Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

You’ve possibly heard that once you start going for what you want, the universe starts giving you insight, help and direction along the way. 

Or if you don’t believe the universe is helping you, then run with the science that your RAS (Reticular Activating System) starts filtering the things you see.  You start noticing more of the things that will get you where you want to be, or to what you want to get.

Example:
If you want to buy a new white Jeep Wrangler, you will start seeing them everywhere you go.  Jeeps will just pop up.  It’s not that there are more Jeeps on the road all of a sudden, its just that your RAS isn’t deleting the data before that data is conscious anymore.  You want a Jeep and the brain says “well, we’ll give you all the information that shows up about Jeeps.”

Me personally, I like the sound of the universe or a muse helping me out.  It keeps me humble. You choose what works for you.

Anyway, I was scheduling an appointment with a colleague to talk about a new fun project and my auto-correct changed “my meetup” to “mutt meetup“.  During my hiking meetup (the one I texted about in the previous sentence), I mentioned my auto-correct and my hiking buddy and I  started riffing about what a “mutt meetup” could possibly be.

First it was a meetup for those dog obstacle courses you see on t.v. sometimes.  You know where the dogs run through tunnels and weaves through sticks and over teeter-totters while the human directs them in the fastest manner possible.  You’ve seen these, right?

Well of course, me being a movement freak, I added that people would also be doing the course with their pet and sense it’s a Mutt meetup there would be no skill required.  That’s right, the humans have to crawl through the tunnel and weave through sticks and balance over teeter-totters.  Can you imagine it?  How much fun would that be?   I imagine lots of laughs and comradery, while getting exercise with your pets.

But that wasn’t the end of it. We kept going.

Next, it was timed

Then it was, maybe I would need to invite a dog obstacle course trainer to the meetup. Because people might want their dogs to actually weave through the poles

Then it was oh and we need to get people moving better so they don’t get hurt. So there’s another adventure to play with.

And then…

It was crazy all of the ideas that popped up from a random auto-correct, and it was so much fun to let the ideas run wild.

So here is the point to this crazy aside.  Are you trusting that maybe, just maybe the universe sometimes uses auto-correct to send you ideas?  Maybe?

If so, you may never look at auto-correct the same again.

You’re welcome!

Control
Verb
a) to exercise restraining or directing influence over.
b) to have power over

We take the word control for granted most of the time.  We believe we control our time, our work, the direction of our lives.  At times we attempt to control other people, our children and circumstance.  We use terms and phrases like quality control, control variables, controllers, and self control as ways we can express how we exert power over things.

On an unconscious level control, or perceived control, can play into how we feel about our life and the world.  Take expectations for example, the energy associated with the word expectation, added to this unconscious idea of control, can make us feel like victims of circumstance.  The very word expectation implies that we have control not only of ourselves, but of other people, environments and circumstances.  It makes us believe that a plan will always go perfectly, and when it doesn’t we are frustrated at best or compete failures at worst. With expectations we either get what we plan and move on ignoring our great luck, or the day is a complete wash (disaster) because it didn’t work out as we expected.

A better choice when planning and executing is to have the energy of intentions instead of expectations.  Intentions give us a map to follow to get to a goal, but unlike expectations, detours are allowed.   When we do things from an  energy of intention we are super happy when things work out perfectly.  With intentions we know we only have control over ourselves and that many variables must fall into place to be successful. When things don’t work out perfectly, we are open to modifications to reach our end goal and we are entertained by the adventure.  With intentions we really enjoy and appreciate when things work out perfectly and when they don’t we enjoy the ride.  In making this small choice of energy (intention over Expectation) we find more satisfaction with our day and our choices.

Real life example:

I was getting some family and professional photos taken with my horses and I decided it would be fun to get a photo of me meditating on the butt of a free (no ropes, no saddle, no nothing for control) horse.

The Goal: photo, horse free in the pasture, me on horses butt cross legged, meditating.

