Gentle afternoon rain

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Last week I attended a performance: gentle afternoon rain.

 

It was warm enough outside that my bedroom window was open. As I finished cooking some veggies in the kitchen, I thought I heard a slight mist. It seemed so out of place with how bright the sun had been shining most of the afternoon. “Is it raining, Dino?” I asked aloud, as if my dog could confirm my suspicions. I walked into the bedroom to see, and there it was–rain falling softly, drawing me in closer for the show.

 

Next thing I knew, I found myself sitting at the foot of the bed, directly facing the window, staring out and eating my lunch by the sound of the falling rain.

 

I watched and listened with reverence, delighted by the feelings of eagerness and satisfaction that began to build inside of me as if I were attending a most magnificent performance live at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

 

My windowsill set the frame like a stage, and the stillness outside was the backdrop that featured the raindrops doing their thing.

 

I listened as the drops all evenly fell. And as I finished eating my food, the rain started to slow. A brief intermission to put down my bowl and let Dino hop up to snuggle in my lap. And there we sat, watching the stillness out the window and listening to the rain.

 

I breathed in deeply and remembered the time I watched my dad open the side door of our house, to stand there, looking out through the screen at the rain, breathing in the refreshing scent of invisible swirls of goodness. Fresh air meandering in, there in abundance for the receiving. I don’t know if he knew I was watching but the way he savored those moments with such purpose and wonder changed something in me forever.

 

Still on my bed, I listened as the rain accumulated. Larger drops began to fall on new things, creating fancy rhythms and delicate sounds. And then came the gentle rushing sound of tiny streams, flowing through the gutter or following the bend of the downstairs curb. Until the showers began to taper once more and finally slowed to a stop. And with that, the show was over and the sun came out again.

 

Now as I relive the story to share it with you, I find it curious that the experience doesn’t feel small, nor especially large. It feels softly satisfying. And perhaps this quiet intensity is the mightiest power there is. From stillness and softness comes the strength.

 

It seems life is just waiting for us to offer it the reverence it deserves. Not out of a desire for selfish recognition but because it knows the nourishment that will be brought to our souls and the contentment that will fill our hearts. It knows that it will stir things within us and unlock new secrets of who we are. And what pure and generous love is this, to want us to see its beauty, only so that we may feel and know our own.

 

Ah, may we all make a little space to savor this today–whatever beauty we can sense, wherever we are. Because the performance is always happening. It’s just a matter of hearing the whispers that call us to its display.

 

Sending much love & joy to you this week,

Caitlin

A toast in honor of doing scary-exciting things

A few of you mentioned that last week’s email landed in your spam folder.  Not sure why that happened but just in case you missed my exciting announcement of naming the blog “this genuine life,” you can read it here.

 

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It was such a rush of excitement that led to finally declaring the new blog title!  It was nerve wracking but exciting, so I took the leap.  And the next morning I woke up wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake.

 

Perhaps this has happened to you.

 

That certain situation where you get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment until reality sets in, leaving you with a pit in your stomach the size of the grand canyon and no idea how it got there.

 

It’s the same way I felt the day after I brought Dino home from the Oregon Humane Society.  And bringing him home turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  So if you’ve had this experience too, I think we might be onto something.  We are looking alive and we are playing the game. {three claps}

 

And that’s something to celebrate!

 

So what’s behind the magic here?  Just plain exciting might not be enough of a leap.  And just plain scary might mean you’re headed for a path through a never-ending, deep, dark forest.  But the combination, a captivating blend of both, creates a surge of power that will propel you forward into living the most extraordinary life that you are capable of living.

 

And the best part is that it doesn’t matter how the scary-exciting thing you decide to try turns out.  Everything we do now helps lay the foundation for what is to come.  So even if the action you choose today doesn’t pan out the way you think it will or you change your mind, it will still lead you somewhere new.  Somewhere with a  unique vantage point.

 

The thing you pick may not be the thing that ultimately sticks, but it may be the very thing that will lead you to something that does.

 

And the something it leads you to could be the most incredibly wonderful thing that ever happens to you.  Something you wouldn’t have been able to discover without first taking the leap onto the first stepping stone of the path.

 

And it’s that perfect blend of scary and exciting that lets you know you’re going in the right direction.

