All of This

Seattle has a reputation for rain. When I first traveled there two years ago, I was lucky enough to be squeezed between two locals on the flight over, full of tips and must-sees for my inaugural visit. When I (inevitably) asked about the weather, the woman to my right confessed that although yes, it did rain most days, it was usually only briefly in the morning or afternoon, preceded or followed by sun. Then, just as the lush green mountaintops and forest firs were coming into view below, she went on to say something I’ll never forget:

Besides, if we didn’t get so much rain, we wouldn’t have all of this.

All of this. No explanation was needed. I was surrounded by dense woods, trees whose lifespan far surpassed my own, and a mountain backdrop that was a refreshing change of scenery from the industrial landscape I’d left behind. All made possible by year-round rainfall, for which the city is so famous.

The Emerald City is named so for a reason. Wildflowers adorn nearly every sidewalk, highway, and hillside, thriving in every season.

all of this image

Yet we forget that year-round greenery requires year-round rain. Without it, the Emerald City would cease to be what it is today.

Perhaps too, our lives’ green patches need a steady rainfall to flourish year and year again.

It’s difficult to bear witness to the good that unfolds without acknowledging the storms that came before. If we didn’t get so much rain, we wouldn’t have all of this.

Our days can bring a steady drizzle, or a sudden downpour. And often, before we see new blooms, a seed has already been planted, our roots already strengthened.

We’re not always good at piecing together the weather of our lives. Our fondest memories can quickly disappear when tragedy strikes, just as our rough patches can readily fade when we’re met with good news. Yet the changing seasons of our surroundings are deeply intertwined, each gradually giving way to the next. Long winters prelude mild springs, and cherished summers come to pass.

Like the gardens that catch our eye, we need sun and rain in order to thrive, to enrich our soil. If you’re in a monsoon season, let in some light. If the sun is shining, be deliberate in your appreciation of all the goodness and beauty that surrounds you.

Whatever your current landscape, find comfort in all the forces that came together to make it so.

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Another Year Older, Another Year Wiser

Lewis Carroll wrote, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” On this birthday, for that I am grateful: for all the yesterdays that have carried me to where I am today, and for all the questions that remain to be asked.

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Find a Little Wonder

A beautiful friend recently told me, “Always find a little wonder in your day.” Words to live by, I’ll say. As children, we took wonder in the simple things – catching fireflies, finding a shiny penny, losing our training wheels, and spotting the moon. I was fascinated by the night sky. The beloved Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me was a longtime favorite, and I sought comfort in the glow of “the mimmy” each night.

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25 Days of Gratitude

A couple of years ago, I began the tradition of noting what I’m grateful for each day during the month of December. Since then, I’ve tried to make a more regular habit of my gratitude practice, incorporating it into my daily life and weekly reflections. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of paying closer attention to what we’re thankful for (and not just during the holiday season!) This month, I invite you to join me by tracking what you’re grateful for each day. It needn’t be anything elaborate — in fact, it’s often the simplest moments that can bring us the most joy. When we seek ways to show our appreciation, we find them. Invite your family and friends to join you and use it as an opportunity to share the bounty of blessings you encounter. Perhaps you want to take it a step further and spread the ripples of joy by challenging yourself to do a random act of kindness each day or gift your time and talents to those you love. Whatever fills your heart to the brim this holiday season, find time to soak it in and share it. Here are some more ideas to get your gratitude juices flowing!

Take a snapshot of what you’re grateful for each day.

Write a letter to someone who’s inspired you and tell them how they’ve shaped your life.

Say thank you to someone whose invisible efforts often go unnoticed.

Reflect on 5 things you’re grateful for each day, 4 things you’re grateful for each week, 3 things you’re grateful for each month, 2 things you’re grateful for this past year, and 1 thing you’re grateful for right now.

Start a gratitude jar. Write down something you’re grateful for each day on a small slip of paper, fold it up, and stick it in your jar. When the jar is full, empty it out and remind yourself of all the reasons you have to be thankful. (This is a great project for the New Year!)

Day 1: Cozy comforters on cool mornings.

Day 2: Foggy days to soothe the soul.

Day 3: Bright melodies.

Day 4: Inner stillness.

Day 5: Bursts of inspiration.

Day 6: Pastel skies peeking through the windows.

Day 7: Giving hearts.

Day 8: Company of friends and neighbors.

Day 9: Meals made from scratch.

Day 10: Mailbox cheer.

Day 11: Starry skies.

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Winter Challenge: Small Changes

Finding balance

As the cooler months approach, I find myself seeking out cozy indulgences more and more: hot baths, warm blankets, fresh soups, new reads, soft scarves. Building my winter nest gives me a greater appreciation for this time of year as I gradually grow accustomed to the shortened daylight hours and bitter cold evenings.

The winter season evokes a sense of non-urgency that strongly contrasts with the frenzy ushered in by the holidays that accompany it. On the one hand, we freely give into the lethargy that has become synonymous with this time of year while on the other, we fight to resist the rushing around and familiar pressures it brings.

Where do we find a balance?

In between cookie exchanges and ugly sweater parties, New Year’s countdowns and flight delays, we have the chance to slow down: to examine our daily routines and start experimenting with the changes we’ve long thought about making but not yet enacted.

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The Gift of Giving

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s natural to judge our lives by what we gain from them. Many of us rate our level of success on our accomplishments: procuring a stable job, buying a home, or starting a family to name but a few. We may rely on even simpler victories to measure how we’re faring: getting out the door on time, working out each day, and keeping our living space tidy.

Early on we’re taught to pursue a life of fulfillment. For some of us this may be through the cultivation of meaningful relationships or the engagement of a much-loved hobby. For others, fulfillment is sought through elevated social status, material wealth, or workplace promotions.

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The Case Against Doing Things Because You Deserve To

Go ahead, you deserve it

How many times have you heard the phrase, “Go ahead, you deserve it”? Maybe after an especially satisfying workout, you tell yourself that you deserve a milkshake, or after a long day of work, that you deserve to put your feet up. Maybe you’re hard on yourself because you believe you deserve to punish yourself for a mistake you made weeks ago and still regret.

So much of how we treat ourselves and interpret our lives’ events can be caught up in what we think we do and don’t deserve. Unfortunately, our experiences don’t always align with these elementary notions of fairness or worthiness.

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