Life Can Be Messy

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At some point in our timeline, most of us gradually begin to take over the molding and shaping of our lives.  Sometimes, however, we believe that by making excuses or blaming others, we can deny that we are in control of certain areas of our life until ‘all issues’ are resolved.

Some reading this post crossed that line of responsibility a long time ago and are just not ready to admit it.  We are afraid to put our hands fully to the work.  Maybe because it just feels so messy.

I tried recently to think of one creative process that we are human beings engage in that wasn’t messy at some level, and I couldn’t think of any.

I invite you to lay claim to that part of your life that could be messy and become a fearless creator and shaper.  See the possibilities and opportunities that exist because you exist and shape yourself into the type of person, father, friend, companion, you want to be.

What happens to clay if it is not worked? It becomes brittle and cracks under heaviness instead of being pliable and adaptable when there is change – and there is always change.

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Give Yourself A Break: Making a Mistake

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cleaning up

The fault is not in getting it wrong…. we all get it wrong sometimes.

Everybody, including me, loves the clip in the trailer from “Pursuit of Happyness” where the father tells the son “If you want something, go get it. period.” But the best part of the the entire scene (and this movie has some great scenes) isn’t even in the clip.

The best moment is when he (the father) realizes that even as he pursues his own dreams he, in the name of protecting his son from disappointment,  implies that his son temper his own dreams a bit.  

 When he realizes what he’s done, he then does the noblest of things: He takes the steps to correct the situation. This is what spawns the great scene that everyone loves in the trailer. Once you have the background you realize this scene is really about him saying ‘Hey, I got that wrong. Let me clean it up’.

Don’t let anyone, not even me, tell you you can’t do something. If you want something, go get it. Period”.

It’s the humility and integrity of that moment that makes it poignant.

The stress in our lives mostly comes from not being at peace with our own actions. Getting it ‘wrong’ and then being unwilling to face the work of cleaning it up or having too much pride (read:fear) to clean it up because we figure we won’t be able to do it well enough or we can’t face the damage  (read:our own actions) or.. [insert your own excuse here].  That is what creates the stress.

The truth is  that we all get it wrong sometimes. It’s okay to own that and then take a step to make it better.. Notice I said take a step. I didn’t say take on your whole life today and fix it all at once.  That would be overwhelming for anyone.

Just  take a single step toward cleaning it up and then. . . . take another. It’s not about trying to ‘catch up’. It’s about being a peace with yourself and how you are choosing each moment to live your life. 

Here’s the clip from The Pursuit of Happyness

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Title photo credit:An Adequate Man

The dailiness of life – where love and fear meet.

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photo credit justjuliebcomIn a rustic cabin which serves as a retreat for us from time to time there is a room, and in that room there is a chair. It’s a very comfortable chair and I’ve taken to sitting in it to write. The chair shares the room with the air conditioner and the TV. On this particular Independence Day, after a morning of parade watching, a fun afternoon of barbecuing, a game of charades with friends, a nap and all hope of going to the fireworks display drowned out by rain, I sat down in my very comfortable chair to write. The timing was perfect. My husband, who believes that given a choice between an air conditioned room and just about anything else, would choose an air conditioned room, also had designs on this space. He too had thought of the perfect thing to do. . .  catch up on an old Twilight zone episode.

We collaborated. I retrieved the ear plugs from a recent red-eye courtesy pack and he turned the old (read: no ear phone capability) TV really low. But in the end, he was missing every other word and the words he was missing I was catching. We were both distracted. “Poor guy never gets any down time’, was my initial approach, followed by ‘ I can’t think with that blankity blank tv set on. I was here first and I’m trying to work here!’

I tried to write but couldn’t help wondering about the 300 foot tall man they were trying to track down, on the Twilight Zone episode. He sat only inches from the set straining to hear the dialog.

In seconds, many thoughts went through my head. My thinking became very black and white. If I ask him to turn it off I’m a heel. If he doesn’t offer to turn it off so I can work, he’s the heel. If I leave the air conditioned room in search of a quieter room. I’ve ‘lost’ and he’s ‘won’. He sees I’m struggling to focus (doesn’t he?). If he was really as supportive of my work as he says he is he’d let me work in peace. If I was really a loving wife, I’d put my work aside and let him have this time.

Wait a minute! Black and white thinking? Frustration? Judging? — All fear responses! Time to put some space between me and my feelings. Breathe, baby, breathe! In that space, I became willing to release judgement and see his innocence.

In that space is where I get to tap into being accountable for how I show up in this world. It’s a space where I let it sink in that my needs equal his needs and vice a versa.

What did I need? I decided that what I really needed was to complete this article in my chair, and still have a connection with my husband when I was done. What was my husbands needs? He needs to watch the Twilight Zone. Wait a minute. Is that true or am I just assuming it was true. I’d have to ask him to find out. (Ah Ha! Proactive behaviors.. not assuming…asking questions, I’m getting somewhere now!) Turns out he wanted to watch the twilight zone episode but keeping cool was really the motivation for being in the room. When I asked if there was something else he could do, that would enable him to stay cool and enable me to write for 30 minutes. He said he really needed to get ready for a camping trip he was leaving for the next day. So we struck a deal, I’d get 45 minutes of uninterrupted writing time, while he got packed and then we’d watch the twilight zone episode about the 300 foot man together. Score!

Being willing to recognize when your fear (read feelings of inadequacies) show up is a huge step in fearless living. The awareness is what gives you choice. Choice is power!

The dailiness of life is where love and fear meet and love either fades or flourishes.

IT’S NOT JOY THAT MAKES US GRATEFUL . IT IS GRATITUDE THAT MAKES US JOYFUL. – David Steindl-Rast

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David-Steindl-Rast

David Steindl-Rast, now in his eighties, is a Buddhist monk who still actively shares his message of gratitude and caring.
This sentiment is a wonderful one for ourselves and for our youth especially at this time of year.

More about him and His Ted Talk (15 minutes) can be found at

http://www.ted.com/speakers/br_david_steindl_rast