Leap & Land with a Bang

Check out this BBC video of mobula rays and their artistic, acrobatic, and aerobatic show.  They are spectacular.  Who knew that rays could leap — and land — so amazingly?   Their landing sends a huge boom through the water.  The higher they leap, the bigger the bang upon landing.  It is believed that the rays that make the biggest impact, give themselves the best odds of standing apart from the herd and of leaving with a mate.

Watch these fabulous flying rays (3:12):

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150512-watch-these-giant-rays-fly

Mating rituals aside . . . when in a group, how do you stand out from the crowd?  How do you get noticed?  How do you draw attention to yourself?   This is not about ego-grabbing narcissism that demands every speck of attention in a social setting.  This is about expressing yourself in your immediate world such that you get noticed, feel understood, and build the best opportunities to connect with others.   Connection . . . it truly is what makes the world go around and is what gives significant meaning to what we do when we aren’t in the midst of connecting.  We, as humans, need connection . . . why not do it with a figurative bang?

So, taking a cue from the mobula rays . . . the higher the leap, the bigger the bang upon landing and the better chance to stand out from the crowd.  What is one thing you can do today or tomorrow or the next day to get noticed?  To make a difference?  To be you?  To exercise your unique you-ness?  Give yourself some credit for being important in the grand scheme of things.  Leap spectacularly and land with a big bang.

Being able to think of something that you will actually do might be a stretch for us introverts.  It might feel unnecessary or unbecoming or way out of one’s wheelhouse.  But why not try one little thing, make a change-up in your wardrobe.  Skip down the sidewalk to retrieve your mail.  Engage with the barista as you wait for your Americano.  Leaping is different for everyone; it is something only you can define for yourself.

Think One New Thing.  Leap and land and leap all over again.  It looks like these mobula rays are expending a tremendous amount of energy to go flying out of the water.  This is something that I think we sometimes want to avoid: The water feels so comfy.  I don’t think I can leap very high.  I’m not very athletic, after all.  Landing might cause me pain.  Someone might laugh at me or think I am weird.  Simply put? Expend the energy.  Your life will become different because of it.  I promise.

And the thing about leaping is that there is gravity on this planet.  You will land.  With a bang. Why not make it a Big Bang and stand out from the crowd?  Take a stand for you.  For a friend or a colleague or a student or a child or a stranger.  And for the world that surrounds you.  The Universe will thank you for it.

pencil stubClick on the sky blue link below for today’s journal prompt.  Have fun discovering (and making!) your leap!

Leap high and land with a bang. journaling prompt

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and start your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

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Yes, you can go home again . . . if only in your dreams.

ardoch II

My Hometown

Last night, I had vivid dreams of my childhood home in the Red River Valley of North Dakota.  The place where I learned to swim in post-thunderstorm mud puddles, to build elaborate snow and ice tunnels, to discover the magic of reading, to try to walk to the end of a rainbow, to revere and emulate Mae West, to respect the wisdom of my older siblings, and to understand that life sometimes deals out unfairness without warning.

These dreams of last night involved highlights of childhood that were happy, peaceful, and creative.  They were moments that contained laughter, bliss, and sibling camaraderie.  It was a rare gift of benevolent recall via slideshow with me starring as my own little-girl self.  The dreams allowed me to visit with my father, who recently passed over in December, and he took me by the hand and led me on a tour of highlights that reminded me that my early life, indeed, offered shouts of joy that have somehow become strangely muffled in the memories of my adulthood.

Life is what I make of it.  And so is fun and my sense of playfulness.  This past weekend, while writing out my to-do lists on my wall-mounted white board, I caught myself wondering,  This is nothing but work and chores and items of destined procrastination . . . What happened to simply having fun?  I wrote “HAVE FUN!” at the bottom of the lists for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday going forward.

Still, I started to wonder: What has happened (!?) to me and my life such that I am having to start prioritizing fun?   What happened to getting out there and having some good ol’, mud-puddle-stomping, spontaneous fun?  

