Category Archives: Inspiration

Blue Moon contemplations

“You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experiences of life. Life is not something you get; it’s something you experience. Life exists with or without you.”

—Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself 

good-and-evilToday we have a second full moon in one month: a blue moon.

Those with an astrological bent would say it’s a full moon in Aquarius, opposed by a Leo Sun, with Venus in retrograde. Those without astrological interest would say hogwash to all that.

I’m not sure about astrology, but I give the moon its due. It moves our massive oceans, so it’s not difficult to believe that a force that mighty at work all around me could have an effect on me too. It find it easy to believe that the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun creates some ebb and flow in me too.

At the very least, a second full moon in a single month makes me turn aside—take a break from my usual busy-ness and preoccupations—and pay attention. It makes me take a break from trying to make special experiences happen so I can appreciate life’s actual experiences.

The blue moon is not something I create. It exists with or without me. I get to experience it—the beauty of it, the gravitational pull of it, the brief and rare glory of it.

I don’t intend to miss it.

Failing positively: Lessons from Henry Ford

“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” —Susan Jeffers

Wouldn’t it be enlightening to gather statistics on how many people have given up on dreams because someone told them their aspirations were unrealistic? How many hockey players have hung up their skates because a coach told them the National Hockey League was a long-shot? How many entrepreneurs have stopped seeking investors after being told their ideas would never sell? How many writers have filed stories in drawers after reading dire statistics about the state of the publishing business? How many people have given up because they’ve been told that “NO” equals sensible, but “YES” equals dreamland.

More importantly, how many people equate failure with negativity? 

Henry Ford didn’t see failure as negative. On a recent trip to Michigan, I took this picture during our visit to the Henry Ford Museum. (Side note: Please visit the museum, if you have the chance. It’s about much more than cars; it’s about life.)

henry-ford

“I would rather build a big plane and learn something, even if it didn’t fly, than to build a smaller one that worked perfectly and not learn anything.” —Henry Ford

Henry Ford would rather try something unrealistic and fail positively than try something realistic and succeed negatively.

Mind-twisting, isn’t it?

Sharpen those skates, dust off that business plan, pull the stories out of the drawer: Dreamland is a fun place to live, and failure is useful too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No more weight scales

“I decided to go on a strict diet. I cut out alcohol, all fats and sugar. In two weeks I lost 14 days.” —Tim Maia

nedicA Mighty Girl brought this Toronto campaign by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre  (NEDIC) of Canada to my attention. It reads: “For years, body image among girls and women has taken a hit from the beauty industry’s ubiquitous message that ‘skinny is hot’ and any other look is ‘not’. Now is your chance to send the beauty industry a message. If you think it’s time fashion editors and lifestyle advertisers broadened their definition of beauty and inspired us with a range of different shapes and sizes, ditch one or all or your women’s magazines through the slot on the other side of this transit shelter.”

The NEDIC reports that 81% of 10-year-old girls are worried about being fat, and findings from Project EAT (population-based study of approximately 5000 teens) found that more than half of girls and one-third of boys engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors (e.g., fasting, vomiting, laxatives, skipping meals, or smoking to control appetite).

What are we doing to ourselves?

That’s why I appreciate a step taken by the Dovercourt Community Centre here in Ottawa. They removed weight scales from changing rooms. Bravo!

The reason they give: “. . . it’s [body weight] simply not a reliable indicator of overall fitness.”

Too many people obsess about “the number,” and in many cases the number a person obsesses about is not a healthy one for their body type or overall life plan.

Dovercourt is interested in the health and fitness of patrons, so they suggest this:

“If you need a number to set your sights on, consider this: practice girth measurements with a cloth tape measure. Start by recording the measurements of your chest, torso, hips, and arms, and revisit those measurements in comparison after a number of weeks. Even better, keep a record of your resting heart rate moments after waking each day, and see how that number lowers over time, after increasing your cardiovascular threshold. Monitor the weight you’re able to lift over time, and increase that weight as it becomes easier to handle over a set number of repetitions. And feel free to keep a note of how those clothes fit; if the number on the tag continues to bother you, cut it off and keep on moving. If you must weigh yourself, avoid checking daily, and take it with a grain of salt: a healthy diet combined with cardiovascular exercises and resistance training is a key to success, and the best measure is feeling good, inside and out.”

