gratitude, grace and celebration

Lilac Blossom

I first received the gift of these beautiful words below over on Val Boyko’s Find Your Middle Ground blog. I’m sharing because it seems so fitting and is a beautiful invitation for how to give birth to the next moment, to live into whatever’s next.

~ From “What’s True Here” New Poems and Other Writings

by Danna Faulds

“This is what I have to say to you. Savor the fruits of a lifetime of growth and evolution. I’m not suggesting that you rest on your laurels and declare yourself done. But its time to bask in the sunlight of your soul and let that warmth reach deep inside your bones.

The next stage of your life will rest upon a foundation of gratitude, grace and celebration. Grace simply comes when it comes and isn’t in your control. Gratitude can be nurtured and fertilized by paying attention to the gifts that come your way, saying thank you, internally and externally appreciating your life as often as you remember. Celebration means taking stock of how far you’ve come and letting delight and wonder lead the way.

What you are giving birth to today is bigger than your usual perception of yourself. Its okay that you have no idea what’s coming next. How could you? Just stay open and the universe will do the rest. Gratitude, grace and celebration are the keys.”

the days are nouns

Rovinj, Croatia
Daily by Naomi Shihab Nye

These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world

I first came across this poem over at Karl Duffy’s Mindfulbalance blog. I found it to be a lovely reminder of the peace that’s possible amidst my day-to-day activities, and how, in a way, we are all connected through the act of taking care, of living.

I “C”

a unique perspective on the lily bed in my backyard

The other day I was reflecting on several conversations I had with friends. We’d gathered together to connect. As always, we opened, shared, explored and created a shared experience that filled our hearts with peace, hope, joy, love. I was struck by the string of words beginning with the letter ‘c’ that came to mind. Isn’t this an abundantly delicious mix of words? Does a particular word touch you today? Are there other words you’d add to the list?


because you have lived

Hosta blossom

What is success?
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

What is success? How do we define success? Oh, the many ways I’ve defined it over the decades of my life!

Since retiring, I’ve been more curious than ever about what it means. What makes a successful day? a successful life? I’ve noticed my tendency to define myself by my accomplishments, by the actions I take, the tangible outcomes I achieve. I’ve reflected on how this achievement orientation started as I child, called to contribute to the family and our community in meaningful ways, how it strengthened as I was invited to learn and show my understanding through school lessons, and how it continued to morph when I become a worker in the productivity machine of the corporate workplace.

Now, though, I feel Emerson’s invitation to open to something so much simpler, something holding such power and possibility: to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That would be success.

from my 8-year-old-self

spring robin playing in birdbath

Dear Vicki,

Isn’t life good?

Aren’t you grateful for your family, your education, your health?

You have so much – you are fortunate that you can play and enjoy life.

Make time for friends and FUN – be silly!

Enjoy learning.

Never turn down a chance to play (especially with a dog!).

Don’t be afraid of things that are only in your imagination.

Lose yourself in how it feels to see, hear, be touched in and by the world.

Take time to sit in the big chair and read – RELAX.

Eat that tasty treat without regret.

I wish you a life filled with joy and delight. May your heart be open, your mind be clear, and your senses alive to fully experience life’s pleasures.

Your 8-year-old-self

I wrote this letter to myself as a recommended activity when I was moving through The Artist’s Way. I came across the hand-written message tucked in the back of my personal journal, having just finished filling all the pages and about to put it on the shelf. My hope I’ll never forget the 8-year-old that lives inside of me and the ever-present invitation to open to life without stories and judgement. What would your 8-year-old-self say to you? (Previously I posted a letter from my 80-year-old-self.)

from my 80 year old self

Spring columbine shoots 🙂

Dear Vicki,

It’s not too late!

Every day is a new opportunity to live fully, to be present for and embrace the life you’ve been given. Make a point each day to be quiet and still and to fill your heart with gratitude and to open your being to love and joy. Take whatever form shows up – let go of any stories about how things should or should not be, or what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Move your body and care for it well. Notice what it needs and give to it kindly. It is an amazing thing – all your cells and flesh and bones and organs, and all the things it allows you to experience as a human being. You can see, hear, smell, taste, feel – view, read, talk, listen to music and birds, hear the sounds of life around you, smell cake baking in the oven, rain on hot pavement, the rich woodland of evergreens. Oh, the tastes you can experience!

Enjoy all that is possible. OPEN. Let yourself fall into being fully alive, unreserved. Reach for your husband’s hand, call your friend, sleep in without guilt, dig in the garden all day, sit outside taking in the warmth of the sun, go for a long walk. Even dance a little. You don’t have to be good, just enjoy it, feel it, let energy move through you.

