Tend your Believe.

germinate hope.

theunseenwordsproject.com

How to germinate hope:

  1. Select your seeds.
  2. Prepare your soil.  Make it rich.
  3. Learn about the ideal growing conditions for your seeds.
  4. Create this ideal environment. 
  5. Plant your seeds.
  6. Water your seeds regularly.
  7. Keep your seeds warm to aid in germination.
  8. Move your seeds to natural light once they have sprouted.
  9. Maintain and watch your sprouted plants.
  10. Harden off your growing plants and get them used to fluctuating conditions.
  11. Transplant your seedlings outdoors.
  12. Enjoy the growing process.
  13. Tend your Believe.  Believe in yourself.

Here are some inspiring videos for you . . . from sunflowers dancing to jazz . . . to monarch butterflies making their entry into the world . . . to inspiring words that dare us to be great . . . take some time today to be inspired and then start planting.

This is so cool.  Sunflowers feeling the beat . . .

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The Meaning in the Count: Making Life a Noncount Noun

IMG_3357Numbers.

When I really stop to think, my Conscious Day is spent counting.  It starts out with counting and it ends with counting.  Minutes left on my snooze alarm.  Pounds on the bathroom scale.  Dollars in my checking account.  Minutes before I have to leave for work.  Pages completed on my writing project.  Calories.  Fat grams.  Minutes.  Hours.  Shots of coffee.  Pieces of toast.  Am I the only one who is consumed with and by counting?

Counting and measuring and weighing.  Reality dictates that I take care of my health and that I maintain a healthy weight.  That I pay my bills on time.  That I be punctual at work. That I move my dream project forward.  That I hold myself to some level of accountability concerning my food choices.  That I caffeine-ate fully and properly each morning.  That I try to stay under the speed limit when I am running late for work.  That I care about things in life that involve the measuring and weighing by number.

I know me.  Without counting, life would be a free-for-all that does not allow for any accountability to myself or to others.  While I think on this, I search for the value, the meaning in the count.  We have all wrestled with the concept of weighing quality over quantity.  But even here . . . we are still measuring and weighing the benefits.  We are taught to think that quality is more important than quantity.  But still.  Like the little girl that would rather have five pennies over one nickel, there are areas in my life where I tend to shoot for quantity.

Quantity in my hand.  Quality of the moment.  Where is the Real Value in the midst of the day and its ticking clock?  Daily, I put my day on pause for five minutes of meditation.  Are these five minutes worth more than five minutes spent watching silly videos on youtube? Research tells me that, yes, meditation is so good for us on so many levels.  And I will continue to take those five to reset my inner self.  But why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we aren’t doing that which is “good for us”?  Yes, I know that I can lose that final ten pounds, but is it worth beating myself up each time I get on the scale?  Am I really going to care, one way or the other, once I hit that Maui beach in December?  After all, it’s difficult to be hard on yourself when you are living in paradise.

But being a linguist, I very much like the semantics that extend beyond grammatical agreements.  For example, we English speakers agree to add the letter -s to most nouns to make them plural.  Lest we get into the exceptions such as person/people, tooth/teeth, mouse/mice, and ox/oxen, we can agree that adding the letter -s to a noun will signify that we dealing with the Concept of More Than One.

And then there are those tricky count and noncount nouns and their plural forms or lack therein.  According to the Purdue OWL, The Basic Rules for count and noncount nouns are as follows:

A count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an “s.” For example, “cat—cats,” “season—seasons,” “student—students.” A noncount noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example, “milk,” “water,” “air,” “money,” “food.” Usually, you can’t say, ‘He had many moneys’ . . . 