If I use expectation: I’m assuming control of the environment, the horse (who I remind you I want completely free), the photographer, the weather, other horses, my hair, my clean cloths… you get the point.  I may even think that, since I’ve trained my horse well and I’m a good rider and the photographer is a professional we can pull this off fairly quickly.  I may expect I jump on and BAM picture perfect.

I may even test to make sure my horse will let me sit on her butt.  If the test works my expectations might be even higher.

This, perfect, picture was taken while I was testing to see if it was even possible.
Thank goodness I’m not an expectation girl.

Things of course don’t always go as planned with horses, I think they enjoy playing with us if we have expectations (yes, I’m anthropomorphizing my horse).  Expectations are a bad plan especially with so many variables including a very playful and mischievous horse.

Luckily I went in with intentions, not expectations.  Here is what happened.

First few attempts she wouldn’t stand still.  So I moved to physical control.

Of course when I let her go she walked off

That’s cool, I can flow with that.  And we got a great picture when she stopped, except….

Horse butt in the background.  Grrr. 

So I went back to basics.  I wasn’t going to try and control her as much.  I was going to put her in an area I liked and wiggle on her back, while she is free until she stands still.

 

This worked because this is what she knows.  It’s how I trained her in the first place

 

And finally, with patience and humor we get the perfect shot.

Here is the takeaway.  We can’t control everything, nor should we try. We can only control ourselves and the way we decide to be in our world.  We can make plans, they can be really good and sometimes they work out perfectly!  Instead of expecting perfect to happen,  really celebrate and enjoy those times. If you think about it, those perfect plans are really hard to create.  Go into your plans with a sense of adventure, with intentions, and enjoy the ride as you create the, sometimes winding, path to your goals.  By controlling what you can, and enjoying the rest you won’t feel like the victim you will have control where it matters most.  In YOU.

Special thanks to Kim Beer at Midnight Productions, inc. For taking all of these really fun photos!

No… really, I am!

Sometimes it doesn’t come across that way. Friends and close introvertacquaintances often assume I am an extrovert.   This is a fair assumption because I’m very playful and outgoing and express extroverted quality in 2 main areas of my life.   The first is with those I am really close to. I’m playful in a very physical and childlike manner. I like to jump and dance and move and get other people to do it with me. Once you know me, and we find common ground I allow my authentic side to emerge.

The other area where I appear extroverted is when I’m in a leadership role. When I feel very comfortable in an environment or I’m running an event, I open up and work very hard to include everyone and make him or her feel at home.

You see, as an introvert, when I’m new to a situation or I’m the student I sit back, I observe and I attempt to be fairly invisible (although animals still feel my playfulness and want it to come out, but that’s another story). Being an introvert I know what it feels like to be outside looking in, to feel alone in a crowd, to feel lost and overwhelmed.  So when I am the leader I make sure to engage and make everyone feel at home, and help them feel safe, heard and connected.

That said, when an event or my “playtime” is done, I just need quiet. I need to shut down and recharge. I don’t want to go out all night; I definitely don’t want to be in environments where I have to yell to communicate. This is mainly because I’m physically incapable of the yelling part. My voice goes up an octave in pitch, but the volume is consistent.   Also, I love a deep conversation, and I find that talking and listening is difficult in a loud environment and this leaves the topics of conversation to general for my taste. Not to mention, if I’ve been going all day I’m physically and mentally done by evening. Nothing personal, it’s just the way it is.

So, for those that know me and even for those that are just meeting me, I know that I come across, quite often as extroverted. I’m high energy and a very positive person but I still need to recharge now and then. You may see me one day acting very quiet, contemplative and passive. Don’t worry, more then likely I’m not sad and nothing is wrong. I’m probably very happy, it’s just that I need some down time. I need to observe and listen and not bounce. Why?

Well…. because I really am an introvert!

Wild Weather

Posted: February 28, 2015 in Life
Tags: , ,
Stormy beach

Wild beach day

For the last day or 2 we have been having on again off again snow. I love snowstorms, especially when there are huge snowflakes. I love all wild weather! I’m not quite sure why I love this weather but I always have. Perhaps because my spirit is somewhat chaotic and the wild weather is something I connect with. I love to walk, and be out in heavy snow

storms. When I’m on the beach I love when the weather is overcast and rainy. I revel in waves and uneasy surf. When Colorado had its 500-year flood I was out and about driving and exploring the chaos. You can read more about that adventure here.

