Summer’s Farewell

The sun raskyys pierce through the open sky. The smell of decaying leaves fills the air. Summer gasps its last breath as we say fare-thee-well for another year.

I have never been at such peace to bid the hot months goodbye as I have been this year. Something has awakened within me to appreciate the very moment instead of mourning the passing of summer. I have somehow grown wiser, or more accepting, of the Earth’s need to pause.

A predictable deceleration takes hold as the days grow slightly shorter. The pressure to “go do something” eases as we tap into our inner chipmunks that seek dark places to hide in the warm shelter of our homes. Pumpkin soup suddenly seems appealing. Cooking is a treat once again. The rhythm of life slows as we match the pace of the weather patterns lulling us into hibernation.

It is okay to take it down a notch. To retreat to the depths of our caves. To reflect on a most spectacular season. To be alright with the nothingness that more restful times bring. It is no longer necessary to keep searching. Everything we have ever needed sits quietly in our laps.

I am so very grateful for this life. For the pain. For the joy. For the ever-present moment of now. Every bit of it. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays a most significant role in our own becoming. The change of seasons grants us license to make our own radical changes where necessary. Such transformation, the Earth tells us, is the natural course of things. I find reassurance in its implicitness.

What used to feel like death to me is now merely a place in the cycle of life. It is so very beautiful to be a part of it all.

Would you agree?

 

Unlocking the Mysteries of Time

It has taken 47 years, but I have finally unlocked the mystery of time. Well, that might be an exaggeration, actually. Our first personal experience with time is the moment we enter this world. The time of our birth marks our beginning. The time of our death marks our ending. And what we do between these two demarcations says everything about how we live our lives.

Our first brush with time comes with the time of birth. It is an important number and astrologists use it to determine all kinds of things past, present and future. It signals the countdown of units in our personal bank account of time.

The mystery of my first encounter with time was just solved. For years I would ask my parents the time I was born. They both struggled to remember. It wasn’t recorded anywhere. Not on my birth certificate. Not in my baby book. Not on a card or a letter or any other documentation. The only place I thought might have that information was the hospital itself. But I got the name wrong and found that the hospital I was searching for had closed.

Then my dad corrected me, citing the correct name of the medical center that still stands today. I called around and got a lovely woman named Natalie on the phone who seemed up to the challenge of entering the basement of the building to search the records on microfiche.

At first she sounded discouraged.

“1969? Oh dear. We only keep our records up here for ten years. But I’ll see what I can do.”

A day later she called and left a voicemail. I still didn’t know if she had had any luck in finding out the information.

But just now, on a rainy Thursday at the beginning of June 2016, I learned that 12:59 a.m. was my lucky number.

“One minute before 1 am, Christine! That’s when you were born.”

Nothing like sliding in at the last minute, eh?

I thanked her profusely for divulging what had haunted me since I can remember.

Now I know what time I began. Lucky for me, I don’t know how it will end. And that’s a good thing because I have a lot planned for the units I have left.

The moment is now to begin. One minute at a time.

It is the Journey, Not its Destination

Computers get tired. Smartphones too. Every once in a while they get sluggish after all the work they’ve done. They need to be switched off, left alone for a little while and given a chance to reorganize all the information we have put into them.

The human mind is no different. On occasion we too need time to reboot.

It is uncomfortable to move outside of the familiar. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. “What if’s” crop up in our heads like dandelions on a lawn. We grip the ledge of our dreams, hoping we never, ever make a mistake. But missteps and errors are every part of the process. The most painful part is not in taking action, but in our own judgements about those actions.

Take time off? Fire a major client? Rethink what’s next without a safety net?

Major life changes don’t usually happen in an instant. They are typically the product of years of thinking, dreaming and wishing things were different. Then one day you wake up and discover they can be. Sometimes all it takes then is one decision that will turn your life around forever.

The cool thing is that one decision then leads to another and another and another. And before you know it, you are a decision-making machine. You suddenly find yourself in flow, cruising down the River of Life, riding the white waters with ease and grace. Those scary rapids don’t seem so scary after all when you come face to face with them. In fact, the roar of the water gives you great courage to move forward – for what other chance do you have but to bring them into your fold?

Have you ever tried resisting a river current or an ocean wave? Most of the time Nature has its way. It is the same in life.

As my wise thirteen-year-old son recently said, “You have freedom of choice and can decide which path to take, but the truth is you will end up where you are meant to be either way. It is the journey you determine, not its destination.”

I’m in for the ride. Are you?