Count nouns refer to things that exist as separate and distinct individual units. They usually refer to what can be perceived by the senses.  Noncount nouns refer to things that can’t be counted because they are thought of as wholes that can’t be cut into parts. They often refer to abstractions and occasionally have a collective meaning. 

best when freshThere is simply so much cool stuff going on there.  Quantity vs. quality.  Count vs. noncount.   We think of a life — a count noun — and we count the number of lives on the planet.  But when we think of our our own life?    We think “in terms of wholes that can’t be cut up into pieces.”  It’s one whole life.   It’s my life!  And like grass, rice, and money . . . we don’t actually cut our own life up into pieces . . . even when we think in terms of annual events such as birthdays and anniversaries.  It’s all one big whole that we truly prefer not to relegate to the Noun Category of Count.  We want to make it count in the ways that are important . . . not in some grammatical or statistical way.

There is counting . . . and then there is making life count.  As I go through the days and I count and I measure the pluralizations that I prioritize . . . I wonder.  I wonder about the importance of quotas at work and pounds on the scale and hits on my website.  I wonder about making my life count.  So much to wonder about.  Thank God that wonder is a verb in this context.  Otherwise, I would be inclined to start counting the many wonders in the world around me.

IMG_2800My advice to self:  Just live and give it your best in the moment.  You’ve got this.  While I appreciate the concepts of mindfulness and how important it is to be aware and to be positive, there is more.  There is life as a noncount noun.  It’s okay to count the little things as long as I remember the bigger picture.  And sometimes it is so hard to keep sight of this enormous, huge, ginormous Universe of which I am but a tiny speck.

I think I answered my own Life Question About Counting.  Stop counting.  And when I do count — which I will surely continue to do — I will try to do so with wild abandon and appreciation for the abundance within life’s “separate and distinct individual units.”

Try Something New: What’s Stopping You?

IMG_3357Is there something that you have been wanting to learn?  To do?  To try just once to see what it would feel like?

Is the Fear of Failure holding you back? Does it feel like a lack of resources is underwhelming your life?  Is there someone in your life who is telling you that you procrastinate and you never finish anything?  Is there a voice in your head that always gives you bad advice?  Don’t start.  You have so much to do around the house.  You have to get up early in the morning. You haven’t done laundry for a week.  The garage is a disaster.

Do you feel like you simply do not have enough time to even think about starting something new?

You make the choice.

Well, there’s bad news and good news.  The bad news:  You don’t have enough time.  The good news: You do have enough time.  You choose which news you want your inner soul to hear.  You choose.

I kept delivering the bad news to my heart, my mind, my hands, my spirit, while forestalling the good news for an unspecific time in the mythical future when “I had more time.”  I was living in a steady hum of constancy that was focusing on everything that wasn’t quite right with my life: playing an elaborate shell game with finances, juggling too many jobs with school and homework, barely keeping up with household chores, and feeling like my life had all the fun sucked out of it by some cosmic vacuum cleaner.  All of this MindSpeak was proving to be so exhausting to my Inner Spirit that I simply stopped trying to inject newness or creativity into my day.

It felt like I was buried by life’s stuff.

I wasn’t merely stuck.  I was buried.  I would find myself paying bills online while listening to a class-assigned podcast while brushing the dog while folding the laundry while feeding the cat.  I was all over the place.  All of this multi-tasking madness. . . until I thought to add a new personal challenge to the day’s mayhem: Try something new every single day.

In the beginning . . .

In the beginning, this challenge verified the bad news –> it was something that felt like an added extra that felt to be overwhelmingly huge and impossible.  My MindSpeak went into hyper-mode: When am I going to have the time to try something new every single day?!  My days already feel like pasta in a pot of water — on constant boil and threatening to spill over onto the clean stove top at any given second.

The Wooden Spoon Trick

IMG_3360But I was so craving Different in my life.  Better.  More centered and mindful.  I remembered reading that if you lay a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling  pasta that it won’t over-boil.  The pasta can boil merrily away with no more messy stove to clean up.  So simple and easy . . . and it works!  This Wooden Spoon trick reminded me that life need not be so overly complicated.  Just try . . . and do . . . and lay the spoon across the pot. And try again.  It is absolutely possible to turn a moment of my day into a gesture of mindfulness.  I can make it happen.  I will make it happen.  I scrawled across the top of the wall-mounted white board in my office with my blue marker: You’ve got this!  Try Something New!  Today!  I mean it!

