Challenging Yourself

Do you remember the last time you challenged yourself to do something you’d never done before?

If you answered, “yes”, was it scary, daunting, exciting, or maybe all three?

Often, I find that I like to stay within my comfort zone, that quiet place where I feel safe and warm. But every once in a while, I sense a need to step out of the box I’ve built and try something completely new.

One such opportunity came along while I was reviewing my email. I got an offer through Word Press, which is where my website is hosted, about an intriguing writing contest.

I’ve never entered one and wondered how it would work.

So, I investigated and discovered that it was organized by a woman named Lydia Lukidis and was titled the Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. Those entering would be requested to write a story of 200 words or less based on a photograph. Many choices were offered, and you would have a couple of weeks to complete your entry and then submit.

I scrolled through the photos and was immediately drawn to one provided by Danielle Colucci (for Unsplash). The photo showed a stone alleyway bordered by buildings along both sides, with a hillside in the background. One of the buildings has a porch light on which casts a reddish glow on several stones of the alleyway. It was taken at dusk with a fading blue sky and gray clouds. Although a story started to form immediately, it would not come into focus.

I tried and tried, but nothing would take shape and I found it quite frustrating until I realized I was trying to write it from my head and what drew me to the picture was from my heart.

So, I let go and sat back and waited for my heart to fill in the words. I found I had to walk away, think about other things, and then come back. Once I did, I could lean into writing what my heart wanted to say.

What came to me felt like a true story. It touched me deeply and I wanted to share it with you.

Will The Light Be On (my title)

She knew I had to leave. My family would starve without food. Without me.

I remember the last thing I said to her. I told her that I loved her and would be back soon. And then I kissed her, gently brushing my lips against hers and walked out of the door and her life.

She must have believed that I lied to her, because it’s been three years since I’ve seen her face, heard her voice, held her in my arms.

How could she have known that I was taken, forced into the back of a truck, and made to be another’s servant, working in their fields from before the sun rose until after it fell out of the sky.

They gave me only enough food for one day’s strength. What they did not know was, she was my food. She was my hope. Hope that I would one day see her again, be with her, marry her.

So, one day I ran. I ran so fast and so far, they would never catch me.

And now I am here, turning the corner to her street. If the light is on, I’ll know she still loves me. (end)

One of the things I learned during this creative process is that I cannot discover anything new if I remain standing in one place, locked into doing the same things over and over again.

I know that it takes courage to step into the unknown, but there is so much freedom and joy waiting there for us.

While checking to see if my contest entry was received, I found I have no record of it being sent. At first that really disturbed me, but after I thought about it for a few minutes, I relaxed and noticed that the real value to me was in accepting my own challenge, enjoying the creative process, and loving the resulting story that still warms my heart each time I reread it.

I hope you enjoy the story too.

A Visit From Sadness

How often would you say you feel sad?

I know that there are specific times and events where sadness can be quite intense, but I’m asking about the smaller versions, the ones where we seem to fall into a state of temporary sadness.

As humans, I believe we all realize our lives are going to be made up of many different feelings, some we welcome and others we hope will never arrive.

Recently I had an encounter with sadness. There was a faint sense of it and then wham, sadness seemed to ooze in from every direction.

I was away from home and although I was in a place of my own choosing, I still had an overwhelming sense of sadness overtake me. And it reminded me of other times when sadness came to me and was accompanied by its friend, loneliness.

My first reaction, as it usually is, was to try to push it away, hoping that by sheer force of will, it would move on. I was afraid of feeling it and unsure how deep it would travel inside of me. After all, why would I want to feel sad? Why would I want to get dragged down, unsure of when the sadness would let go?

Something about how I felt was different though. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I tried and all I could come up with was that it felt ‘lighter’.

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring my feelings. Part of that process is focused on allowing them in and being open to what they have to share with me. That may sound a little unusual, but it’s something that has been very helpful for me.

So, when this sadness arrived, I coached myself not to panic, but rather to stay open to it, and in the opening, to see if I could listen to what the sadness might share with me.

I softened my normally apprehensive self and leaned into it, allowing the sadness to enter me. What I discovered was that it didn’t really want to stay long. It just wanted to let me know it’s okay to spend time together every once in a while. And, after a short time, it stood up and waved goodbye and wished me a good day.

