Here's something to ponder: Everything you're believing right now can be re-believed, retooled and retold.
Each of us has baggage we drag from situation to situation throughout our lives. The difference lies in and for the people that take the time to empty those bags and examine the contents. Like a gray matter archaeologist, armed with a longish stick to keep a safe distance from the now unbound material, I want you to take a closer look at what you're seeing and what you're believing about what you're seeing.
Then take a few steps back, ask yourself how many times your ideas about your life have tripped you up, slowed you down, or caused you to un-mindfully repeat painful patterns.
One by one, take a look.
Now, ask yourself: How can I reshape this item in my mind so when it comes up, it's energizing, not demoralizing?
Maybe your story is one of uncaring parents. Flip it around, just for a second. Isn't it also possible-maybe even likely- that their lack of caring molded you into someone who's deeply compassionate? And what are you ready to do with your deep compassion?
Or perhaps your story anchors itself in a narrative about lack and struggle. Isn't it possible that story could be turned into a profile of someone who is deeply committed to succeeding because "things just don't come that easy to me." Furthermore, how might you inspire someone who is currently struggling?
I firmly believe we're in the writer's chair here-every day-and we often miss opportunities to re-write the script the way we want it to read.
So what is your story about you? What are your biggest obstacles that are now just waiting for you to edit the words, streamline the sentences, cut the unnecessary/unhelpful/longwinded. Maybe even change the headline.
And what does it require of you? Your time. Your attention. Your mindfulness, deliberation and work. And a deep commitment to feeling differently about everything that lead you to your current now.
Make yours a story worth retelling to anyone ready to listen. Especially you.
Fascinating read here about modern culture in this recent Atlantic post by Joe Pinsker.
The headline “There’s a dog in this story, so more people will pay attention to it,” propelled me to immediately do exactly that. (And the cute dog sitting in a car in a parking lot only hastened my interest.)
The observation—that has now been studied by academia—is that when a dog is mentioned or highlighted in an article, more people actually read it. Here’s a pull quote from the piece:
“The presence of a dog can effectively propel a story from the back page of The New York Times's National section to the front page.”
So why exactly is that? What draws us so directly to canines, particularly in the cluttered world of the web?
My own theory: Dogs are exceedingly simple, an often missed aspect of living in a complicated, over scheduled culture. They are also by and large pure in their intentions, something we also innately crave as humans. No hidden agendas, no complicated communications. And as many people have pointed out, dogs model unconditional love, something we actually have to work at to manifest in our own lives.
So a good dog story can actually change our moods and remind us of our own potential. A powerful reminder, obviously, for so many people.
What’s holding you back?
My journey with horses is ongoing and fluid—it’s a state of constant learning and evaluation. Each time I work with a horse I learn something about myself, about others and about the world as a whole.
When it’s not hands-on learning with these remarkable animals, it’s reading about the work of people much further up the road than I. I’m currently rereading Zen Mind, Zen Horse—The Science and Spirituality of Working with Horses by Allan J. Hamilton, MD.
This passage from the book stood out for me today:
“Horses are like a band of Legendary Zen masters. They are perfect teachers because they uncover your real motivation. They tell you when you’re wholeheartedly committed or faking it, when you’re making a sacred vow or just paying lip service. Horses see what’s holding you back. And when you find the courage to confront those shortcomings, horses will always reward you with a way to overcome them.”
What might a horse show you?
Photo of Romeo connecting with a client by Margie Fisher at Buffalo Run Farm in Bellefonte, Pa.
This blog (https://www.wework.com/magazine/inspiration/one-founders-best-productivity-trick-save-time-less/) was recently forwarded to me and got me thinking about the human construct of time. We never seem to have enough, do we? The clock keeps ticking, the tasks keep piling up, and we unconsciously live reactively to outside measures of accomplishment. We fill our moments more and more with less and less meaningful outcomes.
The result? A feeling of never quite being “done.” And the result of that feeling? Anxiety.
I think we live in a time that creates some degree of attention deficit. Information is constantly streaming into our conscious minds.
What we’re often lacking, however, is an intentional pause and evaluation. In other words, is what we’re doing moment-by-moment leading us toward what we ultimately want? If it’s work related, and task associated, are we working wisely?
A few tricks I’ve found that change my own inner clock:
1) Leave your inbox closed. In other words, at the start of your workday, make a conscious decision not to open your email. You’ll then have focused time to accomplish the things on your to-do list--not just start them, but start them and complete them. Check your email after lunch. You’ll have logged a good half-day of focused work. If anyone really needs to find you, they will.
2) Don’t turn on your cell phone. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, sucks more time than the recurrent checking of your phone. If you don’t believe me, take a few moments and observe the people walking down the street. How many of them actually are looking straight ahead, seeing what’s right in front of them? Not too many in my experience. We all have our heads down, staring at tiny screens, oblivious to what’s happening around us. Hit the on button at lunchtime and maximize your professional obligations.
3) Connect with world. Every day. The best way I’ve found to do this is to go outside. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a city or a rural area; most of us live a huge portion of our lives 24-inches from a computer screen. We’re all a bit nature starved and to the point made in item 2, we don’t even see what’s before us. We’re consumed by our electronics, which leaves us in a constant state of anticipation. For the next text. The next email. The next social status update or message. Click and respond. Click and respond. It’s never ending. By heading outside—electronics free—we get to re-experience the world that we’re intimately connected to and give our over-fed, over stimulated minds a much-needed break. The result? A calmer, clearer focus when you resume your daily work.
Give these three ideas a try and let me know how they work for you. I’d love to know your tips too. How do you construct your time? Or does time construct you?
Finally, lots of good info and resources (and a great vibe too!) for entrepreneurs at www.WeWork.com, where the above-mentioned blog appeared. This upstart company is growing too, so be sure that you visit their “careers” tab if you’re looking for your new work.
Any organization that calls itself “a community of creators,” well, I’m all in.
Watch it all the way through. And think about its message and what it means to you and to the future.
And if you feel so inspired, share your thoughts on it here.
Let's keep this conversation going.
Those moments when you happen upon an idea and it just totally resonates with you? Yeah, that happened to me recently with www.bluemarbles.org.
It's a game of sorts, but its underpinning is that by sharing an act of kindness--in this case, giving someone a blue marble--in gratitude for and in recognition of this big blue marble of Earth--awareness and consciousness are raised.
Gratitude and kindness. Simple and pure.
Here are the rules (as stated on the website linked above) :
"So, the "rules" remain pure and simple.
1. The marble must be blue (any shade, preferably glass).
2. When you get one, give it away to someone as a token of gratitude (whenever you like).
3. Share your story with the world (however you like)."
I gave away three today to people I know. Each person looked surprised, grateful and then intrigued. I'm sure they'll be passing along their blue marbles with the same inspired feeling I have about this idea. I ordered mine, shown above, from Julie Starke (www.juliestarke.com) and they arrived, neatly tucked into a cool mesh bag.
Now that little bag of marbles, and the cool cards that accompany each one, is living in my purse for whenever the inspiration strikes to give one away.
Let me know if you jump on board too!
As the cards say, "Hold the marble to your heart and imagine the gratitude felt when giving or getting it."
Resilience is grace in action.
Bad business ventures. Failed relationships. Collapsed deals. Tragic losses. All are grist for the human mind mill. Reasons to quit. Hang it up. Dump it.
Just. Give. Up.
But there’s another voice that weighs in, whisper soft. And even if we try to ignore it, it won’t let up.
We need faith, vision, planning, and a good sense of humor (no price tag on that!) to get back in the game when everything on the human scene appears to be frozen or collapsed. But sometimes before we can channel those characteristics, we just need to relax.
Dropping the reins feels counterintuitive when you’ve got a plan. When you want advancement/healing/victory/success, like, yesterday.
That urge for instant improvement is hardwired into us and difficult to ignore. But we hitch our wagon to that quick fix mentality at our own peril.
Patience is required.
Here’s a good rule of thumb in those instances: Pay attention to the pull; ignore the push.
There are times when moving forward can feel like a huge truck is anchored to your back. Advancement feels slow, tedious and apparently very, very minute or nearly non-existent. So just stop.
Let it be for while. Let it ferment.
Because there are other signs that will come into focus when you’re on your right path.
