What Are We Meant To Do?

Why do we need one another?

kindness-banksy

What does it mean to be absolutely human?

What is our purpose in this world and how is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other?

What are we meant for?

What are the deeper things we are meant to do?

11

If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.

– from Be Lost in the Call, a poem by Rumi

 

Featured Mutated Swamp Girl by David Choe

Kindness  and 1+1 = love  –  Banksy

The Best Gift You Can Give

The best gift you can give anyone is your full and true presence.

Distractions are everywhere, and who has the time for anyone, really?

I resolve from this moment forward to make more time for truer communication with those I love. This is what makes life more memorable.

Generous Listening

Inspired by Becoming Wise

I’m thinking about how important it is to listen generously. How to compassionately communicate and hear another’s soul, even through the most difficult conversations.

To listen with an awakened heart & mind. To listen openly, without trying immediately to fix the problem at hand or impulsively come up with an answer right now.

To drop the agenda.

I’m thinking about how improved my relationships would be if I just follow the emotion of the moment, if I let the conversation flow.

What if I tolerated more of them and watched my timing of words?  What if I made room for the difficult to pour out, for the pain to set itself free?  Dissipate.

How would the conversation go if I were more flexible with my speech? If I softened my tone? If I held out my arms?

What if I let the conversation move where it will, if I gave up control?

Imagine if I released myself of judging everything to not a single word. How would it look if I decided to just observe it all as if I had never heard it before. What would I see?  If I listened less guardedly.

ram dass.jpg

Healing Words

The next opportunity I have for a true conversation I will include words of kindness. I will believe that I am exactly what is needed to help heal the situation.  Everything needs a measure of healing, don’t you think?

I vow to not let  differences define what is possible between us. I can argue with your opinion, but not your experience.

I will try, yes I will try very hard, to understand why you are behaving the way you are behaving. Perhaps you are in pain. What can I say or do to help you soothe it away?

I won’t look with anger, but I will try to find the good in you, even during your worst of rage.

A More Courageous Conversation

Even more importantly, I will open up my vulnerable parts to keep the conversation real. It may feel raw, uneasy and probably very uncomfortable, but that is where we grow. I will admit my weaknesses and recognize that what I have done so far has gotten me here, not where I want to be.

boy-burn-couple-festival-favim-com-2867488

 

Feature Photo – Artist: Egon Schiele

Critical Life Lessons from Watching My Parents Die

They’re not dead yet, but they aren’t living either, although they were once a fantastic dynamic duo, living quite a wonderful life, they are now in a highly emotional state trying to navigate a fiercely complex and shifting terrain that is filled with unknowns.

Now at 76 my mom has stage four lung cancer and even though she will start a new FDA-approved targeted therapy in less than a week, she is very scared, angry and confused. It is a part of the acceptance process, I guess and I hope it will pass.

Dad claims he can take care of her and will not accept any help in their home. It’s causing everyone in the family senseless, needless pain and worry, but it’s even more difficult not to help them. It is a twisted form of enabling and the situation changes daily. How do you know when you’re enabling an elderly loved one as opposed to actually helping them out with something they need?

Life Lessons Learned from The Dying Thus Far

  1. Be Open & Responsive to Change

darwin.jpgBoth of my parents are stubbornly holding on to old ways and traditions that no longer serve them and probably never served anyone well. They are trying so hard to hold on to their independence as they shut out the world around them. They refuse any help at all while making life harder for everyone, including themselves. Their behavior has affected not only their lives but all of us who care for them as they insist on struggling terribly through their days. Their lack of flexibility and adaptability is actually driving their decline even faster than if they chose to open their minds to new ways of staying as safe, secure and healthy as possible.

2. The Trouble is, You Think You have Time

time

Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got. ~Art Buchwald

What you do with the time you have now, while you are actually able to live is most important. More important than savings, work or taking care of daily activities of living. Do not hesitate for one instance to do, try and execute everything you have ever dreamed of – for you have no time. Forgive and let go of the past, tell someone what they mean to you and  celebrate each and every miracle of breath that you take. Gratitude for what you have right here and right now is everything. Do more with your life while you have it to live. Do not take this lightly. This is the most crucial lesson.

