Making Change

IMG_0703

Making change.  Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in You Learn by Living: “Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart.  Don’t be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren’t paying any attention to you.  It’s your attention to yourself that is so stultifying.  But you have to disregard yourself as completely as possible.  If you fail the first time then you’ll just have to try harder the second time.  After all, there’s no real reason why you should fail.  Just stop thinking about yourself.”  In other words, Just Do It.

A few things that keep me focused while flowing with change:

  1. As Eleanor says: Just stop thinking about yourself.
  2. Let your history of reward and success encourage you. Remember a time when you tried something new or different or risky . . . and it really felt great while in the process or it, ultimately, led to a really fun outcome.
  3. Surround yourself with quotes that inspire you to be bold.  Words are powerful.
  4. Tape up index cards with the definitions of words like courage, brave, risk, happiness, wealth.  It is always good to see such large, sometimes seemingly unattainable, words defined into smaller, simpler parts.
  5. Write about the journey.  It secures what you are experiencing to your heart and emboldens you.
  6. Be happy. Tell your family and friends how happy you are while you are flowing with change.
  7. Don’t think outside the box. There is no box.  Let yourself slip into flow mode.
  8. Seek the company of generous people who are happy that you are happy. Stay away from naysayers who don’t share your happiness or who feel threatened by your vision.
  9. When in doubt and you feel you are at a crossroads, flip a coin. By the time the coin lands you will know what you want.  This works.  If you still feel uncertain after seeing that head or tail or if you find yourself flipping the coin again for 2 out of 3, you will know what your preference is.  Go with it and trust yourself.
  10. Extend love to others. It is always returned and it will guide you as you make change.
  11. Dissolve fear. Give it the gamma rays and zap it.  Let it go.  Silence it.  Replace fear with trust.
  12. Pay attention.  Always pay attention.
  13. Think affirmation rather than negation.
  14. Believe in CAN.

Eleanor also wrote: “Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try.  For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.’”

It can be done.  And it will be done if you allow yourself the freedom of choice to make change.  Follow the change.  Enjoy the change.  Be the change.

Nothing that I have written here is new.  It has been spoken, written, repeated, and recorded throughout the ages.  It has been sermonized and it has been put into song.  Repetition of platitudes is not the best teacher.  Experience is.  Embracing life is.  Taking the first step is.

But I somehow seem to need the reminders.  And it is empowering to foresee possibility and then feel the zing that coincides believing and knowing deep deep inside.  But it involves taking a ride, sometimes on the wild and brave side, to get to the good stuff.  Achieving is fantastic, but taking the ride is the true experience.  Taking the ride is the change.

 

 

 

How big is your Brave?

How big is your Brave?  

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  She also said, “Do at least one thing every day that scares you.”  Eleanor Roosevelt was not one to ignore our human need to be brave.  Bravery.  It calls to us and it asks us to listen.  And to act.  To do that which intimidates us yet still draws our attention, rallies our inner forces, and knits our talents together.  To simply be who we are and to not worry about what others may say or think.  As my wise, wise sissy tells me, “What another person thinks is none of your business.” Truth, Sis.  This is one of the many reasons I appreciate you.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  Do the thing you think you cannot do.”  I strongly suspect that Eleanor was one heck of an advocate.  I surely would want her on my team.

This song (video below) by Sara Bareilles is inspiring to me.  And it is so sweet, too! Firstly, I very much like the concept/quality/action/trait (I don’t know what to call it) of Bravery.  When I act in Bravery, I am stretched in ways that preclude my ego and encourage me to stand up and take a stand.  For others.  For me.  And for those who don’t have a voice.  When I am Brave, I give myself permission to say or do something that might lead to judgment or reprisal . . . but I say or do it anyway because my moral compass is in the driver’s seat.  Being more of an introvert, afterward, I am always a little surprised and shook up that I took a stand without even really thinking about.  It just felt like the right thing to do.

I also like that the video below chose dancing on a public street to symbolize Brave Expression.  Have you ever danced in public when others are looking at you and saying, “Huh?”  Or have you ever been the first one out on the dance floor?  Or do you dance for the security cameras just because they are there?

See, that’s the thing.  Dancing is one of those forms of personal expression that can be intimidating to a lot of people.  I think this is true because dancing taps into a part of our inner soul and allows it a splashy escape to the outside world.  Very few people think that they, themselves, are amazing dancers.  Am I a fantastic dancer?  No, not really.  Do I love dancing?  Yes!  This is why I don’t want to wait for permission and squander some awesome dance music while waiting for someone else to break the ice and get the party started on the dance floor.  I guess I feel that there is a shortage of live-band, dance-worthy music in my life. . . so, as a rule, I’m not going to miss a single second.  It is so fun to dance!

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for your free journal download.  It is written with the idea of inspiring Brave in your life.  An action of being Brave provides one of life’s rewards that leaves a shadow of inspiration behind.  It doesn’t feel like it stays for very long, but I think that it does.  I believe that being Brave grows us from a deep part within.

