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The Heart of the Matter August 31, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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33 comments

Listen to your heart, it’s calling to you.
Be guided by the heart in all you do.

To handle yourself, use your head.  To handle others, use your heart. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

LOVE is such a big word . . . it really should have more letters! ~ Kobi Yamada

You have not lived a perfect day unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~ Ruth Smeltzer

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused. ~  Unknown

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

The first duty of love is to listen. ~ Paul Tillich

If you can’t be with the one you love, dive headfirst into a box of chocolate!

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Best Is Yet To Come . . . August 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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44 comments

IMGP1667aWe have a message board outside the clubhouse for announcements.

When there isn’t a 4-foot-long gator in one of the lakes or an upcoming social event looming on the horizon, the board is used to post inspirational sayings, trivia questions, etc.

* Kindness Echoes
* Who Shot J.R.?
* Shift Happens
* Which 2 vegetables are perennials?

Yesterday, the board announced:

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Hmm . . . I’m not convinced.

“The best is yet to come” is one of those rather ridiculous “truisms” we intone with great regularity to remind ourselves to “keep on trucking.”

I don’t think it’s a true statement. Not for most of us, anyway.  At best, the best is yet to come for some of the people, some of the time.

Unless, maybe, it’s meant in the collective sense.

Calvin-gots-an-Idea

Once global warming and climate change and melting glaciers wipe man off the face of the planet, animals like the Black Rhino may breathe a sigh of relief:

Now, that’s good.  In fact, it’s the best!

God should NEVER have taken that extended sabbatical after Day 7.  He should have pushed through the burn straight into Day 8.

But that’s only in the collective sense.

On an individual basis, how many of us really believe that “the best is yet to come”?

Kids, sure ~ especially in the days leading up to Christmas.
Young adults, maybe ~ until the bills start rolling in faster than the paychecks.
New parents, of course ~ those little bundles of joy are full of promise.  A fresh canvas.  Another chance to “get it right.”

But what then?

The-Pink-Panther

Do we really believe that “the best is yet to come” AFTER we’ve ticked all the requisite boxes:

* Grow up
* Get married
* Have kids (or don’t)
* Enter the workforce
* Buy a house . . . with granite counter tops and double sinks!
* Get a gold watch
* Retire

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The idea of retirement keeps many of us moving forward.

But if retirement is “the best” . . . why do so many oldsters look over their shoulders to talk about “the good old days.”

For that matter, if we are convinced that the best is yet to come, why are we not giddy with anticipation, like Goofy, at the start of each new day?

Goofy-Riding-A-Bike

For most of us, life is like riding a roller coaster ~ we reach a pinnacle and then begin a slow descent (or steep terrifying drop) as we age.

As years flow from one to the next, we are forced to say good-bye to people and things we once loved.  In our golden years, after getting that gold watch, we experience aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, and creeping senility.

We no longer stare at the ceiling “too excited to sleep.”  We’re awake at 2 a.m. because insomnia has, once again, interfered with our steadfast desire for deep restorative sleep and peaceful slumber.

I am not persuaded that the best is yet to come.
I suspect that Robin Williams felt the same.

Grumpy gus

Or, perhaps, after struggling with insomnia, he just longed for oblivion.

Morpheus, Morpheus . . . where for are’t thou Morpheus?

The trick to moving forward to the “Finish Line” (rather than jumping ship or pulling the plug) lies in getting a good night’s sleep.  Every night.

Failing that, we increase the odds of enjoying ourselves for the duration of the cruise when we: (a) hang on to our sense of humor, (b) maintain perspective, (c) focus on the positives (like getting a good night’s sleep once in a Blue Moon), (d) eat lots of chocolate, and (e) convince ourselves that things don’t have to be “the best” in order to be “good enough.”

Collect enough drops of joy on a moment by moment basis and life is pretty good ~ even if we no longer feel like a kid in a candy shop who’s too excited to sleep because we’ve been brainwashed into believing the best is yet to come.

IMGP3950

Aah . . . that’s better!  (Stay tuned ~ the best is yet to come!)

