It’s A Beautiful Day

You are here now.

Enjoy what you have. Prepare for the future.  How often have we heard someone say that? Sometimes this seems like it can’t be done, right?

Or we worry that it can’t be done right. It’s all so damn confusing.

The interesting thing about the future is that it is formed from today. I have found that playing with this idea has given me insight.

When this picture was taken I was sitting on a rock looking out at this magnificent view. I had just hiked for 1.5 hrs to get here.

At this point, my destination wasn’t even in view. Baxter Peak was somewhere up there to the right. For the moment it was blocked by a stand of trees.

The trek had just begun. I still had hours of climbing ahead of me.

I had done my homework. My hiking boots sat on the ground beside me as I cooled my feet. I could feel the sweat on my back…I was warmed up and ready for the next leg of the hike. This path was almost straight up, climbing over the huge boulders that comprise the Cathedral trail on Mt. Katahdin, the northernmost mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, USA.

I knew the path – I had climbed the Cathedral before. I had trained for this.

I had a map. My way was clear. The mountain beckoned!

I found myself feeling very grateful for the man sitting beside me. My husband, Mark. Without him, I would not be here. He is my rock on this climb.

Mark is my adventure buddy, my hiking, cycling, kayaking, and resistance training partner, and my 2nd husband.

Before we met in 2005, I did most of my adventuring alone. On that particular today, I once again choose him and he chooses me.

I am pleased because it is always today. It is my choice to have Mark in my life for every today.

I remember this moment this picture captures very well – the way the wind whispered through the trees…the fresh evergreen air…the exceptional brilliant blue-green of Chimney Pond…the small chipmunk that sat on a rock behind me begging for peanuts…and the camaraderie of the other hikers who were about to take this epic journey along with Mark and I.

These people would be in my life for a short time, not a long time. I may not remember each of their faces and I did not catch many of their names, but I value every step with every one of them.

People come into your life for a season and a reason. The season may be long or it may be short. Some seasons must end sooner than later and you must move on.

The reason may be clear or it may be obscure. Either way, you must search your heart and decide what reason you give it.

Whether it is a reason to travel with the one who chooses to be with you today for as long as feels natural to you both or to use your discomfort as an excuse to prolong or pre-empt the experience…this is your choice, as well.

You are wise to be considering your choices before acting.

If someone is truly holding you back…if they are discouraging you from living your best life…it may be time to move on.  I never would have found Mark, my adventure buddy on the road of life if I had chosen to remain stuck in my discomfort, resigned to adventuring alone.

However, keep in mind that the present is where you get to enjoy today. Consider the gift these people may be giving you by inviting you to enjoy not just the destination, but the journey as well.

Your mountain awaits…and today is a beautiful day.

The Life of P

Ever bought a set of sheets – unpacked them, washed them, and taken them fresh from the clothesline and tried to fold them back into the package in the exact same way they were when you bought them?

This morning I was presented with an interesting challenge…How do I fold myself back into the box?

Have you ever thought about what you would tell your younger self about life if you got the chance?  Or to go back in time and meet the younger you and try to steer her (or him) away from life’s crazies and collisions?

There would be a very long line of folks with a very long list of what not to do, methinks!

Well, I am not going to consider it from a Back to The Future prospective, because that would mean knowing what I know now as a young me and that’s been done and done and done again.

This required some mental gymnastics…projecting back in time to me then, wiping the slate in my imagination, and then projecting ahead to me now…attempting to fold myself outside in and imagine myself inside out.

I think of it like seeing a documentary entitled The Life of P.

Here are the parameters:

  • I am 16.
  • I am in a movie theatre watching a documentary that chronicles the life of the woman who I know as P. It is set up to unfold in chronological order.

This is the girl I envision.  She is getting ready to graduate high school within a few months.  Man, did she hate school!  She just managed to squeak by academically.  She can hardly wait to get away and get her life underway.

Don’t let her baby face fool you.  She is one intense little chiquita…

What would she think of me, as she watched the documentary with P as the star?  Who does she see when she sees me?

I asked and my 16 yr old self answered…

I know she is me but she doesn’t feel like me. We look alike but my skin isn’t like hers. I am struggling with the idea that this older, more weathered version will be me. P is being interviewed as the documentary begins and says she has just turned 59. She seems pleased to tell everyone.

At least I made it to 59. Yay.

The words coming out of my mouth sound like my voice, though. P is upbeat and energetic! She smiles a lot. She seems genuinely nice. Nicer than I feel most of the time. And when she talks about me her eyes look really soft and gentle.

