Archive for August, 2011

Are You Pecking at the Kick Plate of Your Life?

August 30th, 2011 | 1 comment

I wrote this back in March 2010, but wanted to share it with you today. I think it still applies.

 “Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” -Victor Hugo- 

Okay, so we have a big problem at our house. The birds are back, but that’s not the problem at all.  I love them, to both watch and listen to them in the yard. They are melodic reminder of the coming warmth, and I am all for that.But, Mr. Robin is having issues. And herein likes the problem. For the past few weeks, Mr. Robin has been coming to my front door every morning and pecking at the kick plate at the base of the door. He stands there, and for at least ten minutes a day, he essentially bangs his head against the door. I’ve analyzed the situation and have come to the conclusion that he is playing the dating game. Although I am no expert in the behaviour patterns of birds, I think he sees his reflection in the kick plate, and is making advances on himself in the hopes of procreation.

And how’s that working out for him?

For the first few days, Rudy would stand at the door, and growl and scratch at the floor, as if he was sending a message to the bird. I would go to the door, and gently knock at the base, until he flew away. I just could not bear to think this cute creature was going to have a head injury because of his desire to find a mate. Now you understand the challenges I face when working from a home office.

After a few weeks of this, Rudy gave up. It was as if he said, “Okay guy, you want to bang you head against the door, fill your boots. I will be lying on my leather couch. I’m done trying to talk sense to you.”

I gave up too, fatigued from jumping from my office chair every time I heard the noise at the base of the door.

Now, let’s apply this to life. How many of us have acted like the robin at one point or another in our life? Day after day, we come back to the same place and bang our heads against the wall, expecting to get a different result. Days, weeks, months and years pass, and all we have to show for it is a headache and no progress, no forward movement in our lives. We look at our own reflection and that is the only part of the picture we see. We only see our story. We never turn away from the kick plate of life and see there is a big world out there, waiting for us to participate and contribute our talents. We get stuck in our old patterns of thinking and worrying, and assuming we have it all figured out. And with every bang against the door, we convince ourselves that we were right, there is nothing else out there for me.

And, just like the robin, we have people who approach us and gently say, “Ah-em, excuse me? Did you know you’re banging your head against the wall? May I suggest a better approach?”

And many times, how do we respond? Just like the robin. “This is my head and my reflection, and I feel comfortable banging my head every day thank you very much. I am scared to turn around and see the real world, so I will continue to do what I know, and that is injure myself. Now, leave me alone, my head hurts too much to talk to you!”

And slowly, the people drift away. They tried, and they failed, so they move on, and leave you to your head banging. Much like Rudy and I, they move on because it appears you don’t want to be helped.

Now, back to Mr. Robin. If he turned away from the kick plate, and instead looked for a live Mrs. Robin, what would he get? Woo hoo! Candlelight dinners, movies, long walks home and some mini robins in the spring. If he only knew that the unknown was so much better than the kick plate. His resistance is holding him back from the beautiful possibilities of life.

If you find yourself banging your head against the kick plate of life, pause for a moment. Do you have to keep doing it just because it is all you know? Take a deep cleansing breath, and turn around. The world is waiting…

The Magic Garden

August 22nd, 2011 | 1 comment

Iridescent blue Pipevine Swallowtail feeding on a delicate pink

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.  ~George 

Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God,

It’s so nice to be blogging again.  I’ve been finishing up my book and haven’t made the time much over the past few months. I’ve missed my regular ramblings about all things pertaining to my little universe.

What’s got my attention today?  My garden. It is one of my most favorite things.  It is not a sweeping landscape or professionally groomed.  If you were to look out the back window right now, you would see that the hot North Carolina summer sun has fried most of the lawn.  Technically, if a botanist was to drop by for an assessment,  the only greenery alive on the ground right now would be classified in the Crabgrass family.  But still, it is our safe little place.

We have the yard itself, and a small vegetable garden that we throw seeds in each spring in the hopes of a bountiful crop.  Our past adventures in “farming” have produced mixed results.  We learned that peanuts will grow just fine in the red clay of the Carolinas, but no matter how we try, we simply cannot get them to taste as good as the ones purchased in the snack aisle at the grocery store.  We learned that reading the labels on the young seedlings is a must, unless you want to be surprised with the marijuana shaped leaves of an Okra plant sprouting from the ground. We learned that birds will wait until your tomato is just right for picking, then will kindly peck a hole in the side of it ten minutes before you come out to pick it for your salad.

