“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day” ~Zen Proverb

It became increasingly obvious after reading this very thought-provoking quote why I am not a Zen Master!  While I pride myself in being a continuous learner (actually one of my key strengths according to the Strengths Finder by Tom Rath), it appears that knowing ‘stuff’ isn’t quite cracked up to what I thought it should be!

While tapping away at my keyboard this morning, I look around my beautiful office at a sea of books that might seem impressive to the naive eye.  Yes, the books have looked astonishingly inspiring to me over the years too, until I woke up one day and realized that the books themselves don’t give me the right to say I’m even somewhat intelligent, however, applying the knowledge held within their covers is what makes the difference.

But wait, that’s not even the point!  After reading (and really taking in) a quote like the one above, my world comes crashing down.  Why you ask? Because it becomes quite apparent that all the studying over the years, the countless journals and wire-bound note books stored away to prove my voracious note-taking skills, post-it notes in every possible colour stuck to just about everything I can find (as I research using my personal assistant ‘Google’), means a whole lot of nothin’!!  Ok, so it doesn’t mean ‘nothing’, it just means that smarts aren’t everything; wisdom is where it’s at!

It’s funny how we know stuff, yet, we don’t always know it! You get what I’m saying, right?  I’ve realized this for a while, however my little human brain tends to forget (to remember) in my day-to-day busyness (now that’s a whole other topic for another day!).

It’s like learning to drive. There are rules, right? You have to know the rules of the road, like holding the steering wheel at ten and two (do they even teach that anymore?), checking the mirrors every 5 seconds, looking both ways, getting comfortable with seeing the road –  past the end of the hood of the car!  All of these are skills that after time and practice can be mastered and applied with ease. Then quite miraculously, the day comes when you turn the key in the ignition, and you realize that you forgot to think about all twenty steps you had to memorize before you put the car in drive, and your world changes on a dime.

Wisdom is something like that (or so I am still trying to grasp it seems!).  It is learning all those steps that take a car from park to drive, putting your foot on the pedal, giving it some gas and then simply letting go!  It’s not ‘letting go’ and just allowing the car to drive on its own, it’s letting go of everything you have mastered thus far.  It’s trusting yourself to just be with everything you have learned; not holding onto the minutia of every single detail that has had you confined to just one way of thinking while learning the process of driving….or learning.

So when I look around my office and see the vast amounts of knowledge contained within my bookshelves, I say to myself ‘what can I learn today that will take my mind to a new place of knowledge?’  Then, when I master my learning, I will ask to be shown how my heart can let it go allowing wisdom to be my teacher and everyday guide.

Wishing you an inspiring day!

Mandi

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Living on the Edge of Scary…..

“To be scared is sensible, to be comfortable is suicidal”

~Unknown

Each morning I post a quote or something I feel is meaningful and inspiring on Face Book to connect with my friends and followers.  I like the challenge of searching for something that moves me, makes me think about life with a different perspective, or is just plain brilliant!  This morning I found the above quote, and it really grabbed my attention.

Lately I have felt that I’ve been sliding into the ‘comfortable’ side of life, and frankly I don’t like it!  Since my training began to become a non-denominational minister 15 years ago, I have invested many days in feeling a discomfort within my soul; taking myself way beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone to places that scared doesn’t even describe, or according to the author of this quote, quite sensible!

There is something magical about having your blood course through your veins at breakneck speed, as your adrenaline kicks in, and you can feel your heart beating in your ears!  It’s not that I want to spend all my time in fight or flight mode, however, I must say that there is definitely something addictive about always being on the edge of your seat waiting for the next ‘rush’ of excitement.  Ah yes, I have had my fair share of moments over these years craving more and more until I’ve felt completely spent.

Lately I have realized that being sensible doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to be scared all the time. It just means that I have to be aware of feeling a sense of complacency washing over me because the landscape looks all too familiar.  It means that I need to be awakened to my feelings so that I know whether it’s either time to re-fan the flame of my current desires or throw caution to the wind and create something new and magical.  New and magical by the way, does not need to be earth shattering and life altering though, and that is the lesson I have learned as of late.  I used to think I had to ‘reinvent myself’ every time I was feeling complacent with life, and now I realize that I just need to reinvent the way I look at my life!