This whole exchange fascinated me. Here I was worried that sadness had decided to move in permanently and all it really wanted to do was come for a quick visit.

Sadness, like every other feeling, comes and goes.

What occurred to me later was that I am the one largely responsible for its length of stay. Every time I resist it or try futilely to push it away, it gains a certain amount of strength so that when it finally does arrive, its’ power is far greater.

It also occurred to me that many other feelings follow this same curve. They arrive asking for me to pay attention to see if there is a useful message attached.

In this case, sadness came and went, a fleeting feeling. It opened me up and I realized I would survive its stay. I would move on and after a bit, be happy again. I think it’s this way with all of our emotions and feelings. They don’t have to be permanent. They can just be visitors, filling past, on their way to somewhere else.

It’s up to each of us to decide how long we wish to keep them.

So, I decided to wave back as sadness left me and accept its offer to have a good day.

Celebration

I wanted to wish you all a happy anniversary because this post marks the beginning of my third year of offering posts to you to contemplate. So, happy anniversary!

I never believed I would be able to stick with my original commitment of writing two posts per week for this long. It feels like an amazing thing to me and if you’ve been with me for the whole trip or just joined me recently, I want to thank you for journeying with me.

At first, I thought I was writing these posts for YOU, but I’ve come to discover that the truth is I’m writing them for ME. They are a way of speaking what feels like the ‘truth’ to me. Most of them help me see the world and my place in it more clearly. I want that for me, but I also want that for you. I am always aware that, once I’ve placed words on the page, they become your words too, if you want them.

I feel we are connected, and I treasure that you are here with me. I wanted you to know that, to hold that inside for a moment, and know that I care about you and celebrate you.

This day feels different to me from other days.

Do certain days feel different to you, perhaps because something special occurred, something unique in your world? When this happens, do you celebrate, or give gratitude for your blessed fortune?

I don’t always. I let some beautiful events and days slip past me. I am poorer for this and encourage myself to pay better attention, to broaden my awareness and let joy overwhelm me.

When is the last time you let joy overwhelm you, when you actually sat back and allowed love to move freely from the inside of you to the outside of you?

If it’s been a long time, perhaps you’re ready to jump start the process. Maybe today is a great day to celebrate, to make into an anniversary of joy. Do you want to give it a try?

Yes, I mean right now in this moment.

I’m going to ‘assume’ you said, ‘yes’! I’m hoping you said, ‘yes’.

Okay, if you’re ready, let’s begin with this…

Tell me, who do you love? You don’t have to shout it out loud but bring the person or animal to mind and let your love overflow. Really, let it pour out of you and feel the pleasure it creates.

And maybe it’s not a who. Maybe it’s a what or a where. A wonderful gift you love or a place that feels sacred to you. Allow the intensity to build and burst forth. It’s okay to let go of our normal day to day ways and give ourselves this treat.

Perhaps it is a feeling or a thought that creates a special sensation inside of you. If it is, go with that, let it move and grow and explode into wonder.

I have a friend, John, who taught me a lot about the gift of celebration. About seeing the value and worth in all things. After listening carefully to my story, he would find something in it to cherish and celebrate, even and sometimes, especially what I considered the ‘bad stuff’. Many of his observations passed right by me. I didn’t hear what he was really saying, until one day, it dawned on me. He saw the truth that everything in life ‘serves you’ if you put it into the ‘right’ perspective.

He showed me that I could learn to celebrate anything and everything, because it’s all important and valuable.

So, today, I encourage you to give yourself the chance to celebrate anything and everything in your life and see where it takes you.

I hope along the way, joy comes for a visit.

Hazardous Waste Day

Do you live in a place that has a hazardous waste day, a time when you can gather up all of the things you can’t put in the trash because they are too dangerous and drop them off where they can be properly recycled or disposed of?

My town does and I’ve been waiting a long time for it to come.

Incredibly, I have over 40 empty or partially used cans of paint, a host of cleaning products we no longer feel comfortable using and lots of small miscellaneous containers filled with I don’t know what exactly. They all need to go and I’m hoping it isn’t too much.

