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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

And I’m back! Dreaming bigger again, only this time my focus is on joy. Kind of appropriate since the subtitle of my book is Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease!

I’m writing a new blog now at Jules for Joy. It’s my journey toward joy, through creativity, play and beauty. I’m exploring what brings joy into my life, and then sharing it.

I’d love to hear where you find joy. Perhaps we can inspire each other!

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I remember reading a quote by Ray Charles once in which he said music was a necessity of life for him, like food or water. It was an integral part of his very being. I may not play an instrument or sing (at least not in public!) but I can recognize mastery in others. I want to share with you a few of the musicians, singers and songwriters who bring music to life for me with their extraordinary gift for expressing my deepest feelings, longings and dreams.

When my children were young, they were lucky enough to have Duncan Addison as a piano teacher. Duncan embodied music. It flowed from every cell of his being. Watching him play the piano, teach students or conduct a choir was like watching joy in motion. Although he has since passed away, I smile every time I think of his boundless love of music and how eager he was to share that love with everyone he met.

Last week, one of my favorite local musicians was playing in our city square. Juneyt is originally from Turkey and is one of the most gifted and versatile guitarists I’ve ever met. He seems equally at home playing popular cover songs as he is performing challenging flamenco pieces, many of which are his own compositions. He recently released his debut album, Ocean, and is already making plans for a second one. Naturally, given that I dance flamenco, that’s the music that makes me sit up and take notice.

He leans forward over his guitar, caressing it like a lover, body swaying with the melody, fingers alternating between tapping the wood and deftly picking at the strings. The haunting sound and increasing intensity of the rhythm cause the rest of the world to fall away and all that remains are the soulful vibrations – of passion and of life.

Another local singer and songwriter who is making a name for herself is Sue Baker Proud. The joy and ease with which she sings fills my heart with light, and her lyrics seem divinely inspired. In remembrance of 9/11 and her visit to Ground Zero, she wrote Only Love Remains. The first time I heard it, I was moved to tears.

Sue is working on her first CD and will be performing on October 2 at 1:30 p.m. at The Museum in downtown Kitchener. She will be singing a song she wrote as the result of a silent auction bid for the Dream for Uganda event.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a trio of breathtaking singers, Il Volo. Just teenagers, when these three Italian tenors start to sing, audiences are spellbound. Where do these powerful voices come from? I delight in the obvious joy they feel when singing, and the twinkle in their eyes in anticipation of the audience’s reaction.

How blessed we are that these artists (and others like them) exist!  The pleasure they bring into the world is two-fold: they’re doing what they love to do, and we get the joy of listening to them!

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The Flowers

All the names I know from nurse:

Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,

Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,

And the Lady Hollyhock.

Fairy places, fairy things,

Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,

Tiny trees for tiny dames —

These must all be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs

Shady fairies weave a house;

Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,

Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people’s trees,

But the fairest woods are these;

Where, if I were not so tall,

I should live for good and all.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

When did you last look at the world with eyes of wonder? Do you remember lying on the grass, gazing up at the deep blue summer sky and seeing magical creatures shift shape and form in the wispy clouds overhead? Or watching ants march in formation back to their sandhill nest carrying tiny morsels of food? In a summer’s rain, I loved running out in my bathing suit to jump in the puddles in the laneway, or leap through the sprinkler on the lawn. Such excitement! It was so easy to be present to the moment then, wasn’t it?

Summer offers the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the enthusiastic child who still lives in your heart, even if the voice has been silent for a while. Go on a picnic, wander through the woods or dig your feet deep in a sandy beach, sit on a swing and see if your body still remembers how to reach for the stars! Joy and magic is all around; we only need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child.

*****

Wise Living delivered to your Inbox! The July issue of my newsletter is now available! Wise Living includes an inspiring quote and photo, as well as thoughts for the month. Once you subscribe (it’s free!), Wise Living will arrive in your email on the first of each month. To subscribe, click here.

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Did you watch the royal wedding last Friday? I was up before dawn to watch the entire event live. And then I watched highlights again later in the day. Everyone I’ve spoken to since then also tuned in to see the ceremony, people in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. I’ve been wondering why it was so important to so many people.

