Re-writing Your Stuck Spot

car stuck in snow

This looks so miserable!

I was listening to a meditation recording of Deepak Chopra’s the other night.  Deepak said one thing that caused me to stop the recording, rewind, replay, and rewind it again.  He was talking about how our stuck spots in our lives are revealed by repetitive thoughts, feelings, and statements.  In other words, if you find yourself complaining or talking about the same thing over and over, the chances are this is one of your stuck spots.

tuning fork IIThis truly struck a chord of sublime resonance with me.  I felt completely busted — in a good way.  It made me realize that rather than ignore or abolish these stuck spots in my life, maybe it was time to use them, like throwing down kitty litter behind a spinning tire in the snow, to gain some new traction: in other words, re-write my Repetitive (and oftentimes boring) Statements into Rev-Up Statements.

I next decided that it was time for a little qualitative research of my personal gripes.  I created a journal chart so that I could really look at what is going on.  Every time I talked to a friend or family member or even a co-worker and heard myself complaining about the same old-same old, I wrote the topic down in one of the boxes on the left.  In some boxes, I wrote down what I said verbatim.  Other topics were such a random rant, I summarized the general idea.

My epiphany is two fold: The Good News is that I am not a totally-chronic complainer.  Whew!  Yay for not being an incessant whiner!   The Bad News?  I have some serious and consistent Stuck Spots that are definitely holding me back from feeling fulfilled, happy, and fruitful.

spinning-top-1312042_960_720Next, I re-wrote my rants with a positive spin that was designed to get me up and going again.  No more Stuck Spots!  Putting the positive spin on things required ACTION on my part.  I had to visualize and implement alternatives to just spinning into a deeper and messier rut.  The great news is that I felt empowered by my own personal recognition of This isn’t good anymore.  I want different.  I caught myself and verbally stopped myself from launching into Rant Mode.  It felt great!  And I am guessing that my friends and family think that it is pretty nice, too!  There is nothing like a broken record to put someone to sleep.  It generates white noise that blocks a lively conversation exchange from taking place.  Friends and family, I am trying to exercise new awareness!

With the ongoing research, I have been Paying Attention and there are definitely a few topics that are still holding me a wee bit stuck.  Now?  Rather than ignore them or stuff them into some spiritual drawer or closet, I am airing them out, hanging them on the wall, and slapping a new coat of paint on them.

I realized: Why not?  I have learned that it does no good to ignore stuck spots or to bury them or to walk away from them as if they don’t really matter.  To do so only invites passive-aggressive moments into my relationships — which then only serve to create newer and deeper and stuck-er Stuck Spots.  Why not call them out, view them, and like the grand master painters, slap some new paint over the top and create something new and beautiful?  That’s the beauty of creating a masterpiece.  Sometimes they are considered to be even more valuable when there are hidden paintings beneath the one that we can see.

vintage-binocularsThe great part?  This process works!  I have been catching myself as I spin myself deeper into some repetitive statement . . . and I have been stopping myself right there.

Let’s take the topic of work for an example.  Let’s say that you don’t feel appreciated at work.  You have been ignored for two promotions and your boss is utterly ineffective — late, sloppy, and unmotivated.  He doesn’t take care of emails and he is lousy at following through on decisions — often leaving you hanging with your projects that have looming deadlines.  You have complained, griped, and kvetched about this to your friends, your family, and even your dog.

Why not re-write this stuck spot?  Be creative.  There are so many things that we can do when we feel stuck.

  1. Think about one nice trait about your dog the next time your boss does something that drives you batty.  (Silly, I know . . . but the thought of my dog always makes me happy!)
  2. Bring your resume up to speed.  Start shopping it online and to associates.
  3. Laugh.  It truly doeth good like a medicine.
  4. Watch a cute youtube video.
  5. Offer to take on more responsibility at work AND, at the same time ask your boss for a raise.  It can’t hurt to ask.
  6. Put a pencil horizontally between your upper and lower teeth.  Research has shown that by imitating a smile, the Smile Muscles release the same good stuff to your brain.  Try it  . . . it works!
  7. Write one positive affirmation in the present tense and tape it on the wall where you can readily see it.
  8. Go for a super quick walk around the building.  Movement helps.
  9. Close the door on your office (or even the bathroom stall) and do an insanely goofy happy dance.  I guarantee you will crack up.Take yourself out after work.  Go for a beverage of some kind and get out your laptop and google baseball stats, fashion advice, new employment sites . . . your choice!
  10. And . . . click on the heart-warming and life-changing aqua-blue link below for your free download of today’s journal prompt: “Your Stuck Spot.”  Happy journaling!

