A Measure of Strength

Foto-3Being ill can bring you down and make you wonder if you will ever feel good again. It is in those moments when gratitude sets in for the times you did feel good.

I am certainly not an advocate for feeling sick, but there are good things that come of it. It makes you realize you don’t always have to be – nor can you always be — strong. Moments of weakness remind us that we are human. We make mistakes. Our bodies protest. Our minds grow weak. The soul remains constant, but the rest seems to tumble like a house of cards when illness sets in.

Our bodies are our temples, yet we often neglect them through lack of rest, poor nutrition or less than ideal amounts of movement. Even if we do pay attention to those things, we might still catch a cold that lays us low for a while.

Rarely will you hear someone tell you it is okay to be weak. It is as if we think we always have to be strong – or that a state of weakness is abnormal.

It isn’t.

It’s a part of life.

Even in moments of physical, emotional or moral weakness, know that you will bounce back with the help of your inner strength (and the strength of the people who love you) – it is a strength that cannot be measured in pounds or kilograms. It can only be measured by how well you live your life.

If you are feeling less than Herculean today, it is really okay. You are not alone. Being in a state of vulnerability reminds us of our beautiful fragility and the tightrope we walk between strength and weakness – every day.

The Magic of Slow

Whoever says he or she loves meetings is lying. Meetings are boring and most people build an inner resistance toward them.

So when I was tasked with organizing and running a recent conference in Munich, I could feel that while everyone was really glad to convene and discuss the topic at hand, they also feared being plagued by hours of senseless blah, blah, blah.

“Let’s get this over with quickly,” one attendee said.

I smiled a slow smile.

“In my experience, slow is faster. Let us begin.”

What they thought (and quite honestly, I did too) would take five hours took exactly one. We completed our assignment with a great discussion.

Not a word was wasted, not a second spent on useless chatter.

The pace of the meeting felt right. As we delved into the topic, everyone paid attention. No one checked cell phones or dashed out of the room for even a moment.

And we all left grinning from ear to ear, feeling good about the work we did and the ideas we exchanged.

What’s the best way to run a conference? Walk it instead.

Slow — in a word —  is magic.

One hundred years

Tick tock goes the clock. A minute passes. A day goes by. Then a week. Then a month. Then a year.

Time starts slowly with a life ahead of us. Then we grow, experience, dream. We crawl. We walk. We run.

We evolve.

And as we do, the traces of our years lay upon us. For some, life rests lightly upon their shoulders. For others, it bends their backs into a curve.

The Universe goes on its way. We can choose to listen or ignore its call. But its plan unfurls with or without our agreement.

If you had one hundred years to live, what would you do with it?

May you savor the moment, my friends. And don’t forget to dance!

Fragile

Life layers us with callouses, yet we remain so fragile. So breakable. So vulnerable to so many, many things.

Sometimes we experience a slow crush without even realizing it. Then one day it hits us.

Bam!

Burnout. Blackout. Time-out!

Having spent a few decades on the Earth, I am convinced life goes in cycles. We go up, down, even sideways. But we are always moving, even when we feel we are not.

Standstills suck. And for anyone who has experienced a major stuck-in-the-mire moment in their lives, it can give you the sense that things will never get better. That time is creeping by. That you will never, ever see daylight again.

But then somehow the sun nudges its way through the clouds — one day — rather unexpectedly. If you have spent your stuck-in-the-mire moments on some level of self-reflection, making space for that new thing to come barreling through, you will see it. If not, you may pass the very chance you have been waiting for.

See how fragile we are? Our greatest opportunity might be looking us square in the eye, and yet we are often blind to it. Because we do not have the glasses to see.

Our vision changes as we evolve through time and space. We tear off one pair of glasses for another. Sometimes we wear rose-colored glasses that make everything look bright and cheery. Sometimes we wear 3D glasses, where everything seems to be coming at us so fast. Other days we wear bifocals, sliding from one line of vision to another, but seeing clearly both near and far.

Bifocal days are the best, in my view. Clarity helps  work against our fragility, giving us stable ground upon which to tread, even in the darkest of nights.

So my dear ones. Never fear. You are not alone in your struggles and confusion. We all experience days (and nights) of weakness. The good news is there are about nine billion others to whom you can reach out in times like these. I’m one of them.

We are all in this together. Never, ever forget that.

 

 

 

For the Love of Simplicity

Smooth lines. Clean surfaces. Rooms filled with air, not stuff.

Streamlining life can be so lovely.

“Simplicity is what I want in 2014,” my friend told me. But, she admitted, in our complicated world filled with data and distraction, it’s not that simple to obtain.

I couldn’t agree more.

It takes discipline to keep things simple. We tend to pile on activities, information, relationships and more stuff than we need. Whether we are at the grocery store or online, we fill our lives with noise.