But, we’ve also learned that there is nothing on this earth that tastes as good as something that you, Mother Nature and God have grown together.  We’ve learned that its okay to share with the birds, for the most part.  I’ve learned that bugs, who have never been my favorite, are part of the mix if you want to work in the yard.  And you need to learn to coexist with them, unless you want to grow vegetables that will have you glowing in the dark.

We’ve learned that gardening, and tending the soil is just like tending our own lives.

The biggest lessons?

Your garden is like life. It has a balance of things in there, some good, and some not so nice.  But they balance each other.  The good and the bad, they need each other.  And the key to enjoying your garden or your life is living in the middle, not at either side of the spectrum.  You have to balance the good and the bad too, and see that each one has a place and a purpose.

Your garden shows you how to achieve your dreams.  You plant the seeds at the beginning of the season, apply the necessary nutrients for growth.  Then?  You simply hope and believe it all works out, and the rest of the work is covered.  You just know you will be picking tomatoes and peppers from those plants in no time right?  You don’t over-analyze, you simply have faith. You go back each day to see little sprouts then plants.  Then, as if by magic, you walk by a plant and see it is weighed down with its harvest, waiting for you to take it.  It’s like it magically appeared overnight.

Life is like that too you know.  You plants the seeds for the life you want, and if you really want it, you give it the nutrients it needs to grow.  You create a safe environment for your dream to flourish, and periodically you weed away the outside influences that could choke it, and prevent it from growing. You watch it grow, but still, it seems like it is just never quite ready.  Until one day, you look at your life, and you’ve done it.  And, strangely enough, it feels like it appeared overnight.  And, just like the pepper plant, all we really needed to do is have faith in the fact we could make it happen.

Go plant some seeds for your life today.

I can see your green thumb from here,


July 4th…Just One Little Thing. The next chapter.

August 19th, 2011 | no comments

How many people are trapped in their everyday habits: part numb, part frightened, part indifferent? To have a better life we must keep choosing how we’re living. ~Einstein~

Welcome to Just One Little Thing!

I invite you to come with me on the next leg of the journey. Some of you have been with me for some time now, maybe longer than you would care to admit. Others may be just dropping by today. But regardless, everyone is welcome here.

The idea of “just one little thing” gently grew following the unexpected death of my son Stephen on July 4th, 2009. In desperate need of something to hold onto following the loss, I told myself that if I could find just one little thing to be thankful for, I would make it through the day. With each passing day, I was able to see that even though my heart was breaking, much goodness still surrounded me.

By writing about my experience, I was lucky enough to connect with thousands of other people who were looking, as I was, for a positive way to shift their perspective on life, even in the toughest of circumstances. Some had lost loved ones; some endured a painful divorce, or debilitating illness. So many I connected with had lost jobs, homes and stability. We all have our stories of pain, and we all just need something to hang on to, to let us know tomorrow may be a better day.

Two years later, we are launching a community based on finding and giving one little thing. I see this place as Stephen’s legacy. He was happy moment by moment, and brought joy to others with his gentle spirit, and his giving heart. After he died, so many people said to me,

“He just knew what people needed, and then went to work giving it to them.”

With that in mind, I’ve created a group so that the ripple of his life’s impact may continue. It is my hope that we can all, on a daily basis, figure out what people need, and get to work giving it to them.

The group is about life, sharing gratitude, compassion and resilience. It is starting as a Facebook group, but in the coming months will also develop into a website.

The purpose of the group is to:

1. Encourage members to share one little thing each day they are thankful for, simple or grand.

2. To spread positive news happening around the world.

3. To share opportunities for volunteering, giving one little thing to someone else who may need it.

4. Give people a safe forum to share information, re-framing people’s perspective on life.

We are all both students and teachers.

So, as you can see, it’s all about the good stuff.

Happiness happens moment by moment, as does change.

So join us, and invite others to join. To find one little thing, to give one little thing. To look at the world from a different angle.

Choose Happy. Repeat.