Parker Palmer  urges us to fall deeply and madly in love with our lives, and offers some significant wisdom  on how to best live them.

Here’s a small taste:

“…be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m sure glad for the self-centered, self-serving and self-protective life I lived.”

I made a spontaneous decision to give folks a short tour of SagePlace.  This is an unedited video and so please overlook the many less than perfect moments.  I wanted it to be authentic vs. polished.

In a TED Talk Jon Jandai offers some significant food for thought regarding what truly matters and how we complicate our lives unnecessarily.

Here’s an example of his simple wisdom, Before I thought that stupid people like me … cannot have a house… because people who are cleverer than me and get a job need to work for 30 years to have a house. But for me, who cannot finish university, how can I have a house. It’s hopeless for people who have low education like me. But when I start to do earthen buildings, it’s so easy! I spent two hours per day… and in 3 months I have a house. A friend who was the most clever in the class he has a house too but he has to be in debt for 30 years, so compared to him I have 29 years and 9 months of free time. I feel life is so easy.” 

And here’s another, “I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth.  We have so many people who finish university, we have so many universities on the Earth.  We have so many clever people on this Earth.  But, life is harder and harder.  We make it hard for whom?  We work hard for whom right now?”

Jandai’s message resonates with me as I seriously consider taking the next step towards living more simply and consciously.

The video above is an excerpt from a talk  by Robert Emmons,   professor of psychology at the University of California, and author of “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier.”

Emmons observes, ” Gratitude is not easy. It’s not something that comes naturally, but has to be worked at. It has to be cultivated. It goes far beyond saying ‘thank you.’ It’s deeper than that; it can be a really fundamental way of viewing life, an orientation toward life itself.”

Emmons asserts that gratitude changes lives.  My own experience has certainly supported his assertion.  The more I practice gratitude, the more resilient and optimistic I feel.  How are you at experiencing gratitude?  Want to get better at it?

Following are some resources that you might find helpful.

Enhance Happiness and Health

Six Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

A Practical Guide to Gratitude

A Meditation for Cultivating Gratitude

Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice 

On January 22 from 7:00 to 8:30 join us in a warm and cozy environment to refresh your soul and deepen your spiritual life.  We’ll be discussing the first three chapters of “When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd. While the group is free, you must pre-register by email in order to participate. Put “register me” for book group in subject line. Register at: tammiefowles@gmail.com

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/852567931430974/

sue monk kidd quote

We’re so busy these days, more often than not it seems, too buried beneath the often insignificant details of our lives to fully live them, or as Gregg Levoy observes, “to make them literally come true.”

What would it mean to make your life come true?   According to the dictionary, ‘true’ is defined as “real, genuine, authentic.”  From this perspective, how true is your life?  Is it guided by what you believe to be meaningful and ethical?  What fills your hours?  Your days?  Do they contain what truly matters most to you?  What percentage of your time does what you say and do genuinely reflect who you are and what you love?  How real, genuine, and authentic does your life feel?

In an article entitled, To Be Seen, Tim Kutzmark lamented,  “Look around—we are a people of masks and disguises. We are a people who have been taught to transform ourselves into what others need us to be… We’ve come to believe that most people don’t want to see or hear what we feel, what we need, who we are. We’ve learned that most people don’t want to see the messiness and confusion that each of us carries inside. We’ve learned that only parts of ourselves are publicly presentable. Other parts must be hidden away. For acceptability, approval or promotion, we conceal the rough edges, the broken places…”

In one of my favorite children’s stories, The Velveteen Rabbit, the little toy rabbit who longs to be real asks his companion, the skin horse, how he might become real.  The wise old skin horse replies ,  ‘It doesn’t happen all at once… You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

While I’m reasonably certain that I was absolutely  real as a child, returning to that elusive and imperfect state is proving to be  a long and frequently demanding journey.  The outer world’s claims on my time, energy, and psyche all too often distract and sometimes overwhelm me, while the inner voice that calls me towards greater authenticity issues its own demands.  It has  repeatedly insisted that I piece together those places inside of myself that have been broken or discarded in order to be whole again.  It urges me to reveal  my weaknesses and vulnerabilities rather than to hide them away in shame.  It insists  that my behavior not contradict my values, orders that less  of my time be wasted on things that don’t matter much, mercilessly rejects all attempts on my part to deceive either myself or others,  and unrelentingly calls on me to listen to my love and not my fear.

   Along the way to becoming real, like the velveteen rabbit,  I’ve suffered significant scars, and am no longer the beauty that I once was when I was untried, unmasked, and brand new.  And yet, as I continue to work on living consistently smack dab in the middle of my truth, I find new opportunities and new doors being opened up.  I encounter teachers every where (when I am open to them) that encourage me to do my very best to make as much as I possibly can of the sweet life that is left to me come true.

Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist, author, lecturer, and teacher of Buddhist mindfulness meditation.  I’ve listened to several of her teachings via her youtube channel which blend western psychology with eastern spiritual practices, and I’ve gained a great deal of insight from reading her book, “Radical Acceptance.”

In an interview with Deb Kory on Pschotherapy.net, Tara shared, ” I remember being very struck by William James, who wrote that “all religions start with the cry, ‘help.’” Somehow deep in our psyches there is always some part of us that’s going, “Okay, how am I going to deal with this life? How am I going to deal with what’s around the corner?” What happens for most people—and this is kind of the way I organized True Refuge—is that we develop strategies to try to navigate life that often don’t work. I call these false refuges. This is in all the wisdom traditions. We know that the grasping and the resisting and the overeating and the over-consuming and the distracting ourselves and the proving ourselves and the overachieving… just don’t create that sanctuary of safety and peace and well-being. It just doesn’t work.”

Her newest book, “True Refuge” explores the pathways through which we find what her title suggests, our true refuge – one that exists within each and every one of us.  Her following talk, “Awakening Through Change and Loss”  addresses these issues as well.

If you’re currently struggling,  you may want to read about RAIN, a very helpful four step process for dealing with painful emotion described by Tara on her website.  You can read more about RAIN here.   


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