Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Resilience Plan

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters 
to what lies within us. - Ralph Waldo  Emerson

In Time magazine's June 1, 2015 issue, "The Science of Bouncing Back," Mandy Oaklander explores strategies for resilience. Oaklander reveals that while traumatic stressors can have a devastating impact on our health, “countless smaller stresses take a toll” on our bodies.

Resilience is defined as "the capacity to adapt successfully to challenges." The small things rather than the larger issues of life can bring us down. One resilience researcher feels the way we cope with little stressors strongly predicts how we’ll do when big stressors hit. 

Coping results in the small choices we make, rather than our personality traits.

Oaklander presents “Expert Tips for Resilience” as 10 ways to train brains and bodies to cope and bounce back. 

1.   Tap into your core (unshakable) beliefs.
2.   Use each stressor as an opportunity to learn.
3.   Do what you can to remain positive.
4.   Learn from a resilient mentor or coach.
5.   Don’t run away—confront those things that scare you.
6.   Look for and reach out to your support network in   difficult times.
7.   Keep your brain active and learn new things as often as you can.
8.   Exercise regularly.
9.   Live in the present—don’t dwell in the past.
10.  What trait, characteristic, skill or talent makes you the strong person you are? Own it and give yourself credit for this strength.

Ask yourself questions about your level of resilience. 
How do choices help you fit into the points above? Which cause the most challenge?
Do you have a resilience plan for the coming week?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

In Honor of Our Military

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking. 

                   -Sir Walter Scott

After the Civil War, the government created a holiday to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle. Union general John Logan chose May 30th because it did not honor the anniversary of any battle.

When World War I ended, they extended the idea to honor all United States soldiers who died in any war.

In 1968, Congress's Uniform Holidays Act severed the link between Memorial Day and the original date, changing it instead to "the last Monday in May" to allow for a three-day weekend.

Memorial Day has become a holiday for families to remember anyone they have lost (veteran or otherwise), to lay flowers at grave sites.

For those unable to travel to the graves of their loved ones, there are websites like FindAGrave.com, where one can create a cyber-monument and leave a "virtual" note or bouquet.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Whines into Solutions

 “Identify your problems, but give your power and energy 
to solutions.” - Tony Robbins

Rather than nosedive into the problem, drench your whine with a solution. Take a breath, pause, and think in terms of the opportunity for optimism. The word, "optimism" derives from the Latin word, "optima" which means the best outcome or belief in the greatest good.

Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in each opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” His message reveals how re-arranging words can make a difference in attitude.

When life throws opportunities disguised as difficulties, we can turn frustration into action. Watch what happens when creativity bumps into opportunity. Energy increases to an explosive level of satisfaction. 

Finding humor in the toughest challenge stimulates laughter to bring anew perspective not the process. Look at the glass and its potential for a variety of solution. Try not to decide if it is half full or half empty.The next time you find yourself in a stormy seas, find three ways to keep sailing.  Swirl a clear solution out of your whine.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Where Creativity Dwells

"A quote from W.S. Merwin: 'I have with me all that I do not know. I have lost none of it.' For me that’s where creativity dwells, that’s where the discovery is, that is where curiosity leads us — to that place of both not knowing and unknowing." 
~ Terry Tempest Williams

Begin writing about everything you do not know. Go for the questions. How will you extend your creativity to push barriers? 

Consider the artichoke. Imagine who thought to rake teeth through the leaves to eat the pulp?  Who pursued into the sweetness of the heart past all the prickles? 

Crack open creativity.

Where will you investigate? 

What hides that needs revealing? 

Who holds a mystery to delve into?  

Push into a place of secrecy.

Ask why?

Push curiosity into an unknown. 

Discover where creativity dwells.   Squint and re-arrange reality.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beyond Failure

"To undertake a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully to bring to them the transformative power of our heart."
- Jack Kornfield

Does the cherry tree exclaim how hard it works during spring?  Do you hear shrieks of exasperation?  Of course not. The tree goes about its business of treeness and pushes auxins. The pink floods out of the petals. They drop and illustrate the street. 

Why does the notion exist among human beings that effort equals result?  The "Little League" mentality that everyone gets a trophy for hard work insults the process. What happens when a batter swings at the third pitch and misses?  He's out!  It doesn't matter how hard he tried. The effort did not produce a result.