It has proven to be a bit of an experiment to see how it works.

I originally intended on focusing on one single something new to try for the 30 days — in an effort to create a positive new habit.  My thought: develop some consistency and build some sense of discipline by adding only one thing for an extended period of time.  Like one of those scary-clown jack-in-the-boxes, all sorts of ideas came popping up out of my mind’s Procrastination Department.  Play piano every single day.  Save on gas and ride my scooter to work every single day.  Eat a healthy breakfast every single day.  Work out every single day.  Sort through one box in the garage and get rid of stuff.  Do one or all of these things every single day for 30 days.

What did these things have in common?

But I found that these ideas weren’t working — and they weren’t very inspiring either. And besides, everything that I was thinking of involved fulfilling some obligatory should: be healthier, practice music, save the environment, clean the garage.  All of which are very lovely ideas, but still . . . This challenge was supposed to be fun and invigorating.

As I was casting about for the best way to implement my challenge, I discovered that was working was trying something different, unique, and unexpected every single day.  Examples?  I started piano lessons — and have been pretty disciplined regarding playing everyday.  I went dancing at a casino — great stories as a result of this adventure.  I broke out the new orange-and-white kitchen towels that had been preserved in their pristine state in my kitchen drawer — now brightening my kitchen and thoroughly broken in with the hues of red wine, carrot juice, and tomato sauce.  I introduced myself to a stranger — and we have since become acquaintances.

IMG_3317You get the idea.  I called an old friend just to say hi.  I bought Swiss chard at the vegetable stand.  I wrote a long overdue letter.  I told someone about my current writing project.  I had dinner at a restaurant that I had been wanting to check out.  I took photographs of garbage.  I added kale to my morning smoothie.  I had fun with some color and painted on canvas.  And another new thing for me? I set aside judgment of “what is good” when I was done painting.  I simply valued the experience and the time spent swirling color around.

IMG_3355I started reading my horoscope.  I subscribed to a new-word-of-the-day website.  I started blogging.  I bought three tiny wooden tops, which are proving to create a really relaxing “stop point” during work and study time at my desk.  I spin the tops and, while they are spinning, I do absolutely nothing.  I learned that an absence of activity can feel pretty good.

My Try Something New Challenge has proven to be that magical wooden spoon on the pasta pot.  I not only have enough time to Try Something New, I have plenty of time.  Life’s harried pace has reduced its boil a bit.  Not completely, but a bit, nonetheless.  Nothing is boiling over and making a spilly mess that I have to clean up.

It feels like I have effected change.  Like the motion of the little tops, the vibrational ripples have been spreading.  There have been some really fun and surprising and happy results from being willing to shake things up.   I don’t understand the way that time has expanded, but it has.  What I learned about this personal challenge: The hard part was starting.  The easy part is enjoying the expansive feelings of reward and appreciation.

You’ve got this!

Vision Board 058Would you like to share in this challenge with me?  Is there something new that you have been really wanting to do?

Please, leave a reply and post your One New Thing and share how it is enriching your life.  We all would love to hear about it!

Life is a lively event.  

Try something new, spin some tops, & effect the ripples of happifying change.

What’s stopping you?

Your Personality . . . & the Glory of the Choice

Vision Board 058Your personality . . . what is it exactly?  Aside from the usual adjectives of fun or moody or sunny or temperamental or intense or Type A or laid back or . . . what exactly? What does it really mean to be assigned a personality type?

We’ve all pondered the big debate of Nature vs. Nurture . . . how the spark of life is blessed/cursed/or combination-therein by congenital behavior . . . or wait!  Is it actually shaped by environmental and emotional factors?  And then these is all of the vice-versa stuff that leads one to accept and embrace both and then not think much about it.

