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Monday, June 6, 2011

Dare to Be Bold

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson              “Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.  A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work         
      The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.     
     Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.  The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?                                                               See, I have to disagree with that big brains/tiny hearts line.  Many people in my life have big brains and big hearts.  Take my friend, Rosemary.  She's one smart cookie.  And she listens to my worries and offers me advice.  Really good advice.  My sis-in-laws, Susan and Leslyn, have gigantimous hearts and loads of wisdom.  I've learned that about them through the years.  My husband knows all kinds of info about history and jazz and photography and he has a heart that loves dogs and birds and his family.  Perhaps I am older than some of the people doing these writing prompts but I am living my dream (well, a little more travel would be nice) each and every day. I stepped away from my career and retired early because it wasn't fulfilling any of my needs besides a paycheck.  I adjusted my needs and now have less money but so much more happiness.  I like to think I'm bold in small ways all the time.  I guess I don't go in for the big flashy bold stuff like starting up a company or inventing something new that will make me a millionaire.  I am rich beyond compare (what's with comparisons anyway?)  in my daily life with big hearted  big brained friends and family.  Guess my ship, err, little boat has come in.  And it is named Joy!
                Photo taken September 2011 at many Glaciers Hotel in Glacier National Park.  A heavenly place!

Come Alive

Come Alive by Jonathan Mead

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.  Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

You Are Free To Move About The Planet

 Travel by Chris Guillebeau
If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

     I have traveled to many places over the years and every single one of them has held something true and lasting for me.  I had dreamed of seeing the city of Edinburgh since I was 12 years old.  As I stood to get off the train when it pulled into that city, I glanced up and my very first view of the city thrilled me.  It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
     They put flowers on old buildings! Just have to love a city with a wee cottage and big garden right in the middle of it all.  Well, in addition to New York City, that is.
     Walking along the road from the Taj Mahal on a dusty evening with a huge yellow moon blooming in the sky is a sweet memory I return to when I see the Autumn moon from my upstairs window.  
     The island of Santorini is still a delicious play of the blue Mediterranean sea and stark white domes every time it crosses my mind.
     Some crazy t-shirt in Dublin said there are 41 shades of green in Ireland.  I am here to tell you that it is absolutely true.  I enjoyed every one of them as I drank up the scenery from the train window.
     The south of France?  Oh my.  Fresh fish.  Beautiful beaches.  Beautiful people.  Croissants and coffee?  Quiches sold on street corners?  Oh my.
     There are so many more examples of colors and memories and smells from my travels but I'm supposed to write about where I want to go next, aren't I?
     Truthfully?  I don't know.  Africa holds the promise of a beautiful giraffe lifting its head languidly and batting its huge eyelashes.  Or a gerenuk flicking its tiny tail and dashing gracefully off into the landscape.  China would most likely offer me smells and colors I can only imagine in my wildest dreams.   New Zealand seems worth the many hours in a plane that would surely leave me exhausted but excited nonetheless.  Canada is where my mother was born and I would dearly love to visit her birthplace.  Friends tell me that Hawaii isn't too hard to take.  Costa Rica has amazing flowers.  And butterflies.  And frogs.  Maybe I should go there.  It's obvious that I have too many places I'd like to see.  Can I get back to you on this one?

A Challenging Question

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

How can I be less judgmental?  That would be the question on my post-it note.  Yep.  This is a tough one for me.  I'm not sure how much of my weakness to lay bare here.  I don't like that I look at a person and immediately begin to decide who they are, what they are like, how a relationship or a conversation between us would develop.  From time to time, I have been able to step over this and let a person shine.  Actually, I can do it often but I want to be able to do it all the time.  My judgements are not always negative, in fact, they can be the opposite.  She's pretty so she must be nice.  She went to a good college so she must be smart.  It is always limiting, positive or not.  And so often I have been wrong.  When exactly did I start to judge people?  High school?  Earlier?  I cannot pinpoint it exactly and I'm not sure it really matters.  I think the bigger question is when exactly--or not so exactly--can I stop doing this?   I have made strides just by noticing this tendency and then telling myself to knock it off.   The place I'm headed?  I'd like to be open--as open as a child. To be able to really see a person.  To really be able to get to know them and let their true being unfold without any judgment.  That's what I'd really love to be able to do.  I'd. Really. Love. That.
               Like adorable little Ali, I'd love to be able to turn myself upside down and just let all the preconceived notions fall from my head like leaves.  How freeing would that be?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Wildly Thumping Heart

