Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lifting the Veil


One moment I believed my Self

A victim of circumstances

Unworthy of love

Dying by my own hands

Not wanting to die

But not knowing how to live any other way

When an angel appeared

Dressed as a mere mortal

Engaging me in conversation

Asking questions that I hadn’t dared to ask my Self

Listening with his presence

Dropping seeds of wisdom with his words

He walked away

But remains with me

A part of my hero’s journey

As this nameless friend

Lifted the veil

So I might see

The warrior I was born to be.


I was having dinner when I heard a soft voice ask:  Is this seat taken?  I turned to invite him to sit down and was surprised to see this gentle giant before me.  His physical stature exuding outward strength that matched all that lay inside of him.  There was a rare sweetness circling him so we were instantly friends.  His name is AJ.

The fierce rains forced him to detour into Nashville.  He is on a cross-country road trip riding his motorcycle from New Mexico to New York where he is stationed in the Army.  He will leave for Afghanistan within 90 days and feels a deep sense of duty and pride in serving our country.  He shared the hell tales of boot camp and all the doors within him that he wasn’t aware were sealed until they opened, discovering the warrior he was born to be.

Just a few years ago, AJ was 400 pounds and dying.  He knew he was dying and didn’t know what to do to save himself.  He felt trapped in his life unable to cross the bridge from where he was to where he wanted to go.  One day, a man engaged him in conversation asking what he wanted to do with his life.  He expressed his desire to be in the military and the angel disguised as a man looked past the story of AJ’s 400 pound body and saw the soul, the truth of who AJ is, urging him to join the ROTC at his college.  The angel lifted the veil so AJ could see the possibilities for his life.

With 150 pounds shed from his body and possessing a depth of wisdom that guides his life, AJ is alive, his spirit free to be, to dance, to ride his motorcycle cross country, to be the hero he is, to express all that lies within him.  Living the passion within him, he is blazing a new trail and inspiring all who experience him.

The invitation this day is look beyond the veil, the curtain, the story that appears to be there, obstructing the truth of who you truly are and who others truly are.  Living your truth, you help others remember their truth.  Acknowledge the hero within you and within all.  See the warrior you were born to be.  Free your Spirit and let it soar in ways that you have forgotten are possible.  When you rise, we all rise.  Your passion ignites a chain reaction!           

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Hope


What if Hope isn’t something you “Do”

Rather it is alive within you, ever-present, always there,

Feeding you and sustaining you in ways

That you can’t begin to know?

But if you acknowledge the HOPE that is

If you invite it to reveal itself

In a way that helps you remember

It is good to be alive

No matter what the day brings,

It will lift you

Beyond your troubles

Beyond your circumstances

Beyond your cage

Freeing you

Where you can see

The beauty in this human journey

Filled with

Joy and Pain

Doubt and Faith

Fear and Love.

Hope is innately wired in all humans, alive within us, sustaining us in ways that we simply cannot see as we are often caught in a concept of how it should be or should look.  Freedom to be with this truth that Hope is, inviting it to reveal itself in a way that helps you remember it is good to be alive no matter what life brings will lift you beyond the cage of illusion and misperception, beyond the troubles that have grabbed a hold choking us off from this precious gift of life.

Believing good prevails, that good will certainly come when there is no reason to believe except an inner nudge won’t allow you to believe otherwise is Hope.  It is revealed within us and through us ever so gently, ever so softly caressing our worries, our doubts, our fears away. 

Living in Hope, we lift our Self and in this energy, we take others with us.  When you think there’s nothing you can do, know there is a power in hope that may be invisible or so subtle that we don’t fully recognize or appreciate it; but trust this soul force that heals and elevates.  It is magic like pulling a rabbit out of a top hat, unveiling the concealed. 

