Never underestimate the power of perspective. It can change everything.

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When you change the way you look at things,

the things you look at change.

Perspective.  What is it?

perspective: (noun)

  1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.

  2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Perspective. 

These two definitions connect well together and grab my attention.   Perspective as an art form and as a particular attitude.

As an art form, perspective is used to 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.

Confidence . . . an Appreciation of Self

kindness confidenceConfidence.  What is it?  Confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities” (Google: define).  We read and hear a lot about appreciation.  Appreciation for our blessings, our possessions, our jobs, our health, our friends, our family, our senses, our brains, our abilities.   Technology, nature, transportation, travel, beauty.  We appreciate others for what they do and for the joy they bring into our lives.  We appreciate how they love us through those thick-and-thin moments.  We reciprocate and make them coffee in the morning.  We send a nice email to someone at work.  We let a stranger go ahead of us in traffic.  We leave a love note on the mirror in the bathroom.  We kiss each other good bye each morning. toaster oven

We pick up the slack on a project with a deadline.  We choose to be gracious when we don’t feel like it.  We laugh at someone’s bad joke.  We sky-lift a worm on the sidewalk after a rain to safety.  Little things.

When was the last time you paused to appreciate an ability or a quality you have?  Really appreciate it.  A quirk or a talent?  A spot of brilliance or a burst of intuition?  A kind gesture you have made that was based more on intuition than anything else?  Do we even notice when we are expressing a kindness?  Or do we continue to be hard on ourselves – when we might not have been exactly perfect in that instantaneous snapshot of time that we call Right Now?

We tell others what we enjoy about them or about what they do to contribute or what it is that makes them unique and lovable.  It seems that this is absent on a self-level – on a level that escapes the traps and chains of egoism or conceit or narcissism.  Just plain and simple appreciation.

What do you appreciate about yourself?  What one little thing have you done or thought today that you appreciate?  Maybe you turned a mad-attitude into an accepting-attitude.  Maybe you realized that you have been offering resistance in a situation over which you have zero control.  Zero.  Maybe you made some pumpkin pie and delivered it to your significant other.  Or maybe you gave someone a hug – someone who really needed a hug in that moment. Or maybe you told someone you love him when it just felt right in that second to say it aloud.

When we experience a moment of confidence, maybe it is as simple as acknowledging the little things that we do each and every day.  Moments that assure ourselves that we are on this planet for a reason.  For a good and mighty and blessed reason.  I believe that there are many moments throughout the day when one has an opportunity to give a high five or an elbow bump to your little ol’ self.

Would the world be a more self-actualized place if we were kinder to our own selves?  I think so.

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The Laundry Bag Blues Muse

Today I told myself that I simply must get some laundry done.  These beautiful and blue summer days have been dictating a distinct lack of focus on getting tasks done around the house.  There are certain chores that provide feelings of satisfaction when accomplished.  There are other chores that simply must be done.  No questions asked.  No whining allowed.  You must get yourself in gear and motivate.  Get some laundry done.

Then I started thinking of the time when I used to do laundry on an old wringer washing machine.  I lived where there was no option for electricity, so this particular beast was one of those diehard Maytags that operated on gasoline and oil — all while belching exhaust and roaring at a deafening idle.  Tubs were filled by hauling buckets from the lake.  The empty-bucket trip was all downhill, the full-bucket trip was all uphill.  Sometimes the wringer didn’t work, and I had to switch over to hand wringing. What with all the hauling and needing to literally kick the old Briggs & Stratton motor into action, life felt challenging on Laundry Day.

The blahs can affect the psyche in powerful ways.  Laundry was a necessary chore that tended to rock my generally high level of positivity and my appreciation of living in such pristine beauty and solitude.  Still.  The sea’s doldrums hold as much gravity as can the wind.  Hunger as can fullness.  Indifference as can passion.  There is certainly a balance within the blahs.

