Canadian poet Merle Shain understood love. She declared: “If I were to marry again tomorrow, I wouldn’t give up one friend. I’d take them all with me as a sort of dowry and tell my new husband that he was getting a rich wife.”
I’ve always wondered about girls and women who leave their friends behind when a man steals their heart. I don’t get it. What I loved most about The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood was the life-long friendships. Their husbands got a handful!
Last weekend I sat with three women whom I haven’t known long, but already feel that I know well. The breadth of self-disclosure was stunning, the honesty was liberating, the awareness motivating.
I’ve been thinking since about friends—the ones who bring me real joy, what makes them so valuable, and how they touch my soul with such depth, again and again.
There is always genuine interest, good conversation, and enjoyable companionship. We share similar values, but experience and beliefs different enough to be interesting, provocative, and moving. There is empathy and authenticity.
Those who love me most will tell me when I have peas in my teeth, and when I am wrong in my thinking. More, true friends inspire me to be and do my best. They mirror my strengths, and equally, my weaknesses. They’ll let me wallow for a while when things go awry—and they listen completely—then goad me to seek solutions. They nudge me to venture into new territory, and cheer me on whether I stumble or thrive. They laugh at my jokes. As a Native American friend would say, “They give me thunder.”
They are my champions. They give meaning to my life.
And I have the honor of doing the same for them.
Friends and family are oxygen for my soul.
Recently I began doing an exercise that has been monumental when it comes to my translating a circumstance. When I feel a pull to judge what’s happening as negative, I now ask myself.. Is it REALLY negative or am I just saying it is because it’s unfamiliar and I don’t know what else to call it. What if it were a blessing? What if it were a life lesson and I am poo pooing all over it because it’s foreign or maybe even too familiar? Because there ARE those times when some things occur over and over again and we say.. This is ridiculous, and feel you like a victim of a constant reoccurring episode.
For instance, I have a family member who is very good at pushing my buttons. They have been doing so for many years in many upsetting ways. When this happens, every ounce of growth I have accumulated over my lifetime goes out the window. I yell, I blame, I may even use profanity. Now to the naked eye this looks like a ‘bad’ thing. But what if I were to turn this situation into a positive thing. (how the heck do you do that you say?)
What if I were to say, look at this wonderful opportunity I have to evolve. How could I have ever done this without this person in my life to show me who I am in the face of adversity. What a gift.
With that said, I seem to calm down, and embrace the situation with love and gentleness. Not always, but more and more. And the results benefit all involved.
Take a look at the flip side of negativity. See what lies before you as a gift.
Happy New Year
So my second-grade daughter comes walking in the house yesterday singing, “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.” ??? I have a few issues with this. First of all, whoever coined this parody had to have done it over 50 years ago, and so much for the phrase “quality lasts.” Secondly, my daughter doesn’t know who Batman and Robin are. But thirdly, and most importantly, it got me thinking about the smells of Christmas Times. I love the smell of a Christmas tree. I just close my eyes and it brings me right back to days of being an anticipating child. This year we had our tree up for 5 days without time to place a single ornament, but it just didn’t matter, the whole family room smells like a Douglas fir. The next smell I pondered was the kitchen. Memories of my wife and my Mom, all dusted in flour, spending all those hours baking festive cookies, breads and pastries. What great joy carnivorously dismembering gingerbread men. Even the smell of nutmeg sends me; I don’t even have to have any nog beneath it to enjoy it. And then the grand finale of walking in the house, taking off your boots and realizing the whole house smells like the feast! Pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon scents dancing out from the kitchen. This Christmas season I promise to stop and smell the peppermint.
For years, Susan Kramer has been my herbolist. She is an amazing healer and has supported me through many journeys in my life. One of my favorite things about going to see her, is picking a card from her Angelic Messenger Cards. The card I drew always shared the perfect message at the perfect time. I have wanted a deck of my own for a long time. Wishes, big and small, do come true. My deck arrived last week. I gazed at the box for a few days before I dug into the juicy contents.
I picked my first card from the crisp, new deck I opened my eyes to the beauty of the abundance card! Yet another wink from the Universe that I was on the path that leads me all that I desire. The card pointed me to uncover what abundance actually meant to me. I have been sitting with that question - it is fascinating the answers that come when I ponder with an inquiry like that.
I recently experienced the power of intention that led to an abundance of material things. I was invited to a fundraiser for the Winship Patience Assistance Program. One of the things they were doing to raise money was raffling off an IPad. I wanted that IPad and I got that IPad. I savored the joy, abundance and delight–and then it was gone.
Abundance can show up in things. But things are just things. I am curious about sustainable abundance. I trust that I can have all that I desire, yet what is it I really desire. The stuff makes me happy…for a minute.
