Does this really matter?

Does this matter?

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There are different types of weight that we carry around with us, both on the frame of our body and in our mind, heart, and soul.  Yes, there are those few extra pounds of body weight that remind us every time we step onto the scale and then there is the weight of our responsibilities, worries, and burdens that slow us down and drag behind us as we attempt to carry them through the day.  One way to lighten up our respective loads is to ask ourselves:

 Does this really matter?

This question can apply to many different things, events, and encounters throughout the day and is of greater benefit for your quality of life than simply checking to see what number shows up on the bathroom scale.  If there were a scale that quantified how heavy my heart is while carrying the various burdens and responsibilities that I lug around with me throughout the day, I would fear even stepping onto it.  Perhaps the sheer possibility to acknowledge such spirit weight would prevent me from getting out of bed in the morning. 

In an effort to lighten my spirit along with my body weight, I have begun asking, “Does this matter?  I mean, really matter?”  Here’s a good example of a recent situation where I am actively trying to turn a Yes response to this question into a No.

Yesterday, my neighbor came over to inform me that she had “accidentally” trimmed all of the beautiful green vines that laced and encircled my mailbox on my property.  I loved this entwining greenery and have admired its lushness every time I walked out to retrieve my mail.  This neighbor since moving in next door has adopted a scorched-earth policy and has been mercilessly hacking away at any living plant in her yard.  As disheartening as this has been to observe, I have accepted that it’s her yard and she can do with it as she wills.  But my property and my mailbox?  I wanted to scream!

When she came over to tell me that she had mistaken my mailbox for hers and that she had stripped away all the beautiful vines and plants to bare earth, I wanted to come completely unglued.  As I walked out to the mailbox with her so she could show me the carnage she had wrought, I had to quickly ask myself, Does this matter?  I wanted to shout, cry, and say bad words to her about the death and destruction that she has wrought on the neighborhood.  I wanted to tell her that she was a bad human being and that she had no business messing with my property.  That she had some kind of obsessive death wish on anything growing and living and that she should move to the desert.  That I was super hurt and angry.

But being a believer in the power of allowing my rational brain to catch up with my emotional brain in order to avoid an emotional hijacking, I surveyed the damage and told her that I wasn’t in a good place to talk about it at that time.  That I was going into the house to absorb.  And then gently told her to kindly stay the hell away from my property, my mailbox, and all growing plants that are between our two houses . . . and that if she had future intentions of annihilating any plants on our shared property line, to come talk with me first.  

In review, I handled the situation pretty well.  I actually delivered my message with an admirable deadpan that contained all of my frustration, hurt, and anger.  All because I paused to ask myself, “Does this matter?”  In the big scheme of life and its real global problems, the hacking away of some greenery by an obsessive neighbor is neither a global threat nor a personal tragedy.  It bugs the hell out of me, but I have to hope that I will eventually get over it and that Mother Earth will heal and replenish the victimized plants.  Amen.

One way I try to ultimately deal with annoyances of this kind and move on is to ask,

“At the end of my life, will I still be obsessing over this?”

At the end of my life, will I still be obsessing over the crazy neighbor lady with the pruning shears?  Chances are the answer is “No,” so I will let it go.  I have to let it go.  Or at least I will continue to work on letting it go.  And if I want to live an authentic life that is true to my beliefs, I have to let it go.  Otherwise my life will be predicated on another’s thoughtless actions and not on my own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I choose peace over strife, love over dislike, and forgiveness over a grudge.  Let the healing begin by answering, “Does this matter?”  And I send up a prayer: Please, Mother Earth send up some healing green vining shoots from this offensive massacre.  

How about you?  The next time you find yourself getting super annoyed by the daily coffee grounds scattered all over the kitchen counter by your house mate . . . does it really matter?  Or when that annoying co-worker steals the credit for your creative idea – again! – and makes it his own . . . does it really matter?  Or when you finish off that pint of chocolate ice cream at midnight while standing over the sink . . . does it really matter?  Go easy on others and on yourself.  

