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.

For the past decade or so, I’ve worked at living by the Law of Attraction and positive thought. Like so many others, I created “vision boards” and, with varying degrees of focus, did my best to hold my “desires” close. But, within a matter of weeks, the board would usually fall to the bottom of the closet or wind up in a corner of the room. Likewise, in the struggle to simply keep up with the daily demands of life, my list of “desires” would often get pushed aside, rarely recited or revisted and usually forgotten completely — a wish list of pipe dreams that I didn’t really believe would manifest.

This year, with the completion of my book, The Bountiful Garden, and renewed confidence in the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thought, I’ve decided to create a daily practice of reviewing and reaffirming, or in this case, e-ffirming my vision using the internet and a daily email to myself.

Here’s how it works.

Begin with an email to yourself that lists your personal visions (include for your vision for family, friends, community and the world, for added impact) then end each of your desires or images with the statement. “And, so it is.”

At the start, and perhaps at the end, of each day, take a moment before you do anything else, to review your list and reply to yourself. If you want to create even greater impact, you might consider enlisting your spouse or a trusted friend(s), to share the task with you. As you create your list, take time to incorporate the desire into not just your thoughts but your feelings, let each vision travel from your thoughts to your fingertips down through the computer keys and when you click on send, it will go out into the universe to contribute to the realization of your desire.

When you send it take five minutes to breathe. Inhale and imagine. Exhale and say, “And so it is.”

Each morning take time to review your list. Copy it, paste it or rewrite it, repeating each desire out loud and then, close your eyes, breathe deeply and click ‘send.” Let it become a habit, as routine as brushing your teeth and then relax in confidence and faith that the Universe is already moving to make it so.

I just found this wonderful video and charitable organization about another Bountiful Garden. What a wonderful and worthwhile project. It is the message of my book in action. In future posts I’ll be sharing more examples of Bountiful Gardens taking root and, if you’ve been inspired in starting your own, “bountiful garden,” (note: garden is only a metaphor – each of grows our own personal garden in our own unique way) please share your story here!


Whose Life is it Anyway?

November 9, 2009

When my son, Joe, was born, I imagined that he might grow up to be a lawyer. When he was nine, we had a family portrait taken – newly launched into my life as a single-mother, the portrait, I believed, confirmed my suspicions. “Doesn’t he just ‘look’ like a lawyer?” I said to my sister hopefully.

As she studied the image of ‘our little man’ dressed in his miniature double-breasted, navy blue suit coat and coordinating red tie, hair trimmed neatly around his ears, gaze serious and confident, she had to agree.

Being a lawyer had long been a dream of mine though in truth, I think I was drawn to the image of what being a lawyer meant more than I was to the actual work of being a lawyer. Throughout college and and even into my early 30s, I equated lawyers with adjectives like intelligent, wealthy, successful – all things I imagined would make for a happy life. (Something I now know is not necessarily true.) But, as it turned out, I wasn’t destined to become a lawyer and, neither was my son.

During their elementary and high-school years, I drilled the idea into both of my kids that college was non-negotiable. Not attending or graduating from University simply wasn’t an option. Always exceptionally good in school, in spite of not always applying himself, Joe received a full presidential scholastic scholarship. And, as I insisted, he entered college immediately following high school graduation.

But, almost from the start, Joe was miserable in college. Keeping his spirits up and keeping him enrolled became a full time job that I took very seriously. For three and half long years, I struggled to keep Joe following the path I had set forth. And Joe, being a wonderful son who wanted so much to ‘do what was right’, suffered through the process. While my encouragement and insistence was well-intentioned – I really believed I was doing what was best for Joe – in hindsight, I can see now that I’m fortunate I didn’t lose him in the process.

Shortly after Christmas, prior to returning to complete his last semester, Joe came to me in tears. He begged me not to make him go back. He told me how pointless his classes felt. How wasted he thought his time was. At 21, Joe was completely within his rights and fully capable of making his own decisions. We both knew that he didn’t need my permission to drop out. He was asking for my blessings and my understanding. And, while I was devastated to imagine that he wouldn’t continue, I was even more distressed that I could play a part in my son’s spirit being so broken.

As we talked through the whats, ifs, whys, and hows, of his taking what we called, ‘a break,’ the unexpected death of my parents from a car crash that left my beautiful 46-year old sister in a persistent vegetative state (coma) less than six years earlier, were foremost on my mind. The tragedy we all, including Joe, experienced, taught us well the lessons that each day is a gift and our time on this earth is limited.

So, with Joe’s promise that he’d somehow, someday, earn his degree, I gave him my blessings and, in the process, the authority – which had really been his all along – to determine his own path in life. And, true to his wise old soul, Joe wasted no time in following his heart. Today, nearly five years to the day, Joe’s ‘path’ has led him to China, Thailand, England and finally, to his new home with a beautiful, intelligent and loving wife and baby, in Sydney, Australia where he is building a rich and satisfying life as a personal fitness trainer; a career he is pursuing with passion and enthusiasm.

Over the past five years Joe has certainly learned and lived some lessons in life but the lesson I’m most appreciative for is the lesson that he gave to me. His lesson served to remind me that each of us has our own life path and purpose we’re here to live out. And the way in which Joe is following his path continues to be a source of inspiration as I stumble along my own way as a writer. Lesson learned. Degree in hand. I take it one day at a time with overwhelming gratitude to my son, Joe.

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.