The invitation this day is to let hope echo from the depths of you, connect with the energy of hope that is alive within you.  Feel it.  Live it.  Be it.  Pass on Hope as only you can in your own special way.  And remember these poetic words from Helen Keller:  No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.  Ahhhhhh…drink in the power of hope and let it open you to the truth.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sweet Freedom

Things don’t go our way

People do & say crazy shit

Our food arrives cold at a restaurant

The customer service specialist places us on hold forever

Our neighbors paint their house neon orange

The furniture we ordered gets doubled

And returning it takes 25 phones calls over a month

There are things we can control

And things we cannot

Knowing the difference

Makes all the difference

As trying to control the uncontrollable is hell

But letting go

Brings freedom


There are moments of crazy when I am trying to control the uncontrollable and moments of grace where I let go and experience freedom.  It is difficult for us to acknowledge that we are not in control – that life will always bring us things that we can’t fix or manage.  It is frustrating when things don’t go our way but there comes a point when we must let go instead of dwelling on the events.  The good news is we get to choose our response which ultimately places us in control of our life no matter the circumstances that come our way.  Sweet!
Some of us can let go easier than others but all of us can get there.  I often tease with my close friends and family who knew me before John died where I was more of a control freak and know me now where I let go effortlessly that they can thank John for dying and freeing me.  That is sick humor, I know, but it is actually the truth and John more than anyone would appreciate this light-hearted attitude.  It is an expensive gift but I enjoy a level of freedom that I never knew was possible in the wake of John’s death.  Clarity came as to what I want to plug my energy into and what I don’t and won’t.
The Direct TV guy just left my condo.  After planning, getting the TV’s mounted and scheduling time, he can’t install the dish because my balcony doesn’t face the direction it needs to.  He gushed with apologies that no one informed me of this or asked the right questions.  Then, he got his supervisor on the phone who expressed his regret for inconveniencing me.  I assured them both it was no biggie thanking them and moving on with my day.
A friend is stuck in the airport which is on my top 5 list of crap I would rather avoid so I was feeling her pain.  Then, we begin to chat about all that time to read the book that she has been dying to finish.  Everything began to shift as she focused on the good and I could hear her excitement in this freedom.
My neighbor is dreading her mother in-law coming into town because she is rude to people barking orders in restaurants and to the staff in our building.  This embarrasses my neighbor and pisses her off.  We began to strategize laughing out loud as we shared ideas where she can warn the staff and pull the waiters aside and tip them extra.  And I reminded her that it was only a few days and to give thanks to the heavens that she only has to see her a couple of times a year AND be thankful she isn’t wired that way because I can’t imagine it is much fun to be that grumpy. 
The invitation this day and this lifetime is to find your way to sweet freedom.  Choose your attitude and let go of the crap that you can’t control.  Acknowledge that the small stuff gets on your nerves but choose not to sweat it.  Use the powerful medicine of humor.  Life is far too amazing to waste precious energy on things that in the end truly won’t matter.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stilling the Mind


Daunting thoughts swoop in

Sending us into overwhelm

Worrying about this and that

Hijacking our sense of Self

Knocking us off our Center

Filling us with looming doubt

All an illusion

Created by the mind

Utter chaos

That strips life of the richness

The depth

The hope

The joy

The wonder

The beauty

The magnificence

That “is”.


It is human nature to trust the mind that is often chaotic with daunting thoughts that swoop in, sending us into overwhelm as we worry about this and that, losing our groundedness, our center as our sense of Self is hijacked and the dense energy of doubt fills us.  It is also our divine nature, the essence of who we are to find our way to clarity that it is all an illusion, created by the mind stripping away the richness of life, the depth, the hope, the joy, the wonder, the beauty, the magnificence that is. 

It takes effort to still the mind but the rest and the peace it allows in the midst of life’s challenges and storms is worth it.  A still mind doesn’t mean we bypass the human experiences or check out from reality rather it takes us into a depth of life where we can be present to all that comes our way, where we can recognize whether our thoughts affirm life or suck the life out of us, where we can stand with others in ways we never could before because we embody the truth of who we truly are and all that lies within us.    

