Can you feel it yet? As the sands of time run out for 2018, and Christmas approaches, we can dip a bit, energy wise. This time of year is stressful for many people. Emotions can range from sadness to weariness to ecstatic joy…and everything in between.
I was reminded this evening, for this Sunday Short/Self Care Sunday post, to really care for myself during this busy season. I made a Note to Self.
Note to Self – Body Care
Eat healthy foods and nourish my body.
Get outside and walk in nature.
Get plenty of rest. Go to bed at a decent time. Naps are okay!
Note to Self – Creativity in Action
Play every day. Use my imagination.
Write my stories and journal through my questions and challenges.
Are you caring for yourself, as you would a small child? We can get so busy with everyone and everything else that we allow our energy levels to plummet. If we are running on empty it’s difficult to offer to others. We have nothing left to give.
As we enter the last half of December, and the last full week before Christmas, may you be aware of yourself in tender and compassionate ways. I’m being very mindful of my energy levels.
Note to self…take care of me. Take care of others.
What’s the perfect topic for a Sunday Short post? A Star Trek Short Trek! The Brightest Star, the third of four Short Treks, premiered Thursday evening. I grabbed an opportunity to watch it this evening.
The Brightest Star Cast
This sci-fi short stars Doug Jones, Hannah Spear, Robert Verlaque and Michelle Yeoh. The episode was directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and written by Bo Yeon Kim, Alex Kurtzman and Erika Lippoldt. It has a run time of 15 minutes.
Star Trek Short Trek: The Brightest Star is available on CBS All Access.
Saru (Jones) is the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. The Brightest Star offers a glimpse into this character’s intriguing past.
A young Saru lives in a village with his father Aradar (Verlaque) and sister Siranna (Spear). Life is simple on the planet of Kaminar, governed by traditions and meaningful tasks.
The Kelpiens are a pre-warp drive race that has developed a heightened sense of danger. Ganglia on the backs of their necks alert them to impending danger. They live in fear…and resignation, knowing that in accordance with their beliefs, they may be called upon to offer themselves up as sacrifices, to preserve “The Balance” in their way of life.
When Kelpiens look to the sky, they feel fear. But not Saru. He feels curiosity about what lies beyond his world. And in contrast to his upbringing and his father’s teachings, he feels hope. There must be something more out there beyond the stars.
Saru Goes Beyond
The intensity of Saru’s desires provides an opportunity to reach out. Advanced technology literally falls from the sky, from an unseen race that the Kelpiens fear and seek to appease. Rather than destroy the beacon, as commanded by his father, Saru sends a simple message into space that’s part greeting and part invitation.
After several days, his greeting is returned. And the invitation is accepted. TODAY the return message says. After a sweet goodbye to his sister, Saru waits in the dark, watching the stars. A shuttlecraft appears, with familiar markings. Out steps a young Philippa Georgiou (Yeoh), a lieutenant at this stage in her Starfleet career.
Saru makes a choice that opens the universe for him and alters his life.
My Thoughts on The Brightest Star
This was a lovely episode, about one of my favorite characters in the new Star Trek: Discovery series. During the first season I got to watch Saru grow tremendously, as a being whose race lives in perpetual fear. The short provides more pieces of information about the Kelpiens and Saru in particular. His curiosity and hopefulness set him apart from the others in his family and community. It becomes understandable why Saru is the only Kelpien to take to the stars.
The Brightest Star creates questions as well, which in my opinion is one of the signs of a good story. It’s a “page turner”, creating in me the desire to know more about the early development and customs of the Kelpiens. And I’m always open to learning more about Saru.
Doug Jones shines in this role. He is a talented actor who appears to be a genuine, good-hearted, kind man who brings those same qualities to Saru. I’m excited to see how the character develops in Season Two.
The end of The Brightest Star brought a lump to my throat. I identifiy with Saru. His yearning to go beyond is mine as well and has been a driving force in my life these last five years. I want to know what’s out there…beyond the stars AND beyond my fears.
Saru’s voiceover as the shuttle flies away is perfection:
“I saw hope in the stars. It was stronger than fear and I went toward it.”
