I Hope You Find Someone Who Fills Your Heart…

“I hope you find someone who fills your heart and I hope you let them in. I hope you learn that you don’t have to achieve anything to be happy.”

This is a quote from the movie, Passengers and it’s stuck with me ever since I first heard it. So much so, that I actually wrote it on top of my calendar for the year 2017, in order that I could be reminded of it each day. And what a blessing that has been!

For a lot of us, this quote hits close to home. So let’s break it down.

How do you know when you’ve found someone who fills your heart?

So you’ve met someone new and you’re totally infatuated with that person. During the dating process, you often find yourself thinking, “If only I act just a bit more _____, we’ll be perfect.” Or “I just need to _____ less, and I know (s)he’ll be totally crazy for me.” If this rings true, he/she’s probably not the one who fills your heart.

Any time another person makes you feel as though you need to do or be anything more or less than what you already are, they’re not right for you. Plain and simple. It’s nothing personal and this can be a hard lesson to learn.

When you find the one who fills your heart, it’s easy. It’s natural. You feel safe and secure. Like nothing you could ever do or say would change things between you. Because (s)he knows your flaws. (S)He acknowledges them, then accepts, and even embraces them. (S)He pushes you to grow in your weak areas but (s)he never causes you to doubt her/his adoration for who you are, flawed and all. Not once do the earlier thoughts of, “I just need to do this, and all will be well,” cross your mind.

All that you are and all that you do is totally and completely enough for this person.

And he/she makes that known.

Now on to the next part of the quote, “…and I hope you let them in.”

For some of us, with a string of past relationship failures, when we find that someone who fills our heart, letting them in is often the most difficult part. “How can he/she love me when I act like ______?” “Why would he/she want to be with someone who _____?”

Thoughts of self doubt ring most true when we find someone who fills our heart. Because it’s hard to believe. We’ve met someone who accepts and adores us so purely and wholly. Someone who wants nothing from us but to receive their love. This kind of interaction is life changing and mind blowing. And it’s common to have a hard time believing in its possibility.

But it happens. So believe it when it does. And let that person in.

Which brings us to the final portion of this powerful quote.

“I hope you learn that you don’t have to achieve anything to be happy.”

That person we’ve described above is how you learn. Once you’ve let them in and embraced the love that they’re offering, you realize what life’s about. That you don’t need to acheive anything to be happy. That to love and be loved is enough. In fact, it’s our whole purpose.

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected

I’ve never understood when artists are greedy, and yet I meet so many who are. It’s ironic since essentially artists are in the business of sharing- their talents, struggles, joys, and journeys. But if the main motivation behind sharing your talent is because you expect money in return, then your passion is money, not music. And you’re in the wrong business. I strongly believe that as artists, we’re given gifts and it’s our duty to share them, even if that means holding three jobs down to be able to do so. In the end, you have to know and believe that your gift alone is a treasure worth far more than any amount of money. And to whom much is given, much is expected…

Inspiration is Like a Butterfly

Have you ever noticed how inspiration often comes at the most inopportune times?

When a million other things are vying for our attention. Or when we’re right in the middle of something else. Like a shower. Or a run. Or when we’re simply not in the mood to write. Because we’re tired. Or hungry.

Have you ever had a brilliant idea come to you out of nowhere? A sudden flash of insight that you promise to write down later.

But when later comes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t recall what is you were supposed to write down. Maybe you remember the general idea, but the words are no longer fully formed, waiting to flow effortlessly from mind to paper. The inspiration is no longer a sudden flash, but rather a struggle to be grasped. And it’s brilliance is lost.

I think inspiration is purposefully inconvenient.

Because, you see, inspiration is ultimately a gift that wants to be shared. It’s constantly searching for the right receiver.

Inspiration demands attention. And it determines who’s rightfully worthy of it by arriving at the wrong time.

If we’re not willing to put time on hold, stop what we’re doing and fully receive the inspiration in the exact moment it arrives, then like a butterfly, inspiration simply flutters off to find another mind somewhere else. It wants to be with a person who recognizes its worth.

