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Just keep paddling

Ever heard the saying "we judge our insides by other people's outsides"? I think about this from time to time -- like when I barely make it late to a meeting, sweating and apologizing; or when I'm entertaining at my home, hastily pulled together moments before arrivals; or at a conference, slapping a name tag on my chest, and noticing that my blouse has come unbuttoned. Times when we think, "wow, look at those other people! They make it seem so easy, just sailing through it, while I'm a hot mess!" What we can't see at those moments is what's happening just under the surface for others, the anxiety and heartache they may be masking beneath their smiles.

Take ducks, for instance. I often remind my voice students that while opera singers must remain poised and relaxed in their face and arms, meanwhile we keep working very hard down in our tummies! (It's like that for ballet dancers too; maybe that's why we share the same union?) Today when I was out running, joyfully perspiring and puffing like a steam engine, I was reminded of this metaphor by these feathered friends swimming beside my trail. Gliding peacefully along, while their little orange, webbed feet churned up the waters below. They reminded me too of another favorite saying, sung by the memory-challenged fish, Dori: "just keep swimming!"

As I came around my last turn to the finish, I was stopped in my tracks by this broad, golden tree. Even as I stood there, staring up in awe, I thought, "under this glowing exterior, this creation is doing the hard work of preparing for winter." And I vowed that for this month of October, the final month in the Celtic calendar, I will post words of encouragement for every day of your journey.

So, for today, friends, my message to you all is this: don't give up! Keep those feet a paddling, that engine a purring, that belly a liftin. You'll get there! And you are not alone.

Blessed fall and joyful pathways,



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