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life lessons Books

Thoughts on Thankfulness.

The pandemic has changed a lot, namely, me. Two days ago I went to sleep thinking how lucky I was to cook dinner every night for my family. Prior to 2020 it was a task I complained about a lot. Now it seems this chore has turned into something I feel privileged to do. That’s the thing about thankfulness, it turns inconvenience into honour. And so to celebrate thankfulness, I thought I’d share  6 of my most favourite quotes about thankfulness. I hope these words inspire you to see what you have and say thank you to those you really appreciate.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

Albert Schweitzer.

I wanted to share this quote first because most of us can relate to having been stuck in a place where our inner light, our spark, our zest for living has seemingly vanished. Certain ones, friends, family maybe, nurtured us, sat with us in the pit of our despair, tried to understand and did not judge our pain as merely melancholy. They stood when many sat down on their hands and did nothing. They validated our hurt and told us we weren’t crazy for feeling. They passed on light and rekindled our own. I am thankful for the ones who remained when my flame was snatched, and sat with me  among cooling coals until I saw the value of ashes and my sparked again.

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

Marcus Aurelius

Wise words if there were any! Think of one thing you have. Think of what it would be like not to have it. Many of us immediately feel a sense of reverence, humility even and can do nothing more but whisper or shout a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to the sky. When I am awake to the beauty and abundance around me, wanting turns to thanking every time. This is how I feel when I’m near the ocean. Its expanse somehow makes me see how privileged I am to be alive, to be here.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

 L. M. Montgomery

Beautiful words from an illustrious writer. This quote makes me breathe deeply and exhale with a dreamy sign. The natural world is so beautiful and being thankful for the wonder and awe of seasons, landscapes, seaways, and all the weird and wild expressions of nature, makes life so much more enjoyable. Not only does thankfulness for the earth make life more pleasant, it also compels us to want to care and preserve the part of the world in which we live. Our native flora and fauna need us to care and care is created through thankfulness.

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.

William Blake

A poet never lies and William Blake is no exception. A grateful heart knows no poverty. Thankfulness allows us to see what we receive as a harvest. There are no small wins, no tiny miracles, no little offerings. There is only ever a reaping. Imagine if everyone on earth had the perception that there was no such thing as a morsel; there was only plenty. Greed would not exist and every heart would be joyous.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

Thomas Goodwin

In this quote, Goodwin states that when we receive things that are ‘won with prayer’ meaning what we can not gain by our good efforts or buy for ourselves, it is as sweet as anything received with thankfulness. Being grateful brings a kind of relief, an ease, a sense of peace. Most of the time, when I think I need more things, really all I need is more thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.

Harry A. Ironside

Thankful people are happy people. They are resourceful, hopeful and creative. I  love this quote because it doesn’t just talk of the disease, it also offers the cure. If you are discontent, thankfulness is your ‘get out of jail free card’. Start with being truly attentive to all the ways goodness turns up in your life, be thankful and watch disgruntlement slip out the side door of your soul.

Categories
life lessons

There is enough for you. (How to shift a scarcity mindset.)

There is no question, lack is a part of life. We have all experienced times when we have gone without. However, scarcity mindset is when one amplifies lack and creates limitations that do not exist. 

From time to time I struggle with a scarcity mindset. The symptoms are pretty obvious. Firstly, I can be afraid to spend money on myself. I’m the kind of mum who will buy her kids the things they want before I buy myself the things I need. 

Secondly, I have always doubted my ability to earn money. This comes from the thought that I am (a) unworthy to contribute and (b) I downplay my efforts and achievements. 

Thirdly, I often feel like I’m wasting time. Even when I have a super productive or enjoyable day I get a sense that I’ve missed out on something or in some way I am running late for my own life.

And lastly, I don’t like talking about money. 

Thankfully, I have recognised the sneaky way scarcity infiltrates my thoughts and presents itself through my actions/inactions. I have learnt that I can shift my mind from scarcity to abundance, from lack to plenty by intentionally engaging in these three practices.

  1. Don’t downplay what you have.

Minimising our skills, talents and capabilities often presents as noble or good. In truth, it’s destructive. 

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson.

In response to Marianne’s words, I asked myself these questions. Do I downplay what I have because I fear criticism, judgement and rejection? Do I think that making myself small will prevent loneliness? Do I deny myself  to avoid a sense of otherness? Does it have to be this way? Could a healthy view of myself and what I have to offer be connective rather than exclusive?