When I looked at the ‘acceptable items’ list it was overwhelming, from aerosol sprays, to fertilizers, fluorescent bulbs, mothballs, paints, resigns, weed killers. There were over 70 items and the first thing I wondered was where they were all going to end up?

It made me realize how much we contaminate this planet, and I pondered the magnitude of the situation. The factories that produce the items, the transportation to get them to market, the consumers who use them, and those who hopefully find safe ways to recycle or destroy them.

A nagging thought popped into my head, can they all actually be handled safely and destroyed, or do they live on and on?

This post was not meant to be a social commentary about our society and how we tend to turn a blind eye to cooperating with our environment. But it is sobering to consider.

I think it would be a meaningful question to ask myself…what is my contribution? Am I being a good steward of the earth’s resources? Most days, I wonder if I am.

And then another thought ran through my mind, offering me a new question.

What hazardous waste do I carry inside of me? What thoughts and patterns do I engage in that create toxic results for me?

I wondered what kind of a list would be generated if I sat with this for a little while. So, I did just that and here’s what came easily to me.

My Hazardous Waste List

Resentments (most of them pretty petty), prejudices (despite my best efforts not to), expectations (of the ways I think things ‘should’ be), anger (typically about things that don’t even matter), assumptions (which often lead to trouble), misperceptions (because I don’t wait long enough to see the whole picture), and blame (for things I don’t feel are my ‘fault’).

Do you recognize any of these? Are you home to any of them?

And given that I don’t like to get stuck in the middle of any process, I began contemplating what I could do with them. Was there a place I could put all these hazardous waste materials (thoughts)? Was there somewhere I could take them to drop them off and be rid of them?

I believe this is a question worth asking. I realize that one person’s method may differ from another’s; however, I think it’s often helpful when you hear what others choose to do because it might also help you and it might be something you would never think about on your own.

So, here’s my choice of what to do. I bring to mind an item from my list and ask myself one simple question.

Do they come from love or fear?

If they come from love, then I choose to keep them, but if they come from fear, I choose to release them. It’s a conscious decision. If, for example, a resentment surfaces, I have to look at it, accept it, and recognize that at least in part, I own it. It is a part of me, but one I no longer wish to keep, so I give it away. For me, I hand it off to Lia, a feminine presence of god that loves me and helps to guide me. She takes it and it vanishes. And if it returns, I give it to her again.

For you, there may be other places to drop off your hazardous waste. You might write them down and burn them. You might send them love and if they come back, send them more love.

Whatever method you find that works for you, I encourage you to let go so that you can live your best life. May it be so.

(OR) Everything Serves You Indirectly

Although unusual, this is the continuation of my previous two posts, all dealing with the interesting and challenging topic of how everything that happens to us serves us, either directly or indirectly.

I realize that it a huge claim and I’m not saying I don’t have my own difficulties comprehending it, but I nonetheless believe it is the truth and I want to share with you why I feel that way.

During recent conversations, Lia, a clear, beautiful feminine voice of grace and love who is always with me and is part of god, began explaining how, even though I may have challenges accepting this idea, it is still the truth.

Lia had previously shared with me an example of how an experience in my life served me directly (see my last post from September 25, 2022). After she pointed out several things to me it became quite clear.

But what baffled me was her statement about how all things serve me ’indirectly’ as well. She told me it would require a shift in my frame of reference and that I would have to release my cultural perceptions, because they limit my ability to see the ‘big’ picture.

She went on to say that I would need to shift from my earthly perspective to a heavenly perspective, at which point I felt I needed a whole new conversation to stretch my understanding.

Lia reminded me of a few of our previous conversations where we touched on this subject. In one of those she told me the following, “Your frame of reference is the KEY. In heaven you know everything there is to know. Every answer to every question. What you may want though is to ‘experience’ life, to create, to feel and think and sense life. In order to do this, you choose to come to earth, and you choose to forget all that you knew, so that you can fully experience life. You let go of knowing how all things are connected and interwoven. You allow yourself to be emptied, so that you can use your free will to decide how to view life. Part of this choice is to accept what your culture teaches you, rather than remembering what you knew in heaven, and you are provided space to make any and all decisions.”

