Posts tagged: inspiration

Do What You Say

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Short Rant

I must be getting old. I notice more and more that people say they’ll do things and then they don’t do them. Argh.

When I was younger, I ran myself ragged trying to do all the things I said I would. Then I got older and had more responsibilities and I still ran ragged. All because I didn’t know how to say no or I volunteered too much. My fault. But somehow, many adults feel it’s ok to agree to do something and then just — never do it!

I am more aware today that when someone asks me for help and then they never follow up. Or worse, we set up a meeting and then they forget. Last time I checked, grown-ups are supposed to remember their commitments. Especially when they are asking for someone’s time.

We’re All Given the Same Amount of Time

This came up because I upgraded the software on my computer and thought I lost my calendar. I tried not to panic as I realized that I had lots of meetings and commitments that I might miss. I was mortified. So I started reaching out to people that I could remember I had appointments with and asking them to confirm our date/time. In the meantime, I recovered my calendar but it was really interesting to see who had remembered to mark their calendar and who hadn’t.

Today I am examining my own behavior. How often do I say I will do something and not do it? I don’t think it’s very often but I decided if I’m going to rant, I’d better be certain that I’m not guilty of the same thing. What do I do with the precious time I’ve been given? Do I have balance between what I need, what I want, what my family needs, earning money, charitable giving (time and money)? Keep track of your time for 2 weeks and see where… it all goes.

Say What You Need to Say

John Meyer song, “Say What You Need To Say” is playing in my head. “It’s better to say too much, than never to say what you need to say… Even if your hands are shakin’ and your faith is broken… do it with a heart wide open.”It’s straightforward but not easy.

I remember being expected to:  say what I mean, mean what I say and do what I say.

Looking in the Mirror

I’m convinced that successful people are more likely to do what they say they will than unsuccessful people. Here’s “Ten Steps to Actually Doing What You Say You Will.” Good reading. I’m going to follow these steps and then repeat #10, forgive myself when I don’t do what I said I would, and commit to worker harder.

Oh, and I meant to tell all of you who read my blog, thank you. Thank you for your support, your kind words, your smiles.

Image credit: Jar of Quotes

Five Things

Pick 5

If you could pick 5 things… right this minute… that you would like to have… right this minute… what would they be? Quick, write them down.

Be sure you write them down since having them in your head doesn’t count. Why? Because it’s easy to lose the lesson if you don’t. Do it. Write them down.

What Did You Pick

Let’s look at your list objectively. Did you put down ‘things’? Did you put down abstract concepts like love? Did you wish for things that would benefit someone else or just yourself? Look at your list. When you’re done, put it in a drawer, take it out next week.

My Picks

I am fortunate to work at home these days. When the weather is good, I’m lucky. When it’s not good, I’m lucky. I get to be out in it. This morning the temperature was perfect 70 degrees. Soft breeze blowing, lots of birds singing and swooping, my dog is pulling on her leash as we stroll the neighborhood.

When I thought of this question… I knew my answer immediately. I want my 5 senses. That’s it. I know I already have them but I don’t want to take them for granted, for one second, of one day.

  • Take a look at your hand and marvel at the wonder of all you can accomplish. Wiggle your fingers. Jump up and down.
  • Put a piece of bread in the toaster and smell the sweetness.
  • Look out your window and see, whatever you see. Revel in the miracle of sight.
  • Listen, really listen to the voice of someone you love. Can you hear the feelings behind the words? How often do you really hear their voice?
  • Yeah, ok, go get the chocolate or coffee or beer or whatever… really taste it.

You get the idea. Pay attention to your senses today.