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

“The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?”

"The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action,"   While I believe that is true, it is only part of the story.  I believe that passionate people with powerful ideas and fearless action weren't always that way.  Their journeys, I'm sure, developed along the way.  Maybe the passion grew slowly or leapt up like a wildfire but I don’t think it appeared instantly, perfect and whole.  Perhaps powerful ideas gained momentum as they were thought and re-thought.  Sometimes scratching just below the surface of fearless action reveals an initial reluctance.. Or a wildly thumping heart. 
What am I trying to say here?  That the world is powered by all of us.  That sometimes things take shape slowly and imperfectly and that lousy ideas put forth by big old scairdy cats have had their time on the stage.   That it is all one big experiment and we bump along in fits and starts.  That is why, I believe that we all deserve a third chance.  The common belief is two chances, thank you very much, now be on your way.  However, my career was spent with kids and experience taught me that more than two chances were often necessary and almost always more productive.  My yoga teacher used to say that falling down was good because it taught you where your balance wasn’t.  My balance wasn’t only in one place, it changed from day to day and falling down happened often.  Many chances.   The quote seems to imply perfection and completeness.  The world is messy and thankfully, quite imperfect.  So are we.  So are passionate people, powerful ideas and fearless action.  Heroes are seductive and exciting.  My vote is for the quiet shy kid at the back of the room who raises her hand slowly and when called on, puts forth a shaky, imperfect idea that has promise and boldness in it but probably needs many chances to bring it to full power and fearless action.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Today by Liz Danzico.  Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Beauty is always there just waiting to be noticed, 
today and every day.

Photo taken at The Huntington Library by John Hyde, May 31, 2011.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Story That Has To Be Written

Having a bit of fun with the prompt from Day One of  Trust 30

The story that has to be written goes something like this:

Riding around with a goat in the back seat of my 64 Chevy Nova was quite an experience.  You see, I bought it from Frenchie in Artesia to replace two ducks that my dog unfortunately had killed.  The ducks belonged to my neighbor and apparently two ducks are equal to one goat.  So, I ...

Or maybe the story that has to be written is about how an Irish Setter named Ginger saved my life by going for the jugular vein of the man who had his hands wrapped around my throat.  Ginger was a mahogany blur just as everything began to go dark and my body was beginning to slacken...

No, no, the story that must be written is the one about the time  I was jogging in a stadium in Athens one  morning with a man I'd met the night before.  He dropped by my hotel early the next morning to pick me up. Every time we circled the stadium and passed a dark tunnel leading to who knows where, he tried to coerce me into the tunnel until he became irate and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck...

How about the story of Daniel Webster (red freckeld boy--real name, I pinky swear) and the multiplication tables in 4th grade wherein we both had stars on the chart up through the 5s.  I stayed after school to recite my 6s and with the encouragement of Mrs. Gittings went all the way through the 12s.  Daniel's face the next day was priceless...

Or, there is the story about my parents on a blind date just after WWII when my dad got drunk and expected mom to go upstairs for a ride but she refused so he threw his beer bottle down the steps after her and called her a bitch.  Every day for a month, he sat on the front steps of her house apologizing and trying for a second chance...

Or there's the one about..

Oh dear, perhaps there is a blogger, or ten, from whom I can borrow 15 minutes because clearly I cannot get all this written in the 15 minutes allotted to me alone.