My hands, oh, marvelous hands They are more than an instrument For survival and instinct. They hold what is dear. Protect and grasp. They lovingly clasp hands Overlapping the fingers of another Like a zipper All knit and closed up. They carry more than their weight And sometimes I burden them as I try to hold more than is manageable. They are in tune with the seasons Even when my head and thoughts are not. They reflect time and age. There is no denying the changing Shape and texture over the years. They hold my pen and Create shapes that move Across the page. They allow me to type and Send my stories across The globe. And with a click of a button, My hands reach out to you. My hands, Just for today, I will appreciate all you do, Routinized and mechanical at times, Without much thought You are always there for me. So today, I celebrate and thank you.
I welcome my mortality. It’s scary to share with another Thoughts of the impermanence of life. Perhaps it is too morbid a subject for some And it can really darken another’s mood. Once you hit middle age You begin to realize Half of a lifetime May already have been lived. Maybe one day you notice It takes the body longer to recover than it used to. Like I can’t roller skate as fast as before And my balance is a bit off-kilter. If today was my last day to live How would I want it to go? What would make my final moments Have meaning? Would I feel I’ve lived a well-lived and well-loved life? Or would I deeply feel the shortness of life And the reality that there isn’t enough time To do “all the things;” That there was more in this lifetime for me to experience? Checking things off a list or a life of comparison, wanting what they have even if it doesn’t resonate with you, isn’t the point. Each day I try to embody that life truly is a gift. And I intend to bring that appreciation And gratitude into all my days While I get to roam this earth.
There’s so many facets to life More than the sum of its parts. I know I don’t want my vocation to be the only definition of my innate worth, of my contribution to the collective whole. The French refuse to be defined by their profession and I am inspired. But I can’t deny that what I do My job, my career has thrived and brought me riches, Internal and external rewards: Recognition Journeys Challenges Joy and pain. And I could never stand before you Here today without that vocation. I possess a rare skillset And I am proud for all of my accomplishments. Even now as guardian of the record, As the silent witness As laws in the books are test driven in daily life. To be front and center of someone retelling their darkest hour, their fears replayed. And I am honored to be Entrusted. It is a gift. Or in my previous career, To help someone who cannot hear take an active role and participate And even the playing field. My skills cannot be underestimated. Am I fulfilled? Yes. Do I wish for things to be different? At times, of course, I do. The many facets of my life do not revolve on my ability to bring home a paycheck. Although, with utmost gratitude, I must recognize that my current position has given me a routine, a steady schedule with space to reflect and create these words to you.
The Cycle of Lack was a huge discovery and life lesson for me. It was the end of 2017 And it was the start of My growth and Feeling mastery in my maturity. I was no longer to blame or at fault for my sense of lack. Is it outside voices, ideals, projected lives Or circumstance that Makes me feel unfulfilled? Always grasping for more Feeling left out, left behind Feeling like I'm missing out And everyone else has their shit together? The grass is always greener over there And I’m stuck over here. It can feel hopeless. I may feel helpless and stuck. It’s hard to find motivation Let alone the momentum Required to create Positive change. When I take a breath, I can step outside of the Hamster wheel of Hurry and challenge And create space, A pause to examine The reverie of lack And ask: What would be enough? What am I craving In this moment? Is it love, companionship or Connection? Am I lonely? Do I crave alone time Or solitude? Do I feel like I’m being pulled In a million directions? Can I be kind to myself And notice one good thing That is going right? I created the cycle of lack in 2017, But it took four years to Find my way out of the center and learn that The magic of reframing lack to one of appreciation Can break the cycle. Will those thoughts creep up again? Of course. Life is full of its ups and downs. It may feel like there’s shortages In supply and energy. I know I can rest. And I can feel gratitude In what is enough Just right now Is all I need to break the cycle.
This one precious life. How fragile it is. Strung by a thread into the vastness of eternity. The oneness of all beings on their own threaded life. Who created the thread? Who laid out the journey before I came to be? The vastness of potential of choices made to make me Me. Who I am today Whole, full of light and feeling grateful. This thread we weave and walk upon. It has been tested with unavoidable change, growth and setbacks and lessons learned. My one precious life. I do not know what lies ahead. At times, I feel this journey is mine alone And even though with a future unknown, I can be supported and held as I travel on and begin another lap around the sun.
