A Snapshot of I Can’t Remember

celebrating or regrouping

theunseenwordsproject.com

I came across this picture the other day and am trying to remember why the heck I took it.  I didn’t take it with my phone but with my heavy, bulky, big-girl Canon . . . which further tells me that this was a special moment that I wanted to record with my “good camera.”

Weird.  I’m not sure but I think that I was celebrating, having just moved into a fantastic temporary beachfront rental for what turned out to be four exquisite months.  This transition was one of those ideas that had been on my Wish List for years: Live on the beach during the stormy winter months to write.  This recent move Continue reading

What’s in your complaint box?

834px-complaint_department_grenadeWhat’s in your complaint box?  Any chance of turning those complaints around and thinking of them as blessings?

I’ve been doing an experiment.  Every day I write down as many things that I can think of from the day under the heading: Good Things That Happened Today.  It isn’t hard to think of things.  As with anything in life — when you pause to take an inventory — there is much more going on than that which skims the surface.

After I finish my Good Things list, I then write as many things that I can think of under the heading: My Takeaways on Life in the Current Moment.  When I pause to think of My Takeaways, all sorts of good things start to burble forth — things that hitherto felt like an obstacle or a challenge or a frustration.  It’s like magic.  The weird stuff suddenly starts to transform into a better place.

For example, imagine that you are making an offer to purchase what you perceive to be your Dream Home.  And we’re talking Dream Home, people.  You are convinced that this house is It.  It is exactly what you want to buy and to live in for the rest of your life — or at the very least the next decade.  In your Good Things list, you write: I made an offer on my Dream Home today!!!!!

But then life intervenes.  Another offer comes in on the same day as yours, but $10,000 higher than your offer.  And to make matters worse for you, their financing is in perfect order.  Guess whose offer gets accepted?  You feel bummed!  That was your house!  Not theirs!  

The days pass and you search for things to put down on your Good Things list.  You might even write under Takeaways: I learned that it is best to remove such high emotion from a business deal.  Something like this.  But then.  Something really crazy happens.  You read about an opportunity to go to Ireland and serve as an intern at this amazing art school.  It’s your dream!!  You apply.  You get accepted.  Guess what?  You’re going to Ireland for a full year!  Woot!

This adventure gets listed under Good Things.  In addition to recording this adventure to Ireland on your list, you write, I‘m so glad that that house deal fell through!  Thank you!!! on the line directly below your entry about the Ireland opportunity.  You see the correlation so clearly.  In fact — even better yet — you feel the correlation and you experience an understanding that calms your soul and quells your frustrations about the house deal falling through.  All is right with the world and you marvel at how things just work out!

You get the idea.  The seemingly bad breaks that occur in life have all the potential to set us up for something even better.  You just have to be looking.  Be aware.  Be open to seeing the “bad stuff” as “potential good stuff.”  That there are Takeaways, if you only look.  Life events aren’t always easy to dissect into lists, but I find that if I really stretch and embrace both the Good Things and the Takeaways . . . I learn a lot about me and how I can be happy in the flow of the present moment.

How about you?  Do you want to join me in my Good Things/Takeaway challenge?  If you want a PDF to download to get you started, just submit your email address and I’ll send it to you.  It’s fun to turn things around to a place that allows you to embrace that which seemed like such a bummer.

As for me?  Well, I thought that it was going to be smooth and perfect sailing as I prepared to go forth to Ireland . . . but the art internship fell through — something about something occurred, which meant I wasn’t going away to Ireland for a year.

Now, this unwelcome news certainly wasn’t expected, but I am learning as a result of my daily lists.  Instead of listing the loss of my Ireland trip in my Takeaway list, I recorded it immediately in my Good Things list.  After all, I am learning about this life stuff in a new way that is changing my mind and my heart.  I know that something good is happening right now . . . and I am trimming the unexpected starboard list of the boat that I thought was set to sail for Ireland.  It’s a good thing that there were life rafts on that boat!

And I am ready for the next adventure.

