Seize the Day

All Fired Up 

All Fired Up 

Yesterday is ashes, tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.
— Eskimo proverb
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today is all you have. The past is behind you and the future is unknown. This moment is where life is lived, not in yesterday or tomorrow. Each day offers opportunities that will never come again. Time is one of your most valuable, non-renewable resources. When you relax into God’s grace, you will discover that every day can be a good day. 

Take time to set your priorities. Instead of frantic multi-tasking or wasting time on non-essentials, focus on what is most important and meaningful to you. Your choices and decisions will color not only this day, but also cast their shadows on coming days. Remember, too, that by not making a choice, you are really making a choice, and that choice always has unforeseen consequences.

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.
— Albert Camus
Heart of Fire 

Heart of Fire 

Procrastination, putting off till tomorrow what should be done today, steals precious opportunities. Procrastination produces guilt because you know you should do something but you don’t. Instead, choose to value your time by doing what needs to be done right now, and live fully in each moment.

Flaunt Your Colors 

Flaunt Your Colors 

This moment is all you have. Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow is only a dream, but today is the treasure you own right now. Spend the treasure of your time wisely and you will learn to make every day a good day, no matter what the day may bring.  Be aware that there are hidden depths and dimensions in each day, unique to that day. Yes, there will be other opportunities on other days, but this day lived well will reward you with its own special joys.

Life has its ups and downs. We love the up times, but oh, how we hate the down times. After many disappointments and difficult times, it’s sometimes hard to believe for the best. We become cynical and jaded, ashamed to be vulnerable and childlike, afraid that our hopes and dreams are foolish in the “real world” that often seems to reward cold calculation. Yet when we close our hearts to optimism and faith, we close the door on making our dreams come true in this world. 

You can choose to face the day with an optimistic attitude. Optimism is a learned attitude of faith.  Faith is a choice, not an argument. It is an inner conviction, an unshakable assurance. You make a decision to choose optimism, and to make the most of whatever you have been given to work with. Recognizing that yesterday is a dream and tomorrow is a hope, you learn to focus your energies on what is possible here and now. 

Focusing on the negatives in any situation is counterproductive. You concentrate at what’s wrong, and soon that’s the only thing you can see. Negative thoughts that hold us back include: I can’t. I won’t. That’s a problem. It’s not fair. It won’t work. Stupid. Impossible. Hopeless. It’s too hard. I’m not good enough. What a drag. But we never did it that way before. 

Positive thoughts help us make positive choices.  Choose to replace negative patterns with positive, empowering thoughts like: I can. It’s possible. I’ll give it a try. Let’s go. Yes. I will. It will work. I am able to do this. It will be fun.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
— Helen Keller
Here Today and Gone Tomorrow 

Here Today and Gone Tomorrow 

Each moment is a gift if you have the eyes to see and the heart to appreciate it. The perfect gift is the present, the here and now. You do not know what will happen tomorrow and you cannot change what happened in the past, but this moment offers the gift of choosing what you will do right now. Will you embrace the present with gratitude and optimism?

• Set a simple goal for today and achieve that goal. Reward yourself with a small pleasure when you achieve the goal.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
— Dale Carnegie
Red Bravado 

Red Bravado 

To bring to the place where you live only the best and most beautiful—what a plan for life!
— Howard Thurman
Make a Statement 

Make a Statement 

An Abundance Mindset

Apple Blossom Time 

Apple Blossom Time 

This is the gift—to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy. 
Abraham Maslow

Spring is beginning. Enjoy being present, fully in the moment, here and now. Take time, for each moment is a gift. Savor your life right now. Take the gift of life, this present that is wrapped in each moment, and do not steal your own joy away by focusing on the negative, but instead look for the light that is hidden in shadows and blossoms in sunlight. 

Release the past and forgive. You will clear the way for creating a life you love. Your willingness to receive will make room for miracles—miracles you would have passed by in your old mindset of scarcity. Truly practice the art of abundance, and see that Life Itself is the hand of God held out, asking you to share the gifts each day has to offer. 

The art of abundance is finding the provision in what is right in front of you, seeing the hand of God already giving you what you need, moment by moment. Then sharing the abundant blessings God has given with others. And completing the circle of giving by praising the One who gave the gifts for us to enjoy.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
Agatha Christie

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life, and one that many persons never learn, is to see the divine, the celestial, the pure, in the common, the near at hand—to see that heaven lies about us here in this world
John Burroughs

Abundance is… cherry and apple blossoms in the spring.

Choice of attention—to pay attention to this and ignore that—is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.
W. H. Auden

Abundance Is…

Celebrating abundance is the best antidote I know of for fear: the fear that whispers there won't be enough for tomorrow, the fear that hisses "things will never improve," the fear that dominates and tortures, telling you that your are helpless and that God has forgotten you. Don't believe it.

Start looking at what you already have. Start with basics like "I'm still breathing." Make it a game to see how many positives there are in your life. Then start counting the little things, the tiny joys a moment can bring. Open your eyes to see the wonder of the world you live in. 

I call this the "Abundance is…" game. Here is a sampling: 
Abundance is… a cool breeze on a summer evening. 
Abundance is… a song to sustain you through a dark night.
Abundance is… blue jays fighting over the birdseed in a bird feeder.
Abundance is… ginger cookies that snap.
Abundance is… the opening chords of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Abundance is… warm hands on a cold winter day.

