Qui Vive

Already, this year has been exceptionally trying, but I have chosen to serve and to give out what I need most – an encouraging word. My hope for you all today is that you do not become weary from expecting the good. I am so ready for the harvest that comes after the waiting…

Qui Vive by Ama Danesi

In whatever state we find ourselves

God is working out the opposite.

When we fall, He lifts us up.

When we are bound, He frees our souls.

In the face of certain defeat, He is working

out a victory that cannot be denied.

In our darkest nights and earnest watching – qui vive.

His love roars loud and clear above the taunting waves.

He calms our heartbeat to the rhythm of His breath.

He sent us a helpless baby as Savior of the world.

Once an alien in Egypt but rich in gold, silver, and myrrh.

The pain and suffering that He allows, ushers in

destiny and purpose. He plants in untilled soil, that the

harvest may be wild and unrestrained reaching to

the ends of the earth and places marked “x.”

In the face of sorrow, our hope & joy is His name –

Emmanuel, God with us.

 

Alert & hopeful,

AD.

Historical Fun Fact:

Even motor boats have a purpose and are remembered for their service. The USS Qui Vive (SP – 1004) was part of the United States Naval Fighting fleet from 1917 – 1919. She served as a patrol vessel then as a hospital boat in the 5th Naval District during World War 1. Originally built by the Hutchinson Brothers (Alexandria, NY) for Houston Barnard (Rochester, NY) she was chartered by the Navy until she was decommissioned and returned at the end of her naval career. Her current state is unknown but her work and service endure.
(Bio and image credit: NavSource.org /Wikipedia/Pixabay)

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Grace for Our Moments in the New Year.

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For all our moments in this blessed new year, I pray for grace and wisdom that’s beyond ourselves.
We seek the True North.
Happy New Year!!🎆

This is Going to Hurt

This is how I know my brain is functioning optimally – I might be inspired but find that I lack that the motivation to do anything other than shopping, browsing, and surviving another day. However, today, I’m doing more than just survive – my laptop is open, and my words are blowing free as the ocean’s salty breeze into the world. The prospects of a new beginning and its uncertain end is daunting. Sometimes, when I have a great idea and maybe even a daring one, instinctively, like most of us do…I hesitate. Mistake. Big mistake.

Here is why you have to be figuratively crazy to walk out of that cushy job or even the crappy one that barely pays the rent – we dread failure and the often shameful and public consequences of making a mistake. In psychology, it is referred to as the “Spotlight Effect,” where we perceive that we are continually being judged by others. This triggers paranoia and self-doubt and sets off an alarm in the brain which then goes into overdrive to protect us from danger or hurting ourselves.

The brain is doing its job when it magnifies all the risk implications, the certain pitfalls ahead, the strain on the body, mind, and resources that executing a grand adventure would entail. It knows we have three basic human needs – food, clothing, and shelter. Anything beyond these is asking for pain, and when the brain senses an overreach, it acts as an exceptionally effective lever. It will respond to your hesitation and uncertainty with a resounding, “No, we are not doing that !”  Our brains would also love this excerpt from The One Song* poem by Mark Strand (1990 U.S. Poet Laureate & 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry):

I prefer to sit all day

like a sack in a chair

and to lie all night

like a stone in my bed.

 

When food comes

I open my mouth.

When sleep comes

I close my eyes.

But we are not sacks or stones, and yes, we do need to eat and sleep but manifesting our ideas makes us thriving human-beings and is an ongoing and painful growing process that requires planning, strategy, and taking chances. Let’s not analyze our plans to the point of paralysis or death. Per the Spotlight Effect, the perception of being under constant scrutiny is unrealistic. People pay less attention to other’s mistakes and failures than we think. Another reason we have halls of fame and awards, the focus goes to those who tried and failed till they eventually had success.

That’s why Mel Robbins, author, and speaker, said, “Motivation is garbage.” This might come off as extreme, but I think people confuse the need to survive with motivation because she explains that we are never going to feel like doing the things that are tough, difficult, scary, or new. And so we can right now, stop waiting for motivation and just make decisions that we will follow through on.

