Albert Einstein on Success

On success

AP Photo

“If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z.  Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Work.  Play.  Listen.  Einstein’s formula for experiencing a new version of life called A.

The questions that sometimes emerge in my journaling are about how to combine work and play so that they are seamlessly one.  How can I enjoy my work so much that it feels like play?  And how can I incorporate more play into my work, while still feeling like I am creating something that serves another?

Perhaps my answer lies in Z.   Maybe I am not listening.   At least not enough.  My mouth is open and expressing thoughts, feelings, and even complaints.  If I paused to meditate, breathe, pause, and listen, it is possible that I might feel more simpatico with life’s meaning, purpose, objective — or whatever it is that drives us and compels us to discover and contribute and, ultimately, feel more successful.

Work.  Play.  Keep my mouth shut.   Listen.  Pay attention to the promptings and follow through.  Play more music.  Take longer walks.  Look around.  Be still.   Follow.   Experience a success in life.

 

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A Snapshot of I Can’t Remember

celebrating or regrouping

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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.

Secret Passages

a-writers-life-passage

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A writer’s life is spent entering secret passages and opening doors.  If the passages are too dark or dim, I might take the time to turn around and go back to look for a light.  And if re-tracing my steps feels like it is too long ago, I might simply feel my way with my senses in the darkness.  After all, I might trip over a flashlight and kick it into life or develop human sonar or spy a flicker of light down one of the corridors or develop a seventh sense.  Anything could happen in these secret passages.  After all, I am the author.

If doors are locked tight, I may start to hunt for a  key.  Or not.  If looking for a key feels too time-consuming or futile, I might resort to one of those battering rams that you see in movies that involve crooks and the FBI.  Boom.  Open sesame.  It’s up to me.  I am the author.

[pas·sage (ˈpasij/) noun: the act or process of moving through, under, over, or past something on the way from one place to another.]

There are just so many remarkable words in this sparse definition.  Act.  Process.  Moving through, under, over, or past something.  On the way from one place to another.  Sometimes I forget  or take for granted or don’t pay attention to the ponderous weight that each word in our lexicon — any language’s lexicon — bears.  These varied words that writers place on the page bear a nuanced message that goes far beyond the symbols and morphology that transcribes experience into imagination.

Writing.  Socrates believed that writing was detrimental to the mind — that by writing something down, we have essentially dulled the mind’s ability to remember what is important.  Being a writer, I look at the written word differently.  Writing allows me to see my soul reflected back to me in a way that other experiences and relationships can’t.  It is a solitary journey perfect for the exploration of secret passages.  And my muse seems to like the secret passages the best.

 

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GreatBIGCanvas Photographic Print with black Frame, 36″ X 27″

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The Things I Thought I Wanted: a diary with a lock and key . . . and the thing about secrets

diary-1449287_960_720Oh, how I wanted a diary when I was a girl.  You know the kind . . . a beautiful girly girl’s diary with a lock and key.  And I was simply ecstatic the Christmas when I was ten years old and I received one.  Mine had a navy blue cover with gold embossing and “1 Year Diary” gold-stamped into the cover.  I simply loved it!  I can still remember the sound that the gilt-edged pages made when I opened it for the first time . . . It felt like that crinkly sound was opening its pristine, glued-together pages to the secrets I was about to share with it.

Well, that’s the thing about secrets.  No matter how much we try to preserve them or hide them from the prying eyes and inquiring minds that intersect our life, they are [sometimes] doomed to be discovered . . . paraded . . . maybe even disrespected.  We feel violated when our secrets have been made public without our permission.

It takes a lot of risk and guts to commit a secret to the page . . . a lesson that I was quick to learn at this young age.  My hopes of finding my true self via those gilt-edged pages were temporarily dashed when my big sister read my diary entries aloud — pages that detailed my first big crush [Dean W.], in front of said crush, who was my big brother’s best buddy.

maple-leaf-638022_960_720I learned a lot that day about secrets and sisters and writing and locks and keys.  I learned that just because something has a lock on it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be jimmied open.  I learned that secrets can be made un-secret when they fall into the wrong hands.  That, although it can be risky, it’s okay to be honest with my thoughts.  That what someone else chooses to do doesn’t define who I am.  That although I might feel a wee bit discouraged, I am going to keep writing.

