Deep Gratitude

“Every moment presence shows me that I am already home
and I am so deeply grateful for this gift of love.” unknown

quote

Some days bring more contentment than others. I find that the feeling is softer and more  flowing if I am able to be internally still and quiet. In this space I do feel as if I am at home within myself and I become filled up with love.

“Home” is where we can take off the cloak of whatever we wear to get through the day, and we can relax into the stillness that wraps us up in a soft blanket of love. As concerns and worry also relax into this warmth we settle in to our “home”. “Home”  in the sense of the place where we can feel nurtured and safe. The place within us where we let everything fall away so that only the essence of our heart’s contents remain.

In this space of stillness and contentment the ups and downs of the day, the swing of emotions, the voices of doubt, fear, desire and worry come into balance with presence, stillness, gratitude, and “enough”.

Personally, I have to decide to go to this place, to let go of whatever I am holding on to and wallowing in. I have to put my trust in to something I can not even explain.  Sometimes it is difficult to trust the step towards gratitude and contentment because it often feels so elusive and unattainable. In fact, once the footing is made, it is not difficult to pause in the stillness of this place and breath deeply and rest there in the internal stillness. The something that fundamentally believes this moment is enough and full, lacking for nothing. It is difficult some days to be able to get there. It is nested within gratitude. Here I find big and little blessings in life and giving them the room they deserve to be powerful and worthy of being the shift in what I see and how I feel in the moment.

This one moment is what is. The memory I have of something different may be sweet and bring a smile to my face, but when the memory is replaced by a current event: the cat throwing up, the kitchen timer going off, the mailman knocking at the door, it may not even linger as a memory.

So today my Sunday day of rest is begun with a deep exhale and finding some stillness where I am able to reflect on the blessings I am gifted every day.  While there is no brightly wrapped box, the emotions are just about the same. Anticipation, discovery and gratitude.

This isn’t always easy for me, but I do have a very organic feeling that the awareness and effort does make a difference. A few moments of gratitude seem to be able to soften any negative thought or feeling as the perspective changes from what is lacking to what is.

Even within the challenges of recovering from an aneurysm there are places where it is possible to pause and change the perspective. Yes, recovery is hard work, sometimes even challenging.  Yet, it is possible to find the one spot where there is balance, even if it is fleeting. That sweet spot where gratitude tames restlessness and desire. Where the longing for being or doing something different detours to the scenic overlook where the simple act of being in this one spot allows for a wider panoramic view.

We may look back and longingly wish we could return to what we believe to be the most beautiful thing that ever happened to us, but in looking behind us we may miss the most most beautiful thing right in front of us. Maybe? I believe so.

Spring is in the air here in the Northeast. The light is different. The birds are singing more. The deer and other wildlife are scouting for food. I am recovering and experiencing deep gratitude that I am stronger than I know, and have more opportunities to hug those I love so dearly.

Enjoy your Sunday.

 

 

 

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The Open Heart of Gratitude

“To love in the face of fear is bold.
To love in the face of hatred is courageous.
To make the choice to love even more deeply
and widely in the face of moments of anguish
is a heroism of the heart that may be our only hope to heal this world.”
Kristi Nelson

So much going on in the world. So much pain and violence, Hatred and fear. I am struggling with a deep sense of sadness. I am reaching and stretching towards what I know is bold and powerful: love.

Ultimately I know deep in my soul that I will always make the choice to be vulnerable, broken and heart broken, lost, afraid, humbled by the profound power of love rather than allowing myself to be closed off to love…I will not shut it out and allow hate and fear to take over.

I am one. It may not sound like much in a world of billions. Still, I will always stand up to fear and hate. I will always speak out in love, with compassion and always search inwardly for empathy towards others. I am one. But I am ONE MORE.

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

~ Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

I do not live in bubble or vacuum. There are many things I can do that will have a positive impact on the part of the world within my reach. And I believe, further. Many of them require me to look honestly at myself and to re-educate myself to correct the inaccuracies I was taught. I challenge the thoughts and beliefs I was exposed to. It is okay to have to re-visit, re-think, process and revise.

“What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts,
adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.
We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace,
but only a small, determined group
who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
~Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

Accumulation of acts by a determined group. People who will not give up.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do
to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit
and willing to show it.”
~Clarrisa Pinkola Estes

I feel humbled by my list of things in my life to be grateful for. Mostly the same list I take for granted.  Not intentionally, but out of privilege. Yes, there it is. Privilege.

It doesn’t feel good. Yet, I am so grateful for this feeling. It is bringing me to an open door where I can turn around and see things from the perspective of others. Through the door I can begin the re-education of my heart. I can walk towards the opportunity to gain understanding. An opportunity to grow,  to evolve. I will accept the challenge to open my eyes.