Sometimes It’s Hard To “Come Clean” August 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People.
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49 comments

Have you ever overheard someone recount an event (of which you have first hand knowledge) by shading the truth, more than a little, to place themselves in a better light?

Claiming the role of blameless victim to a vicious attack, rather than recognizing their role as instigator or co-participant?

Maybe it’s the attorney in me, but when someone shares a sob story that sounds one-sided, lopsided, or far-fetched, I do not offer blind support.

I ask a few questions first, to ascertain whether the story is factual or fictional.

Once upon a time, we cautioned our young niece not to provoke our cat or she would get scratched.

Ignoring the warning, she backed Jazz into a corner and reached out to grab him.

He scratched her.

Eyes brimming with tears, she exclaimed, “Jazz scratched me!”

We examined the scratch ~ a glancing blow issued as a “step away from the cat” warning.

“What were you doing when he scratched you?”

“Nothing.”

“You were just sitting there, minding your own business, and Jazz ran up to you and scratched you for no reason?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Really?  You weren’t trying to pick him up?  Or pet him? Or follow him around?  You were just sitting still and he ran over to you?”

Hesitation.

“Well . . . he was under the table, and I just wanted to pet him, and when I got close to him, he scratched me.  But I wasn’t going to hurt him!  I didn’t mean to bother him.  I just wanted to pet him.”

{{Hugs}}

James-the-CatSometimes it’s hard to “come clean” and see our part in the controversy.

Our Egos don’t want to admit the part we played in escalating situations from peaceful co-existence to hissing, scratching, tail-pulling, or worse.

But it’s worth it when we do.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Related posts:  Is Your Soul Yearning For Less Drama (Find Your Middle Ground) * You Can’t Handle The Truth

 

 

Reality: What A Concept! August 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People.
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44 comments

alice26thMany of the on-line tributes to Robin Williams had something in common.

Instead of looking at life through Robin’s eyes to garner the whys of his demise, bloggers mentioned him, in passing, as a stepping stone to get other issues into the spotlight.

That’s understandable.

It is easier to know man in general than to know one man in particular. ~ Duc de la Rochefoucauld

* Some called for more resources for those who struggle with mental illness.

A laudable goal, for sure, but I suspect that Robin had adequate (if not ample) resources available to him.

* Others called for us to be kinder in our daily doings and dealings.

An excellent suggestion, but I doubt that Robin took his own life because of   bullies on the cyber-playground or people looking at him askance.

* Some cited the need for open discussion about depression and addiction.

A noteworthy objective, which I suspect is irrelevant to Robin’s death since he spoke in public forums about these “taboo topics” with great regularity.

* Others encouraged us to lend an ear and really listen to those around us.

Yes!  We should do that.  And, yet, I’m not convinced that our poor listening skills, even collectively, caused Robin to end his life.

Sometimes talking makes “it” better.  Other times, talking just makes it BIGGER.

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27I could keep dunking the teabag, but you get the idea.

Instead of focusing on the reality of Robin’s life, many tributes gave Robin little more than a passing glance before veering off in other directions.

Not surprising, really ~ our view of reality is skewed because we’re looking at life through a dirty lens and cloudy filter.

When something happens, our experiences, concerns, and viewpoints form an opaque overlay, obscuring reality.  We tell ourselves stories and fanciful fictions in a futile effort to create order from chaos and sense from nonsense.

We see the world behind our eyes.

That’s not to say that our creation of ostensible tributes to Robin Williams was misplaced energy.  I don’t have a suitable vantage point to understand or oversee all the various ripples set in motion by our actions and inaction.

Perhaps the outpouring of emotion following his death will cause a tidal wave of love and compassion, lifting us high above the surreal landscape.  From that heightened perspective, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of reality as IT IS instead of as WE ARE.

A quiet mind, like the surface of a still pond, provides a more accurate reflection.

Reality: What a concept!

Aah . . . that’s better!

On the outside chance that Robin is reading this in Never Never Land, let me close with his view of reality:

Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs. ~ Robin Williams

Related post:  Why We Mourn the Death of Celebrities (Smart Living 365)

Castles In The Sand August 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Nature.
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30 comments

Screech!  A lone gull screamed at the solitary form bull-dozing the beach.  When no other gulls joined the battle cry, the gull flew off.