So today, I invite you to come along with me on this journey together of being aware of the comfortable and making friends with the scary, all the while feeling a sense of calm, relief and satisfaction knowing that we are choosing to live life on the edge of sensible!

With warmth,

Mandi

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A Love Like Ours………..

This past week, I was asked if by chance I had the time to be part of an anniversary party for a couple who have been married 62 years.  Did you read that!  62 years!!  Wow, I’ve been married 30 years, and I think that’s a fantastic accomplishment.  But 62 years, now that is something that truly needs to be acknowledged in a big, big way!

When the daughter of the couple asked me, I was sure I would already be booked with another function, but checked my calendar anyway.  I did have a function to go to, but I could easily work the ceremony into my busy weekend schedule…..one filled with baby blessings, weddings and vow renewals already!

I believe that everything happens for a reason!  Thank goodness I was able to participate in such a wonderful event, because being part of this family’s special vow renewal and anniversary celebration was the highlight of my weekend!  I have never seen two people so in love, who have been together for so long.  And, not only are they in love with each other, all six of their children (and their spouses) are in love with them too, which is amazing in a family as big as theirs, I think.

It have the privilege of being an integral part of helping many couples tie the knot over the years; actually, almost every weekend of my life, well in the summer months anyway. I thank God that it never ‘gets old’ for me; that each couple I meet, each family function I’m part of and every baby I have the honour of blessing brings true joy to my life.  And what puts the icing on the cake is when I know I am standing in front of two people who are obviously in love with one another.   It warms my heart to feel the energy of their connection; that magical glow that just pulls me in and sets my own heart on fire.

Thank you Universe for planting the seed in my mind and giving my intuition a little push, so I could start this journey 14 years ago.  It’s been a huge blessing in my life.

Enjoy the rest of this day, and the week ahead.

With warm blessings,

Mandi

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I Love What I Do!

This past weekend was a busy one for me.  I had two rehearsals on Friday, three weddings on Saturday and two baby blessings on Sunday…..whew!

It’s a lot of work, time and traveling around doing what I do for a living, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I get to experience people in their finest moments!  My work allows me the privilege of peaking into a couple or family’s lives, if even for a very short time, to be part of a milestone moment.  Although it can be exhausting at times (especially in this darn heat!), the feeling it gives me far outweighs my tired feet or having to wear a long-sleeved black suit in 30 degree weather.  The feeling I get when I know that I have touched someone’s life in a way that most people never get to do…..well….there is nothing in this world that can compare to that!

The beautiful babies I had the distinct honour of blessing this weekend were the children of two couples I have married in the past.  One wedding was three years ago, and the other ceremony was just last spring.  The thought and care that these incredible parents put into the planning process, coupled with the way each of them gazed into their beautiful little angels’ eyes gave me….and continues to give me goosebumps.  This to me is a sure sign that each of these new bundles of joy will grow and develop into amazing young children.  And….. I get to witness this week after week and month after month!

As I look at the disarray my office is in right now, I can just kick up my feet and say ‘Who cares!” because files out of place, the to do list growing and the occasional hairball floating around on the floor just means that I’ve been too busy being part of someone’s bigger picture to worry about when the dusting and vacuuming is going to get done, and frankly I’m okay with that!

Get out there and help change someone’s life today….I dare you!

Mandi

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Love is patient and kind, and takes some work sometimes…..

“A marriage made in heaven is one where a man and a woman
become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could ever have managed to become alone.”
~ Frederick Buechner

I had great intentions of getting this post out yesterday, and through the overpowering pull of procrastination, I realized as I lay in bed last night….pondering over my wonderful day, that I had forgotten!

Thirty years ago last night, on a particularly hot and steamy summer’s eve, I married my college sweetheart.  Especially now that I have had the pleasure of witnessing the marriage of over 700 couples, I have come to the conclusion that getting married on the cusp of my 21st birthday, was probably a bit too young.  But, no matter how many trials, set backs, triumphs and blissful moments we have celebrated together, life has been wonderful, and we have not only survived….we have thrived!

