Being Alive

What does being alive feel like? Are you alive right now?

Silly question, yes, as if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this, of course.

But the important question is what else wouldn’t you be doing?

 No, this is not going to be one of those morose ‘Wanted a life, ‘live or dead’’ posts which encourages you to be reckless or, worse, ruthless, with your time, your heart, your responsibilities, your health, or most importantly, those you love, while in pursuit of your dreams.

It’s more tender than that, I hope.

It’s about what ‘alive’ feels like and how to fit feeling it into more moments, like the yummy jelly that, when one slathers it on a little too generously, a little too joyfully, a little too delightedly, it squishes out the sides of the peanut butter sandwich. That kind of feeling alive, licking it off, smiling at the ‘mistake’ and the utter sweetness of this moment overflowing with just a little more than is judged ‘necessary.’

That kind of alive.

 

There are a lot of “last looks” in my life right now. Those times when one looks and knows that it will be irretrievably different the next time.

Like the ‘last look’ at the ocean the night before flying home to a land-locked desert.

Or a last look at a garden in October.

 

Last night, I walked circles in my yard, accompanying a beloved companion who is in her last hours and moments alive here on Earth and is feeling restless. We walked through snow, through heavy snowflakes on the wind during a Spring storm, through star-studded night when the clouds suddenly lifted, through cold wind filled with frozen blossoms from our trees, and then slowly back into our warm house, only to repeat the journey every hour or so in the wee hours of the morning till dawn when she finally rested.

I was tired, yes, but she was more so. She knows her time is near; it’s obvious to all of us. So I couldn’t begrudge the time spent with her doing exactly as she pleased, or the cold night. It was full of ‘alive’ things to feel, to smell, to notice, to feel, I say again.

Instead I wondered what I’d do if, like her, I had the luxury of such knowing that life is lived moment to moment, not in years or in business cycles, just moment to moment living. (We all do have that luxury.)

Would I too stop and breathe deeply, aware of the depth of cold flowing inside my chest? Would I mind or marvel at the snowflakes thick on my eyelashes?

In watching her, I was shown how to be alive in this moment, for actually the snowflakes were cloaking my lashes as well, but I was observing, not necessarily feeling. I was observing her, alive, rather than feeling the wonder as well; I was feeling the cold under my coat and the sadness of the moment. She, beyond care for such things as time, simply lived the moment fully. It was then, in realizing this, that I too began to feel the wonder of the moment and the fullness of ‘alive’ and what it means, breathing cold air and seeing through cloaked flakes with her, nearby, together.

So are you alive? As you read this, Is there something sensual that awakens in you to the experience of just right now?

What does this have to do with being one’s best in this moment, or on one’s life path, or of feeling here for a purpose and a heart-filled task to do?

 

Everything, I think.

 I can’t say it was my purpose to be in outside in the night with her trapsing through ever more snow, hour by hour, but there is no one else to be so or to do it. It is just us and this time and this place. So no doubt it is my purpose and no doubt in memory it will be my honor, a call out of dense blank sleep to be at my best rather than cranky about the cold wind or the hour.

 

We are each called to moments in which to be alive, whether alone or with someone or something else, in which to feel a heart-full of love and gratitude, wonder and awe.

This is one now.

Blessings on you as you live it.

 Elizabeth Darby

 

 

 

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Joy is the Essence of Success

Joy is the essence of  Success…

My teabag tag on this cold winter’s night.

Don’t you love gifts like this?  It is a winter’s night when the snow has melted slightly and turned to black ice, the moon grows full, and it is a deep cold. The frosted air and all its various contributions — the musky fox who darted through the yard a bit ago, car exhaust, someone’s passing cigarette smoke, the dog who has recently over eaten, and now a sweetly scented cup of spicy tea — clings close to the ground to join into a soupy, heady moment in which to be aware of life passing by.

And yet, this is just it . . . and thus the gift of a moment in time no matter the moment:

When one feels a success, one feels joyful.

