Just Breathe

This is such a lovely and wonderful song.  Every time I listen to it, I am reminded to Just Breathe.

Today, just breathe in the moment and “count on both hands”  your blessings of appreciation and gratitude.

Click on the link below for today’s journal entry.

Count on both hands. 10 things of appreciation.

toaster ovenWhile you are journaling, please, listen to this beautiful song by Eddy Vedder.  It is inspiring in that quiet, rich way that leads you to look a little deeper for all of the beauty that is hidden in each and every moment.  Happy journaling!

And I appreciate YOU for visiting The Unseen Words Project today.  You make such a difference in my day!

Fearless or Irresponsible? Living In the Overlap.

For whatever reason, I was thinking today about a time in my life when I was acting quite irresponsibly.  At least that is how it must have appeared from an outsider’s perspective.  To me, and with a goodly measure of hindsight, what felt to be intrepid was probably pretty rash.  And maybe even a little naive and dumb.

I was also thinking today about times in my life when I was acting quite fearlessly and how life was just one long ride of incredible excitement.  Every day was new and different and challenges abounded as a result of this fearlessness.  I was riding a big wave and somehow managing to stay on the board.  I look back and think, Huh.  How did that even work?  

Fearless?  Irresponsible?  Is there even a line between the two?  Maybe life is one big Venn diagram . . . a symbol of where we place our confidence in life, in love, in ourselves.  I don’t know.  In that we are never completely aware of the full consequences of our actions, it is unclear as to how willy-nilly my behavior truly was.  And continues to be.  Still, it seems to be true that all kinds of crazy and dumb can lead to positive outcomes.  It sometimes comes down to the question of What we are willing to do for the pursuit of love and happiness?  What kind of risk are we willing to take?

Click on the link below and print out this journaling exercise.  Do some free associating with the diagram.  I’m not suggesting any empirical outcome.  I am simply asking you to consider that what you might carry as a regret might not have been as dumb and irresponsible as you think it was or is.

Life happens.  Consider the alternative.  I’d rather be living in the Overlap or even the Outer Fringes . . . knowing that I am willing to take the risk to try.  Just try.

Fearless or Irresponsible. Living in the Overlap.

[Three-hole punch this exercise and put it in your special journaling binder.  It is so rewarding to look back over writing that is honest and that encourages you to grow.  My journaling friends all say that they are glad they have saved their writing in one binder or notebook.  They also say that they are happy that they dated their writing and recorded their location.  You might be in the park, at your desk, or on a ferry.  You might be on an exotic vacattoaster ovenion or you might be waiting for your laundry to finish drying at the laundromat.  No matter where you are when you are recording your thoughts and feelings, when re-reading your entries at a later date . . . your spatial memory will trigger the Feelings of Epiphany you felt when you were discovering your Voice and your Truth.  Happy writing!]

 

Try Something New: See Beyond the Obvious

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focusMark Twain: “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

What does it mean when my imagination is out of focus?  I don’t recognize life’s glorious gifts.  I am easily distracted.  I choose routine and I shun spontaneity.  I see options, not miracles.  I worry rather than allow.  I choose to accept mediocrity rather than to change.  I believe the naysayers.  I neglect the artistic potential of the bottle cap languishing in the gutter and walk on by.  I cease to create.  I might get grumpy or feel trapped or start blaming someone or something else for something insignificant.  I might deny the truth and start assigning blame. A little toad might hop out of my mouth — never to be retrieved and silenced.

I stop loving and I embrace fear.  These are the times when I pull the needle back on the vinyl.  Zzzrrrrrrip.  Time for a do-over. Time to make a difference.  Time to hone the focus of my imagination.

Every day.  My intentions are vivid and sharp.  I strive to be mindful . . . to push beyond the boundaries of the obvious.  To alwaysalwaysalways choose love over fear.  Love over fear.  This is tricky business, especially when daily distractions demand my attention.  I am running late, the dog needs to be walked, I can’t find my red shoes, I spill my coffee on the seat of my truck, I blow out the copier on campus with my crazyenergy . . . It takes very little imagination to understand how this “stuff” affects my focus.  It blows it into vapor — never to be made manifest.

thankful-quote1-300x300I am profoundly appreciative of those in my life who make it so easy and so fun to choose love.  Who inspire me to choose laughter over tears.  Who remind me to think big and go beyond.  Who believe in me.  These are my heroes.  They are the “people who make a difference” in my life.  They are the people who encourage me to keep my focus.  To grow my imagination.  I so love them for this.

I thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  I do.   toaster oven

This video is an awesome example of seeing beyond the obvious.  Jarbas Agnelli was seeing with his imagination:

Today?  It is my intent to see at least one thing that extends beyond the obvious.  Whew.  Who knows what kind of amazing things might happen today?

Make a Mistake Today

Try Something New.  Today.  Be bold and courageous and fun and a little bit crazy.  Try something.  Just try.  Make a mistake.  Have fun with it.  Focus on process, not outcome . . . be willing to let the outcome go.  Be an innovator, not just an implementer.   Be a creator, not just a do-er.  Prioritize some change today.  Give yourself a golf clap.  Know that you tried to do something that exceeded your version of ordinary.  Be yourself.  Take a risk.  Try something new.   Have some fun.  And then have some crazy fun.  Live.  Laugh.  Love.  Be happy. Celebrate the newness.toaster oven

albert einstein

 

Try Something New: Willing to Give It a Shot

Every time I see these things on Pinterest that people “totally nailed,” I get such a good laugh.  I appreciate the effort and the willingness to experiment in order to create something beautiful.  This particular batch of “Pinterest Fails” in the link below are hilarious.  At least they are to my sense of humor.   There’s something about a picture perfect specimen and its fail that make me want to Try Something New.  And try, try again.  Or not.

When I see these photos, it makes me wish that I had taken pictures of all of my attempts to make extraordinary and memorable birthday cakes and Christmas cookies.  The bread “art” that I have tried to nail.  The doughnuts that looked like leaden lumps.  The pretzels that refused to “pretz.”  The French fries that absorbed well over a quart of oil.  The pasta dish made for a special event that was re-named Tuna Splat.  The chocolate chip cookie that was used as a hockey puck by restless 8th-grade boys.  The knitted slippers for Operation Toasty Toes for a soldier that wears a size 6 and has pointy elf toes.  The birthday sweater for a 7-year-old girl with a neckline that would have been loose on Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The times of trying to make a potluck item look interesting and extra appetizing.  The origami paper cranes that looked like predatory pterodactyls.

But I am thinking that I will award myself an “A+” for these creative efforts.  And send a wave of appreciation to those with the artistic fortitude that was devoted to these Pinterest attempts.  Bravo, brava, and bravi!

And there are some things in life that just come round right without me even trying or thinking. These moments are about being present.  Being.  Being open.  Opening my heart.  Feeling the world stand still.  This is what I love about life.  You never know when your simple presence may be rewarded with amazing beauty.  I send waves of appreciation to the Heavens for allowing these moments of pure Serendipity.  toaster oven

Here is the link to some more epic Pinterest attempts.  Have fun! . . .

 

 

When does life begin?

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I wonder what experiences led Eleanor Roosevelt to write or express such wisdom.  Today, they are words on the page that inspire . . . but I would suspect that there were some sleepless nights that provided the wisdom and the conviction to be brave, take risks, and look fear in the face.

I have not read any biographies about Eleanor Roosevelt and I would suspect that Eleanor experienced her share of uncertainty and doubt.  Looking “fear in the face”?  You can’t make this stuff up from fiction-based imaginings.  It would be like writing a story about miracles without having experienced one.  You just can’t make it up.  It is necessary to have lived it.

I take her one quote to heart: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  I don’t like feeling fear.  Fear is one of those queasy feelings that goes to my stomach and rests there like an ugly orc — ready to smite me down to smithereens if I steal a glance at it.  Fear is unpleasant, unpredictable, and unlovely.  It does not bring out the most attractive parts of me.  It gives me cause to doubt in my belief that something wonderful is about to happen.  It messes with my chi.  It gives me bad advice.  And it does not inspire me to lead by example.  Fear overpowers any other emotions.  It disallows my willingness to take a chance.  To do something risky.  It is a detour from bravery.  It is the absence of love.  And without love, what is life?

I have another Eleanor Roosevelt quote on my desk: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift.”  A gift.  Which leads me back to the reminder to do one thing every day that scares me.  This is all so much easier to write about in the wee hours of the night in my cozy house than to actually do.  Some days this gesture is a little thing.  Other days it is huge.  I have never regretted one single thing I have done while keeping Eleanor’s words in my heart.  I always feel better when I have chosen to beard the lion in its den.  If I succeed, my friends are there to celebrate with me.  If I fail, my loved ones are there to help me re-hash it with some degree of humor.  What is failure without a little light of humor shone on it?