Your Stuck Spot. journal prompt

Brian-Tracy-Quote

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Your Happiness Criteria: What do you need to raise your Happiness Quotient?

Albert Einstein wrote, “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?”

Being one who enjoys clutter and chaos while in the throes of creativity, I respect Einstein’s answer very much.   The simplicity of his words speaks to me and inspires me to take a moment to reflect. What does a man need to be happy?

There is a tremendous amount of research being done on happiness, attitude, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness.  It is amazing what is being discovered about how important our Happiness Factor is in our lives.  But what is your Happiness Quotient?  What have you done lately to increase your HQ?

We try to define or measure our sense of success using several different factors, but what is it in your life that critically determines your sense of long-term satisfaction and self-fulfillment?

Does being happy require you to take phenomenal risks in order for you to feel alive and active on your pathway to success?  Or can living a happy life be more analytical or more structured than this?  Can you structure happiness into your life?

Being one who has lived life through radically-different career changes, lifestyles, and academic pursuits, I sometimes find myself at the end of the day wondering where I am going next.  What is the new plan?  What’s next?  What do I want to study now?  Which new instrument do I want to learn how to play?  Which novel should I work on today?  With all of this spontaneity and creativity that governs my days, I sometimes experience a let-down.  When I am skipping a beat, doubt can settle in.  I hear a certain quote by Lewis Carroll playing a haunting melody in my soul: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Well, life is not all about career success and job titles and dollar bills and tropical vacations.  There are many dimensions in life that play a large role in our personal assessment of success.  Our relationships, our spiritual life, our sense of growing and contributing, our personal achievements that we share with others – all play a vital role in our happiness factor.

What makes you happy?  What is key in your life that leads to your happiness?  I once read a great article on “Happiness Criteria” which steered me away from my modus operandi of spontaneously and serendipitous-ly (and what can sometimes feel to be senselessly) seeking happiness.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, the thought of creating a criteria for success and happiness gave me pause and inspired some more concerted thinking and action with a focus on what generates happiness in my life and on what happiness means to me today.

In other words, what am I doing to raise my Happiness Quotient (HQ)?

One thought: make a list of Happiness Criteria that critically determine your HQ.

For example . . .

Some things that popped up for me, in no particular order of priority, are

  1. A flexible schedule
  2. Can bring my dog to work
  3. Time for travel
  4. Creative expression in my work
  5. Helping others to grow and to create solutions
  6. Time to exercise
  7. Time for loved ones
  8. Great pay

As you can well imagine, everyone’s list is going to read quite uniquely.  I once asked a group of students how many hours they would want to work in their ideal work week.  I was simply stunned by the number of students who wrote “40 hours” as their answer.  They asked me what my ideal work week was, and I told them “8 – 12 hours.”  They laughed and thought I was joking, but . . . I wasn’t.  My happiness criteria demands that I have time to volunteer, create, exercise, dance, be with my family and friends, etc.  Have I worked 40 hours a week?  Yes.  Was I happy?  Yes.  Would I be happier if I worked my 8 – 12 hours?  YES!

And how many of your criteria are non-negotiable?

For example, having a flexible schedule is non-negotiable to my happiness, but being able to bring my dog to work is negotiable.  If my schedule is flexible enough, there will be enough companionship time at the park and on the trails with my dog.

 

Click on the aqua-blue link below to download your free journal prompt: Your Happiness Criteria.  This prompt has some fun and revealing questions about you and how you choose to be happy and to implement happiness criteria in order to raise your Happiness Quotient (HQ).

