Coping

Northern Flicker Yellow-Shafted

“We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.”

–John Newton

Like everyone else; I am trying to cope during this pandemic. Well, not just cope. I am trying to do so with grace.

It’s not easy when the days, weeks and months seem to all blur together. But this…is….my….LIFE.

We must take each day, in a singular manner, and make the best of it.For me; filling my existence with natural beauty helps ease some of the pain.

We each have our own ways of coping and hopefully; they are contributing to better health and not destroying our well being.

Within

“It was when I stopped searching for home within others and lifted the foundations of home within myself I found there were no roots more intimate than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole.”

― Rupi Kaur

Red-tailed Hawk

Falling Apart

Photography by Terri Pouliot

Me: Hey God.

God: Hello…..

Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together?

God: I would rather not.

Me: Why?

God: Because you aren’t a puzzle.

Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?

God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.

Me: You don’t understand! I’m breaking down!

God: No – you don’t understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren’t falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don’t need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don’t fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.

Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?

God: Only the very best pieces of you.

Me: I’m scared of changing.

God: I keep telling you – YOU AREN’T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!

Me: Becoming who?

God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don’t change! Become! Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I’m going to keep telling you this until you remember it.

Me: There goes another piece.

God: Yep. Let it be.

Me: So…I’m not broken?

God: No – but you are breaking like the dawn. It’s a new day. Become!! Become!!

Author Unknown


The Gift

Photography by Terri Pouliot / Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
Age has nothing to do with it.
We are all in this line without realizing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We cannot move to the back of the line.
We cannot step out of the line.
We cannot avoid the line.
So while we wait in line:
Make moments count.
Make a difference.
Make the call.
Make priorities.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make yourself a priority.
Make love.
Make up.
Make peace.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make waves.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.
This world will often leave you wishing you had just 5 more minutes. Feel free to share this powerful reminder on perspective and wake up each day realizing it is a gift and to make the most of it!

Author: Marianne Baum

10 Year Challenge

“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?”

– Steve Maraboli

A few thoughts on the #10yearchallenge that is taking social media by storm.

I know these challenges can be entertaining and fun. There appears to be mixed reactions to this latest social media trend. Some believe they are a way to mine ‘data’ for facial recognition. Others view it as a way to display how gracefully they may have aged. Some of these ‘comparisons’ are humorous, others a bit sad.

I began to ‘play the game’, but then I said, “Nah!” There are enough prompts and marketing ploys already that create insecurities and comparisons.

For my own personal health, I chose not to take part in the ‘craze’.. Instead, I will keep looking forward and making an effort to age with grace, but mostly to become a better human.

Your Defining Moment…

You would not be here today if yesterday was your defining moment. Don’t let life trick you into the impossible task of fixing a day that has already passed. Think of how much time has been lost and how much energy has been wasted in this unfruitful way of living.

Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?

This new day offers you the sustenance you need to proceed on your life’s expedition. Yesterday’s sustenance has spoiled; the nutrition of yesterday has become the poison of today. Let it go.

Be fueled by the opportunities of today. Do not be passive in your life. Be courageous in driving forward in this journey of life. I know people will try to push you back. I know life will challenge you to find refuge in the past. I know the present induces fear. Do not be fooled into backwards living. Be courageous enough to keep moving forward.

Let yesterday be what it is; a reference point. It is not a reflection of where you’re going, it’s a reflection of where you were. Drive forward! Think of your car, its purpose, and how it’s designed. The purpose of your car is to help you effectively navigate your journey. Its design is one with a large windshield that faces forward and a small mirror that faces behind. When you drive, you are very attentive to what is in front of you and you use the rear-view mirror as a quick reference to aid any adjustments to your journey.

We are having a human experience; a life that moves forward whether we like it or not. Choose to stop hindering the effectiveness of your own journey by driving with the rear-view mirror. The life behind you is a reference point; use it wisely as such. As for today, look ahead and drive towards your dreams!

– Dr. Steve Maraboli

‘Don’t Look Back’
Photography by Terri Kern Pouliot

Connection

‘Connection’ by Terri Pouliot

“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it.” 
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately…

Our culture is spiraling out of control. I feel it, sense it, and am witness to it almost daily. Humans are becoming more agitated, stressed, rude, hostile and, here’s the worst one; disconnected.

Social media is a big part of the blame. Electronics are another. We are constantly ‘plugged’ in and not ‘tuned’ in.

We live our lives in comparison mode. We don’t feel good about ‘ourselves’ because everyone else’s lives look so much healthier, happier, more fun, ______ Fill in the blank with your own comparative adjective.

We are chasing the ‘wrong’ things in life. And missing the most important lessons of all.

The ‘health and wellness’ industry is amassing billions of our hard earned dollars by selling us ‘quick fixes’ to ‘feel’ better about ourselves.

The ‘self-help’ industry is getting wealthy by our lack of ‘feeling good’ in our own skin.

But here’s the thing.

NONE OF THIS IS WORKING.

We are missing the key element.

Human Connection.

We are starved for it. In fact, I believe our lack of human connection (love) is one of the main reasons for our addiction to social media and our electronics.

We believe we are connecting…but we aren’t. We follow celebrities, athletes, instagram stars and are addicted to following these people like they are family. They aren’t even real! These larger than life people have created an image. And we fall for the distraction.

And yet, we aren’t connecting to the people around us. You know, the very people who were put in our path. We are lacking the basic intimacy with other humans that we desperately crave.

We have forgotten how to communicate. Converse with one another.

We must learn how to reconnect. We have to return to love.
It’s a basic human need. Or we are missing the whole point of life.