3. Know Your Limitations, So You Can Move Forward 

struggle

My parents won’t accept their current weaknesses – fading health and loss of memory, which is causing them even more harm and possibly big trouble for others. How many times does it take getting lost while driving, or losing your cell phone, checkbook, wallet and keys before you realize that your memory isn’t what it was? Only when we honestly examine ourselves and accept our current limitations can we improve or find the tools, people or plan to help us work around the obstacles we face. If we don’t accept that we have a problem, than how can we fix it? 

4. It Takes a Measured Amount of Expectation & Acceptance to Survive

overwhelms

Yes I see how refusing to accept the aging process can be helpful- expecting more from yourself and those around you can actually keep you going, but your approach is what matters most. Feeling overwhelmed and then reacting never produces a good outcome.

Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture. ~Russell Baker

My mother really surprised me when she said that she didn’t think the oncologist or the cancer center was really doing anything for her condition. In her mind, they are epically failing.  How about 18 extended months of living? Mom is actually expecting a cure from the second deadliest disease in the world. It’s phenomenal. There is a measured amount of acceptance that is necessary in order to strike a deal with reality.

5. Plan Your Aging & Dying Process Before it Happens

by-failing-to-prepare-you-are-preparing-to-fail

It is our duty to plan our death. I am not taking about a living will, health care proxy or deciding on cremation versus a below the ground burial. I am talking about how you plan to age. How open you will be to the natural process of slowing down? Reverse engineering your life so that when you get to the point that you need help from others, you will accept it. Knowing when it’s time to let go of past behavior and activities, giving up your favorite things like driving. It is critical to understand the type of attitude you will have as you enter a new season of your life.

Just as we plan our career, marriage, children and even vacations, we need to be more thoughtful of how we leave this earth.

6. The Reality of Dying is Largely Negotiable

Just like anything else, we can rethink how we plan to age and die.

If you stress-test the boundaries and experiment with the “impossibles,” of dying, you’ll quickly discover that most limitations are a fragile collection of socially-reinforced rules you can choose to break at any time.

Social rule systems are used to examine all levels of human interaction. They provide more than potential constraints on action possibilities. Read more about social rules and the patterning of action here.

Who made these social rules about aging and dying and why do we think we need to obey them?

Increased longevity paired with aging baby boomers means that our older population is growing at record speed – a phenomenon in developed countries from the UK to Japan. According to Professor David Clark, a researcher in end-of-life care at the University of Glasgow: “We’re seeing what we regard as a massive global issue. There’s a huge wave of dying, death and bereavement.” At the moment about one million people die each week around the world; within 40 years, that number is expected to double.

I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity. ~Hazel Lee

 

People redesigning the experience of death

Making decisions about serious illness is not an easy task and they are not made alone. Watch Nick Jehlen  of Common Practice explain his design approach to facing the elephant in the room, the talk about death and these new products, services and dying submissions to Designing Death.

amaranthine

 

Dismiss What Insults Your Soul

walt-whitman

“Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.”

Viktor E. Frankl

tightrope

“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.”

Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

quote-ernest-hemingway-the-world-breaks-everyone-and-afterward-some-89195

“One of the most remarkable of man’s characteristics is his capacity for becoming used to conditions of almost any kind, whether good or bad, both in the self and in the environment, and once he has become used to such conditions they seem to him both right and natural. This capacity is a boon when it enables him to adapt himself to conditions which are desirable, but it may prove a great danger when the conditions are undesirable. When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions will feel right and comfortable.”

F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self

quote-craig-armstrong-its-all-about-being-flexible-and-avoiding-61438

“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.”

Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

22

“There’s no such thing as a mistake, really. It’s just an opportunity to do something else.”

Ralph Steadman

 

A snake doesn’t mourn when it is time to shed it’s skin.

animal-reptile-snake-black-cobra-african

 

Featured Illustration – Walt Whitman

 

 

Going from Anxious Type A to a More Self-Healing Nature

I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.

All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.

What a waste of energy.

Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.

I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.

sleep

So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.

Make it Simple, But Significant

the simple.png

Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”

Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife

Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy

My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.

busy

Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.

I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.

nickcave.jpg

If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.

I could have done it without the pain.

Rushing ruins the whole thing.

imagesaraf_nataraj-_20160518082619313624

I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.

How?

  • I will stop when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Take more time to think.
  • Look for ideas, not immediate answers.
  • Make obstacles work in my favor.
  • I won’t take the pleasure out of doing a great job because I am rushing through it.

