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A Gift for the New Year

Inspirational motivating quote on old paper background

Giving and ReceivingThis has been the season for both and it presents interesting opportunities.

I’ve been thinking about this because I have a birthday soon, and I have found myself uncomfortable…

It’s not that I’m another year older.  It’s not the number. It’s that my daughter, husband, parents and best friend are going to extraordinary effort to shower me with love in a special (and I’m sensing lovely) intimate, family celebration.  Family members are traveling.  They are booking hotel rooms.  Decorations and menus have been months in the planning, and details, no doubt, have been carefully crafted.

For me…

And that’s the rub.  As I’ve sat with this, I’ve realized it is much more comfortable to be the giver.  To be the planner.  To be the celebrator rather than the celebratee.  And isn’t that curious for throughout our life we have probably lamented, “I just want to be loved”.   We may fantasize about surprise parties, about people we love surrounding us with love, and yet, it is surprising uncomfortable.  Very strange.  Is it a case of feeling unworthy?…I don’t think so.  People are busy and I know I am loved. I find I just don’t want to be a bother.

As I’ve wrestled with this internally, insight came once again in a yoga practice.  We know the importance of giving, and yet it is equally vital to receive well.  To give and receive is an even exchange, and for one to be successful, you must have the other.

Think about a time you could hardly wait to bestow a special gift on someone.   You probably envisioned what that moment was going to be like.  Butterflies of excitement welled up inside you just imagining the joy at the moment of discovery. No doubt, some of those exchanges were just what you imagined and the experience was deeply satisfying and joyful for both of you.   There were also probably some times that were a disappointment, not because the gift or the occasion fell short, but because the receiver didn’t allow themselves to be loved.

To love and be lovedthat’s what it’s all about.  And it’s not just family, this extends to our community as well.  To love and be loved is to acknowledge and honor those relationships that are open to us.  It is to put energy, commitment and focus on the people in our lives that are dedicated to supporting each other, and this grounds us.  It heals us.  It centers us and makes us whole.  And when we are whole, we are more capable of reaching outside our inner circle in order to be a blessing to those who need us, in our family, in our community, and in our world.

To be lovedmay you allow yourself that gift in this new year.

I think I’ll start tomorrow:-)…

In the Middle…

Thanksgiving quote

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today began with Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

1863.  In July that year, we experienced the largest and most devastating military conflict in North American history…Gettysburg.  September held the second bloodiest two day conflict at the Battle of Chickamauga.  November ushered in a host of battles including the bombardment of Fort Sumter that last several weeks.

In the middle of this utter destruction and cataclysmic loss…in the middle of shattering chaos and tragic conflict…smack dab in the middle of our most desperate hour as a Nation, President Lincoln declared thanks.

Let’s just stop right there He declared thanks. How often do we begin our Thanksgiving season by joyously recanting what is right in our world?  Our hearts swell with gratitude for what is good.  And rightfully so!   In the sunshine of our blessings, we would be remiss not to acknowledge them.  And yet, that’s easy, isn’t it?  It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well.  It’s easy to give thanks when we have a loving family and a beautiful home to gather in.  It’s easy to find gratitude when our blessings outnumber our challenges.  And it’s easy to be thankful when our life is progressing and expanding in an orderly fashion.  Would it have been that easy in 1863?

How easy would it have been for President Lincoln to be overwhelmed by the weight of a nation embroiled in hatred and mourning?  How easy would it have been to believe that at that moment, challenges were so great there was nothing to be grateful for?  How easy would it have been to feel that acknowledging blessings in the midst of such devastation was insensitive, almost inappropriate, politically incorrect?  How easy would it have been to envision proclaiming a day of Thanksgiving as a celebration after the war was over?

He did it in the middle.

There’s a lesson there.  Perhaps our challenge is to not look at thanksgiving as an annual occurrence but as a way of life.  When things are going wrong, even really wrong, there are blessings at hand.  When the battle rages and we can’t see our way through, we are held, prepared and led by the Providence of Good.  When we are in the middle of our darkest hour, our best gifts are often being arranged that will both bless us and cause us to be an increased blessing to others.

