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14 Literary, Musical and Poetic Touchstones That Ground My Life and Give Me Unwavering Support Whenever I Need It

14 Literary, Musical and Poetic Touchstones That Ground My Life and Give Me Unwavering Support Whenever I Need It. Circle of Daydreams.

Throughout my life to date, I've stumbled across certain words and music that are now an integral part of my support system.

These are apart from the many books who've become friends and altered my life in significant and small yet mighty ways.

These extra words and musical cousins have become touchstones...


...and offered moments of clarity.

They bring me back to myself and remind me what's important. Speak to me of the joyfulness I yearn for, and the places I can find it.

They awaken intuition and curiosity, and a love for the magic to be found in moments.

They highlight a simple, honest way to live and love.

I thought I'd share them with you, just in case they touch a chord within you too.

Many of them are handwritten in secret little places where I can touch them and pull them out to unfold their wisdom.

Some I listen to every month or so on You Tube or my cd player (yes, I still have one).

A couple have been, at varying times, displayed on my fridge, walls, stuck above my desk, or pinned inside cupboard doors where I can see them whenever I look in.

They all have a special place in my heart.

Some have been part of my psyche for over 35 years (the Desiderata falls into this caterogry), and some for only the last 2 years. Albert Camus' Invincible Summer falls into this category. A friend introduced me to it a couple of years ago, and I've been fiercely in love with it ever since. It's become the lynch pin of my self care strategy, and my understanding of where I can look to for inner strength.

In no particular order, here are my valiant and beloved benefactors.... they give to me whenever I require.

All I need do is turn to them....

1. 'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz:

The classic work of Don Miguel Ruiz has been truly life changing for me. After coming out of an abusive relationship (12 years ago now), and requiring long term counseling to deal with the fallout, I stumbled across these in an online forum for survivors of abuse. Putting these into action daily, and returning to them as if they were a life jacket to keep me afloat, saved my sanity.

Not only do they help with all things personal, they support work situations as well. Not making assumptions has to be one of the hardest things I've learned, but now I find it so much easier to stop myself climbing the ladder of assumptions when my 'crazy' brain takes over.

And, once I make sure I am clear, and understand what's actually going on, if I need to walk away or disengage for my own safety/sanity, I do. No regrets.

Not internalizing others' opinions of me if I decided they were simply putting me down, manipulating me, or trying to make me second guess myself also came hard. Now I can listen to what's being said, check in with myself to see if I need to attend to anything they're bringing up, and disregard if I don't.

You can find out more about them in this post (and download them at the end), and see their basic form in the images below.

The Four Agreements. Agreement 1. Don Miguel Ruiz. On Circle of Daydreams.
The Four Agreements. Agreement 2. Don Miguel Ruiz. On Circle of Daydreams.
The Four Agreements. Agreement 3. Don Miguel Ruiz. On Circle of Daydreams.
The Four Agreements. Agreement 4. Don Miguel Ruiz. On Circle of Daydreams.

2. & 3. 'The Serenity Prayer' + My Favourite Mantra:

Along with the Four Agreements, The Serenity Prayer was the number one balm I used to get me through the worst of times after my marriage break-up. Repeated as often as I needed it (which was a truckload), it truly did help me feel better and 'let go'.

This one's worth writing out on a note to keep in your wallet, pinning on your wall, or putting beside your bed. I've made a downloadable for you to print out and display if you'd like. I believe utterly in its power if you follow its wisdom.

The Serenity Prayer. Circle of Daydreams. www.circleofdaydreams.omc

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

(Reinhold Neibuhr)

Added to The Serenity Prayer is another simple mantra I often turn to...

The Wheel weaves as The Wheel wills.

I speak about this mantra - where it comes from, what it means for me, and how I use it, in detail in this post over here (or click the image below).

Check it out for insight into how I use symbols to visualize and support myself.

4. 'Seasons of Love' from the Musical Rent:

As a musical theater enthusiast and performer, this song, this beautiful song, is among my longest loves. Its simplicity, rawness, honesty, and heartfelt message strikes me every time.

I've performed it myself as part of a live show, at a 40th birthday party, and impromptu around a dining table at a small dinner party (actually for that same person's 50th).... we had enough of the original performers from the 40th birthday party around the 8 seater table to get all the harmonies.... even though it was 10 years later.

