The Exact Right Place and Time

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I wake up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, too early to see without artificial light. I write and read until a little after sunrise and step outside to find two emerged Zebra Longwings! I quickly grab my lawn chair and water and settle in to take photos and videos, and embrace the moment. With one eye on the third chrysalis Continue reading

‘Begin’

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Each new sunrise offers us a precious gift: to live in the moment. It is here where we come to understand how utterly beautiful all of life truly is. Every day we have a chance to begin again. We can start over if we so desire, by choosing to create a different story, with one single step into a brand new adventure of our own choosing. The power lies completely within our minds and bodies.

With gusto I read the book, recommended by my sister, entitled One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer, Ph.D. He shows and explains how anyone can take one small step, even metaphorically speaking. After that first step it’s easier to move forward into the second one. Maurer’s book has helped me understand how, when I break tasks and dreams down into small parts, I can accomplish much, including new beginnings.

Watching a sunrise is one of my favorite activities at the start of a new day, especially when the early morning light begins to filter through the feathery gray hues that are clouds and turn them into swirls of pinkish orange. My widened eyes cannot keep up with the transformation of the ever-changing sky mural. It has been known to leave me breathless.

Each of us has an opportunity to transform ourselves on a daily basis, like the sunrise, moment by moment. Too easily we allow ourselves to fall into a pattern of living in the past, even the recent past, ruminating on memories of that which no longer exists in our immediate circumstances.

Memories are great when they bring us joy and learning and information to share, but sometimes we live them so habitually, we forget to be present. Just as easily, we are drawn into the future, thinking too much about what has or has not yet happened or worrying needlessly about our to-do list or an unknown outcome and asking the unanswerable question,

“What if?”

What if instead we focus on right now? Eckhart Tolle wrote the book, The Power Of Now, where he shares much wisdom through his personal experience. He writes about how he finds himself in a place of greater awareness and living in the present, and finding peace in the process. His philosophy is and always has been available to us. My sister-in-love (I like the sound of ‘in-love’ much better than ‘in-law’) read this book and liked it so much, I had to read it, too. In following Tolle’s advice and choosing to live in the now, I have found that peace he speaks of.

What if we stop what we are doing for a moment, close our eyes, take a deep cleansing breath, and think about…nothing? Nothing at all. Just be in the moment. Now. Allow your body to relax and rejuvenate in that long, slow breath. It may even cause you to smile as your muscles peacefully unwind. Ahhhhhh…perhaps another…

What if we begin to appreciate the deep learning thrust upon us through our different life experiences? We all have much to share through lessons learned and insights discovered, and have come to this life to do both equally well. What if we ask ourselves, “What am I here to teach?” “What am I here to learn?” Then let it go. The answer arrives as we allow ourselves to become more receptive to signs and nudges that guide us on our journey.

What if we begin to notice the way the yellow leaves on a quaking aspen shudder in unison in the crisp autumnal breeze, as if they inherently know to embrace the moment? Do you think the leaf worries about tomorrow?

What if we begin to see the perfect calm water of early morning drowsily awaken to its first wisp of a wave created by an unknown creature swimming just under the surface? Do you think the water frets over yesterday’s waves?

Each new day is full of miracles. On a continuous basis, moment by moment, we have the choice to begin again. I always love a new adventure…Oh, look at that gorgeous sunrise!

Copyright 2014 Patricia Westbrook All Rights Reserved

Quote from ‘Burnout’

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Is this what burnout looks like to you? It is certainly how I have felt before…

This is actually a monk seal resting (they hunt at night) on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii. If I were to be burned out again, Kauai would be a nice place for it.

Burnout

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Have you ever been burned out? I have succumbed to complete exhaustion, frustration and disappointment when things were not working out or not headed in a direction that seemed worthwhile. It was like reaching for and chasing the carrot, sometimes for years, but never being able to catch it. After struggling very hard to find it but not being able to, I just wanted to give up.

Getting close to the carrot a few times in my life felt nearly fantastic. At one point I had a plan, or at least a dream, of ‘retiring’ at age 40. It would free me. It didn’t work out that way.

I reset the goal to age 50. That plan got completely torpedoed out of the water. I continued to struggle and strive for the one thing that would bring me peace and contentment, the elusive carrot, just out of hand’s grasp.

A dive into hopelessness shoved me right into burnout’s reality. I couldn’t function and felt like things would never get better, but always knew if I just hung on, I could pull myself back up out of its grip. I did.