People who are nearing the end of their lives have said that they didn’t regret the things they did.  Rather they regretted the things they did not do.  The same message with fancier language was written by Sydney J. Harris: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

life begins quoteWhen does life begin?  “At the end of your comfort zone”?  Today is a celebration of looking fear in the face and going for it.  Pushing past your comfort zone.  If you are feeling a lack of confidence, remember: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  We are as free as we choose to be in the face of fear.  By disallowing fear, we invite love to enter.  And what an amazing thing this is.

When I think on these things, I feel a strange Muse entering my office.  Like a sobering calm has entered the room, and I long for spontaneity and laughter to overtake the moment.  But these moments have value in that they embolden me with the rootstock courage to be spontaneous, to take risks, to take the chance of making a mistake, “to do that which [I] think [I] cannot.”  I want to be wildly unhindered by a lack of regret.  I have been accused of being foolhardy and goofy.  Ditzy and capricious.  Irresponsible and risky.  Maybe these adjectives are the encouragement that I need to tell me that I am on the right track, and I don’t even know it.

Today . . . I am going to do something that scares me.  I am familiar with my fears . . . one of them being the fear of failure.  The fear that I won’t have enough time in my life to do all that I hope to do.  The fear of not having tried to accomplish that one dream within.  The fear of feeling regret at the end of my life.  Do I live this way?  I try not to . . . still, these little nagging doubts linger on occasion.  Eleanor believes that we “gain strength, and courage, and confidence” by trying to do something that we cannot do.  It is time to shake things up, go forth, and do something a little scary.   toaster oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try Something New: Down at the Car Wash

I would not exactly say that I am claustrophobic, but I do not like the feeling of being in a room without having the windows open.  The door open, too.  My blood pressure elevates a bit.  I think about exit strategies.  I start to feel concern about hydrating.   And I want to be out in the sunshine or rain — as soon as possible.

My truck recently was baptized by what looked to be the aftermath of a rowdy seagull kegger.  Wow, was it a mess.  I suspect that they were up on top of the canopy partying it up and having a blast and not thinking hygiene.  Not to be crude, but it was pretty remarkable.  So an afternoon of truck washing was in order.

I always wash my truck myself as I don’t like being in tight places while being flailed, battered, and beaten about by high pressure hoses and those massive brushes that swoop in from odd angles to whap-whap-whap the sides of my truck.  It is a long journey for me through that lane of cleaning violence.  But after looking at my truck and surveying the extent of the bird party, I thought that I would Try Something New and go through the car wash.  Feeling fearless!

For those of you who go through car washes with great frequency, the only other things I can compare it to is perhaps playing violin at a recital, public speaking at a TED talk, standing at the edge of a precipice with a fear of heights, small rodents crossing your path in the kitchen, a spider dangling above your nose when you wake up in the morning, a snake curled around your carton of eggs in the root cellar, seeing a clown walking toward you in a dark alley, fear of failure . . . this sort of thing.

But cleanliness is a virtue, and I do like to feel virtuous.  I pulled up to the lane and was surprised to see that I was the only car there.  Perhaps because it was a lull between steady downpours, but I felt happy that there was no one behind me in line that would witness any ineptitude in me lining up my left wheels just so in the shoot.

The young man who met me was super tall and lanky.  It looked like he could handle a hose with a pressure washer.  And it made me happy that he was definitely tall enough to see and wash off the Party Vortex on the top of the canopy.  When I pulled up, his assessment was simply stated: “Wow, man!  You really need a wash.”  He walked me through the various options and, not trusting the thought of coating my vehicle in wax, I chose “The Basic Wash.”  He assured me that with The Basic, it was likely that most of the stuff on my truck would be removed.

I was able to miraculously line up the wheels just so.  Then he and his partner-in-wash started to spray the truck down.  I then felt even more panic.  I hadn’t asked if the engine should be on or off.  Intuition told me to not have the e-brake on.  But what about being in neutral?  Oh no!  I was going to be shunted through the tunnel without any sense of propriety.  I started to sweat.

The men were having a lot of fun as they worked.  The tall one blasted a dilute spray of gull waste at the short one.  Cussing ensued.  The tall one laughed.  Tall people.  I don’t know.

Blessedly, there was a pause in the initial washing, and I tentatively rolled down my window.  “Should I have it in neutral?”

“Man, you don’t want it to be in park or with the brake on.”

“What about the engine?  On or off?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

I am thinking, Doesn’t matter?  How can this be?  I opted for off.