I sat back for a few minutes absorbing her words to me.

Lia continued, “Every experience is filled with meaning and with hints about life (earth and heaven) and completely open to whatever interpretation YOU wish to choose. Each time you choose, you create patterns, pathways that become convenient routes for your thoughts to travel. You allow your cultural training to guide this process and although it saves you from making every decision, it also blinds you to the truth. A part of you already knows the truth, that all things are connected and that all things ‘eventually’ serve you. Some of these are obvious, others are not. They take time to unravel and become clear.”

Wow, this was a lot to take in, and as usual, I needed an example, so I asked Lia for one. I knew I needed to prepare myself, to not automatically reject what she had to tell me, merely because it would challenge me.

I could feel her smiling at me sympathetically, knowing how hard it is for me sometimes. “You can take any situation, and if you look at what happened before it, during it and (most of all) after it, you’ll see there are always connections and outcomes that ‘serve’ you, despite how it may appear. Here is one example I’d like to share. When your job was eliminated abruptly after twelve years and a great deal of success, it shook you to your roots. Immediately separated from your source of income, group of friends and professional colleagues, stripped of some of your sense of self-esteem, and a host of other conflicting thoughts and emotions, a part of you imploded. In no way could you see anything about this that served you. You felt it was not fair or just or right and these reactions blinded you for a period of time from seeing any positive outcomes. That is how your culture teaches you to see the world, in this case, personal rights and wrongs. But that is only a small part of the story.”

Lia went on to share, “You ended up still employed, but at a different location, one that you chose to leave after six months so that you could retire, and as you’ve claimed on numerous occasions, begin your best career- helping take care of your three-year-old granddaughter, Kirsten. This change also provided you the flexibility to write, travel, spend time with family and friends, exercise and many other pleasurable pursuits, all things you would not have been able to do. And it gave you an opportunity to forgive those involved in your ‘firing’ for their actions and insensitivity. And there are so many other connections that came months and years later, ones you are yet to see.”

I felt the absolute truth of her words and recognized that stepping away and gaining some distance allowed me to shift my frame of reference. Part of me could see this whole situation from heavenly eyes and it made all the difference.

Everything Serves You Directly (OR)

Would you agree that claiming that ‘everything in your life serves you’ is a pretty bold statement?

It certainly feels that way to me and if you read my last post, you’ll recall that this is exactly what Lia (a loving voice of god) told me.

I thought, there has to be a catch, some loophole or fine print, after all, don’t each of us experience dozens of things that would defy this idea? I could easily come up with many from my life and from observing the lives of others.

Just to name a few there are wars, diseases, oppression, famine, natural disasters and then there are additional challenges that may affect us more personally, like a car accident, the loss of a loved one, having our job eliminated, a house fire, or being homeless. The list seems practically endless.

I wondered what Lia could possibly mean and approached her, asking for an explanation. To be honest, the way I phrased my question felt more like a demand, then a request to me, but she didn’t seem to mind in the least. I felt her love cover me over and sat back, now prepared to hear what she had to say to me.

Lia spoke these words, “It’s important to choose the right frame of reference in order for this idea to make sense to you. The first thing that would help you recognize the truth, is that everything serves you either directly or indirectly.”

Examples always help me, so I asked Lia to explain something that happened to me last week, where my car suddenly overheated, forcing me to pull off the road. How did that ‘serve me’? She responded with a question of her own, “What happened next?”

“Well,” I said, “I pulled into a Hoffman’s Car Wash/Quick Lube station and a man came out to see what I needed. He consulted with me and offered a few helpful suggestions. I spoke to a very nice woman at AAA who set me up for a tow. The tow-truck driver, who was also extremely helpful, came by and brought both my car and me to my Service garage. I was told that since they were really jammed up, it might take 1 ½-2 weeks before they could fix it.

Shockingly, I was calm throughout this whole sequence of events, even realizing the delay in fixing it would greatly complicate my life. As it turns out, my mechanic was able to fit me in the next day, due to a cancelation in his schedule.

Lia listened attentively, then asked a follow-up question, “So, how have you been served by this incident?”