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive

It is as if Arianna Huffington took off her high heels and climbed into my head. For the past week I have devoured her latest book, Thrive. It is not as if she says anything new, but reading her book is like getting a whole year’s supply of self-affirmations in one sitting.


In essence, she tells the reader: “You are not crazy to feel overwhelmed. I was too. And I decided to do something about it.”

I have long known that Arianna is a great champion of sleep. So am I. I have no problem getting enough rest. But the quality of it has seemed to suffer over the past few years. Life’s challenges have awoken me in the middle of the night and robbed me of dreams. Technology and my ambition to keep up have left me feeling depleted.

Arianna’s premise is we must redefine the meaning of success to include well-being, wisdom, wonder and community. As my book The Power of Slow boils down to one word – ‘choice’ – hers boils down to one too — ‘love’. The more I think of it, the more I realize the limits of our minds. We have no love in our minds, only thoughts. When we react from the mind, we are entangled in the web of our own making. In fact, every stressor we feel comes down to one thing — our reaction. Stress comes from a lack of trust that everything is going to be alright.

The truth is if we define “alright” to be That Which Is, then yes, everything will be alright. In fact, everything is alright all the time. Everything is indeed in alignment with the Universe. Our trouble begins when we ourselves are not.

Love can change that. When we come from our hearts’ center, we are free.

Thrive is a smart piece of work that cites Greek and modern-day philosophers alike. She even quotes Carl Honoré, whose thinking about the Slow Movement greatly influenced mine.

My favorite part of her book is her discussion about time. She speaks of it in terms of physics. Time, in the physicist’s view, is a landscape in which past, present and future can be seen. Like a mountain and a meadow and a wildflower all converging into one big thing. If that is true, than we needn’t rush. All of time rests on a single canvas.

This book insists that we can not only survive, but actually thrive, even in our 24/7 world. As with all things, the quality of our lives is not informed by our bank account of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

The beauty of our existence is informed solely by the depth of our hearts. 

 

The Phases of Our Days

Just when you think it will never be over, it is.

Those difficult phases in your life when you think things will always be this way. As a young mom with two babies, I was once asked what I wanted for my birthday.

“Eight hours of consecutive sleep,” was my response.

I was serious.

It makes me laugh today, as I can get that pretty much any time I want now. But back then, sleep was as precious as gold.

We all go through phases — anyone who has observed the growth of a child knows how rapidly those phases come and go. Later we get set in our ways and change seems less inevitable. Yet change is a part of our lives – every day. No matter our age, things change. And we are often shocked by it.

Fashion is a great example of how what we used to think was cool is now just embarrassing. Shoulder pads and thick eyebrows are just two things that the 1980s celebrated. Big hair and blue eyeshadow were other must-haves. Today the thought makes me cringe.

Yes, we all go through phases, obsessing about things that mean so much today, but that will soon fade into a distant memory tomorrow.

My friend recently suggested that one day a computer chip will be implanted in our brains so we can remember absolutely everything.

“Remember everything?” I asked. “There are some things I am very happy to forget.”

Imagine being able to relive every phase, including the era of Big Hair and Chinos? Some things are indeed best forgotten!

Each phase builds on the next one, creating the masterpiece that is our lives.

Celebrate the day and the moment you are in. It is exactly where you need to be.

Besides, like the sand flowing through an hour glass, it really is just a phase. This too shall pass.

 

A Wrinkle in Time

When I was in the fourth grade, Madeleine L’Engle captured my imagination with her children’s book A Wrinkle in Time .

I couldn’t tell you what it is about, but I do remember how it made me feel — as if time itself were bendable, relative, not really linear as we believe it to be. Listening to stories such as hers helped build my writer’s mind, allowing me to create stories that only existed once I told them. Characters came to life. Ideas were born and situations formed – in black and white.

Eons later I explored the meaning of time for us all and came to discover that how we treat time says a lot about how we live our lives. Time became the protagonist in the stories I told. As fictitious as the characters in Ms. L’Engle’s books, I learned that time itself does not exist but in the minds that behold it.

Yet time, this made-up character in the story of our lives, leaves traces everywhere. It burrows lines in our faces. It frames life events. Based on mutual agreement of the clock, time gets us to where we are going – whether by train, plane or automobile.

Time gives our lives meaning, as meaningless as time itself is. We live our lives as if it is real. But like the figures in children’s book, time is no more real than the Easter Bunny.

If that is true, then only this moment is real. Past and future are but interpretations of what may or may not have happened. Most of it is our story anyway.

