Inspiring Tuna Sandwich

My weekly topic for this blog comes from various sources; conversations, observations, and sometimes lightbulb-eureka-lightening strike to the head moments. The later being the rarest. This week, I am inspired by my tuna fish sandwich, a student led conference, and a video. These three intersections came together in my mind as I was thinking of what to share with you this morning.

Tuna PerfectionI had the most perfect tuna fish sandwich for lunch. It was magnificent. It made me think, ‘Do one thing and do it well.’ I pondered on this thought for awhile and wondered about what my ‘one’ thing was. I didn’t have one thing. The thought of doing one thing to perfection makes me feel rather pressured. Especially, if I haven’t discovered the one thing. I then must search for this one thing (exhausting) and then do it perfectly (super exhausting). My mind is off to the races. I have forgotten about my sublime tuna fish sandwich, which by the way, truly did deserve my undivided attention. It was that good. I’m down the road…What is my one thing? What am I doing..ladeedaadaa…find the one thing. Oh god.

Our son invited us to a student led conference. I say, invited but, actually he was required to present his portfolio to us and we were required to attend. So, we sat for 20 minutes or so, discussing his academic progress and goals. He had one goal in mind, to get out of school as fast as possible. He is very focused on this one thing. “I just want to be finished with school.” Fair enough. His determination to reach the finish line led us to talk about along the way. What about the time between now and then? How can you eek out all of the experience, knowledge and growth along the way? Soak it all up, kid. What can be done to make the most of your time as a student? With three years left, these were good questions for him, they were also helping me think about my own relationship with goals. How often do I get wrapped up in the end result at the expense of along the way?

I open an email from my aunt, she often sends me thought provoking material, this one was especially timely and really struck a chord. It is a video illustrating audio of Alan Watts talking about life’s journey. He says,

We thought of life by analogy with a journey with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end. And the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is… or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

And with that, suddenly, the one thing doesn’t matter, the goals, the striving to reach the finish line, it’s all immaterial because the point is the along the way.  Watts reminds us, “It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” Simply put, smell the roses and enjoy the ride.

What are you doing to soak it all up, kid?

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Dear Diary

The theme this week for me has been vulnerability. It has come up in conversations. I have thought about it and puzzled over it and dove in, because in my mind, it is the essence of being human. We are, after all, born into a challenging world with very little to protect ourselves, save our smarts and ability to connect with one another. In order to connect, we show our need and that is the vulnerable part, when we say, “I can’t do this alone.” It is from this revealing of our weakness that we gain strength in connection. You can’t have one with out the other. So, in the middle of my week with the vulnerability topic circling, I watched Mortified Nation, the ultimate reveal your soul to all experience.

Mortified is a stage show, where folks get up and read excerpts from their childhood diaries. It is touching, sad, revealing, uplifting, sweet, and hilarious. It is telling secrets, inner most thoughts, the feelings that are difficult to share. The longing to be loved, to fit in, the anger and rage, overwhelming happiness and love- dizzying feelings that overcome us, written in desperation, secrecy, code, or ALL CAPS in our diaries, expressions of what it is to be human. We are all trying to find our place. When one person can stand up and say how lonely they feel it resonates with all. The honesty and vulnerability of these readings give voice to the awkward teenager that we all were at one time and celebrates our mutual dorkiness.

 

 

Travel Light

We were on a road trip last week, my family and me. We drove to Kentucky to visit with friends and have a break from the Michigan snow, which seems to really mean it this year. In fact, there are still good sized banks of the stuff hanging around. These banks have been here since November, when the snow started. It is hard to rebadasssnowflakeroadtrip.jpgmember the green grass. So, we hopped in the car and headed south. It was a refreshing break to be in a place where the air didn’t hurt when it hit your bare skin.

We packed lightly for this trip. We took pleasure in loading our small bags with just the necessities. Nothing extra. It was a short trip with a longish drive and we wanted space in the car. There is something freeing about grabbing a few things and getting out, away from the usual. It wakes a person up. The unexpected is all around.

We returned to still cold temperatures and more snow. But, the feeling of spaciousness from our lightly packed trip through new territory lingered. I came back to the usual a little changed. Refreshed. Fresh eyes on the snow banks. Fresh perspective on packing things and a longing for lightness. I am sitting with this feeling of needing space. Sitting with the urge to sweep our home of all the unnecessary items that we have packed. The spring clean is calling to me and simplicity is waiting on the other side. Like the road trip with an atlas and an extra pair of jeans it says, “Come on, you don’t need all this shit. The world is out there, waiting for you. Let’s check it out.”

