Wild Horses and The Best Kind of Days

Today I hope we’ll all journey to a place we’ve never been. It can be as close as a neighborhood street or into a book we’ve never read. I hope we chat with someone we’ve never met. I hope we commune with Creation and are kind to ourselves and others. Those are the best kind of days for me. I’m learning slowly but surely, to open my eyes, heart, and mind, but keep my mouth shut. You know? My daughter, Dev, took this photo in the west desert. I love venturing there looking for wild horses. When I spot them, I get so excited I might as well be spotting a herd of unicorns. Wild horses are just as magical to me. And there’s magic to be found for those willing to search and see. Have a stellar day, friends. You are loved beyond measure.

I’m Up To Something

I’m at the stage of life when most people are retiring. That’s not an option for me. I’m back at the start, doing a few rather soul-shocking things. I learned to swim at fifty. I hiked Angels Landing at 56. Instead of checking things off my bucket list, I keep adding dreams to it. Life is wonderful when you’ve got something to hope for.

There are bleak moments, but mostly I’m simply excited for each new day and opportunity. Right now, I’m up to something that was always at the back of my mind. I’d written it off as impossible, but now I’m doing it. We’ll celebrate together when it’s complete. In the meantime, I’m celebrating every second of the journey.

Thank you LIFE, for letting me have one more day. One more chance to get things right.

I hope that whatever you’re up to, you succeed to your own satisfaction. I hope that you find joy in the little steps and don’t stop trying when you trip. We all fall. We all fail. A two-year-old taught me that you can’t stand unless you fall down. So here’s to falling and here’s to standing, and whatever your “it” is, you’ve got my applause just for trying. By default, that makes you a winner.

Wild But Not Free

The other day Eli and I came across a wolfdog. My son’s spirit animal is a wolf, and he was mighty stoked to see one in the middle of a city street. But that’s not where wolves belong, so we knew something was amiss. We wheeled around and went to make sure it was okay, and that any little humans around it were safe too. Poor thing was terrified. We did our best to approach it cautiously. I’m usually the animal whisperer, but this time the creature only wanted Eli. We sat down and let it come to Eli. The experience was surreal to say the least.

Then something spooked it, and off it went and so did we.  We followed it to a house where another wolfdog was penned in the backyard. SAD. But true. Eventually the owners came out and reclaimed their missing canine.

All this made me wonder about wildness. Like animals, I think we humans are born to be wild. But society, religion, tradition, and necessity do their best to tamper us and tame us. I get that. We need civilization, but don’t you ever feel that there’s a part of you that aches to be free? To run barefooted through wildflowers, exploring the next horizon and the next, and not be fearful that you’ll miss your call to fetch at a slave master’s bid? I, for one, want to go places I’ve never been. I want to make friends with strangers. I want to wander without a map. I want my pain to make me more deeply appreciate the pleasures of life. No more dull existence. No more living in shame, fear, and guilt. Those are chains and coffins for the living. So, if you need me, I’ll be digging my way out from behind the fences of life. Oh, I’ll do the work I need to do, fulfill my obligations, and even conform to the rules that make sense, but when my responsibilities are met…you’ll find me in the mountains or along a shoreline. I’ll be breathing deep and laughing loud. Who knows? I might be dancing with wolves…if they’ll have me.

Here’s to the wild spirit that lives within you! On that happy thought, I’ll sign off with Tolstoy’s sentiments: “I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for love.”

Life’s Treasure Hunt

 

I’m on a quest to reclaim all the pieces of my life. Some have been shattered, others neglected, a few lost, a few stolen. I want zentai, which is a Japanese word for wholeness. To do that, I’m taking back my courage by doing the hardest thing ever. I didn’t just start today, I’ve been working at it for a LONG time, but today, I realized how close I am to done and how very far I’ve come. I’d like to tell all of those who told me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, that I am ENOUGH. And sooner than later, my impossible goal will be realized. Learning to reclaim life’s gems, like courage, is a treasure hunt that makes me want to wake early every morning just to see what I’ve reclaimed by day’s end. Here’s to your treasure hunt and all the success in the world.

It’s About Time

Last night, after a fun Mother’s Day weekend with some of my sons in Vegas, we were driving home and from the backseat, I snapped a few photos of a gathering storm. Just as I pushed the button, going 88 mph, BANG! Mother Nature shot a streak of lightning out of a cloud. I’ve taken a million photos in my lifetime and I’ve never managed the perfect shot. This isn’t perfect either. But I’ve lived long enough to appreciate the beauty of imperfection. The reward is in the effort. It’s in knowing I spotted and opportunity and “took a shot.” I’m learning to give myself credit for something so simple. Hit or miss. I call that progress.

Life Does Not Have A Purpose

It’s Memorial Day weekend and my sons and I traveled to a place my ancestors helped settle. There’s even a monument honoring my great-great grandfather. This got me thinking. His life had obvious purpose. He accomplished something lasting. What about my own life? I was sitting in a doctor’s office several years ago devouring an article that told me the sure way to be happy was to figure out my purpose and not be distracted from it.

I defined purpose as one’s intention or objective and I set out to find my own. Mind you, I was already over 40 and had likely lived the majority of my life. It took me two and a half more years to figure it out. I did it through watching Ted Talks, and scouring libraries of self-help advice. I did it by honestly answering the soul-scouring questions:

  1. What am I passionate about?
  2. What did I dream of being before the world told me I couldn’t be that thing?
  3. What makes time fly for me?
  4. What are my natural talents?
  5. If resources were not limited, what would I do?

