Mother Teresa said, “We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” In my experience, the smallest things require the greatest love. The smallest things we do are the intimate and personal choices we make each moment before we act. These choices are always between the intention of love and the intention of fear – between gratitude, caring, and patience, among others, and anger, jealousy, righteousness, among others.
These choices appear to us as as the smallest of small things, as interior experiences that we alone can enter and alter. Yet with our choices of love or fear we create the consequences of our lives and the contributions we make to the world. These choices are the origins of all things, great and small, they alone animate the one who chooses. You are the one who chooses.
“This kind of spring day, with the beautiful myriads of colorful sprites just arrived from tropical shores, has to be one of the greatest gifts on Earth.”—Kenn Kaufman
Inevitably, people ask me why I moved from Florida back to Massachusetts after only two and a half years. I answer a little differently each time, usually something about missing friends/family and the change of seasons. However, as spring begins to flower in New England, there is one answer that rises to the top: the birds! Meaning the spring bird migration that brings thousands of birds from Central and South America northward through Massachusetts. And right down the street from me to Mt. Auburn Cemetery, which is heaven on Earth for birdwatchers from April to June, especially the first three weeks in May. With the exception of the last two years, this is where I could be found early in the morning to mid-afternoon on most spring days over the past 30 years.
How will you ever find peace
unless you yield to love?
If you put down what you carry
in case of emergency, you will make
space for what can really help. For
clutching onto failure or success
will only make you sink.
As our last weeks in Florida go by, I find myself looking with fresh eyes at the natural world right outside our door, just like I did when we first arrived here. When you know you are moving (and who knows when you will return), everything takes on a special light, a different vibration. Habit falls away and you see every detail with delight and appreciation. A group of ten white ibises with long curved orange beaks walks slowly past our lanai. A palm warbler on the window ledge looks around curiously, bobbing its tail. A giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest in the U.S., serenely floats by and lands on a bush next to the trail where I am walking. A zebra longwing butterfly flutters in the air nearby. So many amazing creatures so close and clearly visible. None of them native to Massachusetts. These are once-in-a-lifetime moments, I say to myself; savor them.
First off, can we just say that if there’s ever been a holiday season when we all deserve to treat ourselves and each other… it’s 2020!
As I’ve been looking for gifts to treat my friends, family, and — okay, I admit it — myself, I’ve been naturally pulled towards those that help us create a cocoon of self-care and nurturing (doesn’t that sound amazing?!).
So pull up a squishy chair, tuck your pajama-clad legs underneath you, grab a mug of something warm, and let’s do some self-care gift shopping!
Colette’s Spiritual Self-Care Gift Guide
— dhikr in Islam, japam in Sanskrit, witness in English: the repetition of a name or face of God.
In the air that lets a leaf fall slowly.
In the mud that swallows every blade.
In the bridge that creaks but will not break.
In the fence that fails.
In the secret maps that lead us nowhere.
In the questions that sprout from our mistakes.
In the suffering that makes us give more.
In those slain for no reason.
In those spared for no reason who keep naming the slain.
In how the mind stops spinning its web in light.
In how truth like rain makes tender hearts swell.
In how arms spread like wings when dropping all they carry.
In how petting the dog keeps us from leaving.
In the smoothing of a stone by a thousand waves.
In the smoothing of our ego by the slap of time.
In the drops of blood covered by snow.
In the stories of kindness finally praised.
In how we keep dying without dying.
In how we keep losing without losing.
In how we live in spite of everything. Like
hungry fish parting the water of our days.
In my sixty-eighth year, I saw a dancer, middle-aged, outside a café. I was at a conference in California and she was hired to dance at lunch time in the open. I sipped my coffee and watched her for a while. Most of us were busy going to what was next. Something in how she leapt and landed softened me. For she was so thoroughly herself that there was nowhere to go. And I realized that all of us were there to find what she had found.
It’s been a week since I flew home. And I’m up early, having dreamt of the dancer being herself. And before the sun comes up, I realize Mom, now that you’re gone, that this was all you ever wanted—to find a spot in the sun where you could leap out from under the turmoil of your life and be thoroughly yourself.
There is no denying where we are right now.
The shit has hit the fan.
Or, you more evolved types might say “the shift has hit the fan.”
In this moment in time, where no one knows when the pandemic will end, and how and when the economy will recover, I am navigating my rollercoaster of emotions that range from sheer terror to excitement and possibility.
One of my favorite thought leaders and scientists is Bruce Lipton. He is a Stanford stem cell biologist, bestselling author of The Biology of Belief, and recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award, and below is a short explanation of “imaginal cells” that he wrote many years ago that is timely today. I think you will find fascinating and uplifting:
Today I’d like to share with you a well-documented phenomenon called The Pygmalion Effect.
The name is derived from the mythical Greek character, Pygmalion, who had carved such a beautiful statue that he fell in love with it...and brought her to life.
In other words, Pygmalion’s perception of this seemingly inanimate rock as a beautiful living woman changed its very nature into a beautiful living woman.
