How much is gratefulness and appreciation a part of our everyday? Keeping a daily journal about all the things we are grateful for, regardless of our circumstance, is a kind and uplifting practice. And even fun. I will have to start that. I have tried it now and again as part of being appreciative of my life. And it is lovely when I’m in that frame of mind to remember.

If the “glass of life” feels half empty, we might start a short list of what we are grateful for, including breathing, or having clean sheets on the bed when we are sick, or to have a tree to stand under when it rains. Mother Nature offers us a lot to be grateful for, and she is so generous, no matter who we are or what we do.

By looking at ways we can be grateful right now in this moment, rather than lament for external things we may not have, is a lift to oneself. Did western culture get sidetracked and distracted with wanting stuff? How did we come to believe more stuff, more possessions, more botox , more products, would lead to happiness and fulfillment?  Is there a quick fix to feel good, grateful and appreciative?  Is it an inside job, meaning something we have to do individually for ourselves? It seems we have to work through why we feel unsatisfied in our life. Meaning we have to feel our feelings , not buy our way out of it. And sitting quietly for a few minutes each day, to list a couple of things we may feel grateful or appreciative, is a nice new step to invite into our lives.

We have so much to cultivate and nurture inside ourselves, a garden really. Maybe we  forget to water or fertilize our inner selves, which can affect our energy and thoughts. Yet when we are ready, and give it the right love and attention, our inner garden will grow, bloom and be luscious. That is something to be grateful for, that our garden may be dormant, or struggling through some weeds,  but it is always ready to grow and bloom from the seeds of gratefulness we sow.

Daily Om

I love this site called Daily Om. I wanted to share it as sometimes we all need something inspiring, kind and thoughtful to arrive in our inbox each day as a way to lift up our thinking. Check it out. Subscribe if the spirit moves you. There’s no charge, and it is a lovely gift to oneself.

Daily Om

Where are the Sages?

Remember in history when communities and leaders relied on their Sages or Wise Advisors to weigh in before making big decisions that affected their people? There was a respect and appreciation for the advice of the quiet, observant wise sage, and his/her voice was factored into the decision to be made. A good Sage took the bigger picture into consideration. There was respect for their opinion. Sages were privy to the issues, and had taken various points of view into consideration. This offered a calmness to the warrior energy to wait and hear and consider before rushing off to do battle for example.

The Sage or Wise Advisor energy seems absent. Or maybe it is present but no one is listening, and hasn’t been for decades. To make good decisions, a family, a neighborhood, a country, a government needs our Sage voices. And to listen. A Sage person is sensitive to what is going on around them, they see patterns and potential missteps and also possible glorious steps and solutions. A Sage doesn’t scream, create drama, or demand attention. In the western culture a Sage might get steamrolled or mowed over, even in a meeting, saying the wise thoughtful thing the group needs to consider but they overlook  or ignore it. Maybe it is inconvenient?

The louder voice seems to have gotten the attention, as though speaking loudly and first equals decisiveness, rightness and confidence. I’m not sure acting confident is the same as having a well thought out plan and considering the longer term view.  Many of us can act ways that have no foundation. Of course it is nice to think someone has thought something through for us, and their confident enthusiastic idea reflects our best interests too. Gosh, then it feels easier to go along and agree with them. But without a Sage voice or process involved, it rarely is a good decision for long. The decision or direction breaks down, creates different problems, maybe even harm and has to be revisited and figured out again.

Impatience might be part of why we don’t want to allow for a Sage voice to weigh in or a process that includes their point of view. A Sage contemplates, and that takes time. Is quick better? Quick might work for those wanting to get their way, because they are just seeing it from that narrow view, and that can be quick. But if we are part of decisions that will impact more than just ourselves, then we need to listen, take the time to include other voices. That is the best way to ensure we will have solutions we don’t have to keep revisiting. Taking the time and inviting a Sage or two, and listening, really listening, we will make different kinds of decisions, and ones that will work better for the majority affected.

Slowly it may be happening in certain groups and communities. We may see examples of the return to the inclusion and respect of the Sage voices to the decisions-making within our families, communities, business, politics etc. Hopefully we seek the Sage voice to be part of decisions ,as was done in earlier times.

When we don’t have Sage voices in the room, we get what we are getting, and that isn’t working for most of us. It isn’t a hard thing to do, it is a mere shift. Probably a shift in leadership style is needed too, from the old authoritarian model to something more current and participatory. A key shift is to ensure all voices are represented at the table, they are heard and it is reflected in the decisions made. It might feel threatening to those wielding the power at the moment, but truly, sharing the power and decisions, and making wise decisions that include more voices, will be more successful and effective overall.

This is my Sage musing of the day.





As adults we may say lightheartedness, a sense of humor, fun or play matter to us yet  we seem hard pressed to invite it in or practice it. I attend classes, meetings, gatherings, parties etc, and I’m known to have a sense of humor. I would say my first four to five decades humor was ever present, and those around me were quick and willing to laugh with me.