I thought for a moment before responding with this, “There were at least four different individuals who offered to help me (five counting my wife who picked me up, and when my car was fixed, dropped me off). I never felt alone or helpless. And I allowed myself to go with the flow, rather than get upset, scream at my car, and become angry at the cost of the repairs, which (sad to say) would have been my normal reaction.”

I could sense Lia smiling at me.

“Okay,” I said, “I get how there are some direct ways I was served, because I believe I’ll carry a more positive attitude into my next challenging situation and I recognized how grateful I am for the presence of other wonderfully helpful people in my life, which makes me want to be one of them for someone else.”

I hesitated and asked, “But what about the indirect ways you mentioned?” I admit I find it baffling some days to make any sense of the ‘big’ things. Maybe you do too.

“It requires a shift on your part, a change of reference points. You are accustomed to thinking in terms of good and bad, labels you use based on your cultural perceptions. This forces you into seeing only the ‘small picture’ and limits your ability to see the ‘big picture’. To fully understand the ‘big picture’, you need to shift from your earthly perspective to a heavenly perspective.”

“Wait, what?” Obviously, we have more to talk about because I want to understand how my life works. Clearly Lia is interested in answering my questions, but it’s going to take more time. So, if you’d like to know more, please stay with me and read my next post.

How To Settle In

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘getting up on the wrong side of the bed’?

In case you haven’t, it is commonly understood to be the cause for waking up in a bad mood. You can’t think of any particular reason, but you know you’re sad, angry, testy, or otherwise unhappy.

I wondered about the origin of the saying. A little research produced a popular explanation based on superstitions that getting out of bed on the left side is bad luck. I presume that it originates from a time when beds were narrow and you had a choice of getting out on the right or left, without having to crawl over someone. It made me wonder, what if you always sleep on the left side of the bed…would you always start your day in a grumpy mood? Hopefully not.

Recently I woke up and felt as if I’d ‘gotten out on the wrong side of the bed’. For no reasons that I could think of, nothing felt right to me. My body ached and was uncomfortable, my mind was disjointed and there were lurking tasks to be completed, which I had no energy or ambition to accomplish.

Ordinarily I love getting up and doing my exercises, then journaling, before I come downstairs for breakfast.

But not that day.

So, what was I going to do about it?

If you’ve been with me on this journey for a while, you can probably guess. I opened up a conversation with god, in this case, Lia, a clear, beautiful feminine voice of grace and love who is always with me.

She explained, “There is an ebb and flow to life and your energy level, as there is for everyone. Accepting this reality fully will ease your mind and you can allow it to settle into you. Once you do this, your feelings will pass. If instead you decide to offer some resistance, like saying to yourself, ‘that it shouldn’t be this way’, your feelings are likely to persist. They can in fact pick up steam every time you invoke the word ‘should’. Trying to tell yourself you are some sort of victim, decreases your energy and power. So, if you’d like to do yourself a favor, allow whatever comes to you, to pass through you.”

This sounded like extremely good advice and yet I had a question about how I could ‘settle in’ to feelings I did not want to feel. I did know that resisting would be counterproductive, but what I needed to know was what alternative(s) were open to me.

So, I asked for more guidance and receive this, “You tell yourself it is okay to experience whatever you are experiencing and encourage yourself to accept whatever comes your way, knowing that once you do, the feelings will begin to recede and light will begin to enter you.”

Lia went on to say that each and every thing I encounter in my life is there to ‘serve’ me.

I balked a little at this. “Really?” I could hear myself say and then wondered if my constant questioning ever ‘bothered’ her.

“No,” was her reply, “never. I love you no matter what you choose and nothing you ever say to me will change that. Please remember that my love for you is eternal.”

I was reassured, but I still had a nagging question. I understood that by feeling my feelings, then releasing them, rather than holding on to them or resisting them, I could contribute to my own peace of mind and heart. What I could not understand was how she could say that everything I experienced in my life was there to ‘serve me’.

Lia explained that this is how our lives are structured, but that we often do not understand this because we don’t see it from a distance. We are too close to observe the whole picture, but that once we do, we can find the clarity we desire.

Lia told me we could have as many conversations about this as I needed…and so, I’d like to invite you to join me for my next post to discover more about how my/our experiences always ‘serve’ me/us.

