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Friday, July 26, 2013

Creating Quiet--Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste




"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence." Max Ehrmann, Desiderata


The Sounds of Silence

Look into 8 year old Max Lindsay's painting and imagine what you hear. Quiet, peaceful night sounds--perhaps the distant sound of a dog bark--or if you listen intently in the far distance, perhaps the silent WHOOSING of a falling star.

After a long day filled with noise and haste, our heads can get filled to the brim with the noise of overstimulation. We all need ways to quiet our minds and calm ourselves to regain a sense of peace and balance so we know everything is well in our world. But how do we do that?

Quieting the Noise of Overstimulation

Sometimes our heads get filled with the noise of conversations we had--and the ones we need to have--in response to people bringing conflict and drama into our busy day. It is these conversations continuously replaying in our heads creating the noise of the day--and making it feel like someone turned up the volume to an unbearable level we can't get away from.

Here is how to turn the noise volume down:

Awareness The first step towards quieting this noise of overstimulation is to acknowledge these inner conversations are going on and they are responsible for turning the volume up in your head.

Listen to the inner chatter so you can name the noise. Pay attention to the chatter in your head so you can name what's grating on your nerves--and allow yourself to do nothing about it. Write it down or talk it out with a trusted confidant. When you can name what is screaming in your head it gives you the control for turning the volume down to a more bearable level.

When you're ready, take action.  Don't be in a rush to take action. Take your time. You're trying to create quiet in your life and that will result when you find a way to think, act and communicate calmly and respectfully. When you're ready--take calm, thoughtful, and decisive action--showing yourself you're in control of creating a peaceful life.

"A quiet response is one that absorbs the force of noise, with compassion, and doesn’t throw it back with equal force." Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

Just listen and absorb.  Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits says when someone talks to you, instead of jumping in with something about yourself--"Just listen. Absorb. Reflect their thoughts back to them." You will create quiet in how you respond to the noise.

"Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story." Max Ehrmann

Listening to Sounds in the Distance

There's an interesting relationship between 'sound' and 'noise'. The closer a sound gets the more it becomes noise and the farther away a noise gets the more it becomes sound. Noise is irritating and grating; sound is pleasant and peaceful.

This relationship leads to a very easy technique for quieting the noise in your head: listening to sounds in the distance.

Just like 'looking into 8 year old Max Lindsay's painting and imagining what you hear' --when you go outside and direct your attention towards listening for sounds in the far distance you move far away from the noise in your head to listening to silence and soft sounds.

This is a simple activity you can take with you to gain a moment of quiet amid the noise and haste. Simply walk outside and direct your attention to listening to sounds in the distance to quiet the noise in your head.

"In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Meet the Artist

 Max Lindsay, 3rd grader


The Dog Tile Art Project for the Jackson County Animal Shelter

Debi Blair's 3rd grade class at Walker Elementary school in Ashland, Oregon painted tiles to create a bright, cheerful entrance to the dog kennels at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Their creative and fun spirits come through in their art. Come on down to the Shelter to see what a difference their tile art makes.

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.




Monday, July 22, 2013

Keep it Simple--Create the Life You Want


 
"Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail." Henry Wheeler Shaw

Adults: Kids in Big Bodies

Just look at Mirandah Powell's playful dog and happy girl enjoying each other's company. It's all just a moment of good fun. Doesn't it make you want to join in--and why not?

As grownups, we are just kids in big bodies. We never lose our desire to relax and enjoy a moment of fun. Deep inside we carry with us all the same wishes and desires we had as children.

  • We want to love and be loved.
  • We want to play.
  • We want playmates.
  • We want play dates.
  • We want to belong and be accepted.
  • We want to be on the team and asked to play.
  • We don't want to be left out or left behind.
  • We don't want to be bullied.
  • We want to be liked.
  • We want to have best friends.
  • We want to feel good.
  • We want to be safe.

These deeply held desires stemming from that place of child-like innocence are pure, untainted, and uncomplicated--unlike the adult veneer we use to cover them up.

'Life gets more complicated', we say when we become adults. 'Sometimes you just have to put up with things, keep your mouth shut and just go away.'

But if you find you're going away feeling angry, hostile, hurt, lonely, fearful or jealous--take another look at the list of child-like wishes to see if there is one that is not currently being met in your life. Does one or more of the core desires cause a longing in you and stir up old wounds? Where do you feel you're being left out or left behind?
"We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality." Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Adults have Choices--Take Action on What Matters to You

As an adult you have choices. You can chose to change what isn't working for you or meeting your needs. If your current personal or work situation fails to meet your needs, change something. Make it a habit to improve your situation when you are unsatisfied with it. Strive to put more good stuff into your life and make less room for the nasty stuff.