And so in the middle, we give thanks.

Whatever you are in the middle of, may you and yours be blessed.  Happy Thanksgiving.

“Nana, Phone Down”…

Jameson Popsicle

The words stabbed me in the heart…

“Nana, phone down”.  A simple message with a powerful lesson delivered by our 18 month old grandson.

Enjoying a crisp, fall day, we were rocking on our porch, watching for trucks to pass by, eating popsicles.  He likes to look for trucks, and we were having a nice day together. Busy with his frozen delight and with his eyes strained toward the road, I’d thought I’d check my email real quick; I was sure he wouldn’t notice.

“Nana, phone down.”  I was embarrassed then horrified. Embarrassed that I’d been caught, then horrified I couldn’t just be in the moment with this precious little guy.

In this age of technology, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from each other.  At any restaurant you’ll see couples and families sitting silently by each other, communicating with someone else on the other end of a plastic box.  In this frantic 24/7 world, it is almost expected that if a question, post or query is thrown into cyberspace, the answer will be immediately forthcoming.  We feel important, connected, and productive as we juggle our cyber world…what about the real world in front of us?

I suppose it would behoove us all to make an honest assessment of how we let technology invade our life.  It is something we choose, consciously or otherwise.  It’s easy to feel guilty and overwhelmed if we’re not prompt on email or Facebook replies.  There’s a sense that the world is swirling around us and that work is piling up exponentially if we’re away from our computer or phone.  If we’re not on Facebook, we feel disconnected…that there are lots of people doing wonderful things that we don’t know about.  If we’re not on Facebook, we don’t have the pleasure of that strange excitement and validation when posts are acknowledged and answered.

What about the people around us?

“Nana, phone down.”   As we approach this holiday season, wonderful and joyous as well as hectic and busy, this is a good reminder that technology can wait.  Work can be scheduled in appropriate time slots. We can take a deep breath. We can step back…slow down.  We can be present and enjoy the moment.  We can cherish the people in front of us. We can be truly connected.

Thank you Jameson.

True Community

Network Growth

This election cycle has gotten nasty, and I’ve been torn.

I’ve been torn about standing up against blatant, underhanded manipulation and bully tactics….they have no place in our community, and if we don’t have the courage to face them head on and call them out, we turn our City over to destructive forces.

And I’ve been torn about taking the high road…saying silent as the innuendos rage, allowing reputation, track record and character to speak above the mud-slinging and outrageous, utterly false accusations.

I think I’ve fallen somewhere in the middle…somewhere between reacting and staying silent, and it has been extremely frustrating and disheartening to see such venom proliferated in our beloved City.  It has, at times, tasked my naturally optimistic and positive attitude for it has seemed that ugliness has invaded our community. And yet, over the past few days, I’ve had a break-through.

This past week we’ve enjoyed several meals at the new Pizza Factory on Broadway(My brother and sister-in-law are the new owners).  Friends from Evergreen Shoes came in and sat next to us and we got caught up.  We chatted with the woman who works at the preschool where our grandson goes.  Our cousins off of Clay Street came in with their kids, and we were able to talk about who was going to host the family Christmas party this year.  Employees were there, and it was fun to relax together after work.  John Sanders from Old Towne Grill came in.  He joined us for dinner and we chatted about life, business, our mutual interests and goals.

Where else could we live where we are all so inner-connected?  Where else would our lives be so linked and entwined that we have the ability to know each other and support the transitions and ventures in our lives?  Where else does a fellow business owner come in to offer congratulations, encouragement and support?  This is the fabric of our community.  This is who we are.  This is what makes us special.  The rest of it?…it’s just nonsense.

November 4th will come and go.  This connectedness which links us is true community and it will remain. And the more we hold onto what really matters, well, the noise, the drivel, the garbage will gradually cease to have any power.