In the publishing world, editors cannot observe the effort put into a piece of writing.  They judge the words that bounce upon the page. The black squiggles either hold their attention or they don't.  

In the construction business, if a carpenter works all day measuring, cutting, hammering and at the end of the day looks up to see the windows sag, corners don't match up and in one rain the roof will leak, does he say, "I worked so hard?"  No!  He can see that he needed to focus on the details.

Many individuals fear making mistakes when learning something new.  Failure assists the process. Success comes from feeling comfortable with risk and error.

Imagine the man who loves to work with his hands. He carves boxes designed with robins and roses. Purchasers love his work. One day he decides to take a ceramics class to learn how to throw pots. He spends four weeks throwing clay and the pots lean right and left. Some have thin sides and heavy bases. 

The wheel races, his fingers slipping in the water. Drippings cover him with gray. He's worked so hard with his hands but this new procedure defies his understanding. The result does not represent his accomplishments of the past. What has he learned from the process?  He thought he could just crank it out as an artist but did not realize the nuances and techniques necessary to learn a new skill. Will he keep going and doing? That's what matters.

Hard work has value as it improves discipline and provides the opportunity for results.  Many times one must fail in order to succeed when learning a new skill.

Consider how "hard work" translates into result or did just the opposite. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face.  We must do that which we think we cannot."

Let failure inspire and become the First Attempt in Learning.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Power to Positivity

How do we maintain balance in a world that presses us with what's broken, what's dreadful, and what's wrong?

It takes patience and perseverance to sort out the news and waltz beyond worry.

Take time to skip looking at the catastrophe network or reading headlines for a day.

Find hearts in the shadows

Push away from the computer.

Leave your cell phone.

Go out in the morning and Sing!

Immerse yourself in nature.

Take a walk and replace negative thoughts and frustrations with the scents and colors that pass along the way.

Ask questions. What does a peregrine or bee do when faced with an obstacle?

Listen for different sounds.

Observe shapes and textures.

Imagine clouds with anxiety.  Will the release of rain help?

Marvel at the ways the sea rants in ripples.

Distractions move the mind back to the present moment.

Rocks let the sea and sky pass over, under, around, and through.

Let nature's wisdom
seep into your
thoughts and actions.

See smiles in petals.

Breathe in the majesty.

Find Power in Positivity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fire in the Soul

"The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with calmness," said the painter, Joan Miro when describing his artistic process.

When considering a project:

Identify what excites the most.

Where's the hidden beauty?

Find the fire.

Activate the wild parts of the imagination.

Dream and scheme about how to fly into the thrill of creation.

Make it happen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Mind's Meander

Where waves laze to shore.

As the world of people
teams with activity.

Freeways. News channels.
Frenzy of wasted moments.

Here on the bench, all arrives in time.
Measured by sun rays and flying clouds.

A flight beyond a computer. No television flickers.

Eyes alert for a snack.

A pelican bends into a swell and flaps off the sea foam.

I used to swim in front of the tangerine roofs. Hours spent on the blue, red and green raft until my fingers pruned to teach me the time of day. Moved to shore. Built a drip castle or consumed words from books.

Now voices that called me for dinner stay silent.
                     Their impact swirls and cradles my heart.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Hummingbird's Triumph

The sky, sea and land quarreled over colors to represent them. The sky claimed blue, but the sea roared in disagreement.

Land demanded multicolors: greens, yellows and browns. That decision angered both the sky and sea.

Then sky shouted also about needing ambers, crimsons and gold for sunsets.

They quibbled daily. Only darkness ended the fighting. With the next dawn, the arguments surged anew.

One day the hummingbird suggested,"Why not collaborate and exchange colors throughout the day," she said.

To encourage their alternation of colors, her clan of hummingbirds wove a variety of darks and lights into a collage to present for their view.

They also invited dragonflies, bees, and colorful insects to add hues.

Members of the animal and plant kingdom collaborated to convince land, sea and sky to work together and share an intermingling  of color.

When land, sea and sky 
agreed to trade and mix, tranquility colored the day. 

The hummingbird danced in triumph.