Posted in Trust 30

Contradicting Myself

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

Though I love to learn and always want to be growing, I don’t like to contradict myself. The idealist in me wants to be consistent with everything I have ever said and everything I will ever say. While at the same time I’m loving the freedom that has come with learning, growing and changing my mind about some things over the years.

But I don’t like the feeling of saying something different today than I did yesterday or five years ago, because I might have to explain why I’ve changed my mind and too many times, I’m not sure why … I just know I did.

Santoriniphoto © 2006 Stacy | more info (via: Wylio)

 

The path of learning and growing is rarely a straight line for me. It’s generally bumpy and has a lot of switchbacks. One day I might read a new thought in a book, hear a report or have a conversation where I gain some information. I begin exploring the new idea in my mind and maybe my thoughts begin to change, but then they circle back to the familiar place again … because familiar is comfortable.

But later, I’m back to exploring the new information again and in a discussion, I hear myself flesh out the new idea to someone else and I realize that I have changed my mind and I wonder when that happened.

And too often I don’t know how to explain the process to others …

But inspite of that, I’ve been trying to relax my wish to never want to contradict myself. I’m learning to enjoy and trust the twists and turns of life, while being aware of the difference between learning something myself and changing my mind versus flip-flopping my opinions based on what others think and say.

Unless I want to quit living, learning and growing now, it will be impossible to never contradict myself … but who knows, maybe tomorrow I’ll say something different.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are you comfortable contradicting yourself … from a year ago? What about ten years ago?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Trust 30

7 Factors That Make Me Feel Alive

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. (Author: Sam Davidson)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

This!

.

Running with Dean Karnazes - Philadelphia, May 5, 2011

Dean Karnazes is a runner and an author who I have long admired. This past spring he Ran Across America (yes, the whole country, from CA to NY) running an average of 50 miles a day for 75 days.  During his run he had 5k races in various cities along the way. About 5 days before he finished his run in NYC, he had a 5k in Philadelphia … and I ran it with him. When I thought of what makes me feel alive, I thought of that run, especially the few minutes I was able to run with him.

Seven key factors that made me feel fully alive during that experience.

1. Sunshine

Sunburns are not good, but getting some sun is good for a number of reasons. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium better. Skin with a moderate tan can fight infections better. Sunshine can help insomnia by raising our melatonin production. And how’s this for good news … sunshine can increase your metabolic rate by stimulating the thyroid, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.

2. Running

Physical exercise is crucial not only for our bodies … but also for our mind and spirit. There’s many different types of exercise, but my exercise of choice is running. To borrow a phrase from Eric Liddel in Chariots of Fire “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

3. Meeting others that share a passion I have

There’s nothing like sharing a passion with someone else that has the shame passion. It’s motivating, encouraging and makes me feel like the sky is the limit. That morning if Dean had asked me to run back across the country with him, I would have said, “Sure!”

4. Doing something I’ve never done before

New experiences invigorate me and jolt my brain out of its familiar patterns. I enjoyed driving an hour to Philly to a new race at a new place and connecting with runners who I’d never met as we mulled around before the race. Add that to the highlight of meeting and running with Dean and I was energized for days.

5. Saying “Thank you”

Living a life of gratitude is one key way to feeling fully alive. It benefits the person giving and the person receiving thanks. Dean’s book Ultramarathon Man helped me push my body farther post-accident than I or the doctors thought it would ever go again. I was glad for the opportunity to thank him.

6. Engaging conversations

Whether answers are found, problems solved or agreements reached, having engaging conversations with others gives me new thoughts to ponder and dreams to dream. My conversations with Dean and with the others energized me … and I replayed them in my mind for days.

7. Inspiring others

The morning of this run, I was going there to thank Dean and have a new experience. I ended up being the one blessed as Dean and the other runners thanked me for joining the run and sharing my story with them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What makes you feel alive?

.

Think of an experience you had that you’d like to repeat and decide what the factors were that made it enjoyable. If there isn’t such an experience in  your recent memory, maybe it’s time to create one.

Read more about the day I joined Dean Karnazes in his Run Across America.

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Personal

My Memoir – Because I Can is a Winner

Because I Can is a Winner!

.

The past six too many years, I’ve been working on my memoir. Not continuously …  but I’d work on it for a few weeks or months, then I’d quit because I was either frustrated, discouraged, bored or simply sick of it.

But eventually I’d start being drawn to it again. I’d read a writing book and/or go to a writing conference … then open my computer files again. I’d go through what I already wrote and make changes based on whatever new writing ‘rule’ I’d learned. Then I’d write a few more new chapters … and repeat the cycle again and again and again.

Just like training step by step eventually makes you strong enough to run a marathon … word by word, I eventually had a book. Then came the editing phase and seeking publication phase.

