This has been a heck of a year. I’ve been through a lot, come close to giving up more than once, and, in the end, managed to pick myself back up and keep going. I can’t say that it was fun to go through a lot of what I’ve gone through, but I can say that there were surprising gifts and blessings and joys that often accompanied the crappy, stressful stuff. Something would fall apart…but then something even better would come along. I would be sure something wasn’t going to work out, and then it did. Having to sit with my engine on idle for a few months led to insights about what I want and need in my life that surprised me and have changed the way I look at things. I’m not the same person I was this time last year, and I think that’s a good thing.
I’m still discombobulated (don’t you love that word?) by the unlikeliness of all that’s happened and where it’s landed me. I’m still trying to get a foothold, still trying to figure out who I am going forward. But somehow, in spite all of the craziness of the past year, I’ve managed to keep this blog going. Or maybe I have that backwards. This blog and its readers have been a constant for me in the midst of a wildly unpredictable year. Your “likes” and comments have encouraged me, and knowing you were out there reading—expecting at the very least a quote du jour—kept me posting even when the last thing I felt like doing was write a post or come up with another inspiring, thought-provoking quote. (My thoughts were provoked quite enough, thank you!)
Along the way, more of you kept following pathwriter, in increasing numbers, even during the times when I felt I was neglecting you. One day I looked at my stats to find that I’d somehow passed the 500-follower mark. When (and how) did that happen?
It doesn’t really matter, of course. The only thing that matters, the only thing I really wanted to say when I sat down to write this is thank you. Thank you for following, for reading, for liking, for commenting, for reblogging or sharing my posts on Twitter and Facebook…for any tiny thing you might have done to keep me posting—and thereby, putting one virtual foot in front of the other. Thank you for being part of the reason I didn’t go off the deep end this year. I am truly and deeply grateful.
Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairy tale.
Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.
~Anne Lamott – Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
My big a-ha from the teleclass I did with Brené Brown yesterday: Brené says the most terrifying emotion we experience as humans is joy. We’re so frightened of loss that we can’t even allow ourselves to lean into those moments when we’re standing over our children watching them sleep or when we’re falling in love and it feels like our hearts will burst. The second most of us start to feel joy, instead of relishing the blessings, we tend to get swallowed by the fear that the other shoe is about to drop.
Brené said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” Instead of allowing ourselves to feel the vulnerability of how much joy we feel and how much hurt we would experience if we lost what we have, we dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch. We look at our kids with so much love and then imagine them dying. We feel such tenderness for the person we’re falling in love with that we fast forward straight to the day when we get our heart broken. If things are going well in our professional life, we imagine the day we get fired or lose all our money, power, and status. It’s like, by trying to imagine the worst case scenario, we somehow think we’re protecting ourselves from what we fear most.
But guess what? It doesn’t work. Continue reading
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
~The Dalai Lama
If peace comes from seeing the whole,
then misery stems from a loss of perspective.
We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.
Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?
It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.
When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. Continue reading
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Tomorrow I head a couple of hours east to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We will eat too much, and though there have been sad and somber transitions in our family in the past year, we are sure to laugh a lot, and we will be glad to have this time with each other.
It has been an emotional year for me, with lots of changes, lots of soul-searching, lots of digging deep to find faith in the face of scary stuff, and then going back to dig even deeper when more was needed. Yet in the midst of all this, there has been a sweetness, a warmth. I have made new friendships and renewed and deepened old ones, and I have extended my roots into and felt myself surrounded and nurtured by my community, both “real” and virtual. I have felt embraced, even in my most difficult moments, knowing on some level that I am somehow being held by this web of people near and far.
Thank you, dear readers, for being a part of my web. You have honored me by choosing to “follow” me as I make my way, sometimes haltingly, through this maze that is my life. I am glad for your companionship, and I am grateful for your time and attention, your insights and your encouragement. I look forward to sharing the next part of the journey with you. Namaste.
The following is an excerpt from Anne Lamott’s Facebook post this morning:
Home, in bed, smothered in dogs like biscuit gravy; they are exhausted after giving me the ritual cleansing and have gone back to sleep, so I have this early morning all to myself. The sun has streaked highlights into my flowering pear tree like Vidal Sassoon, and I am wearing my Ethel Mertz jammies and eating peanut butter toast. This is what grace looks like: amazed gratitude and relief at your plain old gorgeous life.
I was up at 3:30 Tuesday, headed to Tennessee for two talks–one on Writing, one on faith–and then to Chicago for a talk on the Search for Meaning. They are all, at core, the same–the decision on how we choose to live this one short, precious life. The decision to stop hitting the snooze button. The willingness not to be good at things right away, to be clueless but committed; to make more messes and mistakes in the interest of living with spaciousness and a sense of presence; to find out who we truly are, who we were born to be, and to learn to love that screwed up, disappointing, heartbreakingly dear self of ours.
~Anne Lamott, Facebook, 9/22/12