A life lesson...from my dog.
This is my dog Zoey. She is a rescue...deaf- dicey vision at best...
She was beaten with sticks (which I found out by walking her on the beach,
picking up a piece of driftwood and having her escape out of a harness in fear)-
chases cars and reflections...
And, I believe she may have been tethered, because she still will eat things that would
poison any other creature, but if she finds it first,
it's impossible to get it out of her mouth.
Zoey steals my socks if they drop out of the dryer,
swipes my dishtowel if I leave it on the sink...pulls the towels out of the basket in my bath...
And, if I'm on the phone,
she takes her bed cover, drags it into the living room and chews on it until I come.
We take long walks together almost every day-
And, she sleeps at the foot of my desk and next to my bed.
Lately my schedule has been rather hectic.
However, she falls sweetly into the rhythm of life's changes with me-
whether it's the hurricane, a move, or being gone most of the day for appointments and work.
I can leave her for hours and she will just curl up and snore in bliss.
Yesterday was my day off. I had a barre class, an appointment, errands...
I left at 8:30, was home by 3- ate, walked her and had to leave again.
I got home at 10. I took her out to pee, gave her a treat and put her back to bed.
She started to fake bark (to talk to me), and then real bark (which she never does).
I got up- thought she might be thirsty or have to go outside again-nothing.
I sat on the floor, and signed for her to come to me.
She started to play (which in an apartment is not a good thing at 10:30).
I opened my arms again and she came to me.
She literally nestled her head in between my shoulder and face, and as I embraced her,
I rubbed her body up and down, while she moaned in a sigh of contentment-
the same way I do when my body is sore and I get a good massage.
We did this for a few minutes- literally hugging one another.
Then I gave her a treat, put her back to bed and she went right to sleep.
I crawled back into bed with the insight that just because we are in the same space and sharing
the same walk doesn't mean that she doesn't need to be pet, stroked, held, touched.
I reflected on a time down south when my dear friend's husband used
to cross the lawn at church to give me a hug.
She would stand next to him with a big smile on her face as I hugged back.
One day I told them how amazing that hug was to receive.
Because no matter how social I am or how many people I love or who loves me-
living alone meant that some weeks, that was the only hug I'd received.
It was such a gift. It was as if God whispered in their ear.
It continues to amaze me how this dog named Zoey that I rescued from
the shelter- rescues me in so many ways.
Today, another reminder...another lesson that I do not take for granted.
The Fisherman & The Businessman
A Classic Brazilian Story as shared by Paulo Coelho
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
He saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore
having caught quite a few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, "How long does it take you to catch so many fish?"
The fisherman replied, "Oh, just a short while."
"Then why don't you stay longer at sea and catch even more?", the business man asked, astonished.
"This is enough to feed my whole family", the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, "So what do you do for the rest of the day?"
The fisherman replied, "Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea, catch a few fish,
then go back and play with my kids.
In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife. And, when evening comes,
I join my buddies in the village for a drink. We play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night."
The business man offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
"I have a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person.
From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible.
When you have saved enough money, you can buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish.
Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company,
your own production plant for canned food, and a distribution network.
By then, you will have moved out of this village to Sao Paulo,
where you can set up a HQ to manage your other branches.”.
When the timing is right,
you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange. You will be rich."
The fisherman asks... "And then, after that?"...
The businessman says, "After that, you can finally retire, move to a house by the fishing village,
wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with the kids,
and have a nice afternoon nap with your wife.
When evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink- play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!"
The fisherman puzzled...asked "Isn't that what I am doing now?"....
I recently received an order from Amazon. And, I noticed something different.
Two vendors enclosed small notes.
These kind notes represent something that has been seemingly lost
in the fast moving, computerized, impersonal space we often live and do business in today.
Customer Service. Gratitude for business. Understanding opinion matters.
It was in fact one January years ago, when I made a New Year's Resolution to do business
only with companies that made me feel appreciated as a customer.