Image credit: Five  Woodley Wonder

When a Wall Is Good

Early morning sun reflected off the Great Wall of China. This is the last tower in the restored section as you travel east from Jinshanling. Near Jinshanling, China, September 2005

Walls Divide Us

There’s a lot of talk these days about walls and bridges. Walls to keep out our Mexican neighbors, bridges to heal racial and social divides. But a wall is good when it sets a boundary. When it says, nope… don’t go any farther than this. Setting a boundary, telling someone, “I won’t tolerate being treated this way,” is hard. Well, it’s hard for me. As soon as I say it, I feel guilty. My ‘nice girl’ indoctrination kicks in and I feel like crap. Is this normal? Maybe. Is it normal for women of a certain age (yeah old like me), maybe. I haven’t discussed this with many people. I only know that when I set a boundary about 50% of the time I feel ok, 25% of the time I feel awful, 25% of  the time, I don’t think about it. I am just reacting from pure emotion. I don’t like this ‘out of control’ feeling but, I accept that I’m human.

Generosity Can’t Exist Without Boundaries

In the article, “10 Great Things That Happen When You Set Boundaries,” the wonderful Brene Brown  describes that in her research, (the surprising conclusion that) the most compassionate people also have the firmest boundaries. This seems counter intuitive. If you think about Mother Teresa, it would seem, as an outsider, that she just gave and gave without a thought for herself. “Generosity can’t exist without boundaries,” Brown tells us. This idea is just blowing my mind. “Boundaries are the key to self love, ” she says. Oh boy, my head is spinning just a little.

Selfish or Compassionate?

So for today, I hope you will think a little about what is acceptable to you and what isn’t and if you are comfortable setting boundaries. If you are, hurray for you. Are you also as generous and compassionate as you would like?  Sometimes, if it’s easy to set boundaries, it’s because we are selfish, not in a good way.

For myself, I am thinking about, “do I accept certain behaviors from some people (people I love for instance?) but would never accept from people who I don’t love?” How can I get better at setting boundaries? Ugh. The whole thing sounds like a lot of work. I’m going to start by reading Brown’s books, watching more videos and seeing if this old dog can learn something new. I dread it, I welcome it, I embrace it, I feel sick… here I go.

Photo credit: Image _1033  Brian Jeffrey Beggerly

The Case for Silly

What Ever Happened to Silly?

If you’re fortunate enough to be around kids under the age of 10, you know you’re going to get into the sillies. One kid says something and then soon everyone is giggling and carrying on. I love this. I live for this.

Younger kids aren’t all judgy. They might try to one up each other in the silly department, but mostly, everyone settles in for a good snort.

Something happens to us when we become teenagers. Most of us become silly-averse. We decide we need to act ‘grown up’ and our silly days are behind us. We get cynical, ‘cool’, and generally stuck up. The disintegration into hilarity rarely happens any more. What the heck happens to us?

Even as parents, we seem to forget to encourage the sillies. We’re so busy ‘teaching’ our kids to talk, read,  study, practice, whatever (all very important duties!), we seem to forget that laughing, and laughing in most basic way, is key to a happy life.

Let’s Revive the Silly Tree

I have the great good fortune to have 7 grandchildren, several of whom live in the same city as me and all of whom are under the age of 9. My ability to get to some silliness is pretty easy. But what if you are one of those people who doesn’t have access to little ones, you have to improvise. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Remember what’s it’s like to be kid, find a kid to hang around, volunteer around kids, etc. The fastest way to get there is to go to those who are closest to the source. Laughing is really good. If you need some hints, ask people what they do.
  2. Making people laugh is the purest form of ‘pay it forward.’  Watch this Ted talk on the power of laughter to save lives. (It starts off slow but it’s worth it if you can stick with it).
  3. Laughter yoga?  You exercise your body and your mind (and hopefully your spirit), but do you know how to exercise your silly muscle?
  4. Here’s what the world renowned Mayo Clinic says about laughing.
  5. Go to the library or the bookstore (remember those buildings that house real books?), go to the humor section. Read the joke books. Read funny authors. I happen to like Dave Barry, Steve Martin, Jim Gaffigan, and a raft of kids books like Amelia Bedelia. Don’t forget the movies! I’ll recommend a few of my favorite but what I think is funny may not be your cup of tea. Anything by Monty Python, Airplane!, The Jerk.