I’m feeling hopeful and optimistic again. 

Place and Purpose

Early morning sunrise, boating on the lake in the sunlight

I’d been meaning to go for a while…

My friend leads a bible study group on Monday nights.  It’s for anyone who wants to join in the discussion, and it’s especially for the homeless, for those in transition.  But life had gotten busy; there were other things demanding my attention, and I just hadn’t gone yet.  I also didn’t know what to expect, and that sometimes keeps us away, doesn’t it?

But one recent Monday night, I was available.  I walked in, hesitantly.  One by one, as people started streaming in, I noticed some familiar faces.  Some were volunteers I’ve been working with in city meetings.  Some were people I know from the streets.  It was a relatively large crowd, and as we mixed in together, it was hard to discern our different stories.

 Truth be told, I was surprised by the high level of the discussion.  As people were drawn into the dialogue, their raw honesty was both humbling and unnerving…like I was witness to something so profoundly personal I didn’t have a right to be there.  Beneath the hurt, beneath the baggage, beneath the choices, beneath the circumstances, there was a powerful, consuming hunger for place and purpose.  An innate desire to be accepted.  To be seen. To be more than their situation.  To matter.

Isn’t that what we all yearn for …to matter?  That cry is the hunger of our soul, and whatever our station is in life, we spend our days trying to prove to ourselves and others that we are significant.  We busy ourselves with commitments and duties, hoping to use our gifts and talents in ways that are meaningful.   There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, I think it is our duty to maximize our personal potential to bless our family, our community and our world.

However, if we’re being bluntly honest, we don’t often allow ourselves to look more closely at our motives…and we might not even be aware of them.  The striving, the push, the drive that is often unsatisfied speaks to a deeper hunger. We get degrees, promotions, and titles, struggling to find our place and position in this world.  We serve on boards, committees and work for positions of leadership, trying to fill that deep yearning to be recognized, to “be more”, to be acknowledged as “special”.

To be specialwe crave it as a child.  If you have a sibling, you’ve probably asked a parent, “Who do you love most?”.  When the answer comes, “I love you the same amount”, we’re secretly disappointed.

To be specialwe crave it as a teenager as we look for love around every corner.

To be specialas an adult, we strive for it in our work, in our relationships, in our life.

To be special; to matter…it’s the common thread that binds us whether you find yourself in the boardroom or on the streets.

And ultimately, being special is not determined by title, or position, or station in life or lack thereof, for you can achieve success in all those areas and be a sorry excuse for human being.  The challenge is to recognize that our titles, whether “Councilwoman” or “Homeless”, do not define us…they do not speak to who we are and they should not limit what we do. Our titles can be a trap, if we let them.  If it’s a title of respect, it can be something that stifles us with inflated self-importance or self-worth.  If it’s a title of disrespect, it can be something that fills us with despair and hopelessness, and neither end of that spectrum is helpful or productive.

The challenge is to recognize that we are special, despite the trappings around us, good or bad.  We do have gifts and talents that can be used today to bless us and those around us.  We have abilities that we can nurture, and build on and promote within ourselves in order to be more effective in the world around us.  We can recognize that what we do for a living is not who we are. We can all make better choices today that will make our life, and the lives of those around us, better tomorrow.  We can recognize that being “wonderfully made” does not absolve us of personal responsibility, it heightens us.

Having the courage to recognize this, to forget our titles, good or bad, and to do the very best we can at any given moment…well, we may very well find that we really do matter.  

NO on Measure K

Don’t be fooled.  Measure K goes way too far!

Measure K is NOT about stopping the Clay Street/ Cedar Ravine Roundabout…it’s already been stopped!  On July 8, 2014, the City Council VOTED TO PULL THE ROUNDABOUT AS AN OPTION at that intersection.

This is really very simple.  Regardless of how you feel about that intersection, or roundabouts in general, the actual language of the General Plan amendment that would go into effect if Measure K is enacted is frightening!

