Let your eyes rest on something completely “ordinary” in the natural world. As you look, the beauty and delicacy of what you are seeing you will reveal itself to you. There is so much gloriously ordinary beauty in everyday life; seeing that, restores us to ourselves. Stephanie Dowrick
The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.
– Doug Larson
Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.
While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.~
US actress & comedienne (1946 – 1989)
The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours. – Alan Bennett
I’ve had a week that has taken me away from blogging and even from reading very much but here is a quote that I want to share today because I love books and all they offer to me:
For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. – Anne Lamott
Over the weekend I saw this suggestion for encouraging writers to write. Begin sentences with “I write of”. Here are some of my sentences from today:
I write of nature because it contains so much beauty, power, rhythm and a space for me from the pressing things of life.
I write of things quirky because I have a sense of humour and a curiosity that enjoys such things.
I write of the ordinary and the good to offer a balance against the glitz, hype and unpleasant that occurs in our world.
I write of the ordinary and good because I know the value that both offer to me and to others.
I write of simple traditions such as cooking for others, writing letters, gardening, knitting, singing in a group, walking, spending time with people we love and connect with.
I write of books simply because I love books.
I write of books because they have helped me in a myriad of ways throughout my life.
What do you write of?
Another prompt I found was over at http://concernedwithstory.wordpress.com was to write beginning with “Right now….”
So for me today, Monday 25th July 2011:
Right now I am very grateful for heating, warm clothing and warm food on such a cold day.
Right now I can see the birds enjoying the apples I have hung for them for winter food.
Right now I am pleased to have paid the bills and grateful for having the money to pay them.
Right now I am wondering if my cat will increase his food intake.
Right now I am processing the information I received about a family member who served in WW2.
Right now I am thinking a lot about resilience and the notes I made this afternoon.
Right now I am pleased to have fixed the errors in the socks I am knitting my grandson.
Right now I have meal preparation to do so I am off to begin that:-)
When I ran self awareness groups I would use a “Right now” exercise at the beginning of the session to help clear the immediate, scattered stuff that was “on top” for participants. Once this happened, focus was easier for everyone in the group.
Writing “right now” sentences offers me similar but different clearing, focus and more.
I’d be interested in your discoveries from writing some “Right Now” sentences.
Here is a list of books that have mattered to me or influenced me in the past few years. Many of these authors have websites and blogs to explore.
The Mindful Woman – Sue Patton Thoele
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom – Rick Hanson and Rick Mendius
A return to Love – reflections on the principles of a Course in Miracles – Marianne Williamson
A walk on the beach – Joan Anderson
A year by the sea – Joan Anderson
An unfinished marriage – Joan Anderson
A cup of sunlight – Juliet Batten
Growing into wisdom: change and transformation at midlife – Juliet Batten
Listening below the noise: a meditation on the practice of silence – Anne D LeClaire
The church of 80% sincerity – David Roche
The Happiness project –Gretchen Rubin
Focusing: how to gain direct access to your body’s knowledge – Eugene Gendlin
The intention experiment – use your thoughts to change the world –Lynne McTaggart
Everything I’ve ever done that worked – Lesley Garner
Love the life you live – Anne Hartley
The sword of heaven – a 5 continent odyssey to save the world – Mikkel Aaland
Transforming depression – the Heartmath solution – Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman
The artist’s way – Julia Cameron
God is no laughing matter – observations and objections on the spiritual path – Julia Cameron
Letters to a young artist – building a life in art – Julia Cameron
The vein of gold – a journey to your creative heart – Julia Cameron
Walking in this world – practical strategies for creativity – Julia Cameron
Your body speaks your mind – Debbie Shapiro
A complaint free world: the 21 day challenge that will change your life –Will Bowen
Wherever you go, there you are –Jon Kabat-Zinn
Full catastrophe living – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Common Ground – the true story of 2 friends and 2 very different gardens – Janice Marriott and Virginia Pawsey
Common Table – an uncommon tale of friendship and food – Janice Marriott and Virginia Pawsey
Changing patterns: discovering the fabric of creativity – Daena Giardella and Wren Ross
Plan B – Ann Lamott
Grace (Eventually) –Ann Lamott
Operating Instructions- Ann Lamott
Traveling Mercies- Ann Lamott
This piece of earth – Harvey McQueen
Shift happens – Robert Holden
Simple Abundance -Sarah Ban Breathnach
My work as a trainer and facilitator was once described by someone as “the soft stuff” that was “an extra to other skills”. My workshops and courses were in areas of self awareness, self development, communication and facilitation skills, relationships, stress and time management, assertiveness, listening, understanding interpersonal dynamics, team work, effective groups, leadership and parenting skills. Underpinning these was my philosophy that life-long learning is a vital part of being human and enjoying life.
The comment did cause me to reflect on my work but I felt certain it was critical work and not just “the extra” to more important skills. The soft stuff helps to overcome the hard stuff.
So it was extremely reassuring to hear an interview on the radio yesterday where self awareness, self care, empathy, supportive relationships, adaptability and willingness to grow and change were all critical as the babyboomers begin to consider the later years of their lives. The good news is that for many the “later years” could span 30 plus years.
One of the women being interviewed lives in Christchurch and she commented that these same skills are critical as people begin to adjust to their new ways of living in that city.
I am planning to set up another blog exploring self awareness and resilience building. Watch this space, as they say. I hope you might be interested in following that blog too:-)
Between September 2007 and September 2008 I took a photo on our new digital camera every day in order to record a year in my life. Why did I do this?
I had experienced some life changing and life threatening events in rather close succession and wanted to track my return to “normal” life, whatever shape that took. At the same time I took the photo and printed it off I would make a few notes about what the photo meant to me on that day. So I hoped that by describing, recording and reflecting I would gain some sense of who I was following the upheaval and change.
With hindsight more time had to pass for me to process the events but several other benefits flowed from this project. I felt a real sense of satisfaction in keeping to a daily record of my life; it is a valuable record of that year when we are trying to remember something that happened at that time; I enjoyed developing my visual senses; I became more aware of light and its many qualities and nuances; it kept me in touch with life and a sense that life does move on, no matter what emotions need to be felt and what healing needs to occur; it reminded me of my love of the funny and quirky, of my cats and of nature, my family and friends.
My life feels very ordinary but my interest in family history has taught me time and again that records from the past of ordinary lives can offer huge amounts of valuable information that help us understand how life was years ago and increases our sense of connection to family from the past.
There are many ways that people record their lives. How do you record yours?