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Friday, January 28, 2011


Jason Wright says that a life can be changed in about seventeen seconds. He calls them miracles. There is even a book and a website and a facebook application to record those that happen to you, and those that you engage in and perform. I know Jason personally, and can say easily that his life definitely reflects the sense of fun and service an
d the joy of existing that a little bit of extra effort produces.

My thoughts today surround my own little seventeen second miracles. I call it Feedback. It is something that often takes just about seventeen seconds (or a minute or two, depending on how verbose you are!). It is the little moments we take to respond to someone.

It can be about a service, a little ‘Thank you for. . . ‘ or a birthday. . . I had almost a hundred people wish me a great day. It absolutely surrounded me with awe to think that that many people thought about me, and took the seconds required to tell me so. I’m still walking around in the glow of it. Yet I doubt that any one of them took more than literally a few seconds to comment. It can be a response to a post, a blog, a photo shared or a link we thought was worth sharing. Even the little click of a “LIKE” button in Facebook sends a smile into the heart.

We NEED feedback. From our partners, our children, our bosses. We crave knowing that we matter. That we’ve been a good parent, a successful employee, a service to the world.

For a moment let’s look on the other side. How do you feel when you say something, share something, and no one responds? It is a dark and lonely place to feel like your contributions are not noticed.

Telling someone they look great in a certain color, noticing that their hair is cut or styled a different way, their child looks especially darling or even just an eye-to-eye smile, can change a day, an outlook, even a life. Letting others know how we feel and think about their contributions makes those contributions worth repeating. Sometimes I’m afraid that those with a talent for complimenting and encouraging others don’t realize the depth of their talent. Some of the most important talents are in this life are the abilities to really listen; to appreciate sincerely; and to tell others what their contributions mean to you. Think of your little comments differently today. Think of them as warm hugs and generous pats on the back. Consider telling someone who sends you a compliment or a cute joke or an inspiring thought that you were touched. It makes all the difference and takes just about . . . seventeen seconds.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Through the Eyes of Kakeru

We just had the wonderful experience of hosting a Japanese student for a couple of weeks. We had a wonderful time showing him our world. He was delightful and curious, loved everything about America. (Except oatmeal and tomatoes!). Many tastes were new experiences for him. He loved RootBeer, though his friends said it tasted like medicine. He took a six-pack home.

While we were taking him around and listening to
‘Oooo, it’s gootd, so goodt’
a lot, it occurred to me that perhaps I was missing much of the
‘soo, soooo goodt’
 things in my life.

Diane Ackerman, a sensual (as in the five senses) writer who describes things in succulent language filled with imagry, talks about the dulling of the senses in the modern world. So many times we forget to just stop, take a long look at something with new eyes.

Having Kakeru here did that for me. I often wondered what he thought about things. How we appeared to him and what sorts of ideas he was getting with the ‘too much English!’ all around. We would ‘speak swlowly’ when we remembered to, but mostly we just were ourselves. Californian’s with too much to do, ‘so many parties!’ and living ‘so big!’.

When I looked at the world through his eyes, in my limited way, I saw things just a bit differently. I smiled more. I paused more. I spoke more slowly.

Maybe sometimes all we need to do in our crazy worlds is to look at things just a little differently, so we can see them differently.

He didn’t want to return. He loved it here. We loved having him. Perhaps part of that was simply his way of showing me, my world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will Power Doesn't Last Long

Frankly, neither does ‘won’t’ power. Let’s face it. Strong-arm muscling goals gets us mostly just frustrated, down on ourselves and shoved into helplessness. Ever tried to ‘push a river’? Going against the natural flow of things makes life rougher, not easier. Struggle wasn’t meant for an every-day lifestyle. So, how do we improve? How do we get out of bad habits and into good ones? The trouble is, bad habits are EASY to start, and HARD to break. Good habits are HARD to start and EASY to break. I know, not fair! But it is what it is.

You have spent years learning how to do things a certain way. Think a certain way, act and respond a certain way. You have all these wonderful desires, and want to do things a NEW way, so you sit down, make some ‘goals’ and then expect change to happen quickly! Guess what. . . it doesn’t. You usually fail, then berate yourself, give up, become depressed and decide it wasn’t possible anyway.

What if you are just going about it in the wrong way?

A river flows naturally. No one needs to push it to get it to go towards the sea. It is possible to change its course however. I know, my husband has done it! However, it took a whole summer, not a day. Each weekend he and his brothers would hike up and begin to put stones and branches in the path of the river. Little by little they moved the bank inward and outward. Boulder by boulder they changed the way the river naturally flowed, not by one day tossing everything in and hoping for the best, the only thing that would have happened is that the river would have shrugged, laughed and said, “Right, watch this!” and easily pushed all the debris to the side in a rolling tumbling mass. Instead, little step by little adjustment, they nudged, urged and gently changed the course. Now, Twenty years later, the river still flows neatly around the island they formed that summer.

Like the river, our habits have been formed a little at a time over a long time. Getting them to change starts with a goal of course, knowing what your true dream is, and putting your heart behind it. . . but that isn’t enough. You need little stones, a few big boulders placed strategically and some long logs and lots of little bits of support.

• Start with the end. What do you want it to look like eventually?

• Allow for time to naturally sculpt your dreams

• Write down (I’ll repeat that just in case you thought it wasn’t important) WRITE DOWN the resources you have to help you.

• Get help. Get a coach, a friend, someone to report to is ESSENTIAL.

• Make little goals along the way

• Attach the little steps to something you are already doing easily. IE: Put your vitamins next to your toothbrush – you’ll remember to take them daily since you already brush your teeth daily.

• Reward yourself often. When you don’t quite get the result you hoped for, see if THIS result is a BETTER step. It just may be.

• Don’t push the river, allow it to flow naturally, let the goals you have for your life form with a simple easy rhythm and you’ll find that they will indeed stick, and your life will then have the new look you visualized.

While ‘will power’ won’t last, ‘great job!’ power does. Allow yourself to readjust, reacess, and be rewarded for the small growth you see, and SEE it. Happy 2011! Just breathe. . . this is fun!

(can you tell one of the 'goals' I have this year is to post weekly?)