Life in all its wonder

I am re-reading an amazing book this week. It is a book by Kate Gross as she approached the last months of her life while only in her late thirties, the mother of two young boys (Late Fragments: Everything I want to tell you about this magnificent life).

I am re-reading the book now as part of remembering a friend who died recently, in her late fifties. She read the book and appreciated it in the last months of her life.

If you are still reading, well done. Many find the subject of dying too painful to dwell on. And yet it’s a book about the wonder that is life. Yes, wonder.

Kate is mindful. She writes of her hopes for her boys, “I don’t know how they will experience the world, any more than I can guide them through it. I hope that its breadth and variety will provide them with the endless thrill it has for me. But staying at home is fine too. I need them to know that wonder doesn’t require a passport, it only requires your attention. My dad has always been evidence of that. . . . his truest sense of wonder has always been found in a smaller world around him. He sees things, you see, in the details: the curve of a while tulip petal, the way a tree branch stretches over a lake, the perfect structure of the green hills . . . “

Kate describes the joy of living so well, looking and taking in the wonder of life. May be it’s all the more acutely in our sight when we can see the end of our earthly life more clearly before us. But let’s not let a day pass without looking – and truly seeing – something of the beauty that is around us.

For me, being mindful – looking – draws me to the Creator of all things. And the wonder that fills me is part of understanding the present and also a hint of the future, the promise of a life beyond this earthly life which will be wonderous beyond imagining.

Wonder doesn’t require a passport (or any other complications of travel in a Covid world!). It doesn’t need us to be approaching death. Simply look. Wonder. Live.

This is Mindful Monday on 20 September 2021.

Despite not because . . .

Despite not because – for when we procrastinate!

Over the last week I have become aware that I am constantly putting off a particular task. I have become innovative in identifying and acting on distractions, distractions I could blame others for but it wouldn’t be honest to do so!

It hasn’t made me feel good, knowing that the task still has to be done. In fact I have come to dread the task the longer I have put it off. Know that feeling?

Seeking better self understanding is often a good starting point so why am I procrastinating? Honesty often has a painful side even though it’s useful so here goes! I think it is because I can, at times, be a bit of a perfectionist and there are aspects of this task beyond my control that mean I can only complete the task to what I would call an ‘okay’ standard, not a great standard.

Becoming aware of this and accepting it is quite a relief. I need to accept what is possible to achieve – and accept that I feel negatively about the task.

As we accept the situation we are in and how we are feeling, ‘the sting’ or difficulty of the situation can sometimes reduce. We cease fighting; we practice acceptance. This means we are now not wasting our energy albeit the task is still daunting!

Despite the negative feelings, I will now do the task. So often we need to act despite how we feel – and this is one of those occasions. So finding a task difficult to get down to? Be aware. Be honest. Accept. And do, despite not because.

This is Mindful Monday on 13 September 2021.

Work in progress

Work in progress, each of us.

Each of us is a work in progress.

Reminding ourselves of this can help us grow in patience, with ourselves and with others. It may also help us act with kindness. And remember we tend to do to others as we do to ourselves . . . So that means kindness to ourselves as well as others.

Reminding ourselves that we are all a work in progress also keeps us humble. There are studies that indicate that humble people have better relationships. Why would this be? Because they accept other people for who they are.

Say it with me, ‘I am a work in progress’. Think of someone you know, maybe someone with whom you have a difficult or complex relationship, ‘They are a work in progress.’

Accept that you and others are a work in progress; grow in patience, kindness and humility.

This is Mindful Monday on 6 September 2021.

The miracle of life

The miracle of life

It’s the start of another week, holiday or otherwise. Each of us know we will encounter many different things through the week: there will be the difficult alongside the enjoyable.

Through this week choose to take moments to simply notice your breath. You are choosing to notice you are alive. You are choosing to be in the moment, the present., just as it is.

Practicing doing this in the everyday gives us a learned coping mechanism to help us when we come to things that are stressful or difficult.

Your breath – your life – is precious. Notice it regularly. Then you will continue to do so even in the midst of the difficult.

Noticing our breath often brings a sense of calm. It can also often give us a sense of thankfulness. Including amidst the tough stuff.

This is Mindful Monday on 23 August 2021.

Learn to move on

Life must be lived forward but it is only understood backwards.

Some things are truths of living that deserve to be written in stone. So I loved it when I saw an artist had done just that with this truth.

Have you got a repeat thought about something that happened in the past rattling round in your head, probably way more than you would like it to? It’s wearing you out; it’s wearing you down.

Make time to sit down and reflect on it. What can you learn from what happened? If it helps you to absorb it, write it down. If you choose to be in a relationship with God, seek his Spirit’s wisdom.

Learning from the past is part of living in the present, living in the present well.

This is Mindful Monday on 9 August 2021.

The specialness of the every day

The specialness of the every day.

The every day of life. Pause. Look. See.

I just finished a novel about two friends. It’s called Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Nothing much happens and yet it was immersive. Why? Because the author does a great job of describing the every day of their lives. And in those every day moments – making breakfast, topping up the bird feeders, getting the shopping in, doing work, interacting with friends and family with moments of togetherness and moments of misunderstanding – there is joy.

What’s in your every day today? Pause, Look. See. Don’t miss the joy alongside the tough stuff.

This is Mindful Monday on 2 August 2021.

Thankfulness, overflowing

Thankfulness. Let it flow.

Notice . . . and be thankful.

I have been intentionally noticing water, possibly because of a few days’ heatwave in the UK! And as I have practiced noticing it – being aware of it rather than just taking it for granted – I have been so thankful.

Turning the tap . . . to drink, to wash, to water plants. Going to a swimming pool and enjoying the coolness of the water. Watching (brief) rain . . . and breathing deep afterwards to smell the earthiness in the damp air. Watching a documentary about the Earth’s oceans and how their flow nurtures life.

Water, vital for life. Notice. Be thankful. Know the richness of what you have.

Just the act of choosing to notice and being thankful for one thing will change your perspective on so many things. Give it a go – today.

This is Mindful Monday on 26 July 2021.