We are one risky decision away from a totally different life. Our futures are determined by micro-moments of insanity and boldness, slight shifts in perspective, and crucial decisions to be kinder and bigger. And when you are at a crossroad, tell your conscientious brain before it stops you that, “Yep, this is going to hurt.” As the Good Book says, “Write the vision, make it plain, run with it…and at the end, it will speak.”** Till we get to that end, let’s embrace the pain that helps us evolve.

 

Sources:

* Poulin, A. 2006. Contemporary American poetry. Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin. p.586

**Habakkuk 2:3 (para.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Extraordinary Love -The Path to Personal Development.

 

“Extraordinary love flows from those who do their life’s work.” AD

A few years ago, when I took an intensive HarvardX edX course called Immunity to Change™, I was so surprised by the emphasis on love in the introductory lecture by Drs. Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey that I paused the video and rechecked the course information, thinking, wait…this is Harvard not, the church right? Well, I came away with some insights about how the love of self and of others factors into our personal development and growth.

Our culture and humanity are suffering deeply from the deluge of outrage and violence, so much so, that our aggressiveness towards one another has become the order of the day, the headline news, and the click-bait. We have leaders who are proudly amoral, children and families traumatized by senseless gun violence, and metrics of materialism and false perfection that ascribes worthiness. We also, risk becoming inured to the revolving door of acts of hatred and divisiveness that pervades our communities.

Still, I am hopeful because almost everyone has the same reaction to the sight of a baby in the arms of a parent. Our hearts give way to love, which in its purest form, is emotion free of judgment and expectation. If the child is crying and uncomfortable, we are immediately concerned. Concern and consideration are how love translates into action. And so, we make funny faces, we ask the parent if they need help, or we share an understanding smile. It is no accident that the most revered people in history were generous and empathetic  – think Jesus or Mother Teresa – they were moved by compassion.

In contemporary times, we’ve seen examples of extraordinary love and philanthropy from those who have also excelled in their life’s work – Bono, Oprah, Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Li Ka-Shing, Andrew Carnegie, etc. Okay, these are prominent people, but they all did not start at the top – but at some critical point that propelled them forward, they discovered their natural talents and intentionally applied these principles of love that I culled from my course, towards their personal growth and development:

  • In life’s work or vocation combine the two strong and grounding forces of belief and values.
  • Change expansively with compassion for yourself and others. Generously forgive yourself and others.
  • When faced with challenges, view them as opportunities that require growth, new tools, and strategies.
  • Meditate and dig deep within. We all have an internal “cheat sheet.” The answers always precede the problems, and our posture should not be that of trying to dig out from a stuck place. Think in abundant terms.
  • Acrimony and hatred deplete and dim our lives. Love liberates us from self-torture and limitations.

Our personal growth is directly tied to positive shifts in our thinking, to evaluating our choices, and by taking small behavioral steps to reach what Oprah calls the “best version of ourselves.” We’ve heard people say, “I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love.” or “This does not feel like work.” That sense of enormous gratitude comes from doing and excelling at our life’s work and opens up the heart. So, it’s worth finding and following our calling and passion. The most crucial self-development goal is to daily commit to becoming extraordinary lovers of ourselves and others. Let’s go be phenomenal!

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Silence Breakers – May Willows Surround

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WILLOWS OF WADI SURROUND – A poem by Ama Danesi

My mouth kisses my palm

and holds back welling tears

I remember I was a stranger there

his hands groping, seizing,

searching for certainty here.

As long as wicked is in the room

may willows of the wadi

surround and mark me safe.

This pain is not measured

by the scale of years

but unraveled by melodies

and as shadows reflect mysteries.

My river once turbulent

is no longer frightened for

tree of harps are singing out

names and redemption songs.

Once hushed and gray as a moth

my whole soul sings too, loud.

Me who moved further from shore,

now, rushes home in an exquisite

finery of light, sculpted in palace style.

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Time Magazine deservedly honored the “Silence Breakers” as Person of the Year 2017. These women and men challenged the status quo of sexual aggression and I stand with every girl, boy, woman, and man who has suffered the injustice and humiliation of sexual assault and abuse. We will not keep silent concerning our bodies and limbs.

We celebrate its splendid frame and the brave hearts rising across the world to confront small, weeny “gods.” We celebrate the power of each voice and the collective refrain. Hear our souls sing out loud. The sound barrier is broken and people will be silent no more!

In Service,

AD

Image Credit: Pixabay and Time Magazine 2017: The Silence Breakers