Fascinating research points to many interesting findings that help us to understand Who We Really Are, our emotional and social intelligence, and our perception of positive and negative influences.  Nature or Nurture?  It is an enormous question that no one can really answer with total authority.  Take the story of the two children — identical twins, actually — standing on the ocean shore.  They are enjoying themselves while the salt water is gently lapping at their toes.  Suddenly, a rogue wave washes over the top of them.  The same wave, the same temperature of water, the same element of surprise.  One of the twins starts to cry and scream and run from the water. The other twin splashes back at the wave while laughing.   While this story would neither withstand nor support the rigors of a research study focused on Nature vs. Nurture, I like it nonetheless.  It gives me pause: Why not laugh?  It’s a heck of a lot more fun than crying and screaming.

And in the midst of all of this wondering and debating and agreeing, I do believe that there is much to be said for the concept of timshelthe Hebrew word for thou mayest.

When I think on topics of this sort, my mind wanders back to a Time of Great Impressionability in my life, and I was reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  What a book!  Well, “the story bit deeply into me,” and Lee’s treatise on timshel has stayed with me all of these curious years later — a testimony to the notion that life is one great impressionable moment after another.

It is my hope that sharing this gem of Steinbeck’s brilliance and wisdom will not act as any sort of spoiler.  The book is brilliant and one worth reading.  Like life, Steinbeck’s writing is intense and provocative and profound.  He writes the sort of story that stays with you throughout the years.  I thank Mr. Steinbeck for opening my eyes, my mind, my heart, my soul, and my sense of wonder to the notion of thou mayest“the glory of the choice.”

Last week, I came across this quite lovely Personality Test online.  I normally don’t click on these tests, expecting some sort of hook to be set before you receive your “results,” but something prompted me to go ahead and try this one.  Before reading any further, go ahead and click on the link and visualize your responses to the prompts.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliapugachevsky/this-cube-personality-test-will-absolutely-blow-your-mind?utm_term=.onK9zJNbz&sub=4259074_8744597

All done?

What do you think?  How much of the explanation of your visuals did you feel was accurate?  At the very least, I felt that I was given a sideways glimpse into me — parts of me that are actually true that I generally don’t consciously associate with my “personality.”  I think about Steinbeck’s artistic weaving of timshel into East of Eden . . . and I am reminded that thou mayest carries with it a personal(-ity) responsibility of creative and paradigm-shifting mindfulness that requires daily cultivation, acknowledgement, and celebration on my part.

Personality assessment aside . . . overall, we need not be so hard on ourselves.  I think we sometimes embrace the opinions of  people — people who truly don’t know us — with far too much zeal, and we assign too much authority to the editorializing that is done by others.  We have a proclivity toward jumping into the sinkhole: a morass of self-blame, regret, and guilt that we assign to nature- and nurture-defining personality quirks . . . epic actions that play with our hearts and attempt to define how we choose to forge present moments into future goals and dreams.  Or . . . is this just my personality?

I used to have a quote taped up in every room of my house: Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  In the midst of one particularly Challenging Time, I was re-reading the quote, and I realized that I needed to make an edit.  I crossed out about to happen and scribbled in happening right now:

Always believe that something wonderful is happening right now.  

The current paradigm of Overwhelm in that moment screeched to a halt, and life felt like it took a gentler curve toward heart-healing and happiness.  When I realized that I had a choice to become someone new on the inside, my whole life shifted.  This epiphany didn’t segue into some neat and tidy story-book ending, but it did nudge me into a new place, such that I could get back into a timshel state of mind: “the glory of the choice.”

toaster ovenI leave you today with the prayer, the wish, the hope, and the thought that today is a good day for you.  A truly good day.  One of gratitude and filled with micro moments that tell you that Now is Now and life is evolving, constantly evolving, as something that is wonderful.  If this moment isn’t all that great, just wait for the next one.  It will be here before you know it — full of promise and full of timshel.  With some refining, life really can be borne from “the glory of the choice:  . . . keeping “the way open.”

Click on the highlighted link below to download today’s free journaling exercise.  Have fun journaling and putting a new spin on perceptions and keeping your way open!

The Glory of the Choice. A Different Spin. journaling prompt

IMG_0703

A reminder that gifts of beauty await when we keep our hearts open.  So lovely.

