Creating Social Change by Taking One Action at A Time

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I’ve written about taking action, and creating change in other posts. And, how that it is one action at time that creates change. It starts with each of us. One action at a time, over time. What is fascinating is that inside of taking action, we change, and those around us have the opportunity to also change. Choice.

First, what is social change?

Social change, in sociology, [is] the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behaviour, social organizations, or value systems.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Though there are various theories on how to create social change, what is more clear to me than ever before, is that it is inside of the changes we make within ourselves that we have the opportunity to effect social change. There really is no other way.

What, then, does that look like over time. For instance:

  • How do we know that we are creating social change?
  • And, is it necessary for us to know that change is happening?
  • Or, is it enough to act, and be content with that?

Good questions, and I’m sure you have many others. For now, let’s look at the three listed above.

How do we know that we are creating social change?

We may not. Fact. Why? Because there may be a lag between the social actions people take, and the change that may occur inside of the social and or cultural systems. Such a time lag is common, and may contribute to people remaining inactive.

What are some of the other reasons why people remain inactive?

  • Fear – people are afraid of what they don’t know and don’t understand. If fear is keeping them inactive, it may continue to do so.
  • Comfort – people like being comfortable, and even though they may disagree with something, may not act.
  • Someone else – people, especially today, often think someone else will do it; so there is no need to act.

Most people have a little of each of these constraints to action within them, which, when combined, can be immobilizing. Not a justification, just a reality. Add when people confuse taking action with the result of that action, you get even more immobilization.

Is it necessary for us to know that change is happening?

Though we would like to know that every action we take is creating change, it is not our responsibility to know. As was aforementioned, it is not even possible to know that change will occur, as it may not happen for years from the time we took the action.

Here is a quote about actions and results that is important.

It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” -Gandhi

Goalcast

Within this context, it is not our job to worry about the results of our actions. When we get caught up in worrying about, or focusing on results, we become disempowered. Why?

Because we can get frustrated when we don’t see change right away, which can further immobilize us. Disempowerment.

However, please remember, that it is in the actions we take that we grow, change, and create the possibility to change ourselves and the world. Not the result. That is the knowing, and that is empowerment. You are a seed of change when you act, even if you don’t see the sprout, or the eventuality of that spout.

Is it enough to act, and be content with that?

Yes. Think about the current situation. People are acting. Simple. They are standing for something and someone – many someone’s, and the end of systematic racism. That is the action. Period. Now, that doesn’t mean people don’t want to see system-wide change.

However, staying focused on the present actions is how system-wide change has the best opportunity to occur. Actions combined, again and again, over time. One step, then another, then another. Simple. Yet, complex. A paradox.

Action devoid of a present result is not wasted effort. Think about any of the largest social changes in history, and they are all predicated on, and connected to, actions someone else took earlier in history. All of them.

Taken together, then, you have a cascade of actions over space and time, which are all connected, and interdependent. And, they DO add up, and they do create change.

What can you do?

Take action. One. Then another. Then another. How?

I taught a social justice class for a time, and the final project for that class was to create a plan for how you, as the student, were going to create local change. Where would you start?

Many of the students were confused about the task. They thought about social change as something that happens in an instant on a grand scale. While this is definitely possible, it is not as likely as social change that occurs over time. When they were clear about the task, they came up with some amazing social projects.

They were local grassroots projects, which is how most social change occurs. Why? Because local people decide to take action. And, inside of that action, as we’ve discussed in this post, there is the possibility that others will follow, and take action, changing with you. Beautiful.

When you are wondering how to get involved, how to create change, start by looking at what you want to change within yourself.

Once you have discovered that thread, pull on it a little, and take action. Then another. Then another. You may find along the way that you are creating the social change you’ve been searching for.

#black-lives-matter, #change-over-time, #creating-change, #social-change, #social-justice, #social-systems, #systematic-racism, #taking-action

3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.

3 reasons why avoidance is an ineffective strategy

1. It is not healthy

When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.

You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.

Let me give you an example

For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?

I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.

Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.

2. It keeps you stuck

When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed? Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.

And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.

Here is another example

As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.

And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel. Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

3. You cannot grow

When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.

Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity. Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.

Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.

Final example

When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.

Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why? I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.

I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.

The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us. It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

What can you do?

Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.

  1. Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
  2. Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
  3. Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.

When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.

Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.

#avoidance, #becoming-unstuck, #creativity, #growth-and-development, #health, #mindfulness, #slef-development, #strategy, #taking-action, #well-being

Writing and Life Series #3: Writer’s Block and A Collaborative Invitation

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

I’m sure countless blog posts have been written about how to “deal” with writer’s block. Though I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months, I have been writing for over 10 years.; meaning that I am interested in this topic, as it happens to me from time to time. Further, I’m interested in ideas you have, and strategies you use to become unblocked.