The blackberries the quintessential fruit of summer. On the brink of harvest in the heat of morning sun. They sit patiently an offering. Do I accept the invitation? There is nothing like fresh fruit the burst of flavor on my tongue. The dark stained hands from the fleshy bells. On my chin and darkened my tongue. The fruit is not forbidden or only for the chosen few. Only to those who happen to look up at the sky and notice that there’s more than meets the ordinary eye. There is some effort. I must confess. Before you can savor the reward of your labors. It takes the body to the edge just beyond reach. With added vigor and strength, I can reach what I desire. It is now in my grasp and my body relaxes and breathes. Sighing as I place the dark bell into my mouth. Yes, I’ll save some for later and share the bounty. But right now this is just for me. This moment. This effort. This delicious reverie is mine to savor. So I do. Not caught up in agendas, past stories or future thinking. Just the blackberries The offering and Me the willing recipient. And I am filled with awe and gratitude for the fresh delectable flesh. Just mine. All mine. I touch the tree’s bark and look up in the branches. There is more than enough for everyone. For the birds, the insects, the squirrels and me. All sharing a Thanksgiving feast. The tree accepts all and turns away none. Is generous and sharing to all who visit her and enjoying her gift in her presence is the true gift.
When I am still and quiet my mind, I take a look up at the grand sky. If there are clouds they often take shape in my mind’s eye. There is a dragon with its pointed tail and craned long neck. There is a bird with wings that seem to engulf and span across the whole sky above me. I feel so little like I’m a worm in the earth about to be gobbled up as prey. Then I see sea creatures. Mermaids dancing with their magical tails as fish clamber around to find their own space. I breathe deep. I try to share what I see. My favorite times are when my mind is busy and away with thoughts and then I catch just a glimpse of the sky and the cloud is shaped like a heart. Finding hearts randomly around nature is my symbol. I’m always grateful of the reminder that I am love and loved whether it’s the cloud up above like a large heartbeat in the sky or the dried up and grayed gum on the sidewalk that shares a similar shape or the lotion just pumped onto my palm. And the heart makes me smile and pause for just a brief moment. That’s all it takes really. Though the clouds and heart shapes may disappear, the image is contained in my mind and my heart. I am grateful. Alive. I am not so small. When I am present with the sky or the sidewalk, I am in awe and connected to the universal magic that is always surrounding us.
In winter sunrises always take my breath away. A return to the light. In summer it’s the opposite. We are surrounded by light. The humid sticky air combined with the sun does not provide reprieve. We all walk, jog, bike, scoot, drive or wait for the bus under its unrelenting rays. How quick we get accustomed to complaining. Too much sun. But then after a few stretch of rainy days, we once again greet the sun almost like a stranger staring into our eyes. No escape. We love it. We miss it. We wish for shelter away from it. Each day, regardless of where we are and how our life is shaping that day, the sun appears. Our very lives depend on it.
The water needs to be evaporated so that the clouds can form. It’s a cycle and it never complains or takes a day off. The stained paint on the gate dries and fades over the years. The gate would rust and fall off its hinges from weather and wear. Yet the sun shines on. The lettuce, the soy, the garbanzo and pea, the wheat that forms my sandwich once stood open wide under the sun. It sustains us all and I am forever grateful.
The sheet is spread across the warm grass. Little ants climb on to see what’s for dinner. I find a shady spot but I’m never too far from the glorious sun.
If I only had five years to live:
I would let the small things go: That argument with my husband; that misunderstanding that eats at me when I get quiet; that car that almost rear-ended me as they sped through the yield sign. It doesn’t matter. The annoying sound that usually puts me in a tailspin when I’m trying to focus. I will let it go. It won’t become an ingrained memory that I look back on. It’s not a part of my legacy.
My mind and energy deserve more than this. If this is all I got, then I’m making the most of it. I would cherish and savor all the moments. I would linger a little longer outdoors no matter the season to slow down and touch the ever-changing ground as it goes through its seasonal cycle. I wouldn’t hurry and live in my mind of to-dos and being driven by tasks and lists, which leads to a hurried, stressed out, overwhelmed, rushed, fatigued day that beads into weeks and a lifetime.
