Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Choose Kindness

How many times have you said something and wished you could scoop those words back up and swallow them? 

How many times have you done something (or not done something) and thought afterward that you could have acted differently and made the day better for someone else?

Our days are made up of myriad moments that present possibilities for our thoughtful words and actions.

No matter how difficult those moments, no matter how badly our patience is tested, there is always room for kindness.

When you choose to be kind, your kindness serves as a magnet. It finds ways to come back to you multi-fold. 

Kindness is an energy that our world so badly needs.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't create healthy boundaries for yourself. It means that when you have an opportunity to lift up or tear down, always choose to lift up. Always.

Today, this week: In your every encounter, choose to be kind.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Stay Grounded

Just when you get used to something, it seems to change! Small things. Big things. It's easy to slip and slide as the sands of change shift underfoot.

In the whirling, twirling experience of change, stay grounded.

Be resilient in a changing world by always living your values, always listening to your heart, and always looking for the good.

Change loses its fear-inducing sting when you hang tight to your values, when you listen to the wisdom you hold within, and when you keep an open mind and look for the good things that can come out of change.

You can't stop change. It's going to happen, but you can control your response.

Today, this week: Roll with the waves of change by staying grounded to what's truly important to you.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rites of Passage

The end of the school year. Perhaps it's the passing from one grade into another. Perhaps it's graduation from kindergarten, from eighth grade, from high school, from college, from grad school. The moving from one educational experience into another or into the work world or into summer vacation is a rite of passage, at least of sorts. 

The handing out of your final grades for the year, the shelving of your school supplies for the summer are all signs that you're moving from one chapter into another.

Report cards served as my final reminder that the school year was over and summer vacation was here.

I can recall the mixed emotions of ending a school year, for I loved school and I loved learning. To say goodbye to my beloved teachers and professors and to close another chapter in my life book was bittersweet, but the anticipation of a new time in my life, especially summer vacation during my elementary school years, was even more exciting.

Back in that day, summer was a seemingly endless experience. Each day brought relaxation and creative play. There were good books to read and some chores to do, such as helping my mom with housework or learning how to ride the tractor lawn mower. Our meals were prepared more often on the charcoal grill. The evenings were spent at The Panoramic Resort with a soft drink or swimming in the welcoming, cool waters of nearby Devil's Lake.

It was during the summer when I was introduced to Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries. It was during the summer when I learned about the Euphrates River in Vacation Bible School. It was during the summer when I took swimming lessons from lifeguards Mary Anne and Ginger. It was during the summer when we'd picnic with friends Vi and Glenn at their campsite. Glorious, endless, magnificent summer!

The end of the school year meant saying goodbye to my favorite books in the classroom's library
in exchange for new reading adventures of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries.

Perhaps it's not the end of a school year anymore for you, but the changes of season and those rites of passage will continue to enter your life. You just need to be open to receiving them and considering thoughtfully what you want to do with them. 

I read a lovely book a few months ago called Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman (Just the title drew me in.) (2012, Viking, ISBN #1-4104-5693-5). In the book, the main character identifies that we may each be "offered a rite of passage many times throughout our lives, if only we are awake to see it." 

Are you awake? Are you aware and ready for those rites of passage to enter your life?  How will you know when those rites of passage are there and that they are real?

Smiles and kisses around. My mom and me at my high school graduation.

At the same time that I was reading Looking for Me, I received my weekly email of wonderful words of wisdom from Maria Shriver, called Sunday Paper. In that weekly post, she wrote about the necessity for spiritual breaks, those times of our own design or that are thrust upon us when we can ponder the deeper, bigger questions about our purpose, our bliss. She writes of the wisdom of the mystic Rumi, a favorite of mine as well: "What you are looking for is looking for you."

Think about that for a moment. "What you are looking for is looking for you." How wonderful is that?! 

