Keep your momentum.

 

momentum

Have you ever taken a break from an exercise regime only to come back a few days later and realize you had lost ground? Your times were slower; your exhaustion quicker. Perhaps it was a break from keeping the house clean, just a few days, and then a seemingly insurmountable mess of stacked dirty dishes and heaps of dirty clothes. Or any habit, really, that takes day in and day out attention can feel like it is easily lost—like pushing forward on your dreams.

Keeping forward momentum in life is important. It is so easy to slide back, to lose ground, to let tasks build up until they are a mountain you no longer want to climb. But pushing yourself, each day, little by little, isn’t nearly as overwhelming.

Hold your ground. And then keep going. You can do this.

Creating sacred space.

sacredspace

If you were to design a sacred space, what would it look like? Would it have four walls and a roof, or would it be open to the elements–more like an amphitheater? Would your design welcome strangers or be more intimate and walled to shelter those already within the circle?

The notion of building a place for God to come and commune with his people, and them with each other, is as old as the world itself. And, for this test or how to design a sacred space, there are probably no wrong answers. But consider this solution:

In this delightful TED talk, architect Saimek Hariri focused on luminosity, the movement of light across the space as day progressed, and the glow emitted by the temple to the outside world. He says,

You know, you aspire for beauty, for sensuousness, for atmosphere, the emotional response. That’s the realm of the ineffable and the immeasurable. And that’s what you live for: a chance to try.

Hariri’s task was challenging, and his answer novel:

And the brief was deceptively simple and unique in the annals of religion: a circular room, nine sides, nine entrances, nine paths, allowing you to come to the temple from all directions, nine symbolizing completeness, perfection. No pulpit, no sermons, as there are no clergy in the Bahá’í faith. And in a world which is putting up walls, the design needed to express in form the very opposite. It had to be open, welcoming to people of all faiths, walks of life, backgrounds, or no faith at all; a new form of sacred spacewith no pattern or models to draw from. It was like designing one of the first churches for Christianity or one of the first mosques for Islam.

hariri-pontarini-architects-bahai-temple-of-south-america-santiago-chile-designboom-1800

How do we as created beings hope to craft a building that sufficiently honors the creator? Any such attempt is but a feeble effort to manifest our gratitude and awe at the miracle of creation all around us because, in our core, we remember that we meet our creator wherever we go, wherever we are, and wherever we will ever be.

Miracles everywhere.

miracle

Miracles are everywhere, really. You just have to notice them. Consider the people you love and all the circumstances that must have happened in just a particular way to bring you into each other’s life. Consider all the moments that have led you to right where you are today. All the twists and turns, and forks in the roads. Survival, alone, is a bit of a miracle when you think about it.

Consider this wedding dress:

2000-11073

It was handmade by the bride out of the parachute that saved her husband during WWII. As stated by the curators at the Smithsonian where the dress is now housed:

This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved Maj. Claude Hensinger during World War II.

In August 1944, Hensinger, a B-29 pilot, and his crew were returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, when their engine caught fire. The crew was forced to bail out. Suffering from only minor injuries, Hensinger used the parachute as a pillow and blanket as he waited to be rescued. He kept the parachute that had saved his life. He later proposed to his girlfriend Ruth in 1947, offering her the material for a gown.

Ruth wanted to create a dress similar to one in the movie Gone with the Wind. She hired a local seamstress, Hilda Buck, to make the bodice and veil. Ruth made the skirt herself; she pulled up the strings on the parachute so that the dress would be shorter in the front and have a train in the back. The couple married July 19, 1947. The dress was also worn by the their daughter and by their son’s bride before being gifted to the Smithsonian.

To Walt Whitman, everything was a miracle. You just needed the right eyes to see it that way. Consider his Poem of Perfect Miracles:

REALISM is mine, my miracles,
Take all of the rest—take freely—I keep
but my own—I give only of them,
I offer them without end—I offer them to you
wherever your feet can carry you, or your
eyes reach.

 

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward
the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in
the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in
the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of an
August forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,


Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the
air,

Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of
stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new-
moon in May,
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that
like me best—mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to
the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements
of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or
the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to
burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass,
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me
miracles,
The whole referring—yet each distinct and in its
place.

 

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a
miracle,
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is
spread with the same,


Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the
same;

Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs,
of men and women, and all that concerns
them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

 

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion
of the waves—the ships, with men in them
—what stranger miracles are there?
What are your miracles?

Got talent?

talent

Talent. America’s got talent. Korea’s got talent. Lots of countries got talent. We celebrate talent worldwide. And, sure, talent is great. Check out this young ventriloquist singing her, and her puppet’s, heart out. It’s captivating.

But something is missing from the equation when the spotlight is on talent alone. We are too quick to assume that you are simply born with talent…. or not. You can either sing, dance, act, or whatever the ‘talent’ is from a very early age or you’re just out of luck. But that is simply not the case. Behind any good audition or performance, any bestselling book debut or praiseworthy poem is a lot of practice and perseverance. No one springs from the womb singing opera or tap dancing. It’s just not done. And, if you don’t agree, take a look at this clip of Ed Sheeran singing–an adult, but not quite the adult we’ve come to love listening to.