 

[P.S. Here is the real Spoiler Alert: To read a longer excerpt that discusses timshel in greater detail from East of Eden, click here.  If you are planning to read the book . . . do not click here.]

Hope: Helping Other People Evolve

HOPEHope.  What is it?  I like the acronym for Hope in this image: Help Other People Evolve.  What a great way to make hope real in my life: helping others.  When I help others evolve and express my caring, I become witness to the promise of growth or change.  This is not only exciting, it is inspiring.  When I see someone else’s success or joy or delight as a result of their willingness to take the risk to evolve, I am blessed with hope concerning my life as well.  It all comes full circle in the simplest and most elegant of ways.  Hope gives back hope.

Hope keeps us alive.  Without growth and change in life, I tend to lose focus of why I am on the planet.  When I do not feel hope burning inside of me, life feels more than hopeless.  It feels pointless.  When I lose my sense of direction and feel utterly lost in a fearful place, I can feel hope being extinguished by despair and worry and fear.

These emotions disable my forward evolution, instead I am spiraled into a hopeless state of devolution.  While a modern scientist might state that there is no such thing as devolution, I believe that my spirit and my intuition would disagree.  I know, internally, when I am evolving into a new state of “advancement” and when I am devolving into a previous primitive state — those experiences that we sometimes refer to as being 2 steps forward and 3 steps backward.  I like to feel growth and positive movement as a result of hopeful living.  I have an aversion for devolution.

I like this acoustic version of the song “Despair” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  It is one of those songs that is both sad (with the potential for the self to be swallowed by overwhelming regret), yet it is hopeful.  It speaks of wasted years, tears, and fears.

What sometimes feels like the path of least resistance can lead to “wasted years.”  There have been times when I have given up hope and “settled” for various “hopes” that were not real: financial security, available opportunities, self-limitations on skills or resources — all perceptions and oftentimes a poor assessment of reality.

In January of 2014, I met a man from Jamaica on the beach in Hawaii. He said he was almost 80 years old, but he looked like he was in his early 60s.  Life on the island was treating him well.  His name was Cliff.  We talked.  He had a lot of interesting things to say.  He asked to take some pictures of my hair before we said good bye.

Cliff told me that I was going to have the best year of my life.  At the time, I thought that it was so kind of him to say such nice things.  I wanted to believe that he was a prophet and that he could see things that I could not see at the time — things that I had lost complete hope of ever realizing or enjoying.

We parted paths, and I remembered his words throughout 2014.  His words gave me hope.  True Hope.  Based on his prophetic words, I stopped settling for second or third best.  I changed my game.  I looked for better when things were just okay.  When “bad” things happened — like getting laid off from work — great things kept happening as a result of these fear-inducing negative things.  My life shifted into Amazing.  Really great things presented themselves as a result of research, reaching out, staying alert, moving forward without fear, and hoping.  Dreams that I have held for many years have grown into reality.  Who would have thought?

Today?  I feel like a Public Service Announcement for the Do-Not-Give-Up-Your-Hope campaign.  Don’t stop hoping.  Own your hopes.  Act on your dreams.  Don’t settle for second or third or fourth best.  Don’t settle.  “If it’s all in my head there’s nothing to fear . . . Nothing to fear inside . . .” Let me be your Cliff and hear that 2015 is going to be the best year of your life.  The Best Year.  toaster oven

Partial lyrics from “Despair” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

“Don’t despair, you’re there
From beginning to middle to end
Don’t despair, you’re there
Through my wasted days
You’re there through my wasted nights

Oh despair, you’ve always been there
You were there through my wasted years
Through all my lonely fears, no tears
Run through my fingers, tears
They’re stinging my eyes, no tears
If it’s all in my head there’s nothing to fear
Nothing to fear inside

Through the darkness and the light
Some sun has got to rise”

What’s Up?

” . . . and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination . . .”

This is such a great song.  What is hope?  What does it mean?  What does it instill in our soul?  What does it provide in the ways of forward motion?

Do we equate success with hope . . . is success in some way proportional to hope?

