water and jars

an illustration in the diary in the cloud to remember today in the future. My son spent hours playing with jars and water, fully immersed in his own wonderland. We chose to leave his play unstructured, allowing his imagination to run free. The alchemist : ). I tried to copy the same scene to have this illustration.

mental muscles

Every one of us have difficulties we go through. Only you and I know how it means for each of us. The more you accept that difficulty is inevitable and get familiar with that reality, the less it will shake you when it strikes. Embracing the darkness prepares you, so it doesn’t feel so scary after stretches of peaceful light. If you understand why challenges serve a bigger purpose in God’s plan, it becomes easier to make the best of whatever get thrown your way. You stay grounded and reflect on the reason behind it, rather than just falling apart. Constant sunshine gets you used to smooth sailing. The first storm catches you totally off guard, unprepared for how to navigate hard knocks. But if you’ve already stared down dark clouds and rough seas many times before, you know the drill for weathering the storm. I’m not praising adversity out of some negative, pessimistic view. I’m doing it to develop the resilience and understanding needed so those hard tumbles don’t keep flattening us. Writing and pondering about adversity builds mental muscles for pushing through it. The more we exercise that mind strength, the less threatened we’ll feel when the heavy stuff weighs down again. We’re preparing, not dwelling.

a child’s “why”

No matter how much we study sciences, philosophies, or histories, it’s the never-ending questions from a child’s mouth that humble us most. Their innocent, relentless inquiry lays bare how little we truly understand about existence. The most learned academics can meticulously map the cosmos, codify all knowledge into volumes, and hypothesize theology’s deepest meanings. But then a tiny human barely out of the womb will ask a startlingly profound “Why?” that stumps us all over again. In that moment, the veneer of assured, encyclopedic understanding shatters. We’re reminded that for every nagging existential mystery we’ve dissected and catalogued, a dozen more inscrutable conundrums await under each new layer peeled. An unapologetic child simply won’t accept “because I said so” as an answer. They demand to know the reason behind every reason in a way that strips our egotistical overconfidence bare. Their stubborn pursuit of fundamental truth across every “Why?” humbles the most zealously certain mind. To a child, our vaunted mastery of subjects is still hopelessly inadequate – mere fragmentary pieces muddling the big picture. Their endless curiosity exposes how much of life remains cloaked in humbling unknown no matter our credentials. The biggest questions burn from the smallest lips. And it’s their blunt, relentless need to know more that viscerally underscores just how much further we have to go.

states of the mind

I’m grateful when I feel hungry. That way, when I finally eat, the food tastes so much better. It’s the hope part that is as important as getting content. The actual pleasing moment itself is secondary. What truly has always given me peace is when I am self-aware – knowing and accepting where I’m at, rather than just chasing after temporary happy feelings. I really like when I am in that state of mind on my state of affairs. I’m not in that state all the time, though. If I’m hungry and hopeful for a meal, the meal is amazingly satisfying when I get it. But if I’m already full and content, eating doesn’t bring much extra pleasure at all. It’s not the happiness of being full that I ultimately cherish. It’s the hopeful hunger that allows me to genuinely appreciate and savor the next meal in a way the constantly satiated can’t. True lasting peace doesn’t come from achieving a happy state, then working to maintain it. It comes from staying presently mindful – observing whether I’m currently hungry or full, and staying optimistic either way. Self-awareness would ground us to authentically experience life’s simple pleasures, not just blindly pursue them. Contentment is found in the journey with hope, not in a needy obsession with the destination’s snapshot of happiness. That’s a little thing I’ve learned. Not sure how you’ve felt about it.

joy and love

Joy and love are special states of being, gifted by God. They go deeper than just fleeting happiness or affection stirred up by surface conditions. Happiness is shaky – it depends on external stuff happening a certain way to make you feel good in that moment. But real joy comes from a more lasting, inner place beyond temporary circumstances. Same goes for affection versus true love. Affection is showing some care and liking for someone based on how they make you feel right now. Love is unconditional – not ruled by shifting emotions, but a committed, selfless choice. Happiness is when something pleases you. Joy is being content regardless. Affection appreciates what others provide you. Love gives without expecting anything in return. Happiness and affection get easily disrupted when situations change. But God-given joy and love remain constant through any ups and downs. They don’t rely on receiving – only on selflessly giving from the depths of your soul. Happiness fades as conditions change. Joy endures. Affection derives from being pleased. Love’s foundation is pleasing the Eternal. Those core distinctions make joy and love robust, while happiness and affection are fragile and flighty. Joy and love provide unshakable fulfillment because they’re sourced in something greater than ourselves. Everything else rings temporary at best.

rebuild the bedrock

At first, real learning feels like hearing things your ears just aren’t ready for. The surface level of it , you know, is taking in new information that catches you off guard. But the true core of learning goes deeper than that. It means opening your ears to hear stuff you flat out don’t want to hear. Stuff that challenges your fixed beliefs and makes you uncomfortable. On the surface, learning starts by stretching your mind to understand concepts it hasn’t grasped before. There’s a jolt in realizing how limited your existing knowledge is. But the hard part is allowing lessons to penetrate far enough to shift your entire worldview. That requires humility to accept you’ve had it wrong on some fundamental level this whole time. Surface learning expands what you know. Deep learning rebuilds the bedrock of how you know it. One is extending your mental canvas. The other is reshaping the canvas entirely. The first feels like having your ears opened. The latter is like having them forced open against your ego’s resistance. Embracing that painful growth separates those who rid themselves of ignorance from those who stay stuck recycling the same half-truths.