In an effort to re-gain spontaneous Fun in My Life (back to that concept of planning and prioritizing again!), I am going to try an experiment.  As I seem to need the reminder, I am going to write on my list of to-dos everyday for one month:

Have some fun . . . 

And cross it off my list.  And just see what happens.  And enjoy life.  I want to move out of my current state of Get-‘er-Done to a renewed paradigm of Have-Some-Fun.

Anyone out there want to join me?  And keep me posted on what you do?  For me, it’s time to re-claim that girl who liked to sit on the front porch rail of our house, swinging my legs, and belting out Mae West quotes and tunes (C’mon up and see me sometime!) to any passerby who traveled through our tiny town.  It’s time to start having some Fun!

Mae West: You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

ardoch

Main Street, Hometown

What does your Frozen Face say about you?

I was taking a truck load of items to Goodwill the other day.  Getting to the drop-off point for our local Goodwill is a bit of a maze that requires more than just good navigating.  It helps if you have been there before a few times or you are with someone else who has been there before.  You need to take a right off the freeway, two lefts through a shopping center with confusing 3-way stop sign setups, then a right turn up a steep driveway into an obscure parking area of the shopping center.  You then circle around to the backside of a major discount store and drive through a hotchpotch of abandoned rusty trailers, towers of Jenga-esque pallets, and precariously-stacked bales of cardboard.

The secret to reaching the drop-off point is to then follow the path of orange cones.  All of this navigating is required with no aid from any helpful signage such as Turn Here for Goodwill Drop-Offs or Keep Going or You Are Not Lost.   If you execute each turn just so through the labyrinthine path, you will find yourself in the waiting lane where people are ultimately filling the wheeled canvas bins with soon-to-shared treasure.

The adventure is usually enhanced by having to dodge someone careening through the orange cones in a forklift.  Judging by the happy and sometimes-crazed look on the face of the forklift driver, you can guess that this is a fun and new and important component to the job description of Goodwill Greeter.  Perhaps he has never driven a forklift before, and it is fun as hell to balance a crazy-heavy bale of clothing and load it into the back of a trailer.  At least it looks like a lot of fun to me.  My Bucket List: drive a forklift through traffic.

There are two lanes that snake toward the drop-off point.  The lanes are clearly marked, yet I have never seen two vehicles approaching in parallel fashion.  The standard protocol is to get in line, inch forward as each vehicle completes its drop, and then wait until you can inch a bit farther.

It is interesting to watch what comes out of the vehicles ahead of you as you wait in line.  Some people get out of their vehicle, rummage in their trunk, and produce a neat Rubbermaid tub of goodies.  Other people have simply tossed their no-longer-wanted items all willy-nilly into their vehicles.  They hop out and start pulling ski poles and lampshades and toys and old computers and sweaters out . . . the friendly greeter taking it all in stride as he or she fills the canvas totes.

As you wait in line, you assess each vehicle that is waiting ahead of you, assuming the amount of content to be proportional to the vehicle size.   But there are surprises.  About the time you pull in behind a van and simply know that you are going to see the haphazard piles spewing forth, the driver gets out and hands over two boxes of books and then gets back into the van.

But some cars have all the appearance of those crazy clown cars.  It is as if the more stuff that the driver pulls out, the more that is being filled through the doors on the opposite side.  I have waited in line and marveled that so much crazy stuff could be pulled out of a Toyota Yaris.

I would not call this experience to be exactly entertaining.  Still, it is somewhat interesting to watch people divest themselves of those things they no longer deem valuable.

I was in line the other day.  The line was moving at a pretty good rate of speed, and I was doing what I normally do while waiting in the string of vehicles.  I was making up stories about the drivers, the cars, and the items that were spewing forth into future Goodwill sales.  I was next-up in the queue, and I pulled too far ahead in the line . . . past the invisible, unmarked-stop-sign line in the maze.  I knew the second that I had pulled too close and thought, “Oh-oh.  I have violated orange-cone protocol.”

I don’t know exactly why, but I expected a stern-looking response from the greeter . . . a look that said, “Look, lady.  Don’t be in such a hurry.”   But I received the exact opposite reaction.  The greeter put up his hand in the international stop-sign gesture and smiled as he did so.