Happiness Criteria. journal prompt

What do you think?  Has listing your Happiness Criteria helped you to focus on what is important to you?   On what makes you feel happy?  For some of us, these are not simple questions to answer; still, in my heart, I believe that the answers are vivid and clear.  My Higher Self knows what contributes to my happiness.  Taking time to think on these things and to let my intuition rule inspires me to grow in new directions.  To stay open to coincidence.  To appreciate the people in my life who want me to grow.  To appreciate the joy in laughter.

For all of this, I feel deep appreciation.toaster oven

 

 

 

 

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.”

Allen Wrenches & Due Diligence

moving

Whew. Almost done!

It has been a few weeks since moving in to my new home, so I decided to drag out the last of the last and unpack some of the final boxes that have been cluttering the living room.  I set a goal.  I was determined not to stop my efforts until at least three of the offending boxes were distributed and emptied.

These remaining boxes are those that are filled with the unsorted and the unwanted semi-useful things you discover you have at the end of any move . . . things like salsa jars of nails and screws, odd assortments of pens, paper clips, and rubber bands, virgin flat sponges awaiting the magical release of hydration.  Headsets that may or may not function, mystery remote controls, loose buttons, loose batteries that might work so you best keep them.  Plastic cutlery, paper doilies for making Valentines, a voice recorder with no corresponding USB cord, candles, napkin rings.  And those dratted twist ties.  Why do we save so damn many twist ties?

You know the mix.  Stuff that doesn’t really “go with” any of the other “themed” boxes at the tail end of a move.  Stuff that we call “junk” but feel compelled to move with us. Stuff that we throw into boxes as the carpet cleaner is arriving, all while chanting to self, I will survive this move!

IMG_2812

And so it begins . . .

After such an epic move, three boxes isn’t so much.  Victory would be mine today.  I started with Box #1.  But lo.  Midway down in the box I found an unassembled Desktop Foosball Table in its glossy unopened box.  What a waste to not be having fun with this, I thought.  This foosball table was a gift from someone who loves me, who knows how I love foosball, who wants me to have fun in life.  I decided that it was time, right then and there, to do something that I never do: assemble something on the spot. By myself.  Drop everything and just do it.  My unpacking screeched to a stop.  It was time to assemble.

I am one of those personality types who does not read directions.  When I get a new phone or fancy appliance, I conscientiously file its new manual neatly with the others from various small and large appliances — in the event of dysfunctional emergency.

IMG_2810

Yikes!  There are a lot of pieces!

Truth, I think I am directions-phobic.  I know that it must sound weird, but when I start reading directions, I stress.  My stomach knots up, and I feel panic-y.  Why?  I don’t know. I have the native intelligence to read and comprehend the required steps.  Still, it feels more intuitive for me to find my way, experientially so, than by reading that tiny, tiny print in the directions.

I remember the towel bar that I put up in the bathroom.  I was so proud of the initial efforts: buying it at the harware store.  I borrowed a drill from a colleague and found a level in the garage.  I then spent untold perfection-istic algebraic minutes trying to perfectly level the bar by performing algebraic feats of ratios, circumferences, and order of operations . . . only to find, when cleaning up my mess, that there were clear directions in the box with a handy-dandy paper guide that you tape to the wall — which would have made everything so much easier in the leveling process.

Instead, I solved my equations, measured, leveled, and drilled.  I persevered.  Three new and unnecessary holes dotting the wall later, the bar was finally mounted . . . quite level actually . . . but unfortunately with clean up that required a session of spackling, sanding, and painting.  Sometimes it’s not easy being green.

This is what I learned from my DIY foosball table assembly:

  1. Before undertaking any project of this magnitude, find your reading glasses.
  2. Organize your resources. If the directions say that you are going to need a flathead screwdriver, track down the screwdriver before you begin.
  3. Don’t be intimidated by technical terms like “Allen wrench.” Google is my friend.
  4. IMG_2811

    All of the necessary hardware

    Lay your hardware out in an organized fashion. Try not to lose or squander resources.

