What Can a Grasshopper Teach You About Life?


Moving through a milestone birthday sparks introspection, analysis and hopefully, forgiveness of yourself and others. The stories you created about past events and the people involved shaped your idea of self. These are the stories through which you filter reality.

When you step back and look at these shaping stories from a different perspective, you suddenly realize that they are no longer true. You have grown past the limiting stories from your childhood or young adulthood, and you didn’t even realize it!

That is the wonder of a milestone birthday. You assess the past to curate the present to create a different future.

What About the Grasshopper?

tobias-knauer-739430-unsplashYou may be wondering when I am going to explain the title of this article. Stay with me and it will become crystal clear.

One way I continue to experience the growth of my self is to read inspirational stories, books or poems in the morning. A poem by Mary Oliver that landed in my inbox this morning is what prompted me to write this post:Grasshopper

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What a great question to ask at any age, but especially when moving through a milestone birthday!  My answer: to stay awake and aware of the wonder and majesty of everything around me, to allow God’s love to flow through me into the world, and to grab hold of inspired action and see where it takes me.

What’s your answer to that question??? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.

Kindness Is the Key


We recently spent a lovely week enjoying Paris, France. We only speak a smattering of French, but saying “Bonjour, monsieur” as soon as you walk into a shop or sit at a sidewalk cafe paved the way.

We were treated courteously, politely and distantly. The service was provided with a smile, but with very little personal connection. The language barrier created a ravine that was difficult to cross.

Enter kindness. Kindness showed up in small ways and rather impactful ways. Kindness bridged the ravine and connected us as humans, even though we did not speak the same language.  Allow me to share two examples.

Adventures in Traveling – By the Metro, Trains & a Car

We decided to take a day trip out of Paris to the medieval town of Chartres, home of the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres. It should have taken an hour by train, but an electrical fire the day before prevented that train from running.

We were sent to a different Metro station, to catch the train to Versailles. Once in Versailles, we were told to take “Bus 409” to La Verriere, and then take the train to Chartres.

It all sounded so simple when we stepped off the train at Versailles. What we failed to consider was that we were not the only people inconvenienced by the cancelled train.

We stood waiting for the bus, until we realized that we needed to buy a ticket. Waiting again with more people than could ever fit on the next bus, it was an hour before we hit upon a solution.

Hire an Uber driver!

We mentioned this idea to a man and woman who were also frustrated with the wait. The man (Peter) was in his early thirties and spoke excellent English. The woman (Margaret) was older and didn’t speak a word. They managed to send for an Uber, but the car never showed up. That request was cancelled and a new driver appeared after another 45 minutes.

Of course, just as the Uber driver appeared, so did Bus 409! People jammed onto the bus, cramming into every conceivable space.

We all fit into the compact car, grateful for the air conditioning. We shared information about ourselves, our lives and our trip to Chartres. By the time we arrived in La Verriere, we were no longer strangers.

Once on the train, Margaret kept trying to tell me something. I finally understood that she was offering her iPhone charger to me, so I could charge my phone. Her thoughtfulness and sincerity were quite touching.

When we finally arrived at Chartres (after 5 hours!), we waived goodbye to our travel companions. Their kindness was the bridge to a wonderful travel adventure!

Waiting at the Airport

Another example of kindness being the universal language occurred at the Charles de eu-france-paris-charles-de-gaulle-international-airport-arrival-hall-FX8MA7Gaulle Airport, as we were waiting to check our luggage.

It was very chaotic going through the steps to check our bags. While we were standing in line, I noticed that we happened to be in the middle of a large family. The older man and woman in front of us were talking with their grandchildren behind us. It was all in French and we couldn’t understand a word.

The line did not move forward quickly and the children were beginning to get restless. Since we had more than enough time to reach our gate, I offered for the people behind us to join their family.

Surprise then gratitude lit up their faces. It didn’t matter that we were from different countries; kindness was given and received.

About five minutes later, the grandmother came up to me and touched my arm to get my attention. When I turned to look at her, she gestured for us to move in front of their entire group! They moved to each side, creating an aisle.

I felt like royalty as we thanked them for their kindness. The only thing missing was the red carpet!

Walking past these people made me realize again that kindness is truly the universal language. It bridges differences in language, culture and religion. It reminds me of a saying that we could all remember:

Kindness is Free

Be kind. It’s your free gift to another soul who may need it.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

 

 

Time Is a Blessing or a Curse


Paris is a city that embodies its history. Century old monuments stare down at snarling traffic; historic bridges span the Seine connecting the left and right banks; everything happened either before or after the French Revolution in 1789.

It’s what I love about Paris.

Time seems to stand still in many areas of the city. The small groups that gather along the Seine in the shadow of Notre Dame to enjoy the cool evening breeze are one example. The grand cathedral has been a gathering place for more than 850 years.

The enormous clocks that adorn the top of the Orsay Museum capture this idea perfectly. Roman numerals are used for each position on the face, and the center of the clocks are clear.

Look closely at these people – can you tell if they are young or old? Teens or adults? The silhouette of each person reminds me that a moment in time can be captured with a click, but time continues to move forward.

We can’t stop the flow, we can only enjoy the experience.

Look at this photograph again. Can you see through the clear glass to what lies beyond? It’s the Ferris Wheel that operates in the Tuileries Gardens, just outside the Louvre. It’s another example of how Paris adds a bow on top of centuries of history.

And to think that we see it through 19th Century glass that has stood the test of time (as well as marking it)! Ironic, don’t you think?

No Matter Where You Are


The experience of being human is an adventure, no matter where you happen to be in the world. Cultures place different values on the experience, but there are certain values that remain the same, no matter where you are.