When one is joyful, one is a success.

 

Yes, it’s that simple.

 

When do you feel joy?

 

When do you feel a success?

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to remember to feel either or both of these during many moments of each day or on a cold, winter’s night?

For feeling each or both is, in fact, a moment’s choice.

Choose it now and take a deep breath! If in this moment, you are able to connect to heartfelt joy, you are a success. And, if in this moment, you choose to feel a success — you are here doing good work, after all, right? Being your shining best in this moment? — then you feel joyful.

Round and round it goes, success to joy to success to joy…

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately. It seems there are so many recipes to achieve it and so many encouragements in the world to define and attain it. There was even an entire TED radio hour on it on a recent NPR show (good to listen to! Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/25/240777690/success ).

 

When I first heard this show several weeks ago, I scribbled notes immediately as I took issue with so much of what was discussed, for it seemed there was something missing from many of the definitions of success explored in that assembly of speakers.

And what I felt was missing was simply this:

Heart.  Shine,  Soul.

A sense of Being You, On Task and On Purpose.

A sense of being here to do specifically what you are here to do . . . And doing that.

Call it living one’s shine and using one’s gifts for this world.

Although we try to measure success in so many outward ways, as the Ted Radio Hour on NPR explored, the real measure of success is exactly what my teabag reminds me tonight:

Joy.

 

And that, simply, is what I hope any of you feel after working through my book or in working with me one-on-one.

Joy and Success: You are being You at your best and deepest heart-level.

I thank you, at the end of this year in this season of returning light and cold nights, for your joy, for your heartfelt connection in reading my thoughts, here or in my book, or even just for smiling after looking at my work here. Your many likes, nice comments and follows make me feel joyful and have helped to make Here You Begin, a tiny book of good intentions in a sea of self-help gurus, what I feel to be a success.

And so I thank you again!

If I were to define success, for any one of us, you know it would be this:

To feel that you are here, shining, doing your work, on purpose and on task, using your unique combo of talents and heart for this world and in this world.

And that makes everyone around us — as well as you and me— full of joy.

Thank you for daring to shine in whatever moment is before you in your life in this moment, right now.

Blessings!

Elizabeth Darby

Box of Life

It’s Advent. It’s the time of darker days leading to light.

It’s the time of year to quietly give away all of that  —

That

You know, the stuff sitting around — inside — which clutters the windowsill and prevents our shine from pouring out — whether through our eyes from our souls or from our heart/hearth and home into the dusk of shorter days of this time of our year.

And so, with longer nights, we are often faced with longer hours to look at the clutter of our hearts, souls, and living space.

So here’s is a little fill-in-the-blank for your soul:

Quickly, without looking really, fill in the following:

The real reason I can’t live this very moment, no matter how dark or busy or scheduled,

in joy, abundance, peace, poise, and power are:

1) _____________

2) _____________________

3) _________________________________

4) ____________________________________

5) ______________________________________

You might find a lot of name-calling when you fill in the blanks:

They didn’t, He refused, She said…

Name the “They” in your Life, or the He or the She’s that have somehow become crowded in with you in that clutter.

There’s not much space for the answers.

The reason is I want you to write really, really small…

Because these ‘reasons’ are making you live really, really small…

Now then put these  ‘reasons’ for living small in a plain cardboard box.the box of life

Why?

Better to do it outside yourself rather than keep that box of small-life inside, no?

Now, what to do with it?  Obviously it’s nothing of you— your best you shining and full of light of a life on task and on purpose — that wants to be handed on, given away, or wrapped into a nasty surprise for others…

No, this is a present for your self. You’ve put all your feelings of small and reasons for living any further moment of your life in a small way into this box.