Who knows what’s next?  I don’t.  Be it a Good Thing or a Takeaway, I am learning that what works best is for me to be open.  To understand that I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of every little piece that has been set in motion.  To be me and to be happy and to have a light heart.  To stop complaining and to start paying better attention.

Your choice. Choose you.

door. lock. unlock your dreams

theunseenwordsproject.com

Greetings, lovelies.  Today is a great day to Choose You.  

  1. Grab that key.
  2. If you can’t find the key, teach yourself how to pick a lock.
  3. Open the lock and swing the doors wide open.  You might be surprised to discover that you have actually, all this time, been the one who has been locked inside — not the other way around, with all this time thinking that your dreams are the ones that have been locked up and inaccessible.
  4. Step outside into the world of possibility and let your hair flow in the fresh breeze.
  5. Open your arms and embrace the many opportunities that are all around you.
  6. There are so many that are designed especially for you.  For you.  Believe.
  7. Step forth and choose.  You only have to choose one to make a difference in today.  Like choosing a puppy from a darling litter of adorable choices, pick the one that picks you.
  8. Nurture your choice.  Let it know that it is loved.  Feed it, water it, walk it, clean up after it.
  9. Groom your choice.  Brush it, bathe it, pick the sticks and burrs that get stuck when it is out running around and exploring.
  10. An opportunity is a choice.  You are worth the time and care that making the choice to choose you requires to nurture it.  Love who you are.  Believe in yourself.  Choose well.

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!

 

 

True Directions & Higher Ground

Wise words and beautiful music to point you in your true directions:

IMG_3112. true directions

theunseenwordsproject.com

“To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.” – Seneca

“To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act. – Anatole France

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill

Happy Tuesday, good people.  It is my hope that you have a day of True Directions.  Follow that dream.

Please, click Play and listen to this fantastic music from Playing for Change: such beautiful people offering such wonderful music.  If I watch this once, I have to watch it twice.

 

What colors are in your dye pot today?

What colors are in your dye pot today?

Think positive thoughts.

marcus aurelius quote. hydrangeasIn this age of mindfulness, abundance, and positive thinking, we can’t help but read and hear a lot about the importance of thinking positive thoughts.  We read the anecdotes and the stories from those whose lives have been richly blessed by the positive effects of mindful manifesting, and we wonder if the same would work in our lives.  Does positive thinking work?  I believe so.  Actually, I think so — with the most positive thoughts I that can create and think.  And after all, the alternative — negative thinking — isn’t all that great of an alternative.

According to the wise words below, what we think actually leads to our destiny, to our outcomes in life . . . a truth which certainly encourages me to stretch, to ponder, and to be mindful.

Watch your thoughts for they become words,
watch your words for they become actions,
watch your actions, for they become habits,
watch your habits for they become your character,
watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Plant a thought and reap a word;
plant a word and reap an action;
plant an action and reap a habit;
plant a habit and reap a character;
plant a character and reap a destiny.

-Bishop Beckwaith, mid-1800s

thoughts –> words –> actions –> habits –> character –> destiny

I remember a teaching position I held at a college that prided itself on helping struggling first-generation students to graduate.  I had the planting-version of the quote above taped to my office door.  It was my hope that a student might be moved to pause, read the words, and feel some encouragement to go forth with a renewed sense of positivity.

The program chair stopped by my office one day, walked into my office, and asked me to remove the quote from my door.  She said that it didn’t look very professional and, if I stepped out of my office and looked at the other office doors down the hallway, I would see that they had only their office hours posted and that this was what she expected.

Hmmmm . . . I stood there and watched her retreat down the hall before removing the quote from my door.  I said to my colleague Rick whose door was open next to mine, “Did you just hear that?  Or am I imagining it?”  Rick confirmed, “She has spoken. Just take it down.  You can put it back up when she self-destructs.”

