The Last Time

When was the last time you heard the rain fall onto dead leaves? Or the near silent descent of snow tumbling from the sky? When was the last time you rode in a car without sound ~ without music or the persistent drone of your navigation system?

When was the last time you really listened to another who spoke of his pain ~ without judgement?

Can you recall the last time you felt your heart beat…and what you thought as you listened to its rhythm?

Can you remember a time when you told yourself something kind instead of the usual list of things you didn’t get right?

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. But if it were your last, what would you remember about the time you spent on Earth?

We often have a memory of our first time: our first kiss, our first love, our first encounter with someone special. As human beings, we are programmed to live as if there will always be another time. But if that time never comes? We never know when it will be our last.

Cherish each moment. What you have is now. If your life is a blur, take it down a notch to notice the treasures hidden deep within every experience. They are there, waiting to be seen by you. Every time.

 


Step by Step

The afternoon flew by, thanks to my friend, Tanja Bruch, who kept me company on a soap opera set while I worked as an extras wrangler. In between takes there is always a flurry of activity, but because each scene takes about an hour, I have little to do in between.

Enter Tanja and all her wisdom.

Along with her amazing photography, she is an actor who is frustrated by the long pauses in between acting jobs. Although she knows it comes with the territory, she, like most of us with dreams and aspirations, prefers that it all happens now without all the waiting and hoping and praying that life seems to offer creatives like us. Or anyone with a dream, for that matter.

“Take it step-by-step,” her boyfriend advised her.

One thing at a time is a lot better than a whole lot of nothing all at once.

As I considered what her boyfriend said, it made me realize it is all about Slow, really. You can’t eat pie, dance and stroll the streets of Paris at the same time (although I come from a family that tries hard to attempt such things ~ all in the name of grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and shaking it for all its worth). I mean you probably could, but you’d get indigestion at best and wouldn’t have much from any of the things you were trying to absorb in the first place.

One step at a time means you look at the Big Picture, evaluate where you are and where you’d like to go. After all, you can’t know where you are headed if you don’t know where you are currently. And if you don’t know where you are headed, you certainly won’t get there either.

Once you have taken inventory of your situation, you can only take a step at a time to reach the next level. Even runners take one step at a time, albeit at an accelerated pace.

Sometimes the next level is within a day’s grasp. Sometimes it takes years. But what else is life for than to experience all the steps in between now and hereafter?

It is better not to know how the journey ends and to concentrate on what’s happening right here, right now. I’m willing to take it step by step. Are you?

One Word at a Time

Several years ago I attended a seminar near Amsterdam. I set out to answer what was next in my life. After a full day of Dutch and English discussion, I was no wiser about what I wanted than when the day began. Or so I thought.

The seminar leader told us to write several pages about our experiences that day once we retired to our rooms. I was stumped. I had no clue what the next step in my career should be. So I sat with my pen in hand without a word to say.

Snapping off the light, I decided to sleep on it. But as often happens with me, I awoke in the middle of the night with a thousand thoughts cascading through my brain. In the dark, I wrote nonstop for twenty minutes. It was as if a floodgate had been opened.

I wanted to change the world through words. Having already published two books, I knew I had something more meaningful to share than just a few stories about my own life. It was time for me to start public speaking.

And so began a new journey of discovery. Seeds were planted that weekend, which later came into fruition through more books, public speaking opportunities and even this blog.

The great thing about life is that we are constantly planting seeds, whether we know it or not. A kind interaction with someone can later lead to a blossoming friendship. Or a business meeting that went well can turn into a long-lasting partnership. A misstep in communication can place your world on its head ~ always for the better, even if you don’t realize it at the time.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There is no sense in resisting what comes your way because resistance creates anxiety while acceptance opens doors. Deal with life’s challenges the best you can with the understanding that a joyful heart will attract even more joy, which then spreads to others ~ one word at a time.

 

 

Creators of the Storyline

The life of a writer can be extremely isolating, insular, yet vast and full. We think, we observe, we hear, we write. We live off the hope that a reader’s life will be changed by what we say.

Stories live inside our heads, begging to be told, seen, expressed. They swirl. They dance. They speak. A writer’s ear catches it all, whether she wants to or not.

Writers listen. Interpret. Absorb. All of life is meshed into the fabric of their storyline. In essence, writers give back to the world that which they experience.

Many people have asked me, “How can you imagine so much?”

I say, “How can I not?”

Characters form in my mind, robbing my sleep if I ignore them for too long.