Your Amazing Aqua-Blue Journal Prompt:

Your Brave. 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.]

Sara Bareilles – Brave

Fearless or Irresponsible? Living In the Overlap.

For whatever reason, I was thinking today about a time in my life when I was acting quite irresponsibly.  At least that is how it must have appeared from an outsider’s perspective.  To me, and with a goodly measure of hindsight, what felt to be intrepid was probably pretty rash.  And maybe even a little naive and dumb.

I was also thinking today about times in my life when I was acting quite fearlessly and how life was just one long ride of incredible excitement.  Every day was new and different and challenges abounded as a result of this fearlessness.  I was riding a big wave and somehow managing to stay on the board.  I look back and think, Huh.  How did that even work?  

Fearless?  Irresponsible?  Is there even a line between the two?  Maybe life is one big Venn diagram . . . a symbol of where we place our confidence in life, in love, in ourselves.  I don’t know.  In that we are never completely aware of the full consequences of our actions, it is unclear as to how willy-nilly my behavior truly was.  And continues to be.  Still, it seems to be true that all kinds of crazy and dumb can lead to positive outcomes.  It sometimes comes down to the question of What we are willing to do for the pursuit of love and happiness?  What kind of risk are we willing to take?

Click on the link below and print out this journaling exercise.  Do some free associating with the diagram.  I’m not suggesting any empirical outcome.  I am simply asking you to consider that what you might carry as a regret might not have been as dumb and irresponsible as you think it was or is.

Life happens.  Consider the alternative.  I’d rather be living in the Overlap or even the Outer Fringes . . . knowing that I am willing to take the risk to try.  Just try.

Fearless or Irresponsible. Living in the Overlap.

[Three-hole punch this exercise and put it in your special journaling binder.  It is so rewarding to look back over writing that is honest and that encourages you to grow.  My journaling friends all say that they are glad they have saved their writing in one binder or notebook.  They also say that they are happy that they dated their writing and recorded their location.  You might be in the park, at your desk, or on a ferry.  You might be on an exotic vacattoaster ovenion or you might be waiting for your laundry to finish drying at the laundromat.  No matter where you are when you are recording your thoughts and feelings, when re-reading your entries at a later date . . . your spatial memory will trigger the Feelings of Epiphany you felt when you were discovering your Voice and your Truth.  Happy writing!]

 

“When seeking guidance” . . . run with the goats.

“When seeking guidance, don’t ever listen to the tiny-hearted. Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

When Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote the book Women Who Run with the Wolves, I remember what a smash hit it was with women.  And maybe men, too.  My fourth sister sent it to me so we could celebrate our womanhood.  At the time, it seemed that I was so busy being a very busy person — I barely had time to glance at it long enough to re-discover or to create another woman within.  Women wanted to break free from something and move toward something else.  Why not run with the wolves? women asked themselves.  Good question.

“The tiny-hearted” . . . who are they?  One of my good friends once told me that the person whom I was dating at that time had a “baby soul.”  I am thinking that this might be akin to “the tiny-hearted.”  It definitely set a different perspective into motion in the ways of someone else stating the obvious from an outsider’s viewpoint.  I started to recognize the outtakes of spending time with this particular Tiny-Hearted as not being so great.  I wasn’t exactly looking for evidence, but the manifestations of tiny-hearted living were all around and right there before me.

I googled “tiny hearted” and found a synonym for it: cowardice.  At this particular time in my past, it took me a while to realize that I was the one who was ultimately being tiny-hearted.  I was the coward for not grabbing a canteen and taking off to run with the wolf pack.  All of that time . . . I thought it was the other person who was making me unhappy.

It is true that I felt this way.  I was a victim of my own “if-only . . .”.  It took me a while to galvanize my heart and to screw my courage to the sticking post, but I eventually divested my life of this tiny-hearted baby soul who had taken up residence within.  It took some time and a lot of back sliding.  Ultimately, like a pro racecar driver, I took down the rearview mirror and motored away.  For good.  Whew.  Now where was that finish line?

I regained my soul when I threw that rearview mirror out the window into the ditch as I sped down that dirt road into a new future.  I imagine some magpie or jackdaw soaring above the ditch on a sunny day and catching a glimpse of shiny in the grasses.  It circling down and looking at itself in the mirror.

But maybe my memories of this time in my life are wrong.  Maybe I was much stronger than I remember.  A memory has a way of shift changing, and it can only perform in retrograde.  It has no means of being remotely real but in the very making of it — in the present moment.  And even then, it isn’t itself.  It must be coded and shelved for easy access first.  And it isn’t activated until someone cares enough to call it to the forefront of a future present moment.

This is why my takeaway memory of reading Estés’ book is not quite clear.  I truly don’t remember reading it clear through.  Perhaps I spot-read it.  I do remember that the writing was insightful and intuitive.  And encouraging.  The book dared women to dare.  To do and to be.  To discover Essence.  Estés was a pioneer.  And I am thinking most likely still is.

Thinking about this now, I am reminded of several of my favorite quotes of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

and my absolute favorite . . .

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

My life has changed.  I have changed.  I am the same but different now.  While running with the wolves, I believed that good things would come my way.  And they have.  toaster oven

The wolf pack has nurtured me and served me well through the harrowing times I have chosen to spend with the Tiny Hearted.  I thank Estés for her clarity and her wisdom.  For pushing me into the wolf pack when I felt most isolated.

goats-largeNow?  I have shifted into a new paradigm, and I would rather Run with the Goats.  Goats are noisy, joyful, and erratic.  They bleat and shout and yell as they run willy-nilly in a general direction.  They look like they are always having a great time.  They are opportunists and jump on anything that is taller than them.  They are not afraid of falling.  They balance precariously on the least likely of perches.  They scuffle for top-goat position.  They do not fear knocking another goat off of the apex in order to have their minute moment of Hallelujah!  I made it! — all before being donked off by another fun-loving goat.  There is just something so ludicrously haphazard about goats.

These videos are awesome.  I hope you take the time to view them.  They continue to put a smile on my face each time I watch them.  The wolves?  They are amazing.  The goats?  They are foolhardy and look the moment in the eye.  They do not heed the making of a memory because they are too busy having fun.

Okay!  No more goat videos!  But you get the idea of Goat Spirit by watching these.

topographic-mapToday?  I am going to listen to Eleanor.  Believe in the beauty of my dreams.  Do something that scares me.  I am going to jump on top of something really challenging and do a skittering balancing act.  And when I topple off, I am going to jump back on.  There is so much to be celebrated in the trying, in the shouting, in the dancing.  In the tossing of the rearview mirror.  In Running with the Goats.

 

When does life begin?

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I wonder what experiences led Eleanor Roosevelt to write or express such wisdom.  Today, they are words on the page that inspire . . . but I would suspect that there were some sleepless nights that provided the wisdom and the conviction to be brave, take risks, and look fear in the face.

I have not read any biographies about Eleanor Roosevelt and I would suspect that Eleanor experienced her share of uncertainty and doubt.  Looking “fear in the face”?  You can’t make this stuff up from fiction-based imaginings.  It would be like writing a story about miracles without having experienced one.  You just can’t make it up.  It is necessary to have lived it.

I take her one quote to heart: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  I don’t like feeling fear.  Fear is one of those queasy feelings that goes to my stomach and rests there like an ugly orc — ready to smite me down to smithereens if I steal a glance at it.  Fear is unpleasant, unpredictable, and unlovely.  It does not bring out the most attractive parts of me.  It gives me cause to doubt in my belief that something wonderful is about to happen.  It messes with my chi.  It gives me bad advice.  And it does not inspire me to lead by example.  Fear overpowers any other emotions.  It disallows my willingness to take a chance.  To do something risky.  It is a detour from bravery.  It is the absence of love.  And without love, what is life?

I have another Eleanor Roosevelt quote on my desk: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift.”  A gift.  Which leads me back to the reminder to do one thing every day that scares me.  This is all so much easier to write about in the wee hours of the night in my cozy house than to actually do.  Some days this gesture is a little thing.  Other days it is huge.  I have never regretted one single thing I have done while keeping Eleanor’s words in my heart.  I always feel better when I have chosen to beard the lion in its den.  If I succeed, my friends are there to celebrate with me.  If I fail, my loved ones are there to help me re-hash it with some degree of humor.  What is failure without a little light of humor shone on it?

People who are nearing the end of their lives have said that they didn’t regret the things they did.  Rather they regretted the things they did not do.  The same message with fancier language was written by Sydney J. Harris: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

life begins quoteWhen does life begin?  “At the end of your comfort zone”?  Today is a celebration of looking fear in the face and going for it.  Pushing past your comfort zone.  If you are feeling a lack of confidence, remember: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  We are as free as we choose to be in the face of fear.  By disallowing fear, we invite love to enter.  And what an amazing thing this is.

When I think on these things, I feel a strange Muse entering my office.  Like a sobering calm has entered the room, and I long for spontaneity and laughter to overtake the moment.  But these moments have value in that they embolden me with the rootstock courage to be spontaneous, to take risks, to take the chance of making a mistake, “to do that which [I] think [I] cannot.”  I want to be wildly unhindered by a lack of regret.  I have been accused of being foolhardy and goofy.  Ditzy and capricious.  Irresponsible and risky.  Maybe these adjectives are the encouragement that I need to tell me that I am on the right track, and I don’t even know it.

Today . . . I am going to do something that scares me.  I am familiar with my fears . . . one of them being the fear of failure.  The fear that I won’t have enough time in my life to do all that I hope to do.  The fear of not having tried to accomplish that one dream within.  The fear of feeling regret at the end of my life.  Do I live this way?  I try not to . . . still, these little nagging doubts linger on occasion.  Eleanor believes that we “gain strength, and courage, and confidence” by trying to do something that we cannot do.  It is time to shake things up, go forth, and do something a little scary.   toaster oven