Happy New Year

The Rowdy Santas are back to wish you a Happy New Year!

The Rowdy Santas are back to wish you a Happy New Year!

By consistently choosing love rather than fear, we can experience a personal transformation that enables us to be more naturally loving to ourselves and others. In this way we can begin to recognize and experience the love and joy that unites us
— Dr. Jerry Jampolsky

We have the choice. We can choose to live in fear or we can choose to live in love. We can choose to believe the best — of ourselves, of others, of life. Fear is a choice to believe the worst. To believe for the best is to choose to believe that there is a Higher Power who responds to our positive attitudes and actions. This is not to discount the pain, sorrow, and disappointment that come with life. But we can choose to move beyond a limiting and fearful view of how life works and learn to practice the kind of optimism that opens the doors of opportunity, change, and blessing.

Optimism is a choice that changes your trajectory. I have found that if you fear the worst, you create what you expect. You make choices out of fear and limit your options. But what would happen if you made choices on the assumption that things would work out? What would life be like if you decided that God was truly interested in helping you, and that difficult people and situations were heaven-sent lessons that could lead to greater personal growth and a better life? Would you like to have the kind of faith that chooses love over fear?

I have found that practical optimism helps grease the wheels of life, releasing energy for growth and change. I have wasted too much energy on fearing what could happen (which never did happen). When really tough things have come along in my life — the things I most dreaded — I discovered that I was cared for and led along step by step. Even when I was facing the death of a loved one, I found that the great loss was tempered by hope, faith, and the love of others who shared my loss. Most of the imagined fears that once drained my energy now seem small and meaningless in light of the larger issues of life. So now I have become more daring, willing to take risks and gamble that love will win over fear every time.

The next time you hear some crazed politician stir up irrational fears or demonize others, stop and think. Is this the attitude and energy you want to bring to your life? Do you want to be manipulated through your fears and anger? Or do you want to be empowered, loving your life and loving others, believing the best instead of the worst. Let 2016 be the year you choose to cultivate your highest vision and live your deepest truth.  

When you look at the world in a narrow way, how narrow it seems!
When you look at it in a mean way, how mean it is!
When you look at it selfishly, how selfish it is!
But when you look at it in a broad, generous, friendly spirit, what wonderful people you find in it.
— Horace Rutledge

Ask the Right Questions to Discover Imaginative Solutions

Petey discovers a new way to get a drink of fresh water 

Petey discovers a new way to get a drink of fresh water 

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
— Albert Einstein

Everything you see began as an idea. Someone imagined the chair you sit in. Someone designed the light that reflects on the pages of the book you are reading. Once the tallest man-made structure in a town was the spire of a church. Now skyscrapers dominate the city skyline. Someone visualized a new kind of building that would create a new kind of city. You, too, can visualize a new kind of city, society, way of living. You begin in the imagination with an idea and then create the reality. What kind of reality do you wish to create?

“Imagination can fashion the world into a homeland as well as into a prison or place of battle,” says poet and Nobel Prize winner Czcslaw Milosz. “It is the invisibles that determine how you will view the world, whether as a homeland or as a prison or a place of battle. Nobody lives in the ‘objective’ world, only in a world filtered through the imagination.”

One of the most empowering things you can say is “I don’t know.” It is a paradox. How can the seeming helplessness of “I don’t know” be empowering? It is because the openness, flexibility, and willingness to imagine something that does not fit in your existing paradigm frees you to create something you have never imagined before.

 “Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they’ve always been done,” says Rudolf Flesch. Ray Charles says, “Don’t go backwards. You’ve already been there.” Wake up! It’s time to get out of your rut and try something new. Imagine what could be instead of imagining all the reasons things will never get better.

A Chinese definition of going crazy is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you are dissatisfied with your life as it is right now, it’s time to begin imagining a different life—and then to take small steps to make your life different.