Discover and American Express were at the top of the list.
My credit union would be another- and so on.
It made a huge difference in my life,
and gave me a voice.
The Kombucha I drink daily, posts words of enlightenment shared by customers,
and a personal message from the founder who is proud to have his name on each bottle.
I am happy to give him my business.
Today's notes from Amazon vendors included the words
"Thank you...your purchase made my day"..."I hope this package brightens yours".
The fact remains that it does!
These small notes and words of human spirit between us, do make my day-
especially as I balance energy against hold times, computerized voices and lack of customer care.
These notes also invited me to call if there is a problem with their product.
(Aha...finally businesses have figured out that it is the powerlessness of unheard customers
that leads to retribution via negative review posting online).
Slowly there are signs of old-fashioned tried and true practices of kindness and human interaction.
These vendors stand apart and bring balance to a system that is failing.
Amen in 2020 to small companies (and large) who remember that
customer service is the pinnacle of true success.
I shall choose to do business with you.
Years ago I created a board for one of my photography exhibits stating my truth as an introvert:
"I am loneliest in a room full of people".
It is still true today.
However, if you stretch the boundaries of that room out into life- I am not. I am the opposite.
My exhibits were photo-journalistic in nature, and largely built upon the premise that we never know who may live among us- what someone's story is.
We assume there may or may not be any crossovers in our interests, our mindset, the lives we lead.
To open up to the idea that sharing in small pieces, is to live in the present and slow down.
This summer while I was on a bike ride, I saw a woman sitting at the edge of her driveway.
She waved at me and said "I sure would love to visit".
I turned around- (in part because I was worried about her, and in part because I was fascinated).
She is 92- appears ten years younger. She has blonde-grey hair, bright blue eyes, beautiful, taut skin
and rosy cheeks. She is articulate and spirited.
Her husband passed away a few years ago and while both her daughters live locally,
they are busy during the day and she is bored because she can no longer drive.
What I learn from her and am reminded of each time we talk is...
How beautiful it is that she will go out of her way to get her social needs met- and how it actually works.
How fear is not a part of her experience.
How alive, spirited and strong she is, still-
How much she loved her life and her husband...
And, how inspired I am to live life this fully every day.
I write this blog today, because I was reminded again-
when I met three different people while out running errands.
They struck up a conversation in passing- for seemingly insignificant reasons.
But, our exchanges touched each of us in some way.
A woman in a hot pink wool coat, with a Nike cap and Prius, asking about my recycled bags turned into a conversation about Florida, Chicago and the Museum of Art.
We are all so busy- leaving ourselves open to these conversations can seem like a waste of precious time.
But, we never know what they will share that can shift our perceptions, our day, our lives-
It is a moment of divine opportunity.
Next time someone passes you- dare to believe you each have a gift to share with the other.
Even if it's just a smile...and positive energy.
I recently had the privilege of attending this amazing conference.
It was one of the most powerful things I've ever experienced.
It seems that in many ways, we find ourselves "afraid".
We often assume that someone we know has no fear-
Or, not the kind that occasionally or regularly
causes us to question ourselves, and our lives.
As I work with clients, one of the things that continues to amaze me,
is that fear is an "everyone" challenge.
It is what stands in the way of true freedom-
and, it is a reality of being human.
It isn't something we simply rid ourselves of-
it is something to remind ourselves not to give power to...
and, to move beyond.
The day before this conference, I had fear in my heart- in my body-
Fear that was triggered inside of a situation that caused me to question myself,
my passion, my direction- all the things I am most sure of when I'm not in that state of mind.
I prayed deeply that morning- I was in tears- humbling myself for the clarity and strength
to embrace all that I'd trusted just 24 hours earlier.
At times I have heard God's voice so clearly- and in that, been able to hear and trust my own.
But, on this particular day, He would speak to me in a way that was nothing short of miraculous.