And I think, How did you get to be that kind?

I watch as P struggles with making sense of her life, of our life, as a young adult.

It makes me bawl my eyes out. I wish I didn’t have to wait so long and fight so hard to feel accepted and loved, but I am relieved to know that it finally happens.

I think, Why, why, why, did all that crap have to happen me??? but as the movie continues I see how I brought some of that stuff on myself.  And I like how P uses those experiences.  She calls them tattoo moments – moments that are tattooed on your brain.  They show you where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.

We live, crap happens. We choose. We make mistakes.  If we learn, we win.  Every time.

I don’t know what to do with that crap.  Thank you, P, for figuring it out.

I will have two babies! WOW! I cannot imagine actually having a baby. I can see her pain on my face during, but also our joy on my face afterward.  Mom P makes it almost seem doable. And they are the cutest kids ever!! I can’t wait to meet them!!!

And the changes that happen when I’m a mom…so much P does because she is a parent that isn’t pretty and is really freakin’ hard…

Thanks, P, for taking the time to grow up.

But really, though…that 80’s perm?  And could you lose those 90’s Mom jeans, please????

You know, at 16, I KNOW that I can do anything in the world! I WILL do it! As I watch The Life of P, I see the places where I will have the chance to zig instead of zag, and I see where I will kind of get lost in a zig-zag maze like the one I read about that had a Minotaur in it…you know, that half-man half-bull thing that would kill ya if it cornered ya…

But you found our superpowers in there. We can haul ass like The 6 Million Dollar Woman!  Thanks, P, for following the White Rabbit like Alice did in Wonderland, and for not turning me into a scared rabbit.

YES!!! P still knows how to have fun! I am happy that we still get to play sports. I really hate the sports we do in high school, but I will earn a black belt in Taekwondo when I’m 42, and hike Mt. Katahdin many times and Mt. Washington and run in races and cycle in France and hike to Machu Picchu after I turn 50!

This makes me really excited, P!  And now I know why I waited so long to begin. It’s all good.

I cringe, though, because what happens when a person lives long enough happens in the later parts of our documentary.

Mom and dad die. My sweet Grammie and Poppie die. A LOT of folks I know die. Every one of my good ole dogs and cats die.  One will actually die in my arms.

OMG, I’m only 16…I don’t want to see any of this!!!  But I know you didn’t want to either, and you still did it with as much elegance as you had in you. I am proud of those parts of our story, P.

Thank you for caring enough about me and my dreams to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin all over again. I know now that even when I feel like nobody really cares about me, that you do.

Thank you for not only surviving but for learning to thrive.  Thank you for not forgetting about me during those hard times.  You didn’t leave me alone for thaaat long…but I did miss you when you were gone.

I appreciate how you worked so hard to get back to the girl who would become the woman inside me, and how you learned to love me better than anyone else in the whole wide world! 

You know, I have been thinking about something…I like where I am just fine, P, with my life stretched out before me like a softly winding Carrera marble staircase that is waiting to be brushed by the hem of my long, sweeping silk dress...a red gown, of course…

But I don’t want to be you yet.  It is enough to know that when the time comes I will be happy to step into your shoes.

And I am relieved!  Even though I find her super funny, I didn’t wanna end up being Granny Clampett.

And I’m just as happy to know you don’t want to be me again, either.

I see it now!  It’s all connected at the nexus of now.  The paradox of the future me envisioning the past me envisioning the future me will change everyone I have been and ever will be.  What if what I see now, at 16, changes the timeline in all directions, from this moment on?

I have all the time in the world to chew on that idea.

What is my favorite part of the documentary? That’s easy! The part where I finally say, I am an artist!

Where P tells the whole world that the artist within never, ever, dies…that we always carry it in our hearts, like a lighthouse beacon on a cold, stormy North Atlantic night.  To see it revealed in the stories we spin and the songs we write together ignites a fire that transcends time and space!

Annndddd, I LOVED the part where I connect with the 59 yr old P that I know I will be…when time stands still so I can step through the mirror and P is waiting for me on a mountaintop where we feel the wind and the sun and join together in that friggin’ cool little Happy Dance!

Wait for it!!! I can hardly….

It’s the scene where, in the end, she hugs me. For the rest of our life.

