Small Things

Some days it’s hard to find something to write about. Not because there’s nothing good or beautiful in my day, but because the things that are there are small, common, or specific to me. They don’t seem “big” or “important” enough to write and post about here.

Then I remember why I started this site. And I look at the news and all the negativity and “doom and gloom” in the world today. I needed reminders there were good things to be found. Friends, family, and other people I know needed pops of joy and beauty in their lives.

The whole reason for this site is to show people that even when everything looks bleak, when things are falling apart, joy and beauty still exist. It might be tiny and hard to see unless you’re looking for it and seeing it, we feel better. And when we feel better, we’re kinder, more understanding, and more patient and accepting of others.

It’s a small thing, yet it isn’t. Because we affect everyone we come into contact with even if it doesn’t seem like it. So if we’re kinder, understanding, patient, and accepting, we spread a little bit of that beyond ourselves. That person we interacted with may interact with someone else differently and spread our influence to someone else. So while most of us can’t make big changes in the world on our own, together – by doing little things – we can have a much bigger impact than we think we can

So I’ll keep pointing out the small things. Because they matter. You matter. And we can make a difference. Together we can make the world better moment by moment, person by person.

Awe in Frustration

I’m working out at the gym more often lately. I’m not seeing big progress yet. What I am feeling a lot is sore and challenged. Things I did without thinking when I was younger are difficult, or even out of reach of my current abilities

It’s frustrating. And I could let it get to me, let it discourage me. Sometimes it does. But I often choose to look at it differently. I’m in awe of how my muscles and joints work, amazed at how I took it for granted when I was younger.

The difficulty and the soreness I have now reveals the intricacy of how everything works together. I might not like the way my body looks or feels right now. But I can still see and appreciate the beauty of how muscles tendons, and ligaments work together.

And there is one place where small progress is really big progress. About a decade ago, before I had health insurance, I separated my shoulder. I didn’t get it treated, never did physical therapy. And my mobility and range of motion in the shoulder has been bad ever since. My trainer had a similar injury at one point. So she’s been giving me exercises that help increase my range of motion and mobility in that shoulder. I don’t notice it too much when I’m working out. But every so often, I reach up or out with that arm and am struck by just how much the mobility and range of motion have improved. That excites me even when I’m exhausted or hurting during a work out.

Reminding myself that the soreness I feel after workouts is the muscles repairing themselves and getting stronger makes it easier to deal with. Appreciating what the human body is capable of when I have difficulty with an exercise keeps me from getting overly frustrated. And it reminds me of my goals, of what my body will be able to do eventually.

What about your body created moments of awe for you?

When Darkness Looms

There are times when I have difficulty finding something to write about here. I’ve had a bad day, or maybe a so-so day. Or maybe I can’t think of something I haven’t already written about. Maybe nothing has sparked for me recently or I haven’t had that moment
of beauty, joy, or love.

And then I realize that love and soul aren’t always beautiful or joyful. Sometimes they are ugly and hard. And that’s a truth we don’t acknowledge often. We shove it out of sight and pretend, at least in public, everything is lovely and easy.

It’s okay for things to be difficult. It’s okay to struggle to find the positive, the beautiful, they joy. It’s okay to acknowledge things aren’t perfect, or even good. It’s human to lose sight of the little lights when the darkness makes everyday life a challenge.

I find a quiet kind of joy in knowing that by sharing my difficulties, my imperfections, I may help someone else realize they’re not alone. It’s hard to be human, to have human frailties and weaknesses, when we see everyone’s edited lives online.

There’s a beautiful symmetry in finding a topic for this post as a result of admitting I was having difficulty finding something beautiful and joyful to write about. And my writing about it, thinking it through, sharing my humanity, how I feel has changed. I was feeling blah/meh when I started writing. As I’ve written, my mood has lightened, I’ve relaxed, and I feel better about myself and more optimistic.

Admitting and accepting our frailties, our imperfections, is a reflection of our love and our souls. Not always joyful and beautiful, but always capable of returning to those states.

Little Annoyances

There are times when my cats annoy me terribly. I have two – Seraph and Watson. They seem to know when I have ten or fifteen minutes left before my alarm goes off or I’m planning to get up. They follow me into the bathroom. They tear around the house chasing each other and knocking things off shelves. They don’t fight but they do warn each other off.

But in the midst of annoying me, one or both of them will pose, or stop and look at me. Or Seraph will come over and bump her head against my arm or head – or start grooming my hair. And the way they both react with I get the laser pointer or treats out makes me laugh.

The contract, in the very instance of the annoyance, is a spark of beauty and joy. I love the little critters even when they’re being brats. I wonder if they act this way sometimes because they know how I’ll react.

Everyday annoyance does not rule out the existence of joy and beauty and love. Sometimes you just have to apuse long enough to see it.

Finding Light from Outside

There are times when finding beauty, love, and joy in our own lives is difficult. Nothing seems to be going quite right. The weather is less than optimal, maybe even dreary. Our mood just can’t, or won’t, see the points of brightness in our own existence for a time.