It took some time to view things from my sister’s perspective.  I learned that people do things that they don’t really intend to be hurtful in long-lasting ways.  That what might seem funny at the time, never really was in the first place. And that sisters somehow stick together, even when they do things that aren’t very nice.

french-1040839_960_720I am happy to have survived the awkwardness, and — now all the stronger — I have maintained my love and discipline of writing.   And in the ways of true forgiveness, I have since pardoned my diary-reading, secret-disclosing sister.  We are still the best of friends.

But you know how writing is.  It liberates us, even when life sort of sucks.  Writing asks us to pay attention to the details, even when it hurts.  Little does this sister know that she is the muse for an extremely unattractive, glowering villainess who gets her payback comeuppance in one of my current short stories.

But this is the way of writing.  You can change what is now by writing it into a different room or even onto a different planet.  Does reality change?  I don’t know how to answer this.  I only know how to live it.  And write it.  And tell my sister that I love her dearly, because I do.  And keep my journal hidden when she comes to visit.

The Sunday Share: A Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday Morning

coffee. sunday morning. journal. coffee cup

It’s Sunday morning and what better way to enjoy a Sunday morning than to grab a cup of well-brewed coffee (with some raw sugar and organic half-and-half added to it) and a journal.  I just ordered this new journal (see below) that I simply love.  It is one of those super cool organizers that has dream-planning and monthly goals built into it.

I can easily answer each of the questions below with a resounding YES!
❶ Need to Transform Life With Yearly Goals ?
❷ Want to Set Motivating Monthly Goals ?
❸ Ready To Make Every Day Count ?
Boost Quality of Life by Investing In Your Future Now:

Tools4Wisdom Planner 2016 2017 Calendar July to June – 4-in-1: Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Goals Organizer (8.5 x 11 / 200 Pages / Spiral / Academic Year)


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You can click on the image (or on the hyperlink) to take a look at it.  I love sharing things like this and have already ordered another one (with a different cover) for a friend who is in the midst of re-defining her life by starting a new business.

I sometimes feel like a Goal Nerd because I so enjoy mapping out my many dreams and ideas on paper.  The great part about this book?  It lets me step away from my scribble-y white board in my office and actually organize what it is that presents as the next steps.  I truly appreciate innovative people who create organizers like this.  I have been trying to find one exactly like this for several years . . . and here it is.

I so wish you a happy Sunday and happy planning as well. I sometimes think that planning gets a bad rap from those who think that too much structure creates its own brand of chaos.  While I can agree with the thought behind this opinion, I know that I always feel an added benefit to writing down my creative ideas so that I can see them, rather than just think them.  I am ready to make every day count!

follow your dreams. they know the way. IMG_0704

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Riding Shotgun

What is one dream scenario that you have lost sight of?

quote. mission statement dog work

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Yesterday I was crossing the street, waiting for a break in traffic.  A small, beat-up truck passed me — the very kind of truck I used to drive — and I saw a man driving with his dog riding shotgun.  Remembering my one most-amazing-and-wondrous dog who rode shotgun with me in my old truck, I felt a pang of sweet memory pass through my very core.

This particular dog went everywhere with me, so it was a common sight to see the two of us toodling around the county with the windows rolled down while singing along to some tune on a cassette tape.  The dog actually had a better singing voice than I did, but she was no critic.  Happy were we who got to go everywhere together.

When I saw this man and his happy pup in that truck, a dart of awareness passed through me.  It was one of those movie-montage moments where I could view time on film.  I could see me and my furry friend driving here and there in the succession of broken-down trucks that I had the misfortune of owning.

Yesterday as I watched the truck go jouncing down the road, I realized that one of my essential criteria for living a happy life had somehow slipped through the cracks of my ever-shifting paradigms.  At one time in my life, I would not even consider a job opportunity unless my dog could accompany me throughout the work day.  I turned down jobs in Alaska, California, Canada . . ..  If I couldn’t bring my faithful sidekick, I knew that the job wasn’t the right one for me.  As chosen priorities lead to reality, I ended up opting to live in a wall tent on 572,000 acres in a wilderness area.  It was a great situation where my boss did not care in the least if my dog tagged along.

The situation had all the potentiality of being lonely, but I never thought of it that way.  I was living in the midst of all of this incredible grandeur and my dog was right there by my side.  She was my true-blue, thick-and-thin companion in the middle of all that vast quiet.  She would run ahead of me on the trail and defy any bear, cougar, coyote, or free-range horse to come anywhere near us.  My time within all of that beauty there was such a rare opportunity, I appreciated every single day that passed.

All of this was bound to change.  And it did. During my years there, this ace #1 dog-of-a-lifetime passed on to Dog Heaven and other canine companions joined me.  Ultimately, a new job opportunity came up and I couldn’t pass it up.  The only problem?  I couldn’t bring my new dog to work with me.  The schedule was pretty good and the two of us were still able to get out and roam the trails on our 3-day weekends . . . but there was a shift.  And it was bigger than me not being able to bring my dog to work.  It was me compromising on what was important to me.

Looking back, I can see that “Bringing My Dog to Work” served as a bullet point on my Higher Self’s mission statement.

The years have passed.  That job led to another dog-restricted job.  Then I returned to school, and we all know how major universities feel about dogs sitting outside classrooms waiting for their human.  Not a good idea.  The mornings were full of classroom time and the afternoons were taken up by various half-ass jobs that supported me through school.

Outdoor-dog time grew to be more limited for me and free-range hikes turned into long evening strolls through the neighborhood.  Life had changed, as had I.  It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was focused on Ahead instead of looking at Right Now.

quote. Val. IMG_0103

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All of these compromises.  With me feeling so buried by my decisions concerning education and future employment, the changes were all taking on priority status without me realizing that I was granting permission, one way or another, to something that was counter-intuitive to my internal mission statement.  I don’t rightly know how it all happened.  I don’t know when a yes became a no and a no became a yes.  Life changed when I consciously reversed the two and said it was all for a Better Future.

That’s the problem with giving in and giving up . . . you don’t realize that it has all happened until it feels like it’s too late to do anything about it anymore.  But that’s just it . . . it’s not too late.  Not at all.  All sorts of good decisions are before me.  All I have to do is choose.

Life is a lively event.  So many baby steps lead to where we are today.  Today, I want to honor my preferences.  Back up a little bit and review my Mission Statement.  Do a little editing maybe and re-commit to what is still important.  Invite my dream to ride shotgun with me again, roll down the windows, and belt out a tune.

How about you?

  • What’s riding shotgun on your Mission Statement? On your personal manifesto?
  • What’s one dream scenario that you have lost sight of?
  • Is it still alive inside you?
  • Are you ready to take some baby steps to renew it in your life?

We sometimes feel so bogged down by the progression of changes that have taken place in life that it can feel like it is impossible to reinstate one of our long-ago dreams.

Today might be the day that you sit down and ask what is important to you.

  • Commit it all to paper.
  • Keep the items approachable by using simple language. Dreams, written in your own language, will mean more to you than if they are crafted using lofty words and expressions.
  • Put your manifesto where you can see it easily and daily. Maybe it is your bathroom mirror or it is the wall by your desk or on a kitchen cupboard.  The important thing is that you make it visible.
  • Read your manifesto aloud. It might feel weird the first few times you do this, but it is as important that you hear the words as it is seeing the words.
  • When making decisions, think about what is important to you. Let your Higher Self guide you.
  • Dreams are meant to be followed.  Follow them.  They know the way.

 

 

 

 

Author bio: Kennedy Farr’s passion for writing caught light at the age of four when she first learned how to spell her name at a yellow kitchen table on a sheet of lined tablet paper.  Kennedy is a daily writer and blogger, a lifelong learner, and a true believer that something wonderful is happening right now in this very moment.  Kennedy lives high on the mountainside of an emerald-green island in the Pacific Northwest.

Website: https://theunseenwordsproject.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theunseenwords

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Unseen-Words-Project-1095815913825818/ 

 

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.  

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