 

{ fear + excitement = right path }

 

So what feels scary-exciting to you today?  What dream do you have that is thrilling or feels like such a reach that you’d either be scared if it came true or you’d be too scared to even try?

 

Now pick one teeny tiny turtle step you can take in the direction of that dream this week.

 

I already wrote this blog post so now it’s your turn. ;)  I’d love to hear all about your dreams and turtle steps in the comments below!

 

Here’s to the beautiful and continuous unfolding of our dreams! {clink, clink}

Caitlin

 

A new kind of joy

Check out this gem I found in my writing folder!  It was meant to come sometime after The little girl with the sparkle in her eye.  Enjoy!

 

a new kind of joy

 

I don’t remember exactly what the instructor said on the phone.  I believe it was something related to teaching because I found myself filled with such resentment for the way teaching, as a profession, is viewed that I hung up the phone and began to cry.  I’m too young to be this cynical, I thought.  I deeply missed the person I used to be, the one with the sparkle in her eye, who believed anything was possible.

 

I would imagine that for all of us there comes a day when the rose colored glasses of innocence through which we look at the world–the ones that gradually get scratched and chipped–are ultimately shattered.  For me, it happened in a few fell swoops over the course of the last ten years.

 

Disappointment, heartbreak, and devastating loss in more forms than I would have thought possible in such a short amount of time.

 

There have been a series of moments over the years, maybe you’ve had some too–the ones where it becomes painfully clear that you’ve grown up to find that the world is not at all as you thought it would be.  As you think it should be.

 

Acknowledging this is how I first began to bridge the gap between what I thought life should be and life as it is.  But ultimately it takes being willing to let go of what we thought life would or should be in order to claim the one genuine life we each have right in front of us.

 

I’ve come to believe once again in the possibilities for my future, but in a new way.  I can’t simply hit the rewind button and get that little girl back.  I’m not that little girl anymore and never again can I have the joy she experienced in her innocence.

 

But perhaps my change in experience and perception unlocks a new kind of joy.  A truer joy.  Not the joy of innocence, but a joy that comes from knowing suffering and having the courage to somehow find peace and beauty within it.  A joy that comes, not from believing nothing bad will ever happen but from knowing that tough stuff does happen, and trusting that you will be okay anyway.

 

Now THAT is the kind of joy I choose to claim every single day.  And each day, it feels better and brighter.

 

What about you?  What kind of joy feels most true to you right now?

 

With the joy of a thousand puppies!

Caitlin

 

 

Writing: A Blog Tour, Part Two

Set sail and discover more sparkling waters…

sailboat sparkling water

I’m so excited to introduce you to these uniquely talented people and writers today!

Many thanks to Tina Meilleur for extending the offer that allowed me to be a part of this writers’ blog tour.

I’ll begin by sharing a bit about each of these wonderful people, and then will provide links for where you can go to check out their work.  Hooray; here we go!

 

Lisa Meece

Lisa has been a yoga teacher for 12 years, and a learning designer for closer to 20, in various incarnations. The longer she lives, the more she realized that the most important answers we need to understand are already inside of us, and are unique to each individual. This understanding led her to shift her professional practice more towards coaching. This will give her a chance to work with people to uncover their own answers and put their own path into place in the world.

Lisa’s blog, which has run intermittently for years, is largely reflections on life as understood through her own journey and the slightly different (some say crazy) way she looks at the world. The name, Shattering Samskaras, speaks to breaking down the mental ruts that get worn in our brain by habitual thought processes. These ruts are called Samskaras in Sanskrit, the root language of yoga. Lisa’s experience is that the ruts we grew up with are not necessarily the thought patterns that will serve us well in this changing world – so why not take a crack at reconfiguring them to serve us better.

Visit her site and read her writing here!

 

Sora Garrett

Sora Garrett is a visionary creator who’s inspired a number of innovative social change programs through her life. Her current project is an online membership philanthropy. The SHINE Connection celebrates everyday hero-beacons while guiding members to connect with their deepest joy and step into heart-inspired service.

When she’s not sharing her positive, inspirational, love-infused messages with others through writing & connecting, Sora is happily flowing around her home and yard.  While she believes ‘Home’ lives in our hearts & travels with us, she also loves creating her living spaces as an inviting sanctuary.

