We create every day of our lives through our thoughts, feelings and actions. What are you creating today or this week? Whatever it is I hope you love it and share it for others to enjoy.
I love new beginnings, starting new projects, or creating something new. When I first started my blog, Create A Beautiful Life, I thought I would be posting about art and craft projects. But soon I realized that posting about living with a creative mindset was much more my style. It felt like I was exploring what life is about.
When I think about my goals I realize that every day is a new opportunity to create my life, to be the best I can be in that moment for whatever situation I am in. That doesn’t mean life will be perfect, or that I'll always do the right thing. It simply means I have the power to make positive choices that will enhance my life or the lives of others. Every day is an opportunity to creatively use my thoughts and energy in a valuable way. And mistakes are okay, they're part of the process.
I am joyful because I can breathe, walk, talk, and relate to others and the world around me. My family, friends, and work fill my life with happiness even in this world full of tragedy and suffering. I feel the pain that is in the world and my only solution is to keep doing what I can: loving, caring and creating something that feels valuable to me or gives me joy in some way.
The themes in this eBook are based on a series of blog posts I created from January to June of 2012. They focus on internal attitudes that allow creativity to flow. Thinking and learning in a creative way has carried me through many challenges, and helped me find joy no matter what happens. I hope these ideas can do the same for you.
The day before I started this blog series I woke up with a migraine headache. Back then I would get these sometimes, maybe a few times a year. I had an early appointment, so I took some medicine and left the house at 8:00 am. By the time I got back at 9:30 the headache was worse, so I asked my older son to take his younger brother to school.
I had another appointment at 10:30, so after resting for 40 minutes I struggled to get there. Somehow I had not been given good directions and I couldn’t find the place. My headache was getting worse and I had forgotten my cell phone, so I went home. I called from home to explain why I had missed the appointment and rescheduled it. By this point I was on the edge of collapse, had not eaten anything and could not because I was close to vomiting. I crawled into bed.
Suddenly I remembered, “today was the day I was going to write a post titled – Create the Day With Joy”. How fitting to be laying in bed with a migraine. Thinking hurts, the room is spinning, “God, please let me sleep”. I slept until 2:00 pm. Suddenly I awoke and realized I had to go pick up my son. I got up, but the headache was still there, slightly improved.
I had another appointment at 3:00 pm, however as I drove top pick up my son I realized that I should not be driving. The headache was getting worse again and I was a danger on the road. My youngest son didn’t drive yet, so I took back roads, deep breaths, and went carefully, sometimes closing one eye and then the other. When we got home I lay down on the couch and called to cancel the other appointment.
Still, in the back of my mind I was thinking about,“Create the Day With Joy”. Yes, sometimes it is very hard to do that. Sometimes you just have to find a way to get through a day. So I thought about the most joyful day in my life, but it hurt to think. I needed to sleep more. I needed to eat something because I hadn’t eaten all day, and take more medicine. I pushed myself to get up, find crackers, take medicine, and crawl back into bed. Joy will have to wait.
I covered my head with a pillow and gave myself up to the soft blankets and mattress that was surrounding me. As I drifted off a picture flashed across my mind: My most beautiful "Create the Day With Joy" experience.
Although it was many years ago now it is still to this day one of my most joyful moments, along with the births of my two older children. With each child, the older ones shared in the joy of welcoming their new sibling. Although childbirth is painful, I don't regret a minute of it. It comforts me to remember that pain is temporary, but love is forever.
How will you create your day, your week, your year? The power is in our own hands to create a life we love. This week I’d like to create with joy.
On this morning I woke up feeling grateful for the soft bed and fluffy downy comforter, a little too grateful maybe. I wanted to stay in bed. The mornings used to be the most difficult time for me because I was never quite ready to greet the new day.
My husband was a morning person and would get up at 5:00 AM. He was usually quiet at first, reading and meditating for awhile, and then would begin his morning routine. By 7:00 AM the music drifted up from his basement office, and by 7:45 he’s banging around in the kitchen just outside the bedroom door. I wished I were a morning person, it was such a lovely routine he had.
I used to be a night person. I would get creatively inspired at night and have trouble falling asleep. I often stayed up until 2:00 AM. Even if I tried to go to bed earlier, it was useless before midnight. If I took pills or herbs to make myself fall asleep before midnight, I still didn’t wake up refreshed in the morning.
I had to get out of bed and start the day, so I tried to think of something I was grateful for. (I’m grateful for coffee!) My expresso machine is my faithful friend.
I got up early for many years because of my children, helping them get ready for school. I am so grateful for my children, they are the light of my life, but at the time I wrote this post they didn’t need me like they used to. Now I had to figure out how to start my own days instead of relying on someone elses schedule.
I used to have a job that made me get up at 4 or 5 AM. I loved that job, but I’m grateful that I’m not still doing it at this time in my life. You see, I’ve spent many years doing what needed to be done, taking care of whatever needed to be taken care of, and that’s what got me up in the morning. I’m grateful for that, but it’s time to move on.
Now I want to create my days with intention. It’s not easy though, having been an urgent responder for so many years, to take back control and focus in a new direction. In some ways, when your children grow up and move on there’s a lot to clean up from the past. There has to be a way to organize, store, and save the treasures as well as throw out or give away what's no longer needed. Teenagers and young adults are not always receptive to these changes, but it has to be done as we all move on with life.
I’m a person of movement and I’m grateful that I can still move. For me, life is about change and growth and discovering all the beauty and goodness there is to be grateful for. I’m grateful for the past, but I’m also grateful that I still have time to do new things, to meet new people and to create in new ways. Maybe I should have written this on my ceiling so I could read it every morning to motivate myself out of bed.
What I did instead was create a morning routine I enjoyed. I kept a notebook and pen beside my bed. As soon as I woke up I would write down three things I was grateful for. Then I would do a few yoga postures that can be done in bed. And finally I'd make a simple breakfast and coffee, then sit by the window in the dining room to enjoy the quiet while I sipped and ate.
