Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Certified Mail Treat

Today I woke up feeling a little uninspired. We've had the good fortune of a rainy day here in sunny San Diego, but the cloudy skies and cool air have me feeling less-than-productive.

Yesterday, I wasn't home when the mail arrived, and when I got back there was a note on the door that I had some certified, insured mail that needed to be picked up at the post office. I wasn't sure what it might be, and whether it was something to be excited about or not, so I didn't think much of it.

This morning, I went to pick it up - and was delighted by what was inside!

It was copies of the book "People Building Peace 2.0," in which my story, "Peace Education Without Borders," was published. I entered the story in the Peace Portal Stories for Peace Challenge last year, and it was selected as one of 25 winners. As a winner, you get your story published in the book, and you also get 10 free copies of the book! What a nice treat.

I love blogging, but there is something really exciting about seeing your words in such a tangible form. I think I am going to have to pursue more opportunities like this.

And that gave me my much-needed inspiration for today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

My husband and I are of the mentality that "every day is Valentine's Day". We're not a fan of the commercialism, and we like to do nice little things for each other randomly and express love for each other on a regular basis. However, he still took the opportunity to still buy me a beautiful bouquet of tulips for our new tulip holder from the Netherlands (thanks Alistair! thanks Lieke! :)

And maybe thinking it's just another day has its limits. In regards to this "it's just another day" mentality, a friend commented on Facebook today, "Of all the posts in my news feed today, at least 90% are about how it's just another day. It seems like the Anti-Valentine people are the bandwagon jumpers to me. Who cares if someone decides to show extra affection to someone else today? I can think of worse things people do." (Thanks Jason! :)  Right on! So, Valentine Haters, jump on board, and take some advice from MC Yogi: give love!

I am usually not a fan of "greeting card holidays", (similarly, for me, "everyday is a letter writing day!" :) but my mom bought me some fantastic Valentine's Day stationery this year from Papyrus (what you can't see in the photo is the deliciously soft velveteen texture of the card) so I went with it, and have been sending these out over the past few weeks. I'd also like to share the insert in the Papyrus cards, explaining the chosen symbol of the hummingbird:

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our heats to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

Beautifully connected to both My Year of Letters and Valentine's Day!

Photo credit: James Knox Photography - my amazingly talented cousin, who took this photo at La Costa Resort when we had our wedding celebration there in November. Thanks James! :)

Finally, I just want to share my favorite quote about love, from the great sage and poet Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

This resonates with my belief that we are love, we are peace at our deepest, truest essence, and our task, as Rumi says is not to look for love outside of ourselves, but rather to look inside and figure out how we are blocking the love within us from shining through.

And on that note, break down the barriers and get down to MC Yogi! :-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chain of Gratitude

Today I would like to share my friend Nathaniel Dunigan's blog on "The Power of the HAND-written Word," which as you know I am a strong believer in! In his blog, Nathaniel talks about how in Uganda, the way of replying to "thank you" involves thanking the person for appreciating, creating a "thank you chain."

I have some cards that compliment this chain of gratitude idea. They are called Karma Cards (I'm pretty sure I've blogged about them here before), and they are from New Leaf Paper, a sustainable printing company that makes fabulous stationery. The card has a simple yet elegant design and says "Gracias". The card's seam is perforated, and on the reverse of "Gracias" it's a postcard - so the recipient can actually reuse the card and send it to someone else! I thought this was a great idea both in terms of sustainability and for the sake of carrying on the chain of gratitude.

Like Nathaniel, I keep a stack of these cards on-hand so that at anytime I can pick one up and express gratitude the handwritten way.

I recently read an article about a man, John Kralik, who did a project similar to My Year of Letters, but he focused on sending one handwritten thank you note everyday. He subsequently wrote a book called "A Simple Act of Gratitude," a memoir on how this practice was transformative for him. I haven't read the book yet, but I like the idea.

What are you thankful for today? Consider sending a thank you note! :-)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

28-day Meditation Challenge

What are you doing for the month of February? Why not take part in Sharon Salzberg's 28-day meditation challenge? Today is only Day 2, so you can begin anew right where you are! If you're interested in joining, please visit here for more info:

Real Happiness is a great meditation resource, both for those who are new to meditation and for seasoned practitioners. The beautiful thing about meditation is that it's best to always approach it with a beginner's mind, so whether you've been practicing for 10 days or 10 years, what Sharon has to offer can support your practice. She has an incredible way of making meditation accessible.

For me, writing letters is an extension of my meditation practice. It is a way to further cultivate the skills that I try to hone while sitting and apply them in my daily life. And on that note, I think I have some letters to write! :-)