After all, what is life without hope?

I remember talking with a friend whose girlfriend had experienced a critical and heartbreaking rock-climbing accident.  I remember not knowing exactly what to ask or to say to my friend, as his girlfriend was an Olympic-quality athlete and was enduring the painful realization that life would not be in any state of re-dial in the ways of movement and in the ways of time.

We talked and I asked how life was healing and evolving.  His response: “Well, where there is life, there is hope.”

I remember this conversation well.  It struck me that this was all there really was left to say in the aftermath of a life-changing tragedy.

I think of this song by the 4 Non Blondes and I realize that hope can feel like “that great big hill.”  We worry and we fret.  We despair and we want to give up.  We want to crawl into a shell.  We want to try something entirely different — even when it means walking away from an epic life-dream.

But hope tugs at us and gets us up in the morning.  We want time to stand still for even a fractional moment.  But it doesn’t.  It simply doesn’t.  There are days when the merry-go-round is moving too fast to factor Hope into its revolution but we still manage to catch a glimpse of something that spells b-e-t-t-e-r.

“And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream at the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”

So, we keep breathing and we tell ourselves that life can get better.  That different is not always bad.  That sometimes different opens new windows and doors that we could never have imagined as being so beautiful and loving and perfect.  That we worry too readily.  That there are days when we want to scream at the top of our lungs: “What’s going on?”  But there are also days when we say, “I never could have imagined this.  It is so perfect.”toaster oven

We make our plans and we project our timeline.  We map out our SMART goals and we think we know our destination, but we don’t.  Which is a blessing on the good days.  And a blessing on the bad days.  I remember being at a retreat and listening to a woman telling a group of us about the challenging things that had been taking place in her life.  She said that she had been feeling sorry for herself until she talked to someone who had challenged her in a big way.  This person asked her: “If you were in a large group of people and everyone were to put their biggest problem in a brown paper sack . . . would you be willing to reach into that sack and take on whatever problem that you pulled out of the sack?”

She posed the question to all of us at the retreat.  There was silence.  “Exactly,” this woman said.  “No one feels capable of taking on different.  We are all somehow amazingly prepared to deal with what it is we given to deal with.”

You can see why this story has stuck with me all these years.  I lost track of every artist from this retreat, but I still thank this woman for both sharing her heartbreaking situation AND for the healing challenge that she posed to all of us.

So when I ask myself or my loved ones or the Universe: “What’s going on?” . . .  I remember this story and “I take a deep breath and I get real high” and I move toward something that feeds my soul at the Table of Hope.

It sometimes takes courage to realize that I do not know “what’s going on,” but I want to opt for staying “high” and keeping my eye on “a destination.”

seed crack growth

Feel Better Now . . . Someone Cares

030I was talking with a friend a few days ago who was processing what felt to be a major setback.  It was one of those life surprises that was translating as problematic rather than delightful.  She said that she was just feeling so alone in the midst of the changes.  We shared some old stories and irreverent humor and we parted paths; she said that she knew that she was good to go in this new chapter.  Knowing that there is someone who has your back when you feel as if you have been tossed into a Rube Goldberg maze is always a good balm in times of unease.

If you are struggling today with some challenge or mystery in life, I hope that the sign in this photograph reminds you of both someone who cares and of someone you care about.

And through these words on the page — like a love letter between strangers — I am reminded that although you and I do not have a direct connection of shared past experiences, there is this present moment that connects all of us in ways that could prove to be significant.

This video by OK Go is so! awesome: This Too Shall Pass.  I hope that it helps you to feel some fancifulness and some hope in today . . . to Feel Better Now . . . to know that you are not alone.  That there is a back-up team upstairs that is helping to make the magic happen and to cheer when it does.  And when it doesn’t.  There are those days when you feel like you are in the firing squad line, and you are about to be splatted with a massive dose of paint.  But there is a support team.  We are all connected . . . there is a sense of timing and orchestration.  There is immense brilliance in the Rube Goldberg moments of our lives.  Others care.  I do.  Feel Better Now.