Denise discusses the importance of planting the seed for your most authentic life. Video recorded from her cabin on the Buffalo River in Lobelville, Tennessee.

Denise discusses the importance of planting the seed for an authentic life.

Sunset on the Buffalo

January 27, 2010

Denise shares a sunset from her cabin on the Buffalo River.

I read a blog post recently by a fellow who wrote, “I’d consider myself stable.  I’ve been employed by the same company for 23 years.”   As a person who embraces change, I had to take a step back.  It’s not like I hadn’t heard that logic before — it’s haunted me for most of my life as something I ‘wasn’t’.

Stability always felt like a character flaw of mine and yet, I’ve made it 51 years, have happy, healthy relationships with my two well-adjusted adult children, and a loving and respectful relationship with my ex-husband.  I have a strong bond with a compassionate, supportive, intelligent, and creative community of family and friends and, while I don’t live in a million-dollar mansion or drive an expensive car, I’m able to support myself fairly well.

Also, (and here’s the biggie) I’m really, truly, absolutely, totally happy and healthy in body, mind and spirit.  And yet, by most people’s standards, I’m not what you’d call particularly stable — or even hugely successful.  A quick glance at my bio will give you an idea of my ‘MO’ — my first job out of college was as a farmer caring for baby pigs, I’ve been an advertising executive (yup – business suit, heels, briefcase. . . the works!), owner of an advertising agency, radio talk show host, journalist, and well . . . the list goes on and on.  And, just between you and me, it will likely continue it’s winding route for the next twenty years or so.

The thing that lights my fire is learning new stuff, digging into new adventures, meeting new and different people, testing my mettle by putting myself in new situations. On the way, the one constant on my path has been my writing or expressing my thoughts with words.  Ahhh!  There it is.  Maybe I’m more stable than I give myself credit for.  I’ve been a writer, and an observer of life — absorbing material for stories that would only be born years later, for more than 30 years!

But it makes me wonder if perhaps ‘stable’ isn’t over rated.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being a loyal employee for 23 years.  And, if you love (or even like)  your job, if it’s rewarding, if it let’s you live the life you’re meant to live and you are contributing at a respectable level then by all means, keep it.  I would NEVER fault anyone for being stable or not changing.  It just seems to me that being stable or any of the other adjectives society might use to define “success” might not be the best path for EVERYONE.  And, just because someone likes change, doesn’t/shouldn’t necessarily make them less worthy as a person.  Same goes for ‘organized’ (yes, I’m a ‘pile’ person and my clothes aren’t always neatly organized by color or fabric or (gasp) even season) or any of the other widely accepted success-related adjectives.

It seems to me that living an authentic life is really about living YOUR life.  The life that fits YOU, not what your Mother, Father, neighbor, religious leader, senator, teacher, radio talk show host, or anyone else says is noble or right.  And, I believe when each of us is able to claim our authentic life (and teach our children to do the same) the sooner we’ll realize peace and happiness for our selves, our communities and our world.

“First thing we have to do is figure out what we want to plant,” said Gardener. “I’ve spent most of the winter running through these books. Course they don’t show you what you plant – they always show you a beautiful image of what you’re supposed to get when it’s finished. They also don’t show you how much time and energy… it takes to get from that tiny seed to that final product. Seems like good thinking. Suppose if they only showed you what it looked like as a seed and how much work it would take to get to harvest, most of us would never bother planting in the first place.” [excerpt from “The Bountiful Garden”]Join in our discussion. What’s stopping you from realizing your dreams?

Open to Being Blessed

November 4, 2009

My lab-mix pup, Bella, hurried me out the door extra early today for her morning walk around Pinkerton Park.  Evidently no one gave her the memo about daylight savings time and I was still mildly perturbed with her as we made our way around the trail, an hour and a half earlier than usual.  The morning air was crisp, the leaves a vibrant display of orange, greens and golds framed by the full moon setting into the west.  Still, I was grumbling, mostly missing the magnificence of the day, as I waited impatiently for Bella to do her business.  As Bella paced and sniffed and sniffed and paced in search of the just right depository, I noticed a large woman, probably seventy  pounds over weight, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, hat pulled down over her ears against the cold morning air, making her way briskly along the trail toward me.  She swayed as she walked, a pattern I guessed she’d developed from carrying the extra weight, and her arms swung back and forth in keeping with her rhythm.  There was a bounce in her step that suggested her mood was happy.  I caught her eye and smiled as she passed, “Good morning,” I said in greeting.  “How are you today?”  She met my gaze with deep brown eyes and broke into a wide grin.  “Good Morning,” she replied adding with a mix of enthusiasm and sweet southern drawl, “I’m blessed.”   As she passed by me, waddling along the path, I caught myself smiling with the sunshine she’d just shared and thought what a wonderful way to answer that stale old question of, “how are you?”.   Here was a woman who showed no outward signs of what most of the world would consider “blessed.”  Her clothes were old and well-worn, she wasn’t particularly pretty by most standards, and she was bordering on morbidly obese.  Yet she was out at the crack of dawn, on a crisp autumn morning in middle Tennessee and, she was clearly celebrating her blessings. I was humbled by her choice to recognize the blessings in her life and decided that, “I’m blessed,” will become my official and heartfelt response from this point forward.  No matter how bleak the day may look.  How empty my bank account may be or how quickly my deadlines are approaching, if I’m breathing, and I’m able to wait patiently (or even impatiently) for Bella to, ‘do her business,’ I will remember my new found friend and answer with a sincere and heartfelt smile . .  “I’m blessed.”

Seeds of Impermanence

November 1, 2009

Today is a gift; a tiny seed with potential for peace, happiness and joy. I go forth today present in each moment, fully engaged in each experience.  I embrace this day with the understanding that my time in this world is limited. I live today with full appreciation that it may be my last.  I understand that life offers no guarantees and that, regardless of age or health, today could also be my final opportunity to demonstrate my appreciation to those I love.  I make the best use of every opportunity I am given today to express love and gratitude.