I'd decided not to cycle that day, but instead, take a long walk in the woods and by a small lake.
As I left on the trail, I questioned whether or not I needed pure silence, or... inspiration.
I looked at my Youtube playlist.
The very first one, was a famous life coach (Rich Litvin) that I deeply respect and admire.
I felt compelled to listen.
As I began to hear his conversation with another consultant/coach-
it was the exact topic in my own heart. It was as if I was sitting in that chair.
The words that he had for this conflicted consultant/coach were the words I'd told myself
and believed just the day before.
My body immediately felt light-my heart opened, my spirit felt alive with this clarity-
The magic of divine intervention- never to be underestimated.
The unexpected affirmation was as if God was reminding me-
You are not alone;
follow your heart...
trust your inner voice;
Do not give your power away.
This, I believe is an empirical truth for us all.
We need to simply remind ourselves, and be reminded.
To be unafraid.
I can clearly hear my father's words..."You know how much money you need...? You only need enough."
The messages I received about money as a child, were both beautiful and limiting.
Without realizing it, they've played a part in my
challenge to envision abundance outside of my comfort zone.
I have lived in large houses and apartment attics.
I have owned a Mercedes and a VW bus.
I was always the same person- and grateful.
But, to be honest,
when I had more money in my life,
I was sometimes uncomfortable-
almost pushing it away.
Mom had a saying as well. She'd say, " Isn't it great that we can be happy with so little?"
Twenty years ago, before I opened my photography studio,
I said a prayer:
To always have enough money, but to never let it be about the money.
And, I did, and it never was.
However, I must admit that I was afraid to believe in a dream for myself that was bigger...
And, to do so without judging it.
Using our inner voice as a compass
beyond external pressure and limiting beliefs always leads
to an authentic and connected life.
What are your limiting beliefs?
And... what would life look like if you allowed yourself to dream bigger?
and m"LISTEN TO THE SOUND OF NOTHING" -D.
What does quiet sound like? Do we even know?
It is peace, it is calm, it is serene, it is without noise.
Well known life coach Rich Litvin said something that captured my attention and heart,
taking this to a deeper place...
He said "magic occurs in the white space".
Immediately, I embraced this as truth. As an artist and introvert, I crave, I protect, I have even
defended alone time as a place to create, to think, to feel.
How little or how much "white space" our spirit might crave only we know-
but it is essential to the balance of life to sometimes be in silence, or to be still.
In today's world, it seems near impossible to manage this- and we are often interrupted by
things that we don't even hold in esteem, but rob us of time.
Rather than thinking about eliminating these things, perhaps we can begin by
prioritizing even just one thing that feeds us.
I am a fan of the word "routine" instead of "schedule", because it has a flow. When life
is busy and there seems little time, flowing from one thing to another causes
a feeling of movement instead of rigidity.
I also love the word "protect" instead of "schedule". I will protect time for a walk
in the woods; I will protect time for lunch; I will protect time with my clients.
Protecting is a gift- not a to-do.
We live in a culture that makes it very challenging to step back and listen to our own voice.
It is something we have forgotten to make time for, or teach our children.
What is it that you crave?
How much time do you protect to listen to the sound of nothing...?
I wrote this quote many years back as part of a postcard series. It still speaks to my heart.
I believe it to be true.
When I look at this nude sketch, she embodies that for me.
I bought this piece of art years ago at a "First Friday" Art Exhibit. The gallery was nice,
but all the other work was different-safe- paintings of landscapes and farms.
This large nude sketch in comparison was so raw. I stood in front of it and I couldn't leave her.
When the artist came over, I literally reached out for her hand, held it,
standing in front of her sketch in silence together.
The woman in this sketch is somehow so strong and so vulnerable to me all at the same time.
I love her long bony hands. The arthritis I imagine in her body I can almost feel.
Her body so long and lean,
but somehow it feels tired- and yet, she is still so beautiful, comfortable-humbly looking down.
So simple, all the black lines telling what seems like a layered story.
