Upside Down and Backward

When I was a child, I used to lie on the living room rug and gaze up at the ceiling, imagining it as the floor. I pictured how it would be to live in an upside down house and walk from room to room stepping over the doorway arches. My partner Anne used to do the same thing when she was little, even though she grew up in an entirely different part of the U.S. Is this something that all kids do, or just a coincidence? I found myself wondering if it is a genetic code within us for novelty and reinvention, which somehow gets lost as we grow older. How do we keep our vision of the world fresh in an adult world that teaches us that physical reality is solid, unchanging, and that facts and predictability are the basis for living a safe and orderly life?


At an early age, children often aren’t interested in order and rigid perceptual rules, unless they have had it already instilled in them via parental fears. What if, at heart, we aren’t either? What if our souls really want imagination, improvisation, and exploration? The element of surprise. After all, we came to this extraordinarily diverse and beautiful planet to live our human lives fully and completely. Who wants to live it in a box of repetitive, expected events and experiences? I’ve always intuitively felt this way. That’s why I’ve moved and traveled so much in my life, from coast to coast and continent to continent. Every time I went somewhere else, I saw the world with fresh eyes. I loved it. I still do.

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Between Troubles

The old painter tells me that he loves to drive through small towns, so he can sketch the light and strike up conversations with the young woman who pumps his gas and the lobster fisherman who lets him bait his traps. He loves to meet life as it bubbles up between troubles. Last summer, he wanted to meet that poet from Nebraska, the one who speaks so simply of all that matters. He didn’t want to bother him, just to say how grateful he is for what his poems open. Eight hundred miles later, he was asking for the poet in the old bookstore. Then he drifted into the antique store in Garland where he bought four lanterns. It’s there the owner said, “Oh Ted, he lives in Dwight.” So the painter took his lanterns and drove the back road to Dwight where he left a note on Ted’s window that read, “Your poems matter.” Once home, he set up the lanterns and confessed that he needs more light as he talks to death. The next day, he painted a barn he saw in Dwight and sent it to Ted. In telling me this, he’s all aglow, a lantern himself. He takes my hand and wells up, “I love this life.”

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Another Day in Paradise

When I used to take walks at my favorite nature sanctuary, Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I often thought to myself, “This is paradise,” as I gazed up at the towering oak and maple trees and listened to the varied birdsongs. Now that I live in Florida, I find myself feeling much the same way. Each morning after sunrise, I walk the nature trail that encircles the perimeter of the community where we live, enjoying the palm trees and flowering bushes and the calls of birds that make Florida home. This morning at the end of my walk, another walker passed me, said “Good morning,” and commented, “Another day in paradise.” I laughed and agreed with him. Most people I pass on my walks make some similar comment about the beauty of the day.

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Ruminate to the positive!

We as humans have a natural tendency to ruminate. We seem to excel in turning small issue's into large challenges and then we obsess over these.

 
WHAT IS RUMINATION?
 
 
This is actually about playing and replaying certain incidents and frustrating conversations in our heads over and over again. You could be going over the details of a recent or past conversation or could be revisiting stressful situation's without changing anything for the better.
 
 
It keeps us in a negative head space and robs us of our mental peace. There are no real mental payoffs happening here. Rumination can be harmful to the physical and emotional health. A survey conducted stated that 95 percent of individuals at some point or the other get into the rumination mode.
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Your Crowning Glory

Okay, can we take a look at the elephant in the room, the one we avoid, the one we pretend isn’t there? Specifically, the white-haired elephant, otherwise known as ageism. Ageism affects us all at one time or another in Western culture. Women get hit by it around 35 or 40 when the first white/gray hairs appear, and we are encouraged to run for the hair dye. Around the same time, makeup ads advise treating those new wrinkle lines with cover-ups, serums, and lotions so they don’t become permanent. Later, Botox is the treatment of choice.

Men get the wakeup call if they begin to bald early. Ads urge them to get hair transplants, or the trend now is to shave their heads. If their hair starts to lose color instead, they may receive a few years of deferment with the “distinguished gray” perception. However, eventually they too are faced with the white-hair stigma. The idea of just allowing our physical bodies to age gracefully and naturally—with a healthy diet, exercise, and a stress-free lifestyle instead of some kind of intervention—still remains on the outskirts of the collective consciousness. We live in a culture that promotes “youth” relentlessly.

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Symphony Of Peace Prayers

Peace + Prayer + Someone Else’s Country provided me a powerful experience that continues to shape me today. It happened two years ago in Japan at the base of Mt. Fuji. Twelve thousand (12,000!) people come every year to celebrate peace and pray for peace regardless of weather. Every country’s flag is brought to the center of a natural outdoor stage with Mt. Fuji in the background, and all the people pray for peace for the country of their choice and also for the optimal potential of that country to manifest. Everyone is given a laminated plastic flag of their choosing to use during the ceremony. When the flag of their country is brought out, they hold the image over their heads. It was wonderful to see the colors of so many countries held up again and again throughout the ceremony. I wanted to hold up all of them.