But I Want to Be Grumpy

I understand. Being overworked, under appreciated, running around, busy all the time, leaves us very little time for silly. But somehow, I hope we’ll all, just for a minute, today, pretend that there is nothing more important than seeing the silly in the world.

Q: What did one toilet say to the other? A: You look a bit flushed.

Read more at: http://www.ducksters.com/jokes/silly.php
This text is Copyright © Ducksters. Do not use without permission.

Photo credit: Typical Riley Pose  peasap

Outside Looks Inside

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When I go out for a walk, there is so much that makes me happy to be alive. Breathing. Not thinking. Observing. I am grateful beyond measure to be part of it all. There are trees. Glorious and consoling. Changing with the seasons. Reminders that all things change. And change again.Maria Kalman

The Case For Outside

This post is making a case for walking. Outside. A few years back my doctor told me I had to get regular exercise. I hate going to the gym and frankly the cost of the gym that is near my house is ridiculous. So, I decided the only way I would be able to make sure I got exercise everyday was to get a dog that had to go out everyday. This strategy worked for me. The dog is almost 4 and I go outside, 3x a time, in all weather.

There were multiple side benefits to this but the most profound was that I relearned how to appreciate the outdoors. The older I got, the more excuses I found to avoid taking a walk. Wrong shoes, too cold, too hot, too windy, whatever. What I found is that by walking, I had a quiet 30 minutes to myself. I didn’t have to do anything but walk. In fact, I couldn’t do anything but walk.

The Case for Outside, Inside

What have I learned from this adventure? It’s teaching or reteaching me how to be quiet. For me, this is a big deal. I work at a computer, I listen to music, watch TV, watch YouTube videos – you get it. My discipline for quiet is shot. I’m so used to noise, I’ve forgotten the power of quiet. I’m not sure I 100% understand the benefits to my insides, but I assure you, there’s a lot more there than meets the eye. How do you get quiet?

Image Credit: Maria Kalman  A Walk in the Cherry Blossoms

The Case For Adaptation

Look at the picture, really look. Think about what might have happened. Did a child ride this bike into the woods, lean it against this tree and then forget it?  The poor tree was left to adapt to this ‘leaning thing’. What choice did it have?

What’s leaning against you? Loss? A person? An opportunity? Sadness? Take a minute and think about what is leaning against you.

Now imagine yourself adapting. Have the intention to adapt. Don’t try to ‘figure out’ all the steps to adapting, just imagine that you not only survive, but you are transformed.  To be even better than before. That this ‘thing’ that is leaning on you… will change you, for the better. It will make you unique, stronger, and interesting.

It’s easy to blame, rant, whine and moan about how this “problem” is weighing on us. If we can be like the tree and adapt, we’ll not only save ourselves some suffering, we’ll find new energy seeking out the inevitable changes ahead.

Photo credit: Even Trees Want to Cycle

Are You Loved or Hated, Success Guarantees Both

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If you don’t know James Altucher, I recommend that you check him out. He’s one of my favorite thinkers/truth tellers. I may not agree with everything he says, but I respect his ability to see the world … and translate reality into words that help me acknowledge changes, even (and especially) when I really don’t want to.

Choose Yourself

Here’s the write up on his book, “Choose Yourself“.

The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government.  No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

This is scary stuff. You mean, if my kids go to college and work hard, they might not get a good job? Maybe this reality doesn’t surprise you. Maybe your family knows this first hand, maybe your neighbor or your work colleague. Altucher tells us that:

New tools and economic forces have emerged to make it possible for individuals to create art, make millions of dollars and change the world without “help.”

But How?

There are people out there doing just that. I hear a lot of negative things about 20-somethings. They don’t ‘fit in’ the workplace. They don’t have a good ‘work ethic’. Look at the You Tubers ** and social entrepreneurs,  two examples of how to do it differently. But more importantly, look at all the people who are ‘doing it their own way.’ There’s not a formula, not a single path to finding this ‘freedom’. What we know is that disruption is a way of life for us. And we can either complain about it or we can capitalize on it. For more inspiration, read this story about a young man who went his own way.