I may have gotten this love of wild weather from my mother. We always go out together and explore. I remember when I was a teenager we, my mother and I, were watching it rain the heaviest rain I had ever seen. We were both gazing out of the window fascinated by the power and we were imagining that there was a tornado somewhere. Sometime later we received a phone call from one of my aunts asking if we were safe. She told us that a tornado did touch down in our town and hit the cemetery. We were out the door to explore almost instantly. We love it. In another life we may have been storm chasers as a profession.

I remember another time when I was a young child that we had a huge blizzard maybe the Colorado blizzard of ’82. No, that was over Christmas. I think that year we powered through the blizzard on Christmas day to go to my aunts house for our traditional get together (just the 2 families). No storm ever stopped my family. On another occasion, maybe ’83, after the storm had passed we went out and built snow forts and my uncle came over with his 3 wheeler and we powered through the snow and he would run into drifts and stop then he would throw me into the snow drift and watch me disappear. We played this game for, what seemed to me, most of the day. I would have kept going but at some point he decided I was frozen and we went home. We may have gone back out, but I don’t remember.

As I write all of these events I’m starting to realize my draw to this kind of weather. For my family it’s always been fun and a way to connect. We have always been happy in this type of weather and it has always been a powerful feeling to be out. When the weather was sending others in, we were always headed out. Love, connection, playfulness, and adventure, that’s what I feel in this weather.

Snow play

What are you doing

During the Colorado flood in 2013 my son was with my mom and me as we powered around. At the time he was 3 and now and then he talks about “the big water”. I don’t think it scared him, since it didn’t scare us and we were having a great time trying to find a road that wasn’t closed so we could go home. He may have gotten bored as we spent hours out driving around. He was such a trooper.

As I sit here writing this post the snow has subsided. It’s still snowing but the flakes are small again, not as powerful as before. I still love the beautiful stillness but it doesn’t call me out the way more extreme weather does. As time goes on I hope that I’m able to pass this love of wild weather onto my son. At this point I think it’s very possible since my husband isn’t dissuaded by weather either.

As a family, our motto seems to be:

Big snow? Let’s hit the slopes!

OR

Bad weather?   Well the office will be quiet and I should get a lot done.

Not much stops us from getting out and living. The more chaotic the weather the more we seem to do.

What does it mean to be fit?  If I were to poll a group of people would it be based on endurance, strength, asthetics?  My guess is that fitness would be directly linked to exercise, but it doesn’t have to be.  I would like to propose another way to think about fitness.

This is an experiential proposal.  Take a ride with me and see what you connect with and how it makes you feel.

Over the last year I have seen a few commercials that hint at fitness and I thought I would throw my perspective at them in the hopes that people may take a step back and re-evaluate their beliefs around fitness.

This first commercial has nothing to do with fitness but I was drawn in by the initial statement “Look at them.  Making moves that would put an adult in the emergency room.”  This off handed comment is stated as cold, hard fact.  It screams, “When you are an adult you can no longer play.  Deal with it. You are weak and fragile!”  After 5 seconds this commercial had lost me and I was stomping around my living room arguing with the t.v.  “People don’t believe this do they?” Are you kidding me?  What is this world coming to?!”  Later, I was still disturbed by the commercial but when I tried to find it I couldn’t remember what it was for. Turns out, it was a Cadillac car commercial.  They definitely weren’t marketing to me.

This next commercial I first saw on ESPN and to tell the truth, I think it’s great.  I found it Laugh Out Loud funny and although the focus is on exercise, the commercials presentation hits at our competitive spirit and might get people out the door and moving.  Still, for me, it’s message is exercise and that doesn’t quite resonate.

Props for the great satire, as I still laugh when I watch it.