Rick was so right.  Her destiny definitely followed her thoughts.  Her demand for being in charge, arguing with students, and creating crazy rules and restrictions for faculty led to her being “let go” quite suddenly.  Hallelujah!  We all rejoiced on her last day.  I didn’t exactly wish her ill . . . It’s just that I was so happy that we were to be liberated from the reigning negative thinking.   Weird story, right?

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”  What colors are in your dye pot today?  Are you consciously choosing which shades and tints that you want to add to your soul today?  I think about this quote and the word mindful flashes in shades of green, blue, and pink in my mind.

Life is a color wheel.  There are infinite hues that can be created with just a touch more of this or a little bit less of that.  What would my day be like if I minded my thoughts as carefully as I do my palette when I am painting . . . when I am looking to mix that perfect shade of robin’s egg blue for the canvas I am painting?  I am thinking it would be pretty amazing — like creating a gallery-worthy day.

thoughts –> words –> actions –> habits –> character –> destiny

What colors are you adding to your dye pot today?

Be good to your soul.  

Create a gallery-worthy day today with your thoughts.  

Do you laugh at least 400 times a day?

s-LAUGHTER-largeFree your mind.  What does this feel like for you?   How do you free your mind?

One way I can describe freeing my mind are those times when I am with a friend and we are absolutely helpless with laughter.  Bent over, sides hurting, and howling with laughter.  There is just something about experiencing this kind of laughter and being lost in the moment.  It is like a transaction of abandon that feels like I left the planet for a brief while.  And it is such a pure connection with another human being.  A moment when I feel free to be exactly who I am.

1373And the moment lingers long after you have parted ways with your friend.  You think of it the next morning when you are standing in line for your morning latte and you feel the power of that very same laugh burbling up from within.  A small laugh escapes you and the person ahead of you turns around and smiles with you.  Another connection.

Laughter is a gift that is one of life’s daily miracles.  It redeems us from those moments that do not feel exactly stellar.  It invites us to embrace spontaneity and maybe even some forgiveness.  Laughter leads to a moment of exquisite freedom.  It is you feeling like what it is to be totally you.

AmygdalaOne of my research projects involves looking at the effects of laughter in an educational setting.  The statistics that I uncovered in my reading vary a bit, but it is said that the average child laughs approximately 400 times a day; the average adult somewhere between 4 to 11 times.  What do you think?  Do you laugh anywhere near 400 times a day?  Do you laugh more than 11 times a day?  This disparity would be funny if it weren’t so sobering.  It has definitely encouraged me to seek more moments of laughter in my day.  The more I laugh, the more I free my mind.  Or maybe it is the other way around.  Either way, it is a cycle that I happily embrace.

A-laughIn the ways of research, the findings regarding laughter in the classroom were somewhat predictable and also somewhat surprising: Laughter can be a wonderful way to make amazing learning connections in the classroom; additionally, learning can be enhanced by engaging the limbic system — which is great for learning.  Have you ever wondered why you simply didn’t feel comfortable in a learning environment?  Laughter, used with empathy and sensitivity, is also effective in lowering the affective filter — a term Stephen Krashen has used to describe how negative factors in the classroom block how we learn and how we process a learning experience.

But caution is advised concerning our use of laughter.  What you think is funny, could very possibly offend or confuse another –> thus spiking the affective filter to go up and to raise a wall — which is not not so good for learning.  So there is the whole respect factor where laughter is present.  You have to be aware and you have to be sensitive to others when you’re trying to have fun.  It’s all good when you think about it: the presence and the absence of laughter.  They both signal connection and respect.

Which, I believe, are two good components of freedom: connection and respect.

Free your mind.  This Playing for Change recording is so very captivating.  If I listen to it once, I have to listen to it again.  So simple and complex and rich.  And beautiful.  And speaks to collaboration, beauty, talent, and freedom.

 

What phrase best describes your year so far?

This is the prompt that popped up in my 5-year journal today:

Write a phrase to describe your year so far.

journal and penBeing a person who enjoys words and writing, I was hoping that some neat turn of phrase might bubble to the surface. Maybe something profound or appropriately witty or, even better, both.  Something that would neatly sum up all of the many memorable events that have marked the calendar these past six months . . . experiences that stand as fence posts upon which I have strung the minutes, hours, and days.