A couple questions to guide the conversation

  • When does writer’s block affect you most?
  • What happens when you are blocked?
  • How often do you have writer’s block?
  • What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?

Alright, so in this post then, I will address these questions from my standpoint, and then invite you to comment on your’s.

When does writer’s block affect you most?

Interestingly, I’m not sure there is a pattern I can discern about the timing of writer’s block for me. I know that there are times when writing is easy. When the words just flow through me and onto the page. I once thought that “being in the flow”, was a product of feeling more inspired about a piece. I’m not sure if that is actually the case. Why?

Because there are other times when I’m not necessarily feeling all that inspired by a piece, and the words are harder to come by, yet they do come. In time. Some of it, I think, has to do with being patient. With not forcing the writing, but letting it come in it’s time.

I cannot tell you how many times in the past 10 years I’ve left a particular piece, to only pick it back up again later, with a renewed interest and insight. Often. I think this actually happens more with blogging. I’ve got at least 4 or 5 pieces that are in my drafts at this moment. When will they get finished? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess when it’s time.

What happens when you are blocked?

I’ve addressed this a little, yet will expand a little more here. When I am feeling blocked, it’s as if I know what I want to write, yet the process is not really working for me at the moment. Sometimes, as aforementioned, for several moments, which can last days. Depends.

The piece I wrote on the sound of rainfall yesterday took several days to complete; and, when I look at it, I am confused as to why that is. It’s a very small piece, yet did take more time. Conversely, the piece I wrote, which I think was my longest post thus far, about the sociological imagination, though much longer, only took a couple of hours. The words just came.

There was a time when I would force the writing. This is not a strategy I recommend. The reason is simple. Because when you force writing, like anything, you are immediately in a space of frustration, and that will make its way into your writing. Not so helpful. Instead, what I typically do is back away from the keyboard, and just let the piece sit.

How often do you have writer’s block?

It happens a couple of times a month. I should also mention that I write everyday. So, there is that. How often you are blocked might be a product of how often you write. Not sure.

Sometimes I am so blocked about a particular topic that I just let it sit. I will go back to it occasionally, yet may or may not pick it up again. At this time, I have a couple different posts that are sitting in my drafts that I may or may not ever finish. Don’t know.

I do know that I believe that if they are meant to be finished, they will be. And, if not, they won’t be. And, at this point in my life, I am okay with that.

What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?

There are several strategies that I use to unblock myself. They all depend on the context. Here are a few with context.

  • I’m having a hard time even coming up with a new idea – when this happens to me, I go on a long walk. I usually walk every other day, so it may be an extra walk I put into my week, or the one that I am already planning to take. Either way, I think best when I am away from everyone and everything.
  • Write everything down – particularly when I am blocked, yet I do this all the time, when I have new ideas, I write them down. Anywhere, on anything. Sometimes, I put them on a post-it, sometimes on my whiteboard, and sometimes on my phone. Doesn’t matter, I make sure to capture them somewhere.
  • Go through my ideas – one of my favorite strategies to use when I am blocked is to go through the ideas I’ve been collecting. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Depends. Either way, having ideas to draw upon is very helpful.
  • Take a day off – not a strategy that I employ often, yet have done so. Taking some time away from writing, like anything, can provide more clarity, and the space for new ideas to generate.

I’m sure there are other strategies I could capture here, however, the ones listed above are by far my favorites.

Now what?

Well, if you haven’t tried one of the strategies listed above, try one, try more than one. For me, it is about trying something. Making sure to take action to provide yourself the space to ponder and reflect. And, then to see what comes.

It is actually in times when I’ve been the most blocked that I’ve come up with some of my best ideas. Some have made their way to the page, some will at some point. When? Don’t know. And, for me, that’s some of the fun of writing. The expectation of the new idea, the process of getting that idea out, then onto the page. The fun in playing with the idea until there is a level of satisfaction, and it is ready to post. Fun.

Alright, now I would like to hear from you. I am inviting you to post to the four questions above, as I’ve done in this post. A collaboration of sorts. If we can get enough people to post, I will commit to collecting those ideas, and creating a new post with all of our ideas. That would be fun. And, that is an idea that just came to me now. Creativity. Love it.

#becoming-unblocked, #blogging, #collaboration, #creative-process, #creativity, #writers-block, #writing, #writing-process, #writing-strategy

The Sound of Series #5: The Sound of Rainfall

Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash

Do you like the sound of rainfall? Though I’ve never liked being out in the rain all that much, I do like to listen to the rain. There is something quite soothing about the sound of rainfall.

