October 26, 2012
Do you doubt the moon’s existence, even if it is not in sight?
In times of darkness, do you wonder if the sun will ever shine again?
If you have ever witnessed the passing clouds on a dark night, you will know that the Unseen often speaks louder than that which you can see. Like feelings that soar through you, it is an ephemeral moment of grace. It is a reminder that you are alive as you search inside for your deepest truth.
We never know what curve balls life will throw at us. At times we feel as though we are the moon itself, floating majestically on its elliptcal path around the Earth. At other times we see ourselves as the hidden moon, caught behind a web of clouds for no one to see us as we truly are.
There was a time when people believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. Gallileo got in serious trouble for questioning that belief. But he stuck to his principles even in the face of anger and fear. He was a brave man in haunting times. I would like to have that much courage.
We are lucky to live in times when we are not persecuted for believing whatever we wish to believe. And yet we are often held hostage to the beliefs of others, forced to conform even when we know what we believe to be true. If you are feeling a moment of weakness, look to the moon for answers. It will tell you that this too shall pass.
At times the moon appears to be half-full, when in truth it is always the same. It holds itself back in the shadows of the Earth, waiting for the moment to shine in its entirety for just one night.
No matter where you are on this planet as you read this, you have your own unique view. You have every right to the view you hold. The question is whether the view you have is allowing you to live in your most empowered state? Whether hidden or in full view, you are here.
You may not always be able to shine in the fullness of you. But know that every part that you have is worthy of that light. You are worthy of being seen, heard and experienced in all your glory.
The moon has taught me so much about the staying power of perseverance. The moon knows what it is here to do. I think I know it too. Do you?
October 22, 2012
Tanja didn’t believe me at first.
“Hug a tree?” she skeptically looked at me over her steaming mug of coffee. “Alright then, Christine.” She refrained from rolling her eyes at me. For the moment.
I explained the power of trees, of their grounding nature, of their ability to speak to you if you listen closely. Tanja didn’t seem convinced, but a month or so later, she confessed that she tried it one day while traipsing through the woods.
Eyes lit with a fire I’d rarely seen before, Tanja recounted the experience.
If you haven’t paid attention to the trees in your life lately, you might want to take a look at the nearest one. How old do you think it is? In a recent visit to Switzerland, I found the most gracious giants, standing tall like sentries of a long-lost secret you can only access by hugging them tightly.
And hug them I did! This tree spoke to me in a language beyond words. Its solid grace made me bow before it. Before drawing closer, I asked its permission to give it a warm embrace. It nodded a “yes” in the wind. It told me of a time before the cemetery on which it stood was built. It told me of horses and wildlife and romantic lovers meeting under its limbs. I was astounded at the stories it told in that precious moment of connection.
Trees are the lungs of the Earth. Treat them with the respect they deserve. They are one of our greatest resources, not only for the air we breathe, but for those times of Slow that bring us back to our truest selves.
Do you doubt what I am saying? Give your neighborhood tree a squeeze. You, like Tanja, might just be surprised at what happens when you do.
October 15, 2012
The Golden Rule says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The idea isn’t new. It is a standard that rests on the belief that we are all one.
What we do to others really matters. And what we do to ourselves matters too. If we engage in negative self-talk, we aren’t only harming ourselves; we are also cheating the world of our best contribution. You wouldn’t inflict violence on someone close to you so why do you think it is acceptable to do that to yourself, the person to whom you are the closest of all?
As I have mentioned before, we all have a personal echo that resounds much farther than we realize. During a recent conversation with 10-Second Philosophy author Derek Mills, he helped me see that our impact on others may sometimes be invisible, but can be felt nonetheless. We don’t know what kind of effect we have on people and the ripples that occur as a result. Something we do, such as a smile, a kind word or a lengthy exchange, could change the entire chemistry of the room without our being aware of it.
The fun part is becoming aware of your impact and acting in the trust that what you do makes a difference. How? All you need is love ~ love yourself and others. Let it be your interpretor. It will guide you to the right path every time.
If you doubt how interconnected we all are, consider the image of each of us as a wave in the ocean. One wave is small; another is large. Sometimes two waves meld into a larger wave; sometimes they give birth to a third. But every one of the waves is headed to the shore and will eventually land there. We may be going in different directions, but the cycle of life dictates that the push and pull can only occur in concert with one another. Too much pushing leads to a tsunami, a state of destruction and radical change. But even then, the water eventually recedes.