Welcome Winter Solstice

“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory – Gary Zukav

Cascade Valley Overlook Trail – Photography by Terri Pouliot

The Sound of the Genuine

Photography by Terri Pouliot  (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad)

The Sound of the Genuine

–by Howard Thurman, Nov 30, 2017

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman

From Howard Thurman’s 1980 commencement address at Spelman College. 

There is something in every one of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born…

You are the only you that has ever lived; your idiom is the only idiom of its kind in all of existence and if you cannot hear the sound of the genuine in you, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls…

There is in you something that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and sometimes there is so much traffic going on in your minds, so many different kinds of signals, so many vast impulses floating through your organism that go back thousands of generations, long before you were even a thought in the mind of creation, and you are buffeted by these, and in the midst of all of this you have got to find out what your name is. Who are you? How does the sound of the genuine come through to you…

The sound of the genuine is flowing through you. Don’t be deceived and thrown off by all the noises that are a part even of your dreams, your ambitions, so that you don’t hear the sound of the genuine in you, because that is the only true guide that you will ever have, and if you don’t have that you don’t have a thing.

You may be famous. You may be whatever the other ideals are which are a part of this generation, but you know you don’t have the foggiest notion of who you are, where you are going, what you want. Cultivate the discipline of listening to the sound of the genuine in yourself

Now there is something in everybody that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in other people. And it is so easy to say that anybody who looks like him or her, anybody who acts as this person acts, can’t hear any sound of the genuine. I must wait and listen for the sound of the genuine in you. I must wait. For if I cannot hear it, then in my scheme of things, you are not even present. And everybody wants to feel that everybody else knows that   she is there.

I have a blind friend who just became blind after she was a grown woman. I asked her: “What is the greatest disaster that your blindness has brought to you?” She said, “When I go places where there are people, I have a feeling that nobody knows that I’m here. I can’t see any recognition, I can’t see… and if nobody knows that I’m here, it’s hard for me to know where I am.”

There is something that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in your mother, in your father, in the people you can’t stand, and if you had the power you would wipe them out. But instinctively you know that if you wipe them out, you go with them. So you fight for your own life by finding some way to get along with them without killing them.

There is something in you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in other people. And if you can’t hear it, then you are reduced by that much. If I were to ask you what is the thing that you desire most in life this afternoon, you would say a lot of things off the top of your head, most of which you wouldn’t believe but you would think that you were saying the things that I thought you ought to think that you should say.

But I think that if you were stripped to whatever there is in you that is literal and irreducible, and you tried to answer that question, the answer may be something like this: I want to feel that I am thoroughly and completely understood so that now and then I can take my guard down and look out around me and not feel that I will be destroyed with my defenses down. I want to feel completely vulnerable, completely naked, completely exposed and absolutely secure.

This is what you look for in your children when you have them, this is what you look for in your husband if you get one. That I can run the risk of radical exposure and know that the eye that beholds my vulnerability will not step on me. That I can feel secure in my awareness of the active presence of my own idiom in me.

So as I live my life then, this is what I am trying to fulfill. It doesn’t matter whether I become a doctor, lawyer, housewife. I’m secure because I hear the sound of the genuine in myself and having learned to listen to that, I can become quiet enough, still enough, to hear the sound of the genuine in you.

Now if I hear the sound of the genuine in me, and if you hear the sound of the genuine in you, it is possible for me to go down in me and come up in you. So that when I look at myself through your eyes having made that pilgrimage, I see in me what you see in me and the wall that separates and divides will disappear and we will become one because the sound of the genuine makes the same music.

Peeling the Layers

photography by Terri Pouliot

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep.”
~Carl Sandburg

No matter how much we study or reflect, we simply cannot know everything there is to know about life. There will always be some aspect of mystery surrounding our existence.

The one thing we can do is enjoy the stages of our lives, never getting complacent, or too comfortable with status quo. We must always be mindful that perhaps a very different stage will follow. We may endure some extremely difficult times; perhaps you are experiencing those times right now. These troubled times are likely to be followed by happy and productive times.

No matter how hard it may be, I will try to embrace the different stages of my life, even the ones that are painful and uncomfortable. I know that these times shape the kind of person I am the story that I tell to others.

Rethinking How We Approach the Holidays

photography by Terri Pouliot

“I don’t fully understand what’s going on around us but I know that it’s angry, destructive and divisive. And I know that whatever it is, it’s hurting us all. I also know that I cannot and will not stand by or stand still when I feel called to stand up. And I know I need to honor my values and passion and work even harder to stay engaged and respectfully share who I am and what I believe with others. And although there’s a lot I don’t know, I’ve been thinking more about what I could do. And here’s what I’ve decided: I’m going be on the lookout for hopeful and optimistic people who are actually doing something to make the world a kinder, safer place and I’m going to try and be more like them. I’m going to focus less on all that’s wrong with the world and more on small things I can do to make some things right. I’m going to smile more at strangers, leave bigger tips when I buy a cup of coffee and speak up more often when I see people being kind or friendly or helpful. I’m going to stay in closer touch with family and friends who I love and who mean the world to me. And I am going to watch less TV and listen to more Broadway show tunes. And finally, I am going to spend more time with our amazing dog because he’s fluffy and lovable and because he already knows what I am still trying so hard to learn!”

–Paul S Boynton

YES! While I don’t currently have any ‘fur babies’;  the quote resonates deeply with me on many levels.

Let’s re-consider how we approach this time of year.  The ‘busy season’ takes us among throngs of people shopping, gathering for holiday events and exhausted, due to trying to do ‘too much’.   I challenge myself, and my readers to focus more on spreading love and kindness and less on the frenzied commercial side of the holiday season.