Tend your garden.

gardens

If our bodies are gardens, what’s growing there? Is your garden body overcome by weeds and neglect, or is it a colorful explosion of bloom and fragrance? Is it a barren landscape or carefully and lovingly tended?

Self-care isn’t selfish; its vital. Time spent caring for your own body and soul will flower into every aspect of your life.

Today, consider giving your future self a gift. Maybe you can start a gratitude jar where you jot down little things you’re grateful for as you go through the day to toss into the jar. Your future self can pour out the jar a month or year from now and be blessed again by all those memories. Or change your sheets and give them a spritz of fragrance. Your future self will smile tonight when they tuck into the crisp linens. Or set aside a bit of money each day for a week for a future splurge down the road. Or, perhaps, start today something future you will thank you for later.

There are so many things you can do for future you if you take a minute to think about it.  Taking the time now to do something for the you later reminds you that, even as you pour yourself out in caring for others, you matter, too.

Thank you, God, for most this amazing day.

amazingday

Today is a gift. Soak in the beauty all around you. Treasure the people in your life. Hold on to gratitude that you are able to be here, now, with all that there is.

In the words of e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings

And then take just a moment to watch this beautiful video. Happy Today!

Starting again.

 

startoverSometimes we start down a path that feels, after a while, like a wrong turn. We think of turning back and taking a different path at the fork, but it’s a long way back, and we’ve made good time on the path we’re on. So we keep pushing forward. We still think we’re on the wrong path, but the fork in the road is even farther back and we’ve learned to get along on the path we’re on. Sometimes we make a mess of the path we’re on, or it becomes impenetrable. And yet we hesitate to start again. So we keep messing up or butting our heads against immovable objects. Because starting over sometimes feels like defeat rather than victory. But is it?

More from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.

Isn’t that a lovely benediction?

Making the best of our lives, seeing things that startle us, feeling things we’ve never felt, meeting people with a different point of view, and having the courage to start again if we find ourselves on the wrong path. Yes, please. That.

Listening, or just waiting for your turn to talk?

listen

Listening, truly listening, is rare. Most people are just waiting for their turn to reply. Or maybe not even waiting, but interrupting to say what is on their mind. Two people both talking, but neither listening, and no one, consequently, heard. Too often, we want to avoid the discomfort of listening, particularly if someone is hurting, and so we turn the conversation back to something safe, ourselves.

Celeste Headlee recounts a time when she tried to support her grieving friend, but failed:

A good friend of mine lost her dad some years back. I found her sitting alone on a bench outside our workplace, not moving, just staring at the horizon. She was absolutely distraught and I didn’t know what to say to her. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing to someone who is grieving and vulnerable. So, I started talking about how I grew up without a father. I told her that my dad had drowned in a submarine when I was only 9 months old and I’d always mourned his loss, even though I’d never known him. I just wanted her to realize that she wasn’t alone, that I’d been through something similar and could understand how she felt.

But after I related this story, my friend looked at me and snapped, “Okay, Celeste, you win. You never had a dad, and I at least got to spend 30 years with mine. You had it worse. I guess I shouldn’t be so upset that my dad just died.”

I was stunned and mortified. My immediate reaction was to plead my case. “No, no, no,” I said, “that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just meant that I know how you feel.” And she answered, “No, Celeste, you don’t. You have no idea how I feel.”

She walked away and I stood there helplessly, watching her go and feeling like a jerk. I had totally failed my friend. I had wanted to comfort her, and instead, I’d made her feel worse. At that point, I still felt she misunderstood me. I thought she was in a fragile state and had lashed out at me unfairly when I was only trying to help.

But the truth is, she didn’t misunderstand me at all. She understood what was happening perhaps better than I did. When she began to share her raw emotions, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say, so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself.

I may have been trying to empathize, at least on a conscious level, but what I really did was draw focus away from her anguish and turn the attention to me. She wanted to talk to me about her father, to tell me about the kind of man he was, so I could fully appreciate the magnitude of her loss. Instead, I asked her to stop for a moment and listen to my story about my dad’s tragic death.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/celeste-headlee-the-mistake-i-made-with-my-grieving-friend#ixzz5BWgsfjLr

How often do we do this in our conversations? We listen to the story, only to remember a time when we experienced something similar and then quickly switch focus to our story. Do we sit with a person in their grief, their discomfort, their loneliness? Or do we try to change the topic to something more pleasant?

