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It’s the journey, not the destination. Or, is it?

I’ve joined a writer’s circle that meets on Monday nights in Santa Monica, California. At the end of the evening, we break into small groups. Last week, we were given the following question to answer and to share. We went around the table, and each of us spoke. The question posed was this: Would you rather drive or fly to Las Vegas? Santa Monica is approximately 280 miles from Las Vegas. It typically takes several hours by car and about 45 minutes in the air by commercial airline.

Among the eight of us seated around the table in our small group, there really wasn’t a consensus. A few were able to say, “it depends” (on whom I am traveling with, mostly!) Even among the definitely drive or definitely fly “camps,” there were nonetheless differences of opinion as to why one mode surpasses another.

As with most topics on the blog, with this edition of Soul Notes, let’s explore the literal as well as the figurative–this time, with regard to journeys and destinations.

Often times, we hear this adage, or some derivation thereof: “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.” In other words, it’s the path taken, and not the end state, that holds the real value or “merit.” If that were always true, however, then why select any particular destination?

What may be equally as beneficial is this: getting yourself as efficiently as possible to a particular destination, precisely because it IS the destination that provides what you’re most desiring. In the example above, the person may wish to fly directly to Las Vegas to get right to the business at hand – that is, soaking up the full Vegas experience. “Viva Las Vegas,” as Elvis would say! Sometimes, you simply want to get there.

Do you enjoy car rides? How about air travel? Either way, for children, for example, it’s often what seems like a never-ending journey from one location to another. Incessant pleas include: “How much farther?” and “How much longer?” Or, simply, again it’s all about this: “When are we going to get there?” Once you get there, that’s when you can enjoy all that the location has to offer. (I realize that, as an intended destination, Las Vegas may not even be on your wish list. If so, of course, feel free to insert your own destination of choice!) For you, it may be any number of places. And, for children, it may include Disneyland or Magic Mountain, or some other world of wonderment.

So, what’s the common thread here? The EXPERIENCE.

Sometimes it’s the destination itself that holds the key to your best experience.  What you’re seeking is “housed” in the location, to be enjoyed once you arrive. Other times, it’s the “getting there” — the journey itself – that provides all the good juice.

Road trip! Getting our kicks on Route 66

Several years back, a friend of mine and I headed out from the Santa Monica pier, and along Route 66 (or what’s left of it), driving my convertible, often with the top down on the car.   For us, it was definitely the journey rather than the destination which mattered most. We agreed that we would cover about 850 miles of the Route’s 2300 miles (the full length of Route 66 runs between Los Angeles and Chicago) – and traveled out to Santa Fe, New Mexico and back.

We selected a destination based on the number of days we desired to set aside for the trip, and to have a place to aim the car. For this trip, though, for us, the genesis and primary focus and intention was to experience Route 66 itself – the “Mother Road” – “America’s Highway.”

We took our time and made many stops along the way. Part of the adventure was seeing which sections of Route 66 remained. There really isn’t any clear “route” per se anymore. There are road signs in various places, indicating that you’re on Route 66; but, the route starts and stops, and veers off and back again in no particular pattern or with any discernible logic.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller

As a kid, on my bedroom wall I had a poster with this saying on it. It served as a wonderful visual reminder and provided me many an inspiration!

As with many road trips, it was the dappling of tiny towns, and roadside attractions, and people we met along the route that provided the real essence of the journey. We stopped for coffee at the Bagdad Café (where they filmed the movie of the same name), chatting at length with the waitress there. And we toured the location where a giant meteor created a huge hole in the desert. There are many other experiences from that trip, too, of course, perhaps to be shared at another time. Here’s one more:

In Oatman, Arizona, we slowed the car down to a crawl. As we pulled up to this two-block town, we were greeted by a band of burros. History has it that these animals are part of a long lineage of pack mules dating back to the town’s gold mining days. And, yes, giant tumble weeds did come tumbling through as our car kicked up puffs of desert dust. I couldn’t get the theme song from that Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” out of my head. A man in a leather vest and cowboy hat tossed open the swinging wooden doors from the local saloon on our right as we drove past. He stopped short of the street, looked out at us, and maintained his gaze from left to right, as we continued driving on through the town and off on the next leg of our journey.