I just love the quote above, because it speaks to the truth that we all need the help and support of others to bring out the best in ourselves.  In my young and inexperienced mind, (and especially when we were bracing ourselves through some bumpy terrain), I somehow tried to convince myself that maybe ‘doing it alone’ might be a better option.  These thoughts would race through my mind at breakneck speed, only to be halted by the loving embrace or gentle touch of the man I love more than life itself.

If I had to narrow it down to one important lesson that have realized in thirty years with my wonderful husband, it would be to choose your battles wisely, and learn to weather the storms so that when the sun shines brightly, you can be fully present to enjoy it.    Make it your mission to show your partner how much they mean to you today; through a smile, a little note, a special gift, or better yet, just by telling them!

Create yourself an incredible day!

Mandi

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There’s Truth to the saying “Take on Step at a Time”!

Since the winter of 2011, I have been making some huge changes in my life.  Through the help of some professionals, I integrated a lifestyle change that allowed me to shed 30 lbs. from my body taking me from a size 12 to a size 6.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic about the change.  I think the last time I fit into a size 6 was probably in grade 9!

Then before Christmas I decided after much thought and consideration (and then seeing a  fabulous documentary called “Food Matters”, the deal was sealed), that I would become a vegetarian and just see how that would make me feel.  And, I also decided to stop adding a beautiful auburn colour to my hair and allow my natural grey to shine through.  All these changes have been wonderful to say the least, and I am feeling good about myself, my health and my life in general.

What I have learned, among many things (and too many to post here today), is that one of the best ways we can sabotage ourselves from making changes in our lives is to think that we have to change everything all at once.  You see, I was that ‘all or nothing’ kinda girl for most of my 50 years, and it’s just been in the last 12 months that I have realized that I have tamed this wild part of me, and allowed myself to integrate small changes….but on a consistent basis.  You know….like taking ‘one step at a time’…..what a concept!!

I didn’t realize I was taking this positive step on a conscious level until last week when I attended a very informative, and very thought-provoking seminar at Niagara College on GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms for those who don’t know this new catch phrase).  I was getting caught up in the speaker’s frenzy of getting us to commit to making huge changes in our lives and spreading the word to everyone we know about how dangerous this is to our health, and more importantly the health of our children and many generations to come.

I agree wholeheartedly this is something I must take a look at and implement these changes into my life.  The old me however,  would have gone home and completely ransacked my whole kitchen to rid the cupboards of anything that I might think contained GMO’s.  Instead I sat down  and calmly reminded myself that like everything else I have been training myself to do over this past year, this too is a ‘one step at a time’ process that I will learn and integrate as I go, instead of becoming a Nazi and eliminating everything in my path.

Another lesson learned, and another proud moment of realizing I am becoming more consciously aware of every thought and feeling that courses through my mind and my physical being.  And I say ‘thank you’ Universe for showing me the way….one step at a time!

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Time is limited…….

“Your Time is limited, so don’t wast it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”    ~Steve Jobs

This quote really spoke to me when I heard it this past weekend.  Last week was particularly difficult for our family, as my son lost a very good friend very tragically in a motorcycle accident on Good Friday.  He was only 26 years old…..and my son turned 26 just 6 days after his death.

His death was a wake up call for me to not only help my son through such a difficult time in his life, but for me to take a look at my own life, and connect with my soul and my intuition to always make sure I am living my own life; beating to my own drum and doing whatever I can to leave this world better than when I arrived.

I’ve heard it so many times before; “Life is so fragile”.   This experience has shown me in the depths of my heart and my mind that this saying really is the truth.  We can be here one minute and gone the next.  We have no control over when we leave this world, we only have control over our experience while visiting Mother Earth.  I vow in honour of Jordan, to I will live out the rest of my days looking my fears in the face, and having the courage to follow my heart and my intuition -even when mine isn’t the popular decision.  I vow to do this because my time is limited here, and so I won’t waste it living someone else’s life.