After searching, reading and contemplating nature, I now realize there is no carrot. It is an illusion. We only have Now. Contentment only comes when we find a passion about what we are doing in the moment. Once we make a habit of it, we feel much more alive and involved.

I’m now looking happily toward the magic number of age 62 when I hope to ‘retire’ from my current job, but also living in the Now much more than I used to. My life is not always exactly how I want it to be, but no more thoughts of disillusionment exist in my mind. I now feel blessed that I am healthy and able to work and grateful for the opportunities it brings me daily.

It is with pure pleasure that I commute. My focus is on the traffic, surely, but also am thrilled in noticing nature open her gifts in the now, every day twice a day during my workweek.

Oh, my Now still has dreams and wants, no doubt. It is simple. It takes planning and is completely reachable. One step at a time gets me there. There is not really there, it is here. I enjoy the journey just as much as, if not more than, the destination. The carrot is no longer in my thought process. It doesn’t exist anymore.

I do have a wish list of things I want to do in life. I want to visit my family more often and share enjoyable activities. I want to become enchanted by synchronous fireflies in the Smokey Mountains and write about it. I want to hear sandhill cranes as they migrate through the Platte River and write about it.

I want to be mesmerized by the Northern Lights and write about it. I want be in the middle of the monarch butterfly migration and write about it. I want to drink in the beauty of fields of tulips in bloom and write about it.

I want to feel the earth tremor from the large animal migrations in Africa and write about it. I want to SCUBA in far off tropical places and come away with photos and stories of creatures and scenery and write about it. I want to become a better photographer and add my photos to my stories.

As for right now, this very instant, I am grateful for the sunrise, my morning tea, a good night’s sleep, the hilarious song of the mockingbird and the sound of rain falling. I never run out of things to be grateful for. Now is my ticket to freedom to engage with people through conversation and activities that encourage sharing of ideas and insight into looking at my world in new ways.

Since writing Burnout many years ago, I have come to understand fully that what we focus on, we create. I am responsible for creating my own burnout through my thoughts. I now have the power to create my own magic through my thoughts. Life is fantastic right Now, this very instant.

Forks In the Road

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    We are all different people with varied histories traveling along the same roads in life. We meet new aquaintances and friends along the way, share the road for a while and veer off in a new direction.
    When we care about someone and they begin taking a path that does not quite mesh with our value system, or vice versa, separation on some level naturally occurs.
    We have a choice. Most of our differences fall into one of two categories. We can either learn to accept or at least leave room for openness and exchange of opinions and ideas. That’s where we grow.
    Differences are what help us evolve as humans and come to a deeper understanding of each other. We form our own values from this place of understanding. Communication is a back and forth exchange of ideas.
    What can happen too easily is we begin to shut down or turn away from each other. We might even slip down the icy slope and land in a muddy snowbank of intolerance. It’s a very dark place.
    Communication can too easily break down entirely. I certainly am not the best communicator. I am working on improving that aspect of my personality. It can be challenging, but it is in our challenges where we find the deepest learning and growth.
    Occasionally we find ourselves in an awkward position of either surrendering our own power to please another, or having to protect ourselves from further attempted control by severing all ties.
    I’ve been on both sides of that fence and have learned that giving my power away is not a solution to anything. Ever. It creates deep resentment and anger, usually with both parties.
    True resolution takes patience, effort and a willingness to meet somewhere in the middle to find common ground. This is where the deeper challenge comes in. Our truths are never the same.
    Sometimes they’re so disconnected, it’s hard to find a starting point. We all interpret everything in the world differently, based on our life experiences and what we’re born with: the nature and nurture thing.
    Miscommunication, including dodging an issue and avoiding confrontation are just a few of the obstacles we learn to maneuver through in the race toward understanding. Some people are just better runners than others. It’s easy to trip over the hurdles and crash land into the unforgiving gravel of separation.
    I have been told by more than one person that I am difficult to live with. It’s true. I’m OK with that, but I am working on becoming a better me. I wouldn’t expect more than the same effort from anyone.
    Isn’t that the point? Expecting someone else to change isn’t going to solve a thing for me. My focus needs to be on self-improvement, not other-improvement. Just think for a moment what our world would look like if we all shared this one habit for a day.
    Traveling in different directions from others is not a bad thing. Sometimes we need to walk along the path alone, at least for a little while. It allows our innermost beliefs to emerge and light the way toward choosing the fork in the road that fits our own needs.
    The fork we choose is our soul’s journey. It is on this journey where we can find the nature and reflection of our true selves. We bring that best self to our world to share and help create a level of better understanding and ideally, peace. Yes, I am a dreamer. It’s the fork I chose.