The End of Days

My dream for the end of days?  To savor
every hallowed hall-framed whisper,
every sacred snip of silence,
bolstered strong by self-reliance.
Tested every grand adventure,
pacified my sour temper,
respected well those zigs and zags,
those margin calls that tagged…me in…
my exit card a wide and wicked grin.
I pledge to kiss my ass goodbye…in style,
every glint of dream that sparks my eye
well manifest and realized.
Optimized by full potential,
satisfied, complete surrender.
Maxed it out and lived it grand.
Eaten up.  Made my stand.
Mastered by my artist’s hand.
Every tick well stepped in time,
every song well bathed in rhyme.
Each brilliant flash, each kindly word,
honored, blessed, well played and heard.
Every space explored and prized
every love tried on for size
having walked through every door
having kicked through many more!
Made my Constant Traveler proud,
heard my rebel yell resound!
Creative juices unrestrained
always ventured, always gained,
I’ll abandon my remains.
Rapt enjoyment having tried,
having answered every Why,

As I drank the wellspring dry.

In Defence of Comfort…

How far are you willing to go?
How much are you willing to know?
This is the question that nobody knows,
Just how deep that rabbit hole goes…

Last year, while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, I was faced with a dilemma.  We were at a small, out of the way park in which there was a really cool freshwater pool, called a cenote in Spanish, in which we were invited to swim.

A cenote is a freshwater pit or sinkhole, caused by the action of water, over time, eroding of the limestone and creating a natural pool.  These pools are exquisite – sparklingly clear, vibrantly blue-green in color, and refreshingly cool.  To the person who dislikes jumping into 25-26 deg. Celsius ( 77-78 deg. Fahrenheit) water the refreshment “shock” takes you out of your comfort zone.

Yeah.  I am one of those people.

I had no trouble walking into the pool, immersing myself a bit at a time, but when the tour leader guided us to the rock from which we could jump (about a 6 ft drop) into the deepest part of the cenote, I declined.  I watched my husband gleefully leap with the abandon of a child into the clear sapphire water.  He shot me a wicked grin that conveyed his pleasure to be here, in this place, and to be able to enjoy the experience of jumping into the pool.  An experience I did not share.

You know what?  That sucked.

It was a tattoo moment for me, one of those moments that gets tattooed on your memory.  It is a “snapshot” of time when I think of that cenote, I think of my husband’s wicked grin as he tried to encourage me to jump in with him.

A tattoo moment can serve as an excuse.  I am no different than anyone else, there are times when I argue for my limitations.  The water was too chilly – I don’t like jumping into “cold” water…the rock was “too” high – I don’t like heights…Why don’t I just do it?…because I can choose not to and I chose not to…

Cool.  There was nobody or nothing to stop me either way.  I missed out on that very cool experience because I was stuck in my comfort zone.

I will give myself some cred here…I have blasted my way out of many comfort zones in my life resulting in significant changes and personal growth, including addressing my fears around my personal death and dying in a profound manner.  I have written a book about that process called Saving Your Own Life:  Learning to Live Like You Are Dying, but comfort is a funny thing.  It creeps up on you when you aren’t looking and causes you to be less than you could be.  Less than your best.

Frig that.

I began exploring my comfort zone in more depth this year and discovered pockets of resistance. There are more but these seemed to be enough to begin to address at that time.

I found myself avoiding:

Unscripted public speaking.
Tightening up my diet.
Engaging in exercise even in cold, windy, winter weather.
Strenuous exercise.

Can you identify with any of these pockets of resistance?  Where do you most defend your comfort?

I addressed my discomfort with unscripted public speaking by joining two Toastmasters clubs last fall.  I threw myself into it by entering contests and speaking at every opportunity.  My comfort level with unscripted speaking (without a memorized, prepared speech) is much higher now.

The other three on my list, I discovered, revolved around my beliefs about aging.  As I have grown older and, I like to believe, wiser, I have realized the benefits of giving myself a break.  I was really hard on myself for most of my life and bullied myself into strict diet and exercise protocols that I could not maintain in the long run.  I felt I was too lean, and I exercised a lot of the time while injured.  I stopped attending Hapkido classes due to pain caused by what I believe to be a serratus anterior (sometimes called the boxer’s muscle) injury.  I kept injuring it over and over and had to leave the sport for a year in order to have it properly heal.

It was a reality check.  I was 50 yrs old at the time.  It stands to reason that I would not heal as fast as I did when I was 25.  We still cycled, hiked and ran, but I had to limit my upper body exercises, including kayaking, for a while.