This routine has stuck with me no matter how my life has changed, and it has changed a lot! When I moved to the other side of the world, to Australia where my husband was from, I became a morning person. The sun streams in my bedroom window and I'm usually happy to greet the new day. (There's always an off day.) I'm still grateful for coffee, as well as the past, the present, and the possibilities this adventure called life might bring.
In New Hampshire where we lived for 23 years, we had two neighbors that would go out of their way to be kind. The old fashioned type of kind that we sometimes miss in this busy, hectic world.
One neighbor would give me vegetables from her garden in the summer. If she had extra food she would share it, and she could always make time to chat. She often invited me to come warm my toes by her wood stove in winter, just because it’s a cozy way to relax. She wasn't just kind to me, she was kind to all the other neighbors too.
This lady did not have an easy life. She grew up in an orphanage. She and her husband worked hard well past retirement age. Their oldest daughter had a chronic illness from childhood, and one of their grandaughters has a disability. They are not rich materially, but they are rich in heart and kindness.
Another neighbor across the street from where I lived back then suffered from debilitating arthritis, but whenever she cooked a lot she would send her son over with a plate full of food to share. She is a refugee from Africa and her husband left her with five kids after they arrived in the US. No matter, she was always kind and welcoming to me, and wanted to share what she could.
These lovely ladies made me cry with their kindness. My world was so much better because of them. I loved them and wanted to return the kindness with friendship.
My daughter is also very kind. She always makes gifts for people for birthdays and Christmas and whatever excuse she has to make something. She loves to throw surprise parties for her friends, and she’s always available to help a friend.
Kindness is catching, and it grows too. The more you do it, the more you want to do it, and the more other people will want to do it too. There are so many simple and small ways to be kind, so it’s really not hard to start. Just do one or two random acts of kindness every day, or each week, and see what happens. It may change your world, or someone else’s.
My mom was one of the most compassionate people I know, not in a gushy or weepy way, but in a very practical way. After graduating high school she went to nursing school and became an RN. She took care of people her whole life.
By the time I was three years old she decided she should stop working and take care of her family, which she did very well. However, she never stopped doing things for others. She was a girl scout leader and belonged to the Jaycee's, she volunteered for Meals on Wheels, and was always doing things for neighbors as well as strangers. Sometimes I wondered how my parents knew so many people, and how they met these people who needed help.
While she was a full time mom she also did the bookeeping for my dad's business. By the time I was fourteen she decided to go back to work as a nurse. She renewed her licence and went to work at the emergency room. Later she became a private duty nurse for several years, and after that she became a Hospice nurse. In order to do that she had to take special classes about death and caring for those who are dying and their families. I was amazed that she could do that type of work, and she did it for almost 20 years.
After retiring, she took a seasonal job as a camp nurse. I think she did that for about 10 years. Mom was a hard worker and always busy. When she wasn’t working her hobbies were gardening and making cards for people. She was a crafty person, doing paper crafts and stamping, even making paper, but her cards were the best. When I was younger she also did a lot of sewing and knitting, making my clothes and making afghans for everyone.
How did my mom and dad have the time and energy I often asked myself? Everyone loved my mom because she was always serving others or helping in some way. My dad was a Mason, and mom belonged to the Eastern Star and they were very active with these groups from their late 40’s well into their 70’s. When I think of the life my mom & dad created together I think of beauty, goodness, love and compassion.
Now my mom and dad have passed away and I miss their loving influence. Even during their final years they reached out with love. Mom suffered with osteoporosis and alzheimers toward the end, yet, she called one morning to ask me to tell my boys that she didn’t forget their birthdays, and that she was a little slow but she was working on cards for them. My dad suffered with COPD for a long time. The last Christmas we spent together he was on oxygen and doctor's orders to stay home. But on Christmas Eve he snuck out of the house to go shopping for gifts. He just couldn't stand that he had not been able to buy gifts for everyone. Later on Christmas Day we had to take him to the emergency room because he had pushed himself too hard.
In 2009 my brother hired a yard service for my mom’s garden out of fear that she would try to do too much herself. She had been getting some help for a few years but she would always go out and work in the garden too, even though It had become dangerous for her.
The yard service did a great job and she was so happy with the result that she asked me to come and take pictures, so I did. The following year I made a collage for her birthday, hoping it would keep her happy through the winter and give her hope for the coming spring.
You never know how your garden will bloom, especially in New Hampshire, so I was glad I could preserve the memory for her. It was the least I could do for my mom, one of the most compassionate people I've ever known.
What are you passionate about?
The day I wrote this post I had my head stuck in bills, applications and filing, trying to inherit and reorganize the family bookkeeping system. This is not something I have ever been passionate about, but it needed to be done.
My husband was passionate about art & music. My oldest son is passionate about animals, my daughter is passionate about theater and dance, and my younger son is passionate about cooking and video production. I think it’s fortunate to have a single minded passion that you can direct all your energies toward and become the master of. I think perhaps I have too many passions, and therefor I spread myself too thin.
My greatest passion is my family though, and then nature, and my spirituality. I also have a passion for photography and creativity. Travel and adventure are high on the list too, as well as cats. Then there are all kinds of other things I enjoy or really like a lot, but I think of passions as the things I would be very sad to live without.
For me, a passion is something I want to actively invest in and I will never get tired of it. I long to interact with my passions and will miss them if I can’t. I think passion is the very thing that motivates us most to create the lifestyle we want to live. Our passions drive us to achieve.
So then, it’s very important what people become passionate about. Passion directed in an uncontrolled, narrow minded, inconsiderate and self-absorbed way can be very destructive. Human history is proof of this. However, a passionate person working toward world peace and solutions for social ills can create miracles.
Passion is like the engine that powers the vehicle of life, but the mind and spirit is the driver. The driver needs to be skilled, capable of making good decisions and staying in control, and know how to take good care of the engine so it will run well for a long time. Passion combined with the good intention of a pure heart should be nurtured so it can grow and thrive.