I will seek out to experience life to the fullest for each day is truly a gift. I will be grateful for my loves and my life lessons. My time will not be squandered. Do I want to travel while I still can? Do I want to get caught up on what matters most? Conversations with my friends. Walks with Jeff. Coffee dates. An easy morning to set me up for an easy life.
In the end I know it will feel brief. I will wish I had more time. But ultimately I will feel fulfilled and that I had a life worth living. That I sought out my own happiness and didn’t get caught up in dread, fear, worry, or future tripping.
The future is uncertain. We do not have a timeline or our lifeline set in stone or guarantees of when and how it will end. We just have today and our breath and our hearts to beat. I will be here taking stock, creating memories for my loved ones, feeling that my time and energy is focused on what truly matters to me. At least with this choice, I will feel whole and complete.
I want to thank my husband for challenging me to think and blog about this topic. His blog is here: https://amorereasonablemind.wordpress.com/ If you were told you only had five years to live, how would you choose to spend your days?
I love to borrow books from the library: ones that inspire me to keep on learning; that expose me to new authors, and I love to try new recipes from the many vegan cookbooks available to borrow. There’s a recommendation bookshelf at our local library that I like to check out. That’s where I found Gabriel Bernstein’s “May Cause Miracles,” Austin Kleon’s “How to Steal Like an Artist,” and Carrie Bloomston’s “The Little Spark.” Now I follow Gabriel Bernstein’s work and have bought most of her books. I even attended a workshop she led earlier this year.
Last week I found “We: A Manifesto For Women Everywhere” by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel. The inside jacket read, “How much more effective and powerful would we all be if we replaced comparison with collaboration, cooperation and compassion?” I was intrigued. There are four essential practices that lay as a foundation for the nine principles in the book.
I am starting to incorporate the essential practices into my daily life: gratitude, gentleness, responsibility, and meditation. I acknowledge that I’m just starting. Doing the practices with perfection is not possible or attainable. Perfectionism has been a roadblock of resistance for me. I get so enthusiastic when I find a new book and gung-ho to follow the program. And then I get sidetracked and that energy fizzles. Or I absolutely love the library book, but once I actually purchase it, the interest has waned. I believe there’s magic in holding a hard-cover book. If I buy the soft-cover version, I instinctively know that there’s something missing. Maybe it’s the texture of the pages or the weight of the book. For example, in Dani Shapiro’s “Still Writing,” the book had thick paper with rough edges. It had an earthy feel to it. When I bought the paperback, it felt neutered and too perfectly smooth. I was disappointed and couldn’t continue where I left off from the library one. I seriously want to replace it with the original hard cover.
But I don’t feel that “We” is a program with concrete steps and rules. A manifesto is a declaration. And the principles are the guideposts. Although the nine principles should be done in order, it feels fluid and organic. I can approach each one on my own terms. There’s no set deadline or sense of urgency.
To help me incorporate the practices, I created a summary for ease of reference, so I don’t have to flip through the book for the main points. Although it seems like a lot to tackle, and I’m feeling a sense of overwhelm, I equally feel the desire, the necessity, and power and potential for change that is needed in today’s world. To start, I have decided to focus on one essential practice a week, while incorporating the ones before it. Then I feel I can move through the principles authentically.
This week I’m focusing on gratitude. I pasted the summary I created from the book below:
“When we focus on gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristin Armstrong, Olympic gold medal cyclist
(Keep a small notebook or space in your journal for your gratitude list. Use it as a spiritual remedy to either kick-start your day or get a restful night’s sleep. And you can always refer to it halfway through your day if you need an instant hit of positivity)
- Write down ten things in your life right now that you’re grateful for (find at least one thing you’re grateful to your body for)
- Read it back to yourself aloud and say, “Thank you for …..” to each item on the list.
Action: Today I will notice all the nice things that happen, and I will say thank you. (Find ways to say thank you to your body through your actions)
Affirmation: I am lucky, and I am blessed. My life is full of wonder.
I would love to meet up and chat with other women as they are working through the book. I am going to blog my progress in a later post to check in. My hope is to inspire other women to join me as we “replace unhealthful habits with a more positive, peaceful, and rewarding way of living.”
Will you join me on this journey?