As I swam the back cove at the lake, I was moving my body but resting in a deep stillness when I saw a friend sitting on the back of his houseboat meditating.  I didn’t want to interrupt the serenity he was experiencing but the movement of the water stirred him as his eyes opened connecting with mine.  We had a brief conversation as the meditation was now living, a part of him and me and out interaction.  He has battled an illness for months that had led him to this moment, touching this well of peace within and stilling his mind so he can heal in the hope, the love, the grace that is.  He is not denying the existence of the illness.  He is choosing to still his mind that was churning thoughts of doom and gloom that he won’t ever feel good again, that his life has no purpose anymore, that he won’t get to do the things he enjoys and that life isn’t worth living.  He was radiant as he was fully present to him Self, to me and to life, leaving me inspired and filled with awe that his choice to still his mind had freed him.  It didn’t cure his illness but he was free in a way he had never been before and bearing witness to this elevated my spirit.

The invitation this day is to begin a meditation practice that allows you to still your mind so it doesn’t steal your life.  Explore various forms of meditation through walking out in nature, lying on your back flat on the floor with your eyes closed and one hand over your heart and one your belly breathing in and out of your nose, sitting upright in a chair with your body relaxed and eyes closed so you can go within allowing the breath to wash through you.  Take a class.  Watch YouTube instruction videos.  Find whatever speaks to you.  You and your life are worth the effort.  And rest in knowing the graces of the heavens will do their part to lead you home to the magnificence that lies within you.   

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lost and Found


Life happens

Things get lost

Causing great inconvenience

Irritating us

Pissing us off

And suddenly

The seas part

Clarity comes

We understand

That the universe orchestrated even this

To lead us where we needed to go

In order to meet who we needed to me

It is the cosmic dance of lost and found


I used the valet parking as I have done a hundred times before at this very location.  The guys were busier than hell with cars lined up the street which can lead to a fine by the city of Nashville so they were sprinting from the parking lot to the next car.  Knowing the drill, I had my key fob in hand ready to make the exchange as efficient as possible.  I hopped out and got my receipt #997 which I tucked into my pants pocket for safe keeping.  As I made my way into the restaurant, I added the receipt number 9+9+7 = 5, delighting in the invitation of the 5 energy to be free, soak up the adventure of life by being in the direct experiences which brings a depth like nothing else can.

Meeting friends for dinner, we ate our meal and enjoyed conversation for a couple of hours before heading out to hear some music.  At the end of the night, I walked back to the valet to get my vehicle.  One of the guys pulled around what he thought was my vehicle and began to panic when I said it wasn’t my car.  With flashlight in hand, they were scanning all the keys dangling in the box organized by numbers.  I offered to help them look but this only added to their heightened inner chaos as others gathered around the valet station waiting on their cars and being informed that their keys were missing.  Everyone was oddly understanding as the valet called cabs and assured us as they took our information that this would be resolved as soon as possible and apologized for the inconvenience.
The next morning, I had a voicemail message from the manager, apologizing once again and stating that they were waiting to see if someone calls after discovering a lanyard of missing keys that one of the valets dropped in their car.  He added that if this didn’t happen by the end of the day, he would call me back to get another key fob made for me.  I went about my day not giving it another thought until I got another voicemail from the manager saying they had found the keys and just needed instruction from me as to where I wanted them delivered.  I called him back and left him a message explaining that I was heading to my houseboat on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky and would pick them up when I return on Sunday.

The manager called again and this time, we actually connected.  He was so professional in the way he handled everything even offering a gift certificate to Tavern for my troubles which made me let out a celebratory Thank You giggling that it would buy my dinner for the week because I am a regular.  This exchange broke through the business mode and suddenly, we were human to human.  He said:  You mentioned that you are in Kentucky and I am from Kentucky (Eastern Kentucky).  We spoke of our love for Kentucky and I shared my profound experience of the Hillbilly Zen wisdom through my late-husband and the soulful people who call this home.  This led to a timeless conversation as if we had known each other forever, pouring our hearts out about the magic of this sacred place and bearing our souls as we exchanged stories of synchronicity and the divine orchestration of life often overlooked but undeniable.