Imagination takes us where we’ve never been before. Not knowing means that there must be something “out there,” somewhere, to know. When we know that we do not know, we are then free to become learners and experimenters. We can use our imagination for a change instead of locking ourselves into a sterile status quo that no longer works for us.

Change is inevitable. Sometimes it seems that the only sure thing is that nothing will stay the same. Yet there are many things worth keeping. How do you find your way in the midst of chaos and change?

This is where cultivating the imagination comes in. Drifting with life, accepting the status quo, and avoiding all “risky” questions can leave you helpless, floating down the river of life without control or direction. You can run aground if you ignore the changing realities of the river currents.  But your imagination can help you chart your course and choose which way you wish to go. When the captain steers his boat down a river, he does not fix his eyes on the bow, where the boat is. That could land him on a sandbar. Instead, he looks forward far down the river, toward where he wants to go. You can use the inner eye of your imagination to steer your life in the direction of better dreams and more fulfilling destinations. If you have felt stuck with a life that seems to have run off course, your imagination is a gift from God that can help you get unstuck. 

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won’t kill you. Scientists are always asking, “What if…?” and “I wonder…?” For instance, I went into my local florist and saw a display for African violets. But these were not your common ordinary garden variety African violets. These were NASA violets. Someone at NASA decided to take some African violet seeds up into space and expose them to interstellar radiation—just to see what would happen. When they germinated those seeds back on earth, they found that the space seed African violets never stopped blooming. So now you can buy an everblooming African violet at your local florist. I bought a violet with lovely ruffled purple pink blossoms and deep green leaves and for over a year my NASA African violet had blooms year round. Someone, somewhere, was asking a “What if…?” question to think of sending African violet seeds into space to see what would happen and how the plants would respond.

Just start stepping out into the unknown, and learn to trust your deepest intuition. The mind wants guaranteed results, but the heart knows that we co-create with God, and like the little boy who gave his loaves and fishes to Jesus, God multiplies our small efforts in ways we cannot imagine. Lighten up. Explore. Do what you can do now, trusting that there is that within you that knows what to do and how to do it. Follow your intuition and see where it leads. Imagine larger horizons,  beyond the safety of known territory. 

Life is an adventure, taken one step at a time. We are here for a reason, and our task is to do the next thing faithfully, trusting that it is enough, and that Providence will guide us, bringing more than we could ever ask or hope for. 

And here is an iris, like a lamp lit by the setting sun, that I came upon unexpectedly when I was at Scarritt Bennett Center a month ago. That’s what I love about photos. Making myself available and open, following my nose, and often not knowing that I will stumble upon sudden magic. I’m reminding myself as well as you that this is the true nature of our unfolding destiny, not the fear-based thinking of our calculating minds which always want to predict and control. Who would have thought that I would be early to a poetry reading and have time to capture the setting sun in the petals of iris at their perfect peak? Only Divine Timing could have orchestrated this. But I also had to be available to wonder and wander, allowing life to unfold naturally. 

“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?” Einstein said. We are entirely comfortable with the concept of scientists asking questions. But we crave guaranteed results and precise step-by-step solutions in our own lives. We want to play it safe.

Life itself is a form of research, and often it is in learning to ask the right questions that reveals the best answers. Sometimes just living with the questions, and then letting the inner radar of our intuition lead the way, will take us to a life that is greater than any we could imagine, in spite of the limitations of our usual thinking. 

Socrates said, “Wisdom begins in wonder.” If you wish to grow and learn, be open and willing to be a beginner again. If you would seek wisdom, then begin asking some “I wonder…?” questions. To ask “I wonder…?” removes you from the either/or situation of “right” or “wrong” into the “maybe” of many more possibilities.

• I wonder why I believe this? Am I telling myself a limiting story? What might be possible if I dare to follow my heart and listen to the "still small voice" of my inner guidance?

• I wonder why we always do it this way? Is there a better way? Is there a more playful way to explore possibilities? 

