Learn ...

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something.

That is the only thing that never fails.

You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies,

you may lie awake in the  middle of the night listening to the disorder of your veins,

you may miss your only love,

you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewer of baser minds.

There is only one thing for it then -- to learn.

Learn why the world wags and what wags it.

That is the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust,

and never dream of regretting."

(T.H. White, 1906-1964 - British Author)

What's one small risk?

A few more insightful questions that have prompted reflection lately:

1. What's one small example of how you have "customized" your life for the better?

(And, by "customized" I mean created unique rituals and habits that fit best with who you are and how you function)

2. What have your actions over the past year been saying about how you prioritize personal growth? What kind of silent progress (meaning you don't have to put everything on social media) would you like to make in your life by the end of 2019?

3. What's one distraction that has been getting the best of you lately? Why?

4. What truly DOES matter to you most right now?

5. What's one small risk you believe is worth taking in 2019? What's the first step?

Aren't these great?

I spent an hour with #5 this past week and it was both daunting and exciting. I gained new insight into some stirrings deep down in my soul about what's next for me.

The next time you go for a run, take a walk, or drive across town perhaps take one of these questions along for the ride ...

The next time you share a meal with your spouse or some good friends, consider asking one of these questions as a way to spark meaningful conversation ...

Maybe try one of them to start your next meeting at work ...

More to come.

And remember, all these questions come from - http://www.marcandangel.com/

 

Some journal prompts for the week ...

I have been doing some good journaling during this cold snap in the Midwest.

Here are a few prompts that have been so helpful to me:

1. What's one hard lesson you're grateful life taught you in the past year?

2. What's something you've moved on from that once meant the world to you? And, what's something you love today that you never knew you needed in your life?

3. What's one unchangeable reality you're still holding on to and resisting? What can you do right now to ease your mind into the acceptance of this reality?

4. Who would you be, and what else would you see about your present life situation, if you removed the thought that's been worrying you?

5. How has your daily environment been affecting you recently?

 

Such great food for thought. 

Often, I don't think I have an answer to the question. But the longer I sit and let my mind turn the prompt over and over, I find something pops into my head and as I write, I gain more and more insight into things inside my soul that need expression.

I have had some great realizations.

Some new ideas about how I'd like to make changes this year.

Some convicting insight into my behavior and habits.

More prompts soon!

All journal prompts from http://www.marcandangel.com/

No longer forward or behind ...

No longer forward or behind I look in hope or fear;


but, grateful, take the good I find, the best of now and here.


I break my pilgrim staff, I lay aside the toiling oar;


the angel sought so far away I welcome at my door.


For all the jarring notes of life seem blending in a psalm,


and all the angles of its strife slow rounding into calm.


And so the shadows fall apart, and so the west winds play,


and all the windows of my heart I open to the day.

(John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807 – 1892)

Among your duties ...

Down near the bottom of the crossed-out list


of things you have to do today,


between "green thread" and "broccoli," you find


that you have penciled "sunlight."


Resting on the page, the word is beautiful. It touches you


as if you had a friend and sunlight were a present


sent from someplace distant as this morning — to cheer you up,


and to remind you that, among your duties, pleasure is a thing


that also needs accomplishing.

(Tony Hoagland, 1953 – 2018)

Kneel and kiss the ground ...

Today like every other day we wake up empty

and frightened. Don't open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

(Rumi)

To lie fallow ...

"... and what came after that was fallowness - a season to rest and reset, to be replenished and renourished ... to hold space and emptiness and be still in the quiet of not being rushed."

********************************

Growing up in Iowa, I know that summer is the growing season. I see it all around me.

So it might seem weird to tell you that most summers I try as hard as I can to let my mind and soul lie fallow.

Fallow - like a piece of farmland plowed and dug up but left unsown for a period in order to restore its ability to grow an abundant crop.

I have to lie fallow.

I use my words the remaining months of the year: Reading, writing, thinking, drafting, editing, speaking, talking.

By the time June rolls around I feel like a wrung-out washcloth. Not one drop left in me.

And so I stop speaking.

At least I stop speaking for a living.

I write less in my journal and simply read.

I try not to teach classes, do weddings, take speaking engagements.

And - I have come to learn - I stop blogging.

I tried to write some blog posts this summer and just could not do it.

It's hard to explain. It just feels as if all my words are gone.

And so I have learned that if I let the "words" part of me lie fallow most summers, come fall a crop of words appear to grow as if by magic and off I can go again on my jolly way - teaching, preaching, writing, leading, talking - letting words tumble out of me with abandon.

A crop of words grown in the rich farmland of my life left to lie fallow for a season.

 

 

A rule for myself ...

I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future.

I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness,

and other things being equal,

I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.

I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through cold mud.

(Katherine Butler Hathaway, 1890 – 1942)

The beautiful tension ...

As I sat on my porch this morning after the flurry of a few days of travel,

this thought came to mind:

"I am practicing living in the beautiful tension of life's imperfections."

I am not great at this.

My tendency, my temptation is to try to fix it all.

It is hard for me to be still when all is not as it should be. Or rather, all is not as I think it should be. Important distinction there.

But what if "fixing it all" is a myth; a goal that is unattainable, unachievable?

What if most of life is simply about the practice of living in the beautiful tension of imperfection?