The Surprising Thing You Have to Be Grateful For

{Etsy poster by LotusLeafCreations}

{Etsy poster by LotusLeafCreations}

At any given moment these days, you’d hear a shriek, a shrill, a scream at my house. The 3 S’s every parent’s familiar with. But one day when the bean’s all grown up, I’ll miss those sounds.

It’s just one thing we often take for granted.

This past weekend, we had family over. Instead of white noise or “pink” noise, I’d say we had yellow noise. The happy sounds of laughter, sighing, and chatting-the background noise of loved ones all around. It’s what we take for granted. But it’s what those who are alone, crave most.

But it’s also the quiet that enthralls me. I’m not talking of the silence, which is absence of sound. But the stillness that accompanies trips in the forest or weekends spent in the country. It’s a sound so deafening it burns your ears until you get used to it.

It’s not a dream job, nor a fairytale romance. But it’s the seemingly insignificant moments that we most miss when  gone.

While you’re awaiting something grand to be grateful for, take a pause today and see if you can appreciate the absence and the chaotic symphony that fills your life.

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Finding Your Way

Life begins when you accept who you are
Bumps and lumps and all

When where you are isn’t where you would have chosen
Nor is it where you might expect to be

But in that puddle you splash and observe
You see WONDER where a mess could be

Because deep down low or way high above
Is a bigger picture of patience, faith, courage and most of all

love

And you’ll get there soon

just where you’ve been dreaming of:

By finding the flower amongst the weeds

Riding the wave
Not fighting the sea

Embracing the moment

Choosing joy, HoPe and love

And someday soon, when the toughest of the storms

recedes into the past,

(and it shall pass)

you’ll m-a-r-v-e-l at how far you’ve come.

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Being Grateful Regardless of Your Circumstance

Today is my birthday. Usually when it comes around to the day, I’m worrying and anxious about what I’ll do. How will I make it PERFECT? Who will remember? How will I spend it? Or I’ll grieve over another year lost. How much time has passed. How I haven’t yet accomplished all the things I wanted to do by this age.

But today I say, “To hell with that.”

Life is a privilege, not our right.

I’m grateful today that I made it to this age. I’m grateful for the heartbreak I experienced and the hope. I’m appreciative of both the love I lost and the ones that I’ve gained.

I can look at all the things I haven’t yet accomplished and all the reasons why I should mourn this year or I can stand in the light of love and see all the beauty I’ve been given. And I can be grateful. So I chose that. And so I am.

When you look at your own life, do you see the cracks in the concrete as well as the flowers making its way through them? How often do you say, “Thank you” for my life instead of resentful for the life you don’t have?

My birthday wish is that we all learn to stop standing in the way of our own happiness and allow the love and beauty to flow through.

Will you choose it for you?

{Taken in an art gallery in Kapaa, Kauai. The reflection inside of the photograph makes its own art.}

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How Much of an Impact Do You Really Have in the World?

Your True Purpose

There will come a time when you doubt your influence and significance in life. Maybe in your twenties you thought you were invincible and believed that you had the power to change the world.

In your thirties, your dreams began to shift a bit. You scaled them down as other things and people took priority.

Somewhere along the way you began to lose sight of your dreams. You now worry that you may never fulfill your purpose. And that regardless of any fame or recognition you’ve gotten over the life of your career, the most important thing is having a sense of purpose and meaning. But you’re not even sure you managed to do that.

Here’s what I think. I think you deserve a pass. Just for today, consider the impact you have by just being here.

Don’t believe me?

Ask your kids, your friends, your partner, what you do for them that makes them happy and what they love most about you. It won’t be your job promotion, your book hitting the best seller list or anything else you think you need to have in order to have a meaningful life.

My grandfather, for example, had one of the biggest influence on my life. Not because he worked three jobs on the plantation to support his family. In fact, on paper he didn’t do anything grand or momentous except for the fact that he loved his family and he loved me. He had a very simple, ordinary life.

Sometimes we get too hard on ourselves for not “making it in life.” We’re not all meant to be millionaires, best-selling authors, and spiritual gurus. What we are meant to do is to truly be who we are.

Just by the act of being authentic we free ourselves and others to be the loving, influential beings we are all meant to be.

For today, try learning to wear a garment of gratitude instead of hard cold armor. Try it and in doing so, watch as the meaning, and influence you’ve always wanted doesn’t just flow into your life effortlessly.

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where inspiration began…

{photo by kevin dean via flickr}

when i was a tad-bit of a person. just a pint-sized version of me. i used to walk up green stairs on creaky dusty carpeted floors and watch the soft seconds fall beneath me. i heard the ringing of the grandfather clock. waited for the wooden chick to pop out of his home and then went on with the exploration.

i walked in to say, “hi!” to my great grandma rocking on her old musty chair, black-rimmed glasses, thin, bony, wrinkled and yet so full of love SO in need of it. i felt the wave of loneliness as much as the old carpet beneath my feet.

{by aaron.bihari via flickr}

but i was most anxious to explore the bookcase. the one filled with anything, but books. Japanese teapots, melded metal, grooves and impressions. i traced my fingers over to feel each of them, carrying dust and cobwebs wherever my fingers went. i lingered there. idling my childhood hours away, i held each ever so carefully-the old heavy metal trays, the worn cups, the dusty fake fruit. they were fascinating. they were the magical world hidden in an otherwise lonely too quiet home.

i would take each with great grandma’s curious eyes watching. would i like to eat croutons instead? “you know how much you like those croutons? or how about sweet jellies? i bought you a bag of fruit ones.”