The water that is in the Indian ocean will evaporate into a cloud and possibly move to another body of water as a raindrop. Such is the nature of all things.
Whether you are a raindrop or a wave today, how will you touch the world? I want to kiss the sky like a raindrop and ride the clouds for a while. And you?
October 10, 2012
Nature, in all its beauty, waves a last goodbye before winter. As a harbinger of the coming cold, it bursts with color one last time. A sweet, yet sorrowful moment of another season departing. But as with everything, the seasons go full-circle.
What is dawn without the night? What is warmth without the cold? What is connection without moments of disconnection?
Nothing is ever lost. It merely transforms. As you enter a new phase in your life, remember there is a reason for every season. Beauty in all things, my friends.
October 3, 2012
Possibility grows in the space of uncertainty. If we were absolutely certain about how everything would turn out in our lives, we would have no room to consider what might happen if we choose a different path altogether. We would be stuck in a one-way street, on a track with rails so high, we would never be able to see beyond the straight and narrow.
If you think about it, a seed is both fragile and packed with possibility. With the right conditions, it can grow to be a towering tree or a plant that bears fruit, vegetables or flowers. But remember: a seed grows in its own time, at its own pace, to its highest potential. For that seed to reach its best, it needs nurturing, love and care. It needs sunlight and rain and cooler days. It requires protection, attention and support.
We human beings are no different.
As we traverse the terrain of our days, we need each other to stay the course. We also need people to encourage us to take another road if the one we are on proves to be unhealthy, unhappy, unwhole.
At the same time, we need not fear the uncertainty because it is the very packaging of our existence from which we unravel the mystery of our lives.
In a phrase, uncertainty rules. If you have learned to despise it, I invite to reconsider its purpose for you.
Imagine a Christmas tree in which none of the gifts are wrapped in bright paper, bows or bags. They are laid out for everyone to see. No surprise awaits you. Just the certainty that what lays there is yours. Consider how less exciting your holiday would be if you knew every gift you were about to receive.
So I ask you: Do you really want to know how the next ten years of your life will look like?
I think not.
It is in the anticipation of what could be possible that makes life fun. And for possibility to breathe itself into reality, you need fertile ground, stable conditions and sunshine in your heart. With a dose of uncertainty of what will become of that seed, you possess the magic that is your life in your hands.
October 1, 2012
Dangling on a limb is what monkeys do. They think nothing of swinging from branch to branch high in the sky, flicking bugs off each other and humping anyone they see as a ‘How do you do’. To be a monkey must be so much fun. And they never once ask themselves, “Am I worthy?”
In a Ted talk from 2010, social scientist Bréne Brown, who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, asked herself the meaning of human connection. Like monkeys, we need a sense of belonging to not only survive, but also to thrive. What she discovered was that what unravels connection is our sense of shame. Simply put, shame is the fear of being disconnected, and yet it is the very thing that disconnects us from ourselves and others. It is the emotion that questions our worthiness.
What underlies this sense of shame is excruciating vulnerability. In order for us to feel a sense of connection, we have to be willing to really be seen by others ~ warts and all. It takes courage to make yourself vulnerable like that.
What I witnessed this weekend is it is truly worth it. My friend Albert Frantz, Husband and I went to Oktoberfest yesterday. As a classically trained pianist living in Vienna, Albert decided spontaneously that it was time to conduct the Oktoberfest tent orchestra. Clear-headed and focused (it was early on in the evening!), he approached the conductor and asked if he might take up the baton for one song.
The amazing thing? The conductor said yes. And Albert got to live out a dream because he believed he was worthy of doing so.
“It is fun to make exhibitions of our inhibitions,” he said.
He’s so right!
Brown discovered that people who have a sense of worthiness also have a strong sense of belonging and connection. They, like our monkeys in the trees, don’t question whether they are worthy or not. They simply believe they are worthy of love. As I have mentioned before, our belief systems carve out the pathway of our lives. If we believe we are worthy, we’re right! If we believe we are not, no external circumstances can change those feelings. The origin of all emotion comes from within.
So I ask you: what’s holding you back from living out your dreams? Everyone has intrinsic value. The moment you discover your worth is the moment your life can really begin.
September 18, 2012
Words touch me like fire and wind. They move my heart, my spirit, my soul. They haunt my dreams, collecting themselves in a line, pushing through my mind to be heard.