We may need to look outside ourselves to find that spark to kindle our own light. In times when news and politics only darken the work, where can we look?

We can look to our family and friends, to those acquaintances on social media we consider friends, or people we admire. Among them, we can find the pleasures, triumphs, and joys they are experiencing. And in these, we can find our light.

It is not our own light, beauty, or joy, but it is those those things all the the same. Any eye can see beauty. Joy can be, should be, shared. And light grows when more people share it. Those who care for us, those who share such things where we can see them, are sharing them with everyone. They do not begrudge us being lifted from our own darkness by what they share.

So when you have little light, joy, or beauty in your own life, take head of the light in the lives of others. Use it to spark your own. Then share it for the next person who needs something to kindle their brightness.

Not Invisible

Find the Soul is a project that I started, then set on the back burner. It wasn’t intentional, but life got in the way.

Wait

Stop

Rewind

Find the Soul is a project I started and then I *let* life get in the way. When it could have done the most good, I put it off. But I never completely lost sight of it. And it’s time to wake it up. Because I’m not the only person who needs the reminder that there’s good out there.

A lot of us need that reminder right now. And not just now. Everyday, every minute, someone is looking for that one thing, that small bright spot that tells us things can be, will be, better eventually.

But better doesn’t happen until someone takes action. It doesn’t have to be a big action – but it does have to be something. A pebble, in the right place, at the right time, can keep a flood from happening. And the pebble may never know the difference it made.

I am a pebble. I’m taking action. I’m not taking a big, public, dramatic stand. I’m putting pebbles and twigs in place to turn a flood – or create ripples – I may never see. And I know there are others out there doing the same. I know there are people out there who need the one tiny light to show them darkness is not all there is to look forward to.

There is beauty and love out there. There is soul in the world even when it appears it’s been lost. I can see it if I look for it. I’ve seen it before.

So it’s time to start looking, start seeing, again. And it’s time to share it. It’s time to make a start, however tiny, however invisible, it may seem.

Because beauty, love, and soul are not invisible. I am not invisible. You are not invisible.

We make a difference.

We see the beauty.

We share the love.

We are the soul that needs to be seen.

Digital Friends

One of the things we often take for granted, though we use it every day, is social media. I don’t use it as much as some, but more than many. There are times when I ask myself why.

I didn’t grow up with social media. Even AOL and Yahoo didn’t become a thing until after I was out of college. Staying in touch with friends who moved away required a long distance phone call or letter sent through the post office.

I lost touch with a lot of friends. Either they moved or I did. I’m terrible about calling or writing – and many of them were too.  Did I regret loosing touch? Yes, but getting back in touch was difficult – until social media came into it’s own.

In the past fifteen years, I’ve not only reconnected with old friends, but made new ones. Old or new, I’ve only seen a few of them in person, or talked to them on the phone. Most of my friends I keep in touch with digitally.  And it means a great deal to me to be able to touch bases with them and know what’s going on in their lives.

Every so often I have to stop and just think and appreciate how far things have come. And how technology connects people as much as it divides them.

So, to all my friends, digital and otherwise – Thank you. I appreciate you. You are beautiful, loved, and a part of my soul.

Serendipity

Sometimes things just come together in ways you never expected. Over the past 7 months, I’ve been spending part of my free time working on a project that fits that description perfectly.

In October 2015 I attended the Sirens conference in Denver for the first time. It’s a conference on women in Fantasy literature, and I met a lot of lovely people. Many of those people became friends on social media.

Back in February, I posted on Facebook about two characters that were being insistent on having their stories told. The problem was that neither one was in the story I was supposed to be working on!

One of my friends from the conference commented on that post, then another, then another. Within two weeks there was a Facebook group of Sirens participants who wanted to be involved with making an anthology of stories centering on those two character types happen. The next thing I knew, we had a professional editor and deadlines in place.

Yesterday, we revealed the cover, the release date (October 6th) for the print and e-book, and the e-book went up for pre-sales at several distributors, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

I’m still sitting here trying to figure out what happened. I know, at a certain level, that what happened is that a bunch of women who love the Sirens conference found a concept they all felt the same way about.  But that kind of thing happens all the time. How did we end up with an actual published anthology out it?

Sometimes the right people and the right pieces just come together. Connections we don’t see draw everything needed to the right place at the right time. We find the thing that we love, that we’ve been seeking for, without ever realizing it. And an idea, a dream, a wistful thought, becomes something much more.

As one of the organizers of the anthology, you’d think I’d be past the “Is this really happening?” stage. I’m not. I’m still sitting here, watching as a random thought becomes something much bigger than I’d dreamed of. And I know that, just by making that original post, I’ve touched and changed the lives of other people.

Wow.

I’m awed and overwhelmed.

Sometimes serendipity happens – and it’s beautiful.