When a story emerges, a writer must carefully form the message for the world to take in. It is a craft that gives us life.

Son, an emerging writer with an imagination so large that his web ensnares reality with the subtext behind it, recently admitted he had to write a page about why he should be kind. He had not been nice in class and his teacher asked him to explain why it might be a good idea that he should be.

He wrote his prose in the form of a conversation.

Being kind means not to hurt the soul of another.

Being kind is an opportunity to empower a person.

Being kind translates to changing the world.

Being kind is a good idea because I won’t have to write another story like this one.

Stories can heal, instruct, and encourage mankind. Even a little boy who chose his words less than carefully.

Stories can be mentors for us all.

Imagination is more powerful than any medicine. If you believe in the truth of what you tell yourself, no doctor can cure you from it. What you believe far outweighs what others will tell you is so.

What story do you tell yourself every day? That you are lazy, unlucky, out of time? The nice one? The mean one? The crazy one?

You are the creator of your own story. Which ending will you choose?

 

 

Holiday Slow

Three minutes of CNN cured me for life. The American reporter stood with her microphone amongst the busy shoppers, reporting for the thirteenth hour in a marathon run for the best deals in town.

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday in the U.S., is an insane invention made up by folks who see the holiday season as the best time of the year to make some cold, hard cash. It’s an inofficial holiday in which shoppers storm the malls at the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving night to grab what they can ~ fast. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that he would be working as a seasonal employee in the men’s shoe department of Macy’s in New York City. He sounded a little scared at the rush that was about to come at him.

The trouble with such consumer-oriented thinking is that not only does Thanksgiving become the event before you shop; Christmas becomes the reason you do too. Like many women, I like to browse the boutiques, but to me it’s not a sport to see who can get the most stuff the quickest. And quite honestly, the stress of it all is a tad repulsive.

Every year I try to do something a little different to celebrate the season in a slow, calm way. To me Christmas is about celebrating the love you share with others. It is about showing you care by spending time with, not necessarily money on, the people you positively adore.

This year I am giving the gift of time, visiting my loved ones, spending time listening, laughing and loving with profound connection. To me that is the true reason for the season.

Time isn’t something you can buy. You can only spend it. I prefer to do that outside the shopping chaos our society encourages. In my view, time well-spent is worth more than money in the bank.

 

 

Right Time, Right Place

Timing is everything. Try as we might, we can’t force things into being that just won’t happen. Nor can we stop the tides, although we might wish to do that too.

What we can do is influence the direction of our lives by recognizing our personal responsibility. We are responsible for the lives we create, the choices we make and the actions we take — or don’t take. At any given moment, we can choose how we react to what is happening, then decide to take one action or another to change the course of events – or to accept things just as they are.

But as we all know, life happens. Despite our very best intentions, we might not get what we think we want. And thank God for that. If I had had my way at age twelve, I would have been a prima ballerina. Something tells me that wouldn’t have worked out so well for me.

Sometimes we crave change so badly we will do anything to make that shift. But if you engage in an undertaking through brute force, chances are you will be left in a shambles.

Slow and steady wins the race. Taking baby steps to your dream takes time, patience and trust. There is wisdom in Slow.

Prayers never go unanswered. It’s the response that we should be listening to. The Universe really does have your best at heart.

Remember: there is a gift in everything, no matter how dire your circumstance may seem. Believe and never give up your dreams.

You deserve the very best.

We all do.

 

 

The Keeper of the Keys

A sure-fire sign that life has gotten overwhelming is the moment I’ve misplaced my keys. I call it the misplaced key syndrome. It’s a telltale sign that something is askew in my rhythm.

This week I lost my keys twice within the matter of an hour. The first time I left them on a random box of stuff in my office. The second time they thrust themselves onto the ground in the woods during a moment of pure dance eroticism as I jumped and clapped to the tunes on my iPod.

Luckily, I retraced my steps both times to find them again.

Keys are helpful items that help us move places. Whether it’s to lock the door behind you or to crank your car into gear, keys are, well, key to our modern existence.

So losing your keys is a lot like losing your way. You are completely toast without them.

My keys help me realign myself by telling me loud and clear that they will disappear, remaining completely out of reach and offering no clues to help me recall where I put them last, if I dare take on too much. In those moments, they hide out on bathroom window sills or boxes of junk, giggling their butts off as I rattle around the house looking for them.

My mom once taught me a trick to retrieve any item that’s gone missing for more than five minutes.

“Have you prayed to St. Anthony, patron saint of all lost things?” she would call up to me from the bottom of the stairwell. I’d then take a deep breath, say a prayer and usually be led to the item right away.

