Your default: Do you welcome or fear a Change of State?

flip-your-optimism-onLife has a way of grabbing my attention and reminding me daily of what’s important.  Loved ones.  Health.  Friendship.  Family.  Compassion.  Laughter.  My lovely dog companion.  Creativity.  Nutrition and exercise.  Meditation. Generosity of spirit.  Appreciation in the moment.  When I become distracted by the trivialities that numb this awareness,  I oftentimes find myself feeling confronted . . . or greeted . . . . by a Change of State.  Confronted or greeted?  How I determine Change’s perceived benevolence factor is how I shun or welcome it.

The other day I found myself frozen in a moment of experiencing a Change of State.  Frozen.  It was inevitable that a new paradigm was opening its doors to me.  And I was immobilized with fear.

The stealth speed Continue reading

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What will your grounds reveal about your day today?

turska_kava-iiHappy Tuesday to all of you good people.  I hope that you find the time to relax and have a second cup of coffee on this lovely day.  I love the brewing method of Türk Kahvesi.  Its brewing is an art form and one best learned while watching an expert, having them watch you brew so that they can coach you, and then doing the process on your own.  Then it’s all about Continue reading

Where are you headed today?

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If it is true that your thoughts drive your life — something that I do believe — then the big questions is, “Where am I heading?  What is my next destination?”  Most days feel so full of regular “stuff” that I don’t take the time to think about my next destination, my dreams and goals.  I leave my compass in my desk drawer and I spin around in my chair, letting the Natural Laws of Chair Spinning to determine my next direction.

There are exponential unknowns that await each one of us.  None of us know what will happen next in life.  We strive to manage our expectations and to deal with disappointment.  What if we just paused.  Stopped the chair from going ’round and ’round.  Asked ourselves, “What is it that I truly want?”

Try it.  Listen to what answer bubbles to the surface.  Write your answer down.  Commit it to paper.  To your white board.  Your chalk board.  You don’t need any GPS to follow your answer.  Just follow your heart.  Allow yourself some movement.  Get up out of your chair and dance.  Do anything that gets you moving.  Let your happy thoughts drive your life.  What do you have to lose other than getting yourself lost in some new territory?  Let your thoughts drive your life to your dream destination.

What’s in your complaint box?

834px-complaint_department_grenadeWhat’s in your complaint box?  Any chance of turning those complaints around and thinking of them as blessings?

I’ve been doing an experiment.  Every day I write down as many things that I can think of from the day under the heading: Good Things That Happened Today.  It isn’t hard to think of things.  As with anything in life — when you pause to take an inventory — there is much more going on than that which skims the surface.

After I finish my Good Things list, I then write as many things that I can think of under the heading: My Takeaways on Life in the Current Moment.  When I pause to think of My Takeaways, all sorts of good things start to burble forth — things that hitherto felt like an obstacle or a challenge or a frustration.  It’s like magic.  The weird stuff suddenly starts to transform into a better place.

For example, imagine that you are making an offer to purchase what you perceive to be your Dream Home.  And we’re talking Dream Home, people.  You are convinced that this house is It.  It is exactly what you want to buy and to live in for the rest of your life — or at the very least the next decade.  In your Good Things list, you write: I made an offer on my Dream Home today!!!!!

But then life intervenes.  Another offer comes in on the same day as yours, but $10,000 higher than your offer.  And to make matters worse for you, their financing is in perfect order.  Guess whose offer gets accepted?  You feel bummed!  That was your house!  Not theirs!  

The days pass and you search for things to put down on your Good Things list.  You might even write under Takeaways: I learned that it is best to remove such high emotion from a business deal.  Something like this.  But then.  Something really crazy happens.  You read about an opportunity to go to Ireland and serve as an intern at this amazing art school.  It’s your dream!!  You apply.  You get accepted.  Guess what?  You’re going to Ireland for a full year!  Woot!

This adventure gets listed under Good Things.  In addition to recording this adventure to Ireland on your list, you write, I‘m so glad that that house deal fell through!  Thank you!!! on the line directly below your entry about the Ireland opportunity.  You see the correlation so clearly.  In fact — even better yet — you feel the correlation and you experience an understanding that calms your soul and quells your frustrations about the house deal falling through.  All is right with the world and you marvel at how things just work out!

You get the idea.  The seemingly bad breaks that occur in life have all the potential to set us up for something even better.  You just have to be looking.  Be aware.  Be open to seeing the “bad stuff” as “potential good stuff.”  That there are Takeaways, if you only look.  Life events aren’t always easy to dissect into lists, but I find that if I really stretch and embrace both the Good Things and the Takeaways . . . I learn a lot about me and how I can be happy in the flow of the present moment.

How about you?  Do you want to join me in my Good Things/Takeaway challenge?  If you want a PDF to download to get you started, just submit your email address and I’ll send it to you.  It’s fun to turn things around to a place that allows you to embrace that which seemed like such a bummer.

As for me?  Well, I thought that it was going to be smooth and perfect sailing as I prepared to go forth to Ireland . . . but the art internship fell through — something about something occurred, which meant I wasn’t going away to Ireland for a year.

Now, this unwelcome news certainly wasn’t expected, but I am learning as a result of my daily lists.  Instead of listing the loss of my Ireland trip in my Takeaway list, I recorded it immediately in my Good Things list.  After all, I am learning about this life stuff in a new way that is changing my mind and my heart.  I know that something good is happening right now . . . and I am trimming the unexpected starboard list of the boat that I thought was set to sail for Ireland.  It’s a good thing that there were life rafts on that boat!

And I am ready for the next adventure.

Who knows what’s next?  I don’t.  Be it a Good Thing or a Takeaway, I am learning that what works best is for me to be open.  To understand that I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of every little piece that has been set in motion.  To be me and to be happy and to have a light heart.  To stop complaining and to start paying better attention.

Celebrate Transition

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Although I very much enjoy the heat and sunshine of summertime, I always look forward to the change in season.  The cooler temperatures, the colors of the leaves, the crispness in the morning air . . . these things are like a happy pinch to the soul, reminding it to appreciate the warmth and the sunglow, as it is soon to be replaced by gray skies and rainy days.  Rain, rain, and more rain.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, it helps if you like the rain.  Well, I like it a lot.  The rain sheds a whole new slant on life.  It draws your attention to how nature feels on your skin.  It replenishes the air with something indefinably sweet.  It helps you appreciate your inordinately high volume of cute rain boots, puddle jumpers, and lightweight coats.

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The rain encourages you to linger a little longer over that second cup of coffee.  In fact, it might be mid-afternoon and you think about having a mid-day cup to brighten the day. You lose track of where you last left your sunglasses because it has been a while since you needed them.

The muted colors and shifting fog also mark the fall and winter days.  There is an exquisite softness in the air that reminds you to pause for a moment and breathe before getting into your truck.  You wake up in the morning and you can smell the salt in the air.  The birds are quieter and the squirrels are more active.

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As much as I enjoy a beautiful autumn rain, I do appreciate these lingering weeks of summer.  The days when I go to work, having forgotten my raincoat.  The late-evening walks that spell out a crimson and peach sunset.  The warm afternoons when I forget that fall is soon to arrive.

It’s all so beautiful, isn’t it?  These periods of transition awaken us and embolden us.  We feel inspired to try new things when we feel nudged by nature.

What is one new thing you have been wanting to learn?  To try?  To do?  Visualize your New Thing inside the box below: 

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Now visualize your New Thing outside the box:

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Maybe now is the time to prioritize your preference and just do it.  There is no time like the present to create your own season of transition and change.

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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.  

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.