You Are Not Alone

I subscribe to this blog by Leo Babauta called Zen Habits. Yesterday, I opened this week’s post from Leo. I tend to save some of my favorite blogs to read when I have TIME and can truly digest them. So, I was reading Zen Habits in the car while waiting for my son. I read the post and felt lighter, felt relieved, sighed, smiled, and thought I should share this with you all.

Be KindThis week’s Zen Habits post was titled, You’re Not Worse Than Other Peoplealready I am interested. Tell me more Leo. It is a short post. A reminder that part of the human condition is to fear and feel alone. He writes,

Everyone else has the same fears you have: fears of failure, of embarrassment, of uncertainty, of discomfort.

Fear of not being good enough.

We all have times when we feel less than. I have written of my own experiences with this struggle many times. The simplicity of Leo’s post was comforting and uplifting. You can read the whole post here. Enjoy.

Peace & Love,

Lisa

Ride a Unicorn or Not, Whatever Works for You

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.” -Zora Neale Hurston

The fierceness of this statement reminds me to inhabit my skin. Embrace my present, whether it be of the lowest low, somewhere in the eh range- you know the place where you are sort of tired and bored with yourself or on top of the world. Be there. And be there with all of your messy selves, with your licked out pots and sword in hand. I promise, your life will be extraordinary, if YOU show up fully. I leave you with these powerful words from Zora Neale Hurston and ask that you try to celebrate and acknowledge where you are right this minute. Angry, bored, hurt, excited, empowered, disgusted, beaten, loved- be it and then move on to the next thing, hopefully riding a unicorn 😉

-Lisa XOXO

Art work by Mike Mitchell Awesome 5000

Art work by Mike Mitchell
Awesome 5000

There is Beauty

Alice

The lady at number 6

lived with great joy,

through the darkest of days

and dares to hope we will all hear the music.

It is playing on the wind for those willing to hear.

A humming,

there is beauty at all times.

Even when there is not a glimmer of hope,

there is beauty.

You must only listen for it.

What Went Right?

It is familiar territory, going over problems, talking about what went wrong. We are good at dissecting our failures, short-comings, how we could improve this or that. It can be a habit, a default setting. We take turns relating our recent set backs or screw-ups. We say things like, “You are not going to believe this awful mess I am in,” explaining in detail how we made a real hash of things. Or, “this really terrible thing happened,” and we launch into the telling of how we have been wronged. It is useful to go over mistakes or bad things that have happened to avoid repeats. However, it can add to feelings of anxiety and depression, especially if this is the primary way of processing events. It has to been done sometimes, this going over of what went wrong but, here is a thought about the counterbalance. The recalling of what went right.

In last week’s Brain Pickings, the book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, by Dr Martin Seligman, is noted as a great source for simple exercises to increase happiness. One of which counteracts our nature to talk about the bad things of the day, by practicing paying attention to the good. Seligman calls it the What-Went-Well or Three Blessings exercise.

What-Went-Well: at the end of the day take ten minutes to write down three things that went well and why they went well. It doesn’t have to be a big momentous event. It could be simple things that felt positive but, it is important to note why. Here are some examples from Flourish.

“Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause … “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.”

It is similar to a gratitude list, though goes a step further in recognizing the why and how of what worked. Seligman assures we will be “less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.” So, here it goes…

What went well for me today: I had a great time with my friends, because I decided to reschedule my

Feeding the Birds

Feeding the Birds

week and go to the movies with them. I also woke up with out pain in my shoulder because I have been diligent about my physical therapy. And the birds at the feeder are reminding me of spring. My husband always keeps the feeder full of seed so that we can enjoy watching the birds. He is good like that.

I look forward to hearing what went well for you today.

Peace & Love,

Lisa

Searching for the State of Better: Self-Help is for Suckers

I know, the title is inflammatory and I am clearly going for the cheap pull for readership. You can help me out by sharing this post with a friend you think might like what I’m putting down here. I can’t promise that it will improve the titles. But, it will make me feel warm and fuzzy. So, thank you for that.

Anyway, Searching for the State of Better: Self-help is for suckers. Hear me out. The phrase self-help implies that one is broken, messed up, in need of help- nothing wrong with needing help, feeling broken or messed up. We have all been there, may be there now, and no doubt will have low moments in life come around again. And the pursuit of a State of Better is noble and human and leads to really good stuff. This is life kid. We are all on a path of progress. The key is how we frame these times when we are reaching for more or when we feel less than Awesome. I’m wondering if there is another way to talk about this seeking. Can we stop calling it self-help? What if we called it something else? Instead of thinking that a situation or person is in need of fixing or helping maybe try shifting into empowerment mode. This subtle shift in labeling from self-improvement to self-empowerment can be huge in how challenges are tackled. Imagine reframing the ‘need for improvement’ to ‘it is a good time to tap into my resources’. A shift from, ‘I am, this is, screwed up and in need of fixing’ to ‘I’d like to do better. I’d like this to be better. What is available around me to help make this happen?’ And I know the second option is kind of long and harder to say but, it is powerful. It is natural to want a State of Better, now what do I have around me to go to there?