One reason that comes to mind is that our world is full of turmoil, sorrow and pain. Newspaper headlines and key media stories focus on the unhappiness around us. Yet here was one story that seemed to give us all hope. And wasn’t it wonderful to see the front page of most major newspapers the next day featuring either the balcony kiss or the glowing smiles of the happy couple? As I walked past the newspaper stands and glanced over, that photo made my heart leap for their joy was contagious.

Unlike most couples, William and Catherine spent eight years getting to know each other. They spent time apart, growing as individuals, and then chose to reconnect.  Their bond of love has already been tested by time and challenges that most of us will never experience (living in the public eye, surrounded by cameras and constant media attention).  The time they’ve taken to develop a strong relationship showed they were preparing for their marriage, not just their wedding day.

I’ve heard people comment that it’s easy to be joyous on your wedding day. After all, the spotlight is on you, you’re (hopefully) deeply in love with your partner, and it can be a day of pure magic (even if you’re not marrying into royalty!) So what happens after the honeymoon is over and reality sets in? Why is it so hard for most of us to maintain that sense of joy and love we saw reflected in William and Catherine’s eyes whenever they looked at each other?

There does come a point in any committed relationship when the rose-coloured glasses come off and you see each other with clear eyes. This can happen after a few months or a couple of years. You look at the life you’ve created together and wonder, “Is this all there is?” You wonder why you’re no longer feeling the same strong attraction for your partner, and why you seem to have nothing to talk about anymore. The qualities that drew you to him or her at the start now begin to annoy you.

Inevitably, you ask yourself if this is the beginning of the end. You might panic wondering if getting involved was a big mistake. Is it too late to change your mind?

It might help to realize that these thoughts and feelings are normal, and represent a new stage in your relationship. You’re moving from being “in love” to choosing “to love”. The early months or years were coloured by the glow of your physical relationship. As sex becomes less of a focus, you now have the opportunity to strengthen other areas of your relationship – shared values, communication, patience and empathy, for example – which will enable you to face life’s challenges together (and, incidentally, make your sex life even better!)

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore different aspects of intimate relationships and discover ways to keep the joy alive long after the honeymoon is over.

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I had a refreshing encounter last weekend. I was at the Chapters store in Kitchener, Ontario to sign copies of my book Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease. I’ve done a number of book signings so far, in Canada and the U.S., and I’m always curious to see who will come, what stories I’ll hear, and in whose hands my book will find a new home.

I’ve learned that total book sales don’t represent a “successful” book signing for me. I’m far more interested in the people, the conversations and those wonderful moments when I know my life or theirs has been touched by our interaction. I’ve heard stories from people who have been dreaming bigger all their lives, and others who are on their knees, desperately hoping and praying for circumstances to change.

Those who find their way to my table are the exact ones who need to be there on that day, whether it’s to share something that I need to hear, or to hear something that I (or the book cover) may have to say.

Last Sunday, as I was standing in the aisle handing out my bookmarks and mentioning my book to shoppers, a young man came toward me. All I noticed was his smile – so brilliant that it lit up the room. His eyes danced with light, his face shone and I didn’t even notice until later that he was in a wheelchair.

We had a long conversation about his dream of becoming a life coach. His enthusiasm was contagious. Our time together had a tremendous impact on me because I realized that, more than anyone else I’d met, he was living the dream bigger philosophy every day of his life. In his blog the next day, he wrote that I’d inspired him. But actually, he inspired me.

Since then I’ve been thinking about how we treat those around us who are different in some way. Underneath our “packaging” (our bodies and clothes), we’re all the same. We all desire the basics of a good life – food, shelter, comfort, joy, love, acceptance, independence.  For some of us, those basics are harder to attain.

Too often we focus on inabilities, what we or others cannot do. Yet we are all capable in so many different ways! Each one of us has the capacity to make the world a brighter place for others.

My new friend brightened my day with his glorious smile, dancing eyes and deep determination. Apparently I brightened his by listening, spending time with him and reinforcing his belief that he can and will achieve his dreams.

How can you make this day lighter and brighter for those around you? Especially for those you normally wouldn’t notice as you pass by.