I get teary eyed just typing his words. Hope is always stronger than fear. I keep moving toward it too.
Inspiration for today’s post came by way of a meme with these words:
“Do more of what makes you happy.”
It sounds like such a simple command. However I know from experience that adding to my happiness by doing more of the things that I enjoy is not as easy as it sounds.
What is Happiness?
Being happy is more than having a positive mindset or a Pollyanna attitude. The word origin, from Middle English hap and y, literally means lucky implying good fortune contributes to being happy.
Happiness is a state of well being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction. Being happy can include strong, high frequency emotions such as joy, love, amusement, gratification and hope.
Psychology Today wrote:
“Research suggests that happiness can improve physical health. Feelings of positivity and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment.
Those are powerful reasons to cultivate happiness. So why does being happy seem to be such an elusive state for many people? To do more of what makes us happy, we have to know our own particular brand of happy.
In Pursuit of Happiness
We have a tendency to put the happiness of others ahead of our own, because we fear doing otherwise is selfish. Ignoring our own state of well being not only harms us, it ultimately doesn’t make others happy either. Not really.
There are times when it’s important to put the needs of another ahead of our own. Parents often make sacrifices for their kids to ensure their wellbeing. However, to ignore our own happiness, thinking we are benefitting someone else, skews perspective and creates bitterness.
In reality, I can’t “make” someone else happy nor can another create happiness in me. We are each responsible for our own state of joy and wellbeing. In fact, one of the best things I can do, to encourage another, is to live, really live, in happiness. Being happy gives other people permission and freedom to be happy too.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, points out another important truth. If we pretend to be other than who we really are, in an attempt to make others happy, then our choices will lead us away from our happiness.
What Makes Me Happy
Once we understand that happiness is an inside job and we are responsible for creating that state, we can focus on doing more of the things we enjoy. Regularly indulging in small pleasures, trying new experiences, going on adventures and being with people we love increase our joy.
I’ve learned, during my life’s journey, to accept responsibility for my own happiness. Cultivating my joy becomes a matter of doing more of what makes me happy.
Currently my list of happy-inducing activities includes:
This is my unique list. I make sure that I practice some of these activities everyday. As I shift and grow, my list shifts as well. I become aware of what I need to do more of…and do it…not because I have to but because I want to.
What Makes You Happy
Your list of what makes you happy will look different from mine. And it should. What makes you happy will differ from what makes me or your best friend or your spouse or anyone else happy.
What brings you joy? Which activities make you smile, brighten your day or create anticipation? Do more of those things. Everyday.
And if you don’t know what brings you joy and contributes to your happiness, start there. Fear can block the path to happiness. Do you fear that pursuing your happiness lessens someone else’s? Have you been shamed or ridiculed for doing things that are meaningful to you?
Work through the blocks, clear old energy, focus on who you are right now and make a list of what you would love to do. And begin to do more of what makes you happy.
Continually feeding happiness feeds the heart and soul as well. You…and me…being happy are beautiful gifts to offer to the world.
Tonight the 5 Daily Gratitudes met the Sunday Shorts. The smash up of the two creates Five Inspirational Gratitude Quotes, allowing me the opportunity to share my favorite quotes about the practice of thankfulness. As we head into Thanksgiving Week, it seems the perfect way to be aware of all we have to be grateful for.
It’s Grateful People Who Are Happy
This quote, by person unknown, is one that intrigued me years ago. Thinking about the words shifted my perspective then, and continues to now.
The moment I look for happiness outside of myself, I am doomed. External situations can change…people leave, things get lost, doors close. When happiness is connected to others, to things, to outcomes, to anything, it fades away when those connections are broken.
If I’m not happy it’s up to me to create it. Gratitude, for what I have right now, shifts responsibility for happiness back to where it belongs…on me. Gratitude is a life changer.
How can you take back responsibility for your own happiness?
It’s a Wonderful Day
The gratitude quote below by Maya Angelou reminds me that each new day is just that…new. It can seem like a typical Monday or an ordinary Wednesday however the reality is, I’ve never experienced this particular day before. What can I do with the day I’ve been gifted?