Time for transformation:

Now go through your little list and change the pronoun to “I”…

In doing so, you’ve transformed your box of ‘reasons for living small’ to a box of choices for living your life fully, by realizing the ‘reason’ is a personal one:

If a She didn’t love you, you’ve transformed it to “I don’t love me”;

If a He let you down, you’ve transformed it into “I let me down”;

 If They won’t accept you, or believe in you, or support you,  you’ve transformed it into

“I won’t accept me, or support me, or believe in me”…

Open your box, look at your reasons for living small, as if in a box, and change them into

‘I … “  but also add:

“But now I can…’

The magic of this present to yourself is you can end each of your ‘living small’ pinchy reasons by this magic of the season incantation:

‘But now I can… support me, believe in me, love me, be reliable to me…

 — with light, love, and heart and soul and light—

 now I can.”

And as you do, you are letting the light —

of your soul and your being,

your shine,

and the infinite energy of the Universe which animates you into life,

moment to moment, breath to breath —

Into your personal Box of Life, clearing darkness,

allowing the light to flow in, out and into this moment of your life-time  here.

No open box can hold the light, after all..

Now you can radiate shine and leave that smallness behind.

And now you can choose:

Live now, in this moment, no matter how busy, scheduled, or dark,

shining and feeling it from inside.

You are choosing to live On Task and On Purpose, shining brightly,

beaming out of your Box of Life.

Choose light, choose love, choose abundance, choose joy,

choose using your unique talent,

and see what happens… now!

The light is soon returning to us; Life is here now.

Blessings on your day

and thank you to each and everyone who has honored me with

a moment of their time spent reading and writing to me his year!

Elizabeth Darby

Asking the Right Questions

I ask a lot of questions in my book and in my life; doing so is the basis of both the work and the Work of finding our way in life and through Life, in story and in Story, in our journey and in the Hero journey that is every life-time spent.

 

Asking questions is how we start off engaging with our life, even as babies and toddlers.  After the natural, instinctive curiosity of ‘That?’ to define our surroundings, and soon after ‘Mine?’ becomes the declarative ‘Mine!’ we move quickly into the danger zone of questions:

 

‘Why?’

 

Asking ‘why’ is lovely. It’s pushy, to ourselves and to others around us.  It pushes boundaries, understandings, norms, and entrenchment. It’s often perceived as demanding, as asking why can unsettle a shaky authority and states that the person asking has as much ‘right’ as anyone else.  Why is the mover of principle and the test of character from here to the Pearly Gates.

 

But ‘why’ also has a shadow power: Doubt. 

 

Asking it at a wrong moment in your personal journey can cause chaos and confusion and, well, self-doubt as you thrash with an unanswerable knot. 

 

Why did I do that?

Why did I choose that? Or why did I choose this?

Why is this going on in my life.  

Why is that the rule?

It’s both a powerful question and a hazardous one, because often as not, there may not be an answer.  Or the answer may be I don’t know.

 

And let’s face it:

 

Why do I love thee? …

 

            is a very different question than

 

How do I love thee…?

 

Here’s where the asking the right question comes in when defining one’s path from here, the choices looming ahead, and when fathoming your heart to choose one’s vocation, calling, path and purpose from here.

 

I learned a long time ago in doing interviews with people I was writing about, from world leaders to loggers, that the right question can make all the difference in the success of what Truth is revealed next. One question can shut a person down, while another opens possibility and long, lovely revelation toward interesting Truth and knowledge. ‘Why did this happen,’ even in news reporting, too often allowed an opening for casting blame or ducking behind ‘I don’t know.’  So a new approach was needed:

 

How? 

 

How is more than a question of mechanics: How did this happen elicits the steps taken that created the situation, like a recipe. But it’s also more:

‘How’ is a question that presumes something already is.

It, whether answer, solution, reason, or direction,

already exists

and you and I are in the process of discovering it.

 

With ‘why’ we might be probing whether it exists at all, while with ‘how’ we are poking around knowing in our hearts there is a workable way we just need to understand. And the good solution always begins with a heart-filled understanding.

 

As in:

 

How do I use these talents and passions?

How does this work, my life forward?

How might I take the next step?

