Life, Love, & Happiness . . . all is a Chancey Poker Hand

deck of cardsI knew an old timer who thought of life as a poker game.  His theory was that we are dealt only so many cards in life . . . that we have to discard the old for the new if we hope to improve the hand that we are currently holding.  He believed that life was all just a gambling game of chance, predicated on our willingness to release something for something else.  In other words: if you don’t like the cards you are holding, you might just as well go ahead and discard.  The new cards that are dealt back to you might make for a better hand.  And if that isn’t the case?  Well, you discard again until you like the hand you are holding.  I should probably add that this older fellow led a very uncomplicated life.

Whether you look at life as Poker, Bridge, Backgammon, or Go Fish . . . there is some truth to what this old guy had to say.  And before I break out in my karaoke version of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,”  I just want to say that there is certainly an element of chance in every single moment of my life.  Like a deck of cards sitting before me on the poker table, I can actually feel the opportunities that are stacked up in front of me, beckoning and simply asking me to release my tight grip on my current reality and be brave enough to discard.

Paul_Cézanne,_1892-95,_Les_joueurs_de_carte_(The_Card_Players),_60_x_73_cm,_oil_on_canvas,_Courtauld_Institute_of_Art,_LondonThat’s the best part of taking a chance.  Any chance.  There is that little thrill that courses through our humanness right in that very second before we know that we have been dealt a bad hand or a good hand.  Research has shown that this “thrill” is actually what compulsive gamblers are addicted to.  It isn’t Winning that they are hooked on, otherwise they would walk away from the table when they have a nice high stack of chips sitting in front of them . . . it’s actually that feeling of not knowing whether they have won or lost that brings them back to the table.

I guess I have to give it to Kenny Rogers . . . or to whomever wrote the lyrics to that song about knowing when to hold them or when to fold them.   It is true.  You do have to know when to walk away.  Know when to run.  There is that expression that nature abhors a vacuum.  Experience tells us that this is true: when we create a hole or a gap in our lives, it is likely to fill up with something or someone else — perhaps with alarming similarities, but different nonetheless.

There are those pivotal times in life when we concede to discarding.  And receiving. When we [finally!] acknowledge that it’s okay to take a chance.  And if there are rules that define winning the game, it’s probably time to have a chat with Mr. Hoyle about writing in some exceptions.

All that life really requires of us is that we go forth and live it.  There is not a lot of thinking or haggling involved with it.  Or is there?   [Shifting back into OverThink drive now . . .]  But it sometimes seems that if  you overthink or strategize life, you are doomed to passivity.  Passivity, like counting cards, has its place but it has no depth, no growth, no change, no underbelly.  It just exists with predictable outcomes.

Jokers and trump cards.  The King of Hearts and the Queen of Spades.  Existence and living.  Risk and chance.  I don’t know exactly how this all spells out into my strategy for poker playing — not being very artful at this game — but I am thinking it’s time to look at what I have chosen to hold and maybe do a little discard here or there.  Change is bound to be good because, if we believe Kenny, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.  [My apologies if this song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day! :)]

 

 

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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.  

The Perfect Vacation & Passwords

can't remember passwords. mapThis, I must say, is a GREAT feeling: returning to work from vacation and not being able to remember my password.  When this happens, I know that I truly got away from my day-to-day stuff.

Vacation.  You’re able to get away from work and you have the opportunity to renew, recharge, and re-invigorate your senses, your inner calm, and your ideals.  You’re able to ignore the chorus of shoulds and woulds and coulds that dog your work days and you relax into moments of Just Now.

Vacation is over and you come back to work, sit down in front of your computer  and . . . you can’t remember your password.  And it feels good — even though you have a mild concern about what is happening to your mind.  Those letters and digits that you have typed in day after day while on auto-pilot have simply vanished from your memory.  You get the feeling that you went a lot farther on your tirp than you actually did.

Has this happened to you?

Life is just so pleasantly full when you have been allowed to let your mind and heart go to that place that doesn’t require dashing off to work, grocery shopping on the way home, cooking a quick meal, and then catching up on chores around the house so you aren’t completely inundated once you get a day off.

It strikes me that I want to create more  Vacation Moments in my day to day.  Be more mindful about “making time” to do fun stuff that reminds me that my life is good and that there is time to do fun stuff.  [I realize that this is not an extremely ingenious notion!]  With all of the reminders to create a heightened awareness of being more mindful, I think we all understand the need for more relaxation . . . more time to just be and less time to just do.

My vacation time travels in cycles.  There have been the Glory Days of having lots of trips and there have been times when any travel has been non-existent.  These days, my travel time is at an all time low.  My solution?  I grab mini-vacation time whenever I can get it, and I thoroughly enjoy the experience.  I don’t have to be on a tropical beach for two weeks to go into my Happy Place (even though that sounds like a LOT of fun!).

And as for passwords, this last December when I returned home from a trip, I did indeed forget the password for opening the computer at work.  Maybe this is not the best litmus test of a great vacation, but it does make me feel blessed that I was able to get outside of my head and inside of my soul.