As with our own spiritual journeys as well, it helps to slow down. The experiences and the lessons come from the journey. Indeed. Take time to savor the moments, partake in the experiences, and cherish the making of memories. It’s the “roadside attractions” that provide some of life’s richest moments. Let’s not miss them by flying through!

With that, I’ll close with these words from a great master:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

Okay, your turn:

What matters most to you, the destination or the journey? Upon what factors do your choices depend?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Owning your own piece of PEACE…

Prince of PEACE: A study in contrasts

For many of us, this weekend is one where we are winding down from our Christmas celebrations and festivities. And for some, December has been a time spent focusing attention on Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace.” No matter your affiliation or spiritual tradition, however, I welcome you to explore with me here on the blog, this concept of peace, and of peace stewardship. It’s not of course, limited to a particular religion, or any religion, for that matter.

Are we not each a steward of peace, if we choose to be?

I realize that making this choice may seem too large, too assuming, nay even a completely hopeless notion, what with the seemingly endless examples of violence and strife – in our own communities, in our schools and movie theaters here in the United States, for example – and for each of us in various ways throughout our own countries as well as abroad. Perhaps.

I am awake to the endemic and pandemic:

  • Intolerance
  • Lack of understanding
  • Failure to empathize
  • Clinging to exclusion rather than inclusion
  • Perpetuation of separation rather than unity

I am also awakening to, and drawing from, however, the deep potential for peace that awaits within. It is available to each of us. We are at liberty to invoke it at any time. When we embody that peace, it cannot help but lend hope to ourselves and to those around us. Call me naïve, and yet, I am willing to carry forth this sentiment and from the point of realization that peace on earth really does indeed begin with me (and you).

I ask you to consider: What is your piece of the peace? 

Peace: It’s a moment by moment thing

This is not to suggest that it’s easy. Nor, am I suggesting it’s even plausible to maintain a sense of peace all day, every day. I’m only suggesting that we try. It’s worth our making the attempts, wouldn’t you say?

Admittedly, I’d say that peace is a moment by moment thing. I certainly don’t live in a state of peace at all times. I slip in and out of it, moment by moment. And yet, I may decide to bring peace to any given situation, in any given moment.

Also, peace may not mean completely free from conflict. It may, however, mean embracing a sense of gratitude, of serenity, of home.

So, to that, I say: Let’s create our own playful peace puzzles!

Ready to get your own peace party started?

Taking the letters of PEACE, I invite you to make your own peace offering – to yourself, and to anyone else who needs it. There’s no science to this – it’s art.

I’m not suggesting that these will solve the world’s crises. They may, however, provide a few moments of solace, and a brief respite and recess away from the disharmonious world around us. May they provide you the space to refrain from discord, and instead step out into the world from a place of peace.

Peace be with you.

Peace be within you.

Peace emanate from you.

For your consideration:

I’ll start. Here are three playful peace puzzles that I’ve put together for posting here on the blog:

Precede Engagements of Anger with Conscious Empathy

Preciously Embrace All Coziness Eternally

Proactively Entertain Abundantly Creative Enterprises

Okay, your turn:

I’ve left one blank for you to complete – feel free to do this one on your own. Have fun!

P__________ E __________ A__________ C__________ E __________

I invite you to share your own playful peace puzzle and any other peace related thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul! 

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved. 
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Remember, you have the music in you!

Yes, you have the music in you!

“When the night is falling

and you cannot find the light

If you feel your dreams are dying

…Hold tight.

You’ve got the music in you.”

–The New Radicals, You Get What You Give

As we approach Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere, daytime shortens and nighttime lengthens. The natural world settles in for rest and rejuvenation before it springs forth at the next turn of the wheel. It is also a time of Christmas lights and Hanukkah lights.