If days seem too routine, too much the same, it’s time to shake things up. This is the journey I set out on five years ago, and I haven’t looked back. What new thing can I try? How can I do this differently? And my favorite…what game can I play today? Life truly does become an adventure when it’s viewed with fresh perspectives and a sense of playfulness and the willingness to move beyond comfort zones.
What new thing can you try, to shake up your day?
The Tide of Love Rushes In
If there is an area in my life that can disappoint me, it’s this one…People. People are amazing, helpful, loving, kind. And they can be the opposite of all those things. Sometimes the people that I expect the best from don’t offer their best…not even close. And then I feel disappointed by their behavior.
The important words here are “I expect”. Placing expectations on another sets us both up for a negative experience. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and yet what freedom comes, for me and for the people in my life, when I can let go of expectations and accept who people are and let situations be what they are. Let go. Move on. Don’t rehash things. These are all important steps. Focusing on gratitude allows me to shift from disappointment to openness and love.
What gratitude could you focus on…and what could you let go off, so love can rush in?
Learn to Be Grateful
This Jim Rohn gratitude quote beautifully expresses where I live my life. I dwell in the space between being extremely grateful for all that I already have, and intentionally pursuing all that I yet desire.
I love that these two states can coexist. Neither excludes the other. I am full of gratitude, which in truth, fuels my dreams and guides me ever onward and upward. My simple prayer, all day long, is “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Make a list of what you are grateful for…and another list of all that you still desire. Express gratitude for both lists.
Bookending the Day
I saved the Louise Hay quote until last, for good reason. How powerful it is, to begin and end a day with gratitude, no matter what happens in between. Even before getting out of bed, I stretch, smile and say “thank you” and allow myself to feel anticipation for the new day ahead.
At the end of the day, after lights out and before sleep overtakes me, I mentally flip through the events of the day, and feel gratitude, express gratitude, for all things. What I don’t allow myself to do is dwell on a negative experience, or rehash an event. If I catch myself doing either, or find myself creating stories about possible outcomes, which is a form of worrying, I bring myself back into the present moment with my special word “adsum“. And then I immediately go back to expressing gratitude.
It’s behavior that can be learned, after unlearning old habits. I am much more aware of the flow of life and the blessings within it, when I focus on gratitude.
What morning and evening ritual can you create, to express gratitude at the beginning and end of the day?
As we move through the week ahead, and gather with friends and family to offer thanks, may we express gratitude, for all things.
Tonight’s Sunday Short, which is very brief indeed, was inspired by a few words.
“Better an oops than a what if.”
Those simple words, that I almost passed by without noticing, triggered an avalanche of thoughts.
Better an Oops
Thinking about living without regrets, which is my response to preferring oops over what if, I came up with this rapidly scribbled list.
…an embarrassed laugh than a sigh of resignation.
…trying and failing than never trying at all.
…taking a risk than staying safe.
…living large than playing small.
…doing something while afraid, rather than being afraid and doing nothing.
…stumbling over the right words than not speaking at all.
…to get lost while adventuring than lose the opportunity to explore.
…to love with all my heart than protect my heart and not love at all.
…to create an imperfect reality than live a perfect lie.
…to lose someone for being unapologetically who I am, than to lose who I am to keep someone.
Than a What If
These truths are still firing in my brain, but you get the gist of my thoughts. I am so determined to live a life without regrets, free from the soul damaging “what ifs”. The rapid fire pop, pop, pop of these sayings bouncing into my consciousness shows me how much my life has shifted away from the carefully chosen persona that I used to hide behind.
I’d love to include more Better… statements to the list above. Play along and add any that pop into your head, in the comments!
I love rainy Sundays. The falling rain curtains the house, shutting away the world and encouraging me to stay indoors and rest or participate in light, enjoyable activities. Several times today, the words of Simone Weil came to me.
“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”
I understand those words. My heart has been run clean through by both in my lifetime. I much prefer being undone by beauty. For today’s Sunday Short, I chose to share some of the beautiful arrows that have pierced my heart, by way of photos.
