Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tools for the Journey #5 - Exhaling Gratitude

Back when I was in my early twenties - while living in Colorado - I had the privilege of working with John Denver. During that time John gave me a powerful tool for my journey which I would like to share with you.

Over the course of the years we worked together there was one thing about John which was always present. It was present in his actions, it was present in his speaking, it was present in the work he did, and it was present in the way he walked through his daily life. His modeling this for me at that point on my journey was incredibly powerful. He breathed it in, he exhaled it, and it is who he was. Never in my life had I seen anyone else do this so absolutely…and I have not seen it exhibited in anyone else to the same extent in the nearly 20+ years since then.

John was grateful. His level of gratitude was staggering in its depth and breadth. He was grateful every day, all the time, without exception, on good days and bad, from sun up to sun down. He felt it, he lived it, he modeled it, and all that he did, all that he gave, all that he sang - was an expression of his gratitude. Without exception and without question he was grateful.

John’s most sincere wish was to make a difference in the world. One of the most important lessons I learned from him was how wanting to make a difference was not a place he was “going”, it was the place he was coming from; it was foundational for him. He knew the journey could be long, he knew some would criticize him, doubt his motives and question his sincerity...but gratitude was his fuel, it was the powerful ground he stood upon, it was how he looked out of his eyes, and thus nothing could stop nor deter him. He employed what I like to call the "Kennedy" approach:

In 1962 John F. Kennedy decided to put a man on the moon within 10 years. To reach his goal he surrounded himself with every expert he could find. Interestingly, he also made sure to surround himself with plenty of people who told him “it can’t be done”. Why? Because these were the people who would point out the flaws in his plan. Brilliant! He didn’t shun the nay-sayers; he included them, and was grateful for them, because they helped him reach his goal! Mr. Kennedy decided failure wasn’t an option so he found a way to have everything and everyone contribute to the successful outcome of the project.

John was the same - he included everyone and was grateful for what they brought to the table. He smiled a lot and really did say, "Far out" all the time! He truly was one of the best people I have ever known. He lived and breathed gratitude day in and day out and he gave me a precious gift by showing me what this way of being-gratitude can do in the world.

As you travel the road ahead you will receive many different “gifts” - be thankful for all of them ("good" or "bad"). These gifts are the treasures of your journey, the tools which will help you through the challenges ahead...if you stay open and remember to stay grateful.

I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other.
Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences. -John Denver

Blessings on the Journey!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tools for the Journey #4 - The Weight of a Snowflake

Last night I went to “inhale” (=receive) a Jason Mraz concert in Boston. On my drive home I considered the “gifts” I had received and how I could exhale them to the people in my life. My experience from yesterday is a perfect case-in-point for how each and every person on our journey (even strangers we may never know personally) has a gift for us if we are open to receiving.

Someone exhales their gift; how we receive it is up to us. Once the gift is given the giver is finished and the “how” of receiving is completely up to the receiver. It took time for me to understand the old saying: “The gift is in the giving”, but as a writer I live this every day. I write to exhale my gifts, and the act of giving has to be enough; if I attach too much to how it will be received then my giving is not as pure.

So, as I steered my Toyota towards the Bank of America Pavilion for the show I asked the Universe for three miracles to happen for me at the event. This is something I do sometimes, and I find the more pure and honest the environment I walk into, the more likely the "miracles" will happen. I am happy to tell you all three Universal requests were answered and then some.

The gifts I received may not be the gifts the person sitting next to me received. This is the wonder-full thing about gifts of this nature. Jason (et al) exhaled the same gift to all 5000 of us, yet everyone came away with a one-of-a-kind present to take home. The reason for this is Jason Mraz (the person) is the messenger rather than the message. His exhale is the message; is the gift. Through exhaling a message of hope, love and gratitude – good ripples were created which I choose to visualize as creating other good ripples in farther and farther reaching circles today.

Jason Mraz, and his merry band of brothers and sisters exhaled a gratitude-filled, love inspired mantra to the audience. This exhale is absolutely the place each of them is coming from, and the message is an important shoulder-tap in our far too busy lives. Be Love! As I listened it occurred to me in a spectacular AH HA moment...these songs, these exhales from Mraz and Company are vibrational mantras. As we sing along we breath in and re-exhale out this positive mantra to the Universe. Brilliant.

In an effort to re-exhale the positive chant from last nightI want to share a story with you which I wish I’d had the opportunity to share with Jason Mraz and his family last night.

"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a coal-mouse (a small bird) asked a wild dove.

"Nothing more than nothing," was the answer.

"In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal-mouse said.

"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow - not heavily, not in a raging blizzard- no, just like in a dream, without a wind, without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto my branch, nothing more than nothing as you say, the branch broke off."

Having said that, the coal mouse flew away.

The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come to the world."

(From: A Tale for all Seasons by Kurt Kauter)

Moral of this blog post - Be a receiver and a giver (an inhaler & an exhaler).
Add your voice. Yours may be the one voice missing which could change everything.
Be the messenger.
Be a snowflake.
Be Love.

Blessings on the journey!