Posts tagged: life changes

Nothing is Certain, But Everything is Possible

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Do you remember stories that were told in your family? In my family, my grandfather used to tell, “Billy the Mountain Goat” stories. Now I was too young to remember any of them but for those who heard and know them, they are treasures.

In this article, “The Storyteller of Marrakech,” the author tells us about the 1,000 year old tradition of story tellers in the public square. The tradition had been dying out due to noise, traffic and the general “busy”ness of modern life. The story has a happy ending (a new home for the story tellers and young people coming to hear them and learn).

But it got me thinking about stories.

In my family there are stories about my kids when they were little. I shared them with them as they got older. Then I shared them with their friends and ‘significant others’/ spouses and now they are having children; so I look forward to sharing them with the next generation. This is an easy tradition and one we all likely follow.

But what about all those stories that are part of our religion, heritage, ethnicity, tradition, neighborhood, town, city, country? Do we work to keep them alive? Do we share the stories that mean the most to us with others? Most importantly, embedded in those stories are the guideposts, pillars, mile markers of our shared journey. If we let them die, we miss giving our children the one thing that might just help them through the dreaded darkness.

Today I ask you to reach out to one person and tell one story. Any story. And remember the power of a story to change a life. So as the Moroccan storyteller says, “Nothing is certain, but everything is possible.”

Photo credit: Think More: A Novel Concept

Listen My Children And You Will Hear…

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?Barry Goldwater 1981

I’m not here supporting one political party (I’m an independent) or religion or school of thought. I’m here to ask each of us to look inward. We often say, “they” are wrong, “they” should speak up/be quiet. “The government” should do more/less, defend me, help me, support me, stop them, arrest them, defend them.

But the truth is we are “they.” We are “the government.” This is America; it is up to us to change things we don’t like: vote, participate, read, discuss, listen, ask, accept responsibility. Democracy requires work.

It doesn’t matter what religion we are. What God we believe in. Where we grew up. What political party we support. What matters is that we stop blaming and start figuring out how to participate in solutions. Think you are not part of the problem? Try this.

Find someone whose opinions are radically different than yours.  Pick a topic that you agree you disagree on. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Each of you take 5 minutes to explain your position. The other person takes notes. The listener’s job is to reiterate the speakers key points. That’s it. You don’t have to discuss it further. Now talk about something else. Kids, whatever. What we all need is practice listening to each other.

Each person can then pick one point the other made, and think more about it. I’m not asking you to change your opinion. I am asking you to think about the other person’s point.

Imagine the world if we could teach our children this simple (not easy) skill.

Photo credit: Words As Visuals: Unity

What I Learned from My Dog: Part 2

Untitled  How do dogs spend their days?

- Eating, sleeping, sniffing, barking, chasing

We human beings can learn a few things from them. The eating and sleeping part we all get. But what about:

- Sniffing – this is the equivalent of learning, but hands on learning, not the… oh I went to college kind. The kind where you have to get right in there and possibly not be ‘perfect.’ This is where the real learning happens.

- Barking – this is the communicating part of the day. We all communicate in various ways, we whimper, we brag, we talk etc. But dogs don’t gossip, they don’t shame each other, (okay they may bully a bit but they do it for a survival reason.)

-Chasing – My dog watches the squirrels, chipmunks and birds out the window. She was bred to dig varmints out of holes so she’s happy to let the critters be. But occasionally she finds something so compelling, she just has to chase it. Can you relate? I can.

One last thing. When the wind blows, instead of turning away, she puts her face right into it. The harder it blows, the longer she stands facing it. This inspires me: when the wind is blowing in my face, I work to stand firm, sniff and see what I can learn.

Seasick

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I visited (helped out) one of my children recently; they just had their first child. Watching your child with their child is one of life’s great joys.  We are fortunate, mom and baby are doing well.