Soon You Will Be Confident in Who You Are and What Your Purpose Is

My new dog is what trainers refer to as “reactive”. Probably due to the fact that she had zero socialization during the first few months of her life. She sat alone, abandoned, and afraid during her most crucial development period. And then she came home with me.

dog

She’s a farm girl living in the city and she’s terrified of everything unknown. (Which given her background, is pretty much everything.) I’ve had her with me now for about four months. She’s been slowly gaining confidence and I thought it would be a great idea to send her to doggy daycare once a week. Not only to give myself a much needed break, but also to help her socialize. She loves dogs and I figured by watching the more confident dogs at daycare, she would learn to overcome her fear of people, as well as many other ordinary, everyday things.

Yesterday, we had our much awaited initial evaluation with a Doggy Daycare Center. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. She failed her temperament test. Apparently, once I left, she sat in the corner trembling and wouldn’t let any of the dogs or people come near her. She was terrified. Not the place for her, they told me and sent us on our way.

I was crushed. I’d been spending every day working with this dog for four months and I’ve watched her make incredible progress. To hear that she hadn’t progressed enough to attend a dog daycare, when other dogs are the one thing she loves most, was devastating. I felt exhaustion begin to overwhelm my thoughts as I contemplated just how long this road to recovery would be.

You see, I feel a sadness for my new dog. It makes me sad to think she doesn’t get to experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer because of her own unfounded fears. I’m sad when I see her insecurities preventing her from enjoying the world around her. And mostly, I’m sad because her defense mechanisms prevent other people from seeing the real her. The dog that I know and love.

The sweet soul who can talk a big talk, but doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. The playful puppy who loves nothing more than a good game of fetch and close cuddling on the couch. She’s brave and courageous and incredibly bright. She’s fast and strong. Gentle and loving.

I could hardly sleep last night. I couldn’t stop brainstorming of how I was going to help this dog. I needed to go back to the drawing board. She was making progress but not enough. I spent the night formulating our recovery plan.

When I awoke this morning, I had a new sense of determination and hope. I found myself talking out loud to her. “You are going to be the bravest pup in all the land,” I said. “Soon you will be confident in who you are and what your purpose is.”

And that’s when it hits me. Isn’t our plight as humans more or less the same?

I wonder if God thinks the same thing about us? Feels the same sadness when He sees our own unfounded fears preventing us from experiencing all that life has to offer. When He watches us push away other people with our defense mechanisms. When our own insecurities cause us to hide who we really are.

“I know you,” He whispers to us. “You’re brave and courageous and incredibly bright. You’re fast and strong, gentle and loving. If only you could see the real you, the person that I know, then you would know your purpose. You could approach the world with confidence, letting other people know you in all of your glorious imperfections. And finally, you could experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer.”

Deep Doesn’t Mean Dark

What’s up with this notion of if it’s not dark it’s not deep?
Likewise, people seem to think the bright and happy stuff is automatically surface level.

I’ve noticed this in not only writers, performing artists, and theologians, but also my own friends and family. We don’t “go there” because it’s too dark. Or how can a cheerful dialogue be meaningful?

It’s true. A lot of times, when you dig deep, you’ll find some uncomfortable truths. And sometimes these truths are dark. But dark doesn’t mean deep or vice versa. In fact, if the truth you’ve arrived upon is dark, chances are you simply need to keep digging. Dig past the darkness until you once again arrive at light.

Just look at Dr. Suess as an example. He was one of the greatest artists of all time and he was deep. An average onlooker might mistake his work for being “fluffy” or “frivolous”, but if you look a bit closer, his messages are powerful and timeless. In order to arrive at them, I’m certain he had to wade through some dark waters. But unlike many great artists, he didn’t let the dark waters consume his work. He simply swam deeper.

I believe that all truths at their core are light. This is because at our core, we are light.

we-are-light

So next time you hear someone say that a piece of self expression isn’t meaningful because it’s not dark and/or deep enough… or if you have a friend or family member who never seems to want to “go there” because “why should we get dark”…. gently remind them that deep doesn’t always mean dark.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

thankful

I’m thankful for waking up today. For the ability to breath and walk and laugh. I’m thankful for fresh air. That when I walk outside I feel safe. I’m thankful for other people. Old friends with whom I share a history and strangers whom I have yet to meet. I’m thankful that I can trust people, because I trust myself. I’m thankful for clean drinking water and that I never have to worry about when my next meal will be. I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep at night and a roof over my head.