  5. Appreciate clairvoyant hardware-packaging people who include one extra washer and one extra tiny screw. (See #4.)
  6. Rely on previous experience. Washers are provided for a reason.
  7. Some steps are best done collaboratively. It does no good to screw one of four screws in really tightly and then have to back it off to fit the others.
  8. Rely on finished-product pictures that are provided. Foosball is about winning.  Situating all red team members on the defensive end of the playing field creates no offense to win.
  9. Too much zeal during assembly can result in split and broken pieces.
  10. When all 4 pieces split upon application, it might not be about your zeal. It might be about a lesser-quality product. (See #9.)
  11. It’s okay not to ask for help.
  12. You can break a sweat using an Allen wrench.
  13. Just because you don’t ask for help and you strip a screw head doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. (See #11 & #12.)
  14. Having opposable thumbs is fun and highly advantageous.
  15. Being determined is rewarding.

IMG_2813

Nice, huh?

Why I feel so accomplished after assembling a miniature foosball table all by myself is a bit of mystery to me.  And a bit comical.  I think it must have more to do with “finishing something” with only a set of directions and my wits than it does with conquering assembly with an Allen wrench – my new favorite tool, by the way.

I also feel like its assembly honored my loved one who gave it to me.  I must write her a note and thank her for the foosball fun.  Thanks, AW!

The little lesson from this: I can slow down and manage the steps required to meet my end goals.  Life isn’t all about speed.  I think I am intimidated by, and sometimes disappointed in, my own lack of follow-through at times.  I might speed across the finish line, but how many washers, screws, and essential pieces do I deem unnecessary and then discard or lose along the way?

As I was cleaning up my post-assembly mess, I tossed the Allen wrench into the Rubbermaid catch-all under the laundry room sink.  I paused.  And fished it back out.  It is now on my desk to serve as a reminder that I’ve got this.  I can survive taking the time to read directions, even if it makes my stomach wrench (no pun intended.)

IMG_2817

Let’s play!

Am I happy with the results of my efforts?  Yes.  Did I learn something?  Very much yes.  The Boxes of the Unsorted in my living room still beckon to me.  I am now wondering what other lessons await my due diligence.  I will tuck my Allen wrench talisman into my back pocket for luck and will persevere until all is sorted and stored.  Life is good. I’ve got this!

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

Hermit Crabs: the Great Shell Exchange

036Here is today’s journal question from my 5-year diary with 1,825 potential answers: If you could move anywhere, where would you move?  

This answer is easy for me: Nowhere.

In this past year, I have moved three times.  I feel that I have fulfilled the spirit of new adventure that this question suggests, and I’m sticking with Nowhere.  I love where I live, and there is nowhere else on the planet where I would rather be living.

Stuff.  What is it that George Carlin said about stuff?  “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”  While I completely agree with him, I have to say that there is something comforting about creating an atmosphere that invites relaxation, creativity, and a sense of family.  It is a good thing . . . even when I find that I have accumulated more than my little shell can hold.

I am currently reading Marie Kondo’s the life-chaning magic of tidying up.  If you haven’t heard of it, just google Marie Kondo + joy and you will read about her gentle and successful de-cluttering techniques.  I have only read up to page 61 and you should see my sock drawers!  They have major Wow! factor.
In order to create a home that generates joy, it is necessary to say good bye to those things that have fulfilled their function and duty.  The sorting is quite the process, but I am working through it by taking baby steps.  I know that, once I have read the entire book and taken a stab at categorizing all/most of my stuff, I am going to need to read it again and start the de-cluttering all over again.  Although I can be a quick study in some areas of my life, I accept that I am going to have to give it one more pass before I feel like I am done creating my space of Kondo-esque joy.

IMG_3357To say this undertaking is intimidating might sound a little dramatic; time feels limited and the sorting is time-consuming.  But I shall persist and get to the place where I have made a dent and can go into my next move with better spirits and less drudge-y vibes.