Linda and I returned the next year, and I had the same surprising, wonderful experience. I had expected to celebrate my own country’s flag and pray for the peace and potential of my own country, but I had not expected to be thrilled by praying for every country’s flag! They were all so important to me, so rich and so full of promise and potential. The sea of colors in front of us filled me with awe and wonder – at the uniqueness of us, the beauty of us, and the love of us. We were all “us.” I knew that in my thoughts and in my heart, but I felt it and I saw it those days.


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What’s your “word” for 2018?

Every year, I pick a word that is the guiding theme for me. Last year it was “santosha,” which is Sanskrit for contentment. I even had a special rock made to keep on my desk as a constant reminder.

When I selected that word, I had no idea just how important finding contentment would become.  2017 was, in many ways, one of the most difficult years of my life. Both my husband and my mother had multiple hospitalizations and life-threatening illnesses that many times required me to be in two places at once. All of that, on top of the chaos in the world, created a lot of havoc.  Daily reminders to “seek and be contentment” were a lifesaver.

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Oprah, Brendon, Trees and Me

No matter the circumstances, we are being reminded to live fully, love deeply and open our hearts to even the most unlikeliest of individuals because each of us matters in this greater unfolding of life.

 

It was another bucket list moment. Not long ago I was at a gospel brunch celebration at Oprah Winfrey’s home for the launch of her new book, "Wisdom of Sundays: Life Changing Insights From Super Soul Conversations,” a compilation of heart opening and profound insights and grace shared by thought-leaders and writers from her Super Soul Sunday television series. (It’s one of those books you should have on your nightstand to set your inner GPS every morning or infuse you with the spirit of peace and gratitude as you end your day.)

 

A lot of movers and shakers in the entertainment and personal development fields attended, however, my husband Panache had a schedule conflict and couldn’t make it.

 

So I went in his place. Alone.

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3 Revelations From Walking In The Rain

Put Your Well-being First Because it’s Who You Are

As Abraham Hicks say, “Your happiness is the single most important thing in your life.” This might sound selfish or like an ego-centric statement, but when you look at the meaning that supports it, it makes a lot of sense. If you’re not happy, what’s the point? Typically most are not motivated by sadness, anger or boredom. It’s hard to preserve self-joy and happiness. Certainly we can all agree that the world is a much better place with your smile and your happiness! Because joy is a state we live in and not a spur of the moment feeling, it merits some introspection right? If we’re not feeding our joy center, how can we love others optimally? How can we teach love if we don’t have a full reserve of love for ourselves? What makes you calm? Smile and daydream? What makes your lungs want to breath in deeper? What do your hands long to touch? What is your soul primed for? Clearly I can only answer those questions for myself. However I encourage you to attempt them for yourself. Why? Because your happiness makes the world a better place.

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Dog Spelled Backward

Admittedly, I am a cat person. Even though I grew up with a dog companion (Pepper), whom I loved dearly, cats have been closest to me as an adult: Edward for 8 years and Lily for 22. Of course, animals of all kinds touch my heart, and this has become increasingly true as my own awareness has expanded to be able to perceive the intelligence and sensitivity of all living beings on our planet. In my garden, I have sweet and often funny exchanges with birds, bees, butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks. A connection and communication beyond words frequently passes between us.

Since I am a gardener, I am outdoors a lot of the time in the spring, summer, and early fall. As I plant and take care of my flowers in the yard, I often see neighbors walking their dogs. All kinds of dogs: labs, Scotties, pit bulls, schnauzers, pugs, huskies, terriers. Some are intent on their “appointed rounds” through the neighborhood, sniffing every tree and bush and not that interested in the occasional human gardener. Others, however, are absolutely thrilled to encounter another human besides the one at the other end of their leash.

Two dogs in particular come to mind: a small white terrier named Honus and a large black lab named Maggie. One morning, as I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds in the front border, I heard a kind of whining panting sound immediately behind me. I turned, and there was Honus, straining to get to me, at the absolute end of his leash, as his person tried to keep him contained. He was still a bit of a puppy then, waggling all over, his eyes sparkling with excitement and the overriding desire to get close enough to greet me with licks and touches. Who could resist such intensely focused friendliness? I immediately fell in love with Honus. Every single time I’ve seen him after that initial encounter, he has behaved exactly the same: so excited to see me, this human crawling around on the ground at his level. He is always stretching to get to me before I hear him, turn around, and then reach out to pet and talk to him. It’s a huge gift that makes me happy all day.

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