We couldn’t believe the gift we had been given by these unexpected turn of events that on the surface caused irritation and inconvenience but on a deeper level revealed the cosmic dance of lost and found.  Even the lost keys had a purpose that would have been easy to overlook if I hadn’t recognized all I had found as a result of these events unfolding perfectly.  I smile as I didn’t recall saying on my voicemail message that I was going to my houseboat on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky but this information (that I would consider TMI: too much info) led to the conversation that nourished us both.  If we never speak again or never meet, it matters not as I recognize that I don’t have to force this or worry about what it all means – all I have to do is accept the beauty that springs from the most unlikely places revealing the miracle of connection whether brief or over a lifetime.  

The invitation this day is to recognize the cosmic dance of lost and found.  Look at the synchronicity, the events that unfold perfectly leading you to new perspectives, new places, new people and new life.  Finding our way includes getting lost.  Look for the miracles of these mystical connections that make your soul blossom.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Morning


The caw of the crow ushered me

From dream state into wake

I pulled the curtains back

Open to the day

The fog hovered over the lake

Like smoke moving and shifting in the air

The sun burned through

Shaped as a half moon

Beams breaking through like a laser

I stood there

Experiencing the miracle before me

This morning.

I put on my running clothes and shoes

One foot in front of the other

My flat feet slapped the wooden dock

As I grounded in the day

Giving thanks

Tuning in and sending love to All

Feeling the hot tears bubble up

As wonder and awe held me

This morning.

I headed up Grider Hill

My pace slowing

As I climbed it

My breathing labored

My glutes engaged and powerful

Victoriously cresting

The sun and the moon both bathing me

Inspiring me

With their generosity in sharing their forces

This morning.

The rolling terrain lined with breath-taking views

That I have seen over the last 20 years

But never as I am seeing them now

This morning.

The spider webs covered with dew

 Become visible

Like cotton stretched across the hillside

The fresh bird droppings perfectly splat

Paint the red dirt road

The sweet smell of the honey suckle

A stark contrast to the cow pies smoking in the pasture

The rabbit bounding across the road

Disappearing into the woods

Make my heart leap and dance

The cows pulling grass by the roots from this earth

Creating a hum, a droning rhythm

This morning.

I turn to head back to the houseboat

The trucks roll by

Hugging the winding curves

Leaving the scent of diesel fuel in their wake

Boats on trailers

Being hauled to the waters

Inviting a day of fun

The fishermen beaming from their sense of accomplishment

Nourished by their primal urge

To hunt and gather

Sleepy from an early wakeup call

Fed by the waters, the camaraderie, the thrills

This morning.

My rubber soles strike the wooden dock

With a light drumming sound

As I have awakened to more of my Self

The person who headed out the door

Is not the one who is returning

This morning.

I plunge into the cool waters

Still with no ripples

Only sun beams and moon beams

Dancing like a hologram

A black and yellow butterfly joins me

In this sacred dance

This morning.

I feel a part of the whole of the universe

And acknowledge that I could be anywhere in the world

But here I am

Living this wondrous adventure

I bow to the beauty of life

This morning.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Living Every Day Like It's The Last

One day

Will be our last

When that will be

None of know for sure

But to consciously

Enter the days of our lifetime

Acknowledging that this day

Is all we have

And there is no promise of tomorrow

Invites us to hold each day sacred

No matter what comes our way.


As I was driving home from the grocery store, I found myself behind a vehicle pulling a trailer with a Turf Tiger Scagg mower strapped to it.  My late-husband, John, had this exact riding mower and loved cutting the acreage we lived on, riding up and down the hills making stripes and patterns that pleased him in a way that was foreign to me.  I would rather sit inside where the air conditioning and ice water kept me cool on those hot summer days.  Each of us has different ideas about what is enjoyable; and how we spend our days is how we spend our life so it is essential to be mindful of our choices not just in what we do, how we fill our days but our attitude, how we choose to view things.