Wedding Vows

This post is a little different from what I ordinarily offer because it’s an invitation to lean into an unusual wedding ceremony and to taste a bit of the sweetness between two very special people in my life.

Along with the offer to read this, I invite you to share it with anyone you think might like to adopt it for their own wedding ceremony.

It comes from Little Buddha Book Four, which is part of a series of spiritual fiction books I’ve written. This particular chapter revolves around two of the main characters, Janine and Sam and their families celebrating their marriage. It happens that Janine’s father, Bright Sky and her nephew, Michael, both Native Americans from the western part of the United States, are officiating the ceremony. The narrative is from Sam’s point of view.

Here is the passage I’d like to share.

“We are here to celebrate and give thanks to the Great Spirit, and to witness the merging of two hearts into one as Janine and Sam choose each other for their earthly lifetime.”

Bright Sky nodded, took our hands in his and shook them upwards toward Father Sky, then downward toward Mother Earth, then released them.

Janine and I turned slightly and faced each other.

“Sam, I freely offer you all that I am, knowing we share one spirit and one source. We came from love and will return to love. While we walk this earth, I stand with you. I breathe your breath and will sing with delight, even when sorrows visit us. No thing that happens on our journey together will change my love for you. I rest inside of myself, knowing our connection is forever. I welcome you into my heart and my spirit and choose to walk our path, always as one.”

I looked deeply into her eyes and knew all that she said was true. I’d always known it.

“Janine, I freely offer you all that I am, knowing we share one spirit and one source. We came from love and will return to love. While we walk this earth, I will stand with you. Forever, I am yours. As it was before, so shall it always be. I offer you my heart, which you claimed the moment I first saw you. I offer you compassion, trust, faith and hope, and the best of me, at all times. I know humans falter, but I rest in the assurance of our love, that no thing that happens on our journey together will change my love for you. I welcome you into my heart and spirit and choose to walk our path, always as one.”

Michael came to stand next to Bright Sky. Each bowed to us, then walked around us, stopping at each compass point, while quietly repeating words I did not understand.

Their revolution complete, they took hold of the blanket and gently pulled it from our shoulders. They held it up for us to see our names and the two red hearts, then turned the blanket around to reveal one single white heart.

I don’t know if Janine already knew about this, but it was a complete surprise to me.

I loved the image and the idea and smiled broadly, nodded my head, and mouthed, ‘so beautiful’, to Michael and Bright Sky.

After showing the blanket to our guests, they wrapped Janine and me in it and placed their hands on our shoulders.

Claire, Michael, and Bright Sky gathered in front of us and spoke in unison.

“We witness the spirit of love which joins your lives as one.”

Claire held out two matching rings and Janine and I took them and placed them on each other’s fingers.

“With these rings always choose love for each other.”

Bright Sky said, nodding his head, “This completes the ceremony, for you are now one.”

NOTE:

If you’d like to know more about their story, please feel free to obtain your own copy of the series. Little Buddha Books One-Four are available in print and eBook versions from Amazon.

Leave It, Or Not

I doubt a day goes by that we don’t experience some statement or command given us by someone in our lives.

Seriously, can you think of one day where you got the chance to do exactly what you wanted, and no one suggested or told you to do something else?

I think it would be pretty rare for this to happen.

And if this is true for humans, imagine how much truer it is for animals.

Have you ever watched one of the shows on TV where they spend time training a rescue dog, getting it ready to become a member of a new family? Well, if so, you’ve probably heard there are seven basic commands; sit, down, stay, come, heel, off and no.

According to some trainers there are a lot more and in one case I saw twenty-one commands noted. Wow, tough to be a dog.

One of my favorites is, “leave it”. It’s mostly used on walks to keep the dog’s attention focused on moving forward and not becoming distracted. This can be especially difficult with young dogs or those with active imaginations (curiosity), the ones who are all over the place.

My childhood dog was like this. We’d go for a walk which I thought might take thirty minutes, only to spend twice that amount of time snooping around the neighborhood. I wished I’d known the command, “leave it” back then.

