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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Where are you headed today?

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theunseenwordsproject.com

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 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.  

Freedom. What is it?

wishing_for_freedom_by_rosiesnotred-d3h0imjWhat is freedom?

When I have asked people this question, their responses have been both delightfully unique and predictably predictable.  Freedom is time for travel, not having to work, doing whatever it is one wants to do, playing music, volunteering, not having to set an alarm clock every night, eating a limitless amount of cheescake and not gaining weight, experiencing no boundaries. . .

Many people equate freedom with money.  Financial freedom has its many perks that allow for choices that can be bought.  Exotic travel, a newer car, a bigger home, a better body that has been nipped, tucked, and enhanced.  A better wardrobe, more shoes, a bigger closet.

But what about those many things in life that do not have a price tag? Like health, love, laughter, respect, integrity . . . many of the things that ask that an active and committed and mindful choice be made.  Choices about the food we eat, how often we exercise, what kinds of supplements we want to add to our diet.  Our choices to extend love, to share, to forgive someone their humanity – even when we truly do not even feel like it.  Our choices to walk through the walls of our ego for a different view and laugh at ourselves and with others.  Choices to not sell ourselves short too quickly for a short-term solution.  Choices to believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Always . . . believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Choices to stay on the sunny side and to believe in optimistic outcomes.  All of these choices . . . we have so much freedom to choose in any given second of any given day from an infinite library of perspectives.

But I sometimes think that I tend to oversimplify . . . especially when I am writing at my old, favorite, beat-up library table with a fire going in the fireplace and a glass of white wine nearby.  There is beautiful music playing and it is official: we are on the sunny side of winter solstice.  I am blessed with so much and choices feel easier when life feels good.

I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck many years ago.  The idea of timshel is discussed – the Hebrew word for thou mayest.    We are born with a sense of free will that allows us to make choices for better or for worse.  Timshel is freedom of the mind, but isn’t it also freedom of the heart entwined with freedom of the mind?  I am not sure how to separate the two.  Which camefirst?  The thought or the feeling?  There are neuro-scientists and neuro-psychologists that can surely answer to this.  There is amazing and impressive research concerning our emotional intelligence and what occurs during an emotional hijacking . . . how our emotional brain races ahead of our rational brain.

timshel

Thoughts.  Feelings.  I am convinced that there is an additional element that blends and swirls with our thoughts and our feelings: timshel.  We can accomplish many amazing things; we can meet many goals; we can overcome staggering obstacles.  Amazing and stunning displays of success.  But what came first?  The Thought?  The Feeling that motivates and drives us?  Or the Freedom of Mind that opens the doors that allow our Thoughts and our Feelings to pass vigorously, creatively, and humbly into the worlds and dimensions around us?

john steinbeck quote east of edenWhat is freedom? ” . . . the way is open . . .”  Some definitions of freedom remove obligations but my current definition asks that I embrace responsibility for Freedom of Mind . . . for embracing timshel and understanding that thou mayest means different things to different people.  Defining anything can introduce a wealth of confusion and possibly disagreement.  Words, as wonderful and beautiful and elucidating as they can be, can also limit us in the ways of thou mayest – a blessing of optimism.  “Now that [we] don’t have to be perfect, [we] can be good.”  Simply put . . . what is freedom?  I believe that it is optimism.  Always believing in the possibility that something beautiful has the power to enter into my world. toaster oven