The effect was popularized by a study that showed that teachers’ perceptions of their students impacted their students’ innate IQ level. When the teacher perceived a particular student as an “intellectual bloomer” (even if this held no measurable validity), that student became an intellectual bloomer.
The Pygmalion Effect then can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy…
My hope is that you’ll find serenity in the New Year, the calm within the storm, within yourself.
In this world, we need that calm, centered place!
As I write, I’m looking out at the sky. Moments ago it was pouring down rain. Now there’s a break in the clouds, the light is streaming through, and it’s spectacular!
If we watch and listen, we can find that place again and again.
HEALTH. SERENITY. GRACE.
That’s what I hope you see in the New Year.
Folks often ask me how to develop trust in the Universe.
How do you not have trust and faith in life?
We live in a crazy unique, amazing, unbelievable universe.
If you simply just observe life, observe the nature of what is, the nature of life: the sun, the sky, the moon, the animals.
There is an intelligence.
There is something that is functioning for all existence.
Every day for billions and billions of years life was existing.
Life is existing…
Enjoy my short video on How To Develop More Trust and Faith in the Universe.
I don’t believe luck randomly offers people a place in our life. There is a deeper connection involved when a moment, lesson or even message needs to be shared. There is a supreme force of power, love and light that brings us together. We join this energy of infinite possibilities on a journey that brings light and love to the surface.
This morning, after hiking I created an office space outside. The sun had warmed the Earth a perfect temperature. The birds were singing and some of my favorite music was playing. It was one of those moments that reminded me of how perfect life can be. My intent was to catch up on emails and begin my blog. My heart was wide open.
I was thinking about yesterday, an artist confided in me how her art reveals secrets of what is going on in her life. Each peace shares a connection to what her heart is experiencing at the time of creation. In the past decade she experienced a divorce, followed by a diagnosis of a serious health threat. She also had children to raise. It was this powerful need for strength and purpose that brought healing and passion into her art. Finally she is ready to release some of the pieces created in her darkest time. They have served their purpose. The healing is complete. She is now painting over the original art, and sharing a different story for people to connect with.
In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*
The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.
“To live here is to know God, to live here is to understand the power of Nature, to live here is to celebrate life.”—Panache Desai
Like a quartz crystal sparkling in the sun, Florida has many facets. Last year, in late June 2018, my partner Anne and I moved here from Boston. As we drove south along the eastern seaboard, we felt ourselves dropping past identities and memories along the way. By the time we reached Florida, we were living lighter, not anticipating or looking back, but just being, living fully in the present moment. It was a heightened state of awareness, and it carried us seamlessly to the edge of new beginnings and unexpected experiences in an entirely different place.
Are we really so separate?
Love the world.
To simplify and summarize, our brain has three primary motivational systems – Avoiding harms, Approaching rewards, and Attaching to “us” – that draw on many neural networks to accomplish their goals.
Lately, I’ve started to realize that a fourth fundamental human motivational system could be emerging as well.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon their habitats for food and shelter. Today, over 7 billion of us are pressing hard up against the limits of Lifeboat Earth. To survive and to flourish, cultural and perhaps biological evolution are calling us to love the world.
The world is near to hand in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the weather and climate in which you spend your days. And then in widening circles, the world extends out to include complex webs of life and the physical characteristics of the land, the sea, and the sky.
I’ve known this world in all its splendor and breakage for a lifetime. Or has it been a moment, the blink of some cosmic eye that let’s anyone still enough see the script of history all at once. I only know that when the forces of life and I move too fast, we author violence. When we stop and open, we discover a softness at the center of all things that gives rise to a music of acceptance. Very few things evoke this soft equanimity, which feels like a violin exhausting itself at the center of a symphony when the composer has spent his creative storm and is wondering if there’s anything left to say. Every day, the things we love sprout and emerge, or break and wither, as the vine grows quietly up the wall toward the light. Perhaps this is all we can hope for. The other day, we watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, it’s wings still wet. It had to wait for its wings to dry before it could flutter its way into life. Perhaps loving ourselves and each other and life itself is how we dry and open our wings.
A Special Note from John Perkins
I just finished speaking at the Colours of Ostrava music festival in the Czech Republic, am now headed into the Amazon rain forest, and then in September to Omega in Upstate New York to facilitate an experiential workshop: “Soaring with the Jaguar: Shapeshifting with Plants into a Better World.”
Question: What do these three seemingly different venues share in common?
Answer: They empower us to raise our consciousness, to steer our space station Earth to the future we want.
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer deep in the Amazon in the late 1960s, Ayahuasca saved my life – and forever changed it. Today, shamans, plants, musicians and speakers at many different forums inspire us to change our lives. A large part of the message involves honoring our connections with nature and to being good Earth stewards.
Weekday Personal Support
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
Designed To Move You From Survival and Fear to Safety and Peace. Available Monday - Friday. Meditation begins at 9 AM. Access early to hear Panache's monologue - around 8:30 AM.
Join Soulspring for conscious insights...
...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...
PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind