Love hard.

worstofus

What if the world knew you only by the worst thing you’ve ever done? Assume everything’s public, no secrets, anything can be known by everyone. That’s a tough scenario, isn’t it? What would people think if they could see all the bad things you’ve done, the cruel things you’ve said, the opportunities to be kind you’ve missed?

Some of us live that reality–known by one event, judged by all and found lacking–the drug addict, the convict, the molester, the drop-out, the neglectful mom. And yet each of us is incredibly complex, capable of both good and bad, cruelty and kindness, and, most importantly, redemption.

How all of our souls hunger for someone to see that, even when we make mistakes, there is good in us, too, that we aren’t all bad. That mistake shouldn’t define us. Imagine how much more that is true for someone who has been shunned by society because of one wrong turn.

What can we do to look at each other as we see ourselves, complex, erring individuals worthy of love? What can we do to recognize that we are all kin?

What is the opportunity hiding there?

opportunity

So much of life depends on our perception of reality. When things go deeply wrong, how can we consider the opportunity hiding there? Perhaps there is a new way to do things, a better way to communicate, a method of engagement that factors in other perspectives. Failure is never failure, really. It is always an opportunity to learn, even if it is merely to learn what doesn’t work.

What obstacles are in your path right now? How can you look at them differently to see the new opportunities waiting?

Let it go.

 

 

letgo

Do we try too hard to control the results? To cling to our preferred outcomes? To our own sense of how things should be? In this thoughtful list (Click on link for discussion of each item), Dana Saviuc shares her suggestion of fifteen things we need to let go of in order to be happy:

1. Give up your need to always be right.

2. Give up your need for control. 

3. Give up on blame. 

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible.

6. Give up complaining. 

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. 

8. Give up your need to impress others. 

9. Give up your resistance to change. 

10. Give up labels. 

11. Give up on your fears. 

12. Give up your excuses. 

13. Give up the past. 

14. Give up attachment. 

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.

Lots of giving up, but so much more to be gained by the change in focus!

Paint your soul.

ownnature

 

We wear our souls on our sleeves really, especially those of us who are artists. The created work sings of hope or despair, love or hate, trust or deceit. Much of what we believe about life is reflected in our created worlds.

But each of us is an artist, really. Consider the created worlds each of us makes with our online presence. Do we share stories of hope and unity or of despair and dissension? Do we seek to unify or to tear apart? Do we spread the beautiful or the ugly? What are we putting out there into the world with our words and actions?

When we share with the world, are we sharing the best of ourselves?

 

 

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Every little bit helps.

something

Can you remember a time when you saved the day? Maybe you were able to help someone cover the cost of groceries when they came up short in line. Maybe you gave someone the Heimlich maneuver. Maybe you swerved to avoid a collision. Or maybe something less dramatic like saying a kind word to someone feeling blue.

In this charming video, a banker catches ducklings jumping off a ledge to get to their mother waiting below. Without him to help, they most likely would have been hurt. After all 12 are safe, he, and much of the town who have gathered to watch the rescue, lead the little duck family down a parade route to a nearby river. A modern Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, and the kind of story that can make all of us feel a bit better about the state of the world.

Helping others reminds us that we matter, that we are here for a reason, and that the world would be a darker place without us in it. That’s as helpful to us as to those we help. Win-win.

What’s the little bit you can do today?

Err away.

portal

Children are born discoverers, unafraid to make mistakes. Everything is new. Around every corner, a new adventure.

Somewhere along the way, though, we are taught it is wrong to make mistakes, and we avoid them at all costs, even, sometimes, by sticking to what we already know well rather than venturing out to try new things.

But what’s so bad about making a mistake? Is it even a mistake, really, if we learn from it?

Many medical breakthroughs and inventions came from mistakes. Post-it notes, microwaves, penicillin, artificial sweetener, chewing gum, x-rays. On and on. Things discovered by mistake.

When we get afraid to try new things or do things differently, we fall into a rut and diminish our ability to create and see new points of view. Our one way of doing and thinking wears a groove in our brains. In short, we turn into old, rigid people.

Getting out of those ruts, can re-engage our brains and creativity and cause us to make new connections, see new perspectives, discover new things. But first, we need to abandon our fear of mistakes and replace it with curiosity.

What is right there, just outside your normal way of doing and seeing, waiting to be discovered?

 

 

Uncomfortable?

changepain

When does change and personal growth happen? To become an oak, the acorn must stop being a seed. To become a chicken, the chick must break out of the shell. Sometimes the status quo becomes painful or uncomfortable, and we must push forward, sometimes painfully, to another stage.