What are your passions, and how do you interact with them?
I find that organization is something ongoing and it is definitely a big part of being creative. Lack of organization can slow creativity down and it can even bring it to a grinding halt. But obsessing over organization can also be limiting.
There are two kinds of organization that I usually have to deal with, and if either area is a mess it becomes a roadblock to progress. The first is organization of my thoughts and mental projects. The second is organization of the physical things in my life. These two broad categories cover just about everything.
I'm not a natural at organizing so I guess that's why I have to do it a lot. For physical things I usually organize based on asthetics - an arrangement that looks beautiful or pleasing to me. Of course, there are a lot of practicle things that automatically go in certian cupboards and closets.
But what to do with all the little things that one collects over the years? The things that have no real purpose but somehow feel special. And then there are the projects that never got finished, and things that are only used occasionally. This is a big problem in the office, the art room, and the attic.
While moving into a new stage of life where young children are not the center of everything I do, a lot of reorganization is needed. It begins with mental reorganization; creating new thought patterns and priorities. However, there’s an awful lot of physical stuff that just seems to collect when you’re raising a family. It can be overwhelming.
However, with my desire to creatively take charge of my life and move forward with new possibilities, I decided to start in the living room. The Feng Shui had become stagnant and the dust bunnies of winter were making nests so I determined to make a change.
It took two weeks of thinking about it before I could make any changes. Then it took two days of moving shelves, the desk and a computer, and getting rid of unnecessary stuff and then cleaning. It’s not that the room was a mess, it wasn’t really, but the computer next to the TV was really bothering me, and there were too many books that we didn’t need. I also needed to find a way to store my photo albums.
The living room was just a start that led to some dining room changes, and then to some kitchen changes. It’s step by step, but with each step I flt free to be even more creative. Physical organization effects mental organization, and mental organization will help physical organization. You might say they are like two sides of a coin.
During those few weeks of getting organized I also came in contact with Candy from Finding Order From Chaos and Order Your Steps. Before visiting her blog and website I had only thought about organization as something we just need to do every now & then to make life look, feel and work better. Her work made me realize that organization is creative activity, and some people have a greater talent in that area than me.
So, if I lived in the DC area I would be calling Candy and saying, “Come on over, I need some expert help.”
When I was a child sometimes people would say, “you think too much”. Such a funny thing to tell a child, especially a child like me. I was very imaginative, but I was also very busy, always busy creating something or going somewhere to do something.
I always had an awareness that there was power in thoughts, because happy thoughts can make you feel good and sad or negative thoughts can make you feel down or tired. It was difficult for me to turn off my thoughts, causing me to have a long struggle with insomnia. For that reason I turned to prayer and visualization late at night when I couldn’t sleep. However, it would not be until many years later that I would learn about focusing my thoughts into action, and about calming my mind, actually I’m still learning about that but I've gotten a lot better at it.
After leaving home in my early 20's, I had other interesting experiences with the power of thoughts. Often when the phone rang I would know who it was ahead of time, especially if it was my mom or someone I was close to. One time I even decided to “will” my mother to call me by focusing my thoughts toward her. I needed to talk to her but I didn’t know the number for where she was staying. Within several hours she called me.
During another period of my life I was sharing a house with three Japanese girls who knew very little English and had just come to live in the USA. It was my job to help them acclimate and learn English, but my knowledge of Japanese was zero.
Sometimes however, they would be speaking to each other in Japanese and I would respond to their conversation in English, with correct information or answers. They were always surprised and would ask, “How did you know what we said?”
Prayers are like thoughts too. I have often experienced having my prayers answered. I have been led to books I needed to read, people I needed to talk to, or places I needed to be at a particular moment because I had prayed for a specific type of help. I prayed for a friend who had been trying to conceive a child for six years, and a couple months later she was pregnant. I prayed for another friend who was having vision trouble due to diabetes and their problem cleared up within a hours. I’ve had too many of these experiences to write about all of them.
Some people would consider these experiences to be just coincidence, and once someone even told me, “you’re not that powerful”. Okay, I’m not that powerful, but the universe is. I think I don’t focus on using my thoughts in these ways all the time. Usually when these things happen it’s because my heart is moved to help someone or I care earnestly about something. When the heart and mind work together, thoughts can be very powerful.
On the other hand I have experienced that my thoughts can be pulled in so many different directions that I become powerless to do anything. I also have experienced being so focused on one thing that I miss or forget something else that’s important. So my goal for the week that I wrote this post was to practice focusing my thoughts more carefully on positive and productive things. The thing about thoughts is, it's a lifelong practice. I've found mindfulness and meditation to be very helpful.
Just as thoughts will influence our emotions and actions, emotional experiences and activities will also influence our thoughts. The mind, heart and body are like partners performing a dance together, but it takes a lot of practice to make the dance flow in a beautiful way.
On this day I was consumed with writing, phone calls, writing, cleaning, writing, cooking, writing, organizing, writing, reading, writing….”I NEED A BREAK!”
Then there was a surprise! A Birthday card came in the mail with a little money in it. “Oooohh…what shall I do with it?” Buy pizza out for dinner, that was a break from cooking for me.
Writing, phone calls, writing, eating, writing, children whispering, writing, children acting sneaky, writing…”What are they up to?” I thought.
Surprise! – They were planning my birthday, what a treat!
Writing, researching, writing, checking schedules, writing, phone calls and forms to fill out, writing… “Oh, my head hurts.”
Surprise! – The kid’s went out and got a movie that we could all watch together.
Most of the time surprises are lovely, and a needed change from the daily grind. Unfortunately I had another surprise that night when my brother called to tell me my mom had a fall and was taken to the hospital. Fortunately it was not too serious and she wasn't too far away, so I could go check on her the next day. It was a surprise for her to see my two older kids, whom she had not seen for a while due to work and college.