The last of the commercials I want to present is a 180° turn from the first video.  It speaks to our child spirit.  The commercial talks about toys, building forts, playing on playground, staying out until after dark all the while showing pictures of adults climbing mountains, kayaking, and playing soccer.  It speaks to the need for movement and fitness in the form of play and usefulness.  This commercial sings to my heart and it makes me want to get out of my house and move.  Not for exercise. Not for competition. But for my mind, body and spirit.  In my opinion, this is why we have the ability to move.  We move so we can explore, create and enjoy our world.

Work or play

Work? Play? … Yes!

For a good portion of my life, work and play have been on opposite ends of the spectrum. Either I was doing productive, necessary work or I was free and playing; but never were they combined. How could they be? In my mind they were opposites.

Which isn’t surprising since even the definitions for these words put them at odds.

Work:

  1. Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
  2. Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

Play:

  1. Activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, esp. by children.
  2. The conducting of an athletic match or contest.

Now, however, the idea that work and play are opposites doesn’t fly for me. The change occurred when I had my son and he started going to a Montessori school at 7 months old.  My son was doing sitting work and block stacking work. At one point he spent months doing container work which involved opening and closing containers that have different types of tops. In Montessori the children are curious and they are driven by their enjoyment of exploration and discovery. It’s also very purposeful because this exploration is how children discover their world, and how they perfect skills such as motor coordination, executive functions, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, and socialization. Every activity they engage in is very much their work. This is where my personal definitions of work and play changed. I now see the words this way: Work has a purpose or result that is external in nature and play is about our inner passion and enjoyment.

So here is my question: When did we as a society decide that work should be divorced from enjoyment, curiosity, and personal expression?

 In David Elkind’s article “The Values of Outdoor Play” he postulates that the requirements for a full happy and productive life consist of 3 things: Play, Love and Work.

“Play, love, and work are the innate drives that power human thought and action throughout the life cycle. Play is the drive to transform the world to meet our personal needs. Love is the drive to express our desires, feelings, and emotions. Work is the drive to adapt to the demands of the physical and social world. “–David Elkind

He goes on to categorize activities from this perspective:

  • Love is something one undertakes of their own initiative.
  • Play encompasses personal expression of the activity
  • Work comprises the products produced that are both original and useful to all.

With this new information let us re-evaluate what it means to play and to work. Our priorities get confused when we separate the two. At some point we decided that earning money at a job is a high priority, but taking care of our physical body is optional. We started to see being busy, stressed and always on the move as success. While relaxation, enjoyment and mental calm we regard as unproductive. It’s time to turn our work into play and our play into work. Or stated slightly differently: Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling and our play should be honored for how purposeful it truly is. Our play is of the highest importance for our well-being and creative spirit. Embrace it and activate your highest potential. No more Work vs. Play. Let’s make it Work + Play … + Love.

Combine them, embrace them and live a full, happy and productive life!

Rumplestiltskin

A question for you…

I have to admit that I love the ABC series Once Upon a Time.  It’s season 3 and in the premiere the main characters Captain Hook, Rumplestiltskin, the Evil Queen, Snow White, Prince Charming, and Emma Swan (Daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) are on their way to Neverland to save Henry (Emma’s son) from the treacherous Peter Pan.  Yes, you read that correctly. Peter Pan is the bad guy.  Also Neverland is not a place you want to be.  In an earlier episode Wendy describes Neverland this way, “There’s a reason it’s called Neverland. Because once you set foot in its soil, the Shadow never lets you leave.”  I think that’s why I love this show.  It blows apart everything I know about fairytales.  It always keeps me guessing, which is awesome!

Certain TV shows grab us because they are able to play with human dynamics really well.  I believe when these shows create dynamics that the viewer can relate to, but create them in extreme situations that the average person doesn’t face, we love them.  Breaking Bad and the Sopranos are examples of exceptional execution of extreme situations with normal, relatable human dynamics.