Two weeks ago, I received good news about a contest I had entered and posted …

Who’s a Finalist in a Publishing Contest?

.

And today I am thrilled to announce that Because I Can was selected as the winner of the  Cultivate Publishing Contest by Rhizome Publishing!.

Thank you Rhizome!.

.

Over the next few months, the publishing process will happen … and I will probably be tweaking something until the day it hits the presses. It will be released early this fall.

I’m off to find some champagne … while you …

Check out the info about Because I Can to whet your appetite.

To make sure you don’t miss any news about Because I Can … Subscribe here
Posted in Trust 30

A Recipe for a Life as Sweet as a Cupcake

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

.

I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about the type of person you’d NEVER want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. “Thought is the seed of action.” (Author: Harley Schreiber)

Chocolate Mint Cupcakesphoto © 2011 DixieBelleCupcakeCafe | more info (via: Wylio)

 

My Response:

When I saw the words personal recipe, I thought of an actual recipe. Though I’ve never followed anything like this, I think it might work. Maybe for the month of July, I will try it. 

  • 1 hour exercise
  • 1 hour reading
  • 1 hour meditating/journaling
  • 1 hour food (shopping/cooking/eating)
  • 1 hour organizing/cleaning
  • 4 hours family/friends/life
  • 7 hours sleeping
  • 8 hours working
.

Mix together daily … or if you skip an ingredient one day, double up on it the next day.

Experiment with changing the ratios to fit your world, but to ensure that each ingredient is a part of your life, so you are NOT the person you do NOT want to be in 5 years … you may need to spend at least a month following the recipe daily. Then once you know it well and each ingredient is a habit … you have more freedom to change it around.

Add unique ‘spices’ at times to keep it interesting..

Serve with a smile … no, more importantly serve with honesty and kindness.

.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you think this recipe would work? What should be added to improve it?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Trust 30

Why do We Try to Compare Apples and Oranges?

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

Most Ordinary

.

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons, false expectations of ourselves and false investments.

What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. (Author: Patti Digh)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

For years, I have struggled with feeling like my life experiences aren’t as valid as other peoples, so therefore I’ve spent too much time thinking about what others will think, and if I want them to think a certain way about me, I act in a way I think they think I should. Yes, it’s quite a confusing circle. (you might have to reread that sentence)

As I’ve become aware of how draining-pointless-exhausting-depressing that circle is … I’ve taken steps out of that cycle and made more choices based on who I am. Each step has been freeing … but I have to be alert or I fall back into discounting my “ordinary” and feeling like I’m not enough.

Apples & Oranges - They Don't Comparephoto © 2008 Michael Johnson | more info (via: Wylio)

.

This prompt is a good reminder to continue the freeing process and be true to me and to embrace “my ordinary” especially as I embark on a career as a speaker and writer.

In regards to writing, I’ve struggled with …

False comparisons

.

Most people who write memoirs about a traumatic physical event in their life usually publish their book within five years of the incident. It was seven years in May since my accident … and my book isn’t out yet.

False expectations

.

Disappointed in myself because I didn’t live up to my own expectations (and imaginary expectations I think others had of me) of writing my memoir in a year or two.

False investments

.

In negative thinking … which only slowed down my writing and prolonged the process. And thinking because it’s so ‘late’ no one would want to read it. That thought had made me want to quit more times than I can count.

Again and again I’ve quenched those false thoughts and continued moving forward. When I run, I’m reminded that reaching a goal happens step by step … so instead of comparing, I embrace my path with an eye on my finish line, not someone else’s.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you view your ordinary as valid? Or do you have a strong sense of self?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Trust 30

Flip-Flops are for Your Feet, Not Your Mind

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

You Know

.

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?” (Author: Jen Louden)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

John Kerry might have won the nickname flip-flop during his presidential run in 2004, but my personal flip-flopping record would probably challenge his.  It’s always been too easy for me to change opinions depending on the circumstances, the person I’m talking to or something I read. In years past, my mind has done some amazing flip-flops … some within an hour or two.

lots of flip-flops (07-13-08)photo © 2008 Katy Warner | more info (via: Wylio)

For a time post-accident, the flip-flopping intensified. (my poor family and friends) I felt so vulnerable that I didn’t trust myself, so I was always looking to others for what to do, think or be.

I’d read about a political plan or idea and immediately adopt a certain position on it — until I read an opposing view and then I’d flip-flop.

I believed everything I read about healthy eating or working out … until I read a view that challenged it.

If I was the church planting type, I would have started about five different churches in the span of a few years, as I struggled through a personal faith crisis.

I felt a certain way about current events and topics … until I heard someone else, especially an ‘expert’ give a different view, then I doubted my own view.

Flip-flop living based on others is confusing, exhausting and circular!

.

