Spring so Close, Can Summer be Far?

365 - 03-19-2015These past few squinty-eyed days of sunshine warm upon my face and bright upon my corneas have awakened the slumbering child within. I know this because as I passed by the bookshelf (long overdue for organizing and straightening of the few books I have saved from my wintertime purging), my eye fell upon the one book that is a ritual of summer for me — Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

Such a marvelous book chock full of great wisdom and insight. Here is a masterpiece that captures childhood using mere ink and paper. What a feat!

I read it, faithfully, every year at the cusp of summer. June 21. Never before … because it is a summer’s tale, filled with the awesome, blossoming awareness of life.

Already my fingers itch to open the pages — well worn, yellowed, and in places tattered — and begin to read. But wait I will, because summer is scarcely a glimmer on the horizon and this book, well, it simply can’t be read until summer takes over her duties.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful for this early spring reminder of what’s coming. That, and a vision — for just a brief moment — of fresh grass and the busy hum of bees, the twittering of birds and the sharp laughter of children. May each of them discover for themselves this year the wonder of realizing “I am alive.”

So, go buy the book already. Place it on your bedside table. Let it call to you and tempt you and tease you with the pages of summer it holds safely between its covers. And on June 21, pick it up and read it. I’ll join you.

365 Grateful: and the worm turns

365 - 03-06-2015I wake up to this view of the 2015 Crow Moon completing its transit across the sky, across my sky. And I am grateful for this reminder that all things cycle, soften, evolve. The worm turns the soil, the crow heralds spring, life moves inexorably forward. Past? Future? Not really. Just the present. We stretch fully into each day, breathe in each moment, and pass steadily, easily through time. To me, there’s no other option than to be fully present in the moment, not so lost in past regrets or memories and not so caught up in future worries or goals. Just the present. Just the moment.

365 Grateful: to get somewhere, you have to leap

365 - 03-05-2015Yeah, here’s how it goes. I want to be over there. I’m over here. Over there might be a state of mind or a physical place or an activity. It doesn’t matter. When I’m over here, over there seems like it’s a chasm away. So I grumble around about not being there or having that or getting anywhere or being stuck, stymied, and held back.

Exactly. I don’t always get it at first. I chalk that up to human nature, but it’s pretty much a matter of my perspective and my attitude. Because, really? If I want to cross that chasm, generally what’s required is a leap … of faith. And that might mean faith in my ability, in my choice, in my desire, in my confidence, in the chance of success … all that stuff wrapped up into one big ol’ leap.

So when we traveled to Death Valley (amazing place, that!) back in 2009 with our friends, Lem and Patty, that concept of taking the leap, well, leaped out at me. Figuratively speaking, of course. Because that land is so amazingly inhospitable yet so beautiful and challenging, I couldn’t imagine those prospectors and early frontiersmen not looking down at the salt flats and thinking, “I’m stuck here, but there is where I want to be. Look at all of these obstacles; I don’t know if I’m up for that trek, but I need — I WANT — to be there. So, I’m just gonna go for it.”

It was a leap of faith of the tallest order. And, man, am I ever grateful to have experienced that place, and stretched my mind as well as my body there. Because I started to learn to love the “leap.”

In our lives, where Death Valleys are what stand between where we are today and where we want to be, those leaps of faith propel us forward.

  • “I want to start my own business, but I’ve never understood the business world.”
  • “I want a better relationship with my family, but fighting is what we do best.”
  • “I’m not happy in my marriage, but the alternative is wicked scary.”
  • “I want to save the planet, but how can I possibly make a difference?”

Oh, those are leaps of faith. Learn to love them!

 

365 Grateful: love that elephant in the room

365 - 03-01-2015Right smack in the middle of the table In the Coach Room at work sits a stuffed gray elephant. His eyes have fallen off, so they’re held on with a paperclip attached to his left ear, which was the only implement of connectivity we could find.

He’s the Elephant in the Room, and I’m awfully fond of him. He’s there for a reason. He reminds us — whether we’re in a meeting of coaches (think “Coaches of the Round Table”) or sitting solo with a client — of this wisdom:

DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM HARD TOPICS AND STARK TRUTHS

Hard topics. Things like difficult situations, behavior, conflicts, sorrows, truth, regrets, sickness, death. Even joys and celebrations can be hard topics. These are things we’d like to pretend don’t exist, that are invisible. 

Our elephant, even with his tenuously connected sight, gives us the shake we need to be courageous, to show up for one another, to hold each other accountable, and to help our clients move forward with purpose. Not a new person comes into the room who doesn’t pick him up and smile, and ask exactly why he commands the center spot.

I’m grateful for this elephant in the room whose sole purpose, it seems, is to remind us to be real and to be brave and willing to bring to the table what sits there, in plain sight, just waiting to be acknowledged, understood, and dealt with.

Then there’s the cow in the Zen garden. But that’s a whole other story…

 

365 Grateful: the illusion of perfection

365-02-24-2015I’m in the midst of a workshop. Participants are huddled in small groups working on a task, and time’s up. “OK, go ahead and take your seats,” I say. “Wherever you are is perfect.”

I hear myself say the words and I cringe a bit. What I mean is this: “don’t stress if you have less than the team to the right or left of you. Whatever you have is enough.” So why don’t I just say that? Instead, I pull out the “perfect” word. Sigh.

I think it’s because the illusion of perfection has been woven into our society and beaten into our heads. If you don’t believe it, just look at any doctored, air-brushed photograph in any fashion magazine. We’re spoon fed images that are impossibly unrealistic. We’re encouraged to wear this, color our hair like that, use makeup A, B, or C to hide flaws, and pay big bucks for surgery to mask the normal, natural signs that show the world (and ourselves): oh-my-God-we’re-aging! We have breakdowns when life isn’t what we picture in our heads. We divorce spouses because they aren’t quite perfect enough for us. We wait for our perfect match, our soul mate.

Recently, I listened to an interview by author Kelly Corrigan with writer Anne Lamott on Medium Forward. (Go here to listen. It’s 20 minutes of marvelous.)

What Lamott said toward the end illustrated perfectly (yeah, there’s that word again) the problem. She’s in the process of explaining how she became obsessed with needing a neck lift, so she visited a prominent cosmetic surgeon. The surgeon’s words go like this:

“‘See, if we do this [mini-necklift], it makes your face crease up, so that’s why people get the mini-face lift when they get the necklift…. And then if you get the mini facelift, it makes your eyes so much more wrinkled and … the thing is, Anne, you have such expressive eyes.’

“He told me the thing that this culture is so starved for and lacking — he told me the truth.”

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I’m grateful for such down-to-earth wisdom, and the realization that we all — ALL — sometimes fall for the illusion of perfection.

365 Grateful: what really matters

365 - 02-22-2015I fell in love with this quote when it flew into my in-box. It literally took my breath away in a gasp of insight. We focus so much on getting and doing — actually, we focus so much on ourselves: what we complete, what we reap, what we accomplish, what we deserve.

The aha, here, comes from the knock-up-the-side-of-the-head that says, “that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about the impact you have on other people, it’s about the change you’ve made in the world and in your sphere of influence, it’s about the people in whose lives you’ve made a difference even if you’re never, ever acknowledged for it.”

I’m grateful for those moments when I can touch someone’s life, perspective, thoughts, or feelings — even if they never realize it, or the world turns a blind eye to my role in the transformation. After all, I’m not the one who transforms, so I don’t deserve the accolades. But I do know I’ve lifted someone up, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a personal satisfaction worth holding close and loving.

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