It’s never too late to start developing a new talent. Imagine what the world would look like if the TV shows were America’s [or substitute any country here] Got Perseverance (or Passion or Dedication). What would that show look like?

What kind of difference?

difference

Think of all the people you’ve brushed up against as you went about your day today. Were their lives made better by the encounter? Even something as simple as a greeting or smile can brighten someone else’s day, and they in turn will be more encouraged to brighten someone else’s day and so on and so on and so on.  Good cheer ripples out into the world endlessly. So, of course, does a dour grumpy mood. But who needs more of that?

Consider your actions today. You’re making ripples of one kind or another.

Sow love.

sowlove

How do we bring peace to a contentious world? Perhaps the only way is to meet hate with love, anger with forgiveness, strife with peace. Please take a minute to enjoy these children singing Make Me a Channel of Your Peace:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord.
And where there is doubt true faith in You.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light.
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in giving to all man that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Cultivating a gratitude practice.

blossom

We think of gratitude as something for the high points of life. But what if it is a practice we cultivate, day in and day out, for all the moments in life? What if we actively look for the good in a dismal situation? What if we seek out the positives that came from trauma? Perhaps bad experiences led you to meet someone who has become important to you or to be able to help others going through something similar. Somehow, someway, there is good to be found in any situation.

As we practice building up our gratitude muscles, we become more resilient.  In this lovely article by Kristi Nelson, she says:

Gratefulness, like mindfulness or yoga, is an awareness practice and a way of training, deepening, and directing our attention. The point is not to become an expert in grateful living—never wavering from a grateful outlook—but to recognize that gratefulness can offer us a “touchstone” for life (especially in difficult times) where we can return our awareness again and again in order to shift or expand our perspective. Like other forms of practice, gratefulness makes us more resilient and flexible, and also offers a way to frame and learn from everything that unfolds in our lives. Through practicing over time, we gradually become more and more able to recognize the opportunity in every moment. Practice helps us to deliver on presence, and being present leads to so much else that is beneficial.

If you have a moment, enjoy this lovely video to welcome you into your day with gratitude and love.

How to handle toxic people…

fault

Do you  have any difficult people in your life? Chances are you can’t force them to be less toxic, but there are steps you can take to be less bothered by the encounter. In this article by Christine Carter, she suggests, among other things, that showing mercy to this difficult person will rebound to you:

Anne Lamott defines mercy as radical kindness bolstered by forgiveness, and it allows us to alter a communication dynamic, even when we are interacting with someone mired in anger or fear or jealousy. We do this by offering them a gift from our heart. You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person. Can you buy them a cup of coffee? Can you hold space for their suffering? Can you send a loving-kindness meditation their way?

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they’d asked for forgiveness, preferably in the form of a moving and remorseful apology letter.

But I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. This means that you might need to forgive the other person at the end of every day—or, on bad days, every hour. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. “When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves,” Anne Lamott writes, “we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp.”

Here’s the real miracle: Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance—and when we tell the truth in even the most difficult relationship—we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even if it is only for a moment. We start to show ourselvesthe truth, and this makes us feel free.

Perhaps you can show that difficult person mercy today.

Thank an animal.

snoozepup

Those of us with pets know how close the bond between animal and human can be. You look deep into the eyes of a cat or dog and see another soul, one who greets you, perhaps, with unrestrained love and affection. We think of ourselves as caring for our pets and sometimes forget how deeply they care for us in return. The bond between animal and human can be transcendent. And, beyond dogs and cats, is that close bond possible?

In this remarkable video, consider Blue, the pot-bellied therapy pig who cheers up seniors in assisted living:

It is not unusual to see 2 year old Blue in the hallways cheering up people a few times a month….

[Blue’s certification as a therapy pig] has been rewarding for both pig and people. The potbelly helps residents “get out of their element” and forget about pain or depression they may be experiencing, says Nu Vista Living Facility lifestyle director Pamela Collins.

“It’s amazing how much Blue is drawn to the people at the nursing home, it is as if she just knows that they need her,” said Zamora-Duran.

Life on Earth is complex, and the possibilities for connection nearly limitless. Isn’t it remarkable that we all–humans and animals–can connect as we share this planet?

Look closer.

 

secretsIt’s so easy to be mad, to rush, to grumble, to push and bluster our way through life without stopping to consider, or even think about, the lives of all the people we brush up against. It might stop us in our tracks if we knew the burdens other people were carrying. It might make us slow down, consider our actions, be kind, refuse to contribute to the existing pain and suffering. If only there were some way to see inside, to know what other people were experiencing. Is that what it would take? In this insightful and powerful video, we learn just that. Would it make a difference if we could actually feel someone else’s pain and sorrow? Would it slow us down to treat each other with kindness? What would it take?