The biggest surprise was after we drove home from visiting my mom the next day. My daughter cooked a lovely birthday dinner and cake for me. Then my kids gave me the best present ever – A Wii with Wii Fit! I don’t play video games, but I did want to get back in shape and this looked like a fun way to do it!
Surprise is such a lovely and necessary part of life, to change the pace, keep things fresh, and sometimes even to awaken us to an uncomfortable reality. Either way, I’m grateful for surprises as they are part of creating the day.
I was going to title this Create the Day With Endurance, but I decided that persistence was a better word because it involves the qualities of being determined and enduring.
I believe one of humanity’s greatest qualities is the ability to persist in the face of incredible odds toward a goal, or an ideal. How fortunate we are to have been created with this characteristic, because without this we would not survive.
I have faced many difficulties in my life and learned that life is not always easy. Oh how I would like it to be easy! I would like nothing better that to lounge on the beach and swim and play day after day. I wonder if I would ever get bored? But something tells me that if I were able to continuously explore the beauty of nature then I wouldn’t get bored. Ha, there is the catch though! To continuously do anything takes persistence.
Difficulty is a natural part of life that we don't need to fear. When something is difficult it's not necessarily a bad thing! If we did not have events and experiences that challenge us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually we would surely get bored and certainly become lazy. Challenges can be enjoyable, like a game. Challenges help us discover new ways of being and thinking. And overcoming or winning a challenge takes persistence.
While difficulties and challenges are good for us, this does not excuse human beings for making life too difficult or harmful to others. Life has enough built in challenges, like learning a new skill or developing new habits. Our minds are capable of creating positive and productive challenges that we can work on every day, to improve or advance ourselves and the world around us. When our ambitions and desires cause others to suffer needlessly, we have to reevaluate what we're doing. I believe the world is facing such a time when we have to reevaluate our goals in life, and choose to persist in the positive challenges of creating a better life for all people.
We each have a part we can play in our families, our communities, our countries and the world, that will promote the well being of everyone. Life is not simple, it is not easy to truly love yourself and others, but this is a challenge we will benifit from persisting in.
Yes, the world has always been full of problems and human suffering. People have persisted in the struggle to survive and thrive for a long, long time. People have even persisted through unthinkable tragity and loss. To honor those whose lives have needlessly been crushed by others, I persist in spreading light and love wherever I can, whenever I can. I gain strength to persist in this challenge called life because of those who have suffered more than I, and because of the people who are closest to my heart.
Maybe I can't do a lot to change the world, but I can persist in love, in faith, in hope, and in helping others. I can persist in believing in the goodness of life.
Spring is hopeful, the weather is warming and everything is blooming. Most people feel a renewed sense of wonder or happiness, especially the people living in a place that has cold, gray winters. Finally we can start getting our daily dose of Vitamin D naturally and be done with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
However, all the vitamin D in the world will not relieve grief, broken-heartedness, regret or major depression. A walk in the sunshine and smelling the flowers may help uplift the mood for awhile, but sometimes people need a lot of help to find hope. Sometimes we face such trials in life that it seems impossible to go on, or like the world is caving in on us.
When I experience a great difficulty, loss or disappointment and I wonder how I’m going survive, pictures start to flash through my mind. These pictures are the things that moved my heart most while I was growing up and made me wonder how I could help end human suffering. Images of mothers desperately handing their babies to soldiers who were boarding helicopters in an effort to save their babies from the war. A toddler crying next to the dead bodies of his parents in the midst of war. Children and mothers starving to death due to oppression or lack of access to resources. People suffering and dying of illnesses that no longer exist in our country. These images never leave me, they fade into the background only to resurface during times of trouble, to remind me of how fortunate I am.
Even still, pain and problems don't go away simply by thinking of the less fortunate. To move forward one has to take a step. Action creates possibilities and possibilities create hope.
When I'm deeply struggling I look inside my heart for that little flicker of a flame. It may be just a small thought or feeling like, "make yourself a cup of tea and relax a little." Hope is the invisible power that motivates us beyond survival.
We desire so many things from life, not just physical things, but we have a great ambition to fulfill our potential, to find love and to be happy. Why then, are so many people let down? Why do we find it so difficult to fulfill our dreams? Why does living and just getting by become such a struggle? Could it be that people have learned to expect too much?
After taking a small step, the next step will appear and that will lead to another. Replacing frantic and desperate feelings with calmness helps. So does staying creative and doing positive things that you enjoy. However, while making so much effort we can often get caught up in our expectations for the results, setting ourselves up for another let down. The down side of hope is our expectations. To make consistent effort to live while overcoming adversity and pain is hard enough, but what's harder is letting go of expectations without losing hope.
Real hope comes from knowing that our efforts have value regardless of the result, that life is not all that we see, but it is the state of mind and heart that we create. Hope is rooted in the invisible world of heart, the eternal world of unconditional love.
We make plans and try our best to follow through, doing things well in the process. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, so there is plan B, or C or D and so on. It’s necessary to be flexible and adaptable enough to deal with the unplanned obstacles that seem to divert our path.
When my daughter was applying to colleges and auditioning, she had high hopes of getting into certain schools. Some auditions went well and some didn’t. She was accepted into two universities, one that she really hoped to go to and the other was her back up school. The back up school gave her the best financial package. It was disappointing at first, but after visiting the school she began to see a new potential.
After attending her “back up” school she realized it was the best college for her because it offered her the greatest potential to study her major in a diverse way and to also have several minors. The campus life for her was better than anywhere else she could have gone. Although at first it seemed like all her plans had failed, in reality this college was helping her make her dreams come true in a way that the other colleges might not have.
How strange are the ways these things work out. Perhaps it's plan “G” (God's plan) that is secretly working behind the scene. Have you ever tried really hard to make something work, following all the rules, doing everything the “right” way as you were instructed or advised, and it just didn’t work? The system failed, you failed, information was hidden or bad advise was given to you? No matter what you did, in the end you felt like a loser. It happens to everyone sooner or later. Maybe it's just one of life's lessons showing up.