Recently I watched several dogs and their humans walking by our house and noticed that some of them moved in a straight line, while others wove back and forth, with the dogs clearly in charge.

It made me wonder about how the humans acted when they were by themselves. Did they wander about or make beelines directly where they were going?

I’m not suggesting there is any right or wrong pathway to travel, merely observing the choices they were making, and it got me to wondering about what decisions I make.

Am I often distracted and easily put off my path? Could I benefit from saying to myself, “leave it”, putting a little oomph in the verbal command?

I know that it can be challenging to try to set things aside and focus on the main mission. I also know that I learn a lot by wandering aimlessly as long as I keep my eyes open.

If you thought about it, when would you tell yourself to “leave it”?

Are there certain things that you know don’t benefit you, but you do them anyway? If so, do you have any idea why? I often don’t unless I take a moment to consider them.

As you’ve noticed by now, I ask a lot of questions. I find it’s one of the most effective ways to grow. The questions challenge me to rethink some of my decisions and force me to reconsider some of my actions.

Using the idea of “leave it”, provides me an opportunity to consider things in my life which may not be good for me, like another piece of blueberry pie, or watching a violent TV show before bedtime or criticizing someone’s actions without understanding anything about them or the situation they’re in.

Given a little time, I am able to create quite a list of things to consider “leaving” and maybe you can too.

I think I’ll keep this command in mind for a while and see what happens and where it takes me.

Patterns

Are there any recognizable patterns in your life or is everything a mystery? Do you ever wonder if there is a rhyme or a reason to what happens in your life?

Sometimes I wonder if readers ever see the pictures that precede my posts. I try to carefully select them to either give a clue about the meaning or provide a spark of interest in what might be coming.

In case you can’t see the picture for this post, it’s a nautilus shell, which has a repeating interior pattern that becomes more intricate the closer it gets to the center. It’s a fascinating shape and one of many repeating designs in the natural world.

According to one website I found there are four distinct repeating patterns: symmetries, fractals, spirals, and Voronoi. Each are unique and represent different ways of developing according to a plan.

Symmetries are organized around the principle of identical halves, like the feathers of a peacock or the wings of a butterfly or dragonfly. Fractals are detailed patterns that look similar at any scale and repeat themselves over time, such as snowflakes, tree branching, and ferns. Spirals occur in curved patterns on a center point and then form a series of circular shapes revolving around the center point, for example, pinecones, pineapples, and hurricanes. Voronoi patterns provide clues to nature’s tendency to favor efficiency. They form from a seed point and extend outward like the skin of giraffes, corn on the cob, honeycombs, and leaf cells.

Okay, so why the science lesson and what possible difference can this make in my life or yours? Do you see any clues that could shed some light on this?

I admit I am fascinated by how nature evolves and the patterns that occur, so it seemed a logical step to me to wonder whether our lives develop according to any sort of natural patterns, and if so, what could they be?

It turns out scientists have studied this quite a bit. They believe that humans recognize patterns as a way of allowing us to predict and expect what is coming. The process involves matching the information we receive with the information already stored in our brains. The idea is that we benefit from remembering and being able to use patterns to help us navigate our lives.

So, I began to wonder what patterns I see that aid me and what additional possible patterns would make my life better.

My first thought was recognizing how easy it is to fall into non-productive patterns. To think the exact same thing about someone or something, merely because I’ve experienced it with someone else. I’d call this my ‘assumption pattern’, expecting the same outcome without any valid reason.

The next thought to arrive was how easily I gravitate toward putting things in separate buckets in my mind, or to give it a name, my ‘labeling pattern’. Oh, that person arrived late, they go in the ‘can’t get anywhere on time bucket’, I wonder why?

As I got started, it became easier and easier to discover the host of patterns I have, most of which are not beneficial to me, except to recognize I need to take another look and make some changes as to how I see things.

Each of the patterns I came across exist for my convenience, so I don’t have to think about and decide what to do with all the new experiences I encounter. Choices are made quickly to place things in categories and then I’m done.

One of the beautiful things about seeing so many different patterns in nature is that they serve as a reminder to me to make conscious choices about my own human patterns. To take myself off autopilot and look more carefully at what goes on in my life.

It takes some effort, but it is well worth my time and energy.