Don’t get too wrapped up in the past or anticipate too much what the future holds. Be present for what’s available here and now. Go ahead. Be vulnerable. You are strong and courageous and beautiful. Let your life open fully and dance into it with all your body and soul.


Your 80-year-old-self

I wrote this letter to myself as a recommended activity when I was moving through The Artist’s Way. I came across the hand-written message tucked in the back of my personal journal, having just finished filling all the pages and about to put it on the shelf. Oh, that I should someday be 80 and be able to look back and say that I followed this wisdom!

What would your 80-year-old-self say to you?

Chakra Opening

Someone’s intention, San Agustinillo, Mexico

I keep coming back to a short simple practice I created for myself some 5 years ago. It grounds me and brings me a sense of calm.

Standing with feet about hip distance apart and arms gently hanging at my sides, I bring my attention to my body, noticing my breath. Then, in my mind’s eye I slowly scan my body, with my attention pausing on each of my chakras and inviting positive intention:

Chakra 1 – feet, legs, base of the spine: May I be grounded and centered, living my life on a foundation of love and kindness

Chakra 2 – hips, abdomen, low back: May I open to joy and creative energy, pleasure and fun, laughter and smiles

Chakra 3 – solar plexus: May I take action that makes a difference for me, for my partner, all those I love, and all beings

Chakra 4 -heart: May I I be guided by an open and loving heart

Chakra 5 – throat: May I speak my truth with compassion and calm

Chakra 6 – eyes, brow: May I see and open to possibility

Chakra 7 – top of the heat: May I lean toward the light

I’ll often end with a few deep breaths, perhaps sweeping my arms out from my sides and over head with an inhale, and with an exhale, bringing my palms together and back down in front of me resting at my heart.


Do you have a practice that grounds and supports you?

On Harmony…

Paula (L) with more colleagues, Diana and Ginger (2008)

I was going through some precious files – the ones I stashed in a special place, to filter through when I could savor them. I found myself reading through about 15 sheets of paper stapled together. Remnants of a blog I started internally at work back in 2007. The blog posts focused on words that spoke to me in some special way…words like possibility, radiance, joy, inspiration, and gratitude.

My first post was about harmony. I got goose-bumps as I read the comments shared by a dear friend who has now passed, Paula Patinella. She was a wise woman who spoke truth with an open heart. Below is her touching perspective on harmony. May her words inspire you as they did me.

Harmony is coordinating my inner voice with what is going on around me…

If we all felt harmony within ourselves, then we could focus on how much we have in common rather than looking for differences. When we realize how much we have in common, there is a wonderful synchronization and energy created. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and listen to what is going on around me…the pattern of birds singing, accompanied by the flow of traffic, even the hum of machines working, or people walking…all that orchestrated into an asymmetrical perspective of the world that, to me, seems to be in perfect harmony.

I love when that happens.

Rest in peace Paula.

Be Excessively Gentle with Yourself

Columbine leaf with morning rain

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted by John O’Donahue

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

I saw a familiar quality in Mr. O’Donahue’s poem: moving from darkness to light. A shift that happens somewhere along the way. So often when I feel inspired to write, it’s a journey of growth, moving from a place of challenge to a place of release, a place of confusion to clarity, a place of discontent to contentment, a place of resistance to openness. Can you see where the movement begins? Ah, slow, free, calm, gentle, ease, joy…yes.

The Wind Moves Through It

From Hotel Levante, Pelekas, Corfu

The Wind Moves Through It

The wind moves through it

a soft heart song, the gentle rustle.

The light shines upon it,

a glittering mosaic, the fluttering movement.

Grace blesses the tree

as she stands rooted and strong –

and open and vulnerable

to the touch of her friends.

This poem came to me as I read Mark Nepo’s inspirational reading, the Ocean of Spirit, with this inspiring quote:

“Everywhere we are given examples of how the life giving elements move through us and bring us to life…Consider how the tree has no control over the movement of the wind…like the tree, we as human beings have no control over the movement of grace.” ~Mark Nepo

This lovely meditation by Mark Nepo accompanies the reading:

  • Watch the wind move through a familiar tree.
  • Watch until the wind has left, and notice how even when still the branches sway slightly.
  • Notice how even what seems like a still air is just a subtle wind.
  • Meditate on how similar the life of spirit is as it moves through us.
  • Feel the force of life like a subtle wind move through you as you breathe.