The friend of my life: six months in, a lifetime to go

I'm finding that love, especially in the context of marriage, is much less about being safe and much more about being set free. Despite all the discomfort in our first months of marriage and seemingly endless anxieties and tremors (which Lee has journeyed through like a champ), it's this exact lesson which I needed the most.

Without choosing to bravely step into married life with him, it might have been decades before I began embracing love's latest "take it or leave it" lesson for me. Love isn't about seeking escape routes and remaining safe; it's about choosing to love even more deeply because there is no other way.

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The mind and its many containers: relating with everything around you as a writer

Imagine a room filled with people who have gathered for a dinner benefit. The room is aglow with soft lights, and music from a small orchestra can be heard playing from a far corner of the ballroom. There are tables arranged with crisp linens, polished silver and baskets filled with warm, freshly baked bread. Everyone is gathered for what will surely be a wonderful, memorable, inspiring night.

Now imagine just as everyone is circling the room to find a place to sit down, that a large, barreling elephant barges through the ballroom doors.

People instantly begin running for safety, maybe tables start flipping over left and right, champagne glasses begin shattering as the elephant swings its trunk from side to side. What had begun as a joyful gathering of people has suddenly turned into quite the circus of destruction.

I've been told this is how the mind works.

We all have this roaming elephant that comes barging in when we least expect it. It behaves in ways that make no sense (most of the time). Somehow this pesky, bulky elephant can take a serene moment and turn you, an entire day, week, month, or year on its side. The elephant leaves us asking questions like, "How did I get here?" or "What could have possibly gone wrong?" 

The practice of mindfulness awareness meditation helps us learn how to relate with this roaming elephant. Meditation invites us to explore the nature of our true mind, to discover whether this elephant exists in each of us, and if so, what are its shapes, sizes and habits. It also invites us to consider an absurd notion: that we are not at the mercy of this elephant.

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Another bouquet and hope to carry on

On a good day, I walk outside and greet the world with a smile and a cautious dose of optimism.

I'm at my best when I have a bouquet of flowers nearby. Instead of hurrying through the day to be things like important and smart and ambitious, flowers invite me to linger. With one breath in, I am saying thank you and with one breath out I awaken to my world brighter and more open. The smell of flowers has always had a powerful effect on me. They are comforting, encouraging; they remind me to be awake, to notice the little things and to let a bee pollinate me every now and then.

Flowers are much like a barometer for how I'm feeling about life. 

Perhaps the scariest feeling of all is when I see a bouquet of flowers, and I can't smell or feel a thing. Some days there is no aroma. I can't decipher the difference between red and pink, flower bud or leaf blade. Everything looks right as it should be, but I am not OK.

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Meditation basics and the 3 things that matter

Last week I talked about meditation and how it's helped me relate to my journey as a writer in a different way.

As someone with a Christian background, when I was first introduced to meditation, it felt like I was swimming in a sea of information without a way to clearly understand how meditation related to the world around me. I wanted to know if some types of meditation were better than others; were some "scary" while others were "normal"; and does everyone have to sit on the floor?

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