You’re Complete

“Everything you need you already have. You are complete right now, you are a whole, total person, not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else. Your completeness must be understood by you and experienced in your thoughts as your own personal reality.”

Beverly Sills

 

Trees were one of my earliest teachers, and continue to reveal patterns of life when I slow down long enough to reflect. Today I  want to share a teeny thought about Autumn leaves because they’re on my mind. I see them every day and listen to how much people enjoy them.

Brightly colored leaves are evidence to me of our perfection – our wholeness, The colors – reds, oranges, purples, and yellows – were there from the beginning of the leaf’s life. Nothing was added to make them appear. Actually, and of course you already know this, the cessation of chlorophyll production allows the hidden colors in the leaf to come out from their comfortable and secret hiding places. So, something was actually taken away to reveal their beauty.

Life is like that to me – I come to Earth complete and spend my whole life, however long or short, remembering the truths I knew before I came, learning how to live those truths as I remember them in a body and a world full of people that bring their own unique challenges.

I love that.

I’m in the Autumn of my life.

I’ve experienced the tender and simple stage of Spring where everything is new and exciting, green and fresh, where I’ve lived very close to truth because of my innocence and openness. I’ve passed through Summer where I’ve planted, and for the most part spent a lot of time nurturing and weeding on my hands and knees in the beating sun, wind, and rain.  During that phase of my life I forgot who I was, on and off, and wrestled with the distractions that having a body can bring. Life at that time was lived “outside” of me, thinking about and caring for other people, much like a large oak tree whose expanse of leaves shades and protects the “small” from the elements.

And now it’s Autumn –  a time of full expression of my spirit, where every part of me is enjoyed openly and without fear, allowing passersby the privilege of a vicarious joy that emanates effortlessly.

I’m not becoming anything new or better. I’m not achieving any form of perfection. I came to this world complete, but unexpressed in physical form, just like the seed of a sunflower is complete but unexpressed until it is put in the earth and nourished with sunlight and rain. I came to work out how to live as a complete being in a body subject to weakness and frailties, and elements that try my stamina and belief that I’m okay. What’s still being worked out is the ongoing struggle between body and spirit to stay true to the truth and not forget to what end I’m expressing what’s inside – to make manifest the love of God that is inside of me – the joy that comes from living the truth as my heart knows and understands it.

Do I remember who I am and why I’m here? Do you?

Have you embraced the different seasons of your life?

Are you fully expressed as YOU so that when the cold air of Winter settles in you have colorful memories of every phase of your life? Can you say that you are ready to let go as a leaf must at the end of Autumn, and fall to the ground becoming rich and life-giving mulch for future generations?

I’ll take another walk today as I do almost every day. I’ll look at the leaves along my way as I do the people who cross my path and hope that they, like the vibrant Autumn leaves, are finding it just as effortless as they do to show who they really are and what they really love.

…because it’s all there inside, waiting to be uncovered and expressed.

(Hitting “publish” because the printer just called and I’m off to pick up my newest piece of art! Have a good one!)

What If Today…You Made Life Beautiful for Someone?

Giosué Orefice: “No Jews or Dogs Allowed.” Why do all the shops say, “No Jews Allowed”?

Guido: Oh, that. “Not Allowed” signs are the latest trend! The other day, I was in a shop with my friend the kangaroo, but their sign said, “No Kangaroos Allowed,” and I said to my friend, “Well, what can I do? They don’t allow kangaroos.”

Giosué Orefice: Why doesn’t our shop have a “Not Allowed” sign?

Guido: Well, tomorrow, we’ll put one up. We won’t let in anything we don’t like. What don’t you like?

Giosué Orefice: Spiders.

Guido: Good. I don’t like Visigoths. Tomorrow, we’ll get sign: “No Spiders or Visigoths Allowed.” ~ from the movie, Life is Beautiful, 1997, Roberto Benigni

I like Guido. He’s a character who makes life – the difficult, sad, boring and sometimes challenging – fun, wonderful, and beautiful.

Enter my boss, stage right:

“Here,” she said, passing the booklet to him, “Read this one. Out loud.”

We stood in the extravagant library with the grand piano behind us and the view of the ocean distracting me from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the other side of the room as the salesman from the alarm company recited a poem. The original owner of the estate had a booklet made by his company – a shoe-making company in Brockton, Ma. – that was sent out to his massive crew of employees quarterly.

“You are so funny,” I mouthed silently, watching her grin, standing next to him. Apparently she has brought the booklet out before and educated many an unsuspecting “visitor” on the culture of the early 1900’s as she flips from page to page, reading, discussing, and ultimately getting them comfortable enough with her that before they know  it, they’re reading what anyone watching would think was Shakespeare’s Sonnets!

The show ended and he went to hit some balls at the country club and we got in her truck, on to the next adventure. He’d picked the best day of the week so far to see clients on the Cape, and he’d saved time between them  to golf a bit. I giggled inside as I wondered how much of that time we’d wasted with our silliness.

“We ought to get a box of props,” I suggested as we approached the lighthouse. “It could be an initiation of sorts. We could make them all read from the book and them tell them to kneel as we knight them with a shoe on each shoulder, explaining that they’ve been accepted into the ….” that’s where I got stumped – we’d have to make a name for the club. She laughed and started telling me about the Visigoths. Her sister had just sent her some pictures of them on her iPhone. They even made t-shirts that with a circle and the word, “Visigoths” in the center with a red line through the whole of it….just for fun after they watched the movie (Life is Beautiful).

I tell you that snippet of a  story because my life has become so fun.

