The (Un) Caged Bird

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." – Rumi


LIFE: An Everyday Angel

I sat at a stoplight this morning immersed in my thoughts, musing over the closing of Jillian’s and the opening of the new pub on the ground floor.  I wondered why they added the sign as an annex to Jillian’s if it was closed and why they didn’t just take it down.  Obviously, my thoughts were of nothing important yet I was totally consumed by them and not the present moment I found myself in.

My wandering mind suddenly noticed movement outside my passenger window and I was catapulted back to the here and now.  A construction worker was working on the street and saying something to me, that I couldn’t understand and had been too distracted to fully catch.  I rolled down my window and he said, “I just wanted to tell you good morning.  I want you to have a beautiful day today.  It doesn’t matter what happens to you or what you do, make it a beautiful day.”   I felt like he had been sent as a messenger to remind me of the importance of everyday grace, and controlling one’s thoughts and emotions. As I drove away I thought about how cold it is and this poor man is outside working in it.  He sure isn’t going to let that get him down though.  His attitude and perspective brought him the warmth he needed to carry on and do his duties.

I wanted to share this experience of my encounter with an ordinary yet extraordinary everyday angel.  It’s difficult sometimes to remember that we are all connected and impact one another.  I hope to remain more mindful and not let the negative consume me and poison my day, leading to my poisoning the environment of those around me with my bad attitude.  If we all took a moment to smile, say good morning, help someone in need, or offer encouragement and wisdom as this man did we could make this world a better place.  Tell someone that you love them today, hug them, tell someone they did a great job, or give a dollar to a homeless person.  Do something.

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TRAVEL DIARY: Amsterdam Street Art

I am fascinated by street art.  Every city I go to I feel moved to record the transitory art that is painted on buildings, bridges, or drawn onto stickers stuck on mailboxes and newspaper dispensers.   I refer to this art as street art versus graffiti because I believe it adds value and beauty to whatever object it appears on.  Graffiti to me is something that is ugly and destructive and I feel it harms its canvas rather than benefiting it. I’m not a fan of people tagging their names and leaving their mark in an ugly un-creative way.  Here in Indianapolis there is one such tagger that does this all over town.  He simply spray paints his tag name in a very boring way which cheapens and destroys anything  he touches.  I won’t mention his name, but if I ever meet him I’m totally giving him a piece of my mind.  I adore murals as well, but those have been approved and commissioned and they don’t have quite the same charm.  However, I did include a lovely one of flowers painted on a house.

I love Amsterdam for many, many reasons.   One in particular is the beautiful art that has been painted onto old buildings and is under most bridges.  I love rounding a corner only to be accosted with a breathtaking image that makes me stop dead in my tracks.  I can stand and look at these images for many minutes.  I always wonder who did them, and when they created it.   There’s such a beautiful co-mingling of old and new in Amsterdam.  The charm of the old canals and cheeky crooked old buildings is only enhanced in my opinion by the counter culture that has made Amsterdam it’s home.  There’s something comforting in knowing that the people are still in charge and make the city their own.

I don’t know who any of the artists are of the paintings below.  A large portion of the photos were taken on Spuistraat.  Others, I couldn’t even tell you the street names of where I took them.  I tend to not pay attention to these things.   Feast your eyes upon these beautiful images and enjoy. I took all of these images when I was in Holland in September.

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LIFE: Love thyself

I have wanted to write about being yourself and the importance of doing so, but the words just wouldn’t come out.  Then I realized that I had already written about this topic in November of 2009, not that it is not important enough to repeat again, but not now.  If you would like to read that post and more on this topic go to Fly Your Own Course: Having the courage to be yourself.

While my thoughts were musing and circling around about being myself I realized that there is one important element that it would be near impossible to truly be yourself without.  That’s loving yourself.  I’m not talking about arrogance or being cocky or even egotistical.  Think more along the lines of believing in yourself, having self-confidence, and enjoying your own company.  Often we look outside of ourselves for things that we should be looking inside of ourselves for.  We tend to be mirrors for each other reflecting to one another what we project or projecting our own problems onto other people.  Therefore we seek out people, or people come our way to teach us more about who we are and how we are behaving.    Instead of looking for someone else to complete us we need to focus on completing ourselves.   Life really isn’t a fairy tale where Prince Charming will come and rescue us and sweep us out of indentured servitude or awaken us from a deep slumber.  We must do these things for ourselves and be our own best partner.

Give yourself the unconditional and perfect love you seek.  If you can’t accept yourself with all your past mistakes, perceived flaws and imperfections then you’re probably going to look for someone else to validate you.  Recently life has brought a few situations my way to help me heal some of my past scars even though at the time it felt as they were being ripped open and I was being torn to shreds.  Out of necessity I try to look on the bright side of life because I’d be endlessly depressed and quite fatalistic if I didn’t.

“I am a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” -Antonio Gramsci

I started looking into the situations that I was encountering with people and seeing how my behavior contributed to the end result and what I needed to learn from the experience.  I try to live authentically and be the genuine me, but I realized that without loving and accepting yourself as you are there isn’t any room for the self to explore, try new things, learn, succeed or fail.   I had forgotten to love and nurture myself and was resenting the people that I was giving my time to because they weren’t doing anything to help me nourish and replenish myself.   I was mad at them because I felt like I was the only one doing all the effort and they were getting my time and energy in return.   While this may seem completely obvious, I assure you that even though it seems like common sense I don’t believe it’s that common anymore.

Lesson 1 – You must take care of yourself and give your body, mind, and soul the nourishment and sustenance that it needs to thrive or at minimum survive.

“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”
~ Barbara DeAngelis

So, loves, let us all remember to be our own best lovers and remind each other of the beauty that lies within each other and within ourselves.