This time of year is also one of carols, hymns, and other songs and types of lyrical merriment.  It’s also a time when the muse moves through each of us.  To turn a phrase:  As without, so within.

In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s allow ourselves to breathe in the beautiful music that surrounds us this time of year – and at the same time, let us behold the music that stirs within us. Music from the outside and from within:  One is physical; the other, metaphysical, perhaps? Spiritual, for certain.

As the year draws to a close, I invite you to take an accounting of the music within you that you have already “let out” this year, for all to hear. At the same time, consider this:

What music is still within you, that has been laying dormant, that is ready to rise to the surface and be expressed? What have you been subduing, that you may benefit from bringing forward into next year, and out into the light?

You’ve Got the MUSE-Ic in YOU

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses, all dedicated to and presiding over the arts and sciences, one of whom is the goddess of music.

There are various etymologies for “muse” and “music”.

Suffice it to say, however, that it is not sound, by itself, which makes “music.” It is the feeling of satisfaction that it invokes within the person receiving and perceiving the sound. It is the stirring of deeply felt emotions which constitutes music, and that separates it from noise. As with the muses themselves, music inspires. It brings forth beauty. It encourages the heart.

InSPIRation

From the inside out

Creation

Moves through you

Out into the world

You feel it in your body

Sensation

Vibration

Rings

Rattles

Roars

Harmony

Evoked

Alive!

It spurs on a deeper and richer experience. It touches and awakens your spirit, your soul.  Nineteenth century physician (and member of the “Fireside Poets”) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offered up this spiritual prescription:

“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

He also said that most of us go to our grave with our music still inside us. It is not about getting ready to live.  It’s about living fully expressed, before our time runs out.

So, as you embrace this time of year, I invite you to find some quiet moments to reflect on what you desire to bring out from the darkness into the light.  Is it a book?  Is it a composition of another sort?  Any other creative endeavor? A new way of showing up in the world?  In your community? In your relationships?

I’ll be doing the same.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wishing you and yours all the joys and blessings of the season.

For your consideration:

Get quiet, and reflect for a moment: When has a particular piece of music moved you?  What was it about it that touched your spirit, your soul?

Okay, your turn:

When has music inspired you? In what ways?  What about your own MUSE-ic inside you?  What within you is ready to be expressed?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Just for the JOY of it!

For the kid in all of us

Children don’t ever “forget” to play. Why then do we as adults seemingly forget nearly completely?

Best case, maybe we at least tell ourselves, “Okay, I’ll get to have some fun when I take a vacation.” And, maybe that vacation never comes…? Or, it does, and yet as soon as your vacation ends, you return to your day-to-day life, and playtime gets put back into the Vacation Time Capsule for safekeeping.

Are we really too busy to enJOY what’s happening around us?  With this edition of Soul Notes, I say it’s time to play!

PLAYtime is JOYtime

 

Sometimes, you just need a quick play break

  • “Playtime is for kids.”
  • “You need to be a ‘responsible grown up’.”
  • “There’s no time for such foolishness!”

Any of these sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard them from someone in your life, or from the media, or even coming from that ‘little voice inside your head.’

I know that for me, I find myself seemingly caught up in the profuseness of all that is in this thing called Life – that I lose myself in the depths, and forget that it’s okay to lighten up! My inner Lil’ Lori from time to time, though, does come to my aid – it’s during those long periods of ‘deep work,’ that she will proverbially reach up and grab me by the hand, and say “hey, wanna play a game?”

And, my 13-year old corgi/border collie mix Molly (the Wonder Dog), still tries to get my attention with earnest persistence. In my home office, when I’m focused on working from the computer for a long stretch of time, I’ve often looked down to discover that she has one-by-one brought toys in from the other room, and has set them down at my feet. Squeaky toy, drop. (Wanna play?) Tennis ball, drop. (Can we play now?) Frisbee, drop. (How about now?) Rope toy, drop. (Let’s play!!)

Dogs naturally take time out to play. They even have the body language for it, known as the “play bow,” that indicates to other animals that they are ready to engage in some fun.

Hmmm…What if humans started doing this?

It seems that most of us are overdue for a quick play break.

SO, I say we all take a stand together, one and all.

Playtime Pledge:

Please join me in taking the following oath.

Raise your right (or left) hand (or put one or both hands on your heart), and say:

  • “I hereby give myself permission to play”
  • “I hereby declare I will engage in playtime more than I ever thought possible”
  • “I pledge to keep incorporating play into my life, on an ongoing basis”
  • “I make this proclamation, right now, in this very moment”

Extra credit: And to really seal it in, you may wish to add the following:

Tap-tap, no erasies.”

This was something my friends and I would say on the playground at school. Once you had declared whatever it was about the game you were about to play (we’d reach a consensus about the rules for that particular game, for example, tetherball) – you would then say aloud, “tap-tap, no erasies.”

That was our little ritual which would make it clear to the group that there was no going back now, on the agreed upon stipulations.

Maybe we should apply this ritual to business negotiations, and mediations, and arbitrations, and small claims court? I’m only partially kidding. (Kidding, get it?…oh, well, puns with me are always intended…grin.)

 The importance of playtime

Now that you’ve given your adult self full permission, I invite you to let your inner child out to PLAY.

As a young one, I would take sidewalk chalk, and map out a bicycle “route” on the blacktop in our back yard. To maximize the space, I’d chalk out lines for streets that wrapped back and forth, complete with intersections and four-way stops. Then, I’d ride my bicycle through the self-drawn roads, using my imagination along the way – looking for and responding to pedestrians, other ‘motorists’ and road hazards. Sometimes friends would join me, and we would ride our bikes, criss-crossing at intersections, and allowing for merging and passing within and between “lanes”. It involved using our bodies, our minds, and our imaginations, all the while fostering all kinds of being-in-the-moment creativity.

When I was three, a few friends and I collaborated on-the-spot (again in the back yard) to form our own makeshift musical group. I remember taking a large plastic bucket, turning it upside down, and proceeding to bang on it with a couple of wooden spoons. I made myself the drummer in the band. We didn’t really know how to play any songs, so we just made them up! It was great fun.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

In our goal driven society, may we all remember that the focus of play is the experience of it. There’s nothing to “achieve.”

Play is how we connect.

Additionally, play brings joy, and joy brings a renewed energy and a fresh perspective.

It also creates space. There’s no room for fear to hang out with you while you’re playing!

Challenges too have a way of working themselves out to some degree. Feeling stuck at a certain point in a project? Needing to clear out some energetic sediment that needs some composting? How about seeking a new take on a seemingly unsolvable problem?

Well-timed play breaks often result in increased productivity. Go for it! A change of scenery will do you good!

Taking a play break

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pick up a box of crayons and a coloring book. Start coloring! (Coloring books for adults, by the way, are becoming increasingly popular!)
  • Arrange a night of “mini-golf” out with your friends or family.
  • Play fetch with your dog, or a neighbor’s dog.
  • Play “marco polo” in a nearby swimming pool.
  • Dance to one of your favorite up-beat music videos.
  • Swing on a swing set.
  • Look at the night time sky through a telescope.
  • Finger paint!

While engaged in these types of activities, notice the feelings they invoke…openness, expansiveness, joy, pleasure, love. When you’re in that state, just imagine all the goodness that is possible!

Ready to go play? Really, truly? Tap-tap, no erasies!

Okay, your turn:

When’s the last time you (voluntarily) stepped (or better yet jumped!) smack dab into a rain puddle? Blew bubbles? Flew a kite? Whistled?

Or, when was the last time you sat on the grass, looking up at the sky, and tried to identify the funny shapes and formations in the clouds?

When walking with a friend, when’s the last time you turned to them, and said: “Hey, I’ll race you to that telephone pole – Go!”

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.