The past ten years that seems more a struggle. Some of it may be the world news and events we are living through. Some of it is when we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, something in humor is lost. Humor can be a wonderful way to release tension especially with a group of people, and laughter can also help bring a group more together.

I am a trained facilitator, working with different community groups to help build consensus. Usually that is a group of people who come to a meeting with different needs, wants and desires, and absolutely no obligation to agree. Imagine facing such a group with everyone quite passionate and attached to what they would like to see happen? Now in my facilitation training, humor was not a tool taught nor used. How can it be?  Yet for me without using my humor and sense of play as part of my communication style and interaction, I don’t know how we could have built trust and got to consensus. And quite honestly, without my humor or sense of play, I would not want to facilitate.  When I have had to facilitate a humorless group, I must say that has been very, very, very hard on my spirit.

I guess I took my sense of play and humor for granted. I thought everyone had it, and operated the same way. Growing up it seemed my friends and I laughed a lot, to the point of rollicking on the floor. Beautiful stuff really. And growing up in Canada, a lot of our humor is making fun of ourselves and one another. You give it and you take it. It is mutual, and for me teasing someone is a form of affection. Yet some of us get sensitive, and can’t laugh at ourselves. For me that hurts lightheartedness having expression.

Someone used to say, we are all receivers and transmitters. So if I’m being playful or funny (transmitting) but no one around me is receiving, then there is no play. That is an experience I notice more and more. Maybe we compartmentalize. If we go to a comedy show we are expecting funny so our receiver is on. We go to a meeting, we aren’t expecting funny, so we don’t offer it nor pick up on it. Yet if we want more humor and play in our lives, no matter what we are doing, we need to be open to receiving. And laughing for a few moments, and then getting back to the business at hand is a wonderful connector, a sweet break and often a good way to improve the discussion.

As much as we might want more humor or play in our lives no matter our age, we need to notice how we may not be receptive, or we shut down the humorist. We might think humor or being lighthearted takes away the seriousness of a discussion versus maybe finding the room to laugh might be the best way to manage it.


Simplifying, what does that mean? A realtor told me many of her clients are simplifying, by buying smaller homes. They want less to deal with in terms of square footage, yard work, and upkeep costs. I get that. And I am thinking along those lines myself. It is funny how things, items, possessions can have energy, and walking into a full or cluttered room can be draining. And then to have ownership of all those things, often things that now years after buying them we don’t  appreciate in the same way we did, nor use.

I guess in our twenties and thirties we were figuring out our tastes and preferences in terms of material possessions. What kind of furniture did we like and need? What kind of life did we want to live? What kind of purchases would support that life? Like a stainless steel BBQ, or a wall size television, or a yoga friendly room? Whether we purchased or were given possessions over the years, we may now have more than we need or use. How to simplify?

For years I have been aware of the things I own, that if I were to relocate I know the things I would not pay to move. That seemed telling. It seemed there are only about 4 pieces of furniture I care about. Yet while I’m in a house with extra space, there seems no impetus to get rid of those things I know I won’t keep. I think of natural disasters, like losing everything in a tsunami, and I know none of the stuff really matters and could be taken away in a heartbeat. Sometimes I hang onto things because I feel it matters to the person who gave it to me. Or it reminds me of how much I loved it when I bought it. Yet now, few things matter or affect me in that way. I guess it is the letting go of the meaning I attach to a material thing and feeling when is the appropriate time of use and value. Again if a tsunami struck, all of these decisions are out of my hands. Yet I feel closer to more of a real cleanse and simplifying of what I have around me. Clothes that are worn out or don’t feel right, or linens that are in good shape but I may be bored of them, silly things but it adds weight and could be simplified.

I hear often of how much lighter a person feels after simplifying her/his life, be it culling through household items, or altering ones schedule to make more time for simple pleasures like cooking, reading, walking, and spending quality time with loved ones. Simplifying would mean slowing down and choosing where best to spend one’s time, energy and resources. It would mean spending less time tied to one’s devices. That way the device is a tool to serve one’s life, not an addiction, pressure or distraction.

Simplifying is a choice. We each can do it. To say we are too busy and can’t, well that is a choice too. Maybe we like rushing from one thing to another, one meeting, event, or obligation, often running late, and not fully present to those people around us. That can create a sense of drama and intensity some seem to crave. We miss out on so much by not being present, and a part of that is our lives have become too complicated. In the western world, we have a lot of material possessions to keep track and in working order. In my mind, one approach to simplifying is looking at how we spend our time, energy and resources, and asking ourselves if that is a happy investment that is paying off for us.


redgreenleavesWhat does it mean to listen? Or to be heard? We think if we have ears that work, meaning we hear sound, that we can listen. We must be listening because we hear another’s voice and answer. If we work at a cafe, we listen, get the order and hand the customer what they wanted. Most of us do this all day long in our interactions, and figure that is communication. We figure listening is natural, easy, what humans do.