IMGP0914

The boy returned his attention to the wet sand.  Water lapped at his feet as he scooped up handful after handful and began building up the sides.

Time passed.  The boy remained intent on his task.

The sun slipped toward the horizon.  The boy stood up and stepped back.  He shook the sand off his clothes, brushed tenacious grains off his bare legs, and smiled at his masterpiece ~ the best snowman he had ever made.

IMGP1481

With a nod of satisfaction, he walked into the deepening twilight.

Behind him, water lapped at Frosty’s belly.  Eroded by waves, the boy’s “nod to the north” crumbled into salty foam and washed out to sea.

IMGP4116b

Aah . . . that’s better!

O Captain! My Captain!  Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won.

Rest in Peace, Robin (7/21/51 – 8/11/14).  You fit lots of life, love, and laughter into that dash.  You’ll be missed.

Gifts From The Heart August 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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28 comments

alice26thSometimes people talk about the “good” they’ve done to inspire others to do good.

Other people seem to be trying to prove that they are good people by telling others about their good deeds.

It’s like they want applause and accolades for past performances.

Bravo!  Bravo!

Which makes me question whether their initial motivation was to help others or to be perceived as helpful by others.

Cheshire_Cat_TennielAnd, then, there are those that keep an active scorecard of what they did for us and when.

So they can remind us that we “owe” them a favor.

A tit for a tat, if you will.

I don’t see life that way.

Gifts from the heart don’t come with strings attached.

Recipients are not obligated to reciprocate.

When we stop striving to “be someone,” we are free of the Ego’s incessant desire for accolades, applause, and attention from those around us.

We no longer act out of the desire for approval, constantly looking around to see who’s watching.

If we do something kind for others and the act is not acknowledged, we are just as pleased as we would be if the act were applauded.

We make choices and decisions based on the firm footing of the Essential Self, rather than on the shaky ground of the False Self.

We no longer give with the expectation of reciprocity since we do not give to get.

We give to give.

Aah . . . that’s better!

When we let go of attachments and expectations, Spirit frees us to evolve, change and grow, from tiny ripples of peace and acceptance, to tidal waves of love and compassion.

How refreshing the whinny of a pack horse fully unloaded! ~ Classic Haiku

Related post:  She Let Go (Yoga with Maheshwari)

Teasing Taunts August 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Meditation, Mindfulness.
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30 comments

The-Pink-PantherAs soon as my mind hears the beginning of the Meditation CD (ocean waves or mountain streams), it settles down and takes a time out.

Well, not always.

Sometimes it continues to flit about like a speeding cheetah on steroids.

When it’s acting recalcitrant, I settle back to watch its merry dance . . . without chasing after its teasing taunts.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Distractions (In the Stillness of Willow Hill)

Awakening To The Sacred August 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Meditation, Mindfulness.
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32 comments

In Awakening to the Sacred: Creating a Spiritual Life, Lama Surya Das first examines Matters of the Spirit, touching upon common themes and questions at the heart of every spiritual path, including thoughts about faith, doubt, freedom, truth, love, compassion, and enlightenment.

In the remainder of the book, Surya Das offers a variety of spiritual practices for use by seekers of all backgrounds who wish to enhance their journey through life:  Meditation * Mindfulness * Spiritual Study * Yoga * Simplicity * Fasting * Prayer * Spiritual Readings * Journals * Chanting * Gardening * Breath * Haiku * Staying in the Moment.

At the outset, he reminds readers that awareness is the essential ingredient in a spiritual life:  the spiritual path is best walked step by step, very mindfully, with as much consciousness and commitment as one can summon.  He encourages seekers to incorporate daily practices to help get and keep them in touch with the essence of spirituality ~ peace, love, freedom and belonging.