“no, great grandma.” just these. these are the treasures i’d like to play with.

some days would be spent playing in the back room. old pocket doors pulled open a

{by teresia via flickr}

hideaway room. she bought me a doll with weird eyes that moved up and down when you rocked her and a box of beautiful silky scarves. scarves that were blankets, and skirts and fancy blouses in my imagination. suddenly the silence was filled with footsteps on wooden floors and a tiny girl’s voice filled with excitement and anticipation.

it was my own little world and i created it. a bubble of a world where life was as exciting as i made it. it’s where the desire for inspiration began. a passion for finding the treasures in never touched adult fragiles displayed on bookshelves just short enough for me to reach them.

when i was tired i would say, “thank you great grandma.”

“you don’t want to stay,” she’d say. a statement rather than a question. a sadness rather than a request.

“no, going to go downstairs now.”

“okay,” she’d say.

i closed the door softly to somehow ease the deep wells of loneliness from the quiet that would return. i looked at her through the space between the closing door. black rimmed glasses, rocking on that musty chair. a need for love and a sense of loneliness.

through layers of sadness grew a passion of purpose.

no more old rocking chair. no more dusty dishes. no more great grandma.

but haunting memories of hope, loneliness, and love sit inspiring beauty, truth, expression and this post.

thank you great grandma…

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Having an Attitude of Gratitude

{From classy-in-the-city.tumblr.com}

 

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”

–The Hausa of Nigeria

 

It’s easy to get cynical with life the older you get. A friend once said, “Growing older means accepting that less and less of your dreams are going to come true.”

You can look at it that way or you can see it as age forcing you to pump out your dreams faster.

Your dreams were never really an impossibility. Obstacles are just teachers in disguise.

The truth of the matter is the greater you perceive that challenge up ahead, the harder it will be. And the greatest detriment to getting there is your attitude.

As the bounty of summer gives way to the pause of winter, it’s a wonderful time to reflect on the changes in your life. You can choose to live in regret or you can be open to the storage of goods you have available at all seasons of your life.

Don’t have your dream job yet?

Find gratitude in the one that you have right now.

Don’t have your dream home yet?

Be grateful for the roof over your head.

Not where you want to be when it comes to friendships, career, love life, health, environment, etc.?

It’s only through completely accepting our experience {regardless of how much we want to avoid it} that we can finally find the open door.

The biggest detractor from our dreams is trying to cover up how we really feel to make the unpleasantness fade away. The problem is it never does. The days just get longer, the discomfort just gets greater, the darkness seeps into the cracks when we turn the other way.

To find the life that you want, you must first acknowledged the things that aren’t working, feel it, embrace it, and accept it.

Then, look for the streams of light in the areas of your life that are working and hold on to those.

To move forward, to follow your dreams, to live the life you have been dreaming about, you need to feel it all, and then come back to this:

gratitude

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When Your Best Is Not Enough

I was suffering from “not enough-itis” just last week. In case you’ve never heard of it, here’s my own definition.

Not Enough-Itis: An insidious disease that can damage your health, your relationships and your self-worth. It’s what happens when you compare yourself with others and in comparison, nothing you do is enough.

I’m not even a parent so I can’t imagine how much worse the disease gets when you have kids too. Fetchingly, Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie I Don’t Know How She Does It is out in theaters as a preview to that life. I haven’t watched it yet. But I get the premise. The pressure for mothers trying to juggle everything perfectly, but never successfully.

Sadly, this is where we’re at as a society these days.

We’re moving away from “just enough” to “gotta do it all.”

I’ve never been one to embrace a fad, but this one somehow wormed its way into my psyche. That’s what happens when you spend too much time online and watching TV. Everyone else’s life looks perfect and yours always seems to be slipping through the cracks.

I’m pretty honest about my faults and my imperfections. Call it the gift that being an awkward teenager gave to me or growing up as a rebel where pretending to be perfect was the ideal. But who am I kidding? Isn’t this the life we all live these days?

As for me, I healed this insatiable disease by taking a much-needed break away, faraway from looming deadlines and impossible to fill pressures. I escaped into a little Snow White and the Seven Dwarves cottage in a not just inspiring, but awe-inspiring forest all the way in Mendocino.

I fell in love. I remembered who I was separate from what I did. I remembered to breathe. I remembered what it felt like to have a “home,” a real place where you can softly land after a stressful day.

My body felt healthy. I suddenly felt like I had been holding my breath for far too long. Nature felt like it was embracing me and it wouldn’t let me fall.

My inspiration returned.

My writing flowed.

If I could wrap up that place in a snow globe, I would. I’d take it out and shake it and feel the fresh air blowing my hair in my face and the healing sound of complete silence.

It reminded me that not enough-itis was the fairy tale. Not this place. This place was the truth. This is what I needed to take me out of the “I can’t tweet/blog/Facebook/comment on every single person’s inspiring blog” to save my life. But that’s okay. All I needed was to do what I was doing. Focus like a dog zooms in on his bone, with mindful attention and purpose. And never mind the distractions, the people doing this or that, the distance still not traveled.

It will be there tomorrow. But today. Today is for living and dreaming…

For more photos, check out my Etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheInspiringBee

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