It reads…“The City is prohibited from constructing or utilizing, and is prohibited from requiring any public or PRIVATE person or entity to construct or utilize the traffic features commonly known as “roundabouts,” “traffic circles,” or ANY SIMILAR TRAFFIC FEATURE on or with respect to any public street or roadway anywhere within the city limits.  In no event shall the City’s standard or other street specifications or improvement requirements include any requirement for the construction and/or the utilization of any roundabouts, traffic circles, and/or any similar feature.  In no event shall the City carry out or approve a project to construct and roundabouts, traffic circles, and/or any similar features as a condition to the approval of any project or the issuance of any permit or permission unless such project is approved by popular vote.

So, would the City have to use YOUR taxpayer dollars to hold an election on a cul-de-sac planned in a neighborhood?  That’s a “similar traffic feature”.

What about the circular driveway by Building C at the County Government Center?  Would that now be illegal unless we voted on it?

What about the well-functioning circular driveway at Marshall Hospital?  Would we have to spend YOUR taxpayer dollars to hold a special election if a similar feature was proposed ?*

Measure K would add expensive, needless bureaucracy to our City.  We already have processes in place that allow you to make your voice heard; we don’t need to hold an election to do that.

Most importantly, I resent the freedoms we are being asked to give up with Measure K!  The idea that a PRIVATE PERSON can’t “construct” or “utilize” “any similar feature” on “any roadway” without a popular vote takes away YOUR rights as a citizen and as a resident.  To think that the whole city should have a right to weigh in on what happens in YOUR neighborhood is preposterous.

Let’s take each project as it comes and weigh the pros and cons of each proposal on its own merit.  To paint a broad brush over future planning starts a dangerous precedence, and to design a community by ballot initiative shackles our city with respect to funding and planning.

Vote “NO” on Measure K.  Even if you don’t like roundabouts, vote “NO”.   Some roundabouts make sense, others may be problematic, and let’s take them one project at a time.

Measure K would strip away YOUR property rights and cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars needlessly. 

“K” goes way to far, and we need you to vote “NO”…STOP THE MADNESS NOW.

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* AUTHOR’S NOTE:  The main problem with Measure K is that the wording on the initiative is unclear and open to interpretation.  For example, when it refers to regulating “any public street or roadway anywhere in the city limits”, does it mean “any public street and any public roadway”  or is it “any public street and any roadway”, public or private?  That’s very different.  Upon further investigation with staff, it would seem that Measure K would only apply to public streets and public roadways, meaning that the circular roadway around Marshall Hospital and the government center would not be affected.  However, both projects have “similar features” to the definition of a roundabout, and to me they are examples of how this feature could work well in the right circumstance.

YES on Measure I

Road

YES on Measure I – FIX PLACERVILLE’S ROADS!

We are in election season and there are a 2 ballot measures that will have critical impacts to the City of Placerville.  While this is not my normal blog, I’d like to share my perspective on why these ballot measures are important and what your vote could mean to our City.  In this blog, I will explore Measure I (the sales tax measure) and in my next one, we’ll talk about Measure K (taking all proposed roundabouts to the ballot). 

Now I realize this may be a little dry, but it’s really important!  Here goes…

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MEASURE I…WHAT IS IT?

Measure I proposes a ½ cent sales tax increase with 75% of the revenue solely dedicated to road maintenance and 25% of the revenue directed toward improvements to parking, roads and other facilities including, but not limited to, the upgrade of the Police Station and/or the restoration of Old City Hall.  There will be a Citizen’s Oversight Committee that will recommend how the discretionary revenue (the 25%) should be spend. But once again let me be clear, 75% of the money will automatically go to fixing our roads!  Not building new ones…FIXING the ones we’ve got!  Measure I also won’t be forever…it will end in 10 years, and independent, annual audits will ensure that the money is being used appropriately.

MEASURE I…WHAT WILL IT DO?