We are the authors of our lives. It would serve us well to write a good story — with heroes and heroines and adventures that take us places and allow us, if only for a moment, to dance with ebullience on that wrinkle we call time.

 

 

 

Energy Savers ~ Just Be It

Halloween is over, but vampires are everywhere. You know the kind: The energy vampires that suck the life right out of you.

Maybe you are struggling to get everything done on your to-do list. Have you taken a look at it lately? Do you really have ‘to-do’ it all?

Cross one or two things off your list without having done them. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Perhaps you have a few relationships in your life that drain you. What can you do about them? Sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself from a toxic situation. Minimize contact or break free altogether from the never-to-be-pleased people in your life.

Feed your soul. Last night my son and I watched a Western on TV. It was silly and frivolous and exactly what we needed. Later we smiled in our sleep.

Walk away from the machine. I tell myself this often when I struggle with words (The woods are a great place to find them again). Do something completely unrelated to the project at hand. Distraction can open the gates to your creativity when you are focusing on something else.

Say ‘no’ more often – to others.

Say ‘yes’ more often — to yourself.

Managing your energy will actually give you more time to do what you’re really here for.

And that is to be your magificient self. Just the way you are.

Nike says ‘”Just Do It.”

I say “Just Be It.”

Do is so last century. It is time to finally Be.

 

 

Dance Between the Raindrops

Yesterday I got caught in two rainstorms. In my old, pre-Slow life, I may have found that to be problematic at best. But now I take it, take it all, with a blissful acceptance that everything is meant to be. And to be offered an opportunity, at every moment, to grow beyond yourself, to see things as a chance to dance, not fret.

When you look at it that way, getting wet is not such a bad thing after all.

We make up stories every day about the why, what and wherefore of things. We categorize, analyze and discern meaning where there perhaps is none.

We are mean-making machines. We thrive on finding it in virtually everything.

And if we are built this way, to define things, even time itself, as something, anything, why not interpret your world as a thing of beauty?

You have the power to orchestrate your reality to the highest good.

When you believe, you begin to receive – in ways you may never have thought possible. People will start to notice that smile on your face and want to know more. Goodness will gravitate toward you because you have the eyes to see it -at long last.

So dance between the raindrops. Embrace joy wherever you can.

It is worth it. It really is.

 

The Progress Principle

Being at a standstill can be the most frustrating experience for a recovering speedaholic like myself. Although I know there is power in slow, there are moments when setbacks make it feel like the world is going to end.

Apparently, I am not alone in this. According to Harvard’s Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, authors of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, setbacks are one of the major causes of ennui and disengagement amongst workers.

People need to feel they are moving forward with things, even if it is slow-going.


Collaboration helps. According to the authors, deep engagement and creativity stems from a collaborative work setting in which you don’t feel alone. I know I always feel better when my team is sharing the burden of the work, not just me.

Real progress triggers positive emotions like satisfaction, gladness, even joy. It leads to a sense of accomplishmnet and self-worth as well as positive views of the work and, sometimes, the organization. (page 68)

Poor managers forget the importance of giving meaning to the work people are doing. In fact, most still think people are motivated mostly by extrinsic rewards such as higher pay, bonuses or other benefits. People are actually more accutely motivated by a positive inner work life; that is, when they feel they are contributing to something greater than themselves, feel recognized for it and can have fun while doing it.

The book outlines four ways to negate meaning:

  1. Dismiss a person’s work.
  2. Take away ownership from the person.
  3. Doubt that the work will ever come to fruition.
  4. Menial tasks for which the worker is overqualified.

The progress loop, on the other hand, requires, well, progress, a feeling that you are getting somewhere and that your efforts are meaningful. That fosters a more positive inner work life, which, in turn, contributes to more progress and so on.

Setbacks are the major progress killer, leading to negative emotions and disengagement.

Great leaders are catalysts for positive change or even emotional nourishers.They recognize the human component and its importance in their organization.

Never underestimate the power of sincere acknowledgement. If someone in your life is doing something you appreciate, tell that person. It’s amazing how you will rock their world with your words.

The human connection is so valuable in our lives. If you feel disconnected from your job, consider how you might measure some progress in it. Reach out to a colleague. Exchange ideas. It can take you out of that vicious cycle into a virtuous one with more joy than you can imagine.

The Best of Summer 2012 ~ Audio #5 on Abundance

Embrace the abundance that is you.

This audio post Bearing Your Abudance will show you how. To listen, click on the link, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software.