My heart is pierced by the beauty of …
My Beloved Scotland
Beauty Surrounds Me
The photos above are just a sampling of the beauty that moves me to my core. In truth, if I am open and aware, with eyes to see, I can be pierced daily by the beauty found in a sunrise, a stranger’s smile, a gorgeous fox running through a field, piles of fresh fruit, autumn leaves quivering on a tree, or a silver moon high in the night sky.
I am grateful for beauty’s ability to find the heart no matter how protected it may be. Even the most barricaded heart cannot withstand the sharp, sweet agony of great beauty. Nature, art, humanity, animals, architecture, candlelight all soften us and expand us so that we may then receive, and give, joy, hope, compassion and love.
Taking in beauty allows me to know I am enough. I’ve done enough. I can breathe it in and sit quietly with it, in deep appreciation. Beauty nurtures me and sustains me and leads me onward.
The day was gray and overcast. However, far from being depressing, the grayness provided an effective contrast for the burgeoning colors and golden light of autumn.
I felt inspired to capture those golden tones by lighting candles throughout the house and on the deck. Not only did the glow from candles warm my home and welcome in autumn, they created their own pools of gold, reminding me of the importance of being Light in the darkness.
Golden Autumn Throughout the House
This Sunday Short is captured through the power of photos, accompanied by some of my favorite quotes about this season.
“Turn your face to the Light, and the shadows fall behind you.” Unknown
“Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.” Oprah
“There will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief.” L. Whitney Clayton
“I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere of autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.” Henry David Thoreau
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
Before the light faded from the autumn sky, I slipped outside. The rust and gold colored tassels adorning the ornamental grasses in the garden stirred in the breeze. There was a ripple of energy in the garden, born by the wind but independent from it.
The energy carried the stories of plants nodding off to sleep, after a time of great growth, and falling leaves, and the promise of long nights of rest and contemplation. Autumn marks the beginning of a time of harvesting what we have created and of nourishing and replenishing ourselves.
How appropriate are the colors of fall, to warm our souls and our nights. How necessary the golden light of autumn to illuminate our way through winter’s darkness, until spring makes all things new.
My Scottish blood got to sing today, and rejoice in the soulful sound of bagpipes, in neighboring Oklahoma. Greg and I joined my sisters, nieces, nephews and their children at the Oklahoma Scotfest 2018, in Broken Arrow.
This annual event, which draws more than 25,000 participants, is a celebration of Celtic heritage, music and history. The festival features Scottish clans, set up in booths, athletic competitions, drum and pipe bands, Scottish and American food, and vendors selling a variety of Scottish wares. Traditional folk music as well as Scotrock is performed throughout the three days of the event, in stages set up in tents.
For the first time my Scottish clan, the Maitland Clan, set up a booth. My family and I had the pleasure of meeting another clan member, Annette. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know her.
Photos from Scotfest
Here are highlights from the fun day:
The clan tartans on display.
Doing genealogy research, Greg has discovered a Scottish connection to the Buchanan Clan.
We enjoyed watching border collies compete to herd sheep. The dogs respond to whistled commands from their owners.
Look at these cuties! Weston and Lola arrived in kilts.
These handsome boys purchased their kilts at the event. Later Ethan and Kaleb wore their kilts to a Cub Scouts meeting and used the experience as a teaching opportunity to explain what a kilt is.
Athletes from around the world competed in Highland games.
Pipers and drummers preparing to perform. I absolutely love the sound of bagpipes.
The band Wicked Tinkers performs in the main tent.
The festival provided wonderful opportunities to step into Scottish culture, in the middle of the US, and learn more about my heritage. It was especially fun to share the day with family and make new friends.
I loved the busy and rowdy atmosphere, the many colorful tartans on display, and the ever present wail of bagpipes. That sound stirs a deep response in my soul and calls to me. It is an invitation to return home, to Scotland.
Never settle. Not the Sunday Short I intended to write today. That post was earmarked for another day. I worked instead on a different piece, long after I knew I was headed in the wrong direction.
As often happens when I go astray, I am gently and unmistakably guided back onto the right path.
My daughter Elissa recently sent me the inspiration for today’s post. It resonated with me deeply.