Now it seems as we learn and age,  listening and effective communication can expand. There are discernments, subtleties, and yes, patience. Listening isn’t waiting to speak. It really is hearing what that person says, and maybe even asking for clarification, to check for meaning. The same word can hold different meaning or intensity for one person than another. Checking is a good thing to do as you listen. If we ask a question of someone that she/he just answered, we weren’t listening.  As an interviewer, a good interviewer, especially in film or media, you have to listen. A guest loses interests if you are not listening. If you just follow your list of questions one after the other and don’t connect the conversation and topics that your guest has covered, you’re not listening.

Listening is an art form, and one that may gain appreciation and notice as we age. I’m still deciding. I don’t think I’ve changed particularly, but it seems others comment on how well I listen and retain or comment on what they said, then or later.

I think I’ve always enjoyed listening. (Although I don’t enjoy monologuists anymore.  I realize back and forth listening and conversing is a beautiful thing.) I think when we are  curious we tend to listen. When someone is speaking to me, I pay attention. I’m not doing anything else. I’m listening. I notice when later I bring something up that connects to that conversation, often the person says I have a good memory as opposed to I am a good listener. I think if you are listening to someone, you do remember. What I have noticed, is often the speaker isn’t listening to what they are saying, they just talk a lot. Sometimes a person forgets he/she has told me the same story 3 times at the same party. I can get exasperated. I wonder, should I be listening to people who clearly aren’t listening to themselves?

Listening is a form of attention. We know when someone is really listening to us, and when we don’t have their full attention. We expect full attention from a paid professional like a therapist or a lawyer I suppose, and hopefully we get it. I guess I expect that same attention from my friends and colleagues.

Listening can be a way of slowing down, a form of meditation, something that brings you into the present moment. Now if the speaker is distracted or talking gobbley gook it might not necessarily be meditative, unless it helps you see how distracted they are. Maybe your attention to listening helps quiet them down, because you may ask a question or want clarification that shows you are listening. I don’t think many of us are used to being on the receiving end of real listening. Sometimes we get caught off guard when someone remarks on something we said, or asks us a thoughtful question based on what we said. It can be startling in its rarity. Yet that kind of attention can give us energy and maybe bring us into the present moment.

I have always had interest in listening. I enjoy it because it can bring connection. I’m not interested in talking about people though. Certainly not gossip. “He said she said”. That is draining, negative and doesn’t build anything good. I like to know what makes a person  tick. And I love to discuss ideas, to innovate, to solve. My interest in listening and conversing is to learn, to share, to expand, and to get closer to people. It seems many people don’t stand still or have enough interest in connecting through conversation and listening. Or maybe don’t know how, or fear it?

Listening with openness is important. It is said you can find what you seek, so if you think someone is catty, you can interpret whatever they say or do in that way. Just look at  the tabloids. And no doubt the opposite must be true, yet in each case, it means we hear with a point of view we want to bolster.

Listening with curiosity and the desire to understand, that can be a challenge sometimes, depending on whether the conversation is between a happy couple or the leaders of nations in conflict. Listening in order to understand, and being open to really try, leaving our defensive or reactive selves at the door, that alone could change our immediate orbits for sure.

Shopping Carts

So I rejoined Costco store after 10 years of not being a member. Now when I hefted a 40 pound bag of dog food, and a 40 pound bag of water pellet softener, I remember why I had not renewed. Dang, there is nothing elegant about struggling with an unwieldy bag of goods. I watched one woman struggle with the toilet paper “towers” they sell. She squatted down yet didn’t have the strength or range of motion to  push it fully onto the undercarriage shelf of her cart.  Some of big box store shopping is strength and control I guess, and some of it is dealing with humungous amounts of product inside the packaging. That is why we like big box stores, yet now it is clear the schlepping is not so much fun as we get less strong. Years ago, I never thought much about the weight or size of packaging. I just saw the price and amount of stuff I was getting (good value)  and was ecstatic.

In the 10 years I’ve been away from this food box store, I’ve been choosing 20 pound bags or less of what I might purchase. Mostly so that I could manage them from the store to my home with some modicum of self respect. As a general rule, I hate huffing and puffing in public. Maneuvering the bigger bags today was an experience I had forgotten yet I was in the midst of a lift so had to keep going. And then so much in the store I don’t see anywhere else, so I was drawn to enormous tins of shortbread cookies ( I put them back) and fresh cotton covered down fill pillows sets (I kept them). In my mind when I decided to rejoin, I was thinking of the savings I would make with the annual bags of water softener and dog food I buy. Today, that was 80 pounds in my shopping cart. I hurled each bag over the metal side, forgetting to engage my core, so I struggled, grunted yet didn’t injure myself. Whew. And that cart. Holy moly. I pushed, pulled and weaved that laden cart through the aisles. My cart steering was feeble,  having forgotten full cart etiquette but I did get an upper body workout.

Those shopping carts are like tiny houses. It is hard to believe I could fill one, especially with no shopping list, or special event on the horizon. Did I really need 2 pounds of organic hummus? Will it get eaten before it is ready to walk away on its own? These and other questions keep me awake at night. But I look forward to my next Costco visit and all the goodies my eyes get excited to see. And hey, maybe I’ll master the Shopping Cart shuffle.