The simple pitter patter of rain as it hits the roof of a house, cascading down on its way to the rain gutter, eventually emptying onto the street below.

When I was a kid, I remember lying in my bed on rainy nights, and focusing on the sound. I love that sound. Rain reminds me of comfort, shelter, and protection. I’m not sure why this is so, yet it is.

There are also different types of rain. The kind that comes down so hard that when you are out in it, you are drenched in minutes, or even less. When we were on the East Coast a couple of years ago, we were in a rain storm like that, phew. LOTS of rain.

Relaxing White Noise

I remember running into a store to buy something for our trip, and by the time I was at the store’s entrance, I was completely soaked. Funny. It was late summer, in Philadelphia, I think, and was warm, so in some ways it felt rather refreshing.

Then there is the rain that just drizzles, or mists, all the time. More like how the rain falls where I live now. You can be out in this type of misting rain for a long time without becoming very wet. Yet, it does rain a lot here, so it depends on how long you plan to be out in it.

The Relaxed Guy

There is also the type of rain that accomanies a monsoon. When we were in Arizona, we got this type of rain. Not all that often, yet when there is a monsoon, you can get a lot of rain, sometimes in a very short period of time.

Sometimes monsoons come in the late summer, and can feel awfully refreshing. Sort of like a cleansing of the very arid and hot desert. Needed.

SleepDroid Studios

Rain is something that we need. When you live in certain parts of the country, you may not get much, sort of like when you live in Los Angeles; so, when it does rain, it is needed, and welcomed. Well, maybe not by everyone. Yet they would probably even agree that it is needed.

In the Pac Northwest, not an issue. Plenty of rain here. Really only doesn’t rain about two months a year, July and August, and even in those two months, you can get rain. Interesting that I now live in an area with so much rain. Paradoxically enjoyable.

I like to listen and be in the rain the most at the coast. There is something about rain hitting water, whether that is a lake, river, stream, or the ocean. I love the sound of rainfall most in these contexts.

321 Relaxing – Meditation Relax Clips

For me, it is like getting the best of two of my favorite sounds. As I wrote about in The Sound of Series #1: The Sound of the Ocean, I love the sound of the ocean. The coming in and going back out of the tide, and when you add in rainfall, you get both that pitter, patter, of rain, along with those lovely inhalations and exhalations of the sea. I do truly love the sound of rainfall.

#downpour, #misty-rain, #monsoons, #rainfall, #sound-of-rainfall, #sound-of-the-ocean, #the-ocean-and-rain, #types-of-rain

Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to meditate? Been through classes on meditation, yet continue to struggle to do so? You are not alone. It is too often the case that people take “meditation” classes or yoga classes, and yet struggle to have an experience they feel should be reminiscent of meditation. Sound familiar?

Well, let’s take a look at three simple steps that you can take to create the space you need to take up a practice that’s been on this planet for thousands of years. And, we will take a look at these three steps in just four minutes. Ready? Alright, let’s go.

Step 1: Quite Space

First, you must find a space that is quite, away from distractions, as much as possible. Then, let those around you know that you need this time to be alone. One of the biggest challenges in creating a meditation practice, is creating the space you need to do so. And, you are the one that needs to create this space.

You can create this space, by creating a new boundary with those closest to you. Let them know that this is your time, and is needed, and necessary. Sounds simple, yet most people have boundary issues, and may push on the boundry you are creating. Hold firm. This is your time, and you deserve it.

When I started meditating almost three years ago, the above referenced boundary issue was something that I struggled with. Yes, you also have to hold yourself accountable to create that boundary within yourself. Important. If you don’t hold to the boundary you are creating, no one else will. And, you will be continuously interrupted. What will it take?

It will take you creating that boundary over and over again. Eventually, those closest to you will get that you are serious, and leave you alone. Be persistent.

Step 2: Focus on Your Breathing

The first year of my meditation practice, I called it breathing. Why? Because I didn’t know how to breath properly. Most people don’t. That’s okay. You can learn.

Here is what my first year looked like

  • 3 to 6 months – breathing for 5 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • 6 months to year 1 – breathing 15 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

And, here is what years 2 and 3 have looked like

  • Year 1 to 18 months – meditating 20 to 30 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • 18 months to year 2 – meditating 30 to 45 minutes at time, twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the evening.
  • Year 2 to today – meditating 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time, mostly once a day, though sometimes twice. Second time being 30 minutes in the evening.

The important thing to note, and remember, is that it’s taken almost 3 years to go from breathing for 5 minutes, to meditating for an hour most days. Slow. Creating a meditation practice is not about how fast you can do it. It’s about taking your time, yet being persistent. Building the healthy habit, slowly and methodically.

