Clean Blue Air

Clean Blue Air

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

—Mary Oliver

Dream Work   (Atlantic Monthy Press, 1986)

The world offers itself to your imagination. Your place in it is not set in stone – nor is it something to dread or resign yourself to. There are challenges, yes. Despair is real and familiar to all. But the winter still comes each year, as does the spring, summer and fall. Every dew wet apple blossom, every garden plot filled with creeping flowers and weeds, each crimson leaf, each sparkle in a newly white morning – each nuance of creation offers up a sense of place and rhythm. Know that you have a place in that rhythm. Your own – and you are enough.

Living well through small steps.

Living well through small steps.

Do you live well?

It might take a moment to decide how to answer that.  Most of the time, I feel like I do live well.  For me, living well means finding a way to be true to the things that I value most: leading a life of simplicity, being satisfied with enough, embracing the natural world and empowering those whose paths intersect with my own.   It means being able to adapt to the misfortunes and troubles of a human life, living fully in each moment, and holding a sense of joy at my center.   Resiliency, along with a joyful presence, allows me to be fully alive, fully engaged in my every day, and fully able to be the person I am called to be.

Caring for myself, creation and others allows me to live as whole person – mind, body and spirit.  Wellness is multi-dimensional and requires alignment of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.  Finding our balance between these areas helps us to live fully: As a joyful, resilient people that can achieve wholeness in the midst of a sometimes broken world.

What is most important to you in regards to your wellbeing?  What might you need to do differently to keep working toward being your best self, full of joyful presence and living well?

The following questions can be helpful in figuring out a plan to move forward toward making optimal wellbeing a reality:

1)      What’s working now in my health and wellbeing?

It can be tempting to go straight to what feels wrong with your lifestyle, or what isn’t working right now.  As you begin thinking about what you might want to do differently, take some time to reflect on and acknowledge what you are doing well already.

2)      What’s my vision for change?  What is making change important?

Identify what is causing you to desire something different in the first place.  It is one thing to say, “I want to lose weight.”  It is another to say, “I am at a healthy weight and have a renewed sense of self, increased my energy and am able to participate fully in my life with confidence and ease.”  When you figure out what is making you want to do something differently, your choices are fueled by inspiration, and your intent becomes reality.

3)      What strengths can I bring to my change process?

Everyone has unique qualities and strengths – think about what you do well and what allows you to be successful.  Maybe you have a knack for remembering people’s names and thrive on challenges.  Maybe you are detail oriented and like structure.  Maybe you are an empathetic listener and need alone time to think.  Whatever makes you you is something that can be identified and drawn on to set the stage for success.  When you know what you do well, you have a foundation on which to build.

4)      What are my greatest challenges to changing, and how can I work around them?

Most of us have things that get in the way of moving forward with our desired changes.  Make a list of the challenges that might get in the way and identify possible ways to work around them.  There are no wrong or crazy ideas.

5)      What are my first priorities for change?

Figure out what needs to come first.   Maybe you want to lose weight to increase your energy, but you aren’t sleeping well at night and tend to stay up too late which makes choosing healthy food and getting any exercise that much more challenging.   Perhaps your first priority will be to avoid screen time after 9pm and spend your last waking hour in dim lighting, doing something peaceful to ensure a refreshing night’s rest.  Getting to the root issue is essential to lasting success.

6)      How ready, confident and committed am I to taking the first steps toward my vision?

Setting realistic goals and backing up those goals with firm commitment is a cornerstone of moving in the direction you wish to go.  Do whatever it takes to build confidence in yourself, even if it means starting with a 5 minute walk, once a week, or smiling at the person stuck in traffic next to you.  Every success has to start somewhere.

7)      What will I do this week?

It’s up to you.  No one else can decide what you need to live well, and no one can live for you.  What are you going to do for your precious self, as you awaken to your own abundance through taking small steps?

Remember that no success is too small to acknowledge and celebrate.  Joy is on your side, so you should be, too.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Embody Abundance

Embody Abundance

Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Embody abundance. I heard someone say those two words the other day. What does that mean, really? To truly embody abundance, do we need to have everything we want? Or can anyone who holds space for truth experience a way of being that is free of lack?

Maybe to embody abundance is to recognize the realness that underlies the illusory film that covers much of what we see in our day-to-day lives. Maybe abundance is always there, but we forget to see it.

In my day-to-day work, I usually get to practice from a home office. After moving 60 miles outside of the metro to a more rural area, I hardly ever go into the city anymore. I tend to like it that way, spending most days at home, either in a quiet space indoors or outside in the woods or garden.  When I do find myself navigating a more urban area, or even just venturing out of my familiar, natural spaces, my vision tends to get clouded with traffic, crowds, and consumerism.

When the clouds roll in, it is all too easy to forget the abundance that I am usually good at recognizing. Sometimes I forget to remember to see what I want to see.

What if I could remember to look past the traffic, past the crowds, and past the consumerism? I wonder what that view could be like. I imagine it might show me wildflowers in the freeway ditches, insistent at opening their petals to the sun, despite the concrete that mars their view.  It might show me a person, or two people, or a group of five, interacting with themselves, each other, and creation in a way that honors honesty and cooperation. It might show me vibrant new ideas that refuse to be pushed aside standing next to the whisper of peace that always keeps watch under the dull hum of advertising and shopping malls.

What if instead of seeing poverty, despair, pain, and cruelty in the world, we saw opportunities for growth, seeds of hope, room for healing, and the sharing of compassion? What if we could truly embody abundance in every thought?

Maybe it would make a difference in the reality that we live. Maybe—even when in unfamiliar, chaotic territory—if we look past the veils, under the illusions, and through the empty material desires of the current human experience, we will recognize everyday abundance in all things.  Perhaps then we can embody our abundance to experience and remember all that is, absent limits and free of lack.  Perhaps we can each take our life situation for what it is—a situation—instead of a sentence or definition; busy or not, and let it be a way for our being, our true self, to experience all that is worth experiencing.

Each life situation is a unique chance to embody the abundance that is already present. I can embody abundance. So can you. We just need to remember to do it.

So walk through a grove of aspen trees. Stand in a ray of sunlight in the middle of the city. Marvel at the way your physical body helps you carry out the mission of your soul. Focus. Spend time loving the present. Take some time off if serves you. Enjoy silence. Be loud when being loud helps.  Dance with your baby, talk to your neighbor, let the snow or rain melt into your skin, and see the art in the world. Look past the to-do list to what is. Find your abundance, and honor it.

This post first appeared at TinyBuddha.