I don’t really have the words to describe how this felt.  It was like this huge double-back-flip surprise of delight that just flooded through me.  I knew I had violated the Goodwill-waiting-in-line politesse and was expecting a righteous grumpy look from the young man and, instead, received such a sweet smile of Please, wait.  We are almost done here.  I felt this jolt of Wow!  So much for assumptions!

I remembered scheduling a class for my students on professionalism that addressed what the Professionalism Speaker called “Our Frozen Face.”  In other words, if we were to look in a mirror when we are not really thinking about anything or when we are concentrating at work or when we are befuddled, what would it look like?  The speaker said that for many, our default look is either a neutral, blank look or, even worse, a decided frown as a result of concentration or frustration.  We furrow our brows or we turn the corners of our mouth down.  Rarely do we smile like a Lottery Winner when we are at work.

But this person’s Frozen Face was dialed into smiles and happiness and benevolence.  When I got out of my truck to deliver the goods, I said to the young man, “Thank you for being so nice.  You have a very nice smile.”  When everything was out of the truck, I said, “Thanks for having such an awesome attitude.”  This young man had no idea why I was expressing such thanks to him, but he smiled again in response and told me to have a great day.

be-positive-and-always-smile-1I suspect that this young man had not attended anybody’s Professionalism classes.  He just looked happy on the inside.  Since that day at Goodwill, I have made note of when I am in line at the grocery store or I am on the phone with someone who is holding the fate of my future health insurance in her hands or when I am daydreaming in a coffee shop.  I wonder what my default is and am consciously smiling more when in these sorts of Frozen States.  It feels as if it is making a difference.  People are smiling back at me, and I am finding that people are going above and beyond to help me.  I am hearing more laughter and more stories in my daily transactions.  There is more sharing in the midst of the various exchanges.

All because someone who was working outside on a loading dock on a below-freezing winter day had the grace and the patience to go with his own flow and be happy in the moment.  And to extend it to me.

Sometimes I think am being too hard on myself, and it is possible that I was smiling when I realized my blunder.  I don’t know.  But it is my hope that my awareness to smile more and to be more gracious in the face of a blunder has been inspired and activated to a new level.  When there are so many blessings in life that abound, it is good to remind myself to be happy, smile, and appreciate the abundance.

toaster oven

 

 

Be Somebody. Be the Difference.

1527135_571874089554544_978490371_nThis is such a great quote.  It serves as a healthy reminder to just “do something about that.”  Simply do it.  Be the somebody who realizes that I am somebody.  Who comprehends that my life matters.  Who understands that I can make a difference.

That I can be the difference.  That I am Somebody.

We all have such a unique influence on the planet.  I think about this sometimes, and it is staggering to imagine the ripples that we all are creating with our thoughts, our actions, our spirits.  We are this huge swirl of humanity that is pulsing and being and feeling.  The influence that our thoughts and emotions has on the planet is so immense.

maxfield parrishWhen I respect this truth, I feel both empowered and deeply humbled.  We all can be the somebody that does something that alters the course of history.  We all have the freedom to choose the direction of this course.  Freedom.  We are powerful beyond measure.

And some days . . . it takes so very little to make a positive difference.  A touch, a smile, a kind word, a phone call or email, a shared joke, a declaration of love.  Wow.  Our influence.  It is all so very huge and enormous, isn’t it?

I want to be Somebody that fosters growth.  Who provides encouragement and support.  Who loves freely.  Who laughs at silly jokes with my best friend.  Who loves unconditionally.  Who opens my heart and lets someone know that I deeply love him.  toaster oven

For when I open myself to life and creativity and laughter and love, I can’t help but be Somebody because I am confirming to another that he is Somebody. That she is making a positive difference. That he is loved beyond measure.  That she is selfless.  That he is just so crazy amazing.honey-bee

Tragedy takes place on a daily basis.  A seemingly insurmountable challenge presents itself in gargantuan disguise.  Bills stack up.  Love gets misplaced.  Work is unrewarding.  There is too much to do in too short a time.  Overwhelm-ment grows into discouragement.  Complications mutate in exponential proportions.