All valid probes. And once I had the answers, off I went like a lit firecracker. I chided my grown children for not getting on their own paths to purpose. I pounded out a book to help others find their purpose. I preached from pulpits that we’re all on this earth to follow a path that leads to our own happiness. It worked. The book sold. People told me they were inspired by the message. (My still-searching kids, of course, avoided me like.)

Looking back on that stretch of effort, I cringe. Because now I know that I was wrong. Life does not have a purpose. Don’t stone me for saying so. It’s true. YOU have a purpose. Life is not about finding the “right” road out of a zillion possibilities. It’s about traveling as many as we can. It’s about the journeys we take and not just the destinations at which we arrive. That means life has many purposes. YOUR life has many purposes and you decide what they are.

To prove this, I conducted a little field research. I talked with all kinds of people from all kinds of places and stations in life. The one commonality they had was that they were all living a life of purpose. That means they were happy. Fulfilled. And useful to humanity. Here’s where we get so confused and frustrated. We mistakenly think that purpose is what we do. It’s not. My definition of the concept was technically accurate, but far from complete. Purpose is about WHY we exist. WHY we create. WHY we do what we do.

Right now, as I type this fire is crackling inside of my soul. It’s true. It’s simple. And it will change your life if you just remember that your purpose is within and not without.

A half dozen things I learned from people who live purposefully include:

  1. Staying aligned with the Source who grants life. This is key. As long as you’re connected to that type of inspiration and guidance you can travel all sorts of roads without getting lost.
  2. Trusting that you’re not here by random selection. Your existence at this time and place is no accident. The omniscient Source of life doesn’t make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t made. It just means there is perfect purpose in all things, including you. So even if you can’t yet understand it, believe that there is One who does.
  3. Learning as you go. This allows for mistakes to become teachers and not punishers. Think about that for a minute or two. There is wisdom and growth in every experience if we are open to receive it.
  4. Life changes and changes us. What we do changes from day or day or hour to hour. WHY you do what you do should never change. If you’re here to learn and serve then let those motivations be your polar stars, so that no matter what you’re doing, you’re still living your purpose.
  5. Believe that your Source loves you. Einstein said that the most important question we will ever ask is whether the Universe if friendly. I promise you that It is. And when you believe this, you automatically connect to unbounded resources, a higher vibrational energy, and a sustainability that is beyond comprehension. You feel alive!
  6. Gratitude is awareness. Being grateful puts you in a place where other people’s opinions about your purpose don’t count. It keeps your thoughts, emotions and actions in harmony with your purpose. It allows you to come back when you detour. Gratitude invites that connection between you and your Source.

You can tell I’m stoked because I’ve finally learned something valuable. I no longer nag my son that he must figure out what he’s doing to do with his life. (Ha-ha—key word here is HIS life.) I no longer think every student has to declare a major when they’re freshmen. I don’t look at my chore checklist and say, “What did I accomplish?” I look at it and ask, “WHY did I do the things I did?” This keeps me living purposefully.

We’re all different. We all have worth. Every life has many purposes. And it’s not mine to tell anyone else how to live. But I do hope that you find something useful in my ramblings. I share these things because I really do love people, and if I can keep someone from making the same painful mistakes I’ve made, then chalk one up to our common, all-caring Source.

Do This Simple Trick To Elevate Your Mood

What a glorious day, friends! Hope the light is finding you. For over two decades I was a professional portrait photographer. I specialized in family and children’s portraiture. One of the things that set me apart and kept me in business was an ability to put people at ease. I learned some of my best tricks from a master: Marriott Smith. Presidents and movie stars posed for him. Together, we once photographed Bill and Hillary Clinton when Bill was first running for high office. That was memorable. But there’s something else that stands out in my mind even more vividly. He taught me to make people blink.

“It gets rid of that deer in the headlights look folks tend to get when they’re in front of a camera,” he said.

I’ve learned it does more than that.  A blink re-focuses our attention. It re-sets our brains. Science estimates that we blink far more often than we need to to keep our eyes lubricated. We blink 1,200 times per hour or 28,800 times per day. Your brain knows what it’s doing when it engages your occipital lobes. Try it if you don’t believe me. Blink right now. On purpose. Longer than you might. And with meaning.

It’s like a windshield wiper swipe over whatever you’re fixed on at the moment. Your problems don’t vanish, but your view becomes clearer. You’re able to think cleaner.

Yesterday was a brutal day for me. I was in a rare, dark mood. Maybe it was the weather. Last week temps here hit above 80 degrees. Yesterday brought a blizzard. Maybe it’s because I’m editing a novel that is so real to me the characters’ problems weigh me down. Or maybe it’s just life. You know. It delivers “those days” for no apparent reason.

My friend, Karla, picked me up around 7 p.m. She let me gripe for a good ten minutes before she pulled into a parking lot with THIS view in front of us. I blinked and suddenly everything changed. Darkness lifted. The neurotransmitters in my brain altered their distribution. I got out and snapped this photo with my phone, and instead of grumpy, I became grateful. I became aware that a return to winter can be a majestic thing. And whatever troubles had seemed so big, were dwarfed when confronted with genuine grandeur.

So, next time you’re feeling gloomy, anxious, or frustrated, try closing your eyes and letting the darkness come. Then open your eyes to welcome the light back. It works when you’re tired. It works in the middle of an argument. It’s a simple readjustment, but I promise that it works—all in the blink of an eye.