Are you an InstaGoogler?

passionately curious. einsteinAgain . . . Albert Einstein leads us by the hand and takes us to what it is about our own selves that makes us who we are.  What a remarkable person he was.

Question: What are you passionately curious about?  What is One Thing you enjoy learning about?  What is One Thing that you would like to spend some time exploring?  

What is the first answer that pops into your head?  Got it?  Next, download a [FREE] journal worksheet that will take you just a little bit further into and  farther down your Road of Curiosity.

I sometimes think that we have simply been so inundated with so much information.  

I love having Google at my very fingertips . . . but still.  Anything you want to know is just a Siri-command away.  Who wrote Stand by Me?  What is the Mariners – Angels score?  What are the health benefits of turmeric?

Are you an InstaGoogler?

Are you one of those Instant Googlers that reaches for your phone when you or someone else wonders something aloud?  Does having Instant Information at our fingertips or voice command rob us of deepening our curiosity?  Do we learn an answer and then dismiss it and maybe even forget it until the next Wonder enters the room?

I wonder.  Does having this wonderful advantage of instant information simply stuff us full of trivia and rob us of our passionate curiosity at the same time?  There is a difference — a chasm — between Knowing and Wanting to Know . . . a gap between Knowing An Answer and Wanting to Know more about stuff.  At least this is what occurs to me.  It seems that I know more and more about less and less than I used to . . . which is all good.  But still.  Don’t we truly want to know more, possess more knowledge, feel that depth-scraping satisfaction that only deep learning  provides?

Make curiosity a rewarding habit.  Explore your Curiosity with this free journaling download.

To download a free (and empowering) journaling worksheet that will help you explore and enjoy your Passionately Curious Thing, fill out the contact information below.  [This will not add you to any mailing list for future journal worksheets — unless you specify that you would like to receive them.]  This journal exercise is a journey into your curiosity, your passions, and your area of interest that defines who you are.  It’s good stuff!

Life is simply so interesting and there is soooooo much to be passionately curious about.  Live life large and expand your curiosity’s range of motion.  Think like Albert and less like a Googler.  Be you.  Be interesting.  Expand who you are.

Advertisements

Life, Love, & Happiness . . . all is a Chancey Poker Hand

deck of cardsI knew an old timer who thought of life as a poker game.  His theory was that we are dealt only so many cards in life . . . that we have to discard the old for the new if we hope to improve the hand that we are currently holding.  He believed that life was all just a gambling game of chance, predicated on our willingness to release something for something else.  In other words: if you don’t like the cards you are holding, you might just as well go ahead and discard.  The new cards that are dealt back to you might make for a better hand.  And if that isn’t the case?  Well, you discard again until you like the hand you are holding.  I should probably add that this older fellow led a very uncomplicated life.

Whether you look at life as Poker, Bridge, Backgammon, or Go Fish . . . there is some truth to what this old guy had to say.  And before I break out in my karaoke version of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,”  I just want to say that there is certainly an element of chance in every single moment of my life.  Like a deck of cards sitting before me on the poker table, I can actually feel the opportunities that are stacked up in front of me, beckoning and simply asking me to release my tight grip on my current reality and be brave enough to discard.

Paul_Cézanne,_1892-95,_Les_joueurs_de_carte_(The_Card_Players),_60_x_73_cm,_oil_on_canvas,_Courtauld_Institute_of_Art,_LondonThat’s the best part of taking a chance.  Any chance.  There is that little thrill that courses through our humanness right in that very second before we know that we have been dealt a bad hand or a good hand.  Research has shown that this “thrill” is actually what compulsive gamblers are addicted to.  It isn’t Winning that they are hooked on, otherwise they would walk away from the table when they have a nice high stack of chips sitting in front of them . . . it’s actually that feeling of not knowing whether they have won or lost that brings them back to the table.

I guess I have to give it to Kenny Rogers . . . or to whomever wrote the lyrics to that song about knowing when to hold them or when to fold them.   It is true.  You do have to know when to walk away.  Know when to run.  There is that expression that nature abhors a vacuum.  Experience tells us that this is true: when we create a hole or a gap in our lives, it is likely to fill up with something or someone else — perhaps with alarming similarities, but different nonetheless.

There are those pivotal times in life when we concede to discarding.  And receiving. When we [finally!] acknowledge that it’s okay to take a chance.  And if there are rules that define winning the game, it’s probably time to have a chat with Mr. Hoyle about writing in some exceptions.

All that life really requires of us is that we go forth and live it.  There is not a lot of thinking or haggling involved with it.  Or is there?   [Shifting back into OverThink drive now . . .]  But it sometimes seems that if  you overthink or strategize life, you are doomed to passivity.  Passivity, like counting cards, has its place but it has no depth, no growth, no change, no underbelly.  It just exists with predictable outcomes.

Jokers and trump cards.  The King of Hearts and the Queen of Spades.  Existence and living.  Risk and chance.  I don’t know exactly how this all spells out into my strategy for poker playing — not being very artful at this game — but I am thinking it’s time to look at what I have chosen to hold and maybe do a little discard here or there.  Change is bound to be good because, if we believe Kenny, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.  [My apologies if this song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day! :)]

 

 

The Things I Thought I Wanted: The Ballerina Jewelry Box

When I was young, I thought my world would be different — better — if I were in possession of certain items.  If only my parents were rich enough or receptive enough to feel motivated and/or inspired to head to the stores and shop, shop, shop for me.

In that I didn’t come from a family of wealth, I wasn’t a trust fund child, and I wasn’t some yet-to-be-discovered princess who was living as a servant in some rich relative’s attic, I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to work for what I wanted — for the things that went beyond food, shelter, and a good pair of school shoes.  I babysat, polished my dad’s wingtip shoes on Saturday nights, set up woefully-unsuccessful Kool-Aid stands, and swept the dance floors of my dad’s bar on Sunday mornings, hoping that some inebriated souls had carelessly dropped some coins our of their pockets while pulling out their hankies  to mop their polka-dance-sweaty brows.

I sometimes remember some of the highly-coveted items that I dreamed of possessing . . . I look at them now and can still identify the charms that once beckoned to me.

Lenox Childhood Memories Ballerina Jewelry Box

http://amzn.to/2bUH3eD

This ballerina jewelry box was a standard in many girls’ bedrooms while I was growing up.  I remember Kim P. who seemingly had every magical girl thing and gizmo imaginable, so of course she had one.  While the box must have contained her childhood jewelry, she never once opened its lid in my presence to simply listen to the music.

Kim P. was the kind of girl who demanded that her mother redecorate her room at the end of every summer.  She would casually toss some color combinations at her mother, and her mother would then go to work at creating some sort of theme and scheme.  At some point in time, Kim P. must have thought that the pink in the jewelry box was clashing with her psychedelic orange-and-blue color scheme .  I went over there one day after school and the ballerina box was gone.   I remember thinking, Why didn’t she ask me if I wanted it before she threw it away?   But how could she have known?  I had never once asked if I could lift the lid to listen to the music or to see the ballerina spin in place.

I was to never own one of these fancy, girl-y jewelry boxes.  Instead, I used a hand-me-down wooden chest with some vintage-faded image, in muted shades of blue and green, of an Irish cottage and a farmer in the field.  The outside of the box was pressed with a carved design, and to its credit of quality, it did hold the coveted feature of having a mirror inside the lid, but the box’s simple features couldn’t quite compare with pink velvet and a spinning ballerina.

In the ways of moving me and my belongings across the country in a pick-up truck, I had to cut ties with many of my various treasures.  Hence, I lost the jewelry box in some manner of neglect or forgetfulness.  But I did come across one of these plain wooden boxes at an antique store recently, and I bought it immediately.  I didn’t even look at the price, as I knew that it was coming home with me.

My excitement upon finding it in that dusty, cluttery shop revealed to me the strength of a memory . . . how a memory can have greater value than phantom wants from the past.  I now have my jewelry encased in this retro-memory-box, and it is in a prominent place in the center of my rickety-legged, drawer-sticking dresser — another find that reminded me of a bureau that my grandma had.

It makes me happy when I see this ballerina-less wooden box.  I think of my three  big sisters and how they all had triplet boxes like this when they were teenagers.  I can’t remember how I came to inherit mine, but I am quite certain that it was from one of the Big Girls.  It was a sweet gesture, and I am sure that I was happy to receive a treasure box for my odd mix of jewelry bits . . . in spite of my wanting different, more, or better.

We turn our thinking around when we focus on the meaning, the memory, and the value in any given thing, moment, or gesture.  Now?  I think about one of my sisters giving me her jewelry box.  And how special it made me feel to have it.