• I wonder why I am so anxious to judge what is happening?  Why do I want to predict outcomes so badly? What would happen if I just let go and followed the love instead?

• I wonder if this is the only way to interpret this particular event, person, story, way of life, or understanding of how things work?

• I wonder what would happen if I ignored my fears and the disapproval of others to do some spiritual and creative exploration?

• I wonder what I would find in other traditions and cultures that would shed light on my own tradition and culture? What does someone who is different than my social circle have to teach me? 

• I wonder what I could learn if I was willing to try something new or look at life from different perspective?

You are free to question everything you were taught to believe and to acquire new perspectives. As your mind opens to change, you’ll feel a new lightness and more joy.
— Charlotte Davis Kasl
Humble questioning is the recognition that one does not know it all; sincere questioning is genuine hospitality to another’s viewpoint; brave questioning means a willingness to be disturbed mentally, morally, and spiritually.
— Albert Edward Day
A person can grow only as much as his horizon allows.
— John Powell

On another walk, another day, another place. The unexpected looking out from the forest. Here is the reflection of my inner intuition, asking me questions that only the soul can answer. 

The Poetry of Spring

© Candypaull.com

To surrender to the rhythms of seasons and flowerings and dormancies is to savor the secret of life itself.
— Wayne Muller

Flowers are like poems for the eyes. The curve of petal and bend of leaf lead me into the heart of creation. I must capture that fleeting floral beauty on camera for later contemplation, because spring comes and goes so swiftly here in the South. There may be only three or four days to enjoy the perfection of apple blossoms or iris or magnolia. The weather can suddenly become hot and humid, forcing the blossoms to open and die, sometimes within hours. Then a front blows through, and a cold snap can burn tender blossoms. Still, there are many perfect, perfect days that allow me to gather my bouquet of visual beauty and revel in the glorious light of spring. Here are a few of the jeweled blossoms I gathered this spring.  

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
— Mark Twain


There is nothing more peaceful than the dappling of light through the leaves of my cottage garden’s apple tree with an early moon.
— Alice Meynell

Everything is poetry
A leaf falling to earth
The crickets humming an end of summer song in the trees
Sun slanting through the door
Painting the carpet with clear light
Poetry is in me
Coming through every pore
My eyes and ears and heart
Attuned to its music
Poetry wants to be born in me
It has been simmering 
Under the surface
Now it leaps and bubbles out
Dancing through the pencil
Onto the paper
Spilling its clear light
Onto the page

There is poetry in commerce
It is not left home 
When I lock the door
And go out into the streets of the city
It is in the ribbon of road
Unfurling before me
The stoplight turning from red to green
It is the traffic of the city
Rushing endlessly to get somewhere
Only to turn around and go the other way 
At the end of the day
It is in barges on the river and ships coming into port
Strong men unloading
Treasures from distances too wide to measure
And loading grain and goods for daily bread
Somewhere else

Poetry is in cookbooks
The lists of ingredients 
Litanies of possibilities 
Combinations of delicious
2 teaspoons of salt, preferably sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, fruity and warm sweet flavored
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
About 20 minutes later
Simmered gently
And offered as filling feast
Even if it is merely
Simple soup and bread
Poetry in cookbooks
Vegetarian feasts
Around the world old and new
Home cooking and exotic fare
Every book a traveler’s guide
Tasted on the tongue

Everything is poetry
A simple cup of jasmine tea
Instant oatmeal in a white bowl
The truck driving down the street
The opossum and rabbit 
Pausing in the grass
The little girls next door
Still leaping and laughing on a trampoline
(even if now only a memory)
The quiet morning
Spilling into my soul
Through sounds
        and scents
         and traveling imagination
Poetry is in me
And so I find it

~ Candy Paull 



I had not the smallest taste for growing plants, or taking care of them. My whole time passed in staring at them, or into them. In no morbid curiosity, but in admiring wonder.
— John Ruskin

Spring is the best time for photos here in Middle Tennessee. It comes and goes so quickly. I love to go to Cheekwood and take flower photos. I was playing around and realized that the camera can take me deeper and deeper into the heart of a blossom. Instead of taking a journey to the center of the earth, I go into the heart of the tulip. Follow me from one part of the garden to another, via the tulip vortex. 