What is it that really matters to you?  Align yourself with your beliefs and your awareness of what they are.  Revisit them.  Journal about them.  Live them.  Share them.  Write a manifesto or a mission statement that represents your beliefs.  Know thyself and imagine yourself getting on a quantum-physics scale that weighs your spirit.  Do you want it to read “light as the air found in a bird’s hollow bone” or do you want it to read “denser than a ton of blue whale blubber”?  (No offense to the beautiful blue whales of the planet that grace our oceans with elegance and beauty, but they sure are heavy.  And the amazing thing?  They float!)  It’s your choice, your process, your control, your letting go, your destiny.  What do you want this quantum scale to read? 

When you catch yourself getting caught up in the petty, annoying, silly frustrations of life, ask yourself “Does this matter?”   If you are able to answer with a “No” and add a laugh to your answer, you just lost an immeasurable weight from your mind, heart, and soul.  Be one with your mindfulness, and do not ally yourself with another’s thoughtlessness.  Forgive and move on.  You are the ultimate recipient of any forgiveness that you are able to give. (I know.  It can feel like a hard thing to task yourself with but it’s worth your focus and effort.  Promise.)

Time for some journaling.

Be still for a moment and relax.  I mean really relax.  Sit down.  Lower your shoulders from your ears.  Empty your hands and put your hands in your lap.  Take five deep breaths. 

What matters to you?

Make a list of people, pets, qualities, things, circumstances, events, dreams . . . that matter to you.  Just go for it.  Don’t filter yourself.

Now go back through your list and circle your top three or top five or top ten, whatever circling activity that makes you happy.  Let these circled items guide your decisions, shape your beliefs, inform your reactions, and create your relationships.  Let them become the things that matter.  Embrace, nurture, and live what matters.  

a brand new year

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Our Subsumed Lives

to subsumeto include or place within something larger or more comprehensive;   encompass as a subordinate or component element

When you were a child, what did you want to be when your grew up?  

seashell-754015_960_720If you are doing something quite different from what you imagined you would be doing, what happened? What swerved you onto a different path that led you away from your childhood dreams?  Or maybe you are still very much there, living the dream, without even realizing it?

There are many subsuming elements that our lives encounter, embrace, deny, or challenge.  Elements that distract us from who-we-are and steer us onto paths into what  feels to be a foreign country where we don’t speak the language and we don’t understand the customs.

When I was a child, I wanted to be Continue reading

Too Many Ideas?

nautilus_species_shellsDo you ever feel as if you simply have too many ideas?  It isn’t that life is too short to “do” or “finish” everything . . . it’s just that each moment is too tiny to absorb all of the expansion that wants to burst forth from each little second.  This gives me pause, and I wonder What am I doing with each moment?  Am I valuing it?  Living it?  Being it?

We are prompted Continue reading

Salad Spinner Mindfulness

grow your mindI caught myself fretting this morning.  Fretting about nothing, really.  In an attempt to distract myself and put all of this fretting aside, I now sit here in one of my favorite coffee shops and, the same as most days,  put words on paper.  Rarely do I sit here and do nothing.  Mainly I think.  Ideas and memories and perceptions are tossed around in some Binary Amphitheatre of the Surreal and the Real, whirling them around and shooting them out onto the page in salad-spinner style.

I find myself in this divergent universe . . . Continue reading

10 Ideas a Day

use-your-idea-musclesThis is a good-to-watch TED talk from James Altucher.

His main points are really good to note:

If you don’t make the choices in your life, then someone else is going to end up making them for you.  Someone else is going to end up making the choices for you, and they aren’t going to be as good as the choices that you make for yourself.

Failure is unpleasant.  View it as an experiment.

4 distinct things that were working for him when he was on the way up:

1. Take care of your physical health: Sleep well, eat well, exercise well, laugh more.  Make improvements incrementally that will improve your physical health.

2. Take care of your emotional health: Be around people that you love and trust and be around people that love and trust you.