I remembered this BBC video about hermit crabs while pondering this question.  It is simply captivating, what with nature being so fascinating when caught with such detail on film: the narration, the science, the earnestness and the ingenuity of the crabs — all make for quite the video narration.  Enjoy and, should you be in the midst of a move, I wish you the best.  [This video is very brief . . . only a few minutes and not a long documentary.  I think it will perk up your day if you take the time to view it. :)]

I don’t know why but if I watch this once, I watch it twice. There is something just so synchronous and relatively amiable about the hermit crabs’ system of figuring out an orderly solution.

So how about you?  If you could move anywhere on the planet, where would you go?

Life is a lively event.  Enjoy your space, imbue it with joy, and jettison the rest.

What’s stopping you?

Author bio: Kennedy Farr’s passion for writing caught light at the age of four when she first learned how to spell her name on a sheet of lined tablet paper.  Kennedy is a daily writer and blogger, a lifelong learner, and a true believer that something wonderful is happening right now in this very moment.  Kennedy lives high on the mountainside of an emerald-green island in the Pacific Northwest.

Website:https://theunseenwordsproject.com/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/theunseenwords

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Unseen-Words-Project-1095815913825818/

 

 

 

 

 

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?

When Losing & Gaining Are the Same Thing

My journal question of the day from my 5-year journal of 1,825 Answers is: “What do you have to lose?”  This one is a True Stumper. Answers came flying at me from the left and the right.  From above and below.  And a few shot their arrows of truth straight through my soul.  I thought of the physical and the cosmic, the overtones and undertones of this question.  The tangible and the intangible. Terra Firma and Universe.  Worldly and spiritual.  Scary and serene. Serious and funny. Physical and emotional.

What I first wrote for an answer was intuitive: “Absolutely nothing.”  But then, I don’t know, something nudged me again from the inside so I added: “Absolutely everything.”  Then my rational brain wrote: “I really don’t know how to answer this.”  Then my spiritual self wrote: “The concept of loss encompasses a great deal of life’s essence and interpretation.”

I sharpen my pencil and go back to the original question on the page and cross out everything I have written and write in response to “What do you have to lose?”: Optimism & belief & my ability to love.

And I realize that I am writing myself into circles that are far too confining and . . . truth: I need not be so confined by someone else’s question.  I simply rewrite the question and cross out the word lose and write in the word gain, re-phrasing it to read: “What do I have to gain?”  By re-writing the question, I am inspired to re-write embedded self-perceptions of lack and to safeguard any existing self-perceptions of wealth — true, real-life, inside wealth.

And then I think: Wait a second.  Losing and gaining might actually be the very same thing . . . for when I re-phrase the question as “What do I have to gain?” my answers are the very same as for what I have to lose: Optimism & belief & my ability to love.

IMG_2800Nothing like a little convoluted writing to unsquiggle a simple question.  My takeaway from today’s question: Gaining is the same as Losing.  Perspective sometimes wins out over reality.  It’s time for me to think on Abundance Theory and keep focused on the sunny side.  Eventually time gets us to where we want to be heading . . . which potentially leads to the next question: Where am I going anyway?  A question to be answered on another day . . .

So . . . your journal question for today: What do you have to gain?  

If you feel comfortable sharing your answers, please, do so in the comments below.  We all grow from others’ diverse experiences and perspectives.  What do you have to gain?

Life is a remarkably lively and engaging event.  

Go forth, answer squiggly questions, and appreciate what you do have in life.  

What’s stopping you? 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Inner Honey Badger & Make Some Mud Balls

Escape your present reality and think like a honey badger.  Every time I watch this BBC documentary clip of the honey badger, I am so inspired by this animal’s persistence.  The honey badger’s focus on escaping the enclosure is nothing short of amazing.  It uses any and every resource it has to get to where it wants to go.  This animal truly is a marvel.  And what a lesson to all of us who doubt or fear or give up or don’t believe that something is possible.  The message straight from the honey badger itself: It is possible.  Just watch the video (4:12) and you will see what I am saying.  It is a hoot!

When I watch this video, I think about my life and about where I want to go.  Where I know I want to be. What I want to accomplish.  I am reminded of that quote by Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Well, the thing is: I do know . . . and I am expending personal resource: time, energy, creativity, etc.