Childhood memories get refinished in so many ways.  They get re-painted, re-purposed, and their edges get sanded and their scratches smoothed.  And we sometimes  deconstruct and reconstruct a thought based on what we wanted it to be and not what it actually was.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I am thinking.  After all, we are in the memory-making business, and I want to focus on the good stuff — the stuff that makes a difference or that inspires me to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Lenox Childhood Memories Ballerina Jewelry Box

http://amzn.to/2bUH3eD

Tend your Believe.

germinate hope.

theunseenwordsproject.com

How to germinate hope:

  1. Select your seeds.
  2. Prepare your soil.  Make it rich.
  3. Learn about the ideal growing conditions for your seeds.
  4. Create this ideal environment. 
  5. Plant your seeds.
  6. Water your seeds regularly.
  7. Keep your seeds warm to aid in germination.
  8. Move your seeds to natural light once they have sprouted.
  9. Maintain and watch your sprouted plants.
  10. Harden off your growing plants and get them used to fluctuating conditions.
  11. Transplant your seedlings outdoors.
  12. Enjoy the growing process.
  13. Tend your Believe.  Believe in yourself.

Here are some inspiring videos for you . . . from sunflowers dancing to jazz . . . to monarch butterflies making their entry into the world . . . to inspiring words that dare us to be great . . . take some time today to be inspired and then start planting.

This is so cool.  Sunflowers feeling the beat . . .

It’s Dance-Like-a-Dork Saturday!

kick off your heels

theunseenwordsproject.com

Hello, Lovelies!  Here is your Saturday dance music to get your groove grooving.  And not wanting to disappoint, I have chosen videos that will guarantee some good laughs, too.  When I watched these videos, I was helplessly laughing out loud.  You’ve got to love some Tom Jones.  And I am thinking that this is where Napoleon Dynamite likely got some inspiration for his moves.  This is the kind of thing where you want someone to make it stop, yet you are riveted at the same time.

If you can take your eyes away from Tom’s dance moves, than start to bust a move yourself.  Or better yet, try to imitate him as he shakes his thang.  And make sure that you scroll down to catch the Soul Train dancers.  Simply fantastic and sure to get you moving.

One thing I will say: Tom Jones was an amazing performer and had a fantastic singing voice.  His dancing?  I’m just going to say that he knew how to express joy with his dance moves!

The filming on this one is rough, but it’s well worth watching . . . you will see what I mean.  It’s awesome!

This second video is just so good . . . the filming is much better and Tom really starts to bust a move at about 1:30.  This is nothing short of hilarious (in all of the good ways of joy-filled hilarity).

You’ve got to love this guy’s energy!  I want to bottle it and imbibe it!

Okay . . . I need to end on an even higher note here.  You aren’t going to be able to stay still after watching these Soul Train dancers!  I can see you now checking out the newspaper’s entertainment weekly for dance venues for tonight.

Everything about this . . . the music, the clothes, and the dance moves are the best!  So beautiful!  After watching this, I reallyreallyreally want to go dancing!

Go forth and make today a great dancing day.  

Listen to the music and shake your thang!

 

Make an Heirloom Moment

heirloom hearts. take time

theunseenwordsproject.com

What is one thing that you take for granted that someone does for you?

There are so many little things that we take for granted, don’t you agree?  Little things and big things.

What are a few of the little things and the big things that friends, family, colleagues, your pets, even some strangers have done and continue to do for you?  I encourage you to reciprocate and to let them know that you do appreciate their time, thoughtfulness, and effort.  It will be so very much appreciated!

If you would like a step-by-step workshop on writing the perfect note of appreciation, provide your contact information below, and I will send you a PDF from this workshop.

You know that your note is a smashing success when your special person feels like an even better person after reading it!  Great job!

 

 

You know . . . the thing with feathers.

Untitled

theunseenwordsproject.com

I don’t know about you but I am one of those people who always feels excited when I find a random feather when I am out walking.   I feel especially happy when I find a Stellar’s jay or a flicker feather — two of my favorite birds.  There is something about finding this little gift that adds a sense of promise to the day.  I come home and add the treasure to a egg-blue bowl that is on the center of the table.

When the windows and doors are all open, the feathers lilt out of the bowl and tuck themselves under the couch or behind the laundry room door.  The small downy feathers are the most adventuresome, as they can travel the farthest.  I have even found a few feathers that traveled from the main floor up and over the rail to my open-floor office.  When I again find the treasure in the house, it feels as if the feathers found another opportunity to fly.

I know some people who feel that a found feather is a gift from a loved one who has passed.  It is a little message of love that says, “I am here.  I love you.”  I sometimes feel the same way.  At other times when I am needing a boost, I feel a strong affirmation that every little thing’s gonna be all right.

These little gifts from nature remind me that life is good.  That there is a good measure of synchronicity in any given day.  That if I keep my eyes and heart open, good things are always right here in my very presence.