It could be time to look at plan B, or time to make a plan C & D. We have to plan and prepare, we can’t just sit and do nothing. More than anything else though, I think it’s time to be open to plan “G”. In my heart of hearts I want to live in harmony with the God of love who knows my desires and needs, who knows the desires and needs of every being in the cosmos. The “Plan” is much bigger than what I can see, understand or control, but I can do my best to deal with circumstances ethically, honestly, diligently and with compassion.
At the time of this writing we were under threat of losing our house. We had put so much effort into turning the situation around for four months, but it seemd like the mortgage company was working against us even though we had beeen meticulous about following their requests and guidelines. There were some possible options for saving the house, but it was more complex and more expensive and we had to wonder if it was worth it. Seeing the excessively complex system the mortgage company had set up, and experiencing the mismanagement and withholding of information that had already occurred, it was hard to trust them. I had to consider that there might be a plan “G”, even though the thought of losing my house pained me to no end.
I told myself and God, "Regardless of pains or losses, I am determined to continue to be a creative force for good. If I lose my house I hope it goes to someone good who needs it and can love it more than I. Perhaps I can use the wisdom I’ve gained through this process to help someone else avoid foreclosure.
If by some miracle we manage to keep this house, I hope we can take care of it well, and use it as a place where love can continue to grow. That’s my wish going forward."
So I said to my husband, we have to have a family meeting, we have to decide our steps for moving forward all together. We are co-creators with God and with each other, so our hearts and our steps need to be united in purpose. Our plans and alternate plans have to consider everyone, and we need to help our children stay open to plan “G”, the unseen part that is bigger than all of us.
Months later we were able to file chapter 13 bankruptcy and keep our house. But this was not the end of our troubles. We had a long five year payback plan while both my husband and I struggled with health issues. Eventually I was able to rent the empty bedrooms out to students, who became like extended family members. Ten years later after my husband passed away I did sell the house, to a wonderful young family who loved it as much as we did.
A simple random thought or memory draws the corners of my mouth up a bit, and someone nearby might ask, “What are you smiling at?” The twittering of a bird on a tree branch outside my door draws my attention; I gaze silently smiling as I watch his uncontrollable song. My cat used to jump from the table to my shoulders as I passed through the dining room and wrap herself around my neck, rubbing her face against my cheek with a purr – it always made me smile.
On the other hand there were bills and demands that I found it hard to smile about. There were problems and pressures that made me cry. How not to let those things create my day is what I went to bed praying about, and woke up thinking about. Every morning my husband would say “good morning” with a smile and I wondered how he did it; but then I remembered he was raised with such manners.
Many things make me smile: a plant, a flower or a tree, an animal, a beautiful painting or a photograph. A friend or a family members face, the sunshine and the blue sky, the ocean, the clouds and a soft breeze, lovely memories, and the writings of other bloggers. These are the things that fill my life with joy. I seek them, I find them, and I smile. A smile begins in the heart and spreads to the face sending pleasant feelings of peace through my body. A smile is a powerful thing.
So I think I will try to smile more each day, not in a shallow way, but by finding the smile in my heart. If the world were to end tomorrow I would like to go smiling, by thinking about how beautiful it was. If I wake up to a new morning I would like to wake up like a child that feels loved, wondering what new excitement the day holds. What better way to live than to create each day with a smile?
How does one create the day by letting go? A strange concept that came to my mind late that night after I realized that I had failed to create this post on Tuesday as scheduled. My thought was not just, “Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow”, but it was more of a reflection of experiences I had been having all day long, of letting go.
One such experience happened while practicing yoga. At the time I had not practiced yoga for a long while and I was out of shape. To my surprise I found Yoga for stress relief and Chronic pain on Netflix, so I decided to give it a try again. It was really great, just what I had been looking for to begin my healing process. I had been dealing with sporadic pain for a long time, but it had become chronic. Living with persistent pain was wearing me down.
As I inhaled and exhaled moving through the postures, releasing tension in various parts of my body, I let go of pain that was trapped in certain places. I realized that I had a lot of work to do in the area of “letting go”, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Some of the postures caused me to tremble involuntarily, evoking a feeling of fear or instability, and causing me to realize how weak I had become. I needed to work on becoming stronger, so I could let go of the fear and become more balanced and stable.
I’ve always known that the mind, body and spirit are, intimately and intricately related. But I had not fully realized what was going on with my own body and why. Medical doctors who evaluate the physical and prescribe drugs were only making me worse. But releasing tension through yoga was opening my mind to new ways to understand and manage stress and pain.
I’m the type of person that just keeps pushing forward with my tasks and goals and expecting my body to comply with my wishes. I’ve paid close attention to keeping a healthy diet, and being busy with life was my exercise. Two years before starting my blog I had to let go of some of that busyness because of pain, and I started looking at my life a little differently..
I had tried a lot of different types of exercise over the years but nothing seemed to help me. It was hard to keep a routine that I was not enjoying or felt any benefit from. Repeated failure made it difficult to keep trying. These concepts and patterns were creating a rut of excuses in my mind. I had to let go of the concepts and excuses to create a new pattern. Wii Fit was helping me let go of those thoughts to a certian degree, but I knew that I needed something more specific to my physical circumstances.
Eventually I realized that I had to let go of some of my busyness, because I had been feeling run down and uptight for months. Letting go of the things I thought I had to do gave me the space to do some yoga. Practicing yoga showed me new ways and reasons to let go. Letting go has given me hope, and helped me see new possibilities for creating the kind of life I want to live as I get older.
Letting go is a beautiful thing. Letting go of the old is the only way to make a place for something new, fresh and inspiring. The good news is that we don’t have to let go of everything all at once, that might be too harsh or even destructive, but we can open ourselves to learning how to let go and what to let go of. In doing so we can live more gratefully and creatively every day.
