Tag Archives: inspiration

Optimism and the Promise of Potentiality…

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Optimism naturally seeks ouFreedom Faith & Letting Got the potential for what is hopeful, kind, and promising.
Every experience possesses potential.
Potential occupies powerful neutrality, good or bad, catalyzed and shaped by individual interaction.
If we approach the potential of a moment with optimism, we allow it the power to gift us with good things. Moments cannot be owned or controlled, so expectations are out of the question. Freedom to exist in the moment dictates a level of surrender to what is unknown. The freedom to surrender is only achievable through an optimistic spirit, and it opens the senses to that which is beautiful and wondrous.
Feed yourself a steady diet of optimism by making habit of opening yourself to the experience the moment has to offer.

The lyrics of the Matt Simons song, “Catch and Release” provide a wonderful description of this process…

There’s a place I go to
Where no one knows me
It’s not lonely
It’s a necessary thing
It’s a place I made up
To find out what I’m made of
The nights are stayed up
Counting stars and fighting sleep
Let it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mysteries
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
That day-to-day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To go
Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day
It gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love

There’s a place I’m going
No one knows me
If I breathe real slowly
Let it out and let it in
It can be terrifying
To be slowly dying
Also clarifying
We end where we begin
Let it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet
Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mysteries
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
That day-to-day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To go
Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day
It gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love

{To listen, use this link to hear a great version: https://youtu.be/HZm9P0w61_U}

Adventure and happiness often coexist within the courage of great abandon. The practice produces an affect not unlike the way filtering sunlight through a dense wood finds the dark ground beneath to illuminate and induce healthy new growth.  Optimism becomes a light that spawns the growth of happiness and new forms of optimism.
It is its own confidence…
Confident optimism is born of a million faith-tested moments. Be courageous. Run off the edge. Work without a net, arms wide to embrace the inherent potential of a moment to change and color your life forever in ways that defy all logic and definition 🙂

Sad is not bad, it’s necessary…

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Recently, we experienced the ordeal of our daughter, our youngest, leaving home for college. What followed were several evenings of looking awkwardly across the dinner table at each other, lots of silence, and a profound, unshakable sadness.   Obviously, there was some anticipation of emotional pain prior to the event, since our son had left home three years earlier, but it did little to cushion the blow of our suddenly-empty house and empty hearts.

When your children leave home, even in happiness and excitement for their future, your life completely upends. Everything changes, and the loss of their presence is tangible.  Adjustment begins slowly and naturally, in urgent necessity, accomplished through the process of grieving what has been lost.  A shroud of sadness settles over us like a healing cocoon, incubating against a world that continues to move, unmoved, by our personal hell.  For a time, we curl into our memories of hugs and spoken words, the sheets that smell like a distant perfume, and trophies lovingly packed away into boxes with labels.

Such an incubation period is necessary to healing, yet people outside our grief are not comfortable with our sadness…

The concept of ‘being sad’ has somehow been perverted. It has become a status of disdain, to be avoided or treated away as quickly as possible.  But just as happiness has its place in our life journey, so does sadness.  If we weren’t so preoccupied with the belief that one should be in an impossible state of ‘constant happiness’, we might be better equipped to see the positive aspects of something that makes us, essentially…’feel bad’.

Sounds like a contradiction…I mean, how can something that makes us feel bad, be good for us?

In the case of our daughter leaving home, I can say my sadness is good, because it comes from a place of deep, intense love. I’m grieving my personal loss of her presence, which added so much immeasurable happiness to my daily life.  However, I grieve for me, yet rejoice for her and for the world that will now have the unique opportunity to get to know her.  It is in the hope for her future that I find my way through the grief of her leaving.  Thankfully, I grieve a change, impermanent in that I still have her in my life, though no longer under my roof.

A few days after her arrival at college, one of the students on campus went missing. Two days ago, as we visiting our daughter, a body was found just off campus and identified as the missing young woman.  I will not pretend to be capable of comprehending the level of grief her family is now experiencing…

What I do know is that their grieving, like mine, is necessary

Grief, on all levels, is an acknowledgement. We are fragile creatures.  Without acknowledgment of the truth, the pronounced permanence and unpredictability of change, we cannot find the acceptance necessary to move on.  Grief simultaneously teaches us and puts us in our place.  The stages grow in us a steady, burning desire to continue to live, learn, love, and inspire.

When we’re on the outside of grief, watching another in pain, we want to make it better. We recognize pain is painful and our compassion wishes it away, especially when it’s someone we love.  We just want to make it all better, but we need to exercise patience and respect for the process and acknowledge it.  It’s important to remember that grief, sadness, and pain are necessary components to the human experience.

Nothing highlights great happiness as much as marked sadness. Never was one so overjoyed to come into the light, as one who has just emerged from the darkest forest floor.  The key to grief and sadness is maintaining, and promoting, hope.  Hope is the tiny light that beckons through the darkest hour, pointing us toward acceptance and beyond.

