I am lucky to be surrounded by miracle workers. Routinely, I see two big pots of soup multiply before my eyes to feed 200 hungry people. I am not sure how this happens, but just when you think we are down to the last ladle of warm soup, a few more hungry people turn up, the pot gets refilled, and there is more to offer. And when that goes, the miracle workers still find more.
And then there is the 70ish year old lady, who,while helping to serve others last week, turned her ankle but continued to serve and smile and laugh about her accident – only to find out later that day she had actually broken her ankle. It made me wonder, who gave her the strength to serve and laugh and keep moving when she must have been in tremendous pain? From where did she dig that reserve of kindness and pleasantness to help others without sharing her discomfort?
There are about 10 Mother Teresa quotes I want to put in here, but this is the one that is echoing through my head: “There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.” Everyday, I am lucky to witness small things people are doing for each other. Don’t get me wrong, my heart breaks when I read the world news. But when I see someone help an elderly person cross the street or hand out a sandwich to a homeless person, my heart feels a little less burdened. There is the miracle of looking a homeless person in the eye and smiling. We are conditioned to ignore those sitting on subway grates and in doorways. The small human interaction of offering someone a piece of bread or a sandwich and looking that person in the eyes is a miracle. These are small things, done with great love.
And then there is the miracle of nature. I walked around the park the other day. Even in December, there are small pink blooms on the trees. I noticed one tree – and then another and another. I was surrounded by blooms. I stopped by the lake to take a picture of an egret. For four years, I have tried to get a good picture of him, he never obliges, but he is frequently there, sharing his elegant, grey, graceful beauty. As if to tease me, I turn my back and I can hear him spread his wings and fly away before I can capture the photograph I want of him.
Other miracles I have seen this season? Certainly it feels hard to see the miracles in the face of the American political scene, in the face of Aleppo, in the face of children starving and people sitting on the cold streets without homes. But I see the miracle of compassion, even on Facebook, when people are feeling moved and energized to speak and act out on the causes important to them, whereas previously those assumptions and freedoms could have been taken for granted.
So – in this holiday season, instead of looking in shop windows, I am looking for miracles – of the everyday garden variety. Someone offering an olive branch to a person with whom they are in conflict, offering a smile to someone who feels unloved or lonely. I know many of us feel down to our last ladle of soup – but I promise you there is more. Unexpectedly, miraculously, there is always one more serving to be given.
The thing is in the doing. Thinking about doing is almost always scarier than actually doing.
Expansion and contraction of time.
I wrote these words on my drawing pad right before I went to bed the other night. (Yes, I bought myself a drawing pad, and yes I have used it a couple of times to make truly awful sketches.) I didn’t want to open up my computer and I didn’t really want to write anything in the moment, nor did I want to forget those two thoughts. And I am glad I wrote it down – those ideas have been bouncing around my head for a few days.
Although those are two separate thoughts, they are intertwined for me at the moment. I am 4 weeks into my new not-working-in-an-office life. When I think back to my last post – the early morning of my first non-office day, I was thinking about the doing. What seemed so scary then is now the new normal. I can’t remember the quote exactly from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but the author talks exactly about this phenomenon. When you are looking towards the future and the unknown it can seem daunting, but when you are in the middle of it, taking it one step at a time, that fear dissipates and you become wrapped up in just doing. I want to take that to heart – every single moment of every single day – because it would be easy to fall into the trap of worrying about what comes next. I also easily fall into the trap of thinking I will be rewarded if I accomplish something – write a novel, take good pictures, draw a nice sketch, etc. But yesterday I realized something I already knew deep down inside. I had to turn off my mind to realize it but here is what popped up: “Life is its own reward!” The reward isn’t in the external achievement, but being able to embrace the moment, even if you have a throbbing headache and you haven’t gotten out of your pjs by 3pm, like me the other day.
And that is when I started thinking about the expansion and contraction of time. I took a leave of absence from work in order to be more present for my son’s senior year of high school. Yesterday I got an email about his graduation date – late June. That is 9 months from now – gee – that hit me as symbolic! I have nine months with this boy before he heads on to a new chapter! And for me – I have nine months in this current chapter of self-discovery. A few months ago, if you asked me, a school year felt like a long time. Now I see that 10 months, quickly turns to nine months, which turns into eight months, and so on until you are counting the days and the experience will be over. So like a loop- I return to my first thought – “The thing is the doing.” Just do – and keep on doing. The time will pass without me having to fret or worry about it, so focus on the days you have, be grateful, savor the small moments, and do things. Do scary things. Do things that put you out of your comfort zone, because once you do them, you realize the scary part was thinking about it, not actually doing.
Yesterday a friend kindly reminded me that I haven’t done a blog post lately. I have been very aware of that. I have been journaling and writing. But nothing felt ready or publishable. So I was breaking one of my own rules… self editing and negative self talk. It isn’t ready.. .it isn’t what my readers are looking for… I am writing about events that people have already heard too much about. So many negative things I told myself, which stopped me cold in my tracks.
And the irony isn’t lost on me that my last post was all about hustle. I was feeling so much bravado, so confident. And as happens to the best of us, it didn’t take long for the doubt to creep back in where the bravery once stood.
IT IS ON!! This is the day that I am getting my HUSTLE ON! Not tomorrow, not next week, but TODAY!!
Sometimes when I read an inspiring quote, I write it down on a little slip of paper. Miraculously, those little slips of paper turn up just when I need them the most and the other day I got the little jolt I needed:
“The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately” (Unknown)
Now ain’t that the truth. I am a dreamer and for a long time, dreaming was where it ended: dreams of starting my own business, dreams of planning for retirement, dreams of financial security, dreams of being released from a day job, dreams of writing a book, dreams of working for myself.
And yet dreaming is not the same as doing. Dreaming is not the same as making a plan. Dreaming is not the same as putting yourself out there and risking rejection. As they say: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.” I’m all for dreaming and wishing but now I am planning, too.
So it starts — I am going to make something happen. And this isn’t just about money –this is about trying new things, about having no fear, of making things work, getting out of the comfort zone, figuring things out.
Many things inspire me: my friends, artists, other writers. However, the other day I was inspired unexpectedly: I found out my young nephew, who is in his early teens, decided to start a photography business. He has a website, he is approaching companies, and he is putting some money in his pocket. No Fear! So I have been telling my son he also needs to get out there and hustle. Very rarely do you get handed things on a golden platter. And, in my humble opinion, usually if someone is giving you something for free or easy, it probably isn’t really what you wanted anyway. You have TO GO OUT THERE AND GET WHAT YOU WANT. You have to want it and you have to chase it.
So — why at 45 am I going to get out there? Because I can’t NOT do it! And I want to support all of you in your scary/exciting endeavors!!! Let’s do this together. Another wise quote: “The best kinds of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.” YOU DESERVE THIS! You deserve the world.
So — I am putting my money where my mouth and have made a list of the things I like doing and I think I have a unique view or ability: Taking pictures, writing, baking the BEST chocolate chip cookies and making amazing granola and granola bars. But I am taking it one step farther than a list. I am also working out how to offer these services. I have four photo sessions signed up this weekend so I can build my portfolio. I am figuring out out to package and sell baked goods. And I will work on a website. As I said, it is scary. I run the risk of rejection. People may not like what I have to offer. But heck — if I don’t offer it they will never know right?
Let me know what you are working on!! I am so excited — let’s do this together!