It’s not just the quiet voice, but also a picture.
That idea that you can’t shake. The art that demands to be made. The story that wants to be written. A step that begs to be taken. The pull.
That pull is why you’re here. It’s what the world wants of you and a channel to figuring out how you can serve.
So take a break when you need to. Kick back. And wait. Listen and watch.
You’ll know it when the right idea surfaces. And the next steps will then reveal themselves.
It may not be in timeframe you’d planned, but the plans will unfold.
Just listen and watch.
I want to ask you a question. You don’t have to answer it, but it’s something that I believe everyone would benefit from at least considering.
So here goes:
What’s chronic in you?
We hear a lot about chronic pain, but I think that we all have other things that appear in our lives as “chronic.”
And here’s a great example of things that may be chronic but that we aren’t paying too much attention to: Our thinking.
Some of the more typical chronic thoughts revolve around lack. Lack of money. Lack of love. Lack of understanding from others. Lack of advancement. Lack of opportunity.
But they all hinge around the same underpinning that something is missing. And it’s very hard to move forward with that as part of your infrastructure.
There are subtle but notable differences between wanting to achieve, which can appear as drive or motivation, and the idea that you’re currently lacking something necessary to reach your goal.
In the simplest form, lack feels empty; drive feels energizing.
I want you to consider what patterns are currently showing up in your life and your interior language around those patterns. Does your thinking make you feel smaller, or does it make you feel challenged?
And in considering this further, can you see how different you feel when whatever is chronic in you is not automatically categorized as a deficiency, but as a sign to take a closer look at your reflexive thinking.
And here’s another thing to consider as you are poking around your inner world: What if everything that comes up in your world—everything—was classified in just one of two ways: Either it’s a problem (feels crappy) or it’s an opportunity (hmmmm..) .
The way you think about anything is your choice. And by remaining mindful of what we’re choosing in our thinking, we have the ability to gain clarity and insight around issues and patterns that have become chronic. And then we have the ability to begin to work on those patterns from a different frame of mind.
And then, change happens.
Shameless self promotion paragraph: I’ve got two Equus coaching samplers on the schedule this month. One will be in Easton, Ct. and one in Bellefonte, Pa. These samplers are a great way to get a taste of equine-facilitated coaching in a small group format. (Check my homepage for jpgs with all the info I’d love to share this experience with you.
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~Albert Einstein
Bypass the outdated resolutions for the coming year. Consider these instead:
1-Be brief. Endless chatter is distracting and off point. Choose your words intentionally and carefully.
2-Be gentle. With yourself, with other beings and with the planet.
3-Notice what you notice. And then consider why you noticed it to begin with. Are you getting a nudge from the Universe? Is something calling to you?
4-Surround yourself with people that remind you of who you really are, especially if you seem to have momentarily forgotten.
5-If a goal feels heavy/burdensome, reconsider your commitment to it.
6-Want more love? Be more loving. It's that simple.
7-Old friends are like the deepest roots of a tree, steadying us in challenging times-honor them.
8-There's always, always something to be grateful for.
9-Bic Ballpoints, despite their tendency to have lost and/or broken caps, really are the perfect writing instruments.
10-What do you currently have "too much of"? Ask yourself why.
11-Your deepest wounds offer the most growth potential. Don't be too quick to shield them from the light.
12-Take responsibility for your feelings and the conditions of your life. If you don't like where you are, it's up to you to do something to change it. Victimhood is exhausting.
13-It is not good to speak of things you have not seen. Say only what you have seen with your eyes.
14-You already have all your own answers. Trust. Your. Instincts.
15-Sometimes things are happening "for" you, not "to" you. Notice the difference.
16- The world needs your talent and unique vision. Do your part to bring what you have to fruition.
17-Every once in a while, let yourself really be seen.
18-Think less; feel more.
19-There's a humorous aspect to almost everything, when you take the time to look for it.
20-Your life is about building, so use everything you've got.
I know. You think I'm about to riff about the magic of the season-holiday joy and presents and family and all that...
I'm checking in to share a story. I'll try to keep it brief; I know you're busy. Just skim it if you need to--there's an interesting upshot at the end, so stay with it if you can.