No matter the cause, we really shouldn’t seek to counsel those who are grieving. Grief is a natural process, like breathing, so let it be.  Grief shouldn’t be chastised simply because it makes us uncomfortable.  Instead, grief should find respect for its process.  It should be met with patient compassion and loving hopefulness for its promise to yield to brighter days  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://evolvingfaith.blogspot.com/p/grief-quotes.html*

Love Letter to the World (A Wish)…

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I love it when you smile… when you look upon others without judgment, with a kind heart…

And I love the look on your face when you receive kindness from others…
I love it when you make your children your #1 priority in life and the way they, in turn, make the world a better place for others, because of your efforts…
I love it when you’re not selfish; because you recognize that being self-absorbed means you fail to see the potential in others or contribute to anyone besides yourself…
I love when you give without expectation of reciprocity or praise…
I love when you consider the needs of others above your own feelings; because you understand your feelings aren’t always the most important thing in the world…you understand others have needs that may outweigh your feelings, feelings which may actually be very self-serving…
I love that you know happiness comes from the inside, not outside, so you don’t spend time forcing others to do things just to ‘make you happy’…
I love that you fulfill yourself and strive to be a better person, not just because it makes you better, but because you know you are contributing something positive to the world through your existence…
I love that you never hurt people, lie, or try to make others feel guilty…
I love when you choose to lift people up, rather than gossip or look down your nose at them…
I love how you always endeavor to find the good in things…
I love the way you support the goals of others, rather than tear them down, even when they don’t agree with what you think…
I love your humility, work ethic, and honesty…especially during tough situations…
I love your generosity of spirit and your humanity…
But most of all, I love the way you love me back 🙂

Fear SUCKS…

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If we sit around waiting for ‘others to change’ or ‘things to change’, or ‘a sign’, the end result will be inactivity and regret. This type of personal dialogue shares a single commonality, fear. And fear is the absolute opposite of faith.
Fear on its own is not always a bad thing. Some fear is even helpful, such as pulling your hand back from a hot stove or avoiding a suspicious looking snake. But more importantly, fears are learned behaviors. Likely, we learned not to touch a hot stove by being burned, or not to mess with snakes because someone taught us they were dangerous. Through our natural aversion to pain, we learn to avoid things that hurt us, as well as those we believe possess the potential to hurt us. This is a key point, because anything learned has the potential to be unlearned. It is important to consider this when examining the difference between fear and faith, in relationship to action.
If we are afraid to make a decision (to act), it is because we know we cannot predict its outcome or consequence. They are ‘unknowns’. Now consider for a moment that fear of an unknown is irrational, because it possesses equal potential for good and bad. Therefore, it is irrational to fear what is not known, because that fear stems from a fabricated rationale, the result of our own construction.
When we are presented with something we haven’t previously encountered, we draw conclusions through comparison. In the case of fear, we draw conclusions based on comparing unknown things to things we know to be harmful or potentially harmful, thereby allowing the unknown to be relabeled as ‘known’, or the irrational, as ‘rational’. By this process, we ‘know’ and we can realize the ‘benefits’ of rationalization to justify our fear and inaction, so we don’t have to risk the unknown… the gamble… which works great…until we begin to regret. Regret follows fear-based inaction, because fear prevents us from living fully by imprisoning and paralyzing us from accepting possibility, potential, and growth to enter our lives. Fear is stagnating…it is death. Faith, in contrast, is informed, but willing. Alive with potentiality that opens us to all possibility by denying fear the power to compel irrational, unfounded decisions.
Fearful living does not prevent bad things from happening to us. We cannot absolutely control, predict, manipulate, or will things into being. Unfortunately, we keep trying, because every now and then we have some success with the predictions, our manipulations. Those little ‘successes’ only serve to support our delusions and lend credence to our belief that our fears are warranted. This in turn, prompts us to apply them to every other situation causing a similar fear response.
The good news is as previously stated; learned can be unlearned. A propensity to fear is not easily conquered, but absolutely possible. Past does not have to dictate future. Let every new, unknown situation present itself as a challenge…a curiosity…a chance to choose faithfulness over fear 🙂

Time, Control and other Illusions…

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Change is a constant.  We know this to be true.  Seasons change and visible change takes place; things grow, mature, decline, die.  In light of this fact, we should question:  Can any of us predict the exact day a flower will bloom?  Do we know what will entangle the hours and minutes of our inevitable death?  Can we, in the conscience of all that is spontaneous, say we will recognize a life-changing event prior to its inception?  May we hope to unravel the complexities of connection, discourse, and influence in our own existence, and all those around us?

No…we can do none of these things…

Therefore, we are not in control.  We control ourselves, our emotions, responses, and perceptions but nothing else.  If I plant a flower, feed and water it exactly right, it still holds within it the potential to die.  Nature is uncontrolled and breathing and she does not yield to human will.  We can include human beings in the mix too, because we are of this world, this ‘nature’; unpredictable and wild, somewhat stable, but certain to change.

So why, without constants, do we still believe we exercise control over the uncontrollable?