Wednesday’s Prescription: Take a chill pill & blow some bubbles.

blowing bubbles

theunseenwordsproject.com

Make time for some fun today.  For blowing some bubbles.  For some journaling about your dreams and your happiness.  Enjoy today. 

Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine

http://amzn.to/2baPX5h

Gazillion Solution Novelty, 8 oz, 4 Pack

http://amzn.to/2bvO9Jf

Haktoys 1700G Bubble Gun Transparent Shooter with LED Lights

http://amzn.to/2baEdm8

And for your journal time . . .
Emotion Journal: Bubble Edition

http://amzn.to/2bFqYbq

Stumping Miz Grammar

We learn best

theunseenwordsproject.com

It was once my privilege – and challenge – to take over teaching mid-year in a 7th/8th grade grammar class at a very small public school.  This school was the classic one-room schoolhouse, located in a remote, road-less area in the North Cascades of Washington state.  The children there had grown up navigating the trails of the high country, floating the rivers, jumping in the glacial-fed lake, and tearing up and down the dirt roads on their bicycles.  It was a land of no cell phones, video games, and Facebook – a place of isolated enchantment that could not and would not be fully appreciated until these students grew older, moved away, and worked in cities that involved the many technological trappings now associated with modern living.

You can well imagine that the students did not feel a passion for this grammar class – my predecessor having resorted to dry lectures and long homework assignments, and it was my job to take over and to inspire some interest for the subject.  Being a grammar nerd myself, I wasn’t prepared for the level of apathy that the students expressed.  I remember telling the students on the first day of class that I loved the subject of grammar so much, I took grammar workbooks with me on vacation so I could relax and just enjoy the fun of language.  They thought I was weird, maybe a little insane . . . but that was all good because I was committed to understanding why they weren’t more interested in the foundational components of their native language.  After all, this is grammar that we are talking about?!

We started the class by getting to know each other a little better.  Every Monday, we would each recount stories from the weekend while I grabbed key words from their telling and then write these words into the eight parts of speech grid that I had graphed out on the board.  Then we would play The Synonym Game and erase the word on the board with a different word that might convey the story’s meaning a little more vividly.  They began to see how word choice mattered – how you could use the adjective great and maybe use the word fabulous or resplendent instead.  It was a small step but it made sense to take what they knew – their experiences – and translate them into a Grammar Stew on the board that they shared.  I knew that we were growing stalwart grammar-ites when one student used the adjective ebullient in his re-telling of how happy he was that his grandma had come to visit.  It made me feel positively ebullient!

For homework, each student was to bring one question each day to stump me – Miz Grammar.  I wanted to demonstrate how remarkable grammar actually is . . . that no one has all of the answers – not even Miz Grammar!  I wanted them to see how language is an evolving work in progress.  Just ask the Apostrophe Protection Society!  We can’t stop language!  The biggest advantage in Stumping Miz Grammar was that this was a rural school and there was zero access to Google or the Internet.  This meant that the students had to use their textbooks to find the questions and answers to stump me.

I don’t know how I managed to stay ahead of the students, but it quickly became apparent that it was going to be tricky to stay ahead of their questions.  The students would see me at the post office on mail day and ask, “Miz Grammar, what is a gerund?”  “What is a dangling preposition?”  “What is an antecedent?”  They were becoming a team of grammar experts without the students even knowing it.  And how could they know if I knew the answer if they hadn’t done the proper research and found the correct answer themselves?

I kept all of their questions and, at the end of the school year, the students compiled the questions into categories and organized a community-wide, grammar-themed game show.  Parents were the contestants and prizes were donated.  In an effort to alleviate grammar anxiety – which was prevalent, I might add, what with their children being grammar experts by this time – the parents wore costumes and adopted various personalities as game show contestants.  It was a bonding experience for the community, and it was a source of great fun and pride for the students as they led the community down the road of grammar enlightenment.

It is funny how one little crazy idea can grow into something larger than imagined possible.  One of the students went on to become a published poet.  Another student majored in journalism and was the acting editor of a Chicago university’s newspaper during his tenure as a student.  Another student went on to become a freelance writer.  The pleasure that these students took in dissecting language into its most primitive parts gave me great joy as a teacher and as a grammar lover!

Learning objectives are important.  They are the brass ring on the carousel, the t-shirt at the end of the marathon, the cake from the cake walk.  But what I had intuited as necessary at the beginning of this grammar journey proved to be true: you have to build a learning community before learning can happen.  These amazing students created a Culture of Grammar.  They built a team first and then, without even realizing it in the process, mastered the actual objectives of the course . . . and had fun while doing so.