*****

Remember the Dream BIGGER contest? Now that the contest is over, I’ve revamped the website to offer you lots of ways to make your dreams a reality. See for yourself at http://www.dreambiggercontest.com

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I like to think of myself as unconventional, a bit eccentric, and full of surprises. However, there are many ways in which I’ve become a stick-in-the-mud. These days I seem to prefer to stay at home hibernating rather than face the wind and snow. I’m glued to my computer, obsessively checking emails and always finding one more thing to add to my to-do list. Left on my own, I’d happily become a hermit, having only limited contact with the outside world through selected electronic devices.

Fortunately, I have friends who aren’t so inclined.

Last week, for example, I was engrossed in creating an online course that people could sign up for through my Dream BIGGER website. It involved using a program that I’d never tried before, and I’d spent hours going in circles. Finally, I contacted the help line for the program. A very patient tech support person walked me through the necessary steps and suddenly it all became easy. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing the content and was nearly done when the phone rang.

It was a good friend suggesting that we go skiing (we’d had a heavy snowfall the night before).

“I would but I’m right in the middle of something,” I said, typing as we talked. “I’m on a roll and I really want to get this finished.”

“Okay, if you change your mind, give me a call,” she said. “I’m heading out in about twenty minutes.”

I hung up the phone and looked at the computer screen. Then I looked outside. I picked up the phone and called her back.

“I’ll be ready in five minutes.”

We had an amazing ski around a nearby park, across low bridges, along snow-laden sidewalks, sometimes plowing through knee-deep drifts. We saw a tiny vole burrowing under the snow on a frozen river, and then an ermine skittering across the snow to grab it for supper. Children skated on an icy pond and couples huddled close as the day turned to dusk. It was a magical and memorable hour spent enjoying the wintry weather, and I came home refreshed and invigorated.

I finished the e-course later that evening and hope to post it (along with a few other surprises) on the Dream BIGGER website in the coming weeks.

The experience reminded me that opportunities for pleasure are always there. All we have to do is say yes instead of no.

How spontaneous have you been lately?

*****

For my readers in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, I have 2 book signings this weekend. I’ll be at the Waterloo Chapters on February 12 and at the Kitchener Chapters on February 13. Both events run from 12 noon to about 4 p.m. Come out and bring a friend! I’d love to see you.

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Today your personal compass is pointing to the West. For some traditions, the West is the direction of introspection, stepping away from the outside world of stressful demands to rest and reflect. Think of a butterfly wrapped in a cocoon, or a bear settling in for a winter’s hibernation. For these creatures, it’s a normal and natural part of their life cycle, whereas we rarely take time for ourselves.

Yes, I realize you lead a busy life. And yes, I hear your cry that there’s not enough time. However, I also hear the other cry, the one that’s almost a whisper coming from deep within you. That voice sounds exhausted, desperate for time out, even fifteen minutes to put your feet up, close your eyes, and tell the world you’re not available. If you pause for a moment and listen, you can hear it too.

In fact, you’ve probably been hearing that cry for a long time. But you keep ignoring it, hoping it will go away. It won’t. Instead, your body will find other ways to get your attention. A bout of the flu, a cold that won’t clear up, a broken bone … all designed to force you to slow down. And if that doesn’t work, harsher tactics may be used like a chronic health issue or even a life-threatening diagnosis. Wouldn’t you rather listen now?

Self-care may seem like a foreign concept to many of us because we’re taught at an early age to care for others. It’s the “unselfish” thing to do. We’re also led to believe that if we take care of others, they will take care of us. Not necessarily so! As adults, we are responsible for our own care and well being. If we don’t take care of our needs, who will?

Here are some simple self-care suggestions.

  • choose to make your health and wellness a top priority this year
  • create a list of what brings you joy or inner calm
  • set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day just for you (can be divided into 2 fifteen-minute segments)
  • during that time each day do something you find soothing and enjoyable

The hardest part for most people is finding the time. So put some thought into it. Can you carve out fifteen minutes first thing in the morning before the kids are up and the day begins? How about fifteen minutes at bedtime? Perhaps you could take a walk at lunch as part of your “quiet time”. Another option is to schedule it into your day timer by blocking the time off on a regular basis. Make the commitment to yourself that nothing will interfere with that time except life or death emergencies (anything less than that can definitely wait!)

If you focus on spending quality time with yourself each day, you’ll feel calmer and have more energy. You’ll also be a lot more fun to be around!

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