Sometimes we can take parents for granted. We think they're supposed to love us so we may not recognise how much effort they're making. One thing that I realized after I became a parent is that raising children is not always easy no matter how much you love them. On Mother's Day or Father's Day we may shower our parents with cards, flowers, candy or other gifts in an effort to show our appreciation for their years of love, sacrifice, devotion and caring. Some people might look forward to celebrating this day, and others may not. But how much do we honor our parents daily, or even weekly?
Being a parent is hard sometimes, but being a child can also be really hard. I was fortunate to have caring parents, and grandparents, but many children are not as fortunate. Some parents start out with love and care in their hearts or minds, but get lost or confused along the way. They may be drowning in their own problems and forgetting how much their children need them. For these children a deep ache, loneliness and longing develops, and sometimes a lifetime of resentment toward their parents.
Growing up is hard enough, so the process needs to be cushioned by loving and caring parents. I have experienced the difference it makes because my husband was abandoned at six years old. Torn away from family, friends and relatives that were his world until then. It is not an easy thing to recover from. Although he ended up with grandparents in a different city, they didn’t really know how to repair the damage that had been done. Sometimes children are expected to be too resilient. Surviving does not always mean we're thriving.
For some time I worked in human services, dealing every day with the struggles parents have with life, and with parenting, and seeing the impact this has on children. It was often heartbreaking. Because of these personal experiences I have developed so much gratitude for my parents. They were not perfect as no one is, but they allowed themselves to grow emotionally and spiritually through the years, becoming wonderful grandparents and creating a strong foundation of love and security for the whole family.
When you become a parent yourself you begin to understand the heart of your own parents. You may choose to parent differently or not, but you will see that your choices are often not easy. Yet for me, being a parent is the most valuable thing I've ever done.
There are a lot of things that we can share with others as we go through life that might be of value to someone. My philosophy is that it’s good for the soul to share what you care about, what is valuable to you. One way or another I believe we are all here to benefit each other, to value each other, and to love and be loved.
Sharing is not always easy because sometimes we just want to keep things to ourselves, and sometimes we are afraid of rejection. Sometimes we think that no one cares about “what I think”, or no one wants “what I have to give”. That’s a case of not valuing ourselves enough, not realizing that we are here for the sake of each other. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if every person realized deeply that we are here to care for each other, and share our goodness with each other, because that is the only way we can truly experience love.
When we share what we value, not only do we meet like minded people who enrich our lives, but we will also meet many people who are different from us but also have valuable things to share. You can share just about everything: food, clothes, money, your home, your work, your thoughts & insights, your experiences. Isn’t that what life is about really; building relationships through sharing with one another?
I like to share, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love it when people share the things they value with me too. My oldest son likes to joke, it’s one of the things he values, and he makes me laugh. My two other children and my husband share by telling me what's happening in their lives, it’s interesting and often entertaining. The things they share helps me understand people more. My parents shared so much of themselves, their home, their money, their activities and it allowed our lives to be full and rich with flavor.
My home is always open to friends as if they were family, and I’m always open to making new friends. That is the way I was raised. One of the other ways I share is through writing, and photography, thus blogging. Not everyone will find value in what I share, but some will, and that is all that’s important. Give what you value, from the heart, and someone will receive it with their heart.
Quite frankly you know, sometimes I just get bored, dreadfully bored doing mundane day to day tasks that never change. I get bored living in the same place, driving down the same streets and shopping at the same stores. I get bored at work and even surfing the internet. Is boredom an inevitable part of aging?
When my kids were little I would not put up with cries of boredom. I would tell them, “If you’re bored it’s just because you’re not using your imagination.” I would also say, “You’ve got a brain so use it, make stuff up and play.” In a happy childhood, part of every day is created through imaginative play. It’s our imagination about what we might be when we grow up, where we might go and adventures we might have that motivate us to learn and be open to new experiences. We explore all kinds of possibilities, and impossibilities, through imagination.
Somehow along the way to becoming an adult someone says, “get real, stop daydreaming.” Little by little we learn to fit in to the mundane processes of life, doing our part whatever that might be. At first it might be interesting and stimulating as long as we’re learning new things or meeting new people, but eventually if we have stopped imagining the possibilities, life will get boring.
So I decided it was time to take my own advise to use my imagination, make stuff up and explore what could be. Every man made thing that exists came from someone’s imagination, combined with willpower and skill to bring the idea into reality. Every novel I’ve read and movie I’ve seen came from someone’s imagination. Without dreams and ideas, probing into possibilities, we simply become stagnant. I like to keep moving, stay open, be creative, and imagine what else is possible.
Through the years I've conquered boredom by continuing to asking myself, “how can I make this day different, new and exciting; where will my imagination take me today, or what can I create with my infinite mind?”
Everyone needs a little help now and then. If someone were to say, “I don’t need any help, ever, from anyone”, well they would just be lying – to themself as well as to whomever they were saying this too. It’s just a fact of life that human existance is dependent on helping one another.
Don't believe me? Think about it. Were you able to give birth to yourself and fully care for yourself as soon as you were born? Of course not, and I'm sure your mom appreciated the help she got while giving birth to you.
Oh, I know, there are some women who have given birth without assistance, but I’m sure they would have gladly received help if it was available. Although there is a lot of instinct, and natural bodily processes, that move the birthing process along, the mother has to help the baby enter the world through pushing a little. Then the mother helps the baby find her breast, and she keeps helping that baby through all the processes of growth and development until it becomes an adult. That’s at least 18 years worth of all different kinds of help.
Helping one another is a form of love. We are created in love and are meant to exist in loving relationships – at least that’s the ideal even though it may not always be the reality. Human beings survive and thrive better in inter-dependent relationships. Not co-dependent, that’s something else altogether. We are also not meant to be as independent as we think we want to be. As a matter of fact, if we could achieve absolute independence we would be miserable. Living is about loving and loving takes two.