  • Is your workplace soul-killing? Start looking for a healthier one.
  • Is your love interest playing games that create self-doubt and loneliness in you? Get back out there and find a better match for you. Don't shut down--open yourself up to new experiences.
  • Have your friends moved on and you're feeling left out? Get out and find activities to engage in to meet more people. Everyone wants friends to hang out with.
  • Have you retired and lost that sense of being part of a team or community? Explore options for getting involved in community activities or volunteering.

What's in Your Adult Sandbox?

Don't just passively resign yourself to the life you have if it isn't meeting your needs. Get out there and do something different. Like Miranda's happy girl, find yourself a play pal.

Start by looking at what is and is not in your sandbox. What does your current work or personal play yard contain for you? What are they missing? What needs to be eliminated?

You Learn What You Live
 
If you live with criticism, you learn to condemn.
 
If you live with hostility, you learn to fight.
 
If you live with ridicule, you learn to be shy.
 
If you live with shame, you learn to feel guilty.
 
If you live with tolerance, you learn to be patient.
 
If you live with encouragement, you learn confidence.
 
If you live with praise, you learn to appreciate.
 
If you live with fairness, you learn justice.
 
If you live with security, you learn to have faith.
 
If you live with approval, you learn to like yourself.
 
If you live with acceptance and friendship, you learn to find love in the world.
 
Modified from 'Children Learn What They Live' by Dorothy Law Nolte

What do you want more of in your life? How do you want to Live?

Keep it simple--Create the life you want.

Meet the Artist
 
 
 Mirandah Powell



The Dog Tile Art Project for the Jackson County Animal Shelter
 
Debi Blair's 3rd grade class at Walker Elementary school in Ashland, Oregon painted tiles to create a bright, cheerful entrance to the dog kennels at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Their creative and fun spirits come through in their art. Come on down to the Shelter to see what a difference their tile art makes.

"Dogs never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation." Jerome K. Jerome

 
Sign Up for Free E-mail updates
 
For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.
 
If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Your Choices Today Create Your Life Tomorrow



"To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders." Lao Tzu, 6th century BC

Trust Your Inner Wisdom

I love this painted tile by 8 year old Edwin Tickner. It makes me wonder what Edwin's dog is contemplating as he silently watches the moon. And what about his little 'alter ego' who lives underground? He too sits quietly looking in the same direction as he considers life.

It was Lao Tzu, the father of the Chinese spiritual tradition Taoism, who said "To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders." Edwin's dog intuitively understands: Taking a calm, quiet moment is important for us all. A still, calm mind allows us to see choices we are blind to when caught up in the often frenetic activity of daily life.

It is only in a state of calm we are able to open ourselves up to see the vast riches of the universe available to us all.

 Calm Contemplation of Life

If you've been feeling off-balance lately or something has been bothering you that you just can't put your finger on--take a cue from Edwin's dog--still your mind and calm yourself before you open yourself up to look into the horizon.

When your mind is calmed, take a moment to reflect on how your choices today will create your life of tomorrow. Consider your current situation and what factors would create good or poor, pleasant or unpleasant outcomes down the road.

With a calmed mind, consider these perspectives and outcomes. Write a list of factors for each that contributed to the outcomes. Don't be afraid to look through the eyes of innocence and trust in yourself as you contemplate your future. You can make good and better choices.

Start with the End in Mind--What Choices Today Got You There?

Perspective 1: Looking five years down the road, you are still working for the same organization or still in an intimate relationship with the same person. What did the organization or your love interest do right to keep you? What does your life look like now?

Perspective 2: Looking five years down the road, you have left the relationship or organization. What happened? Why did you leave? What could they have done differently to keep you?

Perspective 3: Looking five years down the road an issue you're struggling with right now has resolved in your favor. What does your life look like now? What made you choose the path you're now on? Why is your life better today than five years ago? What choices did you make to support a good life? What are you most proud of?

Perspective 4: Looking five years down the road you are unhappy about the choices you made. What different choices could you have made to end up with better outcomes?


Meet the Artist

 Edwin Tickner, 3rd Grader
 
 
The Dog Tile Art Project for the Jackson County Animal Shelter

Debi Blair's 3rd grade class at Walker Elementary school in Ashland, Oregon painted tiles to create a bright, cheerful entrance to the dog kennels at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Their creative and fun spirits come through in their art. Come on down to the Shelter to see what a difference their tile art makes.

Sign Up for Free E-mail updates


For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.
 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Are You Being Dragged Along by Life? Get Involved!




The Fates Guide Those Who Go Willingly--All Others they Drag

Roman Philosopher, Seneca the Younger (5 BC-65 AD) wrote "Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant." Not much has changed through the ages, except perhaps the faces.

If The Fates rounded up the usual dragging suspects, would you be among them? Are you one for digging your heels in and resisting the unfolding of your life or are you a willing participant in the making of your life?