unbottling art

There is something special about artists who don’t show much emotion on the outside, but then put huge amounts of deep feeling into their art. It’s like they bottle up all that emotion inside, concentrate it down into its most powerful form, and then finally let it explode out through their painting, music, writing, or whatever art they create. These types of artists seem very calm and almost emotionless on a daily basis. To people who don’t know them well, they might even come across as cold or detached. But really, there is a huge storm of emotion raging inside them that they are keeping tightly contained. When these artists finally release all that pent-up feeling into their creative work, it hits the audience with incredible force – precisely because there were no obvious outward signs that it was coming. The pure, undiluted power of the emotion they have been holding back suddenly bursts forth in full intensity. This makes the art feel more like a profound shared experience than just a painting, song, etc. It taps into something universal about the depth of human emotion and feeling. The audience is able to connect with that primal emotional core because the artist channels it so purely.

lasting a few minutes

We want things to stay the same. We hold tight to our stuff and our people. We are afraid of change. We think change is bad and we try to stop it from happening.But what if we looked at change in a different way? What if we saw beauty in the things that don’t last forever? The things that are here for just a little while before disappearing. The most amazing, breathtaking things are the ones that don’t stick around. Think about a beautiful sunset. The colors are so bright and pretty. Pinks, oranges, and purples all smashed together in the sky. But that amazing sight only lasts for a few minutes before the colors fade away.Or think about the cherry blossom flowers in spring. They make the whole world look pink and smell sweet. But just after blooming, the petals fall off the trees in a big flowery mess on the ground within a week.These incredible, awe-inspiring things only last for a short time before vanishing. That’s what makes them so special and magical.The same goes for little things too. Sunbeams peeking through the trees. Clouds changing shape in the sky. Your happy feelings that come and go.When we don’t grip these temporary joys too tightly, something cool happens. We see that nothing sticks around forever. Yet we are part of all these things coming and going, over and over, like ocean waves.Youth is temporary. That amazing sunset is temporary. Finished works of art are temporary. If we hold them too tight, we suffer when they slip away, as all things do. But if we stay open and present while they’re here, and let them go with gratitude, we join the never-ending flow of life Deep down, we know we are not just a collection of things we hold onto. We are part of the flow of life, embracing every moment as it comes and goes.

hope that doesn’t disappoint

Let’s face it, disappointment can feel like a punch in the gut. We set our hearts on something, a dream job, a supportive friend, and then – poof! It crumbles. It’s enough to make you want to curl up and avoid hoping for anything ever again. But here’s the thing – life without hope is like a grey, cloudy day, with no sunshine to peek through. We all need a little light to guide us, a reason to keep moving forward. Maybe the problem is where we’re placing our hope. Sometimes, we pin it on external things, like people or situations. And as much as we’d like them to be rock-solid, life has a way of throwing curveballs. What if, instead, we anchored our hope in something bigger, something that can’t be swayed by the winds of change? Imagine hope as a giant oak tree, its roots digging deep into the earth, its branches reaching towards the sky. No matter how strong the storm, the tree remains standing, a symbol of unwavering strength. Think of it like a lighthouse on a rocky coast. Ships can get tossed around by the waves, but they can always rely on the lighthouse to guide them safely home. Placing our hope in a higher power, whatever that means to you, doesn’t mean ignoring disappointment. It’s about having a foundation that can hold us steady even when things don’t go according to plan. It doesn’t mean we stop striving or dreaming. It just means we do it with a sense of trust, knowing that even in the face of setbacks, there’s a light guiding us, a force working for our good, even when we can’t see it all clearly. Always have in mind that when disappointment knocks you down, take a deep breath and look for that unseen lighthouse. Remember, true hope doesn’t disappoint, it empowers us to keep sailing, even on the roughest seas.

when doors close, new paths open: trusting the signs

Have you ever felt stuck in a situation, like you’re pushing on a door that stubbornly refuses to budge? Maybe it’s a relationship, a job, or even a dream you have, that just doesn’t seem to be panning out. It’s frustrating, right? We pour our energy in, hoping things will change, but sometimes, the only change that comes is the feeling of exhaustion. Here’s the thing – sometimes, those closed doors are actually signs from a higher power, a gentle nudge in a different direction. It can be hard to see in the moment, like trying to decipher a cryptic message. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason things aren’t working out the way we planned. Think of it like hiking in the mountains. You reach a fork in the path, and the map you have seems outdated. One path looks familiar, well-trodden, but the other is overgrown and shrouded in mist. It’s tempting to stick to the known way, even if it feels like a dead end. But what if the hidden path, with all its unknowns, leads to a breathtaking vista we never could have imagined? Trusting the signs, even the confusing ones, can be scary. But sometimes, the most beautiful journeys begin with a little detour. Here’s the truth – we can’t always understand the grand plan, the life path particularly woven for us in the most elaborate detail. But we can trust the Weaver, the one who sees the whole picture. Letting go of something that isn’t working, even if it hurts, can be an act of faith. It’s a way of saying, “I trust that something better is out there, even if I can’t see it yet.” And guess what? The universe, or a higher power, whatever you believe in, rarely disappoints those who trust. The pain of letting go might linger for a while, but with time and a little faith, those broken pieces can heal, and a new path, filled with possibility, can unfold. When you feel stuck, take a deep breath and listen to the whispers of your intuition. Maybe that closed door is a sign, a gentle nudge towards a brighter future waiting just beyond the bend.