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

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Counting

albert-einstein-quotes. count

We count the minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, the years.  We count dollars, cents, and credit card balances.  We count the number of miles we run or bike, the steps we climb, or the laps we swim.  We count calories, carbs, fat grams and the number of pounds we gain or lose.  We count.  And we count some more.

There are things in life we can’t count.  We can’t quantify laughter or tears or the quality of our relationships.  We reckon birthdays but we cannot count life.  We tally up anniversaries but we cannot count the love we give and we receive.  We can enumerate the number of college degrees we earn but we cannot count what we have learned along the way.  We can measure the spectrum of wavelengths but we cannot count the number of colors that streak across the sky when we see a sunset or the aurora borealis.

Albert-Einstein-Simple-Picture-QuoteWhat counts?  So simple to say or to to describe or to explain . . . but it’s sometimes so tricky to keep my perspective.  Real counting is an intuitive nudge.  We know when something is countable when we feel that let-the-bell-toll moment.  When life comes together into one brilliant episode of Hugeness.

These moments fill us full with something that we can neither count nor define.  Like a bell tolling, the ringing has a roundness that reverberates through us and out into the vastness of the Universe.  I consider myself lucky to have experienced such moments.  They remind me to stop counting stuff and to start counting  — to start making a difference — as a human being

Life.  Memories.  Experiences.  Hugs.  Encouragement.  True love.  Music.  Integrity.  Contributing.  Growing.  So many things that I cannot count.  So many.

 

The Kind of Stuff You Don’t Hang on the Wall

Stuff that Works . . . This is a GREAT song by Guy Clark.  It inspires me to appreciate the “stuff that works” in my life . . . “the kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall.”  Take a listen.  It is a really beautiful song.

I read a great affirmation yesterday: “Where there is light there are shadows.”

IMG_0975Living in the Pacific Northwest, we experience a lot of gray days.  The sort of days where the horizon line blurs the sky and water into one waterscape.  On these days, there are no shadows and there is an etheral feel to the day — akin to floating.  The lack of contrast lends itself to getting lost in daydreams.  Some find these days extraordinarily gloomy.  Drizzle, fog, and low-hanging clouds cast a mood of Waiting.  Waiting for the sun to return.  When we do get a blue day and the sun is shining, the shadows emerge as well.

It sometimes feels as if the times that have made me the happiest have also cast the darkest shadows.  The brightness creates an awareness that life is both awesome and fragile.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, the clouds can, and most likely will, soon return and obscure the sunlight.  As I put things into perspective each morning, afternoon, and night, this song reminds me of the truly important things . . . the stuff that works.  And there is a LOT of stuff that does work. toaster oven

So today?  I am focusing on the stuff that works.

OK Go Saturday Dance Music

time-to-dance-high-heeled-shoes-285661_960_720

theunseenwordsproject.com

If you haven’t seen an OK Go video, then you are in for a treat.  These videos are super clever!  Take a few moments this morning to appreciate some fanciful videos, listen to some good dance music, and get up and start moving.  The thing about OK Go, they don’t spare any creativity when it comes to representing their music.  Have fun today!  It’s Saturday!

There is a reason why this video has over 53 million views!

And this is just plain fun!

Here are a few fun things to entertain your Saturday . . . music, Legos, book!
Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

http://amzn.to/2cJ6NtO

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

http://amzn.to/2cpPBNK

Mistakes That Worked Paperback

http://amzn.to/2cpPaCM

time-to-dance-high-heeled-shoes-285661_960_720

theunseenwordsproject.com

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! :)]

 

 

Do you laugh at least 400 times a day?

s-LAUGHTER-largeFree your mind.  What does this feel like for you?   How do you free your mind?

One way I can describe freeing my mind are those times when I am with a friend and we are absolutely helpless with laughter.  Bent over, sides hurting, and howling with laughter.  There is just something about experiencing this kind of laughter and being lost in the moment.  It is like a transaction of abandon that feels like I left the planet for a brief while.  And it is such a pure connection with another human being.  A moment when I feel free to be exactly who I am.

1373And the moment lingers long after you have parted ways with your friend.  You think of it the next morning when you are standing in line for your morning latte and you feel the power of that very same laugh burbling up from within.  A small laugh escapes you and the person ahead of you turns around and smiles with you.  Another connection.

Laughter is a gift that is one of life’s daily miracles.  It redeems us from those moments that do not feel exactly stellar.  It invites us to embrace spontaneity and maybe even some forgiveness.  Laughter leads to a moment of exquisite freedom.  It is you feeling like what it is to be totally you.

AmygdalaOne of my research projects involves looking at the effects of laughter in an educational setting.  The statistics that I uncovered in my reading vary a bit, but it is said that the average child laughs approximately 400 times a day; the average adult somewhere between 4 to 11 times.  What do you think?  Do you laugh anywhere near 400 times a day?  Do you laugh more than 11 times a day?  This disparity would be funny if it weren’t so sobering.  It has definitely encouraged me to seek more moments of laughter in my day.  The more I laugh, the more I free my mind.  Or maybe it is the other way around.  Either way, it is a cycle that I happily embrace.

A-laughIn the ways of research, the findings regarding laughter in the classroom were somewhat predictable and also somewhat surprising: Laughter can be a wonderful way to make amazing learning connections in the classroom; additionally, learning can be enhanced by engaging the limbic system — which is great for learning.  Have you ever wondered why you simply didn’t feel comfortable in a learning environment?  Laughter, used with empathy and sensitivity, is also effective in lowering the affective filter — a term Stephen Krashen has used to describe how negative factors in the classroom block how we learn and how we process a learning experience.

But caution is advised concerning our use of laughter.  What you think is funny, could very possibly offend or confuse another –> thus spiking the affective filter to go up and to raise a wall — which is not not so good for learning.  So there is the whole respect factor where laughter is present.  You have to be aware and you have to be sensitive to others when you’re trying to have fun.  It’s all good when you think about it: the presence and the absence of laughter.  They both signal connection and respect.

Which, I believe, are two good components of freedom: connection and respect.

Free your mind.  This Playing for Change recording is so very captivating.  If I listen to it once, I have to listen to it again.  So simple and complex and rich.  And beautiful.  And speaks to collaboration, beauty, talent, and freedom.

 

Get out your Friday dancin’ shoes!

dance shoes vintageWhen was the last time you just stood up in your office or your living room or your kitchen and started to dance because you just had to?

Well, today is the perfect day for it.  Get out your Saturday morning dance shoes.  Twist and shout and move around the room and have some fun.

Or when was the last time you dug out a pair of heels and went dancing at some honky tonk with that crazy-good band that sticks to the great dance covers?  The band that plays Aretha, Stevie Wonder, and Coldplay.  Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, and Earth, Wind & Fire.  Grand Funk Railroad.  The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  The kind of music that speaks directly to some intimate and rhythmic part of you that tells you that you just have to dance.

The kind of songs that you can’t help but sing along with.  Someone told me once that if you succumb to peer pressure and find yourself up on the stage with a karaoke mic in your hand, pick Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.  It is guaranteed that you won’t be singing alone by the time you get to the chorus.

Wherever you are, turn on some music and dance.  It is good for you in so many ways.  Movement clears your chakras and inspires happiness.  It limbers you up and gets you moving in ways that everyday life pretty much ignores. It instills grace and improves flexibility.  It can also reduce stress.  And it’s pretty difficult to be dancing to some awesome music and not smile.  Maybe even impossible.

Life is a lively event, and it sure is quick.  Do yourself a favor and do some dancing today. This mashup will definitely get you moving!  These dancers have got some serious moves!

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