More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.

collabo_new

JR x Blu

In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.

 

Additional Credits

 

Artist Nick Cave

 

Adding More Life to Our Years

 In my playbook, every day is Thanksgiving and I bet a lot of you reading this feel the same way. As we remain grateful this holiday, let’s take a moment to consider how fleeting life really is. . .memento mori.

memento-moriA Life That Matters 

(A Non Religious Funeral Reading)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female, even your skin colour won’t matter.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,empowered or encouraged others.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

– Unknown

Adding More Life to Our Years

time-is-more-valuable-than-money-sayquotable

How do you add more life to your years? How do we know if we are living to the max, giving the most we can give?  Do we just go by feeling? Do we continue to list and review our accomplishments? Add more to our resume? Create a bucket list of things we want to do sometime in the future?

What can we do right now to add more life to the moment in front of us?

We might listen to our heart more. Perhaps address the “psychic” pain of every day life and make adjustments to our day. Change what we don’t like about our living.

Perhaps we stop saying yes out of habit or obligation and start to consider what we really want to contribute during our lifetime. Volunteer maybe? Start a blog perhaps? Train for the marathon? Save up for the excursion?

Or better yet, maybe we wake the hell up. We stop sleep walking through life. No more numbing the brain with another glass of wine after dinner or taking the same route to work each morning. Perhaps we establish a healthy morning ritual to renew our sense of aliveness.

Could it be we create a new purpose. Develop a mantra to make people smile. Yeah, maybe that’s a purpose in life. smile

 How about we begin to take on more of life. . . .
  • Tackle the world’s bigger problems. Become an agent for change.
  • Learn something new, every day.  There are so many free ways to learn.
  • Do something selfless, make things easier for someone else.
  • Or maybe only respond to things that make us say Hell Yes! and say no to the rest.
Inspired by Derek Sivers and this post here

 

Is This The Person You Want to Be?

Our motives are goal directed activities that energize and direct our behavior. Our motives support what we do, how we behave and what we put forth in the world.

raymond-pettibon-motives-pure-book-surfers-07

Sometimes our motives are simply the presentation of how we hope the world perceives us.

Powerful . .

Valerian-2017.jpg

Intelligent . .

einstein

Foxy. . .

bridget

Strong. . .

ironmanjpg-affbef_1280w

Compassionate . . .

human

Sometimes though, we have to make choices. Choices between doing what we want to do and what we must do.

claire-foy-the-queen1

Doing the right thing may not necessarily match our goals. The right thing may be miles away from our true desires. It isn’t necessarily the thing that will make us happy, get us noticed, respected or appreciated.

thankless

When we remove our selfish motives and realign our priorities to match what is right before us that must be taken care of now, we are free to do the work that matters. The sometimes thankless work.  The work that serves others.

thankless

Feeling Unappreciated

It’s difficult when people are indifferent to our work and to our achievements. We do and do and do  and get no damn respect. No appreciation, zero gratitude. We feel affronted.

Maybe it’s time to review why we do what we do and why we get upset when nobody notices.

5-hang_mind

The reward for doing the right thing is not recognition. The reward for doing the right thing is self-respect, a calm heart and a mind at rest.

When you let go and do what is right and give up all thoughts of acknowledgment, it’s actually quite liberating.

 

success

There is peace of mind that comes with doing the important work without applause.

3-hang_mind

 

 

 

This Day Was Made for Adventure

Last night I closed my eyes before falling to sleep and made a decision. I want every day to feel more exciting and adventurous.

 

the-foolish-man-wonders-at-the-unusual-but-the-wise-man-at-the-usual-quote-1

Or in other words. . . .

A common song sung to a great melody is another way to find beauty.The Art of Writing, Lu Chi’s Wen Fu.

So, today showed up again. In all it’s predictable glory. The same usual sunrise, just slightly different.

Another clean and clear slate of a day to paint on. To set things right, to improve and to create a new. Another breath, another moment proceeding another moment. This day was made for adventuring.

Today I have made a decision to expect more from myself and more from this day.

Every moment today will be held accountable to demonstrate the wisdom I need right now.

I will look for evidence that the people around me really do care.

I become more conscious of the choices I make today.

This process begins with turning worry into wonder. Anxiety into action.