The vehicle with the mower turned off and I headed down the road to my parking garage.  Carrying my groceries as I walked to the elevator, this knowing, a message from John washed over me: Living every day like it is my last.  John had this on his facebook home page.  I had never seen this prior to his death when a friend urged me to get on there and read the outpouring of love sent via messages.  He had said to me every day in the wake of his bypass surgery:  There will never be another day just like this one so enjoy it; and expressed to me often, If today is my last day on earth, know that you made my life wonderful, Gee.  After he died, sifting through his things, I found a gift book I had given him for his birthday:  Live Like You Were Dying with a CD of Tim McGraw’s song with the same title.  I wrote a message to him:  To the only person I know who truly lives like he is dying.

I got into the elevator, smiling from the inside out, infused with a profound sense that I am living every day like it’s my last just as John did; and one day will indeed be my last day.  But until then, I hold each day sacred no matter what comes my way.  I really know in a way that continue to surprise me that this day, this moment is all I really have.  There is a freedom in this; a depth of experiencing life that I didn’t know was possible.  This way of being was birthed from my most expensive gift – a byproduct of John’s life and John’s death.  I hold my heart, mindful that this life I now know, rich beyond measure cost me everything.

The invitation is to live this day as if it were your last.  Let this bring you clarity as to what you want to change, the choices you make that no longer serve you and the choices you need to make now in order to go where you want to go, what you want for your life now instead of being stuck in habits that leave you feeling dull and mechanical, your attitude toward yourself and your life.  Remember, how you spend your days is how you spend your life…choice by choice, moment by moment, day by day.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I still Wanna' Be a Sunflower

Sunflowers have lit up my dreams spiraling me into the depths of my truth –

Who I am essentially.

Sunflowers have lined the roads I have traveled welcoming this inner dance churning up

Emotions as I let go and allow more.

Sunflowers have mystically popped from paintings, greeting cards, trinkets mirroring

The beauty of this grand adventure

And I find myself saying silently:

I still wanna’ be a sunflower!


Below is an excerpt from my book Passing On Hope.  This piece still affects me in ways I can recognize and ways I cannot.  I have a sunflower pendant that I wear with a diamond in the center that my late-husband, John, designed for me after my book was published.  The diamond is from a ring he wore for several years that he dismantled to create the pendant.  He surprised me one afternoon with it.  Being a romantic, he tricked me into believing the box held my watch which he had picked up from the jeweler after being cleaned.  He handed me the box urging me to check it out and when I opened it, I burst into tears knowing the significance of this diamond and being touched deeply by this grand gesture of love. 


He said:  I want you to wear this every day and remember



The invitation this day is for you to remember:  You are a sunflower in this world.  SHINE ON!


I Want to Be a Sunflower

“How does one become a butterfly?…You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”—Trina Paulus

Three months shy of my 38th birthday, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a sunflower. Its stem is a sturdy green rope tough enough to hold its own through the winds from the severe summer thunderstorms that produce golf ball-size hail. Its delicate golden pedals are able to endure whatever comes, while exposed so openly with bright unwavering smiles, inviting all who pass by to partake in its joy. Its core is the silent hardy heart residing in the backdrop of the stem and the pedals; it is filled with morsels of strength, beauty, and the great courage to drop her seeds in hopes of leaving something behind when her season is over.

My desire to be a sunflower began one morning while out on a bike ride when I glimpsed a spectacular sight out of the corner of my eye: A single sunflower stood brilliantly elevated and shimmering among a field of overgrown brush. Beyond its physical beauty, it spoke to me, essence to essence, infusing me with inspiration. A voice came from deep inside me, “I want to be a sunflower in this world.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the idea came to me from a place within that knows far more than I do, and I trusted its wisdom completely. This realization made me feel good, the way I felt as a child when I thought of becoming a grown-up, out on my own. I didn’t know how I would get there, but I knew that I would.