With time, I didn’t like me … because I didn’t know who I was. I wondered if it would be best to quit searching, learning and live in a cocoon the rest of my life without having any viewpoints.

But I could not do that. I paused and took steps to get to know me.

I asked why about everything I believed, thought or said.

.

Because of the trauma and life’s circumstances, I was not the same person I was before … so while I needed to know me, it would not be the same me it was before. I leaned back on what I’d learned and experienced before, while giving myself permission to allow renewal to happen.

With time, I’ve relaxed and I enjoy the journey of learning in every area of life (except vampires and NASCAR). I try not to jump to embracing one view or another, but instead look for ways to understand opposing viewpoints.

Wrestling with opposing viewpoints provides space for growth to happen.

.

As I’ve learned to know myself, I developed some solid viewpoints, but in many areas, I get energy from wrestling with opposing ideas without having to take a strong stance one way or another. That is something I didn’t realize about myself when I was busy flip-flopping.

You have a brain – use it!

.

Learn, study, be aware and trust yourself. You can borrow flip-flops for your feet from friends and family … but not for your mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are you a flip-flopper? Are you more susceptible to flip-flopping in some areas of your life than others?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Trust 30

Can You Invent Your Future?

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: “In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.” I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now. (Author: Cindy Gallop)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

At one time, I would dismiss without notice my thoughts, because they were mine.

I’ve struggled with trusting myself since I was a child and this worsen for a time following the major trauma I went through physically and emotionally after the accident. I felt vulnerable and disoriented. I didn’t feel like any of my thoughts or feelings were valid. I was sucked into the dark ugly hole of depression.

Thankfully I started meeting with a wise mentor and also a counselor (I needed all the help I could get) I learned that what I thought and felt was important. I slowly absorbed the truth of my own value. I also realized that what my future looked like would depend a lot on having a healthy body, mind and spirit.

I knew from earlier experiences that physical activity was good for me, so I did what I could to help my body recover. I started slow … going for walks. Then I began kayaking on a smooth lake … my legs resting while my upper body got a workout. After a few more repair surgeries on my leg, I added biking to the mix.

After one of my first post-accident races in '09

Then four years post-accident, I cautiously began running again. With each step I took, my whole being recovered more. I built trust in myself, believing that I could do more than I ever thought possible.

When people asked why I ran with the beat-up body I have … I found myself answering because I can!

Because I can became the mantra for my body and it carried over to my emotional and mental health. I trusted myself again.

I began living life beyond myself. A friend and I formed a running club called Because I can, encouraging many others to run, also.

I know I can’t control every aspect of my future, just like I couldn’t control whether or not I got injured in an accident … but I know what I do will be a big factor in my future.

The past is history, I only have a choice in today … and in going forward. I’ll keep doing what I can, because I’m more fully alive today than ever.

What gives me hope, what pushes me forward is the simple, but powerful idea that I want to live each day to the fullest — body, mind and spirit … because I can!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you trust yourself? Do you feel that your thoughts and feelings are valuable and worth listening to? When a thought pops into your mind that might be different than the norm … what do you do with it?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here
Posted in Blog Carnival

Spinning in Circles Saved my Sanity and Taught me About Creativity

When my son, Jon was in second grade, I wondered how he’d survive the rest of his school years. Jon is a kinetic learner and being confined to a desk while expected to read or do math didn’t work well for him … or his teachers. And the evenings spent trying to do homework frustrated all of us.

We decided to save our collective sanity and pull him out of school to teach him at home. Which, for a time, caused me to wonder if I had totally lost my mind. The frustrations that used to be confined to evening homework, now stretched from morning until night.

What was I thinking?

.

The three R’s saved my sanity … reading, researching and realizing that this child’s brain worked best when his body was in motion. I still see him spinning in circles in the kitchen while answering math problems without missing a beat.

Almost before I finished asking what 3 x 4 is … he shouted 12!

After a few spins, he fell down, dizzy and laughing, but still answering problems. He got back up to spin some more and the cycle repeated … with 3 x 5 and 3 x 6 and so on. He was as surprised as I was when we finished a math assignment in less then fifteen minutes which normally took us up to six hours.

Who said answers to math problems have to be written down?

.

Just because I like to sit in a chair to read, doesn’t mean Jon did. When he moved from the back of the couch to hanging upside down off the couch to crawling under the table, he enjoyed reading more.

Two happy people!

Why do we associate reading with being still?

As I gave him freedom to move while learning … we all breathed easier.

Jon was taught at home for five years, then he and I were both ready for a change. He attended school from grade eight to twelve, graduating last Saturday from high school. (yes!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over the years, I’ve realized something … his kinetic personality didn’t fall from a tree, he inherited it.

When I move, I seem to think better and I’m more creative.

.