As a Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Surya Das explains the teachings of Buddha throughout the book.  For example:

The Buddha’s teachings were concerned with finding the nirvanic peace and freedom of enlightenment, the end to all forms of suffering and delusion.   He saw these goals as being determined by the cause and effect of individual behavior without divine intervention. (p.23)

As a result of his Western upbringing, he addresses theistic religions with equal clarity and ease:

In all truly sacred traditions there is an essential resolve to cherish life and treat others ethically and kindly.  All these traditions encourage us to be open to divine presence, both within and without, and tell us to practice what we preach without hypocrisy or sleight of hand.  (p. 29)

Surya Das encourages us all to cultivate clear vision, as well as personal authenticity.  In other words, to see things as they are, and to be more fully who we are:

We practice Dharma when we stop clinging to our preconceived notions about what we should do and achieve.  We find truth when we learn to let go, accept, see things as they are, and just be.  We find truth by discovering our inner light, our inner value and values, our authenticity and genuineness.  This is living truly. (p. 114)

First there is enlightenment, when we start to see things as they are, and then, if we work at it, there is transformation, when we learn to live, embody, and stabilize those truths in our daily lives.

To experience either, you must stay awake and aware.

Surya Das emphasizes the need of all seekers to open their hearts and learn how to love unconditionally, without lust,  fantasy, or neediness ~ to love for the radiant joy of simply loving, without expecting a thing in return.  To increase our capacity for unconditional love we focus on its components:

(1) practicing forgiveness to free the heart and mind from excessive burdens so that we can experience this moment anew;

(2) practicing acceptance and understanding and seeing all beings as part of the whole;

(3) cherishing life by doing no harm, alleviating suffering, appreciating and valuing what we have, and generously giving to others;

(4) practicing compassion and empathy in order to open our hearts to the suffering of others;

(5) practicing warmth and kindness by being kinder, gentler, and more loving to those around us; and

(6) practicing joy by recognizing that life is a miracle to be celebrated.

When we are joyful and happy, we spontaneously share love with others.  We exude joy, kindness and warmth.  When our heart is singing, we lift the hearts of those around us:

The path of joy is the path of open-heartedness ~ the path of a heart filled with love.   So smile.  Make somebody happy.  Make yourself happy.  Learn to love.  Spread love.  Be love.  You’ll love it. (p. 151)

Written for anyone who wants to connect with the sacred, this book offers practical advice for incorporating the spiritual into our everyday lives.

May all peace, blessings, good fortune, and delight be yours.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Our essential nature, like the wateriness of water, does not change.  What changes is our capacity to share that essential nature with the world.

No Smart Phone Required July 31, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Mindfulness, Synchronicity & Mystery.
Tags: , , , ,
50 comments

170px-alice_par_john_tenniel_30The other day, BFF and I were driving down the road.

After recounting a story of no import to this tale, I launched into a German accent:  “Und zen, vhat ve have here iz . . . “

I often parody and parrot voices ~ French, English, Southern, Joysey, Longysland, Irish, Scottish, Bahston, Canadian, Monty Python, etc.

German, however, is NOT in my usual repertoire.

BFF stared at me.

I stopped talking (since I didn’t really know where I was headed anyway) and said, “what’s up with the look?”

He laughed, “You’re a mind reader . . . with a very bad German accent to boot.”

“Why do you say that?’

“Seconds before you switched from speaking in your normal voice to your still-needs-work German accent, I had a passing thought:  Who wouldn’t want to chat with my little Einstein?

“Really?”

“Yup.  As soon as I thought Einstein, you switched gears to German.”

“Cool!  I’m a mind reader . . . AND a little Einstein! “

This is NOT the first time I’ve picked up on one of BFF’s thoughts.  And I trust it won’t be the last.

It’s always fun to get a wink from the Universe reminding me that we are all connected to the World Wide Web . . . even if we don’t own a Smart Phone.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Sometimes You Just KnowPretty Swift, Eh?

Embracing Opportunities July 30, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness, People.
Tags: , , , ,
41 comments

170px-201008241206184375_MI came across this quote the other day:

I don’t believe that we have an *obligation* to help every single person we encounter.

I do believe that there is an *opportunity* to help every single person we encounter. 

Every.  Single.  Person.

~ Paul ((( The Ripples Guy )))

Kindness echoes.  Compassion fills our bucket, drop by drop.

* Do not overlook any good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.  ~ The Buddha

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related Posts:  Making Positive Waves ~ The Ripple Effect (T4D) * Kindness Is My Religion (Streams of Consciousness)

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