Well, you veteran Car Wash people know that nothing bad happens when you go through the wash.  It is done in less than 2 minutes and you have a very pretty truck when you are done.  It is so shiny!  And I felt as if I had conquered one of life’s mysteries.  The tall one told me to not take off.   He wanted to polish everything up nice and pretty as a final courtesy.

I drove away happy with the experience.  While in the wash shoot, I did start to panic a bit, wondering why it was slowing down.  Do I have water in here with me?  A power bar? Should my antenna be rattling like that?   But instead of feeling stressed, I grabbed my phone and started taking pictures midway through the experience.  Nothing artistically stellar, mind you.  Just click click click.

So, my Try Something New is surely going to become a regular event in my life.  I now really like going to the car wash.  So easy and shiny and pretty.  And it feels good to know I am taking care of my truck.

My Try Something New for tomorrow?  I am not sure.  It hasn’t revealed itself yet.  But this passage of doing something extraordinary (for me, that is) every single day has really opened up all sorts of possibilities in life.  Like ordering a honey martini for the first time, trying a new dance move, introducing myself to someone whom I see out and about town all the time, not caring about my boss’s bad jokes about my hair, wearing something that is not black, white, or gray . . . these things sound small and inconsequential but they are moving things around.  Molecules are being re-arranged.  Life is being renewed and cleaned and made shiny.toaster oven

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Try Something New: Enforced Restfulness

My Try Something New today: contentment in enforced restfulness.

If you light a lamp quote

The story of my past few days has allowed for some enforced restfulness.  What I have learned is that as much as I say I want a peaceful and quiet and tranquil life in the midst of my self-made chaos . . . there is another part of me that craves the hub-bub, the drama, the go-go-go, the challenges at work, the randomness of just wandering with no projected outcomes, the movement that gives me inspiration to create and to laugh and to love.

This enforced restfulness has given me time to just be with me.  And it has been nice.  And it has also been not so nice.  The nice parts have given me an opportunity to observe and take note of what runs through my mind when I am not thinking of what I am going to do next.  I am just being in the Now.  Just chilling and petting the cat and figuring out inversions on the  piano and stir-frying onions and garlic with asparagus and having long conversations on the phone with my sisters . . . this sort of thing.  I have been focusing on the simple and important things that get nudged aside or that get squeezed into the day.

The thing that has been rather bittersweet has been realizing truly how little time I create for being with me.  I find that I often am so busy projecting my light outward, I don’t replenish the source of this light within.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing . . . but  the words of my mum come to mind: Moderation in everything.  I think I have been putting too much time into outward and not into inward.

In high school art class, I was given a calligraphy assignment.  I was to find a proverb or quote and write it using the calligraphy style of my choice.  Wanting it to be perfect and vintage-y, I procrastinated and I remember spending more time ultimately looking for a short quote that would satisfy the assignment than I did practicing my lettering.   The quote was short, but compelling.  I knew it had a lot to say, even though I wasn’t quite certain what it exactly meant at the time.  It reads: “Contentment is the absence of selfish ambition.”  Quite the dose of profundity in only seven words.  No wonder it befuddled my teen-aged mind.  It still sort of does.

What this enforced restfulness has done is it has slowed me to a place of seeking contentment.  By replenishing, I have refilled the lamp, trimmed the wick, and polished up the chimney.  How is my little light going to shine if I don’t take the time to fill the lamp?

I also know that this time to myself has created deep appreciation for all of those people who shine their light my way — for their “absence of selfish ambition” — for sharing who they are with me so selflessly.

Am I committed to take more time to just think and to be and to not be doing all of the time?  Yes. Am I ready to resume my days at the speed of light?  Yes.   But this has been good.  Good for realizing that I am paying attention and wanting a life with a balance of contentment that generates and receives light and that puts a smile back into my soul and that not just enforces restfulness but embraces it as well.

 

Parles-tu français? Non? Pas de problème. Vie d’amour!

My Try Something New for today: I responded to a mystery text in French.

I received a random text from a man named Francis who was looking for a woman named Yvette.  In that I received his message, it appears that Yvette possibly gave Francis a wrong number.  Or perhaps Francis had a case of Fat Fumble Finger Syndrome when he was entering Yvette’s phone number into his phone.  It’s a tough call.

Francis’ message read: Is this Yvette from ______.  (wanting to keep this private for Francis’ sake)

I responded: ??

Francis: Yes or No if this is Yvette.  

Me: Nope.  