Every day starts out as a blank slate. I have no clue what I’ll do until I’m told when and where to go for the day. No two days are alike any more. The blanks I get to fill in however I like. These days I swim, sometimes by myself and sometimes with a friend or two. It’s so fun addressing the cold water that’s getting colder every day! I choose it because it allows me to test my willingness to take a challenge that I detest and have fun with it instead.

I have started to see a pattern in my mind – one that I think would be worth sharing. You see, I’ve noticed something about the changes in my life and how they are related to my moods and thoughts. I’ve caught myself dwelling on thoughts that have dictated how I related to other people and ultimately, how I spend my time. In other words, my thoughts and feelings, having been triggered by something someone has said or not said, done or left undone, became the force that guided me.

Now I DO things and my internal dialogue changes.

A few days ago, after listening and sympathizing to her struggle with depression, I said to a young woman who I adore, “If you’re not peeing in your bed because you have the strength to get up and go to the bathroom,  you’ll be okay. ‘Cause you have the strength to get up and go outside and live…”

She giggled and I took a deep breath because I didn’t know if I’d crossed a line with her. But it popped into my head so simply and quickly…

Back to my boss….

“Am I working tomorrow?” I asked her as she perused her book of appointments / adventures-in-waiting.

We’d arrived back at the parking lot of my favorite market (the one with the best slices of pizza – the one that DIDN’T make pizza in time for me to buy one yesterday and doomed me to read my book while eating a cheeseburger smothered with barbecue sauce instead, as I waited for her truck to pull in), and I sighed in relief when I saw my little yellow Beetle waiting for me. I thought for sure someone would have kidnapped it….

“Of course!” she smiled. She told me what we’d be doing and I laughed. THAT wasn’t work at all! She’d told me earlier that I had a whole week’s pay she’d missed.  It was coming my way, she said. What fun, I thought!

“You just want me around for entertainment. Don’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

So, I think I’ll surprise her with a box of props if I can pull one together in time. And I think I have a name: “The Holy Order of the Shoe.”

I think she’ll laugh.

Isn’t life fun?

Here’s a clip from the movie, “Life is Beautiful”, the movie she insists we’re going to watch together. Enjoy!

What If Today…You Were an Artist?

“The act of painting is about one heart telling another heart where he found salvation.” Francisco Goya

“So, I’ve decided I’m going to be an artist,” I said to my boss as we both jumped out of our cars in the parking lot. I’d come to that conclusion in the wee hours of the morning yesterday as I contemplated how to make money while staying at home – something that has suddenly become a real probability. I’ve never tried to sell my artwork and in order for me to make the transition I needed to “become” an artist. Do you know what I mean? It just means spending the time that I’m not working outside the home, focused on what I do best – drawing.

Those thoughts and intentions brought me to a very happy place. I’m an artist at heart. I think it’s just my perspective on life and how I show up.

“Yes!” she almost yelled. “And we’ll use my basement. We’ll transform it into a studio.” I couldn’t stop her. I just smiled. “Do you know that’s all I want to do with my life, but I work to make everyone else’s life go smoothly? Do you know how many art projects I have going on in my basement?” she asked as if I should know while passing me two small bags of next organic chocolate covered cashews and apricots.

“Is this breakfast?” I asked laughing.

“Yes. Eat them. I’ve eaten half of them. You have to eat the rest. They’re yours.” Then she passed me a bottle of water. “Drink it. You have to stay hydrated or you’ll faint.”

She went on and on and on (I think it was the chocolate) about her connections in New York and how we could make things here and send them there and make oodles of money. Honestly, I think we’d just have fun in her basement laughing, dreaming, creating and eating organic food!

My boss is a problem solver. She can listen to a rant, find where she agrees , and propose a solution very quickly, stopping anyone dead in their tracks as they try to pull her down a road of doom and gloom. She leaves people with mud in their hands, encouraging them to make something beautiful with it.

I like people like that. They are artists.

They see the truth about where things are at in the world and choose to create new spaces out of what others see as hopeless.

Are you like that?

Do you find the joy, beauty and possibility in rainy, overcast days, chronic illness, overwhelming financial loss, and unexpected turns in your life? It takes me a while, but that’s where my heart always leads me.

I’ll never forget my 3rd daughter’s first birthday. It had been a long winter in Maine (where we’d been living for a couple of years) and we had severe cabin fever. The temperature reached 70 degrees, which was extremely unusual for March. There was still snow on the ground, but  there was also a muddy river forming in our driveway by mid-day.

I opened the front door and let the kids out to play. They tentatively made their way down the front steps to the driveway, hopping over patches of snow. The baby was the fastest. She didn’t hesitate to jump into the muddy stream, covering herself from head to toe while her brother and sister squealed with delight watching her. She made everything fun!

The water was frigid and she lost her socks and eventually her diaper in it. Her brother was so concerned about “crabs in there” ! But she just kept playing. We laughed and clapped and watched her in her muddy playground. I don’t think there is a more vivid memory that my two oldest children have of being joyful in the moment than that day. It was all we had. And it was wonderful!

That experience taught me a lot about how to use what appears to be a setback or problem and changing it to an opportunity.

I think that’s the biggest trial of this life – finding the place where you feel rejuvenated for one more minute, and then watching that minute build upon itself, lifting you up to solid ground again….and returning to that place often…

…each time with more friends to share the newly found joy.

It means offering a new perspective that brings peace, happiness, fun, laughter, and possibility for healing, first for yourself, and then for another soul.

That’s what being an artist means to me. It’s not just the landscapes in pen and ink, or the faces on potatoes, or the choreographed dance.

It’s about the new and beautiful places it all takes us in our minds and hearts.

Right? ! 🙂