There are as many ways to help someone as there are to care about another persons well being. We have no shortage of ability to help because even a kind word or a smile might help to make someone’s day brighter. We can help in big ways or small ways, it’s not really something that needs to be measured because it is simply the way life works; to give according to your ability and to receive according to your need. No I’m not a raging Communist, but I’ll prove this point.
The entire Universe exists on the basis of inter-dependent relationships, giving and receiving in cycles that support all life. A simple example can be seen in the trees that give us oxygen and we breathe back carbon dioxide. Trees help us in a multitude of other useful ways as well, so wise people fight to preserve the existence and reproduction of trees (and other plants as well). That is not only helpful to the trees but helpful to the preservation of the planet and all life.
There are endless examples I could give of how all living things are dependent upon one another to thrive and prosper, but I think you get the point. All life is inter-dependent.
I often wonder why it is that humans are so insistent upon being independent, and often not helping each other. We find it easy to help when it's convenient, or to our advantage, but we don’t often stretch ourselves to help as much as we are capable of. I think this is because we've learned to believe in our limitations. We wrap ourselves up in doing what we think we need to do to take care of ourselves and those closest to us. By doing this we limit our capacity to love, which is also limiting our capacity to experience the full value of life.
Striving for independence is a natural part of growing up so we can become fully functional and capable according to our individual potential. Once we become a fully functional adult, hopefully we realize that we received a lot of help along the way. Then it becomes natural to look for ways that we can give back. We also realize that although we may be very capable and independent, we are not really complete or happy alone, we want someone to love and be loved by.
If we could just take this simple process a step further and project it onto a global scale, I think we might find solutions to the world's problems. I think there are enough fully functional and capable adults in the world to help those in need. But humans have developed patterns of focusing on our own perceived needs and limitations. We might not even realize how different life could be. We have confused wants with needs and created a system of taking as much as we can get and still wanting more. I've seen this in myself, how about you? We see it in the world but it begins in our thoughts and emotions.
It's also important to know when you can't or shouldn't help. I've made those mistakes - giving when it wasn't appropriate, or when I wasn't capable of what was needed. But this post is about finding our natural way to give what we're capable of. To not be trapped in the illusions of the way the greed-based world works.
Sometimes we need to receive or ask for help, it's natural and there is no shame in it. Funny how this focus on independence makes us ashamed to ask for help. There will always be times and places for giving and receiving because inter-dependence is the natural way of life. Unfortunately, the world is out of balance because of greed, lust, and resentment. The world needs a lot of help.
You never know what a difference you can make with random acts of kindness. A small donation or a helping hand in your community might not seem like much, but it all adds up. If everyone lived with the mindset of helping others the world would be a different place. So let's help, in whatever way we can.
Yes, take a break now and then, a break from the hectic pace of life. I’m not talking about an all out vacation, that’s different because a lot of planning and activity usually goes into vacations. I also don’t mean a 15 minute coffee break at work. What I mean is to stop all activity and “must do’s” for long enough to give yourself space to breathe, to think, and to be yourself. How long? You decide.
Our culture is very demanding and it’s starts early in life. You have to go to school, you have to get good grades, you have to dress like others, think like others, get a car, get a career, get the next latest technology, get a raise or a better job, get more, more, more, so you can go more and do more! It has been referred to as the “Rat Race” because if you’re not careful it can become a lot of mindless running around, following someone elses idea of what's going to make you happy.
Do you know yourself? Can you be content to hang out with yourself, apprecciating something about your life, for a little while without needing or wanting anything?
So I'm advocating for occasional breaks; unplanned, spontaneous, at your discretion, and completely of your own free will – take a break. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do during your break, it doesn’t matter how long or short it is, as long as you're able to clear your mind and find peace, tranquility and personal power by valuing yourself. My husband did this through his daily walks, that worked for him. I often read a book, play with my cats, or just lay in the grass on a sunny day with my eyes closed.
Sometimes I need to take a break from the computer and writing. Sometimes it’s the housework or endless errands I need a break from. Sometimes I need a break from work, and sometimes (believe it or not) work is my break from other things. For me, the important thing is to not be driven by some system that was created by our collectively perceived needs and wants, but to live intentionally by my own design. Unfortunately, we all have to live in this society as it is and deal with the way it is on a daily basis, which makes it quite difficult to not be sucked into the “Rat Race” or get trampled on. So I pull myself aside now and then to reflect, refuel my energy and reaffirm my intention, and sometimes just to relax.
You can exercise, meditate, do breath-work, sing, dance, play or do nothing at all to take a break as long as it helps you feel your value as an individual apart from any needs or wants. Your personality will determine what type of break works best for you.
In that moment aside from the hectic pace of life the only purpose is to experience the beauty, goodness and peace that exists beyond the craziness of this world, and to rediscover or reaffirm what you truly value in life. Because that is what will give you the power to keep going, and to create a life of your own design.
Enjoy the breaks, enjoy the life you create.
There are so many types of friends and all have value one way or another. I can't think of a better way to create the day than with a friendship. What does friendship mean to you?
There are childhood friends, lifelong friends, shallow friendships, friends based on interests and activities and those based on a deeper understanding of each other. There are friends for a moment and forever friends, groups of friends and individual friends, work friends, school friends, family friends, and neighbors, and internet friends. Every type of friend has value, even those “sunshine friends” your mother used to warn you about.
To have friends I have to be a friend too. My idea of a friend is someone who cares about me. A friend is someone you can be yourself with. So I care about my friends and I'm interested in their thoughts and feelings. I'm interested in what's going on in their life, and hoping for the best for them. Our best friendships are usually with people who have similar needs in relationship, so the relationship is mutually beneficial. You want to spend time together.
Some people have a lot of friends and some have only a few. Some people need to be around friends often and for long periods of time. Others need less time with friends.
I’m grateful for all the types of friends I’ve had in my life because they’ve enriched my life in some way. I hope to continue to make more friends by being a friend, by caring about others, by investing myself in a sharing relationship. It’s not always easy as the demands of life can pull us in many directions, but friendships are worth the effort.