Maybe, the best thing we can do for each other 
is surrender to our own blooming.

When I allow the reality of who I truly am to take hold I sense abundance. At its roots, I believe abundance is manifested through dynamic, purposeful connection rather than personal gain.

2. Don’t listen to dispiriting talk.

You don’t have to look hard to find dishearted people; those that lack enthusiasm, creativity or energy to do good. Yes life is hard and disappointments are real, however, the way we speak about our circumstances calls attention to hope or hopelessness.

I’m not suggesting we participate in toxic positivity, hide our pain or make light of hurtful experiences. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. However, when I tune out the drown of dispiriting talk, scarcity is diminished.

Instead of saying, ‘there is never enough’, I say, ‘things will come to me as I need them.’ Instead of saying, ‘We are not wealthy enough to live there.’ I say, ‘I am grateful for where I live.’ Instead of saying, ‘They don’t think I have what it takes’, I say, ‘I am more than other people’s assumptions, projections and expectations.’

Scarcity loves a good sob story; a list of things that disqualify us, the telling and retelling of times we came to dead ends and closed doors. Abundance bursts everything open; employing gratitude and hope, wonder and curiosity to write meaning into every occurrence. Abundance turns the ordinary into good and the good into great. The more we seek it, the more we see it. The more we speak it, the more we hear it echo in our lives.

3. Let your heart flower with possibility.

Constantly focusing on limitations instead of possibilities is how people become stuck in their lives. It only serves to create the same old reality from day to day. And soon the days turn into years, and lifetimes.

Anothon St Maarten.

Scarcity mindset is about how we see, not what we own. When I am watchful, when I look for life to surprise me with good things, when I allow my heart to open to the potential within us, when I think of all the wonderful, strange, peculiar, amazing things that have been created in the world throughout history, I feel a sense of excitement for the unexpected good.

I expected them all to bud the same colour, 
but there on one stem a peculiar sight, 
one pink, one white. 
Those sweet lilies reminded me, 
I live in a world of strange happenings, 
unpredictable turnings, 
and there beside the vase 
my heart flowered with possibility. 

Scarcity thinks it knows it all, but  in my experience scarcity is ignorant of the creative force that got this all started. Perceiving what is possible is part of being human, and the only thing that saves us from complete poverty of the soul. If you are like me, and can sometimes be hijacked by thoughts that there is not enough for you, let these words ring for you today. There is enough for you. Don’t down play, Listen to what makes you feel large on the inside and let your heart push up a plantation of possibility within.

Categories
Creativity News Publishing

3 attributes of courage – lessons in following your heart.

Today is book baby’s birthday!!!!

The Remains of Burning’ was published on October 1st 2020, and one year on she is still bringing beautiful people and opportunities into my life. 

Most recently I was part of a give-away with five other authors. The soul that won my book lives in Thailand. We were both ecstatic when ‘ The Remains of Burning’ finally fell into her mailbox. Magic is when the right words find the right reader. She was a gift to me and I, a gift to her.

I could tell you several stories about these kinds of encounters. From Thailand to Jamaica, from Ireland to Canada (Hello beautiful readers from all these beautiful places) my little book baby has spent the last 12 months bringing light. I’ve always felt my call is less about writing popular books, and more about serving the individual. That’s why I write, for the one’s! 

For years I was afraid to write and publish. I had a problem. Cathy Heller says, when we have trouble in our careers, families, finances, or relationships, often it’s simply a courage problem. This means the solution is in stepping up to the plate, being assertive, vulnerable and integral to who we are. 

Courage is the most important component needed to ship creative work. To push my poetry out into the already over-saturated sea of books, I needed to put on my big girl pants, and risk being criticized, misunderstood or worse, ignored. And so, today marks the day I did it, I found my spine, birthed a dream and discovered a few things about courage.

  1. Courage never stops calling.

Just when you find the nerve to do something, another thing demands still more courage. Being courageous is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. As long as we live, courage continues to chant, beckoning us forward, pointing out possibilities. 

First, I needed courage to write badly, then, I needed courage to show my writing to those close to me. Next, I needed courage to spend hours learning how to publish, after that, I need courage to actually publish. Then, I needed courage to market and promote my work,  followed by courage to keep writing. Then, I need courage to publish again, after that, I need courage to invest in a website. Next, I needed courage to start a blog, followed by courage to start a newsletter. And now I have a list as long as my blessed body (I’m not joking) of things I need courage to create and sell. Never satisfied, courage relentlessly wants us to make bold moves.