Purpose and Passion

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable." Lucius Annaeus Seneca

How do you feel about your life at this moment? Do you feel like life is passing you by while you remain a passive passenger? If so, get passionate about adding value and meaning to your life now by giving it purpose--and start living a purposeful life.

Even if your life had purpose and passion in the past, if you feel lackluster about it now you're drifting--a clear sign it's time to consciously re-purpose your life and get it back on a passionate track.

Which Do You Choose--An Inspired Life or One Mired in Minutia?

"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." Robert Heinlein

As Heinlein says, without a clear vision for engaging in your life, it is easy to get caught up in the minutia of the daily mundane tasks that suck the energy right out of you. After a while, your life becomes defined by going to work, doing the laundry, going to the grocery store, or picking up the kids from school.

Without putting your life in the context of an inspired, purposeful life, all those daily activities begin to feel like merely putting one foot in front of the other in a monotonous march from one day to the next.

Stop living a life of minutia and start living an inspired, purposeful one. As Tom Thiss says, "Having a purpose is the difference between making a living and making a life.

Your Passionate Purpose is Found in the Giving, not the Getting
"From what we get, we can make a living. What we give, however, makes a life." Arthur Ashe

You want to make a positive impact in the world around you, not just make a living. And as Arthur Ashe says, the key to making an inspired, purpose-filled life is to give of yourself to others and the world around you.

Look for ways to get involved in things that matter to you. Don't be afraid to try things out. Be on a quest to get involved in activities that make you feel good. You'll know it when you find activities that provide meaning.

Look for ways to find meaning in the mundane. If you must do something--like go to a boring job to pay the bills--find a way to enjoy it by articulating how it fits into your greater life purpose. How are you actively giving of yourself in this mundane activity? How are you contributing to your life purpose?

Look for activities that are not contributing to your wellbeing you could give up. When you look at your free or down time, what are you doing with it that is un-inspiring--watching TV, playing video games, nothing? If you were to give up the time doing the un-inspired, what meaningful activities could you do instead?

Look for ways to give. What do you have to give and share with the world? What is your purpose? We are all driven to seek our purpose in life. Find yours--and get involved.

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." E.B. White


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 For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

 If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.





Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stop Controlling, Start Trusting


"The purpose of life is to unlearn what has been learned, and to remember what has been forgotten." Sufi Saying


Falling off a Cliff 

Today I got to thinking about the old story of the guy who fell off the cliff while viewing the Grand Canyon. After falling hundreds of feet, by chance, his hand catches a branch and he holds on for dear life.

When he finally gains the courage to open his eyes he sees he is on a sheer cliff 300 feet from the top and many more to the bottom--and his heart sinks. He's literally between a rock (cliff) and a hard place.

Never a particularly religious man, but in his moment of desperation he yells out:
"Oh God, oh God, please help me!"

At that moment the clouds part and a voice asks,

"Do you believe? Do you really believe?"


"Yes, Yes, I believe, I believe--just get me out of here!"

To which the voice replies,
"Then LET GO......"
Free Falling: Moving From Control to Trust

If life has felt a little rocky lately and you're doing your best to get control of your life, relationships, children, or work perhaps the answer is to loosen up and let go, rather than tighten up and control more.

When we're free falling through a rough patch in our lives it's only natural to want to control the people, things and events around us as everything seemingly spirals out of control. We desperately want something solid to grasp to stop the apparent loss of control.

But too often, as we allow fear and anxiety to rule us, we tighten up and develop hardening of the attitudes and rigidity of thinking leading to clogging up of our heart and life. We become wound so tight we come to believe we are the only ones who can 'take charge and get it right' and end up alienating the people around us and isolating ourselves--sinking us deeper into the darkness.

Can you make the shift from controlling to trusting?

What is it we need to give up to move from living our lives through a controlling stance to a trusting stance? We need to give up the false-safety of fear. We need to let go of the firm, rigid walls fear provides and take a leap of faith in ourselves, others, life and the unknown.

When you choose a trusting approach to life, you gain a more fluid, easy attitude that creates a sense of flow and peace in your life.

Once you get past the fear of giving up fear and control you'll discover a world in which all things seemingly good or bad work in your favor....a world in which everything is working out. You are safe and life is good.

"The warrior who trusts his path doesn't need to prove the other is wrong."  Paulo Coelho





 
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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.



Friday, July 5, 2013

Work-Life Balance: Stop The Work Creep from Taking Over




It's all a matter of perspective
credit: ShutUpImTalking.com

Gaining Perspective on Work-Life Balance

Why don't we complain we play too much or that play is getting in the way of our work? How is it we allow work to creep into our play life but we rarely allow play to infiltrate our work life? The answer may surprise you.