I look back and give myself serious kudos for taking on such an enormous chore on a weekly basis. Even then, in retrospect, when all was hauled, washed, rinsed, and hung, I rarely felt any glowing level of achievement.  I experienced no grand sense of accomplishment when draining the last of the rinse tubs and hanging it up on the cellar’s wall.  Laundry was one of those chores that lived and grew without notice.  Like unbridled growth in a Petri dish, laundry took on a life of its own.  It reflected my chosen priorities of the week with a clarity that no Mirror-Mirror-on-the-Wall could.  Had I chosen to lounge on the dock in my bikini on that 93 degree day or had I chosen to fall the dead maple that was overhanging the Cellar?

levisThe Laundry Bag did not lie.  It was a snapshot of my week.  Wood chips littered the floor as I upended the Bag.  I saw a blue sweatshirt with a rip in the upper arm, and a chainsaw-oil-stained pair of Levi’s.  Eau de petrol perfumed the air.  My bikini?  Still in my dresser along with my other Travel Dream Clothes: my sarong, collapsible sun hat, and cute strappy sandals.  Daydreams of rowing around the lake and lounging on the dock were given over to the burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip of a Stihl chain saw and the sparing of the cellar roof.

In the wintertime, while sloshing around outside in sub-freezing temperatures in knee-high snow, I used to daydream of the 1960s when the idea of the Paper Dress was being tossed around as being a viable fabric for clothing.  It was brilliant.  Functional by day and ready-made firestarter for when I lay the fire in the cookstove for the next morning.  As I prepared for bedtime each night, I could don my chic and sexy tissue-paper negligee while crumpling up my work clothes from my day’s work.  Dual purpose.  And no laundry to be done!

And then one winter day something happened to me as I stood outdoors at the wringer in sub-freezing temperatures and snow – my hands in insulated rubber gloves and my feet in felt-lined boots, aching from the cold of snow and the slosh of icy water.

I don’t know how, but it all funneled into my first ephiphany: it was not the physical rigors that made Laundry Day a pain.  It was purely my attitude.  My thinking.  I stopped.  And took inventory.  I had the unique privilege of resource, health, and time to complete the task.  Time.  I look back and remember how it felt to have so much Time.  It was so wonderful and decadent, and I took it for granted every single day.  And my body really didn’t mind the labor . . . I was outside.  Getting some good exercise.  Breathing wonderfully clean, pure, cold air.  Looking at the tree branches dressed in snow.  Listening to the silence ring and ricochet around the lake.  How could a body complain about any of this?

My second epiphany: the Laundry Bag took on magical properties that paralleled the complexities and simplicity of man’s relationship to eternity.  The Laundry Bag is bottomless, and it is never empty.  There is always something growing in it as a result of some other action.  My attitude grew to appreciate this.  I was part of something that was much bigger than I was.  The Universe.  It all sounds so strange as I write this, but this is how it all felt at the time: life is very large.  And I am a laundry-making contributor to the Wheel of the Universe.

I truly did switch things up after that.  I started to sing loudly while I plunged in the wash tub and rinsed and cranked on the wringer — this was my happier version of being on the chain gang.  I recognized the blessing in having Time for such a ridiculously time-consuming chore . . . one that now requires me to simply throw laundry into a magic tub and push a button and walk away while electricity and complex machinery do all of the work for me.

But. I now work away from home to compensate for the running water and the electricity that makes Laundry Magic.  And, in order to pay for such luxury, my life work has taken an academic turn away from the physical.  Life now moves to an urgency that is so different from taking my Time and hauling water and looking at the birds flying overhead and singing off-key bluegrass tunes about river banks and the glitter of gold and lost love and big rock candy mountains.

It feels like I have less time now . . . that there has been some sort of cosmic exchange that has played a joke on me.  That somehow my modern electric front-loading Maytag burns up more time, resource, and energy than my gasoline-powered wringer Maytag ever did. The best way I can explain it is there is a dearth of presence.  All of that hauling and heating tubs of water on the cookstove and wringing sudsy water out of my clothes made an impression that I would never trade for the joys of convenience.

Perspective.  What a gift it is.  I love the way time reflects around on itself and, in the doing, presents me with gifts that make my heart sing.  Life is a flow of Universal Presence that all manifests in unexpected and miraculous ways.  toaster oven