The Final Bloom: Or Is It?

So I bought my Christmas amaryllis early November. You heard the story. It didn’t bloom by that holiday, but it had a message for me. Bloom whenever the hell you want. No timetables, baby.

I had written that there is usually activity beneath the surface, but the eye just isn’t picking up on it. Suddenly the thing blooms and we are taken by surprise. It eventually dies back and we are grateful for the beautiful flower it brought forth.

But then, when we expect nothing at all, it blooms again. Well, I didn’t think you had another bloom in you, little guy. And there you go, showing us all that blooms happen even when we think there’s nothing left. This is the third time I’ve been surprised by him.

How many life lessons did that little bulb teach me? 

  1. We need to be patient and trust the process. Time is not our enemy.
  2. Just because the eye doesn’t pick up on activity doesn’t mean that none is taking place.
  3. There is a time for every purpose under heavens but usually we don’t get to choose that time;  that time chooses us.
  4. Maybe the one bloom isn’t the end of the story. Maybe it’s a series of blooms that pop over time when they’re ready. Just because we bloomed once doesn’t mean we’re done.

What we need is the hope that everything resting inside of us will pop when the time is right. We were designed in love to hold so much beauty deep within. I thought that little flower was done, but then I noticed  a little green sprout at the base. I kept it in the light to see if it had anything left. Once again, the amaryllis bloomed.  

I feel a connection with this little flower. We talk and laugh and tell each other we are awesome. I got a lot of bloom left in me. Maybe we’ll both be a little beautiful, loud, and out of place. A perfect, if not at all predictable, time for every purpose under heaven.

Thankful Still

Thanksgiving is a radically defiant day. In the middle of a season defined by short days and long nights, we set aside a day to give thanks—for what we have and who we have.

This year, thankfulness might have to be more grounded in intention. In recent years the challenge was whether or not we would leave our seated positions on Thursday to shop for Black Friday. Who knew that one year, those seated positions might not even be possible.

All of us have likely seen pain, loss, and disappointment over these past months. But Thanksgiving is a symbolic day of declaration: grateful regardless of circumstances.

Whether we are locked down, locked in, or locked out, our hearts are never bound by the same rules. Regardless of any laws being imposed from the outside, our hearts are still free.

*We can sit still and breathe in the abundance of life around us. 
*We can affirm that no matter what we see, beauty is also in our midst.
*We can listen to our beating hearts and remember that love keeps them beating. 
*We can remind others that they are valuable, whether they are sitting with us or not.
*We can decide we want to do better at living a generous and grateful life.

So let’s be quietly defiant today and cultivate gratitude for the abundant grace and mercy available to us all. What we cultivate in the quiet can then be lived out in the noisy, the messy, and the hard. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a little grace and mercy today so let’s be generous in our thanks “giving.”

“Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.”— Rumi

Thanksgiving or Thanksgetting?

“Happy Thanksgetting.”

Those are the sentiments in the latest Verizon commercial. Initially, it made me mad. Until I realized that they were simply stating what all the other ads were implying. They are actually the sentiments in every single commercial aimed at the holiday consumer. Don’t focus on giving thanks people; focus on getting stuff.

During this season, I am continually challenging myself on my thoughts. Am I focused on giving, on gratitude? Or am I focused on getting, on lack? Oh to be grateful for the simple things we have. The sound of a loved one walking through the door, the sight of a pantry filled with food, the smell of a frosty fall morning. Gratitude sees our mundane and calls it beautiful. It covers our ordinary with wonder.
“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.” Elie Wiesel
Let our lives demonstrate gratitude this season. There is a big difference between Thanksgiving and Thanksgetting. Let’s be those who celebrate Thanksgiving with hearts that see the wonder in our beautifully ordinary lives. And cause others to celebrate theirs as well.

Thankfulness matters.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Radical Decision to Tidy Up

When I first read about the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I knew it was ultimately about my life, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared to do that at the time. So when that book made its way into my cart at Costco, I knew I was as ready as I was going to be. This book is about letting go of things we own. That process can be challenging.

I had a hard time at first with the book. She advocates the practice of thanking the things we own. I easily give thanks FOR things that I have. But never TO them. And, quite frankly, I chuckled a bit as I read about thanking these things, out loud. But I kept reading. I was definitely ready for this letting go.

tidying up
She tells you to put every article of clothing you own in one place–forcing you to look at all that’s there. Then she states the only guideline for keeping anything: Does it bring you joy? Okay. So, what if it doesn’t bring you joy–but you spent a ton of money on it? Costly things are hard to let go. I justified those purchases by allowing them space in my closet. I pulled a couple of expensive items out of the pile, things that had hung for a long time. I thanked them—yes, out loud– for serving their purpose that season (even if it was just in the act of buying them).

It is hard to let go of things that cost us. So we will often just keep them to avoid thinking that we overspent or made a bad decision. But what if really did cost that much to satisfy a need we had at the time? Lying to myself about possibly wearing it one day isn’t justifying the cost. Coming to terms with why I bought it in the first place does. Once I had the perspective that it wasn’t about the number of times I wore the thing, but instead about the purpose it served at the time, I was able to release it.

So finally, I came face to face with the life application. I had invested many years in some things that had recently come crashing down. I held on to all the emotions attached because, after all, it had cost me plenty. I let so many emotions “hang in the back of the closet” for a while. Letting go of them seemed wasteful. Until I came to terms with the lack of joy those emotions brought. Sorry, it is time to thank you and let you go.

Letting go helps us in so many ways:

1.     It unclutters our lives.
Cluttered lives are stressful. We have a hard time focusing and a hard time resting because there is always something vying for attention. In a yelling at us kind of way.
2.     It makes our lives bigger.
I used to think the more I had going on, the bigger my life. Wrong. During that season, I couldn’t say yes to anything new. I was cramped and had little space to breathe. My space now seems expansive and I honestly feel like I can see so much farther. And feel so much more joy.
3.     It allows more room for other things.
There are things we can invest in now, maybe with more wisdom and gratitude for what that all means. We are more comfortable with who we are, with who we are becoming, in our own skin. It’s not about comparison and performance measurements. It’s about being brave and authentic and honest with ourselves.

It’s true. I am now thanking inanimate objects. But I have also been able to thank those life experiences that produced a sense of sadness, loss, and regret. “You served a purpose in my life, and I am grateful for the way you shaped me, the way you changed me. I am grateful TO and I am grateful FOR everything that has helped me grow.

After letting go, there is letting grow. That’s the point of going through all this. That’s the magic in tidying up. It’s time to move forward; there is so much room to grow.

“Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You…Be Free…”
Steve Maraboli, Life, Truth, and Being Free