Sunday, January 31, 2016

today is the day

Last week my grandson, Caleb, forgot his limitations and took his first two tiny steps without holding on.

I'm not sure what scared him--the fact that he forgot to hold on, or the wild cheering that greeted it--but he promptly dropped to the floor and stayed there. He was content to crawl around and cruise in safety, holding on wherever he went.

Until today. 

Today, in the middle of sign language class (No, he isn't deaf. Doesn't everyone sign?) without a second thought, he stood up and took four bold steps in front of everyone. 

Walking is one of those things you're either ready to do, or you're just not. It happens one day when the people around you least expect it. But oh, the excitement! Oh, the celebration!

This, I believe, is how we should greet all fledglings--all beginning writers, artists, musicians, performers, and toddlers with their first faltering efforts. They deserve deafening applause and lavish encouragement. 

I mean, it takes courage to put that first piece out there for people to read, whether it's a story or a poem or an essay. It takes pluck to step onto the stage, to hang your first painting, or to belt out a new song. It takes time and practice to get good at it. 

We should be like babies who are learning to walk. They never give up because it's important to them and it's fun! So every last one of them of them is successful. 

Forget limitations. Caleb's first steps might someday take him to the World Cup. Your first novel could be the next best-seller. Your song might just top off the charts. Your debut could earn you rave reviews.

Don't be afraid to take the first step. Get yourself a nice sharp pencil and some clean white paper, and start writing. Take out a plain blank canvas and some paints, and get started. Sing in the shower. Dance in the street. Tell yourself you're ready. This is the day.

"A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step."
~Lao Tzu~

Where will your journey take you? What are you waiting for?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

life at the threshold

Let's say you're barreling along on your novel...or putting the finishing touches on your painting...or practicing a new piece on the piano when the doorbell rings. Someone has come to visit, or to sell something, or to win your soul over to the Lord.

As an artist, you embrace solitude but, because you're such a friendly person at heart, you set your work aside and open the door. Without warning, a powerful gust of wind carries you out into the world--across the fields, over the rolling hills, and into a shifting mist.

The wind dies down and deposits you in an unfamiliar land. No, it isn't the Land of OZ. Someone, somewhere needs your help. They've fallen through the ice, or they're stuck in the mud, or they've lost their way. You do what you can to help. You throw them a lifeline, or look for a shovel, or jot down directions for them. Whatever they need.

By the time you find your way back to your desk, or your studio, or the keyboard, you've lost a whole day. Maybe several days. Your thought process has been interrupted, or your paints have started to dry out, or you can't seem to pick up the melody again.

This is what happened to me last week. I received a late night text from a friend, and spent the next four days with her at her mother's bedside where we wrestled with the end of life decisions no one is ever prepared to make. Then we waited to see if God and the universe approved our plan.

As it turned out, they were both cheering for us.

The vicissitudes of life can sometimes carry us away. They can make it hard for us to pick up the creative thread again. They can saddle us with added worry, or sadness, or disappointment. The thing is...they are part of the creative thread of life itself. As we head back to our desks or studios or workshops, we gather up the tattered scraps of our lives, the faded remnants of sorrow, and the ragged snippets of despair. Then we pick up our thread, and we more or less patch them all together again.

Quote: A single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing.

After a couple of days, my friend's mother went home to the comfort of her own bed, where she was attended by gentle, caring souls right up until the moment she crossed the threshold.

Ram Dass was correct when he said,

"We're all just walking each other home."

...even though we may, sometimes, feel lost.


Monday, January 4, 2016

how to proceed in 2016

It's natural to think of the New Year as a time to begin something new, or to begin all over again if your plans for last year fizzled out. For instance, this might be the year you take up painting, or adopt a needy dog, or begin a dedicated meditation practice. Or, you might want to make another attempt at something you started last year that didn't work out for you--the diet, the budget, the job search.

Make custom picture quote about motivational - You must do the thing you think you cannot do

Going forward in 2016, are you optimistic or pessimistic? Will it be a better year for you, or does the year ahead look bleak? Perhaps, it's a little bit of both.

Frankly, I am not optimistic about certain issues. I seriously doubt we will witness an end to corporate greed...the kind that adversely affects our economy (including my personal IRA and yours), that perpetuates poverty and world hunger, that infects the health care industry, and ravages the environment.

I am cautiously optimistic, however, that the kindness, integrity, and perseverance of good people will be enough to keep Mother Earth in her preferred orbit for another year. That the unassuming compassion and decency of ordinary human beings will be enough to ease someone's suffering. Perhaps to save someone's life.

Loborsoit, Tanzania 2014

And, I am boldly optimistic...hopeful, at least...that this will be a year of mindfulness for me. That I will find my elusive voice and get it onto the page. That someone will be happier, or gentler, or wiser because of it.

What do you hope for in 2016? How will you make it happen? How will you begin?

~author unknown~

Ready? Set? Go!