No one likes to do a sales tax measure, and yet this one is CRITICAL to our City for many reasons.  We MUST fix our roads…have you seen them?  The condition of the pavement is deplorable (the photo above was taken just outside our parking garage.  Try walking in heels on that!), and in my opinion, there are NO options outside of a sales tax measure that would give us enough revenue to fix them.  There are many compelling facts that you need to know to make a wise decision when you go to the ballot:

  1.  In 2007, we were $8 million behind in our road maintenanceSince then, that deficit has grown to beyond $21 million, and our roads are wearing out at an increasingly rapid speed.  In plain terms, we need to spend over $21 million TODAY to get our roads in acceptable condition, and we don’t have it…not even close!
  2. With those figures, we should be spending $930,000/year just to stop the deterioration.  We have only $200,000 year in our budget for local road maintenance…that’s a $730,000 gap in funding per year!  And that’s just to stop the deterioration, not to bring our roads up to acceptable standards!  We need to spend more than $930,000/year to get our roads in better condition!
  3. Measure I is estimated to bring in roughly $1.8 million/year in revenue.  That’s $1,350,000 to fix our roads and $450,000 for other improvements to parking and other public facilities, per year!
  4. Our current $200,000 revenue for local road maintenance comes from the gas tax, and that revenue source is shrinking because cars are more fuel efficient.  In fact, over 50% of our local roads do not qualify for any state or federal funds, so the only way we can fix them is through our General Fund or a self-help process like a sales tax measure.  Probably, the roads in your neighborhood fall into this category.
  5. The City gets another $200,000 a year from EDCTC for our portion of state and federal funds for road maintenance, but that can only be used on major roadways.  In fact, we have saved this pot of money for 3 years just to be able to repave Main Street next year!
  6. Placerville’s roads are heavily used by people outside the City limits, so it should not just fall on our residents to maintain our roads.  A sales tax measure is the most equitable way to ensure that people coming to Placerville also help maintain it.  (An interesting fact: a recent tourism study shows that our daytime population swells by 70% inside the City limits during tourist season.  It’s right that people who use our City streets also help pay for them)
  7. An argument is that an increased sales tax rate would discourage people from shopping inside the City.   It is estimated that a1/2 cent increase in sales tax would equate to roughly $72.00 A YEAR to the average resident.  Are you willing to spend  $72.00 per year to fix our roads?  I am!  I’d say that’s a bargain.
  8. When projects come before the City that involve grant funding, we often hear, “Why don’t you just take that money and fix our roads?!”  (Expletives are sometimes inserted here…for our purposes, I will leave them out). Grant funding doesn’t work that way.  It is always for a specific use and cannot be transfered.  In fact, sales tax revenue is one of the very few sources of discretionary revenue available to the City.
  9. Measure I has important safeguards and limitations in place…it will end in 10 years, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee will be responsible for recommending how the discretionary funds will be spent, and there is a mandatory annual audit to ensure the funds are spent correctlyI like that!

In a nutshell, YES on MEASURE I will give us the money we need to fix and improve the roads in Placerville.  If you vote “No” on Measure I, our roads will continue to deteriorate with no foreseeable way to fix them other than patches.  It’s that simple.

I ask you again, are you willing to spend roughly $72.00 per year to fix our roads?  Or do you like what we have?

PleaseYES on MEASURE I.

Living With Intention

Core Values wooden sign with a street background

What we hold sacred should define us.  What we value should be glaringly apparent in our decisions and actions.  Who we are should be the reflection of what we hold most dear. 

We know this.  We want to do this.  And yet, we often don’t take the time to really clarify what IS important to us?  It is all too easy to live by default…to take each day and each decision as it comes. The great problem is that we are easily blown off course, reacting to the whims of life rather than living with deliberate intention.  We assume that what matters is second nature to us…sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.  Sometimes we don’t recognize what we value until we really stop and think about it. Sometimes we need to consciously choose what matters most, and first, we have to recognize what that is for us.