So I give voice to them however I can.
In the silence of the forest, I listen to those words whisper their truth in my ear. They march alongside me like soldiers, stomping their feet in unison.
Whenever I express a particularly deep truth, I am moved to tears by it. Those words, so sincere, caress my very being and I can do nothing but weep. My friend, who is also as tearful as I, recently asked me why he cries so much when he’s with me.
“We step into the mystical-magical, my dear friend!” I told him. We are close to such powerful truth that it can be overwhelming and what is a mere mortal to do but to cry!?
Stepping into your mystical-magical needn’t be that dramatic. It might cause you to smile warmly to yourself as you observe a beautiful moment in time such as a small child delighting in an ice cream cone or the slant of light as it pierces the morning mist. It only requires that you look and listen closely.
Your mystical-magical is waiting for you, too, if you slow down long enough to let it in.
August 19, 2012
Last year was the year of leisure travel. We visited the United States twice. A little over the top maybe, but we wanted to visit relatives and take a family vacation too. Living biculturally as we do, we often feel obliged to spend the majority of our vacation time visiting our US family, which is nice. But it also takes a lot of time, planning and preparation.
This year we declared the year of flow, which meant not meticulously planning every moment of leisure we had at our disposal.
And it has worked out beautifully.
We made room for life’s simple pleasures. An overnight jaunt here (me without the family ~ imagine!), a day trip there, a concert or two, a walk through the English Garden with friends and intra-European fun without jetlag, passport control or super-strict-dead-eyed-US-aiport-security-personnel whose killer glance could slay you eternally if you let it.
In other words, we allowed awareness to take over: the pleasure of awaking to a bird’s song; the beauty of observing the hops fields grow pregnant with their plump buds; a carefree trip to the public pool simply because it’s hot and we have the time.
A four-day trip to Paris with Daughter may sound extravagent by any measure, yet I am certain her greatest memory will not be the sights we saw, but the taste of that first chocolate crêpe at the base of the Eiffel Tower. She talked about it the whole time. Who needs Versailles when you can have Nutella wrapped in a warm pancake?
What juicy pleasures can you bring to your own life? Celebrate their simplicity. They are the fabric of your existence. And the best ones really are free, especially when you experience them with the people you love.
Take some time for the little miracles that await you today. They are there, ready for the taking if you have the eyes to see them and the heart to embrace them with all your might.
August 6, 2012
I’m going to tell you a secret. Life is based on choice. Every bit of it. Whether you choose to wear white or gold or red or blue; whether you choose to react this way or that; whether you choose pancakes and sausage or fruit and yoghurt for breakfast.
You are the summary of all your choices. You are the progenitor of your reality.
That is not to say you are not influenced by external circumstances. Where you live (and with whom) informs a lot about your every day being. But it changes nothing about your true self, the soul that you are in eternity.
You get to be that spirit no matter where you are.
So when I see images like this one, I am blown away by the vastness that our lives can offer. It inspires and, yes, humbles me to think what a great opportunity we have to choose how we spend our time every day. And that awareness makes me more grateful than you can imagine.
Can you feel it?
July 19, 2012
In my very anthropomorphic view, I swear I could hear the wisteria crying as we trimmed away two decades of sinewed vines that had clung to the porch we had to rebuild this April. Offering shelter to man and animal alike, its towering verdancy would bloom every year on my birthday.
Not this year. It lay dormant, still, speechless as the workmen slammed nails into wood and called it a terrace.
I’m not the begrudging type, but I am often shell-shocked when Husband runs through the garden with his clipping shears, trimming away what he deems to be stray natural material that “shouldn’t be there”. In his quiet way he secretly drew pleasure recently out of hacking away one-fourth of the hedge that borders our neighbor’s place, the folks who only ever talk to us when it is time to revisit said hedge.
So you see I have a history of garden remorse. When it came to my beloved wisteria, I wept with it, thinking it would never grow again. I knew the wisteria had to be trimmed back dramatically. It just made me sad to think it would die because of us.
How wrong I was!
If you want to make Nature laugh, try taming it. While we human beings want things yesterday, now or at the very least, really, really soon, Nature sits patiently, growing day by day without comment. It simply is. It does not try to control the future, but lives only in the now. And it rewards those of us who are patient enough to notice its resilience.
Okay, I’m feeling a little more humble now in the face of such magnificence. How about you?