Family. Friends. Belief in a higher power.

In my travels this year, I have noticed one difference. How people use their cell phones.

A cell phone is a wonderful invention that connects, informs and directs, all from the palm of your hand. With the swipe of a finger, you can learn the history of anything or discover the answer to the most obscure question.

But this tool can also isolate and separate people.

When I was in Hong Kong and Sydney this year, I noticed that most people used their phones as a shield against the world. It was a sign that clearly said, “Don’t bother me.”

This is not a comment on either city, just an observation.

In Paris, however, it is a different story. The Parisians may come across as rude or indifferent to tourists, but when they are with friends, they are intense, engaged and attentive.

Yesterday, for example, we had lunch at a sidewalk cafe. To our right was a group of three men who were engaged in a spirit discussion. Different voices made emphatic points, to which the others responded. All of this communicated over food.

To our left were two women, also engaged in a deep conversation. Each looked into the other’s eyes, listening attentively.

No one had their cell phone out. It was not in sight and was never used during either of these conversations.

I didn’t think much about this until we took a stroll last evening along the Seine. Notre Dame rose in the sunset as small groups of people enjoyed the cooler air. Food and wine were part of every gathering…and not a cell phone in sight.

We are humans, wired to be connected to each other. Why don’t we pledge to leave our phones out of sight and intend to listen. When we connect to others, we also connect more deeply to ourselves.

Viva la humans!

Live Like A Wrinkle in Time


Have you ever wondered where time came from? It seems real enough, until you start playing with it. Then, time becomes malleable, pliable and totally manipulatable.

Time is an illusion of the mind.

Don’t believe me? Remember your first kiss with someone important to you. Did it happen in the snap of your fingers, or was it slow motion, just like in the movies? Either way, the same amount of seconds (or minutes) ticked off the clock, but your perception of the event was completely your own.

Why am I writing about time? I just finished watching “A Wrinkle in Time,” based on the childhood classic book by Margaret L’Engle. The story is about how powerful we are, based on the thoughts we think. When thoughts are combined with emotion, they can shift our reality. Love or darkness fuels these changes. It is always our choice which one we use to create our world.

What does this have to do with time? The movie has a science fiction element, because the main characters jump into a different dimension, outside of time and space. They carried love with them and evolved into more powerful creators as events unfolded.

I feel as if I have jumped out of time and space.

I forgot to share that I am traveling at 551 mph at 39,003 feet as we fly more than 8,400 miles from Sydney, Australia to Dallas, Texas. While these data points provide a solid context, it’s what happens to time that fascinates me.

We left Sydney at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 28, 2018. Traveling east means that we gain time. We will land in Dallas, Texas at 1:31 p.m…on May 28! Basically, we live the same day over!

Doesn’t that blow your mind? I feel like I have stepped into a wrinkle in time.

After I stepped through the sliding doors at DFW Airport and into the arms of my family, I knew exactly how I would spend the extra hours that traveling around the world gifted me.

In love. Being love and loved. Grateful for this life of love.

We step out of time when we love. Time is a mental construct that holds our experience in our minds. Love is a heart activity that is infinite and outside of time.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

Bali Dreams


Bali is a land of contrasts. Chaos and calm. Frantic movement and serenity. Force and surrender.

These are Western observations and determinations. To the Balinese, everything flows and they allow the current of life to carry them forward.

Every morning, a young girl walks through the winding path of the place where we are staying, placing a small flower or fragrant petal on certain spots. The statutes are lovingly decorated. Color lines the walkways like a jeweled necklace. When I renter my room after breakfast, petals are on the bed, dresser and shelf above the sink.

This ritual is not because we are tourists. It is part of their religion to give thanks for the new day, in as beautiful way as possible.

I think that is why people are drawn to Bali. It is a reminder that we are spiritual beings first, then human. When the spiritual side of our nature is cultivated, recognized and thanked profusely, the human side shows up in the world fueled by compassion, love and gratitude.

Bali is a dream for many, but you can carry the beauty of Bali with you without ever having to breath the air. Spend daily time in meditation, mindfulness and intentionality and you will find your Bali.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

Start with Yourself


nicolas-tissot-435976

There are absolute truths about the human experience that never change, no matter what century you live in or what culture. These truths are immutable, immeasurable and impossible to ignore.

One of these truths is that to change the world, you must first change yourself.

In the Crypts of that grand cathedral known as Westminster Abbey, on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop inscribed in 1100 A.D., are these words:

When I was young and free and my imagination

had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world

would not change, so I shortened my sights some

what and decided to change only my country.

But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, In one last desperate

attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those

closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my death bed, I suddenly realize:

If I had only changed myself first, then by example I

would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would

then have been able to better my country and, who

knows, I may have even changed the world.

Don’t wait for the last moments of your life to know this truth. You can make a difference right now, in the very moment. Decide to change yourself and you will change the world.

Start with yourself.

What wild and crazy thing is calling to you? To go surf in Hawaii? To run the Paris Marathon? To climb a mountain?

Whatever it is, culture will try to stop you. The rules of the world seem to quash the very thing that makes us human — our spirit. Don’t let it quash you.

If your first thought is to denigrate yourself or your abilities, that is culture talking. You will not live your wild, best life listening to culture.

Just remember, that thing that is calling you…is pointing directly at you and saying, “It’s time. Walk away. Come play with me. You’ll see.”

That thing calling you defies reason and logic (more culture speak). It defines your deepest yearning, that person you were meant to be.

Start with yourself and you will discover that impossible truth that we must all face at some point in our lives. You are here for a reason and only you can express it to the world.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.