Fighting against the daily cacophony is harder than giving in to all the influences that tumble through our every day lives. Media messages on the sides of streetcars, advertising on TV, 10-second videos before we can listen to our favorite songs online all add up – it is no wonder we have a hard time falling asleep at night.

If you find yourself stuck in a complicated situation, take heart. Marathons are only won stride by stride. The same applies to life changes. Baby steps are a very good start.

Moving helps. Faced with either schlepping all our junk to a new place or getting rid of half of it, we are called to question what’s truly important to us. When I moved last spring, I made a commitment to simplicity. If I didn’t love the item I was about to pack, I would give it a toss or give it away. I got rid of more than half my belongings.

To maintain that commitment, everything that enters my home now is subject to severe scrutiny. In fact, it doesn’t even enter my shopping cart unless I absolutely love it or need it. Champagne and roses are my only exception. And I do love them!

Simplicity requires innovative thinking. It means to do without certain things we once thought were imperative. My friend tells me I need more kitchen items, but truth be told I can cook a delicious meal without all the things I once had. Sure, a smaller frying pan would be great, and probably more economical. I’ll get to it in good time.

If you think about it, do you really need all the things that surround you? If I were to take a closer look, I could probably pare down my household items by another third.

Simplicity doesn’t mean austerity.  It means living with more flow.

Take the first step by eliminating three things from the drawer closest to you. Add to the pile each day from various spaces in your home for a week. Then look at all the items you once thought you required.

It feels good to free up space, physically, mentally and emotionally to make room for what really matters.

And what truly matters can only enter your life if you clear away the clutter first.

Want to take the simplicity challenge? I’m with you – every step of the way.

 

The Reason

Why is a child’s favorite word. Why do birds fly? Why does the rain fall? Why? Why. Why…

We never stop asking ourselves that question. Later, as life progresses, we ask ourselves “Why me? Why now? Why not?”

We are the reason seekers. We look for reasons why things happen as they do. Or why they don’t happen at all.

When we stop asking why, that’s when the fun really begins. Because the truth is not all reasons reveal themselves in the way in which we can see them ~ at first.  We often lose sight, in our own reasoning, as to the real reason life turns out as it does.

But do you want to know a secret? Your life, as it is, is exactly where you are supposed to be. Believe it or not there is a plan.

If we were to embrace acceptance that the Universe has the reasons in its trustworthy hands, we would be better off. We’d be happier. We’d no longer feel the need to control outcomes. We could bathe in the beauty that is life’s mystery.

Because in reality we have very little control over things anyway. Take action? Yes. Accept what happens thereafter? Definitely.

The confluence of our life’s events unfurl like sails, yet we often fight against the wind, as if we were stronger than Nature itself.

We are not.

What looks like a bad thing, such as disappointment for not getting what we want, is actually a necessary step in our path of life. We often skew our vision, wishing things were different. But what if the Universe listened to our every demand? Where would we end up?

We would verge from the path down a forsaken road. Life would be completely in our hands ~ and I have a feeling we wouldn’t be happier for it.

So the next time you experience an unexpected turn, be thankful, then stop, look and listen. The reason will show itself in good time.

And you will no longer have to ask the question: “Why?”

With trust in your heart that everything unfolds as it is meant to, you will be free ~ free from the sadness that holds your heart hostage.

The Why of things is the Universe’s business. Our job is to deal with it the best we can, with faith that our imagined destiny pales in comparison to our truest purpose for being here.

 

Naming the Year

A new start, a new year, a new opportunity to do things a little differently. Saying goodbye to 2013 was a blessing. It meant truly putting in the past what belongs there.

In contrast, welcoming in a New Year is often as joyous as the birth of a child. It gives us hope, promise and a sense of warmth. January offers us a chance at a new life. For just a moment we broaden our vision to the time that lays before us with a feeling of renewal and, in some cases, decided grace.

Whether you brought in the New Year  in your sleep or in a completely awakened state of mind, we are all faced with the challenge of living to our fullest capacity. Will we repeat the mistakes of the past ~ or have we learned from them? Will we branch out, stretch beyond what we thought possible and become even better versions of ourselves?

That is the hope for 2014.

As we enter this year, I ask you to consider naming your year. Whether it is the Year of All Dreams Fulfilled, the Year of Flow, or the Year of Travel, framing your year with a sense of purpose will serve to remind you later when you forget the very thing that made you smile on January 1.

I declare 2014 the Year of Kindness ~ to myself and to others. Kindness comes in many forms ~ in forgiveness, in shared laughter, in a book read outloud or an unexpected hug. I look forward to discovering how kindness will take shape this year.

What are you looking forward to? Remember the past is behind us forevermore. Now is what we have ~ and the promise of a brighter future filled with love, fun, and immeasurable joy.

That is my wish for you, dear ones.

Welcome to the world of all things possible for you — and for everyone.