The Happy Middle

After an early adulthood of extreme ups and downs, I remember the moment I embraced the happy middle. It happened one night about 9pm, when I got home from a long day at the call center. After almost two hours driving round trip and depressing calls for 12 straight hours hooked up to a computer screen, I get home and instead of grabbing a drink and sitting in my chair and watching football like my Grandfather, I hear the girls and their mom laughing joyfully upstairs and decide to slowly, tiredly take each step up  there like the tired cranky old man I was becoming.

At the top of the stairs, they turn and see me and each scream my name and embrace me and invite me to come join them- they are watching a musical Tween-type family movie and painting each other’s nails and singing along with the movie. It was that moment more than any other that I surrendered. I remember thinking, how could you not Love this? Look how lucky you are to be a part of this! So I joined them and I didn’t say a word about work, about sad people in untenable situations that I couldn’t possibly help. Instead, I smiled and jumped into cross-legged position on the floor and they painted my toenails and put my hair in ponytails and we watched the movie and I think we watched it again from the beginning so I could see the whole thing with them, and I learned to love that movie, which never could have happened before, and that music too, despite it’s incredible cheesiness. I decided to embrace cheese. I decided to adopt Cute then, I gave in. I figured, this is my life now, and its not so bad. I can’t complain…and you know how I hate that. 😉

 

 

Change your Life from Tragic…to Magic

I belong to a group of people who do business around the world. At one of our meetings, one of our co-founders once spoke these immortal words:

“You can change your life from tragic to magic in a very short period of time”.

While I found this an incredibly inspiring quote I did not realize just how true those words were…until the day my son was born.

The day my son was born started out as any other day. I woke up, got ready and went to work. I had lunch with my manager during which I received a text message from my wife.

“Please call me when you appt is done.”

Doesn’t sound too urgent, right? Little did I know this text message was going to turn my life upside down and inside out. When I called her she more-or-less calmly informed me she was having contractions and that it was time to get my butt home.

To make a long story short, a little after midnight I witnessed the miracle that was the birth of our son. Unless you are a parent yourself, there is no way I can even begin to describe the feelings that course through you at that precise moment. Only one word comes to mind…magical. From that day, I have experienced more magic in my life than I ever believed possible.

So if you want to change your life from tragic to magic…go have a baby.

No, of course not. What happened to me that night was that it opened my eyes in a way that truly changed my life. All of a sudden I started seeing the small things around me that were beautiful. That were wondrous. That were positive. That were magical.

And you can do the same. You just have to allow yourself to see. Most people go through life focussing on everything bad that’s happening to them; their relationship isn’t what it was, there’s an envelope from the tax department in the mail, it’s raining, they’re struggling financially…the list goes on.

And whatever you focus on, grows. Here’s an experiment. Look around you and notice everything that’s blue. Go on, look. What’s blue around you? Dark blue counts. Light blue, too. Cyan? Sure. Everything that’s even the least bit blue. Got it? Okay.

Now close your eyes. Imaginge the room in front of you. Now make a list (you can speak out lound) of everything you see that’s…

Red.

Don’t open your eyes! That’s cheating. Come on, everything red.

Okay, you can open your eyes now. If you are remotely like everyone else, that was hard. Really hard. Why is that? Because everything you focus on grows. You were so focussed on noticing everything blue that your brain simply filtered out everything else. It was still there but because you made it less important, your brain skipped over it.

Interesting.

What is wrong is always available. And so is what’s right. If you spend your life focussing on all the wrong, all you are going to see more of is just that. If instead you focus on everything that is right, or beautiful, or amazing in your life, guess what? You’ll start noticing more of what is right, and beautiful, and amazing.

Is it that simple? Yes, it is.

Is it that easy? No. Not at the beginning, that is. But you do not need a dramatic even like the birth of a child to start noticing that your life, too, is magical. You just need to get started.

Here’s some ideas:

1. A “magic moments” journal. Every night before you go to sleep, write down at least 3 magical moments that happened during the day. Again, they don’t need to be dramatic. The sun breaking through the clouds after a thunderstorm just as you need to head home. The smile of a special someone (or a complete stranger) that made you feel good. The smell of coffee first thing in the morning. If you have trouble finding your moments, think of those moments that could have been magical if you really wanted them to be.

2. Start your day with 5 minutes of gratitude. First thing in the morning, even before your first cup of coffee (okay, you can do this during your first cup of coffee, too) take 5 minutes and just think about everything you are grateful for (or could be grateful for if you really wanted to be). What about your body? You heart that beats even when you are sleeping. Your eyes that allow you to see all the beauty around you. What about your family? What about all the knowledge that is available to you at your fingertips? What about friends? What about that great pub around the corner where you can hang out with your friends? What about the seasons? What about everything you have in your life? The roof over your head? The food on your table? Just think about all those things most of us take for granted.

I promise you that if you start applying just these two ideas (and I am sure you can come up with at least a dozen more) you will notice the change. You will start seeing things differently. You will start feeling differently. Until one day you realize that you life is, truly, magical.

Thank you.