Simple Gifts

Sun bathing puppyThose mornings when the sun is out, our Miniature Schnauzer positions herself on a chair in the dining room and sun bathes. She sits quite still, happy and content.

Seeing her meditative pose this morning reminded me of the simple gifts we experience every day. Just a moment of presence can enable us to remember our blessings: the warmth of the sun, a sip of coffee, a deep and conscious breath, a smile, a hug, remembering someone dear to us, a melody, quiet.

May your day be filled with these precious moments.

Send to Kindle

Just another historic day

Tuesday was a busy day for me. Up early, I drove into Boston to catch a flight to Dallas. Traffic was heavy the first day after the Martin Luther King holiday, and I wondered if I would miss my flight. Thanks to a sparse line going through security, I arrived at the gate with some time to spare. We were airborne shortly after 9:00 am, landed around 11:30 am Central (12:30 pm Eastern), and the rest of my day was filled with business.

When I left Boston, George Bush was President of the United States. When I landed in Dallas, Barack Obama was — the first African American President.

That we have transcended the color of a person’s skin is truly remarkable, a milestone in human dignity to be celebrated. That the transfer of power was routine, number 43 to number 44, reflects the stability of our system of government and calls for deep gratitude. That I live in a country where such a historic occasion can be just another day gives me hope for the world.

Send to Kindle


In this 24 x 7 world, there are still a few events that can interrupt the hectic pace of life, and do so in a nice way.

shoveling.JPGThe latest winter storm moved through New England last night and this morning. The flakes started falling well after dark, sometime after 9 pm, and continued through most of this morning. We awoke to six or so inches on the ground and a steady snowfall, causing us to rethink our plans for the day. The morning service at church was cancelled, I deferred my trip to Peterborough, and Lori called off her drive to Manchester.

By this afternoon the sun will be out, the driveways and walkways shoveled, the streets and highways plowed. The unrelenting pace of life will resume.

This morning, though, for a few hours, we enjoyed a pause, unexpected and unplanned time for reflecting (and a blog post), dawdling over the paper, and catching up on a few untended items around the house.

Send to Kindle

It’s a brand new year

Gretchen Rubin is writing a book about happiness, aptly named The Happiness Project. Her blog chronicles her experience and thinking as she writes the book.

Happiness is a fascinating subject, zen-like in its paradox. To wit, happiness is not something that can be sought and obtained directly, rather it’s a byproduct of a fulfilling life.

From my life’s experience, happiness is enabled by living in alignment with my core being. And that requires discerning who I am and what I aspire to be, my essence. Hold that thought.

This being the first day of a new year, it’s tradition to establish a list of resolutions, those new and good habits that we want to adopt to improve our lives. It’s also tradition that we take on too many self-improvement goals, whose half lives are often much less than 30 days. Magazines, book stores, the web are full of self-help strategies for how to make the changes stick — truly, I mean really, this year will be different.

My point is not to denigrate New Year’s resolutions. I believe in self improvement and the power of possibility and transformation. I would much rather try and fail than to live in cynical inertia. However I can’t resist poking a bit of fun at the whole self-help phenomenon in our culture.

In contrast to New Year’s resolutions (either instead of or in addition to), Gretchen Rubin suggests in her blog that we write a list of personal commandments, or values, to guide our lives. This ties back to the point of living in alignment with our core being. The process of writing a list of values is a great way to discern who we are, connecting with what various authors have described as the small voice inside or our heart of hearts.

Aspiring to live according to core values makes a great New Year’s resolution and, in my experience, helps enable happiness. Here’s my list, along with a photo from my summer’s travels. It’s an apt metaphor for my hopes for life in the year to come.

My Guiding Values

  • Be authentic
  • Act humbly
  • Show kindness, compassion, respect
  • See the big picture
  • Live purposefully
  • Do what’s right
  • Make a positive difference
  • Be ever grateful
Hiking the high Sierra
Send to Kindle