Good advice. And if you want to get rid of those magazines that portray a narrow definition of Photoshopped beauty, NEDIC has the perfect place for them.

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Read the full Dovercourt notice here: A Weighty Issue: Where has the scale gone?

diet-culture

 

 

 

 

Stings like a bee: ZZzzzt happens

bumblebeeThere I was, walking in the woods, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—out of nowhere a large insect dive-bombed into my neck and stung. It was a large insect, so the impact alone stunned me. Then the sharp sting. It happened so fast and hurt so much, I didn’t see what kind of insect it was. It struck and then buzzed off, literally.

I gasped at the sharp, pain. Ow!

I stopped. I’ve never been allergic to insect stings, but you never know when that might start, and the sting was on my neck where swelling would be dangerous. I was alone and far enough away from home that a serious allergic reaction would have meant big trouble.

I waited to see if there would be swelling, and there wasn’t, so I carried on. No biggie, right?

But the unexpected attack set me to pondering the fragility of our daily lives, and how sudden, unforeseen events sometimes turn best-laid plans upside down. There we are, walking along, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—catastrophe dive-bombs in. Impact. Sting.

When those things happen, I re-evaluate what is important. Have I showed my kids  that I love them today? What was the last thing I said to my husband when he left in the morning? What will I do today to make the world a better place?

I didn’t know what happened to that large insect to make it so angry before it performed its airstrike on me. Perhaps a dog-walker disturbed it? Maybe nothing happened to it, and I simply had the misfortune to encounter the Oscar the Grouch of the insect world.

I did know that asking “Why me?” would be a waste time. Why not me?

The only thing to do when ZZzzzt happens is to stop, wait, re-evaluate and carry on with new mindfulness of what is really important.

 

 

 

 

 

Wow! Completion and gratitude in one word

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini
on Flickr

Wow.

The word we say when we don’t think we’re going to say anything at all. But then something stupendously perfect and surprising appears before us, and the word leaps out of our mouths before we know we have the need to speak.

A silver coyote flits across a path lit by the twilight. For an instant he gleams with feral beauty.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when an artist’s performance surpasses all expectations. When his voice echoes away and the room falls silent, in the suspension pause, we whisper the word before our hands come together in applause.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when overcome by the essence of a moment. When we witness a birth or a death—any birth or any death—the word slips out through our tears as we acknowledge the inexplicable “somethingness” and “nothingness” of life.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when we overflow with gratitude for the kindness of others. When a friend fills a need, when a stranger lends a hand, or when goodness comes to us in a quantity grander than we could have ever imagined, we shake our heads and all we can summon is, “Wow.”

Wow. Completion and gratitude all in one word. What are your wow moments?

Wow!

Who are your all-stars?

This week, the biggest stars of Major League Baseball gather in Cincinnati for the All-Star Game; the best of the best of baseball showcasing their skills.

Fantastic baseball players all, but as I followed the events leading up to this event—the stacking of votes by Kansas City Royals fans, and the rally cries from Don Cherry and Stephen Amell (The Arrow) to drum up votes for Josh Donaldson—I wondered: What about life all-stars?

Which people are the best of the best at life?

Taking risks

Pitchers: Who are the people you know who stand alone in the glare of public scrutiny and risk getting things started? Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but they’re brave enough to take first steps.

Catchers: Who has the whole “field of play” in view and guides you in calling your “game.” Who always works in your best interest? Who knows the opposition you face and devises strategies to deal with it?

Batters: They aren’t the ones who throw the pitches, but they know how to handle them. Who doesn’t flinch from the fastballs life throws at them? Who chooses to ignore “bad” pitches but makes solid contact with the good ones right down the middle? Who can track those tricky curve balls and make the most of them?

Infielders: Who has your back? Who responds with lightning-quick reflexes to handle the hits that hurtle past you? They can’t handle everything, but they stretch themselves to the limit trying.

Outfielders: Who provides long-range help when you need it? Who covers lots of ground with big strides to keep the longer, slower hits from causing damage?

Who are your all-stars? Do some of those people play more than one position? 

Patrolling right field

Patrolling right field

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking on a World of Words

Homepage for fledgling writer Sam A. Stevens

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