Sunday, March 28, 2010


When I am stuck with a decision, in a bad habit, or staring at a blank page, the most frightening thought is that there is no getting beyond this point. Terror shoots through my veins at the thought that we are stuck eternally, lacking any ability to change. And it is true that we are often not powerful enough to will our way through a situation. However, the anxiety over our apparent lack of movement or direction is deceptive. We are not stuck for good. Change and all its uncomfortable transitions will soon sweep down upon us and this roadblock will seem nothing but a distant memory. It is hard to say what is more frightening change or the lack of it.

This week, I would have thrown in my lot with the latter because this week I felt stuck when I was writing. It was not a lack of motivation. My brain seemed to be blocked by some undefined impediment. The edges of my mind could not hang on to a clarity of direction and as a result, I could not think of a single thing to type. So I sat.

Sitting still is a challenge for me and often I find myself paralyzed in a web of repetitive thought when I try to embrace stillness for more than a few minutes. So, I talked to myself (which is a common occurrence when I write). I reminded myself that, “This too shall pass.” My assurances, that I could and would get past this blockade, were enough to push my brain through the fog and I continued on, to my own utter amazement.

Similarly, I was talking with a dear friend this week and she reminded me of a misunderstanding that had occurred between us years ago. I had almost forgotten it. She said that it stuck in her mind because as we sat there, locked in silence she realized that she could not, for all her willpower, change what she was feeling. And she knew what she was feeling was disproportionate to the situation. I asked her what she did, because I did not remember and I often find myself in a similar situation with emotions swelling to the breaking point. She said that she prayed and was utterly amazed that moments later we were able to move beyond our argument with clarity and grace.

These small victories bring me the greatest joy. I look for every occasion to celebrate them.

What amazes you?
What do you love to celebrate?
What do you do when you are stuck?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A friend left a message for me the other day and prefaced it with, “I know we are both so busy right now.” Then she paused and added, “and when are we not?!” Which got me to thinking, how did we get stuck in the perpetual state of scrambling for time, feeling like there is never enough?

We have a neighbor from Algeria, he always jokes that Americans are rich with money but poor with time and Algerians are just the opposite. What an insightful and challenging statement.

I think half the struggle with time is our frantic fear that there is never enough. We try to squeeze activities out of every second and yet are unconscious of the distractions which suck away our time from our true passions and creative pursuits.

Barbara DeMarco- Barrett in her book, Pen on Fire, explains how we trick ourselves into thinking we need more time than we do to be creative. We can only use the time we have, but we have to be intentional about how we spend it or we fritter it away.

So, I am trying to be intentional this week with my time, to sit down and write, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, to spend time with people rather than with projects. I am determined to fight the lie that there is never enough time and believe instead that there is just enough.

How do you decide what is worthy of your time? So how are you spending your time this week?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


So often, at the end of winter, life seems to lose it’s flavor and become almost bland. I have found that the root of the problem is often that I have begun to live my life mindlessly. How sad to cruise through our brief existence on autopilot when the world is so full of wonders.

This winter, as this began to happen, I sought ways to spice up my life. And as they say, “variety is the spice of life.” The only problem is that variety can be scary. There are times when even the thought of change and variety makes me feel anxious and exhausted when really it is cause for anticipation and excitement. But variety can help us appreciate our rituals and routines. Variety challenges what we accept without question and draws attention to blessings hitherto unnoticed.

At an airport a few weeks ago, I picked up the book “French Women Don’t get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. At first the title struck me as arrogant and ridiculous but then I spotted the sub title: “The Secret of Eating for Pleasure.” I was intrigued. As I began to read, I found that the book was about much more than weight or even cuisine. It was full of philosophy. The heart of this philosophy was that we should enjoy what we eat and what we do. We should never crash through our day or our meals unconsciously. Instead, the author urges us to slow down and pay attention to the details of our lives. After we have taken stock, she challenges each of us to try something new, to embark on daily creative and culinary adventures. Adding even the slightest variety into the status quo can be transformative.

I have found this to be good advice. As I have slowed down to really taste what I am eating, as I have thought about ways to add variety to my writing, as I have noticed the sunrise driving to work each morning, I have found an eagerness and gratitude for each day.

So, here is the challenge: slow down, try something new, notice the details in your day. Then, please let me know...What adds spice to your life?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ocean Thoughts

As I sat on a stone wall overlooking the ocean, I contemplated the majesty of the waves. The sound of their crashing brought me a strange thought- the waves have their effect because they break up, they fall apart.

The end of the wave is what has the power to change the face of the shore, to erase footprints and rearrange rocks. After the crest of the wave closes out, the whitewater comes bounding in like small shaggy dogs, tearing up the sand beneath them. Then the frenzy suddenly smoothes out into a taunt brow.

I knew there was a lesson in this (as my dad would say) but I could not figure the meaning out. And then, I talked to a dear friend who had just faced a bitter disappointment. Through my conversation with her I realized that we are not powerful people because we hold it all together. It’s in our most broken and thrashed moments that we show our true strength. I found such freedom in this thought.

One minute we think we have it all figured it out. Then, in the next moment, we come down from the crest of expectation into the crushing whitewater of disappointment. It’s in that swirling confusion that we change. Usually when we least expect it, peace comes and begins to smooth out all that remains. It is a process, a terrifying, awesome and transformative process.