I recently developed a personal value statement and found the process and the result very enlightening.  It’s like you’re waking up to yourself. By recognizing the values that are at the heart of who you are, they  can more effectively guide you.  I’m finding this helpful as I confront difficult situations and decisions, and I encourage you to develop your own Value Statement.  The process is really pretty simple…

1)      List 5-10 accomplishments that you are proud of.  They can be big “wins” at work or small, sweet moments that you helped usher in.

2)      Next, identify what qualities were essential to that accomplishment.  You’ll probably find that the same quality will show up in many circumstances, and this pattern will help you identify it.

3)      Recognize WHY that quality is important to you.  What does it allow you to do?  Why does it matter?

4)      Finally, many personal value statements start with “I value _____ because”.  I encourage you to take it a step further and state that you “choose” instead of “value”.  To value is passive, to choose is active, and a value statement is your personal call to action.

So here’s what I came up with as I walked through this exercise, and I offer it to you as an example to spark your process of self discovery. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying I do these perfectly!  I’m recognizing that these values are at the heart of who I am and they will serve as a reminder to me of what I aspire to.    I’m excited about this journey you’re about to take!  Happy travels…

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I choose optimism, because hope inspires possibility thinking and allows me to recognize opportunity.

I choose gratitude which helps me acknowledge the good at hand and build on it.

I choose critical thinking which enables me to see the depth of an issue, and by moving beyond emotion and reaction, make sound, intelligent decisions.

I choose respect.  When I give it, I am open to diverse perspectives which help me be informed and receptive.  When I receive it, I am humbled, grateful and determined to be worthy of it.

I choose strength, because standing for what is right is a moral obligation.

I choose collaboration because I recognize that no one person has all the answers, and that progress is ignited when people are committed to a common goal.

I choose professionalism because a polished, gracious, positive energy enables me to be an effective advocate.

I choose grace because at one time or another, we all fall short of our best selves and are humbled and encouraged by the generosity of others.

I choose courage for it gives me the ability to act without having to see the outcome, recognizing that it is far better to move forward rather than be paralyzed with fear and indecision.

I choose restraint for it helps me be trusted steward of precious resources.

I choose family because there is no sweeter joy than its sacred blessing.

I choose faith for I understand that I am called to a higher purpose outside myself, and so are you.

Overwhelmed? Tricks and Tips

To Do List Concept

At this moment, I am overwhelmed…

 Our house is a disaster as we are in the middle of packing and moving.  I have stacks of mail that need to be addressed.  Another house needs fixing, painting and more cleaning so we can move into it.  I need to figure out what I’m doing for this election cycle.  There are board meetings, business retreats, and emails to attend to.  There are family commitments ahead. And I need to do a blog!  As I was lamenting this to my second mother, she simply stated, “There’s your blog”…

 Ever feel overwhelmed?  You might even be in that state now!  Life is just getting faster and more complicated and it feels like there just isn’t enough time to do it all.  So, as I am navigating my way through this, maybe these tips and tricks can help you too:

  1. Keep Yourself Whole…don’t neglect those things that feed you. 

As I faced a week of daunting tasks, I started this Monday with a yoga practice.  I wasn’t very strong this morning.  My balance was out of whack.  But I was there, and I felt much better having been there. Sometimes just showing up is all we need to do…the rest will take care of itself.

2.  Prioritize and Make a List

There are always a gazillion things we could be doing.  What do we have to do now?  What can wait until tomorrow, next week?  The world can get along without us, and sometimes it’s good to recognize that.  And for those things that we have to do today, commit them to paper.  When we write them down, there is a better chance that they will get done.  When our tasks are listed in black and white, we don’t have to keep track of them in our frantic mind.  And as we accomplish each task, there is not only great joy in checking them off, there is a peace that comes with progress.

3.  Unplug

Think back 10-15 years ago before smart phones, email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter commanded our attention.  We survived.  We don’t have to plug into our electronic world 24/7.  We don’t have to know what our second cousin on our mother’s side had for breakfast this morning.  Unplug, and get to your list at hand.  To help ease the pain of this separation, I put an automatic response on my email letting people know when I will be plugged back in.  Afterall, I don’t want to be irresponsible but chances are that something can wait until tomorrow.

 4.  Break It Down

When you have a seemingly impossible load ahead, break it down.  I can’t pack the whole house today, and I can pack up the kitchen.  If I have a lot of different things to accomplish in a day, I will break it down in time segments…”From 8-8:30, I will answer emails”.  “From 8:30-9:00, I will get to the mail on my desk”.  You get the picture.  It’s so easy to waste a day just being busy, and by commiting yourself to time slots, you can focus for short bursts of time and get more done.

5.  Just Say “No”

We think we can be Superman or Superwoman, and yet we don’t have to be.  Sometimes saying “No” frees us up to give ourselves to what is really important.  Saying “No” can keep us from getting fractured which makes us no good to anyone.  And maybe “No” is “not right now”.  We don’t have to do it all at once. People will understand that.

So with that, I’m going to make a list. I’m going to get my boxes and start packing our kitchen.  Don’t even try to email me today, because you’ll get my autoresponse.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow, and thanks so much for understanding!   I feel better already.

Moving Towards Joy

Worship with Open Arms

Karl, the wise yogi of Main Street, shared something profound with us this morning…that our heart wants to move towards joy.

I love the concept that joy is our natural inclination.  It’s what we crave.  It’s what our heart desires.  It’s what we want to move to.  We often don’t recognize that urging and therefore we don’t empower ourselves to find it.

It is all too easy to allow life, in all its complexities, to bury a sense of well-being under a pile of rubble, and rubble is destructive.  It’s the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up.  It’s the dream that has been dashed by not quite meeting our goal. It’s the trust that has been betrayed by another’s selfish actions.  It’s the continued unmet expectation of someone close to us that should love us better.  It’s the anger and frustration of not feeling heard, understood or appreciated.

Rubble can be crushing.  It’s heavy.  It’s dirty, and interestingly enough, it was poignantly symbolized by a man I saw walking through town this morning.  His clothes were covered with a layer of grime, and he was bowed over by a burdensome load.  A huge pile of odds and ends were crammed together and rolled into a dirty sheet which he laid on his back.  As he moved forward, this load threw him off balance.  It made his steps unsteady.  It lessened his strength.  As long as that load defined his experience, he would not be able to move very far.  As long as he labored beneath the compiled mass, he certainly wouldn’t be able to move towards joy.

The question is, how do we unburden ourselves from the odds and ends that accumulate with time and weigh our heart down?  I think the trick is to open ourselves up to recognize present joy.  To refuse to live life in the rearview mirror.  To accept “what is” in ourselves and others and not get burdened by unreal expectations.  To recognize that another person’s experience does not define ours, no matter how closely we are related to them, and that there is freedom in channeling our thoughts and actions to our OWN path and releasing another to theirs.  To understand that good is ever-present, and that it comes to us in many forms, although sometimes not through the channel or person we want or desire.  To know that wholeness is within us, that it can’t be given to us or taken from us.  To realize that we are strong enough to live with disappointment, and that we can find joy in our relationships without insisting that they meet all our needs. And to be completely confident that love and blessings are at hand that we are willing to take the blinders off our heart and look for them, no longer focused on what we don’t have but focused on what gifts we are blessed with today.

Forgive the cliche, but it’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  After living through a myriad of confusing, frightening experiences, after chasing desires and dreams that continued to allude her, after being pulled in different directions by people with competing objectives, she was moved to a place where she finally realized that her heart’s desire was within her.  That the storm swirling around her did not have to define her experience, and that joy was present if she would wake up and recognize it, invite it in, and consciously move towards it.

I wish you joyous movement.