I love human dynamics.  Something about taking the chaos of human interaction and finding the patterns within excites and fascinates me.  It drives my husband nuts sometimes because I see them in fictional TV interactions and sometimes I get deeply sucked in watching them play out.  If these fictional interactions are done well, they awaken me to an aspect of myself I wasn’t fully aware of.  Which, in turn, adds to my personal growth in the real world.   The below interaction between Rumplestiltskin and Emma Swan is such an occasion.  In this scene Rumplestiltskin is telling Emma that she lacks imagination. And in Neverland that just doesn’t cut it.

Emma: Why are you doing this?
Rumple: Because I want to succeed.
Emma: What makes you think I’m going to fail?
Rumple: How could you not?  You don’t believe in your parents, or magic, nor even yourself.
Emma: I slayed a dragon, I think I believe.
Rumple: Only what was shown to you.  When have you ever taken a real leap of faith? You know the kind where there is absolutely no proof?  I’ve known you some time Miss Swan and sadly, despite everything you’ve been through, you’re still just that bail bonds person, looking for evidence.  Well dearie that’s not going to work in Neverland.
Emma: I’ll do whatever it takes.
Rumple: Well you just need someone to tell you what that is.  Sorry dearie our foe is too fearsome for hand-holding.  Neverland is a place where imagination runs wild.  And sadly, yours doesn’t.

You can watch the exchange here but it might be hard to follow if you don’t know the characters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YbpQQOAL6Y

I’m not sure how many people would have any reaction to that exchange.  The scene itself is just a plot device to justify Rumplestiltskin going off on his own.   However, when I watched the exchange I felt like Rumple was talking directly to me.  He was very clearly asking me, “Can you create something if no one hands you a recipe to follow? “  “Can you use your imagination to picture something wild and your creativity to make it real?”  This hits home because I’m working on the process of imagining my life and the imagination piece is a struggle.

So what’s the real difference between creativity and imagination and why are they important?

Let us start with definitions.

First Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions:

  • Creativity: The ability to make new things or think of new ideas
  • Imagination: The ability to imagine things that are not real: the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced

In essence the difference is between real and unreal creations.

I also went out and Googled the connection between these two words and how they relate to creating change in a person’s life.  The articles I’ve found also mention innovation, but innovation doesn’t apply to this blog post so I’m leaving it out.  It turns out that for life changing endeavors, creativity and imagination play pivotal roles.

So, here are the definitions I synthesized from my research:

  • Creativity: Taking perceived reality (all of the facts, evidence, arguments and proof) and coming up with original solutions.
  • Imagination:  Creating something completely wild and extraordinary without the limits of what is perceived possible in reality.

Please note that I use the word perceived in both of these definitions. I do this because reality changes for us depending on our perceptions at the time.  So what might be impossible to me one moment can become completely possible at a different point in my life.

So back to the questions I heard Rumple asking me.  Can I create something if no one hands me a recipe to follow? Can I use my imagination to picture something wild and then use my creativity to make it real?  When I started this article I thought I knew what my problem was.  I thought that I had let my imagination muscle atrophy by not allowing myself to come up with the wild ideas.  I thought by not using my imagination I also wasn’t allowing myself to use my creativity to make my life what I want it to be.  As I think on it more, I realize my imagination is fully intact. I just have a tendency to misdirect it into unproductive thoughts such as how much effort something may take and all the possible ways that same something might go wrong.  When I let myself imagine these wild ideas I don’t follow through and I don’t even bother to give myself a chance to be creative.    It’s not that I don’t have imagination.  It’s that I imagine great things and then imagine all the way those great ideas can be foiled.  Well done.

This is a big “aha” for me.  I now realize the true power of imagination.  It can be our greatest ally in becoming our highest most productive selves or it can be a super villain that thwarts us at every turn.  Creativity is the workhorse, the recipe creator, of our lives and it can only be cultivated and put into action when imagination is used for good, empowering endeavors.

Now I have an answer for Rumple.  Yes, I can use my imagination to create something wild and I believe I can create it in the real world if I can hold the imagination super villain at bay.   Perhaps that is what Peter Pan represents in the ABC show Once Upon a Time.  He is the form of imagination that manipulates us into inaction by stifling responsibility, maturity and personal power.  By indulging Peter Pan we leave the possibility for great achievement forever lost in Never Neverland.