But still . . . am I using every resource that is available to me?

This honey badger’s tenacity shows me that the answer to my question is Absolutely not.  The thing is: I know that I am capable of so much more.  Perhaps this is what drives the pistons of life’s dissatisfaction or confusion or self-defeat within my inner world.  I know that I have so much more inside of me to create, to offer, to be.  In the video, the honey badger even makes mud balls (!) to stage its escape.  Mud balls . . . an escape prop out of dirt and water.  Maybe I am easily moved, entertained, and inspired, but I find this very inspiring.  This honey badger never ceases to execute the next escape plan with what diminishing resources are available.  It uses ingenuity to make its goal happen, no matter what “tools” are available.

The word escape has so many different connotations.  It can mean that I am escaping from something that isn’t pleasant or that is demoralizing.  Or it can mean that I am experiencing a moment of escape, like the feeling of reveling in the sunshine on that Maui beach . . . but still with life’s root-of-reality reminding me of that which I will be returning to once vacation is over . . . something that isn’t bad but that isn’t all that great either.

Watch the video below (4:12), be inspired, and then click on the aqua-blue link to a fun and inspiring journaling prompt below.  Have fun with the prompt.  It could very well have the power to create a ripple effect into how you choose to live your life.  I wish you the very best of energy with your respective dreams and goals.

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for today’s journaling prompt: Your Great Escape Plan

Your Great Escape Plan

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and add it to 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.]

IMG_0703

 

Leap & Land with a Bang

Check out this BBC video of mobula rays and their artistic, acrobatic, and aerobatic show.  They are spectacular.  Who knew that rays could leap — and land — so amazingly?   Their landing sends a huge boom through the water.  The higher they leap, the bigger the bang upon landing.  It is believed that the rays that make the biggest impact, give themselves the best odds of standing apart from the herd and of leaving with a mate.

Watch these fabulous flying rays (3:12):

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150512-watch-these-giant-rays-fly

Mating rituals aside . . . when in a group, how do you stand out from the crowd?  How do you get noticed?  How do you draw attention to yourself?   This is not about ego-grabbing narcissism that demands every speck of attention in a social setting.  This is about expressing yourself in your immediate world such that you get noticed, feel understood, and build the best opportunities to connect with others.   Connection . . . it truly is what makes the world go around and is what gives significant meaning to what we do when we aren’t in the midst of connecting.  We, as humans, need connection . . . why not do it with a figurative bang?

So, taking a cue from the mobula rays . . . the higher the leap, the bigger the bang upon landing and the better chance to stand out from the crowd.  What is one thing you can do today or tomorrow or the next day to get noticed?  To make a difference?  To be you?  To exercise your unique you-ness?  Give yourself some credit for being important in the grand scheme of things.  Leap spectacularly and land with a big bang.

Being able to think of something that you will actually do might be a stretch for us introverts.  It might feel unnecessary or unbecoming or way out of one’s wheelhouse.  But why not try one little thing, make a change-up in your wardrobe.  Skip down the sidewalk to retrieve your mail.  Engage with the barista as you wait for your Americano.  Leaping is different for everyone; it is something only you can define for yourself.

Think One New Thing.  Leap and land and leap all over again.  It looks like these mobula rays are expending a tremendous amount of energy to go flying out of the water.  This is something that I think we sometimes want to avoid: The water feels so comfy.  I don’t think I can leap very high.  I’m not very athletic, after all.  Landing might cause me pain.  Someone might laugh at me or think I am weird.  Simply put? Expend the energy.  Your life will become different because of it.  I promise.

And the thing about leaping is that there is gravity on this planet.  You will land.  With a bang. Why not make it a Big Bang and stand out from the crowd?  Take a stand for you.  For a friend or a colleague or a student or a child or a stranger.  And for the world that surrounds you.  The Universe will thank you for it.

pencil stubClick on the sky blue link below for today’s journal prompt.  Have fun discovering (and making!) your leap!

Leap high and land with a bang. 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.]