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

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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

This New America and Other Random Thoughts

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When your child’s school leaves a recorded voice message, offering counseling sessions and use of their Office of Human Relations and Equity to support meaningful conversations and concerns that you or your child may have, following a presidential election, you know that this is not normal.
When the district superintendent follows up with yet another message, soliciting your help to encourage your child to use assemblies, classroom dialogues, and open-mic activities to address their frustrations, because the district is concerned about the uptake student rebellion, falling grades, lawlessness, and walk-outs on campus, after the same presidential election, again,  not normal.

When you have to wear an unflattering safety pin on your collar or put up a hideous poster of one in your office or business to show your solidarity with millions of people who are terrified of racist and anti-Semitic abuse, and vandalism, which is occurring at alarming rates, after the same presidential election, you know this is a new America.
The safety pin symbol inspired by Syndey’s 2014 #illridewithyou movement following the Islamophobic backlash after a terrorist attack and adopted by Brits in the wake of the BREXIT against xenophobic abuse, has finally arrived in the United States of America. In USA Today, experts report that post-election spate of hate crimes is worse than post-9/11.

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We now live in a country where post-election, people can fly the confederate flag on their cars. People can boldly blandish the swastika – a sacred symbol used in Neolithic Eurasia, Eastern Religions, and Europe for good luck and well-being – until Schliemann 1920’s volkisch movement adopted it as a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride.
This election was about American nationalist pride (for a country founded by immigrants, who displaced the native Indians, that’s an oxymoron). It was also about the economy and pocketbook issues. On both fronts, the more stable and reasonable candidate, Hillary Clinton won the people’s heart and confidence a.k.a the popular vote by a margin of over two million and counting; but lost the electoral college vote.

These last few weeks has seen passionate anti-Trump demonstrations in over thirty-seven states. I get the frustration. How can the country reward a man with questionable morals, twitter-happy fingers, checkered business practices, and pending court cases with the highest honor and office of the land? A man so uninformed, inexperienced, unprepared and undisciplined that over sixty percent of the voters agreed that he was not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Our children are decrying this choice that the ‘adults’ have made. It’s not fair to ask them to accept that Donald Trump can break all the rules of decency and decorum when he shattered accepted norms like transparency, facts, and tolerance. That he who became the crusader for propaganda and deplorable views can now wield enormous power over the nation. Our kids are asking, “Why should we bother to do right, be kind and do homework?”

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As a parent, I could not find the right answers. Instead, I offer a few thoughts:

  • Life is not fair. Sometimes we do not get what we deserve. Other times, grace gives us what we have not earned.
  • Christians call God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Remember Jacob? He was known as the heel-grabber, deceiver, cheat, swindler, schemer, and usurper) Even after Jacob’s name was changed to Israel which means prince, God still preferred the former name. Maybe because as a fantasist, Jacob had ideas and desires that were outside the norm. He was a passionate change agent. It’s the what,  not the who.
  • To settle the *rancor between his disciples, when Peter asked. “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus answered,”…what is that to you? You follow me.” Our focus after this election returns to evaluating our lives, keeping our hope on the Lord who rules in the affairs of men and has a broader perspective.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. In a climate of unrest and discord, be prepared in case of a lock-down.
  • Donald Trump has four years to prove the skeptics wrong. If he takes the oath of office and fails to be the president that American needs, it will be a rough four years because people are committed to holding him accountable to the ideals of the office of the President.
  • Get involved in the political process. Talk to those with opposing views.
  • Pray. Pray for Donald, our leaders, and the victors. Pray comfort for Hillary and those who are broken-hearted and scared. Pray for wisdom, hope, and healing.

This situation is not normal. Our children, friends, and neighbors demonstrating for over a week, is not the usual aftermath of a presidential election. The bitter, tart tone of the past election season is responsible for this new America, but we’ll move forward if we all do our part.

May God bless the United States of America and All of us.

Photo Credits: Pixabay Images and amadanesi.com
*John 21:20-23

The Art of Tart

The Art of Tart

 

Tart – severe, sharp, biting, acrimonious. This year so far has been one for taking life’s lemons and making some very pricey lemonade. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s alleged Betty-with-the-good-hair problem has given them millions of dollars; Gwen Stefani has made us like Blake Shelton again and my favorite yogurt, Liberté has gone organic.

You know you’ve got something special when breakfast inspires a blog post via a lemon haiku on the foil cover like mine did. The Kaporovsky family emigrated from Russia and founded Liberté in 1936. They opened their first factory in Montreal, Canada, on the corner of Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue Duluth Ouest.

Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, they named their small, kosher dairy farm, “Liberty”. Even though the name was changed to appeal to their French-speaking Quebec customers, it still captures that original spirit of hope and freedom.
The company today has crossed the borders into America and sells various artisan dairy products nationwide, but their dream is even bigger – one of their employees circulated a petition declaring that the first yogurt eaten on Mars would be Liberté.*

Hope and freedom – wouldn’t we like to see some of that expounded upon instead of the recent rancorous and vitriolic nature of our politics. Trump’s campaign has made the art of tart, a core strategy – their conspiracy theories and scattered-brain policies help no-one focus on our grave and pressing issues. Immigration is not the pressing issue, the modified refrain from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist,  James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid” should be ringing in our heads. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign dogged by the need to engage in so much defensive posturing would like America to fall into amnesia about some aspects of her long career in advocacy and politics.

Who will America choose come November? A woman scarred by years of fighting, sometimes unfairly, in the arena vs. a man who is most known for his avarice, and who has spurred and elevated the underground fringes of the far-right to the podium.
And what will our choice say of us?
Speaking of options, if you haven’t tried my favorite Liberté – lemon-flavored yogurt, you haven’t lived – not fully at least.

Ah… Liberty!

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Image Credits:
Pixabay
Susan Watts/NY Daily News
* http://www.liberteusa.com
 

How Much Longer? Are We There Yet?

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How to stay sane until November…

I feel like a child in the back seat with two squabbling parents
fighting for the steering wheel. I can’t ask, “Are we there yet?”
So I’m left with – how much longer can we stand this?
The fringes of our society have taken hold of their ideological ends
and are reaping us apart like skirt seams.
I cannot wait for the sun to rise on November 8th.
It will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.
Like deep-sea divers, how low can we go?
I hope that those who have drowned their sense of civility and elected to
engage with prosecutorial glee in depraved depths of inhumane rhetoric,
blatant falsehood and tribal rage will once again be neighbours and friends.
Did the salacious appetite for coliseum-style politics seep
into our veins while we were asleep?
How did this get so vicious that we are demanding the heads of political rivals on silver platters and shackles on their supporters’ wrists across the aisle?
Surely America is better than this.
Surely once again, rays of love will beam across this land,
and we can fix the labels sticking out like tongues at the back of our heads.
We are officially in the twilight zone, and we should all feel
betrayed by the state of our union.
What to do? Let’s pray and read haikus to ease our troubled minds.

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Full moon night
All that is
and isn’t.


“Xyz?”
“Abcdef,
Xyz!”


Hydrangea rain
will I see you again
in my dreams?

Credits:
Haikus – Johan Bergstad, Kika Hotta, and Kris Kondo respectively
Images – Pixabay.