There are subtle variations that define the word settle. Settle down, settle up, settle in, get settled, settle on, settle for…all convey slightly different meanings. When we settle for something, as implied in the meme above, the meaning is to accept or agree to something that one considers to be less than satisfactory, less than desirable.
The counterpoint to settling is to be brave. Bravery requires courage and the willingness to face fears and overcome challenges to get what one truly wants. The root word for brave reveals that boldness and an untamed savageness are at the very heart of bravery.
I understand that. I’ve settled before, in my life, and I’ve bravely decided not to at other times. My truest self is always uncovered and called forth when I refuse to settle. As I am making some shifts in my journey, now, these words come as an excellent reminder of what is at stake.
This second quote that I saw confirmed that I was back on track this evening as I wrote. These words reinforce the need for courage and bravery, especially when hitting a reset button in life. I’ve started over several times as I have journeyed, most recently two years ago when my eating habits were completely overhauled. Starting over in any area of life requires the deepest of self love and the strongest of desires.
It also provides an opportunity…to not settle, to not give up or give in, to go where the heart is leading, no matter what others may say or what society may dictate.
As I watched a movie, my thoughts led me away from the earlier half written piece, and back to bravery, courage and never, ever settling again. Twice, in a short space of time, one of the characters in the film said “settle”. And that settled it! I knew which direction to go as I started over…and wrote.
Imagine a closet, with clothes hanging neatly in it. Periodically, more clothes are added…sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. As more and more shirts and pants and jackets and dresses are hung in the closet, joining the outfits already there, space becomes limited. Eventually, there is no room for even one more item. The closet is so tightly packed that it’s impossible to tell what’s in there or to easily remove anything to wear.
Today’s Sunday Short was inspired by a snippet of a meme I saw. There’s more to it than I’m sharing today, however the part that impacted me was this:
Make space for the next version of you…
Like the closet described above, our lives, our inner and outer lives, can get so packed with “stuff”, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically, that we reach a point where we just can’t add or do one more thing. When that happens, our growth becomes limited, stifled, halted. There’s no space for us to expand who we are.
Here is a short, and by no means complete, list of ways to make space, so the next versions of our beautiful selves can appear.
Declutter physical space
If it hasn’t been used, worn, read, looked at, or enjoyed in the last 6 – 12 months, get rid of it. The tried and true method of creating three piles…keep, toss, give away/sale…works. Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, suggests holding each item to see if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it and create a place for it. If it doesn’t, let it go. Clutter clogs up energy, and clogged energy affects us. When I start to avoid my creative studio, because I’ve allowed mail, or documents, or books to pile up, that’s my signal to clear the space, literally, so I can create in there again. Cleared space allows me to breathe and move freely.
Declutter emotional, mental and energetic space
This is just as important as clearing a room or the house. Our minds and souls get filled with regrets from the past, losses, wrongs done to us and by us, and people who walked with us for a time and no longer do. Our thoughts return to those memories and we fret over them, even though there’s nothing we can do to change them. This is inner work, but so necessary to free us up to grow. Let go of those things that are constraining you. Let go of all of it. Pray. Meditate. Cut energetic cords. Write. Draw. Allow the cleansing and healing of past wounds. Do whatever works for you to uncover and them move that old, old energy through the heart and out. Then turn around and stop looking into the past. There’s no growth possible when our attention is constantly focused behind us.
Experience new things
This is one of my favorite ways to create space. It’s easy to get stuck in the ruts of old beliefs, habits and patterns, limited ways of thinking, and feeling comfortable. Nothing has opened up my life like trying new things has. It doesn’t have to be daily, but at least once a week, do something you’ve never done before, or do something in a fresh way, visit new places, eat different foods, learn a skill or hobby you’ve always been interested. Life loves a body in motion, and as we open to new experiences, more opportunities will appear, to experience, and we grow to meet them and inhabit them.
The beautiful thing is, as we create space around us and within us, expansion is inevitable. Our lives shift. Change occurs. We grow. And suddenly we realize, we are not the same person we were a year ago, nor do we want to return to being who we once were. We don’t “fit” into that space anymore.
We have become the next version of ourselves, and it is marvelous. With great excitement we journey on, knowing the next version of ourselves is on its way.