We strive to control because we find the illusion of control comforting…our belief in the illusion makes us at least feel as though we are not given up to chance, and feelings, it seems, are quite important to our perceptions of order.  We function under a grand ideal; an ideal which preaches unequivocally that stability trumps change, order trumps chaos and preparation trumps surprise…

Yet, we yearn for all things spontaneous.  We fill our legends, music, and movies with it and we dream lofty dreams.  Silly really, since true spontaneity is literally defined by throwing oneself into the disordered, wildness of the universe with the sole purpose of experiencing the unplanned with a devil-may-care attitude.  True spontaneity is a rare thing, because the ideal prefers boundaries and borders to spontaneity.   Spontaneity must conform to the comfortable parameters set forth by our illusions.  Illusions which state we can somehow exercise a measure of control over our ‘spontaneous’ experiences, somehow making them ‘better’.

Because, of course, all we do not know makes us uncomfortable.  So what we do not know is unpredictable, and requires explanation and measurement to become comfortable, even if the measurement and explanation is illusion…

Take time for example…does time, as we understand it, actually exist?

What does time fundamentally mean to a newborn?  How does it matter to the deathbed?  And all the spaces between, which are filled, managed, scheduled, forgotten, procrastinated, or logged…what do they mean?  Is life merely a score sheet of timed tally marks in which we, as human beings, with our ‘mathematical concepts’ of time set out to measure and denote and catalog that which is, in reality, unpredictable and constant change?

It is uncomfortable to us to admit our lack of control.  We feel set adrift on a vast, dark ocean in a rowboat.  But our perceptions are the issue, not our lack of control.  If we could, in a moment, consider the marvelous nature of life; its progression, change, and interrelatedness with the rest of creation.

I’m not advocating the rejection of common sense.  I’m not advocating harmful recklessness.  Nor am I advocating that anyone should operate outside the rules of culture in which they live and make a living.  In other words, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but perhaps try in small steps to begin letting go of the illusions of control that bring a false sense of comfort within your own life.

I’m talking about the possibility and potential inherent in the moment.  I am talking about the release of the paradigm.  The confining paradigm that works against the notion that any given moment is beautiful in its own right, full of complex shifts between good and bad, the latter producing infinite benefits if one could only embrace the lesson.  I’m talking about approachability, sensibility, respect, and compassion.  So that every individual you meet and moment you experience is not merely factored, measured, and sized up, but rather embraced as the natural infusion of force in which we all play part.  Respect the journey, not for its measurability, but its immeasurable and untamed potentialities.  In this, the moments within the journey become recognized as awesome blessings  🙂

 

*image courtesy of:  http://www.cumberlandchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/control.gif *

Wearing Nothing but a Smile…

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Blog 10 ImageThere are times, especially when we’ve been hurt by another, when our hope in humanity seems a fruitless endeavor. ..

But there are other instances, those that renew our opinion of humanity, and they always manage to appear when we’re feeling let down, hurt, or hopeless…

Instances like May 1995…

This was the night I lost my driver’s license and ATM card.  I lost them in a restaurant.  The manager called me at home about an hour after I’d dined there to let me know he had them.  I drove (yes, without a license…) to the restaurant to retrieve my lost items, all the while wondering why someone had turned them in, as opposed to taking them.

The thought was due to the information I’d received from the manager.  You see, although my license had been found near the restaurant table I’d occupied, the ATM card had been found in the parking lot.  My response was immediate surprise that someone found my ATM card in the parking lot, bothered to walk back inside the restaurant, and took time to consult the manager about the situation, all on behalf of a person they didn’t even know.  I mean, they could have gotten a free Bahamas vacation or….something….right?

What a sad prospect…

With the constant barrage of worldwide media, we witness so much of the violence, pain, and senseless destruction people bring on others, we begin to believe the world must generally be that way; the summation equal to certain parts of the whole.

Take smiling for example…

I smile at everyone I pass.  Usually, I receive blank stares or odd looks, which feels pretty terrible after a while.  It’s not terrible because I’m not receiving a smile in return.  It’s terrible because the majority find it too bizarre to simply return a smile-for-a-smile without believing there are strings attached.  My grandma always told me, “smile, it confuses people,” and she couldn’t know how right she was.  Yet, out of 1000 people I might give a smile, 999 might look confused, but at least one will always smile back.  That one person makes it all worthwhile.  If nothing else, it proves there are other ‘smiling weirdoes’ like me out there 🙂

What I’m getting at is this:  We tend to label before knowing, judge without facts, and consistently fail to consider the math that states unequivocally, “there is just as much opportunity for good as there is for bad”.

So when I questioned the motives of the person who found and returned my ATM card, I failed to give a smile-for-a-smile.  I went against my broader belief that people are generally good at heart.  There is a lot of good in the world.

And to that wonderful ‘weirdo’ who returned my ATM card that night in May of 1995, I would like to say:  God bless, and may the next person you see, pass you with a smile…  🙂

 

*image courtesy of:  http://pernix.at/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/take-a-smile.jpg *