One thing that I have become more thankful for this year is the “journey” of life itself.  I have been a planner and a goal setter all my life.  So, it’s been very different for me to not be working these past few months.  My calendar hasn’t been filled with meetings and appointments.  I don’t have the same (often looming) goals, or the next achievement dangling in front of me.

Instead, I’ve come to enjoy everyday things.  To appreciate the moment more.  To be content.  This is still something I’m perfecting.  The shift doesn’t happen overnight.  But I would encourage everyone to give it a try.

I think Alan Watts put a nice perspective on it in his video, “The real purpose of your life!”  Check it out, compliments of Science Dump.

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After drafting this post yesterday, I learned of the death of a co-worker and friend…  this is in memory of Steve Greenwood, who made a real impact on my life.

Mother’s Day in Seattle was a gorgeous warm Sunday, which we took advantage of by heading to St Michelle’s winery. We skipped the tour and went directly to the gift shop to buy crackers, cheese and a Pinot Griegio for an impromptu lunch on the grounds.

We snagged a small table near a giant wine barrel, in the pathway for perfect people viewing. The grounds were filled with young families, picnicking on the lawn with blankets spread out under them. A family next to us had bicycled to the winery and were so terribly efficient in the dining, that we knew they did it often.

For some reason, the crowded grounds still had a calmness to them, and the surroundings did not lose their charm despite the numbers. To the contrary, it was a mezmorizingly tranquil day.

In the past few months, I have found a new pleasure in relaxing.   Hanging out.  Unwinding.

Tom has often been concerned that I always have to have something to do.  The need to be busy.  I think I’ve done an admirable job of dispelling that notion lately.

Although I’m still not a big fan of watching TV for hours on end, napping, or just sitting listening to music, I feel I’ve made big strides by making fewer lists for the weekend.  By reading in front of the fire more.  By enjoying photo editing.  By baking bread.  By rubbing the dog.  Just hanging out at home.

More often than not these winter days, the answer to “did you have a good weekend” is a resounding “yes”, and it is a heartfelt “yes” even though it doesn’t mean that I “did” anything.

No, not the joke about Carnegie hall — a way to think about your life.

I have always respected that “doing” yoga is expressed as “practicing” yoga.  It’s an acknowledgement that this is something that we never fully master.  It is always a journey.

During my meditation practice, I stumbled upon the perspective that we can “practice” in life.  Even when we don’t quite feel like practicing yoga, meditating, or even being in a good mood,  that we can “practice” it.  Ok, we can pretend.

Hafez, a fourteenth-century Sufi poet suggests that we act great at all times.  Whether are practicing contentment on a bad day, or sitting in meditation watching our mind run around in circles.

Think about it.  “Pretending” to be a good mood tends to turn into a good mood.  “Pretending” to enjoy yoga poses often turns into an enjoyment.

This is an idea that could really catch on.

2010 is rapidly approaching.  

2009 probably won’t stand out as a particularly memorable one, but still there were many changes along the way.   A new position in Creative.  A new devotion to yoga and meditation.  A new outlook on life balance.  A new canine friend.

Small, in the big scope of things, but positive.  I hope to see that momentum continue in 2010…

It’s not Christmas without Erma Bombeck’s column:

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon.

What happened?
When did the cold, bare feet give way to reason and a pair of sensible bedroom slippers? When did the sparkle and the wonderment give way to depression of a long day? When did a box with a shiny ribbon mean an item on the “charge?”  A child of Christmas doesn’t have to be a toddler or a teen. A child of Christmas is anyone who believes that Kings have birthdays.

The Christmases you loved so well are gone. What happened?
Maybe they diminished the year you decided to have your Christmas cards printed to send to 1,500 of your “closest friends and dearest obligations.” You got too busy to sign your own name.
Maybe it was the year you discovered the traditional Christmas tree was a fire hazard and the needles had to be vacuumed every three hours and you traded its holiday aroma for a silver one that revolved, changed colors, played “Silent Night” and snowed on itself.

Or the year it got to be too much trouble to sit around the table and put popcorn and cranberries on a string. Possibly you lost your childhood the year you solved your gift problems neatly and coldly with a checkbook.

Think about it. It might have been the year you were too rushed to bake and resorted to slice-and-bake with no nonsense. Who needs a bowl to clean — or lick?
Most likely it was the year you were so efficient in paying back all your party obligations. A wonderful little caterer did it for you for $3 per person.

Children of Christmas are givers. That’s what the day is for. They give thanks, love, gratitude, joy and themselves to one another.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have children around a tree. It’s rather like lighting a candle you’ve been saving, caroling when your feet are cold, building a fire in a clean grate, grinding tinsel deep into the rug, licking frosting off a beater, giving something you made yourself.
It’s laughter, being with people you like, and at some time falling to your knees and saying, “Thank You for coming to my birthday party.”

How sad indeed to awake on Christmas and not be a child.
Time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness and exhaustion can take the Christmas out of the child, but you cannot take the child out of Christmas.

It’s better to give than receive.  We all know this instinctually.  Then why can giving be so difficult at times?

I don’t mean charitable giving.  I’m really talking about the people you know and love the most.  Loved ones that we want to thrill in finding just the right gift…  by knowing them so well that you can predict their level of excitement for this gift.  But that often escapes me.

I could chalk that up to me being a terrible shopper.   Or to not being attentive enough to the wants and needs of others.  But in reality, I believe it is the current state of the world we live in.  We consume.  We buy what we want, when we want it.  It makes it very difficult to delight someone with a gift.

In the movie Enchanted April, one of the commoners said to a priviledged woman who arranged for her own comfort

It’s nice to know what you want.  But you shouldn’t deny someone the chance to do something nice for you.