Maybe that’s why I felt the call to run about a year after giving birth to three boys in less than five years. My brain needed the physical activity to be fully alive to be able to parent these three boys. And maybe that’s why I felt compelled to run again ten years later … after horrific injuries had my doctors saying that running was a thing of my past.

Now when creativity alludes me as I try to make my way as a writer and speaker … I picture my son spinning in circles in the kitchen. I’m not the spinning type, so instead I slip into my Vibrams or jump on my bike.

Moving doesn’t magically get work done … as Jon had to learn to sit still to do enough work on paper to satisfy school officials, at times, I have to discipline myself to work whether I feel creative or not.

But having an active physical schedule helps keep the creative blocks from ruling my life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Observation about what works for ourselves is key to having a meaningful life. Mindlessly tripping and falling through life doesn’t get us to where we want to go. Same with copying others … something that works for someone else may or may not work for you. Read, research and realize what makes your creativity flow.

Have you given thought to what helps YOU think clearly, be creative and/or function at your best?

.
This post is part of a synchroblog hosted by Kyle Reed that explores various types of creative blocks.
Posted in Trust 30

Finding My Own Way Out of a Land of Rules

A post for Trust 30 … the 30-day writing challenge I’m participating in.
.

Today’s Prompt:

Wholly Strange and New

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; — the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future. (Author: Bridget Pilloud)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Response:

How I took steps to live life outside the boxes of my strict traditional Mennonite childhood, where I heard no or don’t more than anything else.
.

Moving away from the religion of my parents and family happened as I searched for truth by asking questions instead of just believing what others told me. As a teen, I studied the Bible verses they used to enforce many of their rules … and asked questions. (which annoyed everyone)

One strict rule was that the only alcohol allowed were tiny sips of wine twice at year at communion services. I used to believe that if you drank any other alcohol, any other time, you were on a trip straight to hell. As I read the gospels, I questioned why we can’t drink wine if Jesus turned water into wine. I don’t recall ever getting a satisfactory answer.

Another strong rule was that women had to wear dresses. No pants allowed … ever. Which was quite annoying for this tomboy — try playing dodge ball or biking in a skirt. Whenever I asked why, an interesting conversation usually followed. I’d be directed to a verse in the Bible that says something about women shouldn’t wear men’s clothing.

“But wasn’t it standard for men to wear tunics or robes during the era that those verses were written about?” I asked.

“Hmm …. maybe.”

“So maybe we should switch it, men wear skirts and women wear pants.” I suggested.

That usually produced a humpft and was followed with something like, “No, that won’t be right. This is the way we’ve always done it. This is our way.”

I think anyone should live as they want to (as long as they aren’t hurting anyone) and follow any traditions they want to, but it seems unreasonable that any traditions should become a religious demand that someone or some group decides must be followed to please God.

After numerous conversations during my teen years that ended in a similar frustrating fashion, I realized I couldn’t spend my life that way. I couldn’t reconcile many of their rules (no TV or radio, no jewelry) with anything, so why would I force myself to do them? It wouldn’t be fair to my parents, family and their church — I would spend my life disagreeing and trying to change their ways which would only strain relationships.

In my early twenties, I quite attending that church and stopping following their rules. Though going through all the changes was a challenging process at times … it was refreshing to find out I could wear jeans, get my hair cut and watch TV without fearing I’d go to hell.

Now 25 years later, I continue to be glad that I made my own path and I use that experience to guide me whenever I find myself leaning towards a path that is different from others around me.

Ask questions. Listen. Research. Think. Meditate. Trust my instincts. Repeat as needed. Take my own path.

After leaving that world, I dropped the no-alcohol rule and tried wine, beer and mixed drinks from time to time. I was drawn to the great taste of dry red wine and after discovering the health benefits of it, the guilt from my past was history. I was more than happy to drink to life and wellness.

Raising a toast to choosing our own paths — cheers!

.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Readers, your turn … whether in personal, business or family situations, do you trust taking your own path?

.
If you like what you see on my site … Subscribe here

Who’s a Finalist in a Publishing Contest?

That would be me!

.

Sometime in early May I saw this on Twitter …

@rhizomepub Rhizome Publishing: Cultivate – Go from writer to published author, we are giving away one publishing contract.  http://ow.ly/4Jc5X #publishing

And I thought … hmmm, I have a book, they are giving away a publishing contract, maybe this could be a match made in Heaven. I entered the contest about two days before the May 29th deadline.

Today the list of finalist for the Cultivate publishing contest was posted.

The Finalists are:

Ballad of Troop Z — Jacob Fox
Iniquity — Kirsten George
End of the Road — Meredith Graves
Because I Can — Janet Oberholtzer
Come Alive — Elora Ramirez
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rhizome will announce the winner on June 27th.

It’s a happy, happy Monday …

Is it June 27th yet?