It has been a year of many blessings and a year of loss.  I believe that there is much that I have appreciated as a result of the many blessings and also much that I have learned as a result of the loss.

My Top 9 Fence Posts

  1. Long and Short: I have learned that life is not always as short as others write about it being . . . that life can also be long — and sometimes even too long — especially so when it is marked by sadness and sorrow.
  2. Beginnings and Endings: Realizing a dream is not an endpoint unto itself . . . it is just the beginning of newly-found dissatisfactions that grow a new dream.
  3. The expense of poverty: Observing, living, and understanding the truth behind James Baldwin’s words: “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”  Not fun.  Just saying.
  4. Simplicity and Complexity: Teasing apart the complexity of a simple life and the simplicity of a complex life and recognizing the differences and knowing that they are both the same at different times.
  5. Grieving and Celebrating: Feeling the exact same at the same time.  On certain days, the co-existence of these two puzzles me.  On other days, the co-existence makes perfect sense.  It is possible to feel what are thought to be two contradictory emotions at the same time.  Like there is this mélange of real and true emotions that thickens up like a stew and threatens to burn the bottom of the pot if I don’t keep my awareness active . . .
  6. Thoughts, Feelings, and Things: [a continuation of #5] . . .Which leads me to wonder about the practice of intentional living . . . and how feelings become thoughts and then how thoughts become things . . . and how I now know why my life feels so conflicted at times [see #5].  Or wait a second.  Do I have this backward?  Do our thoughts become feelings which become things?  Or do the things in life dictate how we think and how we feel [See #3]?  Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “What I think doesn’t become things; who I am is what becomes things.”
  7. Confusion and Clarity: [See #5.]  Thank you, Dr. Dyer.  Advice to self: Be who you are.  Give it your best shot.
  8. Moving and Standing Still: The fact that I have moved three times in the last year does not mean that I still don’t experience feelings of stuck-ness.
  9. Success and Failure: Many have written and spoke on this subject of success and failure in life.  We are bombarded with ideas and quick fixes about how to jump start our motivation, our drive, and our success.  We also read of the power in turning failure into success.  But I keep wondering?  Where is the measuring stick that tells me that I have arrived at a place of success?  I do believe that there is an internal sense of reward that tells us we have just driven in another fence post of Accomplishment through the hardpan of our memory’s land bank . . . but then what?  Is feeling “successful” enough? Is it a myth?  Just wondering.  See #2 and #4.
  10. Giving up and Persevering and Granting a Degree of Self-Permission: I know that lists like this shouldn’t end with 9 items (the norm being “The Top 3” or multiples of 5) but I can’t think of anything else right now.  I give myself permission to stop at #9.  [See #9]

So, how about you?  What phrase best describes your year so far?  

If you feel like sharing, please, do so in the comments section.  I would love to read what you have to say.

To conclude . .  What phrase did I write in my 5-year journal?

Looking Both Ways

country roadIt’s the first thing that came to mind and now, after re-reading my list of Top 9 Fence Posts, it makes sense.  Looking Both Ways implies some sense of caution, like what our parents tell us before crossing a street: Look both ways!

Answering this prompt has given me time to pause and to reflect.  To exercise some counter-intuitive caution . . . not with where I am now heading but with where I have been.  More advice to self: Don’t let where I have been determine where I am going next.

The 2nd half of this year is just across the road.  I have Looked Both Ways, and I feel ready for the uncharted territory over yonder.  Maybe I’ll leave my work gloves, shovel, and fence posts on this side of the road and let my tracks leave a trail.  Thinking of this metaphor makes me wonder what I want my Phrase to be for the 2nd half of the year . . .

Click on the sky-blue link below for a free journal prompt that will get you thinking about your year’s Phrase.  Happy journaling, as always.  You are an interesting person.  Take some more time to discover who you are!

Free Journal Prompt: Click below:

 Looking Both Ways. journal prompt