So the plan was to get my back-to-college-after-Thanksgiving daughter within easy range of Boston. We zeroed in on getting her to the New Britain, Connecticut bus station, with her transferring in Hartford and then arriving in Boston not too late in the evening.
The trip from where we live would be every bit of six hours to our destination in Connecticut. No problem. I can do that. So what if I just picked her up in Hartford a few days before...It's what you do for your kids, right?
Did I mention I've never been to New Britain, Connecticut? Well I haven't. Ever.
Of course that didn't stop me. I often have an alarming amount of confidence in situations like this, and I'm not even sure why. But that's another post for another time.
So as we're driving, she uses her smart phone to purchase a ticket. A sigh of disgust followed the completion of the sale.
"What?" I asked. "What is it?"
She slumped in the passenger seat.
"We have to pick the ticket up at a place called 'Jimmy's Smoke Shop'," she said her eyes drifting out the window. "That's not a good sign."
I couldn't help but laugh. I assure her it's no big whoop--people travel by bus all the time and arrive safe and sound. But she'd have none of it.
"I know this is not gonna work," she said, wringing her hands. "I'll miss my transfer and get stuck in Hartford and then what?"
My mind started racing.
How will this kid--okay, nearly an adult but still...How will she manage a bus station in a city she doesn't know? A million scenarios--none of them good-fly through my mind.
"Well, let's see how it goes," I say, a little too vaguely.
We arrived in New Britain to find that we were more than likely in the very worst part of town. No surprise there, though is there? When was the last time you saw a bus depot in a "good" part of town?
We picked up her ticket at "Jimmy's Smoke Shop" and headed to find a coffee shop. Her bus wasn't due in for at least 90 minutes, so we had some time.
I tried to use that time together to build up her confidence that all would work out--the bus would arrive, the transfer would be successful and she'd be back in Boston before too late. No problemo.
She looked doubtful despite my encouragement. And, I have to admit, I had my own doubts if for no other reason than the sketchiness of the neighborhood.
But I made an effort to pay attention to feelings other than fear and worry. Something very quiet but distinct kept murmuring "It's okay. This is fine. Just relax."
The scheduled arrival time of the bus came and went, and no bus appeared. So we waited on the street as night fell.
And the neighborhood wasn't looking any better at night.
A couple wandered up with what appeared to be their own college-aged daughter. She was bright and bouncy-brimming with confidence and verve. We stood near one another but didn't really converse.
Although the bus was due at 5:15 p.m., by 5:35 p.m., it hadn't arrived. Well, a bus DID arrive, but it dropped a man off and then quickly left.
What? What the...?
So we--all five of us--huddled out of necessity to discuss the situation.
"We can take your daughter to Hartford," said the college-aged stranger. "We'll both catch the bus there."
So please remember, I've never seen these people before in my life. They are, in my book, the most alarming of land creatures--they are strangers.
I don't even know what to think at that moment. Can this be real? These people are offering to take my daughter, in their car, to catch the next bus? People I doubt I'll ever see again. This reeks of danger on the human level. It flies in the face of everything we tell our children about strangers and free rides and all that.
But somehow, it felt divine too.
So I make purposeful eye contact with my daughter.
"What do you think?" I ask.
"Yes, it's fine," she says, suddenly looking very confident even as my own assuredness is wilting.
"Ya sure?" I ask again.
"Yep, I'm sure," she says and puts her bags in their car and flashes me a calm smile. "I'm good, Mom."
I thank the couple and their daughter and walk to my car wondering what had just happened. I feel concerned, for sure, but also deeply relieved. Somehow, it's clear these people showed up to help. In kindness. In love. And in compassion for our similar plight.
And it hits me that it was all so counter intuitive. Everything in my body had been on high alert because of the neighborhood, and yet extraordinary kindness prevailed. Despite appearances. This space wasn't what I thought it was; it wasn't what it appeared on the surface. It was instead a place ripe with serendipity and generous souls.
And all I had to do was trust.
And thanks for the reminder. It comes at a perfect time.
Here's wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. Full of startling coincidences, counter intuitive moments and regular reminders of the goodness and kindness that prevails.
personal development and Equus coach, former Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.