I am getting a sense that the abundance I desire all stems from the love word…an abundance of love for myself, leads to an abundance of love for others. More love=more connection. More connection brings the opportunity to be in the moment. Being in the moment leads to an abundance of time. I like where this is going. Better than any abundance app on the IPad. Or am I on to something…..
One of my most memorable evenings was many years ago when a dear friend overheard me say that I would love to dance in the rain. He proceeded to fulfill a vision for and with me. And because of that night I will never be the same.
As if he had put much thought into it, one rainy night while he was visiting, he prepared soft music to play by the back door as well as the outside lighting and then proceeded to escort me to my patio for a very wonderful rain dance.
Even though this man was not a ‘love’ per se, I thought it to be one of the most romantic and free spirited evenings. I seemed to have released the fact that my make-up was dripping from my face and my clothes were now so soggy that they drooped on my body. I didn’t pay attention to being out of step with him and the fact that I don’t dance very well. I also let go of the fact that someone might see or something may not have been perfect. All I remember was the moment. The moment the music played, him holding me and the rain gently caressing me.
This man brought me such joy that night. I have not seen him for many years but he remains someone special because of the love he gave to me.
I have another friend who is equally mindful of her friend’s dreams. She goes out of her way to make sure she does her part to have them realized. She buys tickets to concerts of their favorite bands or creates the most memorable evenings. You know, the ones you will talk about for the rest of your life.
Some people have a built in joy system. They do whatever it takes to bring joy to someone’s life. They ‘listen’ for an opportunity to fulfill a wish. Those people teach me how to be a better listener when it comes to bringing joy to others. They are my teachers, since bringing joy to others is important to me.
Wanting to bring joy to the world and acting upon it are two separate entities. One actually produces miraculous results.
So turn up your volume of listening, and bring joy to those around you by surprising them with a fulfilled wish!
Between the ages of 14 – 48, I was a sucker for diets. Macrobiotics – Overeaters Anonymous – Grapefruit Diet- Cabbage Soup Diet – Zone Diet – French Women Don’t Diet Diet. The list goes on. (BTW, there’s a web site that catalogues diets including, and I’m not making this up, the “What Would Jesus Eat Diet”!)
I’m not dissing these diets (except for that Grapefruit one); some are wonderful options, for a sane person. But I’ve spent many years overtly/covertly hating my body, using diets and the scale as assault weapons. And I know better! I’m a life coach for crying out loud.
I’m also a woman raised in a culture that worships “looking good”, defined by PhotoShopped perfection. I’ve been susceptible to the lie that the right number on the scale would make me feel good and be ok in the world. Ridiculous, right? One word: Brainwashing. Another word: Insanity.
In 2009, a life-changing moment broke me apart and put me back together. For years I’d been seeking greater spiritual intimacy, yet unconsciously wedging the disapproval of my body between me and the Divine. One day, in a prayer, I saw myself through the eyes of the Divine. It was heartbreaking.
Imagine, someone you dearly love (a child, spouse, close friend) refusing your love until they think they are perfect which, by the way, is never. You don’t love them any less for it, but you see how unnecessary it is.
So there it was. All those years harboring an unconscious belief that if I just lost 20 pounds…. (or 5 pounds, 2 pounds, 10 pounds…the number didn’t matter because there was always more to lose) …THEN I would feel closer to God (meaning, “then I would be lovable”). Well, the gig was up: Skip “lovable”, I was already LOVED. Even in my manic attempt to “improve”, I was already loved.
This wasn’t just a platitude or an intellectual concept to me (“There, there, God loves you no matter what.”) This was a soul-awakening, spirit-enlivening ecstatic truth. I saw through my veils of perfectionism/self-hatred and just like that, in a moment of grace, let it go.
To Be Continued….
next month: The Joy “Diet”!
Wow, what joy is to be derived from the simple joy of nourishing and honoring the body! I just spent a week plus cooking three meals a day for 15-20 people. I am not a professional chef and I’ve never been responsible for providing meals on this scale before. It was quite a learning experience!
I was reminded of the simple pleasure of preparing a meal to feed and nurture people with simple, healthy and wholesome ingredients. During time spent in China last year, many of our vegetables came from our garden. The garden had been planted, with much love, before I arrived, with wonderful, fresh water spinach, squash, corn, garlic chives, tomatoes, eggplant and much more! I learned that the very best food is simple and full of love. The plants were healthy and full of essential energy, and made the essences of sun and earth available to us with joy!
As a child in Spain it was always a pleasure to accompany my mother to the market, where we would fill our baskets with fresh peas, peaches, melons, cherries and grapes, and all manner or delicacies brought in by cart from the fields. The honey and butter man would bring freshly churned butter and sweet, gloriously fragrant honey down from the mountains on his cart and deliver them straight to the door. It was my pleasure to sit for what seemed like hours shelling, rewarded by the tiny, sweet peas…What a simple joy!
While cooking last week I felt the pleasure of feeding everyone with joy! Even though there were moments when I felt overwhelmed, there is nothing quite like seeing the dishes emptied of food and scraped clean, followed by contented smiles and happiness from the people who ate each meal. Sometimes the meals weren’t quite as good as I would have wanted them to be… But even the sometimes painful lessons of those meals contributed to the next good meal! I owe so much to my friend and mentor of the culinary arts who taught me the recipes that my mother taught her!
Tracey Lynne here! Excited about joining the Joy Posse, and sharing what brings me joy.
Really, the list of things that bring me joy is endless. But how to find joy in the little things… in the moments where joy seems to elude us.
That is what excites me in this moment.
My boyfriend and I have been discussing the relationship of love and fear. In conversation, with others we discovered some people believe the opposite of love is hate. I disagree, I believe that the opposite of love is fear. Where fear is rampant, love is absent. All of my decisions and actions can be traced back to those two things; am I acting out of love, or am I acting out of fear? Our extended conversation about feelings and qualities brought up how often we (people) believe what we are fed, and go on believing it until something or someone in our lives offers an opportunity to challenge our beliefs. My boyfriend and I are choosing to consciously relate to love and fear, and notice that at any given point we are at choice. Imagine the most decadent soup you’ve tasted, and all of the ingredients that go into making such a divine dish. Same thing with people! The choices I make on a daily basis ultimately make up my ‘divine dish’! I can choose to be in love, or I can choose to be in fear. The courage it takes to love and to CHOOSE love in the moment of upset or fear is tremendous, yet the opportunity to make that choice brings me SOOOOO much joy! Instead of being lead by a blind belief, or a blind emotion, I can CHOOSE! How cool is that? Simple and true. Conscious choices create joy in my life. The more I am able to stop, take a look at my thought, my action, or my belief, the more often I am able to choose how I proceed. Today… I joyfully choose LOVE!
Till next time, what do you choose?
For the past six weeks, my sister and I have been meeting at 6:45 AM for a 75-minute bike ride. A personal triumph because I really like to sleep in and this has me up at 5:45, out the door by 6:20. However, I like biking and being with my sister more than I like sleeping, so off I go for some great fun! Except for one pesky interference….
Apparently dawn is when all God’s creatures come out to our little bike path. We’ve dodged countless squirrels, rabbits, snakes, bullfrogs, chipmunks, and deer, with only one casualty – an unlucky chipmunk. [I can’t even begin to convey the trauma of bicycling over a live animal, but I'll try: you feel every lump, bump, squish, & crack. It’s revolting! So now, before each ride I work my Stay-Off-the-Path-You-Dang-Critters Mojo™, which seems to be helping. (Details available upon request.)]
By far the most JOYFUL aspect of our morning adventures is the bond that is re-forming between us. As children we were very tight, but over the years and for no apparent reason, we’d become less so. Not estranged or even distant, just not so close. This has dramatically changed in recent weeks, as if some patient, dormant love is being reawakened. Today’s events only served to accelerate this process.
This morning, my sister took a nasty spill, flying off her bike and landing on her head, on the pavement – thank goodness for her helmet! Eventually she was able to ride the short distance back to our car, suffering only a few scrapes, bruises, and a torn ligament. The experience was as emotionally jarring as it was thought provoking.
It has me thinking about love and about its mysterious power to change us, if we are willing. My sister and I are both letting our love matter, not taking it for granted. It brightens my day and lifts my spirit. It ripples out to my family, friends, colleagues, and clients. It has me looking for other situations in my life where I can be less guarded and more available for love’s magic.
I have a friend who sends me a card every year for 12 years to celebrate the day we met. I know of a parent who celebrates their child’s report card for the good grades instead of reprimanding for the less than perfect ones.
I have friends who make every Friday night ‘date night’ with their significant other to celebrate their love.
My father used to call me Elsa Maxwell (a famous party giver) because I would have a party at the drop of a hat. I remember having a ‘Play hooky from work day’ and about 40 of us went for a day cruise on a Thursday!
These celebrations create lasting memories and warm feelings. Years to come we will not remember the times we worked long hours or the times we sat and watched TV every night. We will however remember the fun times and the bonding we had with our friends and family and the special moments we created.
Holidays and Birthdays are not the only days to celebrate life. Find a reason to celebrate more and feel the fun and love that it provides. Share your celebration ideas with others so they can be inspired!
Begin by finding a reason to celebrate TODAY!