5 Quotes on Embracing the Flow of Life

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon

Hello, my dear May flowers,

This month’s blog post is going to be reasonably short and sweet (at least in words from me). I felt I was due for another round of sharing the wise words of others. I really enjoy collecting quotes—and putting together fun graphics for sharing them!

The above quote is the first that jumped to mind as one I wanted to include. It’s a lyric from John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which he wrote for his son. I first heard John’s version of this saying, but according to Quote Investigator, variations of the expression floated around before he published his song; the earliest known version is from Allen Saunders in 1957.

John’s lyric—or Allen’s expression—brought me back to what I wrote about in March: balancing my expectations for life and myself with the realities of what’s happening and what I need. Don’t get me wrong; I love making plans. If we truly had “personality islands” in our minds like those in Inside Out, one of mine would feature a calendar as the central statue, surrounded by a walking path of neon-colored sticky-note lists. But life is full of disruptions. Sometimes, to-do lists need to be rewritten. Plans need to be thrown out.

Resisting the flow of life is futile. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. When faced with an unexpected challenge, I can feel myself stiffen, as if maybe I can hold still long enough that the winds of change will blow past me. Of course, that never works. It wouldn’t work for any of life’s less pleasant but ultimately inescapable parts, from mistakes to uncomfortable emotions.

I have learned—am still learning—that instead of resisting, I need to embrace what is so I can decide what I want to do about it. Easier said than done, to be sure. That’s where these quotes come in (and come together). Each is a reminder to accept changes and challenges for what they are and, at times, what they offer.

For someone who not only plans, but plans to plan, I so often find myself unprepared for what life presents. You just can’t be ready for everything; you don’t get time to practice. Or, really, life is the practice. The test run and the big show, all at once.

What a strange design. How wonderful. How irresistible.

xoxo

Marie

"When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid." - Pema Chödrön
Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chödrön
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." - Brené Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
"Emotions either get in the way or get you on the way." - Mavis Mazhura
Navigating the Rapids and the Waves of Life: 10 Lessons for Managing Emotions for Success by Mavis Mazhura
"To err is to wander, and wandering is the way we discover the world; and, lost in thought, it is also the way we discover ourselves." - Kathryn Schulz
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

The Time Traveler’s Life: Finding Gratitude in the Now

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Hello cyber friends,

Guess what? I’m a time traveler. No, really. It’s actually quite impressive. I just go about my day—working on a project, making dinner—and all of a sudden, I’m transported back to a moment I had completely forgotten about.

Sometimes, I end up in a memory from a few months ago. Sometimes it’s years back. I don’t actually run the time machine myself, so I have no control over where I end up. It can be any one of the Greatest Hits of my so-called “mistakes” (or simply things I could have done differently). No matter where I’m sent, the trip is so quick I don’t even notice it. I’m just there. Reliving the moment. Rewinding it and playing it back. Sometimes playing it forward to imagine all potential (negative) outcomes. It’s really fun, really great.

Okay, not so much. But such is life in my mind some days.

The other day I had the thought, why can’t my brain randomly send me good memories? Why can’t I suddenly be sent back to walking the canals in Amsterdam? Or have my senses overwhelmed at the thought of a really good meal I’ve had? If I have to obsess, why can’t I play through all the potential positive outcomes of every good choice I’ve made?

Of course, I understand why. We’re all a little bit caveman on the inside. Our ancestors survived by successfully monitoring for, assessing, and responding to threats. So we’re wired to do the same. Unfortunately for some of us, those threat detection systems can be a bit overzealous.

I cannot change my default settings, unfortunately. (Although I have learned that basic self-care tasks, like sleep and exercise, really do help.) That being said, if my brain is a machine, I have a choice in how to use it. Sure, maybe it doesn’t automatically focus on what I want. But I can redirect it. At least some of the time.

With the holidays upon us, I have been thinking a lot about gratitude. I realized that I think of myself as a grateful person, but maybe it’s better to think of gratitude as an action rather than a state of being. Before Thursday’s dinner, my dad said that his friend had shared the following via text: Remember that Thanksgiving is a verb. Put another way, in this quote by Larissa Gomez: “Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training of the heart.” We can practice and get better at it. We can hijack the machine, and time travel to our favorite memories.

Or stay present. I have gotten into the habit lately of periodically wiggling my toes. Doing so has been a helpful reminder that I am physically here, right now. Not in unknown goods or bads of the past or future. Now when I do, I try to also notice the moment. I see through the window to my left that it’s sunny outside today. I like to think a lot of my neighbors are putting up their Christmas lights. To my right, I see one of my cats snoozing on the couch. He is covered in Christmas tree sheddings, which makes me think he was laying under the tree again this morning. He looks so peaceful right now. He is here. I am here. We are okay. We are more than okay.

This year has been brutal. I know the holidays can bring mixed feelings as well, especially in 2020. But we are here. My primary goal, as we wrap up the calendar, is to continue practicing gratitude (and by extension, joy). So many things are out of my control. I cannot rewrite the past, no matter how many times I live through it. The future is great and all, but I can’t live there, either. Besides, it’s all ultimately made up of an infinite string of Nows. And I no longer wish to miss any of them.

xoxo  

Marie