As I watch them learn about their new family member, I am impressed by their calmness. They are both exhausted and yet, they simply go with the flow. They don’t fight against the exhaustion or the baby’s crying; they just accept it. Together they figure out what to do and then they do it. If you were like them as a new parent, then you are probably thinking, what’s the big deal? Well, I applaud you too.

For many of us, being in an overwhelming circumstance is … overwhelming. Small things become big things. Irritability takes over. For those of us with depression, this is, unfortunately, somewhat normal. We are not calm in the face of things we can’t change. We fight, argue, moan, blame… everything but accept.

Leonard Cohen’s quote struck me because when I think back on how many times I did not… “become the ocean,” or surrender to/accept the circumstances, I realize that I could have (perhaps) saved myself some grief.  In those difficult days, the more I fought the ocean waves, the more ‘seasick’ I becameAfter many years, I learned how to surrender with dignity and peace of mind.

One of my favorite sayings is, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Most of the time when I was lost, I thought I was my own teacher. I was wrong.

So if you find yourself in transition, if you are in the middle of a difficult time, I empathize. Ask yourself, am I fighting the waves? In the past when I have been ‘seasick, it’s because I didn’t know how to do anything differently. I didn’t know how to become the ocean. If you don’t know how to become the ocean (and you’re sick and tired of being seasick) ask for help. Start by asking one person. If they can’t help, ask someone else and keep asking until you find, your teacher.

If you don’t know Leonard Cohen, check him out. If you’ve never heard him sing this… you’re in for a treat.

Photo credit: direct current

Leadership: Handout or Hand Up?

As leaders do we see ourselves as coaches, mentors and teachers or as managers, bosses and the person “in-charge.” The distinction may be subtle but the influence you may have on people and the results you drive may not be subtle. In the book, “Leaders East Last,” (title derived from the Marine Corps where enlisted men always eat first), Simon Sinek says, “whether a leader puts themselves or their people first, determines if they are worthy of our love and loyalty. Leadership is a decision not a rank.”

Many people think that the ‘younger generation’ is lazy and entitled. I say every generation has this type of person. I see so many 20-30 somethings doing such great things; I hope you see them that way too. I loved this article, “Meet 6 Entrepreneurs Who Use Tech to Change the World.” Each young entrepreneur is doing something simple to solve a problem. My favorite is HandUp started by a young woman named Rose Broome.

“HandUp is direct giving for homeless people and others in need in your neighborhood. Your donations are redeemed for basic needs like food, clothing, and medical care through our partner organization Project Homeless Connect.”

Like all start ups, this one will have critics and bumps along the way. What I like is that Rose didn’t just give the homeless woman a dollar and forget her. She’s looking for a way to help stabilize her situation. It may be a handout right now, but hopefully a hand up is on it way too.

Photo credit: photo leroys

“Failure is a Process … You Have to Fail Over and Over”

“Failure is a process … you have to fail over and over and over again to get anything that’s worthwhile.” Jules Feiffer cartoonist

Feel like a failure? You’re actually winning. Watch this 40 second video about the power of failure. According to Mr. Feiffer, you need to continuously try new things and fail in order to create anything worthwhile. Think about raising children. If you think you didn’t fail over and over again… I suspect you are kidding yourself.

Think about nature. Evolution is a series of failures in order to find the best way forward: the flower that is drought resistant or the leaf that absorbs water more effectively.

I am teaching a new online course. Learning the software is driving me crazy. Just when I think I have learned something, it appears that I forget it. And this is happening live, in front of my students. Humbling to say the least.

Think of the last time you failed. Did you curl up in a ball? Did you try to deny it? Were you ashamed? This last is the worst of it. Failure is a sign that you are trying. If you can’t think of the last time you failed, then you are either not paying attention or you aren’t trying anything new. The old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained, warns us to keep trying new things. To live fully we need to fall on faces from time to time.

Photo credit: Fig leaf John Leach

If you are unfamiliar with Jules Feiffer’s delightful cartoons (as well as the rest of his body of work), check him out.