To understand the problem let's look at what happens in another context first--in the story of the smoking priest.

One day a priest who enjoyed smoking approached his superior to find out if it was alright for him to smoke while he prayed.
"Father, may I smoke while I pray?"

"No."

"Would it be alright if I pray while I smoke?"

"Yes."


It's all in how you say it or think it, isn't it?

We learn early in life it is not okay to play on paid work time. But just like the smoking priest--in our attempt to get ahead of the game at work--we trick ourselves into believing we are exerting self-determination by reversing the question we ask our self.

"Self, is it alright if I play while I work?"


"No."


"Would it be alright if I work while I play?"


"Yes."
Since no one is paying us to play it's our choice if we want to work while we play--right? Besides, it's only for now......and that's when the work creep begins to infiltrate the rest of our life.


The Work Creep

The Work Creep Masquerading as Fun

I can hear you wanting to argue--what if I really enjoy my work? What if my work IS my play?

If that is the truth, then by all means continue to live life exactly as you are. If you are leading a fully satisfying life that is fun and you feel you have a good balance in which you are contributing to the world without feeling overburdened, overworked or stressed by work you don't need to change anything.

On the other hand, if you look within and find you've allowed 'the work creep' to infiltrate your life masquerading as fun--but at the end of the day you're left feeling exhausted, cranky, under-appreciated, misunderstood, and wanting to lash out at people--perhaps it's time to ask different questions to put the fun and balance back into your life.


 Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Are you a fun person to work with? Do colleagues seek you out or do they avoid you whenever they can?
  • Do friends and family think it's fun to spend time with you or do they walk on eggshells around you?
  • When you walk into a room at work do you feel a warm welcome or do you meet with averted eyes?
  • Do people at work and at home say you are too intense--and you need to put the work down?
  • Are you able to be calm, clear and focused at work or do you feel frazzled most of the time?
  • Do you feel annoyed by people asking you questions or are you able to address issues at work with a sense of calm?
  • Are you able to put the work down---or do you get so revved up you begin to think you are the only one who can do the job right and put in too many hours as a result? Have people asked you to stop putting in so many hours? Have others asked you to get out of the way so they can do their work without your interference?
  • Do these questions make you squirm? Do you think these questions are directed at you? Are you brave enough to ask the people around you to answer these questions about you--and then take the answers to heart?

 
Don't let the Work Creep get the Better of You
 
You are the only one who sees behind your eyes and knows the truth for you. If the answers to these questions left you feeling like the work creep has permeated your life find a way to put the work down. Sometimes just pulling back a little--like taking one day off--will provide you the space you need to infuse your life with some real fun.
 
 
Fun with FUN

First known use of word FUN: 1727
 
Origin of word FUN:   English dialect fun to hoax, perhaps alteration of Middle English fonnen, from fonne dupe.

Definition of FUN: What provides amusement or enjoyment; playful often boisterous action or speech. A mood for finding or making amusement
 
 
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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.
 
If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.
 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Home is Where the Heart is: Rediscover Your Happy Place

 
 
 
Home in Ashland, Oregon

Happy Thought
"The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we'll all be happy as kings."
Robert Louis Stevenson

 
What happy memories do you have that put you in a place of sweet longing to reconnect with a time, place or person? When was your time when 'your world was so full of a number of things you were happy as a king'?

I recently saw this snapshot of my hometown on my daughter's Facebook. The ethereal photo elicited comments from her friends who grew up here--now living elsewhere--who expressed longing for the good times and memories of growing up here--and it got me thinking about happy memories.

It is so important to periodically stop and savor good memories to let them color your experience of life the further you travel down the road. Life can weigh you down as you move into the age of responsibility--leaving you a little worse for wear. But your care-free, happy memories can buoy you back up and ease the way forward.

The mind is a wondrous thing--if you focus on unhappy or negative thoughts, you will create more negative thoughts; if you focus on happy thoughts, you will create more happy thoughts. Choose to train your brain to rediscover your happy place where the world is so full of wondrous things you can't help but stay engaged in exciting endeavors.

One of my fond memories I pull up to savor is of my mother reading Robert Louis Stevenson's 'A Child's Garden of Verses' to me and my siblings in the evening before bedtime. I can still feel the softness of that experience in which I spent time with my mother enveloped in unnamed feelings of warmth, love and safety. All is well with the world in that memory.

'The Swing' is one of Stevenson's poems that left a visual memory for me that regularly comes forth when I am out for a walk or spending time in the garden.  I offer it to you here in hopes you can share a moment of light, care-free feeling of a time of innocence and remember the world is YOUR oyster!


The Swing
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
 
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
 
Robert Louis Stevenson



And one final poem for the grown ups from Stevenson

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you.

His intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.
 
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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.
 
If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.