I say this with full humility. I say this with determination. I am humbled and sometimes deflated by the struggles in the world. By the pain inflicted on one person by another. By the realization that there is a cloak of invisibility we throw over those we do not understand, are afraid of, don’t care about, who are different from us. Over people we judge.

This is the season of Thanksgiving. A holiday that needs to shed the untruths of the glamoured up version of history. All you have to do is look at what is happening at Standing Rock to understand what was set into motion in 1621.

How about in honor of being able to feel gratitude for things in our life we work for change, for understanding, for tolerance, for love. How about we learn something new? About abortion, or poverty, or racism (internalized, interpersonal,institutional and structural), or implicit bias, or conformation bias, or Islam, or food stamps, or why consent matters, or about sexuality and what it really means, the facts about incarceration and how it affects the poorest and most vulnerable. How about we learn the truth of the effort to dehumanize Native Americans from the first Thanksgiving. How about we learn about Others?

You know, I can’t live up to these goals all the time. I get lost in my own ego and personal struggles. I get mad, feel anger, get hurt. Underneath all that I know there are so many millions of people who suffer so deeply from so many different things….and that puts so much into perspective.

cbe-hiSo this Thanksgiving season I will gratefully spend time with my husband and children, eat a nice meal we all work on together. And for things I particularly feel grateful for I will commit to learning about how I can help others have those same things. And I will learn why I have to help them…what is standing in their way to healthy food, a job, health care, a home, protected rights, education, a safe neighborhood,………..it’s a long list.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful that I have made a decision to care. To open my eyes. To open my heart. To become educated. To understand I have a personal responsibility to bring a little bit of good into the parts of the world that are within my reach.

in-this-house

Check out this week’s readings: This Week

Digging For Treasure

We need more sand in the sandbox at the little school where I work. At least that’s what the adults think. The kids don’t seem to really care. Now they are busy digging. Really digging, in hard compacted sand and soil. There are holes and trenches. Many holes are large enough for them to curl up in like a cat ready for nap. Some trenches are long enough that they actually walk in them from hole A to hole B.

My assistant tossed in some “things” a few weeks ago. Some small shells, glass stones, sparkly things.

“TREASURE!!!” came the cry.

treasure(the actual treasure)

Three, four and five year olds came flying to see the discovery! It was like Christmas, or a birthday. Treasure had been found.

After they had collected all the obvious treasure they decided it really would be best to bury it again. They had to dig new holes and not use existing ones, because…well…I’m not sure…

When all the treasure had been buried they were off running and playing something else with complete abandon, confident that their treasure was safe for now.

Days later the group decided to dig up the treasure. Buckets held the shells and glass stones. They became ingredients for cakes, ice cream and soups. Then came the cry, “HEY!!! LOOK at this!!” A child help his open hand up high to show he had found a walnut!

“Ohhhhhhhh!!!!!”

Apparently walnuts are the true gold standard in treasure hunting. The walnut was passed around and everyone looked at it and turned it in their hands.

I want this in my adult life. To be amazed each and every time. To be joyful and totally surprised when I rediscover something forgotten or stored away. I want to know that if something is buried I may or may not find it again, but if I do it will be a treasure. I want walnuts in my life. Small, almost insignificant items that are like the gold standard of awe. I am reminded this kind of treasure I seek  is not always big, showy, of monetary value…it may be small, seemingly unimportant.

The treasure I hope to discover, like the children’s treasure, is usually always known….just put aside and forgotten. I’m hoping to “rediscover” enough, contentment, empathy, compassion, caring, simplicity, slowing down, breathing, joy, awareness, being present, kindness, patience, truth, and me. 

Some days and sometimes these things get away from me. Even the me in me gets lost. I become a robot of sorts, going through the day. Sometimes I feel like there is even a programmed script. So, I am trying to talk less and listen more. I want my words to be meaningful as in the quote to help us THINK before we speak. Are our words ” True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind”? (there is no agreement as to the originator of “THINK”.)

I hope to bring these things to the forefront of my life again recognizing them as treasures to be shared. I hope that each of these will be like that dusty walnut shell, the gold standard of my humanism.

I don’t need the glittery, fancy stuff. I don’t need to have people think I am important or special. I want to live a life that is grateful and does not take things for granted. I want my days to be filled with sharing  kindness, expressing empathy, showing compassion, caring, slowing down, practicing patience and mindfulness. I hope I can navigate the responsibilities, routines and pressures of each day and hold tight to these treasures, like the children holding the walnut. I don’t want to just be good at remembering these treasures, I want them to be, hope they will be, who I am all the time.