 

 

This is Your Life. Do What You Want…

“This is your life. Do what you want and do it often.
 If you don't like something, change it.
 If you don't like your job, quit.
 If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
 If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
 Stop over-analysing, life is simple.
 All emotions are beautiful.
 When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
 Life is simple.
 Open your heart, mind and arms to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
 Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
 Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
 Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
 Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
 Life is short, live your dream and wear your passion.”

Holstee Manifesto, The Wedding Day

 

Nothing to add… just do it.

May 2014 be your year to shine and give. We’re in this together folks. Peace.

 

 

A Dog Never Tells What She Knows…

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing. Mary Oliver

This is my dog Gildie. She is the first dog I have ever had.

What is there to learn from your first dog? Wow. Everything. She is so excited to wake up every day and play. I need this.

She is motivated by food and people and toys. She is completely engaged in life except when she’s asleep and then she’s completely engaged in that.

I got a dog so I would have to go for a walk everyday. Rain or snow, whatever the weather, I needed a reason to get up and walk. Since she has the energy of 2 toddlers, I am compelled to play, walk, laugh and be completely engaged with her.

The quote above about how a dog perceives the world — through her nose– was brought home to me on one of those walks. She trusts her nose more than her eyes and it got me thinking. Which of my senses do I trust the most?

I am certain my eyes deceive me. Happily, I learned to trust my gut. Take all the information and sift it through the sensor that is my years of experience.What do you rely on? What you see, what you hear, what you believe? Do you jump to conclusions about people?

Understand how you learn and make decisions and you’ll be more effective in everything you do. How free are you with your opinions? Do you offer to give everyone the benefit of your wisdom? Or do you use your experience to let others find their own path? Use all the information given to you to help you be a better friend, co-worker, partner and parent. We’ll all benefit.

What Can You ‘Give’ Your Children?

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I have two children; they are wonderful people. There are times when I wonder what I gave them. Oh, I think I was a good mother. I’m not questioning whether I gave them a good education or a nice home, but I wonder -  what did I pass on to them that they only could have received from me?

I love this quote from Thomas Edison. Whether you call it passion or enthusiasm – it is the “estate of incalculable value.” How does a parent pass this along?

There is really only one way. That is by example. What you do. Your behavior. How you spend your time. How you treat people. How you learn new things. How you accept the good and bad. Your precious time – how do you spend it? How do you act when you think no one is looking.

Are you excited to be alive? Are you grateful? Do you complain everyday about the weather, your boss, why you don’t have this and that?

Or do you focus on the beauty? the joy? the positive? the kind? Do you greet each day with an energy that says, “life is an adventure.”

Bring passion and energy to your children today and everyday. They might just thank you.

Image credit: Thomas Edison and GE That’s Genius Pinterest Board

No Boss, No Office and My Peers Decide My Pay… What?

“Imagine a company where everyone is equal and managers don’t exist. A place where employees sit where they want, choose what to work on and decide each other’s pay. Then, once a year, everyone goes on holiday together.”

There is such a company, it’s called Valve.

For those of you who think this is: stupid, could never work, is just an experiment and could only work in a handful of cases, perhaps you are correct. I’m not here to argue with you. The point of this post is to challenge our ideas of what is ‘necessary’ in the work environment.

You can read the Valve Employee Handbook here. It is titled: “A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when there’s no one telling you what to do.”

If you are in any kind of leadership role in ANY organization… I encourage you to browse their handbook.

… if you are a 10 year old company that has worked hard “to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling, them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value.”

The handbook goes on to outline what to expect and how a new employee can find their way through this new way of working.

Check this out: “While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours, at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected.” And then they give you guidance as to how to get help to resolve the problem.

Would you like to work here? If not, why not? If yes, why?
Most importantly, what about the Valve culture can you adopt at your organization to make it more effective?

Image Credit: Banksy