Start playing this celebratory game by looking at your life. It's not only the little things to be thankful for. It's the things that illustrate potential. 
Abundance… is a full tank of gas. 
Abundance is…a tree loaded with apple blossoms. 
Abundance is…a telephone line that's connected. 
Abundance is…flour, sugar, butter, salt, eggs, a recipe, and a kitchen to bake a cake in.
Abundance is… a smiling four-year-old. 
Abundance is…a box full of kittens. 
Abundance is…an hour to play in the park on a sunny day. 
Abundance is…the first day you feel better after having the flu. 
Abundance is…a crocus peeking its head out of the snow. 
Abundance is the little tight green buds of spring.

Abundance is… a busy airport.
Abundance is… browsing in a fabric store.
Abundance is… when you get more than you anticipated.
Abundance is… sunlight creating rainbows as it shines through a crystal prism.
Abundance is… an understanding friend.
Abundance is… dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.
Abundance is… a thankful heart.
Abundance is…_______________________(make up your own!)

For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack….. This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice and our arguments with life…..
Lynn Twist

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
Thomas Merton 

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12 (RSV)

Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance—the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will persevere in it longer, than the sad or sullen.
Thomas Carlyle

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. 
Abraham Lincoln

Creating Abundantly

Sea Roses 

Sea Roses 

Each person is nourished, made more whole, by making something which has life. 
Christopher Alexander

Abundance is an inside job. It begins with love. When you are creating a career, a craft, a partnership, a work of art, a home, choose to put your whole heart into what you do. When you give attention and love to your work and your relationships, they begin to glow with Divine life. The energies of love and a high quality of attention create wholeness in your life and in this world.

If you are feeling fragmented and broken, a simple way to bring the pieces back together is to do one humble task with attention and care. Be fully present in the smallest, most insignificant task and you will tap into the innate wholeness of the entire Universe. A new sense of well-being becomes available to you when you wash dishes mindfully or sweep the floor as if it is the most important work in the world. The same goes for focusing on the person you are with. Your loving attention will create a place for relationship to become a sacred trust. This work, this person, become important in this moment because the here and now is all you really have access to anyway. Make it count.

Create small spaces of beauty and order in your life. Commit fully to what you are doing and who you are with. Be fully present and create beauty that satisfies your soul. If you love it and work with your heart, you will be rewarded. 

Ask yourself these questions: 
• Does this thing I have made or done make me feel more whole and alive?
• Do I feel nourished and happy because of it?
• Does it feel “right” somehow, even if others might not approve or consider it important?
• Do I feel that I did this to the glory of God or for the highest good?
• Am I serving a greater purpose by choosing to do this?

The quality of attention that we give to the arts and sciences we love redeems the time of our earthly existence.
William Anderson

The connection between the life of a made thing and the healing effect it has on the maker is…this: People are deeply nourished by the process of creating wholeness. 
Christopher Alexander

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
G. K. Chesterton

The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it.
Thomas Merton

Love the inward new creation,
Love the glory that it brings;
Love to lay a good foundation
In the line of outward things. 
Shaker song 

(excerpt from Inner Abundance)

Simple Sensory Rituals

Morning Teatime

Morning Teatime

The ordinary is the extraordinary
Gustav Flaubert

Simple sensory rituals bring comfort and grounding to daily living. They nourish the soul. To observe the ordinary and become mindful of the sacredness of life itself, whether handling daily chores or taking time out for small innocent pleasures, is a statement of profound spiritual power. You wed Heaven and Earth as you focus on the beauty and meaning of even the most mundane task. 

There are many routine activities where I can focus on mindful awareness and a sense of the sacred. Some are simple chores like dishes, laundry, cleaning, and preparing food where I can consciously practice the Presence of God. Others, like emails, writing, financials, and things that take focus and concentration, just have to be made sacred by setting an intention and then doing the work. I don’t make a big deal of rituals for most of these things, though I do love to make time for some kind of ritual in my life.

One of the tasks that can feel like a cleansing ritual is doing the laundry. From dumping the soiled clothing into the washer, and adding soap and warm water, the alchemy of cleansing begins as the soil, stains, and dirt are released and washed away. Drying the clothing is an act of returning to form as the twisted wet cloth relaxes and releases back to a soft and original shape. Then the ceremony of returning the garments to their proper places in closet and drawer makes the clothing accessible, returning them to beauty and usefulness once again. 

Bring the muse into the kitchen.
Walt Whitman

The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.
Gertrude Atherton

You are to gather up the joys and sorrows, the struggles, the beauty, love, dreams, and hopes of every hour that they may be consecrated at the altar of daily life.
Macrina Wiederkehr

Some other sensory rituals that lead me to a sense of safety and expansion:

• Cleaning the planters on the first warm day after a long cold winter (or planting, or trimming back, or digging my fingers in good brown dirt).
• A bouquet of roses—and when the timing is right, sunlight and a digital camera to photograph their glorious beauty
• Writing poetry or a song lyric
• Beeswax candles lighting the room and scenting it with honey sweetness
• Essential oils of desert sage, pinon pine, and spruce releasing a high desert fragrance in my home
• Early bed for much needed rest
• Meditation, especially helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed
• Bells, chimes, rattles, drums
• Colored pens or pencils, a notebook/ crayons and a coloring book
• Singing, especially singing my own songs
• A cup of hot jasmine oolong tea in my hands as watch a sunset 

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn offers many ideas for ways to be mindful and aware in his books and writings. Here is one suggestion:

Prepare a pot of tea to sit and drink in mindfulness. Allow yourself a good length of time to do this. Don’t drink your tea like someone who gulps down a cup of coffee during a workbreak. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.
Thich Nhat Hahn, The Miracle of Mindfulness