Am I proud of these students?  Yes!  It is our goal as educators to infuse a love of learning while learning.  Like metacognition, or meta-anything for that matter, it’s all about being within the moment while being in the moment.  These students taught me far more about life than I ever taught them about grammar.  They taught me about community and to trust myself when in the midst of a challenging and seemingly dismal situation.

It’s good to know that we don’t know everything.  We are refreshed and invigorated when we enter the unknown territories in which we find ourselves and embrace the evolution of learning and growing.  Just ask Miz Grammar!  She knows!

13 Steps to take when you don’t know something that you’re expected to know:

  1. Just say it.  Admit that you don’t know.
  2. Research. Find your answer.  
  3. Look for new sources and ask experts.
  4. Lean on your community.  Like a 3-legged stool, every “leg” in the community is essential.
  5. Learn more than you started out wanting to know.
  6. Share your knowledge.
  7. Share your passion for knowledge.
  8. Offer your knowledge and experience to someone else.  
  9. Be a mentor.
  10. Laugh a lot.  Laughter doeth good like a medicine — especially when you are feeling stressed about a deadline or an expectation.
  11. Don’t give up.  There is likely an answer available.
  12. If you can’t find the answer, create one based on all of the above.
  13. Become The Expert!   
become the expert

theunseenwordsproject.com

Start with a Simple Idea

IMG_1611. a simple ideaStart with a Simple Idea.  

It’s as simple as that.  Or is it?  We hear stories about people who are fulfilled and successful, motivated and inspired.  What many of these people have in common is that they started their Journey of Success with a simple idea that ultimately sparked growth in their personal lives while contributing to the world around them.

I had some crazy dream about Skylab, America’s first space station, last night — how I was trying to walk on one of its pinwheel arms while maintaining my balance in a gravity-free environment — not an easy task even within the fuzzy confines of a dream.  All of which got me thinking, mid-dream, about what a wonder the whole contraption of Skylab is.  Having experienced its interstellar wonder in my dream, I woke up thinking about how much research and groundwork and hope and intention and vision and forward thinking went into creating it.

Skylab didn’t just happen.  It started with a simple idea and it grew.  Maybe someone scribbled his or her original idea of it on the back of a bar napkin.  Maybe it was the result of some astrophysicists having breakfast together at a conference.  Maybe some scientist woke up with a detailed dream of it.  I don’t know Skylab’s true genesis, but someone had to take it and move it beyond a doodle or an entry in a lab notebook.

In a TED talk (click on the link below), Tony Robbins tells the story of his family receiving an unexpected and generous Thanksgiving Day kindness when he was younger.  As a teenager, Robbins wanted to pay this stranger’s kindness forward, so he anonymously provided a different family with a Thanksgiving dinner.  This generous and simple idea grew into the creation of an organization that now feeds millions of people.

I love stories like this.  Still, as inspiring as they are, they can also feel to be a bit overwhelming.  The obvious questions enter into my thoughts: How did Tony Robbins grow the organization from this one simple gesture?  How did he organize enough people to join him in his vision?  Where did he get the capital to grow the organization into such a large one?  Sure, the amazing and energetic and dynamic Tony Robbins could pull this off  . . . but could I?

Believe-in-yourself-and-believe-in-love.-Love-something.Details, details, details.  I so often get lost in the details.  If I were to look back on my life and pushpin myself onto any given past moment, would I have imagined all of the dynamics of Today?  Parts of Today?  Maybe parts, yes. But all of the amazing-ness that I now experience?  No.  I don’t think I could have foreseen a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture.  I had to take one simple step.  And believe.  And know.  And feed the vision.toaster oven

Skylab was originally launched unmanned but there were eventually several different crews delivered to the station.  On the latter missions, there was even an additional spacecraft orbiting to rescue the crew should they encounter any emergencies.  Imagine these baby steps.  First, unmanned.  Next, manned missions.  Ultimately, backup and support.

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

For a free download (in workbook format) of today’s journal prompt “Start with a Simple Idea,” provide your email address, and I will send you your inspiring journal exercise for you to print out and to start journaling.  Time to make a differrence! 

And to conclude on an uplifting note . . . This is such an inspiring TED talk: Why We Do What We Do.  If you have 21:45 today to take the time to just relax and to open your mind to possibilities, this is a great TED talk.  In fact . . . watch it before you begin journaling.  The ideas that Tony Robbins shares will expand your thinking and your creativity and your perceptions of what is possible.