My road map to State of Better

Badass road map to the State of Better.

Author and Mega entrepreneur, Danielle LaPorte, beautifully sums up this shift in thinking in her blog post Why Self-improvement Makes You Neurotic. On the subject of striving for the State of Better, she asks “Rather than doing whatever it is that you do to ease, mitigate and transform those states of being as acts of “self improvement” and “getting fixed” or “making better,” what if you approached those rituals and remedies as ways of getting to your power?” It is not out of weakness that a person reaches out or reaches up. There is great strength in asking for help. It takes courage to seek guidance. Curiosity, hope and creativity drive people to whisper, speak, shout, ‘How can I make this better?’ It is how we think about this process that makes all the difference.

Imagine, if at the end of a difficult week, when you are feeling run down, low energy, depressed even and you put the call out to friends. Help, I need fixing. Imagine if you thought of that call not as a distress call but, as access to your tools, resources, power. Call your friends, get cozy with the latest issue of Oprah, go to yoga, whatever you do to feel well. This is your mojo. This is Wonder Twin powers activate time. This is I have all of these awesome things in place to pull from when I need support and I am going to use them time. And when these times come around, and they do for us all, know this: You are one smart, amazing, loved cookie. And you are not alone. Just ask yourself this question: What can I do in this moment to tap into My resources? And then, of course, Do it.

Peace & Love,

Lisa

Love Baby, That’s Where It’s At

love lettersLove letters. Write them. Send them to your best most sweetest friend, your Mom, your dog, your lover, yourself. Sit for a bit and write some sappy, heartfelt, honest shit about love and then HIT SEND. Do it. You will feel wonderful. The person who gets the letter will feel cherished. And that is some good, good stuff to put out into the world.

Below is a prompt from Modern Hepburn.modern hepburn Tell me how you get along with this assignment. Love, Badass Snowflake. xoxo

Put The Kettle On, I’m Sad.

I think sometimes we just need to complain. Take a break and let it all out, these are the things I could do without (Ha, Tears for Fears song). Seriously, I could do without the cold, grey winter and the throbbing pain from this shoulder injury that makes it hard to sit and do my work, hard to sit and not do my work, hard to sleep, hard to walk. Things, well, things feel a little hard right now. And, it’s no good pretending otherwise. I’m fed up and I know you get to that place, too, sometimes. And I know we feel that we should get our action pants on and do something about it- anything. Snap out of it. Stiff upper lip and all that. Come on, what about the Magic Glitter Snow!

photo (33)Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time to rise. There is definitely a time to give yourself a stern talking to and make a move. But, here’s the thing. There is also a time to feel blue. There is a time to put the tea kettle on and sit with it, see and feel the mess all around you. Life can be hard. It can kick your ass. It has happened, is happening, will happen again. People get knocked down. (That’s right, Chumbawamba) When we don’t acknowledge the down times or try to deny the slump or distract ourselves to avoid feeling blue, then we miss an opportunity to learn and grow. And we miss an opportunity to take care of ourselves. And we diminish the chance to really appreciate the get back up part.

I practiced some self-care this weekend. It went like this: My shoulder was killing me. I had spent hours working on the taxes. The winter is wearing on me. I am feeling truly fed up and generally lacking in joy. And this made me feel sad. How did I get here? This is not my beautiful life. (Hello Talking Heads song.) I just felt miserable. And I let myself feel this way. I didn’t try to talk myself out of it. I didn’t admonish myself for being sad. I just thought, hmmm, I feel pretty low. I made myself a cup of tea and got a hot water bottle, put a movie on and cuddled up in my favorite blanket and softened towards my mood. I made some space for my sadness which allowed me to let go of resisting. When I let go, there was a natural easing up. Acceptance was my key to a glimpse at a brighter mood. I wasn’t back-flipping with ecstasy (that should be a song) but, I felt comforted in just being where I was…a sad, sore, little mess on the couch with her hot water bottle, waiting for spring and trusting that it will come. And that little glimmer, can sometimes be enough for a smile and a smile with a cup of tea, can lead to all sorts of good. I hope that this post finds you with spring in your heart, tea in your hand and a smile on your face. And if it doesn’t, well, put the kettle on and trust that it will pass.

Peace & Love,

Lisa