How does this make things better, easier, gentler, more meaningful to me or others?

How do I feel when I’m getting a glimpse of what my path might be or the good my actions might bring?

 

Ah, yes, asking ‘how’ allows for ‘feeling’ and the compass to our truth and our light; there’s no doubt that the feeling is there, or that it’s acceptable. It’s already embraced and hugged and able to be integrated into the next step, no matter how gnarley it might have looked a moment before ‘how’ was uttered.

 

‘How’ is a question for the brave, like, you.

 

With ‘how’ you are accepting what is, that feelings can be addressed, solutions can be found (as they’re already right here), and that there’s a way forward from here.

 

So, ask the right questions of yourself as you proceed from here through the door of next. All the questions are important; asking the right one at the moment is the first step.

 

How do you feel knowing there is something you are here to do?

How do you plan to make that something the action of your life-time left to spend?

How’s it going, living on task and on purpose now?

 

Blessings on your day of questioning!

 

 

 

A flick’r

Image

Life goes by in …
©2013 elizabeth darby

“Life goes by in a flick’r…

A flick’r.”

The older man, my host, sat in his kitchen, slightly hunched from his illness, but his bright blue eyes full of energy and wisdom as we visited.

“It was fast enough before I got the ________ but now…” He shook his head meaningfully.

“Life goes by in a flicker. There’s not time for loggerheads.

No time for loggerheads. . . .”

I sipped the lovely sweet coffee and homemade tea cake his delightful wife offered. And I listened intently to his and her lovely, lilting accent and way with words and phrases in this Welsh border-village.

I learned many things in my week in Wales, in not necessarily in this order:

1) I look forward to returning soon;

2) My tendency to repeat myself when using story to offer lessons is clearly due to my Welsh great-grandmother’s ‘Way’ of Story, which I learned from her daughter (my grandmother) with whom I spent every day of my life till her death in 1980. Those I spoke with in Wales like to repeat the important parts of the Story they tell a visitor. It’s the important stuff they repeat.

3) Life goes by in a flick’r.

So, in flipping through my book today and preparing for a second edition, wondering what to keep and what to leave behind, what helped my reader and what doesn’t, I came across this question below.

I pose it to you, now, for you know, ‘Life goes by in a flick’r’ . . . and living On Task and On Purpose requires we live with full heart, full passion, and full love shining forth every moment possible. Nothing held back; no loggerheads inside as well as out.

The Questions:

What I really care about is:

________________________________________________________

How do I show this now, in this moment?

________________________________________________________

If I don’t presently, how could I?

________________________________________________________

How do I want to show or demonstrate this in the future?

________________________________________________________

That last question is a hint about your Work here.

And now.

Demonstrate who you are and Who You Are.

Do it now, for you know . . .

“Life goes by in a flick’r. There’s not time for loggerheads.”

Blessings on your day!

Elizabeth Darby

GPS for Gratitude

Have you ever done this?

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©elizabethdarby 2013

It’s a kind of simple game I have played since I was a little girl looking around a long-grassed mountain side for what to do or where to go next.  It’s a kind of GPS system for the soul.

The rules are simple: There’s just one.

Assume whatever you notice is really important, a clue left just for you, and that it is guidance for your ‘next step’ in the puzzle of your life-journey of Being You.

As you notice it, feel immense gratitude for the clue, the guidance, the direction, the encouragement, whatever it is. Like GPS, this thing you notice has found you and you have found it. It guides you and you feel, well, thankful, that you are directed right here and now into being On Task and On Purpose in this moment. …That’s it.

This little game can be ‘played’ anywhere . . . and even while waiting for planes four hours overdue in JFK when people-watching feels no longer the best reality TV around, as I found last week coming home from the UK. 

