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I wake up to this view every day when I let my dogs out for their morning stretch. Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes foggy and sometimes drenched with fresh rain. To me it’s a perfect blend of LA city and wild terrain and it gives me balance.

I show this because Mark Susnow’s words struck a cord in me yesterday when I read them and so I thought I’d pass it along as he always asks his followers to do. (Mark is a contributor and friend of “The Illustrator’s Journal”.)


Nature has its many mysteries. When we look deeply there is always a gift. Not only does nature nurture us, it reminds us of the cyclical nature of life. It also reminds us how unpredictable life can be.

On a recent trip to Kauai, I was reminded of nature’s majesty. While I felt a “sense of awe” as I watched the cascading waterfalls rushing down the mountains, there were constant flash flood warnings. On the last night of my trip I was privy to one of nature’s great light shows—brilliant stabs of lightning followed by loud boisterous sounds of thunder a second behind. In the midst of the storm, which continued through the night, the roar of the thunder reminded me of nature’s power. Because I knew that it would soon stop, I maintained a sense of clarity and perspective. I knew that after the storm there would be a sense of calmness and beauty.

It is in that moment of clarity when we realize that we have been through many storms before. We have learned a fundamental truth. No matter how dark it seems, we know that the light of spring is coming. However with many of the personal challenges that we face in life we forget this lesson and lose that sense of perspective.

Spring, with its sense of optimism and hope, is a time of new beginnings. We rejoice when we notice the first buds on the fruit trees. By summer those buds have become delicious fruit. In autumn, the leaves with their vibrant colors fall wistfully to the ground. By the time winter arrives, most of the trees are barren and we are ready for the cycle to begin anew. Because we have been through these cycles before, when spring comes again, we are ready for the spring ritual of planting our gardens. Although we don’t totally understand the process, we know for certain there’s an intelligence in nature’s way of doing things.

We prepare the soil for planting by first pulling out the weeds, which are the limiting beliefs that clutter our minds. Then we turn the soil and mix in compost and fertilizer before spreading the seeds, which are possibilities in the gardens of our subconscious mind. We don’t know how many of these seeds or which ones will emerge from the darkness to the light. But we have faith that if we tend to our garden, some seeds will grow.

We also know from our work together that our intentions determine what we harvest. Not only do they provide food for the body, they provide food for the soul. From the darkness there is a miraculous process that gives birth to creation. That’s the way it was for each of us. We emerged from the darkness of the womb to the light of the day. As we continue on our journey that light becomes brighter. There are two themes that keep emerging in this luminosity. You have heard me write about them before.

Happiness is a choice, which is not dependent on our circumstances. Happiness includes the ability to fully experience all of the positive emotions such as peace, joy and love. Many people have asked me what I have personally learned from writing Dancing on the River. It has helped me get to that place in my life when I realized that I could be happy and still have a few loose ends. It even goes beyond that. it’s the acceptance that there will always be a few loose ends. We continue to make this choice over and over again.

The second is that our ability to experience joy and love keeps expanding. Here’s why. We’ve been through more. We’ve faced more adversity. We’ve been stretched. We all know that there are things in the world that are horrific and tragic. Some of us have personally experienced some of these events. No one is immune from this pain-that’s part of being human.

As a result our hearts are more open and we’re able to experience more joy and to love more deeply. We’re gentler with ourselves and have learned to accept the things about ourselves that we can’t change. We’ve learned to accept the imperfections in life.

By focusing on what gives us joy, we have learned to smile in the midst of the storm. We know we’ll get through it. We’ve been there before. With each storm our capacity to experience joy is expanded. We focus on what’s right about our life. We focus on how blessed we are. We smile for no reason. We stop asking “why.” We’ve made the choice. Keep making that choice. Keep spreading the seeds.

This spring let us be inspired by the ritual of spring to think bigger–to think about what we can plant that will transcend our normal way of looking at spring. Think of this spring as a time of possibility. As spring unfolds it is my hope that the seeds you plant renew your sense of hope and optimism. May you be inspired by the journey. May you know what it means to be Dancing on the River