A Year of Potential

January 1, 2010

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential. ~Ellen Goodman

I admit to stealing today’s quote from Patti Digh’s blog entry, entitled “you are not broken. you don’t need to be fixed.” The post also includes an image of a beautiful Edward Hopper painting (alas, no relation!)

But really, what a terrific way to start the new year, by considering our potential rather than making resolutions to overcome our perceived flaws. Acknowledging and celebrating our gifts gives others inspiration to do the same.

What do you want to bring forward in 2010? What do you have within you that wants expression? How will you celebrate your talents in the coming year? Share your list!

Free Stuff

December 27, 2009

All that is really useful to us can be bought for little money; it is only the superfluous that is put up for sale at a high price. All that is really beautiful…is offered us as a gift by the immortal gods. We are allowed to watch the sun rise and set, the clouds sailing along in the sky, the forests and the fields, the glorious sea, all without spending a penny. The birds sing to us for nothing, the wild flowers we may pick as we are walking along by the roadside. There is no entrance fee to the starlit hall of the Night. ~Axel Munthe

We have just come through a season of gift-giving, of consumption, of overextension for some that will cause unease in future. I wonder if we might have more meaningful holidays if we paid more attention to the simple joys of living, and less to the shopping, wrapping, and fretting about who gets what.

Sam and I stood on the deck last night and watched the sunset, brilliant fiery orange behind bare tree limbs in the West, and pastel pink streaked across a gorgeous grey-blue sky in the East. This was definitely a highlight of the holiday for me, in addition to the relaxing time off for quiet and reflection. I am grateful for these gifts.


May 5, 2009

Career counselor John Crystal offers the best way I have found to remember our gifts: “Think about those things you have always found it easy to do and don’t remember learning how.” We tend to value the knowledge and skills we have worked hard to acquire; if we earned it from the sweat of our brow it must be important, or so we tell ourselves. But when aspects of work or life come easy, we think they must not be all that important. Crystal asks us to consider the reverse, that the “things we have always found it easy to do” might point us toward our gifts. ~Russ S. Moxley, “It Also Takes Courage to Lead,” in Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer

Hey, maybe it’s OK not to know too much about how to write poetry, huh? I remember being dumbfounded at a poetry workshop years ago when poet Kate Daniels said to me, “You have a gift. You should develop it.”

I like this reversal of the idea that only that which we slave over is important. I know that the best dancers/artists/writers/athletes/you-name-its are the ones who make it look effortless. And while I’m sure hard work is an important element for making it look so easy, I don’t think they could ever achieve that without natural talent, without flowing with their gifts.

What can you do easily that you don’t remember learning? Do you devalue it because there was no struggle involved? Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge and develop it as your gift.

You Are the Gift

December 24, 2008

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops. ~Kurt Vonnegut

There is no need to capture or hold on to anything because you are everything. ~Sasaki-Rosi

Our most important gift to others this holiday season is our full presence, our aliveness, our unique expression. I am hopeful that the economic downturn is actually helping people understand the value of such intangible gifts. Who really needs another kitchen appliance or another technological gadget?

I agree wholeheartedly with Sarah Susanka’s suggestion to consider recycling something in our vast collections of “stuff” that we no longer need but that might bring joy to someone else. Fewer items for the landfill.

But most importantly, may we remember that we are the gift. Wishing everyone a joyful, simple, mindful holiday season.