3. Spiritual/creative gratitude: Complaining is draining.  Express gratitude.  Look on the sunny side.

4. Use your idea muscles.  Use a waiter’s pad. Write down 10 ideas every day.  Become an idea machine.

5. Share your ideas.  Come up with 10 ideas for someone . . . for “x.”  Give your ideas away with no expectation of them sharing back with you.  Life changes by spreading your ideas like currency.

Interesting ideas.  I especially like the idea of writing down 10 ideas every day and then giving them away.  Altucher promises that life will change if we are generous with our ideas.  Sounds good to me.  For someone who keeps notebooks in every bag, purse, and pocket, I especially like #4.  Now . . . the trick will be how to give them away.

I am not sure how this will materialize into action — this idea of giving away ideas — but I like the idea of thinking of ideas as currency.  If ideas are currency, then many people I know and love are rich and wealthy.  Idea Rich.  I like it.

Woot!  This makes me wealthy beyond wonder.  Do I have ideas?  Yes.  I have been told that I have too many ideas and not enough follow through.  Hmmmmm . . . maybe this is someone speaking who is simply envious of my wealth.  Someone who wishes that s/he, too, could come up with a real purpose for dark matter or who could contrive an extraordinary purpose for eggshells or who could invent a gizmo for churning garbage disposal waste directly into the garden as compost.

Ideas.  They are the things that grow and that grow us.  We conceive them and then are oftentimes daunted by them.  Who wants them?  What do we do with them?  How do we implement them?  How do we move them out of notebooks and into the hands of people who will develop them into reality?

After all, I read once that there are Innovators and Implementers.  And rarely shall the twain meet.  I am an Innovator.  It only follows that it is time to find an Implementer.  Caution All Implementers: Ideas Ahead.

I don’t know. This is all tricky stuff for an Innovator.  We are idea-based, not roll-up-your-sleeves-based.  But it is time to start giving Ideas away.  Perhaps not entirely unsolicited.  I don’t want to wax eloquent to the stranger next to me on the ferry about my brain storm for the next Super Bowl ad . . . I can see them switching seats now.  But I actually have one.  It involves breakfast cereal and babies and all sorts of action moves.  There.  I just gave away one of my more brilliant ideas.  Sweet!  Only 9 more to share before the day is over.

 

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Start with a Simple Idea

IMG_1611. a simple ideaStart with a Simple Idea.  

It’s as simple as that.  Or is it?  We hear stories about people who are fulfilled and successful, motivated and inspired.  What many of these people have in common is that they started their Journey of Success with a simple idea that ultimately sparked growth in their personal lives while contributing to the world around them.

I had some crazy dream about Skylab, America’s first space station, last night — how I was trying to walk on one of its pinwheel arms while maintaining my balance in a gravity-free environment — not an easy task even within the fuzzy confines of a dream.  All of which got me thinking, mid-dream, about what a wonder the whole contraption of Skylab is.  Having experienced its interstellar wonder in my dream, I woke up thinking about how much research and groundwork and hope and intention and vision and forward thinking went into creating it.

Skylab didn’t just happen.  It started with a simple idea and it grew.  Maybe someone scribbled his or her original idea of it on the back of a bar napkin.  Maybe it was the result of some astrophysicists having breakfast together at a conference.  Maybe some scientist woke up with a detailed dream of it.  I don’t know Skylab’s true genesis, but someone had to take it and move it beyond a doodle or an entry in a lab notebook.

In a TED talk (click on the link below), Tony Robbins tells the story of his family receiving an unexpected and generous Thanksgiving Day kindness when he was younger.  As a teenager, Robbins wanted to pay this stranger’s kindness forward, so he anonymously provided a different family with a Thanksgiving dinner.  This generous and simple idea grew into the creation of an organization that now feeds millions of people.

I love stories like this.  Still, as inspiring as they are, they can also feel to be a bit overwhelming.  The obvious questions enter into my thoughts: How did Tony Robbins grow the organization from this one simple gesture?  How did he organize enough people to join him in his vision?  Where did he get the capital to grow the organization into such a large one?  Sure, the amazing and energetic and dynamic Tony Robbins could pull this off  . . . but could I?