Into the tulip vortex....

(Click on the gallery photo to take you even deeper into the tulip vortex.)

Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed… if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons.
— James Russell Lowell

Oh, Spring is surely coming,
Her couriers fill the air;
Each morn are new arrivals,
Each night her ways prepare;
I scent her fragrant garments,
Her foot is on the stair.
~John Burroughs



There is more beauty in a single flower than could adorn all the greatest cathedrals of the world.
— John Ruskin


Art is the increasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers—and never succeeding.
Marc Chagall

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

The amen of nature is always a flower.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

It seems indeed as if peace and nutriment from heaven subtly filter into me as I slowly hobble down these country lanes and across fields, in the good air—as I sit here in solitude with Nature—open, voiceless, mystic, far removed, yet palpable, eloquent Nature. I merge myself in the scene, in the perfect day. 
Walt Whitman 

Let this or any time you practice be your time for letting go of all doing, for shifting into the being mode, in which you simply dwell in stillness and mindfulness, attending to the moment-to-moment unfolding of the present, adding nothing, subtracting nothing, affirming that “This is it.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the Spring!—the great annual miracle.... which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation would there be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.
— Pablo Neruda





Beneath the fruit tree boughs that shed
Their snow white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year’s friends together.
— William Wordsworth

I'm having a blast posting on Pinterest. It's addictive. I now have 22 boards, from Glamorous Crazy Cat Ladies to Thoughts on the Sacred Journey. Come share the visual feast. 


Abundance Begins in the Heart

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?

Investing such energies of love and attention, no matter how small or humble the task, helps you build a sense of Divine order and harmony in your world, and in your soul. When you choose to live life as a path of service, each task accomplished and each person honored creates a sacred sense of abundance that heals the person and makes a life whole. 

Abundance begins in the heart. There is that within you that knows what to do and how to do it. Trust that inner instinct and follow its leading. Feed your soul with books and resources that encourage you on this path of spiritual discovery. Use affirmative prayers to remind yourself of the reality of the unseen world of love and abundance when you are feeling overwhelmed by the old illusions of fear and scarcity. Know the spiritual truth: God is your source. True abundance flows from the fountain of the loving Presence that is always with you and within you. God is in your heart, in the still small Voice within that comforts, guides, and sustains. Every time you choose to trust this calm and steady sense of Presence, the Universe will move in support as helping hands, loving hearts, and kindred spirits arrive in your life. Some call it the law of attraction. Some call it growing into our spiritual potential. This is the grace of inner abundance, helping you discover a peaceful, life-giving strength that can transform your life. Heaven is within, and you can create a taste of heaven on earth when you live from that inner reality.

The human soul is God’s treasury, out of which he coins unspeakable riches. Thoughts and feelings, desires and yearnings, faith and hope—these are the most precious things which God finds in us.
— Henry Ward Beecher
We must make choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.
— Thomas Merton

Affirm these truths:

• As an artist works with the nature of things, so do I work with the nature of God expressing in, through, and for me.

• I now tap into inner sources of love, joy, and peace.

• As an artist loves beauty and meaning, giving it material form, so I love the nature of God, which is Life, Love, and Beauty, and give it form in the choices I make, the things I create, the people I love. 

Truth exists for the wise, beauty for the feeling heart.
— Johann von Schiller

At certain happy hours, each man is conscious of a secret heaven within him, a realm of undiscovered sciences; or slumbering powers; a heaven, of which these feats of talent, are no measure; it arches over the sky, over all it has done, or that has been done, and suggests unfathomable power.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson