Once Upon A Time…

Life is a story. Within the story, countless other stories are shaped. No one story is insignificant since every story is part of the master story.

We each have our own story. Some of it we choose, other parts are chosen for us. Our stories are meant to be told together.  So how do we choose what becomes our part of the story?

Right now, your life is an accumulation of what you have seen, experienced and learned wrapped in your perception of those moments. Your perception molds the way you view yourself and others. From there, you determine how to manage the world around you. The way you manage the world inside of you is much more powerful than anything happening around you or to you.

Yes, that’s what I said. Internal management is more profound than any other experience because it shapes our approach to life. Ten people can have the same experience and have 10 different “take aways”. It is about attitude and perception.

Do we look for what is possible or look for obstacles? Is being aware of others’ needs important? What about tending to others needs? What motivates us? Is it about doing the right thing or focused on being the most important person in the world? Do we criticize those different from us to make ourselves seem superior? Is helping others more about validating our worth than affirming the other?

When we remember we are all part of the same story, investing in others is investing in the story. Believing we can write the master story ourselves leads to a frantic, destructive place of pride where wounded souls are left in our wake.

We can each be a source of healing in the story of others as well as our own.

The method is provided through an infinite list of choices such as:

  • The attitude we carry with us and pass along to others.
  • Choosing to see value in others and ourselves.
  • Acknowledging and embracing the profound invitation given to us to live in the awareness of a master story.
  •  Refusing poisonous pride; and displaying the sparkle of humility.

Where will you write sparkle into your story today? Will you be a source for sparkle in some else’s story?

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Finding More Love

What do you “love”?

Who do you “love”?

Who “loves” you?

Seems the word “love” has different meanings in different contexts. If we consider what we mean when we say “love”, three general categories appear. One is the category of people, places, things or experiences we enjoy because of what we receive. This category is often where we are the one considered first and most importantly.

For instance:

  • I love really dark chocolate. (nothing in it for the chocolate)
  • I love working out. (shocking, I know)
  • I love Lake Michigan.
  • I love music.
  • I love my dog. (who wouldn’t)
  • The list is long…

Perhaps this is more of a preference than it is love. There are better words than “love” to describe interest in these areas. It isn’t really love. We may benefit from using words more carefully.

Another category is when an act or feeling of “love” is contingent on another person’s response. Love is continued as long as it is reciprocated properly. I will do this as long as you do this. Is that love or manipulation? Sometimes it looks a lot like control. Ever heard of someone being angry because someone else he or she “loves” doesn’t do what he or she wants them to do? This pride driven pattern is often completely self-serving. Demanding something from another to appease an emptiness inside of us will never be love.

The other category is when “love” is given solely for the benefit of another, no strings attached. This is a hard one. No matter how the act of love is received, there is no room for expectations or receprocity. Love is just for love. Making choices strictly by what is best for another. There is no need for the love to be returned. Being loving is the reward even if no one sees or values it.

This is found in areas like:

  • Giving financial support to someone or something which cannot be traced back to you. (no room for pride or recognition)
  • Treating a “difficult” person with respect and dignity. (you might know someone in this category)
  • Wanting what is best for someone who rejected you. (think about when an “ex” is seemingly doing really well in life, love and career)
  • Taking care of someone who is incapable of caring for themselves or has nothing to give in return.
  • Consistently considering how an action or decision will effect another. This is especially true in marriage or committed relationships.
  • Putting your own desires aside for the good of another.

This kind of love is transformational. The act of giving love openly, honestly, without manipulation and being given love in the same manner is the ultimate human experience. Love is not just found in romantic relationships. It is found where ever one person values another person enough to want the best for him or her even it means they will not mutually benefit. It is a place to grow, learn and find freedom to become whole. It is often a place of self sacrifice. It can only be entered into through humility.

There is no room for regret where there is true love. How can desiring the best for another ever lead to regret? True love never dies even if the relationship changes.

Finding more love is as simple as truly loving more. It will cost you all of your pride. There you will find fulfillment beyond imagination!

Priorities

Volunteering is truly a privilege. Whether it is mentoring sweet Emily, the first grade bundle of sparkly joy I meet with weekly to help with reading, or in and through the lives of those men and women actively dying in hospice, my understanding of life is growing.

Emily is filled with wonder, energy, promise, innocence and a future filled with possibility. She is always smiling, perpetually enthusiastic about most things we take for granted. Her young mind is on overdrive with  experiencing new things, learning how to be a good friend and sometimes frustrated with the limitations imposed upon her by adults. She is learning in school how to be successful in groups and learning independently. She is respectful, compliant with most things and fun. Every week when I leave her, I am a better person. She helps me maintain my “wonder”. I help her with spelling words and sight words. I definitely get the better end of the deal.

Hospice is a marvelous sacred space where a patient is living through the dying process alone, with others around. The family and friends are wrestling with letting go of a loved one. Often sharing his or her own loving memories of the patient. Often privately struggling with regrets associated with the patient. The patient is processing through the reality of dying and the pain of those around them. At the end of life, things become much more simple. Regrets are energy burners as never before. There is little time left to regret so learning to savor moments with loved ones is essential. Fewer words and more “being”. There isn’t much to talk about when you are dying. You need space to process through unfinished business with others perhaps, and you then process through letting go of this life and transitioning to what is beyond. I bring them a diversion, aka Shiloh the Collie, and do my best to just be present, validate them where they are and leave a little dog hair behind. They help me remember the fragility of life and the strength of love. I definitely get the better end of the deal here as well.

May you find wonder within your fragile life today and the strength of Love that surrounds us all.

Where do you live?

At any given moment, we are influenced by our past, present and future.

When we are mostly influenced by our past, we often have an accusing internal voice filled with should haves, regrets, disappointments, and resentments.

When we live in the future, what is yet to be steals the treasures of today.

Life in the present is the filled with possibilities, tangible joys and rich experiences.

Where do you live?