Be awake. Be aware. Identify with those passions and pursuits that keep tugging at you. Examine those epic moments in your life when your foundation shakes and you are called to see things with new eyes because the old no longer exists as you once thought it did. Think of the smaller nudges that call you to a new insight or direction.

The end of the school year is a wonderful reminder that rites of passage are brought into your life for good reason. They're doors opening for you. You can walk through those doors into a new time in your life.

What doors are opening for you right now?

What is your rite of passage right now? Are you being called to a new place, a new experience? Are you fulfilling what you believe to be your purpose? Are your passions pulling you to a new way? Look, and you might find that it's looking for you, too.

Sunday Sunshine: Listen with your Heart

We're constantly told that we're a divided country. The messaging we receive all around us seems to encourage that division rather than unity.

Divisions fade away when you actively listen with not only your ears, but also your heart. 

You become new when you open yourself to new perspectives.

What might you learn about yourself and others if you listened with your whole being? 

What might you learn about yourself and others if you listened with your heart? 

Our minds put all kinds of filters in front of us through which we tend to absorb new information. As our minds construct and reinforce those filters based on memory and judgment, we can lose grasp on opportunities right in front of us for greater understanding and loving responses. 

When you listen with your heart, the lens through which you feel the world becomes one of love.

Today, this week: Listen with your heart.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Happy Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, always observed in the United States on the last Monday in May. Tomorrow, Americans will honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives while serving our country in military service.

It is because of them and those who continue to serve in our military today that Americans can enjoy the many freedoms and the peace that we are so fortunate to have.

As we reflect on the meaning behind tomorrow's national holiday, may we not only respect the memory of those who have given so much for us--many doing so in the name of peace, but may we also be instruments of peace in our own daily living.

When we focus our energies by breathing in peace and breathing out peace, we change how we think about the people, the things and the circumstances in our lives. Our responses change.

Today, tomorrow, this week: Remember the meaning of Memorial Day by respecting those who have served our country with honor and who have given everything to preserve our freedoms and peace. And remember to be an instrument of peace yourself. 

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: There's Beauty Everywhere

For years, I walked by that short row of arbor vitae evergreens, not paying much attention to them. They were located on my way to the building where I worked. I paid little attention to them because my thoughts were focused on my work day.

Then, one day after I had undergone some profound challenges in my life--my own illness and the passing of my mother, that same row of arbor vitae became new to me. It was then, finally, that I noticed the birds who lived in those arbor vitae. Every morning and every evening when I walked past them, the birds would sing and sing and sing to me. I had finally awakened. I was finally paying attention to the beauty that was around me.

As my eyes and ears became more aware, I started noticing the brilliant setting sun as I left work each evening. I stood, transfixed, looking out the window before an early-morning work meeting, watching the magnificent sunrise.

It was as if everything was new to me and it was beautiful. The challenges and sorrows that I had experienced in my life had given me the gift of opening my eyes, my ears and my heart to the beauty that was all around me.

At times, we admittedly have tunnel vision. We see what we think we need to see. We hear what we think we need to hear. 

Wake up! Look up! Listen up! There's beauty up and down and all around!

Today, this week: Pay attention to what's around you. Experience its beauty with gratitude and awe.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Cultivate Joy

It's that glorious time of year when we till the soil, sow the seeds, and plant what will in just a few weeks become a bountiful harvest of flowers, vegetables and more. 

Whether you sport a green thumb or not, you have the opportunity each and every day to be a gardener, a sower, a cultivator. You have the opportunity to cultivate joy.

Fortunately, cultivating joy is easy. When you view your life as blessing, abundance, grace and love, you tend to feel happier, to feel more joyful. 

Happiness and joy don't just stay within you. Their good energy exudes from you and spreads to others. You cultivate joy, which in turn, gives others joy to cultivate, too.

The great thing is you don't need lots of money, a new car, a fancy house, fashionable clothes or the latest gadget. Most often, our greatest joys come from our ordinary moments. Look for those moments and begin sowing "joy" seeds.

Today, this week: Cultivate joy.