My improved life comes from making conscious choices while making a commitment to change the way I see the ordinary wonders of the world.

adventure-portaledge-camp-on-dawn-wall

How to Make An Ordinary Day an Adventure

Ask a stranger a question.

Don’t plan out every minute. Leave a little room for spontaneity.

Travel home on a different route tonight.

Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Experiment. Create something. Anything. Get into maker mode.

On Self-Renovation & Expanded Versions of Ourselves

According to one of my favorite thinkers, change must happen individually, before it can happen on a grander collective scale. Oh to be the change we want to see in the world.

. . .society gains nothing whilst a man, not himself renovated, attempts to renovate things around him.Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essay on New England Reformers

only

Our ability to really influence our reality around us first calls for purposeful self-transformation. Renovating the way we think.

. . .for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost. . .

It starts by being brutally honest with ourselves and realizing there is no need for any of this thinking, if we don’t have each other.  Sure we could live like hermits. . . or

RWS_Tarot_09_Hermit

understand that we need and belong to one another, love says – we are not our own.

holding-hands

To be a greater, more expanded version of ourselves.

Note to self, read this bookDiamond Minds

I think the hardest part, the most difficult, is letting go of our ego. First we must know what should be changed, the thoughts that lead to unwanted emotions of anger and pain. Things that can get in the way of real progress. We might study ourselves and thought by thought, we must address the behavior we want to change.

It’s difficult to acknowledge the pain.  To take responsibility for the problems we cause in our lives. The hurtful things we say, the anger and lashing rage, the shut down of communication. The selfishness and greed.

gas

Self-awareness can be very difficult for this reason. Our ego does not want us to acknowledge our own faults.

Here are some signs that your ego is in control (inspired from Simple Life Strategies)

1. You get a cheap thrill from gossiping about other people’s problems.

2. You have a power surge to the brain after winning an argument. You just knew you were so right about that.

3. You compare yourself to others who you feel are better or worse off than you. This takes the focus off of you. An easy way out.

4. How dare he, she, they treat you that way? Haters are just going to hate. No, not really. Sometimes it’s just not you.

5. You feel a tinge of jealousy when you see other people having a real good time. Especially on Instagram and Facebook.

6. You go on and on about yourself before addressing anyone else in the room.

7. You’d rather look great than try harder next time.

8. You’re often upset when your not recognized at work. We’re not in pre-school anymore people.

9. You create impossible goals and then beat yourself up when you don’t reach them. This is where I live.

10. You blame others when things fall apart in your life.

Self-awareness starts by admitting our mistakes, looking at our behavior, taking responsibility for our actions.

So I begin by acknowledging my part in all of this.

For not knowing or understanding ourselves is like grabbing the tail to direct the head of a dragon. First we most know.

game

Next on my reading list

ryan-holiday-3

The Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday

 

 

On Thinking Clearly & Writing More Nobly

The Goal: A Completely Transparent & Unclouded Mind

I am not an online shopper. I don’t buy much stuff at all. But this week I’m anxiously checking my mailbox daily. I’ll try (almost) anything to tame my unsettled and restless monkey mind.

monkeymind

What did I order, you ask? A brain boosting mushroom (minus the visuals ) coffee with lion’s mane (supposedly good for memory and in a category of safe, smart drugs or nootropics) as well as chaga and Rhodiola which was used by the vikings to calm the nervous system while enhancing immunity from Four Sigmatic.

four-sigma-foods-mushroom-coffee-lions-mane-10-sachets-29997-p

I am also creating my own filters so I can focus on. . .

Paying Attention to What Matters Most

invevitable

As I listen to Jason Silva at The Sydney Opera House explore the exponential growth of technology and how it is shaping our personalities, I realize how much a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.  In a world of abundance, the only scarcity is human attention. Recommended reading: from Kevin Kelly The Inevitable, Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future.

How Time Totally Trumps Money

Sundial-ramirez-1754

 

With all there is to be distracted by. . .hell, time moves oh too quickly.

So as I focus on what to study, read, learn and create, I tell myself, I can always make more money, but I can’t create more time.

Listen to How to Waste Money to Improve the Quality of Your Life

 

On Writing More Clearly & Nobly

fu

Studying Lu Chi’s Wen Fu: The Art of Writing

From Catalogue of Genres

A body of writing may take any of a thousand forms,

and there is no one right way to measure.

One whose language remains muddled cannot do it;

only when held in a clear mind can the language become noble.