To your amazing life,

Mandi

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When time is all you have……

Yesterday on my way to my volunteer work at the local Hospice, I heard one of my favourite songs playing on the radio. “Good Mother’ by Jann Arden infiltrates my soul whenever I hear it. Maybe it’s because my good mother died almost 7 years ago now, or maybe it’s just because Jann’s voice is so incredibly melodic.   There’s a line in the song “Just be yourself”, that for some reason, seemed to stick with me yesterday.  I thought “Yeah, no matter what, I’m just going to be myself today and see what joy that brings!”

Fast forward to just after lunch at the Hospice…..the director asked me if I would spend some time with a young woman, who had been in the residence for a couple of weeks. She’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; and of course is very bitter that the time she took to live her life making healthy choices was not supporting her now, and she was facing her mortality whether she wanted to or not. No one said life was fair, but until you are actually facing death in the face, I can only imagine that the fear I have faced in my own life to this point, is a mear illusion.

I’ve been volunteering at the hospice for a year now, and I can tell you my whole perspective on death has been shifted. I watch a favourite client/patient die each month and it helps me to internalize that old familiar saying of how precious life is and you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it.

I’m writing about this today, because I never realized until yesterday just what 60 minutes of my time can do for someone whose life is being cut short by the hand of cancer (or any disease for that matter). When asked if I would spend time with her, I agreed, but quickly told the director that I had to be back in half an hour because of something special happening in the music room. She said that was ok, that 30 minutes with her was better than nothing as the patient was feeling very depressed.   I headed to her room, and the mood was obvious….she was very down, and I felt it my responsibility to bring some light into the situation. I never looked at my watch to see when 30 minutes was up, becuase after engaging in some great conversation, and playing a board game, our souls connected on a level I’ve never experienced before.   I could feel that she was grateful beyond measure that I would take time away from my schedule to help her and simply be with her. Eventually, she started to feel tired and a bit weary, so I wheeled her back to her room, helped her to feel as comfortable as possible, and left.  As I closed the door, I couldn’t help but feel that my heart…..and her heart had been opened to the true meaning of love.  Instead of worrying that I was saying or doing the ‘right’ thing, I just allowed myself to ‘just be myself”.  By letting go and just ‘being’, my energy helped someone else just be themselves too!  It was only 60 minutes of my life…..but one hour that brought light into an otherwise darkened day, and it was something my heart will never forget.

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Whose world can you change today with just a smile, a glance or and hour of your time?
Namaste,
Mandi

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Oh the Joy of Weddings!

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

~Dr. Seuss

I just love this quote!  I think it speaks to the truth of what happens inside when we truly find someone to spend the rest of our lives with; someone who rocks our world.  It is an honour and a privilege for me to play an instrumental part in uniting couples in what some would call ‘holy matrimony’.  I call it “witnessing bliss”.

There’s really nothing more exciting than standing as a witness in front of a couple as they recite or repeat their vows and promises while sharing an eternal glance as they dare not take their eyes off one another; not even for a second!  This mystical yet tangible energy swirling about is nothing short of magic.   What’s even more wonderful, is that I too, am swooped up into this perennial magic just about every weekend of my life!  Well almost every weekend, especially  between April and October,  when the time seems right here in the Niagara Region to get married outdoors.

As I drive away knowing that I am heading to my own little haven, with my own partner for life waiting for me, I can’t help but feel a smile cross my lips as I think of the dance this newlywed couple will do over the next thirty to fifty years.  With my own twenty-ninth wedding anniversary fast approaching, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside to know that two people who mean more to each other than anything else in the world, are embarking on a similar journey.  This is the playground and the school, where we all have the opportunity to decide whether we will choose to live in a dream world, or live in reality.  And, if we are lucky like Dr. Seuss, our reality really will be better than anything we could have ever dreamt possible.

Hopefully you will have honour and joy of attending a wedding this summer season.  If you do, go to the ceremony with the intention of soaking in some of that blissful energy; it will be the gift you give yourself on someone else’s wedding day!

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