I’ve found physical clues are easier found in Nature than in confined spaces, though I”m always grateful for a discovery of a cafe offering great, giant cups of tea even in urban corridors. Thus, I learned when leaving my native nature spaces here in the Rocky Mountain West for the rest of the world, I could play this game with books and bookstores. The one rule remains. I look for a title that jumps out at me, saying ‘here I am; the answer and insight is here’ or I open one, two or three books at random that I’m carrying with me and see what is said and contemplate where the intersect. For, remember, three points define a line — of action, of direction, to next, to beyond, to using your gifts or a lifeline in a dark time.

(Warning: Don’t try this with newspapers or shallow magazines; the results can be profoundly disturbing!)

So, playing it today while avoiding 100 degree heat outside, I thought I’d share whatever GPS was offered. No, you and I don’t have the same puzzles of life-journey around us, but guidance can fit each of us in just the right place, if received with gratitude.  So here goes:

First, determine that whatever is relayed here is just the hint or guidance you might need right now; yes, it’s for you. Then simply feel a huge wave of thanks as you consider it.

And, No, this isn’t fortune cookie stuff for the more cynical or hurting among you thinking ‘um, right…’ at this moment (I know you’re there). This is a game of opening to GPS is a light-play for the magic that is for your very next step.

Here’s what I ‘opened’ to — and no doubt is for each of us in each of our journeys; see where the 3 ideas take you and connect for you:

We must awaken to the truth that essentially this world order in which we live is a spiritual order; that honesty, justice and love are the very foundations of all life, and they cannot be flaunted with impunity, for they are the moral and spiritual principles that underlie all human relationships…

Ernest Holmes, It’s Up to You

 

What does your fearsome Bogey look like? What’s the worst that could go wrong? Write it and draw it here. We all have doubts. We doubt our Selves, our abilities, our worthiness to actually create our work and feel joy, and we each have our unique pictures of what could go wrong. But once the doubts are out in front of us, we can take a good look at them in the light and assess how realistic each truly might be. . . .

me, from my book Here You Begin which is based on

 countless nights of talking with my daughters as they reached for their lives and dreams

 

Somewhere, deep inside of each of us, is the knowing which knows us, that mystery which seeks us, desires realization through us. What a defilement of our calling it is to live the lesser life. We may be frightened by the scope of such calling but it is even more frightening to have stayed stuck in a life of no consequence, of no contribution. Fear of the call is a good fear, for it reduces the other fears to their lesser claim on us. . . .

James Hollis, Creating a Life

Wow. Thank you, GPS!

When wondering what to do next to pursue the Call of my time here, it’s an instant reminder:

Walk in honesty, justice and love;

 

Regard the self-doubts and fears as needing

a ‘reality’ check

and maybe a little a cartoon-rendering;

 

Remember that there is something greater

pulling through you wanting expression:

It’s the reason you are here in your Life-Time

using your gifts, and shining your light from within You around.

 

What guidance is connected here for you? Did your GPS find you?

 

Helping hands always offered here, with gratitude.

Give Life a dizzying whirl today!

Blessings,

Elizabeth Darby

 

 

 

Dear Reader:

“You are not perfect at anything …

except at being you.

You are perfectly made, however, for the life and work

you are here to do in your life-time. . . “

So this guide to discovering you, your Passions and Purpose,
and designing the Life Path only You can do is written for you —

It is for you who feels the simultaneous excitement, confusion, and freezing fear brought by the myriad decisions before you as you think of the Life and living you build day by day, moment by moment, as you live. It is what you do in this moment that makes your dream made tangible in this world. It’s how you fill this moment that reveals your essential Being in this world.

It’s how you fill this moment

that reveals your essential Being in this world.

 

The possibilities for how any of us spend our time here on Earth, and how we put into service our energy, talents — the choices of what to make of ourselves — are indeed endless. Such choices are limited only by a combination of imagination, self-confidence and sheer courage to meet our own Self in the process. There is not a circumstance that limits the possibility of becoming exactly who we each dream to be, as it is only the actions of each moment that define each of us, revealing our Spirit.

This is how my book begins. . .

And I wrote it for you.

There is not a circumstance that limits

the possibility of becoming

exactly who we each dream to be . . .