During that time I also began to eat more bread and pasta.  I truly believe in the Mediterranean style of eating for optimum health and longevity, but at that time I began indulging more than was necessary for health and long life.  I have a very healthy appetite.  My abdomen expanded as I sat more working on my books, eating that second helping of pasta…indulging in more crusty bread and cheese than I had before.  I was not overweight by anyone’s standards, but I felt dumpy and sluggish.

Not one to deny the subject of age, I began to consider the idea that perhaps this slowing down was natural…that the best of my years may be behind me…and that perhaps…it was natural to decide to ski and snowshoe and walk on sunny, nice winter days that kept me comfortable?  Didn’t I deserve it?

Indulging in our just desserts…

How many times have you heard people complain about winter weather?  Does it sound like you?  Generally, we stay inside more in winter and steel ourselves from the biting winds and snow as we make a dive to the car and then into the nearest heated building.

However, life goes on.  Days go by.  And one morning you wake up, hating the snow and the below zero temperatures, even when the sun is shining…because it is -10 deg. Celsius…because it is too windy…because there is always tomorrow…

I decided this year to step up my game, and step into my discomfort.  How?  The solution was elegantly simple.  With the exception of a driving snowstorm or sleet that covered everything in a veil of ice, I piled on the clothes and went anyway.

Here is a really easy way to begin blasting yourself out of your comfort zone – take a cool shower every morning.  Work up to a cold morning shower.

Yeah.  A cold shower works wonders.  It certainly blasts you out of your comfort zone.  It also saves on hot water, by the way, and saves on your water bill because I can guarantee you won’t stay in there any longer than necessary to get the job done, especially at first.

I begin with a cooler shower and before I got out, I began to turn the water colder and colder.  I hold my head under it for at least 30 seconds and then spin around (for some reason it feels colder on your back!) a couple of times.  Yeah, I grimace, but WOW! is it energizing!

And it is way cooler than the temperature of a tropical cenote.

This morning I found that I have become acclimatized to cold weather and cold water in a manner that is very satisfying.  Cold water showers have many health benefits (see link below).

That, my friends, is truly cool.

I have addressed the items on my list and realized something interesting…it had nothing at all to do with getting older, but everything to do with mindset…I can choose to and I chose to…

Naturally, you can choose, too…

Consider your own list, your own tattoo moments…yes, a tattoo moment can serve as an excuse, but frig that… make it an invitation to jump!

What comforts are you defending?

Our Mind/Body/Spirit Story

What does it mean to Thrive?

Learning to Thrive means understanding our Mind/Body/Spirit story.

  • It means way more than physical pleasures.
  • It means holding the Elegant Arts (appreciation, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, silence, and trust) in an enthusiastic, vibrant embrace.
  • It means celebrating and sharing our connection to the wellspring of creativity, imagination, and inspiration on a daily basis.
  • It means embodying our highest source of Self and reflecting that Constant Traveler knowing (aka wisdom).
  • It means expressing love as relationship – love of others through service, and love of self as self-care of our body, our mind, and our spirit.
  • It means honoring our personal Standard of Excellence.
  • It means respecting and trusting our innate abilities to recover and rebound from hardship.
  • It means enjoying the ride as much as the destination.  Eyes on the Prize success is measured by how deeply we activate the process.

I enjoy the personality of The Count.  I am not referring to the Sesame Street Count (although he rocks!), but The Count on the television show Counting Cars.  His way of expressing himself sets him apart.  He is a super salesman, and believable when he shares his enthusiasm for what he calls a, “a sweet ride.” When he sees a cool vehicle, he beams from ear to ear.  It is clear that he enjoys the work he does and the clients he serves.  It is clear that driving a sweet ride is a joyful experience for him.

To Thrive means embracing, celebrating, sharing, embodying, expressing, honoring, respecting, trusting and enjoying…the ride.

Want to experience en-joy-ment?  Wrap your ride in joy.

Drivers Wanted…

The slogan for Volkswagen is “Drivers Wanted.”  I think it has been quite successful.  This slogan can also apply to a life designed to thrive.

As we sit in the driver’s seat and navigate the hills, valleys, plains, freeways, speed bumps, potholes, and parking lots (parking lots are anarchy!) of life, we’d best enjoy the ride.

Is your Mind/Body/Spirit story a tale of a life designed to Thrive?



Every Beloved: Messages In the Stars

I love to rise before dawn.  It is a wonderful time of day – most of the world is still asleep.  I feel like I have it all to myself.  The mind-sparks flow most freely then…

This morning I am contemplating What If?