This song just gets better and better as it goes... I often tear up as there are things it brings to mind for me.

Oh, and it has one of the best notes ever towards the end.


You can watch and listen below.

I've printed the words as well so you can read them.


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It's time now to sing out
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love
Measure, measure your life in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love.

Songwriters: Jonathan D. Larson
Seasons of Love lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

The smallest of moments can be the dearest, most magical, most memorable things. The simplest, most ordinary things.... a cup of coffee, a sunset, can create golden memories. Gratefulness and joy are available at every turn depending on the lens we are looking through.

5. 'Opportunity' by Pete Murray:

This song became an instant favourite around 10 years ago the very first time I watched the video below. The words, the images, the symbols... I felt like the Universe (or Pete Murray) had ordained some special message just for me.

It's a simple, repetitive, rhythmic song, yet it struck me so deeply.

The first time I watched it, I had tears streaming down my face by the end.... I knew I needed to make a change, HAD to make a change.

Here it is, and the lyrics are also below.

And so it goes another lonely day
You're savin' time but you're miles away
Your flower's drowning in some bitter tea
For seeing lost opportunity

Find your mirror go and look inside
And see the talent you always hide
Don't go kid yourself, well not today
Satisfaction's not far away

Hold on now your exit's here
It's waiting just for you
Don't pause too long
It's fading now
It's ending all too soon you'll see

Soon you'll see

Your coffee's warm but your milk is sour
Life is short but your here to flower
Dream yourself along another day
Never miss opportunity

Don't be scared of what you cannot see
Your only fear is possibility
Never wonder what the hell went wrong
Your second chance may never come along

Hold on now your exits here
It's waiting just for you
Don't pause too long
It's fading now
It's ending all too soon you'll see

Soon you'll see

Hold on now your exits here
It's waiting just for you
Don't pause too long
It's fading now
It's ending all too soon you'll see

Soon you'll see
Soon you'll see
Soon you'll see
Soon you'll see

Songwriters: Pete Murray
Opportunity lyrics © O/B/O Apra Amcos

Here's a link to the first post I wrote about this song on an old blog of mine (you can find out more about the symbols I saw in the song there).

It means as much to me today as it did then. And, although I think there are many opportunities in life, not just one, it's been a constant motivator to take action and move forward.

Gawd I love this song.

6. to 10. Five Quotes Among Many:

Anyone who knows me well, knows I'm a big quote lover. In the words of long lost writers and current day authors I've found hundreds of quotes worth coming back to over and over. Of these, I have a few I can recite by heart due to their direct impact on my philosophy and thoughts.

One in particular (you can probably figure which one) helps me  enormously when faced with people who can't be dealt with 'normally'.

The first of these quotes, by Howard Thurman, made my jaw drop in recognition the first time I read it. It rang true, and really made me think about what 'I' wanted, and who 'I' was.

It helped spark my creation of The Mini-jumpstart To YOU Experience, which further led to my series called YOU Matter (see the first post with links to all 5 at the bottom).

Amazing what one quote can ignite.

There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.

(Howard Thurman)

I loved the next quote so much, I named my previous website after it (In An Unguarded Moment). It reminds me that the one person I'll have by my side, my whole life, is me.

The one person I can rely on, is me.

The one person who's always there to love me, is me.

Over the last 10 years or so, I've learned to like myself again, listen to my yearnings, and tap in to my fun side.

The side that used to be unafraid and playful.

The side that used to see the positives in almost everything, used to laugh and love with ease. 

That side got lost for a little while... but she's back.

And she's my best friend again.

This quote is also featured over here with a lovely photo.

Never forget, that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.

(Elizabeth Gilbert)

This next quote was the inspiration behind my Garden of Gratitude. Whilst the quote above reminds me I'm my own best friend, this quote reminds me to give thanks for others.

It also led me to explore the practice of gratitude in general, and for the last 10 years or so, gratitude has been a huge part of my life.

I used to have the quote (the front cover of a card I'd bought when it took my fancy) stuck on my dining room wall, (see some photos here), and now it's in my reading room.

Here it is...

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

(Marcel Proust )

You can find out a more about The Garden of Gratitude by clicking here, or the image below.

The quote below reminds me not to get complacent. To check in with myself and what I truly want. To consciously choose my own path, and be intentional with my decisions.

