Life’s too Short to Worry. Life’s too Long To Wait.

water

1. Be Authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality–what makes you unique. Don’t put too much equity in other people’s opinions.

2. Trust the process. Expect plot twists.

3. Work hard and you will always benefit from it.

4. Create. Do. Make things. Innovation in thinking is not nearly enough.

5. Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to be reminded how much you don’t know.

6. Strive for grace. There’s always room for more grace and there’s always another chance to embody it.

7. “Do Good.” The Golden Rule actually works.

8. Read everything. Read with an open-mind and a child’s fascination.

9. Go out on more limbs.

10. If you want to change, change. You are what you are until you decide you are something else.

11. Connect in real ways. Life is visceral. Get off your devices and connect with real people in real-time in real culture.

12. Instinct and intuition–learn to feel and trust them.

13. Let passion guide you. The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.

14. If you like to eat pretzels in bed, eat pretzels in bed. Occasionally. Don’t abuse your own power.

15. Be a dreamer AND a doer.

Why it’s Important to Sing in the Rain

rain

The Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa, wrote, “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”

It’s really uncomfortable to sit with pain–to accept it and not fight it. It’s written that “unrelenting disappointment [can] leave you heartsick.” The heart is the core of our being. In it lives joy, charity, faith and wonder. To protect our hearts, we do things to diminish suffering and avert pain.

Because of that instinct, sometimes we ignore painful feelings or deny them all-together. We over medicate, isolate ourselves and engage in behaviors that are out of character. We search for anything we think will help control the pain. The risk we take by avoiding painful emotions is that we’ll grow bitter, angry and anxious.

Bernard Baruch said that “the art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.” Great truth–really hard to actually do. I’ve been trying to see it lately, as the art of “singing in the rain.”

In the movie, “Singing in the Rain,” Gene Kelly is walking through the streets in the pouring rain with an umbrella in his hand, unopened for most of the time, singing. He’s existing happily at that moment while in the rain, not despite of the rain. I’m not suggesting that pain is easy to deal with by just smiling through it–but it’s a starting place. Happiness is something we choose and every decision we make contributes to what we will allow ourselves to feel. Singing in the rain is an art we can never stop practicing. 

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I’m happy again
I’m laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I’ve a smile on my face
I’ll walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singing in the rain.
Singing in the rain.

Dancing in the rain
I’m happy again
I’m singing and dancing in the rain
I’m dancing and singing in the rain

I’ll Be On My Way, Just As Soon As I Shave This Yak

yak

There was a guy who wanted to mow his lawn one afternoon but had lent his lawn mower to his neighbor. When he asked his neighbor for the lawn mower, the neighbor refused.

“Not until you give me back the five other things you’ve borrowed from me!” said the neighbor.

The guy went back to his house and gathered up the things he’d borrowed from his neighbor. As he did that, he realized he had a problem–he had lost the sweater his neighbor brought back from Tibet years before.

The sweater was made of Yak’s wool. So in the middle of the night, the guy found himself breaking in to a zoo, sneaking in to the yak pen and shaving a yak to the get the yak hair to weave yak yarn to make a yak-hair sweater so he could give it back to his neighbor, get his lawn mower back and mow his lawn.

What does yak shaving represent? The “fiddly” tasks we let get between us and our goal–the excuses we make or the steps we insist need to be taken in order to launch something perfectly.

The guy should have just bought a sweater, gotten his mower back and mowed his yard.

We spend time yak shaving instead of doing because yak shavings tasks are in our control. We let ourselves believe that in order to accomplish our dreams, everything needs to be perfect. We spend too much time perfecting, or heading to the zoo to shave a yak.

Yak shaving shields us from facing the things we fear. It prevents us from ever really creating, doing, putting our work out there. But we need to start. Do it. Any of it. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a big plunge. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be something. Small bites. Small steps. One imperfect thing at a time.

 

I Will Face It When It All Blows Up

standing on the edge

There’s a big difference between strategic planning and strategic planning that stands in the way of doing something even greater because we refuse to deviate. I’ve learned this the hard way, yet still need the daily reminder. Consistently, I walk the line between control-freak and someone who embraces change.

I outline plans to stay focused and on-track and in reality, those plans rarely work out that way. People change their minds, get distracted, surprise me; things happens late, quit working, don’t function as intended; deadlines don’t get met, done deals don’t happen, circumstances change.

What I know for sure is that starting with a plan gets you one step closer to the goal but also having a plan for when those plans don’t work is just as important.

A mentor once told me, “shit happens.” Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the phrase or not, you might remind yourself of this when you’re stuck and can’t seem to move forward. When people tell you there are no other options, when you are faced with the way it’s always been done, and especially when everything blows up in your face, there is change in the air and there are new opportunities standing right in your way. Plan on seeing them.

I Screwed It Up, But I’ll Keep Trying

barn

 

Today started out as a good day. I woke up at 4:30, got a quick workout and stretch in, showered, and turned on my Pandora station curated around the music of The Cure. I had high hopes for today.

By the time 6:30 rolled around, I was just about ready to leave the house, looking forward to a few moments to myself in the office to get ahead and think creatively. But then it all went to shit–and I let it go that way. A few small things stopped me from leaving home when I wanted to and instantly, my attitude changed. I left twenty minutes later, but with an attitude that was not even a shadow of the hopeful one I had when I first woke.

My desire for perfection gets the best of me every time. Funny, I know, as I write a blog about the celebration of all things challenging, imperfect and full of courage. But I guess that’s partly why I write it. Those things that I admire, that excite me and motivate me, are also the same things I often struggle with the most.

I dislike the feeling of vulnerability (pretty sure I’m not alone in this) but I’ve done enough research and reflection to understand that vulnerability is as much a part of being human as is strength. I’m constantly seeking examples of strength in vulnerability in order to hopefully one day be more at peace with myself.

I am completely aware that I hold myself (and often everyone around me) accountable to really high standards. I believe that to be better today than I was yesterday, it’s necessary to keep reaching just beyond my capabilities. But when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy for me to forget the truths I know and get caught in that desperate need for perfection. The world starts spinning, I lose touch with the mindfulness and intent I started the day with and I am certainly no better today than I was yesterday, so I’ve lost in more ways than one.

There is a line at the end of a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks that says “Live not for battles won. / Live not for the-end-of-the-song. / Live in the along.” Perhaps one day I’ll learn to stop myself before I fall in to my very own perfection-trap. Until then, I’ll continue searching for the courageous and the imperfect and the beautiful which remind me to let go and experience more happiness.

 

 

Only In The Darkness Can You See The Stars -MLK Jr

martin luther king jrIt’s difficult to write about something as serious as injustice and inequality. I get angry at the general cruelty that people can display towards one another based on biases they carry that have nothing to do with that person at all and I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of discrimination that happens casually and simply every day. Still, I recognize that the ability to recognize how far we have to go to reach equality is a gift from the people who struggled and become a part of the past we now have the pain and privilege to reflect upon.

I’m not really certain I know what fights to fight to make a difference or how to incite change on a macro level. As hard as it is to write about these disparities, the conversations aloud can be even harder to have–leaving everyone involved feeling raw and exposed. But when I look closely at any change that’s ever happened, there’s a theme of small gestures, brief acts of courage,  people stepping up to challenge what is accepted but not right, one meager moment at a time.

So here’s what I tell myself and I hope it might mean something to you as well: When you go to bed tonight, when you wake in the morning, when you’re standing in line at the store, when you’re watching the news or when you’re tucking your kids in at bed, think to yourself, “Could I do one thing better?'”and then do that one thing.

 

 
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