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

Take a Moment and Reflect…Every Day Holds A Reason to Rejoice

thanksLove one another. Take care of each other. Tell the truth. Always do your best. Listen to the big people. Listen to the little people. Explore new paths. Have fun. Know that you are loved like crazy. Give thanks for all your blessings. Above all else, love. You will do wonderful things in this world.

Grace Wouldn’t Be Grace If It Came Easily

I’ve had my grace tested on numerous occasions lately. One thing of which I’m certain is that grace wouldn’t be grace if it came easily. Reflection is a good thing but it’s only lucrative if we take what we learned and move forward–working to be better today than we were yesterday. Grace is an art. It’s something that needs to be practiced every day. It’s the realization that life is a gift and the ability to move beyond fear or anger or frustration. Grace is flexibility and courage and gratitude. And the best thing about grace? When you fail at it, there’s always another chance.

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.

 

Sensitivity Is Not My Weakness

connections

I can remember a moment on the phone with my mother when I was in college, overwhelmed and crying. Between my sobs, my mother said something that has stuck with me since: “Why are you so sensitive, Erin? You really need to lighten-up.”

My mother wasn’t the first or the last to say this to me. All my life, people have told me that I was “too sensitive,” “very  intense,” “so emotional.” And I listened and told the same things to myself. The world has always affected me deeply. I felt everything and built an analysis of life rather than an experience of it when I was with others. For years, I tried to solve my “intensity” problem by controlling my situations. I was private about many aspects of my life, not wanting to burden others when they had things to deal with of their own and I started hiding bits of me away. I thought of my sensitivities as weaknesses, out of my control, which made me vulnerable and exposed.

Eventually, things fell apart. I was married, had a respectable job and a life that didn’t fit me at all. It was a life that I had constructed based on my analysis of what it should be instead of where my experiences led me. I left it all behind and I learned to embrace the sensitivities and emotions I have always run from. I learned that we are all participants in life, not just observers. I learned to trust myself.

Intensity still runs wild in me–that will undoubtedly ever change. On a trip to D.C. last month, Matt lost me in conversation when I couldn’t stop looking out the restaurant window at a young guy, wrapped in a tarp, clearly on drugs and standing in the snow and wind.  I have sleepless nights when I can’t solve problems that cause others discomfort. I cry when I read sad stories or stories that remind me of the power we all have to affect one another’s lives. But now, for all of these things, I am grateful. There was some merit in part of what my mom said to me that day. I do need to lighten-up; not everything is as serious as I take it. I learned that life is easier than I think it is (and thinking about life is hard). It just is. It’s life. And we are all doing it.

In in my future quests to “lighten-up” a little more, I know that, at the core, I will still be emotional and intense. Instead of trying to change that, I’m challenging myself to embrace the times when I feel vulnerable and exposed–in hopes that it will inspire others to do the same.

“Our obligation is to give meaning to life, and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.” Ellie Wiesel

PS. The Ad Council released this video, “Diversity & Inclusion–Love Has No Labels.” It touched me deeply and yes, I cried a little. We are all just looking for connections in life.

 

 

 

 
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