Headlee continues:

From that day forward, I started to notice how often I responded to stories of loss and struggle with stories of my own experiences. My son would tell me about clashing with a kid in Boy Scouts, and I would talk about a girl I fell out with in college. When a co-worker got laid off, I told her about how much I struggled to find a job after I had been laid off years earlier. But when I began to pay a little more attention to how people responded to my attempts to empathize, I realized the effect of sharing my experiences was never as I intended. What all of these people needed was for me to hear them and acknowledge what they were going through. Instead, I forced them to listen to me and acknowledge me.

Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. It is often subtle and unconscious. Derber writes that conversational narcissism “is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America. It occurs in informal conversations among friends, family and co-workers. The profusion of popular literature about listening and the etiquette of managing those who talk constantly about themselves suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life.” Derber describes two kinds of responses in conversations: a shift response and a support response. The first shifts attention back to yourself, and the second supports the other person’s comment. Here is a simple illustration:

Shift Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Me too. I’m totally overwhelmed.

Support Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Why? What do you have to get done?

Here’s another example:

Shift Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Me too. These things are falling apart.

Support Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about?

Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism. They help you turn the focus constantly back to yourself. But a support response encourages the other person to continue their story. These days, I try to be more aware of my instinct to share stories and talk about myself. I try to ask questions that encourage the other person to continue. I’ve also made a conscious effort to listen more and talk less.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/celeste-headlee-the-mistake-i-made-with-my-grieving-friend#ixzz5BWhblDfL

Today, pay attention to your conversations. Think about the difference between shift responses and support responses, and focus on listening.

Stay curious.

catwindow

Curiosity is a powerful motivator. It keeps us searching, questioning, wondering, hoping. It keeps us engaged in life. Think of all the things you have left to learn, the places yet to see, the surprises yet to unfold. Sometimes our best days and moments follow our absolute worst.  There is always something next.

Make time for a beauty intrusion.

intrusions

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a beautiful intrusion? A melting crayon sunset, the waft of jasmine, a baby’s laughter? These moments infuse the day with depth and magic when we pause to soak them in. And then, to think that these little beautiful miracles are always unfolding around you as you go through the day, but often you just don’t notice–amazing! What a remarkable place we have here.

To experience a bit of awe and magic today, take a look at this gardening swan. Delightful!

Be on the lookout for a beautiful intrusion today.

Avoid the drift.

holdhands

Otters sleep holding hands. In the open water, it would be so easy for them to drift away from each other in the ebb and flow of the tides. They also use kelp to wrap around themselves, but there is something about the image of sleeping otters holding hands to stay connected that is utterly endearing.Sea_otters_holding_hands.jpg.638x0_q80_crop-smart.jpg

We, too, bounce around in rough seas, and it is easy to drift away from those we love. Distractions, distance, inattentiveness add up until you are apart, in the storm separately, rather than braving it together.

Today, work to avoid the drift away from those you love.

We are, each and every one of us, complex.

jigsaw

Imagine if you were known only by the single worst decision you ever made.

Yikes.

You know you are so much better than that one decision, and for everything you’ve done wrong in this life, you’ve done countless other better, meaningful, and inspiring things. And, yet, if people were to judge you by that one thing alone, they may not want to be with you or worse.

We live in a judgmental world, quick to condemn, quick to label, quick to stigmatize. But, deep down, we know we are all worthy of being treated as individuals, full of complexity.

How can you see beyond the quick judgments today?

Wonder.

wonder

How lovely it is to stand still in the enormity of your questions. To realize that what you know is minuscule in relation to all there is to know. To let your curious mind take you on a journey of discovery. How liberating it is to lay down the facade of expertise and acknowledge that, in this world, we are all students.

Be an encourager.

encourager

It’s remarkable to realize how much power is in a put-down, how those words stay with us and make us small and afraid, hesitant to speak or step out, content to be less than. But, too, there is much power in a compliment, in noticing someone’s strengths and kindness, in pointing out someone’s promise and achievement. We wield this power every day, with our children, co-workers, family, friends. What are we choosing to do with our words?

In this remarkable video, Lisa Nichols tells of the impact her teacher’s negative words had on her a child, but don’t worry her “story didn’t end there”!

 

Lisa Nichols is remarkable. She realized that other people’s perceptions of her shouldn’t hold her back, but not everyone is so resilient. We must be careful with our words, to encourage rather than criticize, so that the world can be a brighter place all around!