Still, so much of life is so simple: be Somebody.  Be the person whom you have been created to be.  Be . . . with a purpose that reflects who lives in your heart.

Today I will pay attention.  I will create.  I will love with wild abandon.   I will “do something about that.”  Today it is time to make a difference.  Time to be the difference.  Time to be Somebody.

maxfield-parrish-dreaming-or-october-1928-1383679864_org

 

 

 

Try Something New: See Beyond the Obvious

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focusMark Twain: “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

What does it mean when my imagination is out of focus?  I don’t recognize life’s glorious gifts.  I am easily distracted.  I choose routine and I shun spontaneity.  I see options, not miracles.  I worry rather than allow.  I choose to accept mediocrity rather than to change.  I believe the naysayers.  I neglect the artistic potential of the bottle cap languishing in the gutter and walk on by.  I cease to create.  I might get grumpy or feel trapped or start blaming someone or something else for something insignificant.  I might deny the truth and start assigning blame. A little toad might hop out of my mouth — never to be retrieved and silenced.

I stop loving and I embrace fear.  These are the times when I pull the needle back on the vinyl.  Zzzrrrrrrip.  Time for a do-over. Time to make a difference.  Time to hone the focus of my imagination.

Every day.  My intentions are vivid and sharp.  I strive to be mindful . . . to push beyond the boundaries of the obvious.  To alwaysalwaysalways choose love over fear.  Love over fear.  This is tricky business, especially when daily distractions demand my attention.  I am running late, the dog needs to be walked, I can’t find my red shoes, I spill my coffee on the seat of my truck, I blow out the copier on campus with my crazyenergy . . . It takes very little imagination to understand how this “stuff” affects my focus.  It blows it into vapor — never to be made manifest.

thankful-quote1-300x300I am profoundly appreciative of those in my life who make it so easy and so fun to choose love.  Who inspire me to choose laughter over tears.  Who remind me to think big and go beyond.  Who believe in me.  These are my heroes.  They are the “people who make a difference” in my life.  They are the people who encourage me to keep my focus.  To grow my imagination.  I so love them for this.

I thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  I do.   toaster oven

This video is an awesome example of seeing beyond the obvious.  Jarbas Agnelli was seeing with his imagination:

Today?  It is my intent to see at least one thing that extends beyond the obvious.  Whew.  Who knows what kind of amazing things might happen today?

Make a Mistake Today

Try Something New.  Today.  Be bold and courageous and fun and a little bit crazy.  Try something.  Just try.  Make a mistake.  Have fun with it.  Focus on process, not outcome . . . be willing to let the outcome go.  Be an innovator, not just an implementer.   Be a creator, not just a do-er.  Prioritize some change today.  Give yourself a golf clap.  Know that you tried to do something that exceeded your version of ordinary.  Be yourself.  Take a risk.  Try something new.   Have some fun.  And then have some crazy fun.  Live.  Laugh.  Love.  Be happy. Celebrate the newness.toaster oven

albert einstein

 

Just say Yes. Take a chance.

take a riskThis quote speaks directly to my heart.

I think of the times in my life when I have simply said Yes.  No lists of pros and cons. No SWOT or Force Field analysis.  No seeking of advice from another person.  No flipping of coins or swaying of the amulet.  Just pure trust in pure dumb luck.

I am thinking of those times when I didn’t doubt.  When I sidestepped land mines of fear.  When I took the labyrinth of detours with neither complaint nor concern.  When I let go of my attachment to an anticipated outcome.  Moments when I looked fate in the eye and said, “Pleased to meet you.  Tell me more.  Show me more.  This is awesome!”

honey-beeHappy chances of serendipity.  When I allow myself to love.  To fall in love.  To be myself.  To trust.  To embrace the promptings of my intuition.