Sunflowers had never been special to me. I can remember there being sunflowers on our dish towels and pot holders when I was growing up, and I found that horribly cheesy. Year round, Mom had artificial sunflowers in a pottery vase, as if she were trying to keep the sun shining no matter the season. I thought of them as gaudy, something old people must do because their taste gets stuck in days gone by. The only thing that I thought was nice about sunflowers was their bold shade of yellow—until I experienced the one that would inspire me to my new calling.

The day of my discovery, I was cruising along the countryside in Albany, Kentucky, the same countryside where I have put in hundreds of miles running and riding on my custom-made triathlon bicycle. Some of the locals who I adore have asked me if I am an Olympic athlete, which is unbelievably generous of them. That question makes me blush and wish I were a liar capable of playing out this old childhood fantasy of being an Olympian in any sport. I must look like a hard-core athlete slumped over my aero bars like Lance Armstrong cranking out a time trial during the Tour de France. More than anything, though, I’m a softy, full of fluff who enjoys more than anything just being outside surrounded by nature’s glory.

Before the mysterious sunflower grabbed hold of me, I had found paradise in most everything while out on my bike rides or runs, drinking in the views of the does dancing across the foothills and breathing in the fresh summer air laced with honeysuckle. I appreciated all of the gardens cared for so tenderly and the fields of wildflowers that held a canvas of pinks, purples, reds, and oranges. I admired the sheer magnificence of the butterflies floating about. All of these prior experiences were trumped by this sunflower that reached inside me, lighting a fire of passionate purpose.

The week before I had spotted the sunflower, I had bought my mom a fresh-cut bouquet of flowers at the Indianapolis farmers’ market from a vendor who I had always passed by in favor of another. Wanting to buy my mom something different, I was drawn to the uniqueness of this vendor’s designs that day. The bouquet I bought was filled with lavender, light yellow snapdragons, pink lilies, and a single sunflower.

When I called my mom to tell her about the sunflower that had grabbed hold of my heart and made me want to be a sunflower in this world, she surprisingly didn’t think I was crazy. She reminded me of the bouquet with the sunflower that I had bought her just a week before, saying that she had just thrown it out. Then she added in a whimsical voice as if joining me in my pursuit that the sunflower hung in there the entire week, never fading or withering. I wanted to be a sunflower even more after hearing this.

In my heightened excitement, I didn’t run out and have business cards made saying, “Kathy McHugh, sunflower,” because I knew it would take a conscious effort on my part to become a sunflower. I did tell a few others, though. Karen, my friend and editor, received an email from me announcing my quest. True to form, her brain filled with everything her eyes have ever scanned, her ears have ever heard, and her emotions have ever experienced, and this pure heart told me about a scene in the movie Calendar Girls where John, the gardener, expresses his love for the sunflower before he dies.

John says, “I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me, that’s because of the reason behind its name, not because it looks like the sun, but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky, a satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. That’s such an admirable thing and such a lesson in life.”

This scene helped me understand more clearly what it would take to become a sunflower. My challenge would be to find the light in all people no matter how difficult, detecting their light through whatever darkness was obvious to me. This is what those dear people who saw me as an Olympic athlete did. It wasn’t about my high-tech bike or my fashionable running gear. These sunflowers saw me in an elevated state beyond my imperfections. Olympic athletes have compact bodies of steel, not bellies that jiggle up and down when they run or hang from their bodies when they slump over their aero bars. The Kentucky locals didn’t see me as I see me; they chose to zero in on the trace of goodness radiating from my spirit in action and drew an incredible assumption without knowing me apart from being a runner and a cyclist.

As I contemplated how I would become a sunflower, my friend Linda came to mind. She had introduced me to the Hindu expression namasté, which she explained means, “I see God in you.” She has a sticker on the back window of her jeep so she can send love to all those she passes or who pass by her, which is magnificent, just like she is.