What if the discovery of our innards is like the search for dark matter in the Universe?  As David Eagleman was discussing the brain with host Tom Bilyeu David used an analogy that included the search for dark matter and I thought, what if we are creating it as we look?  What if the search for the essence of the Universe is not simply a metaphor for searching for our essential selves, but is one and the same thing?  What if we are learning how to discover by discovering?  What if we are remembering creation by our dreaming up new ways to search for it?

In a delightful and playful manner, what if we are creating wonder by wondering about it?

The night sky may be a metaphor for the mind-sparks in the human mind.  It may also be a symbol for the infinite instances of beloved that we can connect to through the naked, natural eye…clusters so intense that they become a Milky Way of possibilities.  When we gaze at the night sky do we become inspired by the actuality of infinite possibilities?

What if, friend, the stars exist just for you?  So you can see your dreams?  So you can see yourself and find your place among the planets? Find your place in a company of stars?

What if the messages in the stars are also flashes of other love – fragments of spirit that became our beloved?  A light that individualized to become the fragment that becomes those you love…always present in eternal possibility?  What if your beloved…spouse, mother, father, child, family member, ancestor, friend, pet – embodied and as well as those who have twinkled out of life – blend with your most sacred dreams, so ready to be-loved into life like a precious child…to wink and flash for your benefit every night, without fail?

What if our most precious is revealed through the necessity of darkness?

What if every beloved you have ever dreamed of and loved is beckoning to you in reassurance that regardless of what happens here on the ground, you are part of this infinite field of possibilities?  Whose light you are drawing to you…into your being…to be brilliantly revealed in the light of day?

Consider the constellations of dreamers who gazed upon this greatness from the first stirrings of humanity – What if the stars taught those early people how to dream…how to dream in huge, spectacular, riotous extremity…through messages in the light that cut through the darkness?  What if there is no other?  Do we truly recognize ourselves in the stars?

This morning, as Venus rose neon bright in the early morning sky, I wondered…did it rise because it was there all along, or because I rose to the occasion?  Considering the beauty of this feeling, I know the answer.

Isn’t it delicious to imagine?


Strategic Disruption – Chats With My Constant Traveller

The only two things you need to succeed in life are insight and drive. – Jay Samit

I love Jay Samit’s attitude!  He is a true divergent. He speaks of a time in the not-too-far future when the traditional job market will be revolutionized by AI technology. When this happens it will do no good to complain about losing your truck driving job, or your checkout job, or any other job that is already being replaced by technology, because it will already be gone.

In these times, we need our creativity more than ever. We have to break out of the comfortable groove into which we have settled and adapt. This can be scary and seem risky. However, the time is already here when it is riskier to stay in your groove than it is to venture out of it.

I get it. Like you, I was a product of my time…get education right out of high school, get a job and stick with it, work until I’m ready to retire…the big dream was winning the lottery, but I would settle for Freedom 55…

As it turns out, I didn’t do any of those things. And at times life has been scary. The options seemed limited…but now I understand that my options were limited because I talked myself out of many of the more interesting ones.

But this is now and that was then. Life begins after 50, it doesn’t end at 50. Which do you truly believe, in your heart of hearts? Tomorrow does not belong to the young unless you believe it. It belongs to nobody and everybody because it is simply a dream.

Dreams are ageless.  So is change.

Change happens now. Now is your opportunity, and mine. As an example, for just one day log the time you have spent surfing your news feeds or watching videos of cute kitties and puppies…this time could have been spent learning something new…perhaps about Epigenetics, or a new language, or about how the brain works, or how to make your diet better, or learning a new way to exercise, or watching a tutorial on how to use that new app or software, or reading a book that teaches you something…something that you may become so excited about that you feel it would be cheating others if you didn’t share it…

Or perhaps, if you choose, to learn something that makes you indispensable in your current job…if you really love that job, that is…

It’s all there, literally at your fingertips. Please, for the sake of us all, share your inspiration, not your complaints. Spark revolution and evolution and offer us a solution that incites a freaking dissolution of the calcification of our brains into to overflow with decrepit and sad and regret!

Stop the endless repetition of thoughts and events that leverage your past at the expense of your precious future. Only you can, but can you create that vision for yourself?

Each and every day that you have the privilege of waking up on this side of the grass, offer value for value.  How can we, as rational, compassionate human beings, offer anything less?

The world is depending on your answer.

Yay, Jay.