Believe-in-yourself-and-believe-in-love.-Love-something.Details, details, details.  I so often get lost in the details.  If I were to look back on my life and pushpin myself onto any given past moment, would I have imagined all of the dynamics of Today?  Parts of Today?  Maybe parts, yes. But all of the amazing-ness that I now experience?  No.  I don’t think I could have foreseen a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture.  I had to take one simple step.  And believe.  And know.  And feed the vision.toaster oven

Skylab was originally launched unmanned but there were eventually several different crews delivered to the station.  On the latter missions, there was even an additional spacecraft orbiting to rescue the crew should they encounter any emergencies.  Imagine these baby steps.  First, unmanned.  Next, manned missions.  Ultimately, backup and support.

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

For a free download (in workbook format) of today’s journal prompt “Start with a Simple Idea,” provide your email address, and I will send you your inspiring journal exercise for you to print out and to start journaling.  Time to make a differrence! 

And to conclude on an uplifting note . . . This is such an inspiring TED talk: Why We Do What We Do.  If you have 21:45 today to take the time to just relax and to open your mind to possibilities, this is a great TED talk.  In fact . . . watch it before you begin journaling.  The ideas that Tony Robbins shares will expand your thinking and your creativity and your perceptions of what is possible.

Balance in Creativity: “a harmonious adjustment”

036Today required some awareness for the need to balance.  Balance requires the art of focus — from my brain, my heart, my body, my soul — and I do recognize that I sometimes choose to focus on that which temporarily tips the scales toward chaotic creativity.  Ideas are large — sometimes enormous — and time and resources are sometimes limited.

This is certainly not to complain.  I have learned that ideas can stay alive and healthy while balancing them to a place that still feels right, do-able, and rewarding.  When I pay attention, I am better able to balance.  Anne Frank wrote in her diary: “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out.  Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart” (Frank, 2001-2010).  Her words.  Wow.  Full Stop.  Re-read.  Amazing, aren’t they?

Although my ideals and subsequent ideas may sometimes appear to be “absurd” or even “impossible” to incorporate into my daily living, the idyllic life-learning environment for me is an amiable, generous, and benevolent experience.  In my own personal learning journey, much of it can be defined as being those sparks in time that have engaged my brain’s limbic system – that most primitive part of the brain associated with basic needs and emotions.  When I link emotional brain to rational brain, all sorts of amazing creativity rises to the surface.

It is then when all creative Hades busts loose.  I am all over the map.  Folders are created.  Documents are saved with obscure titles and then stored willy nilly in the new folders.  Ideas are scrawled on Post-It notes.  My Idea Notebook is flipped open.  I grab a Sharpie and start scribbling on a vision board.  Scraps and notes are slipped into a drawer of the antique fruit dryer.  I text myself obscure reminders.  I eat pasta.  I write on my bathroom mirror in lipstick.  I decide to apply for another degree program.  I go dancing to tame ideas into a basic rhythm.   It is on me alone to skim that which appeals best to my creative hand.  All the while, swimming in ideas that all feel so great at the time . . . but what to do with all of them?  Where to store them for my eventual return?

Vision Board 075James Allen wrote: “A man is not rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and prosperous being; and happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer of the man with his surroundings.”  This quote is in accord with the importance of becoming self-actualized in order to reach individual and unique maximum potential.  Allen’s idea that there is “a harmonious adjustment” between our internal and external worlds is in absolute alignment with my life philosophy.

Alignment.  This requires focus.  This is to say that I must explore both worlds in order to achieve authenticity and balance in my living and in my learning and my believing. We are most convincing when we truly believe what we express to others. When we are passionate about our beliefs, toaster ovenothers respond to the energy we exude.  We live more fully.  We laugh more readily.  We love more easily.

By acting upon our beliefs, we show others that we mean what we say, and our energy ripples outward into the world. We are each given unique abilities and a purpose that we bring to the world. Like a puzzle piece, we each have our own place and are equally important to the complete picture. By sharing our passion with the world, we may help to awaken others to their purpose, guiding them to find their place in the puzzle. (Daily OM, 2010).

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