From October, 2015

Why Leaves Change Colors: A Story of Hope

“… You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen…”

― Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast

Fall is akin to the word bittersweet for me- beautiful yes, but also full of remembrance for what has become past. Each fall I am reminded of every fall before, and the last couple have been quite difficult. Fall signals the most tumultuous time in my marriage. It signals the beginnings of a slide into a wintery depression. Fall is the time when my grandmother Rose died last year.

Mel shared with me an insight about fall, however, that has somewhat affected the way I perceive the season. Her insight was confirmed with a search that revealed this article about the changing colors of leaves in the fall:

The story begins in summer, when leaves are green thanks to a pigment known as chlorophyll. It captures just the right spectrum of color from the sun’s light, to power the process known as photosynthesis. “As the chlorophyll is grabbing that sunlight, it’s pulling water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air and energy from the sunlight and shoving it together to make sugar,” Sutherland says. That helps the tree blossom and grow. As the days grow shorter in autumn, leaves stop making chlorophyll, revealing a dazzling secret.

The secret is that the colors of fall are the leaves true colors.

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Q and A from Teachers on Mindful Creativity

Last week I worked with some amazingly creative and engaged teachers from a variety of backgrounds facilitating a workshop on mindful creativity.  The Q and A below is a result of questions from participants left on exit tickets, followed by my responses.  

  • Why “mindfulness”?  Any special reason for picking that word?

This is a really good question that gave me pause.  I looked up the root of the word and came upon this document published by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. In short: mindfulness itself simply means intentional awareness to the moment, which is innately human and certainly not new. The formal practice of mindfulness has its root in Buddhism, and according to this article by Siegel, Germer, and Olendzki: 

“‘Mindfulness,’ as used in ancient texts, is an English translation of the Pali word, sati, which connotes awareness, attention, and remembering. (Pali is the language in which the teachings of the Buddha were originally recorded. The first dictionary translation of sati into “mindfulness” dates to 1921 (Davids & Stede, 1921/2001).”

  • What is the difference between mindfulness and self-consciousness?

Mindfulness is about cultivating present-moment awareness and self-compassion. Self-consiousness does not necessarily equate to either of these outcomes. One can be aware of one’s self, particularly as viewed through the eyes of others or through the critical self, in ways that are neither objectively aware or self-compassionate.  In addition, while mindfulness may create space or distance from thoughts, self-consciousness alone may increase one’s engagement with thoughts, particularly those about the self.     

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Beautiful Moments for Lazy Sundays: Unexpected Symmetry, Tree Love and Touching the Earth

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Finding delicate pink petals

on a brisk, fall day-

tastes of spring’s sweetness while on the autumn brink

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Running my hands through tendrils of green,

feeling the soft vibrance growing from the earth

slip between my fingers

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Examining unexpected symmetry

a blending of man and nature’s perfect beauty

creating art in the sky

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Pausing on our path

to share our gentle love

fingers pressed to the skin of the trees

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Remembering early-morning fishing trips

laughing in sunken mud

playing in the mist rising from the lake

while it dances in the rays of the sun

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This post is one of a series called “Beautiful Moments” based upon my Mindful Gratitude practice.  

Where are you finding beauty this Sunday?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of the post or directly to me via the Contact tab.

A (Sappy) Love Song to My Friends

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Mel and I wishing our friend Renee good luck on a concert via text.

In the words of C.S. Lewis in Four Loves

Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” … It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.

And so is the beginning of a journey together.

I remember quite vividly and with great reverence my first best friend.  I was in seventh grade when we met.  The first time I went to her house a few weeks later, we walked to a creek and searched for rocks that we could wash and admire together.  It was with great relief and surprise that I realized I had found a kindred spirit- a lover of rocks and the magic of the world to give them to us.

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A Love that Beckons, Destroys, Transforms: Kahlil Gibran On Love

Mindful Connection and Compassion

A gravestone in Provence, France. Photo taken by Brandi Lust

Language is not enough to describe the emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions that encompass this word we humans call “love.”  This last weekend, I had the privilege of hearing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf speak, and he talked much of love in all its forms- mother, father, sister, brother, wife, child, lover, friend.  Infinite possibilities in our experience of relationship- felt in color, shape, texture, form.

One of the most beautiful and articulate ways I have heard love described is in the poetry of Kahlil Gibran.  In his poem “On Love” he begins with the following,

When love beckons to you follow him,  

Though his ways are hard and steep. 

And when his wings enfold you yield to him, 

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe      in him,  

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

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