Approval

The biggest problem with going my own way is that there isn’t anyone outside myself saying, “good job.” There’s no boss. Families often don’t understand what we are doing when we don’t conform to the “old way.”  We don’t get society’s approval of our path. The ‘good’ way is to go to high school, go to college, get a job, get married, etc. Many of us don’t fit that mold. And somehow, we need to understand that whether we succeed (whatever that means) or fail, if you walk the road less traveled… you make people uncomfortable. People are afraid of what challenges their security. If you need approval, you’ll probably have an unsettled time. If you don’t need approval, welcome to the club. I approve of your journey… and I hope you’ll approve of mine.

** Full disclosure – My daughter Jenna Marbles is featured in this video.

Self Respect and the Joy of Self Reliance

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“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — this is the source from which self-respect springs.” Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem

But I Don’t Want To…

I hate discipline. I mean, I like it and appreciate it and then again, I loathe it. Why do I have to do so many things I don’t want to do? Dishes, listening, talking to strangers, doing my job? Why can’t I just do what I want, right?

The Journey to Self Respect

Maybe I can get self respect from having stuff, maybe I can get it from other people’s admiration of me (fame, money, position), maybe I can get it from ______ (fill in the blank). I can only speak for myself:  there is a direct line from discipline and self reliance to my self respect. There’s a Billie Holiday song, “God Bless the Child (listen here)” with these lyrics;

Money, you’ve got lots of friends
They’re crowding around your door
But when you’re gone and spending ends
They don’t come no more
Rich relations give crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself, but don’t take too much
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own, that’s got his own

The Struggle Is Real…Really

Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten what it’s really like to struggle. We have less money to spend on clothes or going out to eat so we’re upset. But we are not Syrians or Southern Sudanese where bombs drop on our homes every day. Most of us don’t want for food or shelter. In the most privileged country in the world, we still feel entitled to complain. This is not to take away from real problems and struggles of abuse, poverty, equality. We must fight to improve how we help and change the world.

People ask me how I raised my children to care about the world and not be materialistic. I hope I taught them to value experiences over things, to value a person and their dignity over, well, maybe anything. I have a long way to go in improving myself. I’m happy to report it’s a life long journey. I’ll let this serve as a reminder to myself to pay attention to my own ability to depend on myself and the joy and serenity that brings.

Image credit: Picture Quotes

Billie Holiday lyrics: God Bless The Child

Live Gently, Let Go Gracefully

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Ugh, it’s hard to be gentle and graceful when the world makes me mad. And it’s especially hard to let go of things that I think I want or keep me comfortable.

Live Gently

  1.  For me, it means, walking and talking softly. I have a very loud voice. I talk fast and with enthusiasm. I overwhelm some people. So I work on slowing down, quieting down, think of my edges as being rounded not square.
  2. I try not to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’; I prefer experiences.
  3. Reacting to other people’s perceptions of me is a waste of time. The core of who I am is (I hope) unassailable.

Let Go Gracefully

Really? This is not my strong suit. If you’ve come into the orbit of my life then I think it’s my job to help you. But many people come and go and don’t need anything from me. They need a smile, maybe a kind word.

  1. If I am struggling with something or someone, that’s because I have not accepted “it” as it is. I want to change it, shape it or fix it.
  2. I have had particular struggles letting go at work. When money is concerned, I tend to be rigid, fearful. This comes from growing up poor.
  3. Change is hard. If I can create the change, then it’s easier for me to accept (I’m more graceful?) But when it is imposed on me, my back goes up. Letting go of what I know or believe is like bleeding. I’m right; when in truth, I may be wrong.

In the search for serenity (note: as distinct from happiness), walking softly and letting go gracefully are key.

Image Credit: Buddha Quotes

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight