Monday, February 2, 2009

A moment of joy

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change in attitude. Katherine Mansfield
Yesterday, I had to clean up the back yard. I have a list of excuses as to why it hasn't been done for over a month -- and they really are just excuses. Over the Christmas holidays and January, it had been done inconsistently because snow kept falling and covering up what was there. It was really, really cold! In January I leave the house in the dark and come home in the dark. I've been busy every weekend..... etc. etc. etc.

It was a fitting end to my January meditation on the word 'humble' (there is little more humbling than cleaning up dog poop) and a wonderful beginning of my February meditation on 'attitude'.

As I bent and scooped, bent and scooped, I had to focus on what was in front of me, not on the whole mess. I had to keep my mind away from thoughts of, "This is just too depressing. This is disgusting. This is too much." and focus on the job at hand, the area I was working in and the results I was getting in that area.

I had to keep my attitude towards the job neutral, as I focused on the benefits of cleaning up the yard -- they are many and they all bring me joy.

Our bedroom has a big bay window that looks out over the back yard. I love lying in bed, watching the birds flit in and out of the branches of the beautiful mountain ash that drips its arms down towards the ground. I've hung a bird feeder in its branches and chickadees, sparrows and blue jays are continually gathering at it to enjoy 'free food' while one brave squirrel tries to figure out a way to get at the nuts and seeds in the feeder.

Looking out at the mess of Ellie's deposits has not been pleasant. Now, the mess will be gone and I can enjoy the birds with a clean conscience -- I won't have to lie there thinking, I should get out and clean up the mess.

Attitude is everything. I can have the greatest job but if my attitude sucks, so will my job.

I can receive the greatest reward, but if my attitude sucks, I won't appreciate what I receive.

The Dalai Lama wrote, "The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy."

Standing in a back yard filled with dog poop had a lot of opportunity for hostility to grow. I chose Happiness instead. Happiness is an internal seed that nurtures growth -- beautiful, harmonious, joyful.

In a presentation I listened to on Saturday, author and speaker, Elisabeth Fayt called 'joy', the 'secret sauce', that one thing that makes the difference between abundance or lack.

For me, the secret to feeling happy is in my choice. Do I want to be in the now, or do I want to be stuck with one foot in yesterday, the other in tomorrow, while I 'poop' on today? Okay, so that's a little graphic but it does paint the picture of what I do when I grind myself into the infertile soils of regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow. When I'm straddling the moment and dumping my grief upon it, today never happens free of where I've stepped in the past. If I'm dragging my feet in the mulch of regret, I'm muddying up the waters of today. When I'm focusing my thoughts on fear of stepping into tomorrow, I'm clouding my today with trepidation.

I chose to clean up the back yard yesterday (even though my daughter had attempted to do so Friday) with a peaceful heart. I chose to not feel angry about Liseanne's lack of progress in getting the job done and instead, chose to use the time to meditate on humility, on happiness, on joy. I chose to focus my attention on what I was doing, not on what I hated doing, and created value in a chore that I had been avoiding for way too long.

In the end, I got a clean back yard for Ellie to romp in and for me to watch the birds in and a heart full of joy.

A heart full of joy creates room for gratitude to blossom.

I am so grateful to have a wonder dog like Ellie. I am grateful the birds come to visit and that I can lie and watch them from my bed. I am grateful for the beautiful back yard. For the time to lie in bed and watch the birds. I am grateful for the strength to get the job done. The time to do it in and place to do it.

The question is: Was I cleaning up poop yesterday or was I creating beauty in my backyard? What's your attitude? Are you focused on the negative aspect of what you're doing or are you creating value and finding the benefits in choosing to do everything with a joyful, loving heart?


B said...

Thank you L - you are awesome! This is what I needed to hear today...I thought I was the only one who let the doggie poo pile up while it was snowing and cold outside! As soon as I get home, I too will start 'creating beauty in my backyard'. Have a great week!

Faye Rodocker said...


I met you at Choices in June 08, I must tell you I really enjoy reading your blog it keeps me focused and grounded


Faye Rodocker

M.L. Gallagher said...

Hi Brandi -- lol -- you are definitely not the only one and I'm so glad you will be joining me in creating beauty in the backyard!

Faye! Thanks so much for dropping in to say hello. I remember meeting you. Hope you are living your contract and opening your heart to all the love in the world.

Hugs and beans!