“Family is an expanding circle of friends, with her loyal husband of 36 years, her two highly-creative adult children and her most amazing grandson at the center of the sphere.  She is grateful for it all!

Visit her site and read her writing here!

 

Writing: A Blog Tour, Part One

I just jumped aboard a blog tour train!  So that means, this week I’m sharing some personal reflections about writing and next week, I will introduce you to three other lovely people with blogs!  Here are my answers to the blog tour questions – journal style.

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I’m currently working on developing a friendly relationship with my inner critic; the kind where I can consider whether or not it has something valuable to say and can also firmly but kindly tell it when to take a hike!  For me right now, it’s all about embracing and working with the natural flow of the creative process.  And as I do this, various ideas for projects: books, articles, blog posts, e-courses, retreats, workshops, etc. keep appearing in my mind like a rabbit out of a magician’s hat.  There are far more than I can keep up with actually completing in my present health situation but I welcome them all with delight and write them down, grateful to be generating a collection that I know will be there when I’m ready.

My writing is all about fully experiencing life first and taking the time to describe and articulate the meaning of my experiences second.  I love taking a closer look at the seemingly ordinary aspects of life, the small or simple things, because I’ve found that that’s where the truly extraordinary nature of life can be discovered.  It helps me stay on the look out for the good stuff in life so it’s kind of like a treasure hunt – except that it’s often one where the treasure is hidden in plain sight.

I love to write.  And I write what I write because it creates a safe space for me to process my life experiences, to make meaning, to find healing, to experience growth, and to share in the journey of life and love with everyone around me.

I write anytime during the day when the mood strikes but here is a short description of my morning routine.  I start my day with a short breathing meditation that helps me feel relaxed and grounded.  Then I sit quietly in my comfy navy chair, often with my dog on my lap, while I sip some coffee.  I let ideas for what to write about that day surface gently for awhile and usually about halfway through my cup of coffee, I’m up, over at the computer typing away. I let the ideas flow through me, joyfully crafting each sentence.  And once it stops feeling flowy and fun, when the forced feeling starts to set in or when I feel to exhausted to continue, I stop.  And as Panache Desai recommends with his analogy of writing as water that flows through the writer, I am thankful for whatever message flowed through me onto the page that day.  Whether it be a few drops, a bucketful, or enough to fill a swimming pool, I give thanks for the writing itself, and for the experience of creating it.

 

Extra{ordinary}

He walks out the front door every afternoon.  His body is dignified in the way he moves.  His dark, close set eyes are focused with determination, as he carefully makes each step down from the front door.  He grips the black, cast iron railing, the way he used to hold his tennis racquet in preparation for a powerful serve.

Before the strike of terminal illness, my dad didn’t sit – he could do everything faster and with more coordination than anyone else: running, biking, shooting hoops, and playing catch.  Gradually that changed.  He was forced to slow down and each step in itself became a challenge.  As a recent college graduate, I had moved to Portland to spend time with my family.  I admire the courage he showed in the face of great difficulty.

I follow along behind him, just the two of us, making our way past the railings that anchor our journey.  The sun is at its brightest, directly overhead.  We sit on the smooth, ceramic bench, with the coral cushion beneath us.  The bench feels sturdy and strong.  We are grounded and safe, side by side.

There is silence before the small, tube-like sprinklers with edges of corrugated plastic rise in unison, evenly spaced throughout the yard.  We made it just in time.  With a rush, water bursts forth from the tiny hole atop each sprinkler and forms a strong mist that fans out in all directions.  On a timer, the sprinklers were consistent.  The routine brought comfort and familiarity.

A smile of delight appears on his face as he motions with a steady hand towards the radiance born when water and sunlight collide.  Side by side, we watch the moments of our lives, held in water droplets, as they dance through the air.  Each one flies up in firework fashion, and then falls gracefully to the grass to make room for the next.  A Quaking Aspen stands tall in the background with leaves fluttering in the breeze against a brilliant blue sky.

I watched as he appreciated this moment as if it were his first and his last all at the same time.  He was captivated by the wonder of something so simple that, under other circumstances, we would not consider stopping to observe.  Today sunlight hitting water is a reminder that life is as extraordinary as we allow it to be.

~Written in August 2012