We’re always going here and there, doing this and that; right? We move about doing things from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. Maybe we even move in our sleep. Previously I wrote about taking a break from the rat race and that's important. But the other side of the coin is that intentional movement (not the rat race) is also important.
Creativity involves movement. To enjoy life you have to move. Maybe you can enjoy laying in a hammock for an hour or so, but sooner or later you will need a drink or a bathroom break, and you will have to move. Either boredom or inspiration may cause you to move. Life is movement, even when it's as subtle and simple as breathing and blood pumping through your veins.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily routines of life and minimize our movements to only what is necessary. We tend to move less when we are uninspired or feeling stuck in a rut. We get up for work, drink the coffee, drive to work, sit at the desk, answer the phone, do the job, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to sleep, then do it all over again. Does this sound familiar? Is this how you envisioned your life to be when you were young and looking forward to growing up? Some routine is normal, but not if it saps your energy.
When we’re young we naturally move a lot – running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing, and playing all day long. We think that as we get older our energy declines and we slow down a bit. But sometimes I wonder if the opposite is true – we get older because we stop moving as much. Adults are always telling children to sit still, be quiet, study hard so you can get a good job, etc. We unknowingly point our children in the direction of a more sedentary lifestyle. Perhaps we even model that lifestyle for them. Is it any wonder that we now have an obesity epidemic in America? As a nation we've created a comfortable rut that’s easy to get stuck in.
If you have enough time and money you might be able to buy your way out of the rut by joining a gym, taking yoga classes, or getting involved in a sporting hobby. Some people have a hard time finding an exercise or activity they can stick with for various reasons. I’m one of those people.
However, I think the problem is deeper than lack of time, money, interest or whatever; it’s a complex set of patterns of thought and lifestyle that have been created over years, maybe even generations.
But I finally found something that worked. I found a website that explained how to maximize daily movement. Everything from micro movements to getting up and down off the floor. I do yoga in bed before I get up in the morning. I try not to sit for more than 90 minutes. This really helped me during the cold winters in New Hampshire when I was indoors a lot. As I get older I've experienced how important it is to stay flexible, strong, and mobile for overall health and happiness.
Being stuck in a sedentary rut is kind of like being in prison. There are no bars or prison guards except the thoughts that stop us from making a change. Unfortunately, those thoughts can often be stronger obstacles than bars. It doesn’t take much to move a little more, it only takes a few more steps each day, little by little climbing out of the rut. More movement can lead to more creative thoughts, more enjoyable activities and a longer enjoyable life.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this eBook, the topics above were taken directly from a series of 20 blog posts I wrote in 2012. While compiling them I did just a little bit of editing to make my thoughts more clear, and in some places I had to change the tense. Blogging is present tense, but now is a different time.
It didn't make sense for me to write about my husband or family in the present tense since my husband has passed away and my children are all adults. So where it was relevant to the content I rewrote in a reflective voice rather than present tense.
Almost 10 years have past since I wrote the Create the Day series on my blog. However, I continue to live by the principles and ideas that I wrote about then. Change is the only constant in life, and for me, approaching life creatively is the way I process everything that happens. Let me explain.
I started my blog in 2011 during a difficult time. My husband and I were both having health and financial problems. I was unemployed and trying to create a new career for myself, while we were trying to launch our older children into college. My father had recently passed away and my mother was ill. It seemed like the hopes and dreams my huisband and I had been working toward were getting further away. In 2012 we went through bankruptcy for the second time during our marriage, my husband had triple by-pass heart surgery, and my mother passed away. I had to recreate my life and expectations due to my own incurable illness as well.
Blogging, and interacting with other bloggers, helped me process my thoughts and feelings. Writing and learning new web based career skills helped me stay creative, and eventually led to employment. In 2018 my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and he passed away less than a year later. I stopped blogging for about two years, and then returned to it to process my grief. While doing that I found an online program for healing through Expressive Art Therapy. I became creative again to rebuild my life as a widow far from home.
Sometimes people think that I have a positive attitude because I've lived an easy life. Nothing can be further from the truth. I faced crisis from a young age. I never finished college even though I returned three times. I've actually had more challenges and difficulties than most people can image. But I wont go into all of that now.
What I want to say though is that I've done a lot of internal work. From a young age I searched for truth and meaning and answers to lifes problems. I've always had the perspective that life is for learning the art of living. After running with that for many decades, I can add that life is about learning to love - yourself and others - no matter what happens.
Currently as I'm writing these final notes it's September of 2021. At this moment I'm living in a locked down area in Australia because of Covid-19. I have not recieved a vaccination yet because I'm suspected to be alergic to an ingredient. Masks are mandated everywhere except at home and I can't travel more than 5k from my residence. This is the fourth month of lockdown and we're expecting another month like this before things start re-opening.
At first, the restrictions were frustraiting because I had just signed up for some new activities and everything got canceled. I also missed my usual visits with friends, and yoga classes. But after a few weeks I realized that I had to change my thinking or I might become depressed. I decided to see this time of isolation as an opportunity to discover something new. I began to explore different places where I could walk that were within my 5k radius. (Half of my radius is the ocean so I really can only go about 3k from where I live.) I decided to upgrade my home yoga practice and try some different types of meditation. I started new art projects and revamped my photoblog. This month I joined a Facebook group sketching challenge - something I thought I would never do.
Even though I'm not a homebody, I'm actually really enjoying this lockdown now. There's always room to re-create or redo life in a way that will give you joy.
So with that I wish you happines with an abundance of love. May you always seek the higher road with a sincere heart, and may you find the strength that lies within to grow through all you encounter.
Blessings to you and yours,
I hope you've enjoyed this little piece of my blog and that it's inspired you to think about how creative you already are. Please feel free to reach out and share your creative adventures with me. If you'd like to get in touch, please leave a comment one of my sites: Create A Beautiful Life or CSRoth