St. Anthony was my first lesson in slow all those years ago. Whether or not you believe in the magic of prayer (I do), inhaling to the count of five helps slow your mind, ease your thoughts and find your keys every time.

The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz rocks. He’s shamanic. He’s magical. He is oh-so-wise.


In a book entitled The Four Agreements, Ruiz outlines ancient Toltec wisdom in doable steps that anyone can follow. In thinking about his wise words recently, I realized you could look at his agreements through the lens of Slow.

#1 Be impeccable with your word.

Slow says: if you say you are going to do something, do it. You are really only as credible as the word you give. If you find you cannot after all, let the person know. Promises are meant to be kept ~ or at least renegotiated when life takes a turn.

#2 Don’t take anything personally.

Slow says: when someone responds to you in a negative way, it is about the triggers that exist within that person, not you. Life is about action and reaction. Take personal responsibility for what you create. Say “I’m sorry” when appropriate. Expect the best of others. If they don’t accept your apology, it’s their loss. Period.

#3 Don’t make assumptions.

Slow says: expectation management is everything, but even then, people might not hear you the way you think. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t assume the worse about another person. Chances are he or she wasn’t thinking. Forgive.

#4 Always do your best.

Slow says: perfection is nonexistent. Doing your best today might look different than tomorrow. Some days you are up. Some days you are down. You are okay just as you are.

You’ve been given this life for a reason. You might not know it yet, but you are destined for great things. Live by these four rules and I promise that your life will be fabulous beyond measure.

I’m ready to embrace that kind of life with you. We are on this journey together so remind me when I fumble and I’ll do my best to do the same for you. Agreed?

Trust the Process

When people ask me how I managed to survive writing a book about Slow, I often say it was as if the messages were being delivered by angels’ hands. I was so attuned to the subject matter, the book literally wrote itself. I merely was the conduit to the material. Whenever I felt stuck, I’d have a conversation with someone and the connection to that Universal source got recharged again.

When you tackle a project in your life, whether it is a book or life itself, it comes with an invisible process that you may or may not be aware of. What is required is a good amount of courage and trust in the process itself. Without that trust in writing my book, the information wouldn’t have flowed as readily as it did for me. Because of my confidence in the creative process, I like to say that The Power of Slow was the fastest book I’ve ever written.

Taking on something new inevitably brings about change. Say the word “change” and people’s shoulders cramp up. You might as well say “Big, fat hairy monster lurking under your bed!” It has the same effect.

Fear.

But consider this: Change is merely a shift in energy. And with that shift comes a space-clearing force that gives you room to grow. Remember ~ if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Which would you rather do?

When you alter the way you approach something, space is made for new things/people/places/experiences to come into your life. What you put out comes back to you. So if you spew off a fountain of fearful thoughts, people with those same thoughts will attract to you like flies to honey. If you exhibit inspiring courage, you attract people with that same level of courage who recognize your process because it is also their own.

So go ahead. Trust the process. It will never let you down because it is an intrinsic part of your journey. Whoever said life doesn’t have a manual may not have been listening. It is right there before your inner eye ~to behold, to honor and to take on with all the power within your reach.

Trust me on this one.

The Healing Powers of a Good Old Belly Laugh

A soulmate is that special person that matches your sensibilities like a carbon copy of yourself. If you are fortunate, you might have several in your lifetime. I am blessed to have several soulmate friends who possess a knowing beyond words. They are the kind of people that give you one look and know everything without your saying a thing. I count myself lucky to know that my sister is one of them.

Talking to my sister right before bedtime is not a good idea. She makes me laugh so hard, I’m jazzed for half the night afterward. She knows how to tickle my funny bone like no other. We are like that with each other.

Belly laughs are those fits of joy that come from deep within. They start somewhere in your core and reverberate throughout your entire body. Sometimes they make you keel over as you try hard to contain what has touched you so. But why try to keep all that bubbling, bursting energy inside? It feels so good to just let it out.

The same applies to a good old cry when you are feeling terrible. Letting those tears run down your face is cathartic, and necessary, for good health. Lately I find I’ve been combining the two ~ tears of joy and fits of laughter, all at the same time.

Whatever you do, don’t keep it locked up within yourself. Express how you feel because I can guarantee it will come out anyway, whether it is in the form of an illness or uncontrollable rage.

A belly laugh is the best medicine on the planet. So call your soulmate today and have a good chuckle. Just make sure it’s well before bedtime!