No matter where I move, this piece comes with me. If I had to choose just one thing,
I would always choose her.
When I came back to my cottage after the hurricane, she was still on my wall.
She is with me today, continuing to remind me of strength and...yet, vulnerability.
A perfection of the soul.
This morning, the beginning of fall called to me and my BFF,
I took a short ride to a place where sea oats lay instead of lawn, and
large beach cottages uniquely span themselves across lake frontage.
I was less than 5 miles from my home and I had never been there before.
The breeze, the temperature...the feeling of the "sea"...all translating again and again
into the magic of Lake Michigan. It took me to coasts I'd lived and seen before-California, Florida...Oregon...the East Coast.
At the end of the street is a point and a marina that I'd only known existed
looking across from the other side of the channel.
I passed the beach that I normally hike to, now realizing that the bike path led there as well. Most exciting, is that with a season pass,
I can come in the morning easily by car and paddleboard before my day begins.
This was only a dream in my mind until today.
I'd moved into this neighborhood two months ago, and already felt so comfortable
and satisfied that I'd stopped exploring.
It's amazing how sometimes we don't know what could improve the quality of our life- what dreams could be answered, until we take the smallest risk to go down a road
that is unexplored.
you,I love this quote by Rumi.
This is how it speaks to me...
All things I seek also want to be found. By me.
They are seeking me in return.
Believing that, then, is to also ask the question-
Why do I not have "it" in my life right now?
Or, why don't I have this "thing" that seems most important?
It is time and time again revealed to me that there is a certain order to life-
and, that often after I learn a lesson or experience a hardship,
I have an opportunity to revisit my dreams.
A dear friend once told me what her father, a minister, used to say...
"God answers prayers in one of three ways:
Yes; Not now; and...I have something better in store for you".
There is an honest knowing inside of me that not all things that
I claim to want...I truly feel ready to embrace-
holding them at arm's length for that reason.
One day famous life coach Tony Robbins came up on my YouTube playlist.
I knew of him, but was not familiar with any of his teachings or perspectives.
That week I listened to several of his seminar podcasts, an interview, and a coaching session-
all rather profound.
He shared the following (paraphrased from memory),
and it changed my life...
He said that if the blueprint for your life, and the life you are actually living
look too different,
then you will be in conflict and in pain.
He went on to say that if that is the case, you will either need to change
your blueprint, or change your life- typically you will have to change a little of both.
A switch flipped inside of me at that moment.
I had been carrying the same blueprint for over 30 years- unfulfilled.
I held it tight to this vision and told myself I would only settle for...
A husband, children, a house, a life centered around family.
I was 60, had no children of my own, and post hurricane, no house, no business- no job and no money.
But the real loss was that over the span of those 30 years,
I had a few sweet little cottages; a successful creative business;
amazing clients; a balanced life with dozens of true friends all over the country;
awesome siblings who are my friends; their beautiful children;
other beautiful children God had also put in my path;
And, two relationships both with wonderful men.
And yet- I felt ungrateful and unhappy deep inside, and turned away from all those gifts-
simply because it did not match the blueprint I'd created and held onto.
There was an almost immediate "shift" inside of me when I realized this-
a lightening of heart and an embracing of every single gift in my life.
That day, I asked myself..
"What do you want to design today as the architect of your life?"
That blueprint revision was long overdue.
My "blueprint" is now a true reflection of what I am living today.
It isn't a checklist, and it doesn't have to contain certain things for me to be happy.
It is what I already have in my life, and gratitude for it all.
I am an open canvas for the rest of my life and all that is yet to come.
I have dreams that cause me to strive and grow,
but they don't blind me from the life I am already living- they simply inspire me.
My favorite thing about the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", is that she did in fact
draw into her life all that was in her heart and all that she dreamed of-
It looked different than the picture in her mind, so it took her time to recognize
that she truly already had everything she asked for.
What are you seeking...that is seeking you?