Consider the lobster. Its shell is static. When the lobster feels it becoming too tight, it must hide under some rocks, shed the shell, and wait for a new one to grow. We, too, can use times of adversity and discomfort to stretch and grow. Here, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski explains the process.

If you’re uncomfortable right now, consider if this may be the time to push yourself forward.

How do we pray.

preciouslife

What does it mean to pray anyway?

Is it a prayer when we breathe in the scent of the baby in our arms as we close our eyes against the press of tears and think, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”?

Is it a prayer when we groan with the weight of hopes and dreams unrealized and unclear and seemingly out of reach?

Is it a prayer when we crumble to the ground, broken, and whisper, “Help. Please help me.”

Is it a prayer when we stand in awe of creation as Mary Oliver does of this grasshopper:

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Yes, all of it. It is a prayer every time you are grateful. It is a prayer when you reach out in hope. It is a prayer when you glimpse something more, deeper, wider than the here and now. Paying attention to whomever or whatever is right in front of you and to the longings of your own heart puts you in the middle of the miraculous unfolding all around us.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Make a ripple.

mtripples

In “Sound of Thunder“, Ray Bradbury introduced the idea that one tiny butterfly could have a far-reaching ripple effect on later historical events:

In the year 2055, time travel has become a practical reality, and the company Time Safari Inc. offers wealthy adventurers the chance to travel back in time to hunt extinct species such as dinosaurs. A hunter named Eckels pays $10,000 to join a hunting party that will travel back 65 million years to the Late Cretaceous period, on a guided safari to kill a Tyrannosaurus rex. As the party waits to depart, they discuss the recent presidential elections in which an apparently fascist candidate, Deutscher, has been defeated by the more moderate Keith, to the relief of many concerned. When the party arrives in the past, Travis (the hunting guide) and Lesperance (Travis’s assistant) warn Eckels and the two other hunters, Billings and Kramer, about the necessity of minimizing the events they change before they go back, since tiny alterations to the distant past could snowball into catastrophic changes in history. Travis explains that the hunters are obliged to stay on a levitating path to avoid disrupting the environment, that any deviation will be punished with hefty fines, and that prior to the hunt, Time Safari scouts had been sent back to select and tag their prey, which would have died within minutes anyway, and whose death has been calculated to have minimal effect on the future.

Although Eckels is initially excited about the hunt, when the monstrous Tyrannosaur approaches, he loses his nerve. Travis tells him he cannot leave, but Eckels panics, steps off the path and runs into the forest. Eckels hears shots, and on his return he sees that the two guides have killed the dinosaur, and shortly afterward the falling tree that would have killed the T. rex has landed on top of it. Realizing that Eckels has fallen off the path, Travis threatens to leave him in the past unless he removes the bullets from the dinosaur’s body, as they cannot be left behind. Eckels obeys, but Travis remains furious, threatening on the return trip to shoot him.

Upon returning to 2055, Eckels notices subtle changes – English words are now spelled and spoken strangely, people behave differently, and Eckels discovers that Deutscher has won the election instead of Keith. Looking at the mud on his boots, Eckels finds a crushed butterfly, whose death has apparently set in motion a series of subtle changes that have affected the nature of the alternative present to which the safari has returned. He frantically pleads with Travis to take him back into the past to undo the damage, but Travis had previously explained that the time machine cannot return to any point in time that it has already visited (so as to prevent any paradoxes). Travis raises his gun, and there is “a sound of thunder”.

Bradbury’s genius in considering how small seemingly insignificant changes can alter the future has, of course, become a standard sci-fi plot device. But how about applying the principle to the present. What can we do now to ensure a better future for us all? We can’t possibly know the effect of the small acts of kindness we do each day. But we do know that one kind act leads to another, ever onward, each person touched by kindness more likely to pass it on, creating an entire chain, then web, outward, expanding farther and farther as it goes. That ever-expanding ripple of kindness can perhaps circle the world if we could only track it.

In this heart-warming, and tear-jerking (in a good way) video, one man discovers just how powerful a little gesture of kindness can be.

What can you do today to start ripples everywhere you go?

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Now is the time.

timebuddha

Many of us carry around the kind things we mean to say or do as some sort of internal To Do list for when we get to it. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. But if those kind things are what you want to do or say before you have no more chances to do or say them, you had better get on it. The promise of a new day is not really a promise. It is definitely not a guarantee. At most, it’s a hope.

So say those kind words. Do those kind things. Not just because you may not ever get the chance if you wait, but because they will enrich the lives of those other people who have no idea about what thoughts and intentions you are carrying around locked up in your head undisclosed.