  1. Courage builds upon itself.

Courage begets courage. One courageous act leads to another. Often we can think courage is about taking one giant leap, but in my experience, courage is the ability to keep on stepping.

‘Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.’

Holly Lisle

The more I step, the more courage I have to keep stepping. The more I write, the bolder my words become. The more I try, the more I want to try again. I plan to look back at my thirties and forties and say, ‘I can’t believe I was afraid of that.’

3. Courage creates an expansive life.

Courage has given me many surreal moments; times so amazing and joyous, it feels like they existed in a dream. Last weekend I spent some time writing them down. After I read and re-read the list, I could not help but say aloud to myself, ‘Wait, did that really happen?’ ‘I never dreamt that I would be there, doing that, with them.’

If you want a life better than you ever imagined, wonderful stories to tell your grandchildren, lists of beautiful dreamlike memories, then courage is the way.

I have learnt that I don’t need to be busy to have a big life; I just need to be brave. For me, bravery looks like backing myself, trusting the flow, trying again, being vulnerable, facing rejection, seeming to be a fool, taking risks, and following your heart. Courage starts with affirming ‘I am courageous’ even when I’m shaking in my boots, and ends with no regrets. Courage has always taken me to a spacious place that oddly feels unknown and like home all at once.

So here’s to ‘The Remains of Burning‘ one year on. I birthed a book baby and book baby birthed courage in me.

image of a poetry book
The Remains of Burning.
Categories
Poetry

The power of being present.

‘He hates travelling. There is nothing to look at but trees. Its not that this particular journey is boring. He talks about teleportation most days. ‘If I had one superpower, guess what it would be?’

I try not to roll my eyes and sit to speak on his level. ‘You know what superpower is better than teleportation?’

He does not try to stop his eyes from rolling. ‘What?’

‘The ability to really be where you are.’

Of course my ten year old didn’t get it. Zooming forward in time is a lot more exciting than reality. I know he is tuned towards thrill and wonder. He doesn’t understand, so am I’.

It wasn’t until I reached my late thirties that I discovered the power of being present. You see, I’m a dreamer. I’m the kind who can exit a room without moving a muscle. Comparatively, I also can not tell you how many times I have walked away while another person was mid-sentence, forgetting that I was in conversation. It’s embarrassing. I’ve tried to change, but it’s me.

So how did I, an escape artist, a fairy chaser, a star-gazer, learn how to be here? The script was flipped, my perceived future vandalized, the cathedral in my heart, bombed. I handed the pen to pain and the only way to reef it back out of his hand was to sit and breathe and watch and thank. And that is when I started living.

‘Try not to miss a thing; the orange tipped wing butterfly, the song of the wren, the kiss of spring rain, the parade of the waterhen. Take it all in, no need to fix a thing. Be here, bear witness. Relax and bring it it.’

With no vision, I felt like I was withering away. The story of my future had been told to me over and over and over again for more than 10 years and without that story I didn’t know what to do. Like a child with attachment issues my body and mind revolted. The only way to calm  myself was to focus on the hot tea cup in my hand, or the light on the leaves, or the intricacies of flowers. The practice of being present introduced me to the wonder of being alive. Slowly, I swapped excessive ‘daydreaming’ for ‘day meeting’, wishing for watching, fantasising for focusing on now. Slowly, I discovered my superpower.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t tell them to shoot for the stars, not to wish to be ballerinas or firefighters, astronauts or doctors. Maybe we should tell them to aim for the earth instead. To focus on being green. Healthy and whole; someone who never stops growing. Maybe we should show them how to be in love with being alive.’

Instead of trying to talk my ten year old out of teleportation, I share with him what I notice about where we are.

‘Quick Sonny, look at the sunset. The sky is hot pink tonight.’ 

‘Hey Sonny, can you smell the salt in the air, doesn’t it make you feel good?’

‘How long do you think it would take you to swim to the other side of the lake? It’s massive don’t you think?’

Together we are discovering and rediscovering the joy, amazement and healing found only in the present. Together we are learning how to use our imagination, not to escape reality but to embrace the magic of it even more.

It’s happening everywhere. In the quiet. In moments when each is alone. Forming like dew. Unseen by the eye, yet detected in heart. Be still and allow patterns of light to show you the wonder of it all.’