I discovered it a little over two years ago, and felt an immediate gut reaction. When things aren't panning out the way I want, or life gets rough, it prompts me to ask myself what 'I' can do to instigate positive change.

I'm the only person with complete control over me, and as such, I get to decide what I do.... but I have to be aware and awake to notice when a course correction is required!

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.

(Rosa Luxemburg)

When the Four Agreements and The Serenity Prayer fail me (VERY rare), there's a simple little quote I call on to save the day. Reserved for particularly nasty situations like some I experienced many years ago it's this... 

Don't wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

Enough said.

11. An Irish blessing:

I'm not particularly religious, yet this little blessing sings to me of simple pleasures, and happiness found in ordinary moments. For some reason it's always brought me comfort and a feeling of home.

I often think of it when I'm outside finding magic in the richness of nature. I'm a girl from the country who now lives in the city, and it's been 30 years since I left my country home... But I always feel calmer and more joyful thinking of the fields and pine forests of my youth.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

An Irish Blessing. Circle of Daydreams.

12. 'Invincible Summer' by Albert Camus:

This poem is really the epitome of so many things I've learned as the years have gone on, and it reminds me of the strength we all have when we look within. It's my constant reminder that I am strong, I am capable, I am wise, I am worthy, I matter, and I am enough.

Within me I can find a wellspring of joy, hope, and a private feeling of light, if I decide to.

Because I am ME, and within me, I have an invincible Summer.

Here's the full text of Albert Camus' poem. I read it again and again, whenever I feel the need to reach into my reserves of strength.

(Sometimes strength means simply waiting or resting too).

My dear, in the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.
For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me,
within me, there’s something stronger-
something better, pushing right back.

(Albert Camus)

13. 'The Desiderata' by Max Ehrmann:

Almost 40 years ago (when I was around 12, I think), I first came across this beautiful poem. For many years, it was on the back of my loo door where I read it more times than I can count (it deserved a better resting place, but probably got read more often there than it would have elsewhere).

As a child I used to suffer from severe colic, and this continued into my teenage and early adult years... this old yet soothing poem was a constant friend through long hours of pain and wanting to be elsewhere.

You can find out more about its author and story here.

Here it is...

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

(Max Ehrmann)

14. 'Steer' by Missy Higgins:

And now we come to the last of my touchstones. The one where I finally feel like I'm piecing it all together, and I can go forward knowing who I am more deeply. I can light my own way. Mold my future with my own capable hands.

This song, by Aussie songwriter and singer Missy Higgins, is a fitting crown for my touchstones. I saw Missy in concert around 12 years ago, and she was a tour de force. She played multiple instruments, sang up a storm, and totally knocked me for a six. Among a crowd of friends and strangers, in a wool shed with hay bales and a small backing band, this is my best live music memory.

Missy rocks!

This song also slots in beautifully with the first of my favourite quotes above (the Howard Thurman quote). Weird how things dovetail years apart into a tapestry of understandings that can help stitch your life together.

Here's Missy, followed by her lyrics. ( I suggest you play this one really loud - don't mind the somewhat corny video!)


Feel it falling off like clothing
Taste it rolling on your tongue
See the lights above you glowing
Oh, and breathe them deep into your lungs

It was always simple, not hidden hard
You've been pulling at the strings
Playing puppeteer for kings
And you've had enough

But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer

So hold this feeling like a new born
Of freedom surging through your veins
You have opened up a new door
So bring on the wind, the fire and the rain

It was always simple, not hidden hard
You've been played at a game
Called remembering your name
And you stuffed it up

But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer, oh

So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer

'cause you've been listening for answers
Oh, but the city screams and all your dreams go unheard

But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer, oh

Yeah, get out of the box and step into the clear, oh
'cause now you finally know you can steer

Songwriters: Melissa Higgins
Steer lyrics © Words & Music A Div Of Big Deal Music LLC

If you made it this far, woohoo!

I hope you find at least one thing among my list of 14 you can put to use in your own life.

Finding the jewel-like touchstones for your own crown is a wonderful feeling.

Linda. xox

P.S. Of course, as I mentioned way back at the top, the above 14 don't delve into the books that have changed me (or affected me deeply), but that's a whole other story....  (:

P.P.S. I've added this post to One Mother Hen's Open Slather, and Denyse Whelen's Blog for Life This Week.

Please share!

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