I’ve been running a little experiment lately. After reading about mastery and taking a couple of drawing classes, I still don’t like the way I draw. Reading about mastery did nothing for my drawing, but it did encourage practicing. So, I’ve been practicing. Almost every morning, I start my day with a practice that Julia Cameron calls “morning pages”. Before you read or check your email or listen to the news, you sit down and write three pages. Three pages about whatever comes to mind, no matter how serious, silly, redundant or irrelevant. When I start my day with morning pages, somehow the day goes better.
Several weeks ago I added a practice. At the end of the writing, I draw my coffee cup. It’s always there. It has a simple shape and so it shouldn’t be that difficult to draw. I usually spend only about 5 minutes on the drawing, because I’m not yet patient enough to take more time with it. I’ve learned enough to know that I have a lot to learn—and not just about drawing. But here’s the good news: this morning’s rendering looks a little better than yesterday’s. It’s not quite as lopsided as previous versions, and something about the handle is beginning to look more like a handle. …more
This year hasn’t worked out the way I planned. My family lost two little lives before they even had a chance to truly begin. A business venture fizzled into frustration and disappointment. An intimate relationship broke into a distant friendship. A dear friend moved across the country—still a cherished friend, but distant geographically. An elder in our family moved geographically nearby, but dementia seems to widen the gap between us—or between us and who she used to be. …more
This is always true.
Except when it’s not.
Finding yourself with no room to breathe? It’s especially challenging during this time of year, when we’re rushing around, fighting the traffic, ticking off our list of things to get—hurrying up so we can sit around the hearth, expressing our gratitude, with people we love, but don’t always enjoy.
Here are a couple of simple suggestions.
Take a moment to breathe. Sit or stand still. Exhale deeply. Exhale a little more. And a little more. Hold the breath out. Pause. Wait until it’s time to inhale. Let the air in and notice where the air goes. Pause. Repeat. And repeat again, as often as you like. …more
Bright and shiny objects are great for diversionary tactics. Don’t want someone to notice a few flaws? Surround them with bling, and what people will mostly see is bling. Don’t want anyone to notice that your dining room needs painting? Turn the lights down low, and set the table with cut crystal and candlelight. The tone becomes romantic in a sparkly kind of way.
You probably do the same thing in your life’s work. Got something really important to do, but you’re not sure where to start? Got something that you really want to have or be or achieve, but you’re not sure if you’re smart enough, good enough, deserving enough? You can distract yourself with bright and shiny objects—bright ideas and shiny enthusiasm for something that’s easier, simpler, and probably not as important as what you’re avoiding.
How do you distinguish the real stuff from “fool’s gold”? The real stuff keeps coming back. You might get nervous about it, avoid it, approach it, circle around it, whatever—but it keeps coming back. The real stuff makes your heart sing, makes the world a better place for you, and when you’re in the middle of it, you’re unselfconscious and have no sense of time. …more
Tools for Transformation is a series of blog posts about improving your life. The series is about using what you already have—yourself, your community, and your resources—to make a difference, to add meaning and grace, to explore new territory, and perhaps have more fun than you ever thought possible. Let’s talk about change.
Change happens. It happens in an instant, and it happens over time. With or without our direct intention; and certainly with or without our approval.
It happens when we’re young and it happens when we’re old. It happens internally and externally.
What are we to do with all this change? Do we control it or not? Can we channel it somehow to make the world a better place—or at least our lives a little better? Or perhaps even a few moments or aspects of our lives?
How do we initiate or direct change? How can we respond to change, when it’s imposed on us? How can we go with the flow—the ebb and flow—of all that changes and all that stays the same?
How can we take what we are given and make the world—or our own selves—a little better? …more
Friends help you put your best foot forward.
Don’t you just hate it when your friends are right? Especially when it means you’ve got to dig a little deeper and do what you’re capable of doing. When they see your capacity to show up, to produce, to do great work, even when you are about to settle for good enough. When you are about to be a little lazy and deliver a product that’s not as good as it ought to be.
On our own, it’s easy to make excuses. It’s easy to say there isn’t enough time, or talent, or resources. It’s tempting to hide behind the excuses and play it safe, take the easy route.
But a good friend, a wise mentor, someone who sees you for who you are, will not let you show up that way, any more than they’d let you go out half dressed. They are not oblivious to your faults, but they treasure your talents and won’t let you forget them. …more
I was thinking a lot about money this morning. The money I have. The money I don’t have. I went down a few “rabbit trails”—you know, those meandering pathways that wander far and wide, but don’t always end up somewhere that you meant to be. One was the “What would I do if the money were taken care of?” trail. It was a beautiful trail with lovely colors and scenes and lots of fun and creativity. Nice.
Then I went down an unusual trail—”What would I have to give up or leave behind, if the money were taken care of?” Anxiety, fear, excuses, constraints…. Might be nice to leave those behind.
And “What would I do differently, today, this morning, if the money were taken care of?” I’d finish typing this blog, pack my bag, and drive to Baton Rouge to visit some friends and family. Oh, that’s what I was going to do anyway.
What would you do if the money were taken care of? What would you leave behind? What would be different?