These moments are enormous beyond wonder.  They are the moments when life is richly rewarded with the most unexpected of gifts.  Amazing and beautiful gifts.  In retrospect, these moments surprise me because they are the times when I surprised myself . . . when I allowed me to be true to my own self with no interference.  toaster oven 3

Being willing to take a chance that is True to Self is one of life’s richest rewards.  It is like reading a thick novel with a heroine you can admire.  She is someone who is willing to take chances and to live a life of no regret . . . someone who is willing to trust herself.  Although she has flaws, you cheer her on precisely because of her flaws.  She doesn’t let her less-than-stellar experiences and choices hold her back from fulfillment.  Who doesn’t want her to find her bliss in the final chapter?  I certainly do.

It feels so great — magical really — to take those humbling chances and live a life of no regret.  Many times we question our common sense, our motives, our resources.  We wonder if we are ever going to be truly happy or feel whole.  And then it happens.  toaster oven

We receive the reward of taking a chance.  Life is magnified when this happens.  We still see our own flaws but they are diminished by the courage it took to take the chance that would propel us out of darkness into light.

History is being written in the finest of ways.  There are happy endings.  They do exist.  Life may not appear to be perfect on the outside.  But a life of no regret as a result of taking chances?  It is perfection.

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is one of those epic poems that has spoken different things to me at different times in my life:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .”

These days, I read these words, and I no longer see me standing at the trailhead as a solitary traveler.  And I am not standing in one place to ponder in long-I stood mode — as I once might have.  I am discovering the beauty of the African proverb: “If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.”

suitcasesI want to “travel far” . . . be the path well-traveled or wildly untrammeled.  Be there a light backpack or a fabulous amount of luggage.  It’s all good . . . to be traveling far and taking chances with no regrets. To saying Yes.

If you give a little love . . .

“Well if you are (what you love)
And you do (what you love)
I will always be the sun and moon to you toaster oven
And if you share (with your heart)
Yeah, you give (with your heart)
What you share with the world is what it keeps of you”

Wow.  I love this this song.  And the video.  It reminds me to love and to share and to give.  And then do it some more.  I am inspired to get out my paintbrush and paint some love of my own today.  Such a great message: Pay Attention.  Do What I Am Inspired to  Do.  Be proactive.  Be Loving . . . “Because life is fleeting.”  The small difference we make in a person’s life has an enormous ripple effect.  Share the love.

“What you share with the world is what it keeps of you.”

bigstock-Zen-stones-in-water-27418907

Try Something New: Willing to Give It a Shot

Every time I see these things on Pinterest that people “totally nailed,” I get such a good laugh.  I appreciate the effort and the willingness to experiment in order to create something beautiful.  This particular batch of “Pinterest Fails” in the link below are hilarious.  At least they are to my sense of humor.   There’s something about a picture perfect specimen and its fail that make me want to Try Something New.  And try, try again.  Or not.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ newu1085/17-pinterest-fails-654m

When I see these photos, it makes me wish that I had taken pictures of all of my attempts to make extraordinary and memorable birthday cakes and Christmas cookies.  The bread “art” that I have tried to nail.  The doughnuts that looked like leaden lumps.  The pretzels that refused to “pretz.”  The French fries that absorbed well over a quart of oil.  The pasta dish made for a special event that was re-named Tuna Splat.  The chocolate chip cookie that was used as a hockey puck by restless 8th-grade boys.  The knitted slippers for Operation Toasty Toes for a soldier that wears a size 6 and has pointy elf toes.  The birthday sweater for a 7-year-old girl with a neckline that would have been loose on Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The times of trying to make a potluck item look interesting and extra appetizing.  The origami paper cranes that looked like predatory pterodactyls.

But I am thinking that I will award myself an “A+” for these creative efforts.  And send a wave of appreciation to those with the artistic fortitude that was devoted to these Pinterest attempts.  Bravo, brava, and bravi!

And there are some things in life that just come round right without me even trying or thinking. These moments are about being present.  Being.  Being open.  Opening my heart.  Feeling the world stand still.  This is what I love about life.  You never know when your simple presence may be rewarded with amazing beauty.  I send waves of appreciation to the Heavens for allowing these moments of pure Serendipity.  toaster oven

Here is the link to some more epic Pinterest attempts.  Have fun! . . .

http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/people-who-tried-things-pinterest-and-totally-nailed-it