And thinking this sounded harsh, in a follow-up message, I added: Sorry.

Francis: Sorry wrong number.

Me: Pas de problème. (Translation: Not a problem.)

Francis: Huh?

Me: No problem.

Francis: Ohhhh hahahahaha.

I don’t know why I responded to Francis in French or why this was funny, but apparently it eased Francis’ disappointment that Yvette dissed him with my number instead of her own.

Responding to strangers in French  is certainly nothing that I have felt compelled to do in the past . . . not with the person who keeps trying to ask Hot Jazmyn out.  Or the person who keeps trying to tell Ted to pick up his paycheck before Friday — this has happened twice now.  Poor Ted.  And there is the man who keeps trying to schedule dates around his doctor appointments.  I guess I must have a popular number.

I mentioned this Francis-Yvette exchange to a friend of mine — who also speaks French — and she recognized Yvette’s name and the name of the bar.  She said that her boyfriend used to be roommates with Yvette, that Yvette indeed works at the place that Francis mentioned, and . . . drum roll, please . . . Yvette is from France.  Amazing?  No.  Mildly coincidental?  Sorta.

In all cases of mis-received texts, I have tried to break the truth gently.  I am not Yvette; You deserve better than Hot Jazmyn; Ted is going to be broke if you don’t try harder;and I hope that you are feeling much better, but this isn’t Connie.  My words of empathy bridging the gaps in cyber space.  Hey people!  You are all awesome!  Thanks for saying hey!

But then . . . the plot thickens.  Being one of those people who likes to keep an arsenal of Cupid’s arrows in my backpack at all times, I forwarded Francis’ message to my French-speaking friend whose boyfriend used to be a housemate with Yvette.

I do not know what the outcome is at this point time, but perhaps Kismet is serving in Francis’ favor and my friend’s boyfriend will forward the message to Yvette and then Yvette can make a decision as to Francis.  Maybe she believe in Kismet, as I do, and she will give Francis a second chance and give him her real number.  (Enter: Hollywood crescendo music to indicate happy moment)

So, none of this loop would have been set into motion had it not been that I mentioned the French-reply reference to my friend.  Random?  I don’t know . . . at least not yet.  Reste calme, Francis.

I realize that this has generated quite the lively exchange of nothingness at this point in time.  But it does speak to those promptings to do something that makes absolutely zero sense at the time but could have an ooh-la-la impact in someone’s love life.

Hourra! Kismet! Et vie d’amour!  (Love lives!)

 

 

One New Thing: allowing the cat to stalk me

My One New Thing today: I allowed the cat to go on a walk with us — my dog and me.

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No, this is not my cat. It is my dog, Valentino.

Normally, I contain the cat to the house when I take the dog for a walk on the trails behind my house.  The thing about this cat is she was raised with a pack of dogs.  In the time she has been living with me, she has had 6 different canine roommates.  She has been observing dog-clan behavior her entire kitten life.  As a result she loves going on walks with whichever dog companion is living with me at the time.

Being on the trails while she is hunting us from behind is disturbing.  I never know when an unleashed dog is going to come bounding up the trail and she will go skittering into the woods.  How would she find her way home?  Is she smart enough to turn back around and march home?  Has she channeled enough of my old rough collie’s Zen in order to pull a Lassie-Come-Home moment?

But today Jane really wanted to join us (Valentino and me) — as evidenced by her running to the door when I picked up the leash.  I thought, What the heck?  We can stay in the neighborhood and she can play tiger-in-the-tall-cool-grass this morning as Val sniffs at every post, tree, blade of grass.

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This is my cat, Jane Eyre.

Well, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood today, and many neighbors were out tending to their yard work.  As Val and I walked and Jane stalked,  every neighbor commented on how we had a cat lurking behind us.  They all asked, “Is that cat yours?” I guess I never thought of this as being an odd cat behavior, but apparently it isn’t entirely common either.  The things you learn when you take time to reflect on your daily bubble.

As a result of this One New Thing (taking the risk to allow Jane some stalking freedom), I talked to three of my neighbors to whom I rarely ever speak.  It was a nice bonding moment over Jane’s Peculiar Cat Trick.  By being open to changing my routine with my pooch, Jane got to do her wild cat thing and I re-connected with some neighbors.

So, all’s good in the hood!  We all came home and — it being a weekend — we all  had a leisurely breakfast.  As I continue to add One New Thing to the mix, I continue to be surprised at the simple yet sweet consequences.  Who would have thought?