It’s mind boggling, really, when I think of everything I have. It’s a wonder every day isn’t Thanksgiving. Indeed, it should be.

Halloween Irony

There is great irony in our celebration of Halloween.

mask-halloween-irony

Think about it…

Halloween is a day when many people enjoy dressing up, wearing masks, and pretending to be dead. Ironically, most people spend the other 364 days of the year dressing up, wearing masks, and pretending to live.

I Found the Key to Happiness!!

I’ve found the key to happiness!

It hit me like a bolt of lightening after observing other cultures while traveling through South East Asia.

Here it is:

I don’t want anything more than what I have right now. I don’t wish to be anywhere else than where I currently am.

Really internalize these thoughts. When you do, you cannot NOT be happy. When you truly believe that everything in life happens exactly as it’s supposed to (and it does), you release yourself from a desire to control and thus become free to experience joy in it’s purest form (presence and gratitude).

All that you have right now is all that you need. And you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

An Ode to Travelers (Travel Inspiration)

Traveling introduces us to ourselves. As we discover more of our world, we discover more of who we are.

travel

We visit places that leave us speechless, and then turn us into storytellers.

travel

We learn how other people live. There are so many ways to exist.

travel

And we get to choose!

…but we only get one life.

travel

We push past limits. Break through boundaries. And live outside of our comfort zones.

travel

We meet people. Love people. Trust people.

Even when we don’t share a language…

It’s okay because we’ve learned how to trust ourselves. And our intuition.

travel

We make unforgettable memories, that become like secret treasures…shared only by those who were there.

travel

Our loved ones want to hear about our travels. They like our stories of adventure. So we do our best to tell them. But we can only share so much.

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Because the truth is, the great things in life can’t be captured or described, only experienced.

And the best moments of all, no doubt the traveler’s favorite, are the ones that can’t even be understood…only appreciated.

travel

Is America Really Successful?

I recently got home from an incredible adventure abroad and want to share some observations with you, which I think are important. I spent three weeks traveling through Thailand and Vietnam. While the trip was unforgettable, I’m glad to be home (and for all new reasons).

Things I’ll miss about Vietnam and Thailand: the friendly people, smiling faces, and simplicity.

Things I’ll appreciate more in America: clean drinking water, fresh air, and being able to sit outside in the sun for more than 2 minutes without being soaked in sweat.

Probably the biggest and most obvious culture shock upon returning to America, even just making my way through the airports, is how unhappy we, as a people, are in comparison to these other cultures. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this. What’s causing it? Can we change?

First off, I think we have too many options. As Americans, we have all grown up in so much favor that it’s often hard to remember to be grateful. We have so many things to be grateful for but instead, we focus on what we don’t have yet. Things we want. Places we’d rather be. It’s tragic really, because in the midst of all of our wanting and wishing, we miss the joy that’s right in front of us.

Secondly, I think our definition of success is wrong. From birth we’re conditioned to work hard so we can live the life we want. We work hard, get to where we want to be, and our definition of success changes. Now we want even more. So we work hard to get there and still aren’t satisfied. And on and on it goes.

America is known as one of the most productive, successful societies in history. And we have a lot to show for our efforts. Productive? Absolutely. Successful? That’s debatable.

How can you be successful when your people are unhappy?

After observing the Thai and Vietnamese people, I personally think they’re a lot further along in the realm of successful living than we are. This is because, unlike the vast majority of Americans, they’re not stuck in a perpetual state of longing, they’re too busy living.

Unlike Americans, they’re not in a rush. They takes things as they come rather than bulldozing full speed ahead in an attempt to grasp things not yet meant to be. Comparatively speaking, their lives are simple. Men are seen squatting on every corner. Women are fanning themselves in the street. This simplicity lends itself to generosity. They notice the little things that we so often take for granted. They aren’t happy because everything is going their way. They’re happy because they trust that the way things are going is the best way, even when it’s not their own.

I don’t know the recipe for happiness nor do I have the formula for success pinned down. But if I had to guess… simplicity, faith, and a grateful heart are the best starting points.