Like any work, it was written for its author as well.

I wrote it when feeling particularly lost, at a crossroads in life:  children were grown and going, 24-years of marriage collapsing under the weight of separate careers, and my life path ahead totally unknown.  Would I return to the busy life of international journalism, having now successfully guided not just my offspring onto their own springboards and to lives they were loving but many of their friends as well?

Or, well, exactly what would I do to somehow combine my love of helping others discover their talents and passions and also bear Truth and Witness to the brilliance of those around me as they sought encouragement? What exactly was a Vocation anyway  . . . and does it pay the bills?

I was sitting alone in an old stable-room turned into dismal yet neutral hotel room. You know the kind — the windows were a little too high to look out, and revealed only the sky from the little desk pressed against the wall under them.   Although I imagined the horses that used to bed in the room, for comfort if anything, I found all I could see were the stars above the buildings of the stable-block. I wondered if the former residents, too, looked out this window for greener pastures to run in?

Then, as now all one could see

was a vast sky

full of stars: 

Infinite and improbable possibility as a blanket

for the soul on a dark night.

With me on this particular evening was not the reassurance of a warm muzzle and sweet hay breath of a horse but instead a little square pad of sheets of paper.

Each little square was separate and not connected to the next save for the box in which they sat.  I took one, curious to see what note I could write to my Self, looking for guidance.

Instead I took one then another and found a whole list of questions download through me onto each of these little sheets of paper.  Well, the little 3 by 3 squares were connected — by a guide leading me to my purpose and passion  — as the questions, simply questions that I was to answer, guided me to write down my dreams, longings, plans, abilities and things I cared about. Suddenly it was all on paper.  It was a map of my soul’s purpose and the squares became the stepping-stones to living this life-time here: On Purpose and On Task.

OP/OT

On Purpose and On Task.

This is what the World — this World of breathtaking beauty and piercing hurts — needs each of us to be.  On Purpose and On Task, being as excellent as each of us can be at using the gifts and talents we carry as tools of our expression in our life-times here.  To do what?  To do the Work we are each here to do; and if in doubt of what that might be, then to follow our yearnings and create as much beauty as is possible.

So if you, too, are feeling lost at this particular cross-roads, look up at the sky. Take a deep breath. Maybe there’s something here, or in my book or at a workshop that might help you.  I hope so!  For a quick start,  Take a look at the page Questions where I excerpt some of my book.  There you can  fill in the blanks of your soul as you discover or rediscover your dreams, your talents, your passions, your magic and remember how to be the Sovereign of your time here on Earth.

My book, Here You Begin, is being published by Chesterton & Davies, Ltd. It should be out any week.

To do what? 

To guide you to discover and do the Work

you are here to do;

And if in doubt of what that might be, then it is a guide to follow your yearnings to create as much beauty

as is possible while you are here

in the way only you can.

What you can do and who you are is greatly needed in this world.

In the meantime, I’ll post a few of the questions from my book  here …  maybe you will want to pre-order the book via the publisher at the link on the right!!  Or maybe you’ll want to try it out here a bit first.

I also offer personal coaching in finding your path and you OP/OT as well as workshops where we gather in beautiful places to go through the exploration together as well as take a keen look at the resistance felt or at the hurdles to  what is stopping any of us from being our best Self.  And then we walk around them together.  Dates on these to come but plans are for one to be held near you very soon.

If you have a group you’d like me to talk to — whether your friends or church group, your teen’s school or a job-search shelter for the many of us out of work and hurting just now, contact me!  As a journalist I found that asking questions proved to be the quickest and easiest way to discovering the obvious truth; in doing so with a gentle hand to hold, it re-ignites the fire of our souls to be remembered and put to use.

In the meantime, come back for a question of the day, week, month or set up a private coaching session with me.  You can do so through the links at the right!

Until we connect, remember: You and your gifts are needed in this world!

Believing in You,

Elizabeth D.