This same expression is lovingly said at the end of my yoga class by our teacher, Chuck. Everyone replies namasté back to him and to the others in the class. This practice saturates me with love for myself and the others who I mostly know by face and energy, not name, occupation, social status, or place of residence. This is what it must feel like to be a sunflower, focusing on the light within us all and being elevated by it.

I see God in these people, not how proficient they are at doing the yoga poses or how ripped they look in their workout duds or how perfect their hair stays while mine is drenched in sweat. I see God in myself, leaving my class better than I entered, wanting to be kinder to myself and to others no matter the circumstance. My husband gets the full benefit because he sees me immediately following yoga, but I lose steam somewhere between falling asleep that night and waking back up in the morning.

The work would be not to let my commitment to being a sunflower waiver, to be consistent in what feels amazingly right to my heart. While out on a run, I spied the dirty man who was nameless and faceless to me. He always wore dingy T-shirts, yellow stained and riddled with holes. He was covered with cracked skin from working the fields all of his life and was far younger than he appeared.

This man had built a shrine for birds on his 2 acres of paradise, and he was much more than what I had labeled him to be. I felt the need to stop running so I could ask him about the birdhouses, each unique in size and design.
His voice was low, as he barely opened his mouth when he spoke. His pale blue eyes glazed from the sweat that dribbled in as he push mowed his land revealed an enthusiasm for life in his love for the birds. He created this sanctuary with his own hands and a heart bursting with reverence for these tiny creatures. God stood before me in the form of this man who I had passed by countless times over the past several years, waving politely but not caring to see him in his enormity. This experience began my sprouting.

Then I was challenged by the woman who is part owner of the dock where we boat. She is not known for her pleasantness among the patrons, who pay her a lot of money for her to then repay them by towing cars, towing boats, and kicking them off the dock when they have protested. She was easy for me to avoid, as I only saw her when I took off or returned from a run.

Well, she was easy to avoid until she placed not one but two extra sticky stickers that the sun baked on the front windshield of my vehicle. The stickers were warning that I had violated the parking policy because my right wheel was over the line in the parking space, and if I didn’t correct this problem immediately, my vehicle would be towed.

I wanted to choke the woman at the dock, tell her off and tell everyone who would listen what a crazy b--ch she was. I didn’t choke her, and I backed off when speaking to her because my head started spinning, my ears were on fire, and I was about to unleash the wrath of Kath, also known as white-trash me. I did tell all of my friends on the dock that this woman was a crazy b--ch, and they agreed, sharing their stories about her latest antics, making me feel much better, at least for the length of time I was riding on my wave of righteousness. My desire to be a sunflower had taken a backseat to my rage.

Seeing this woman continues to fill me with a sense of dread because I want to see God in her, and all I see is the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz delighting in her power to take Toto away from Dorothy. I don’t call her a crazy you-know-what anymore because I try not to say that ugly word, and I am able to bless her when I see her. I am still searching for that flicker of light because I know that when I can actually see it, not pretend to see it, I will grow into more of what I want to be.

Each day, I awaken asking to be a sunflower in this world, having a talk with myself about what that means and recommitting to the process. Doing a little research, I discovered that 10 years ago, the sunflower became a symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. This has happened in some parts of the world, but the world is not yet free of them. After the Ukraine gave up its last nuclear warhead, the defense ministers of the United States, Russia, and the Ukraine met on a former missile base, scattering sunflower seeds together. The former U.S. Secretary of Defense, William Perry said, “Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil ensure peace for future generations.” This fills me with hope that as long as I keep progressing in my work to become all that I want to be, the seeds I sow will be planted in those who will be here long after my journey has ended.

Meditation: What kind of flower do you want to be in the garden of life? What kind of seeds are you planting in the world? Can you see the beauty in those who are different?

Action: Walk around the grounds of a spectacular garden that speaks to you and discover what kind of flower you are. If you enjoy the great outdoors, pay attention to the fields filled with wildflowers. Let wildflowers symbolize the magnificence of all that you are and the power of one seed planted.