Try Something New: Leave a Little Note

I was thinking today that I haven’t made a concerted effort to Try Something New for a while.  Being a firm believer in the good consequences of this practice, I thought I would go for sweet and simple today.  While running errands throughout the day — everywhere I went, I left a little note of encouragement for someone to find.

I didn’t spend a lot of time coming up with an elegant message.  I just scribbled an acknowledgement that the finder was doing a good job . . . that he or she was an important part of the grand scheme . . . that we all appreciate his or her smile . . . that life is good because he or she was in it . . . this sort of thing.

It might seem simple and I cannot even begin to imagine who found the little notes, but I do hope that whoever found them felt appreciated.  That they felt as if their life is testimony to contributing and doing significant things.  That they are visible to me, even though I can’t physically see them.  That they feel the genuine sentiment behind the words of a stranger.

Life is a lively event and, some days, I really have to scoot to keep up with the flow of things — but these little notes took but moments to write.  How about you?  Do you want to join me in leaving an anonymous note or two?  I am going to be in town again tomorrow, and it is my goal to leave at least three little notes.

little note on table

As I was leaving Dr. K’s office today, I picked up a business card that was on the counter.  The lovely person behind the counter said, “You should read what’s on the back.  I love what it says.”  I flipped the card over and this is what I read:

expect miracles

After a day of leaving notes, I felt as if this was such a sweet and pleasant thing to read.

My final note of the day for you, Gentle Reader:

Expect Miracles!  

Life + Movement = Balance

bicycle einsteinCan you remember that first time you were actually pedaling, steering, and balancing a bicycle all by yourself?

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein has had so many wonderful and uplifting quotes attributed to him.  Not only was the man a genius, but he was also very wise.

Life is like riding a bicycle.  If you are riding a bicycle and you stop moving, there’s a good chance that your balance will go all cattywampus and you will fall down. Boom and Ouch.

When it comes to bicycling and balancing, your options are somewhat limited: keep moving, stop moving and fall on the ground, or get off the bicycle completely and start walking.  And when it comes to life, we intuit and believe and know that out life options are not somewhat limited.  In fact, some of us believe that our options are infinite.  But are they?  I’m just wondering aloud here . . . what do you think?   I think that Einstein’s brilliance might be the answer here: Our options stay alive when we stay in balance our Higher Self with the pavement beneath us.

I like the spirit of Einstein’s quote and how he has reduced this simile to its simplest terms: ride or fall.  Keep going or get stuck.  And I do believe that some life changes have necessitated the need to trade in an old ride for a new one.

There are times in my life that I look back on and now can see that parking the bicycle was the best thing I could have done.  After living in a state of stagnancy, falling to the ground numerous times, and feeling the Ouch Factor, I finally came to my senses and parked the bicycle and walked away.  Heck, I didn’t even bother locking it up to a bike stand or a nearby tree because I knew that I was never going to give that bicycle another go.  Let someone else have it!  Some events in life are Good Riddance worthy.  At times like this, it is always good to select a new (and healthy!) set of wheels and ride like the wind off into a new paradigm.

Life, like a bicycle, is the vehicle we are riding.  Our infinite options in life are actually the directions in which we point our front tire.  The secret is to keep riding toward what we know are true directions to our Higher Self.  I have felt my spirit’s unsettling, intuitive nudge when I know that I have been pedaling in the wrong direction, and I have certainly experienced that feeling of What the heck have I done? right before crashing and falling.  Again.  My takeaway?  Patch up any scrapes and get back on the bicycle and find a balance point and keep moving forward.

Can you remember that first time you were actually pedaling a bicycle all by yourself?  It felt so liberating and exhilarating.   There was that split second when you felt your big brother’s hand leave the back of your bike seat and you felt your sense of balance kick into gear.  I so vividly remember this.  I went shooting down the driveway (and thank God that no car was coming up the street!), banked to the left and rode down the street to the cornfield that bordered the cemetery.  (Yes, I grew up in a very weird Midwest town!)

It was that split-second feeling that has stuck with me.  The second when I knew that I was balancing all on my own.  No sibling to steer for me or to keep us upright on two wheels when I was bumming a tandem ride on a back fender.  Just me, my hand-me-down sky-blue Schwinn, and the open road.  I rode all afternoon in the relative safety of the cemetery — the roads there being so peaceful.  I found My Balance while I practiced right turns and left turns.  Stopping and getting started again.  I arrived home feeling triumphant.  Liberated, actually.  I had discovered my independence.  My Movement.

Yup.  Einstein had it right.  Movement and Balance are key.  And let’s not forget Risk with a capital R.  It takes a lot of guts some days to take a deep breath and sail down the driveway, not knowing if you are going to keep riding or if you are going to crash to the pavement.  I believe that we all crave that feeling of Triumphant Balance in our days.  That feeling deep inside that tells us we are doing life justice with the right amount of movement and balance.

Today?  I am going to get back up on my Bicycle and ride like the wind.  There is no cemetery down the road from where I now live, but I am going to head there in my mind.  Back to that ultra-satisfying feeling of Balance and Movement.