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Alright, when you are ready, here is a guide to your first 5-minute breathing exercise

  • Sit comfortably. You DO NOT have to sit in the lotus position. Actually I recommend not sitting like that. Simply sit in a sturdy chair, back straight, yet relaxed, hands resting on your thighs.
  • Set a timer, or a meditation app, if you have one for 5 minutes.
  • Close your eyes, and take a couple deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, and out through your nose. Slowly, deeply.
  • Now, breath normally, still in through your nose, and out your nose. And, as you breath in focus your attention on the air making its way through your nostrils – can you feel the cool air coming in? If not, that’s okay, then focus on the tip of your nose. If you can, focus on the air coming in through your nostrils.
  • As thoughts arsie, let them. If you begin to focus on them, that’s okay. When you begin to focus on a thought, simply bring your attention back to the air coming in through your nostrils, or back on the end of your nose.
  • And continue to repeat the above again and again. Thoughts arise, you notice, may even engage with them, then notice you are engaging, and refocus on your breath. Again, and again.

If you’ve just completed your first 5 minutes of breathing, nice job. You are on your way.

Step 3: Practice

Whether you are meditating for 5 minutes at a time, or an hour. Creating and maintaining a meditation practice, takes just that, practice. You must be willing to make meditation a priority in your life. It is like any healthy habit we want to develop; it takes persistence to build a regular habit.

The coolest thing about developing this habit, is that once you’ve done it for a couple of months, you will demand that space of yourself. Really, you will. You will hold yourself accountable to create that space; and, as you hold yourself to that standard, those closest to you, if they aren’t getting it, will.

And, the more you practice, the more benefits you will realize about incorporating meditation into your life. There are many. One of my favorite benefits, is that I have time for myself. Time to be quiet, away from all technology, and all people. We all need that time.

Practicing meditation is about learning how to focus your attention, as your mind continues to be busy. And, believe me, it will be. Yet, as we’ve discussed, let the thoughts come. It’s okay. And, as they come, notice when you are paying attention to them, instead of your breathing, and then refocus your attention on your breath.

Remember, creating a meditative practice takes time. Building this practice is not something that will happen overnight. It won’t, so relieve yourself of that pressure right now; and when you are ready, find a quiet space, focus on your breathing, and practice.

#attention, #breathing, #focus, #health-benefits, #meditation, #mindfulness, #persistence, #practice, #wellness

The Sound of Series #4: The Sound of Music

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe that it took until my 4th installment in the sound of series to get to music. A profound impact on my life, music has had, does have, and will always have. Do you remember the first time you were moved by a song, or piece of music? Yes? Me too.

First, a cool quote about music.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

What I played music on

Reel-to-Real Players

I’m old enough to remember reel-to-reel players. I was very young, and I remember my dad playing music on the one we had. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6, maybe 7 years old at the time. What a contraption. Large and bulky, yet from what I can remember, the sound was pretty good.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The one in the above photo looks very similar to the one we had. I’ve always loved music. Even at a young age. I’ve always been moved by it, and moved towards it. I remember listening to endless amounts of music as a child, endless. There really wasn’t, and isn’t. enough to fill me up.

The chills you get when a certain piece is played, moving your emotions and entire physiology. Creating within you a space of wonder, which is only ever really filled with another piece of music.

Record Players

I’m not sure how many record players we had, or I had – there were many. I LOVE the sound of music coming from a record player. A completely different experience. It is textual, in a way. The raspiness of the record doing its revolutions around the player, music pouring out of the tiny speaker, love that sound. Irreplaceable, and uncomparable.

Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

The Walkman

When I was probably 10, maybe, not sure, the sony walkman came out. WOW. What a game changer. Now, you could have your music on the go, without carrying a boombox, or some other transistor radio. Changed my life.

I was a rather mobile youth, as I’ve mentioned in other posts; skateboarding being a large part of my mobility, and youthhood growing up in Los Angeles. With the advent of the walkman, I could take my favourite music with me everywhere, and it was just for me. I didn’t have to play it for anyone else. I could sit with my music, skate with my music, do anything, really, with my music. LOVE.

The Cassette

And, of course, how could there be a post on music without writing about the tape cassette. Funny, how many of those I owned. Probably hundreds. I remember buying them, trading them, even making them. Buying the blank cassettes from the store, and compiling my favorite song mixes – WAY before the advent of Spotify, and Pandora.

I even remember creating pseudo broadcasts with friends, pretending to be DJ’s. Playing music, creating hot topics, and generally having a grand time. All the while recording the sessions, on what, you ask? Well, of course recorded to, and played back from cassettes, of course. Old school if there ever was such a thing.

Two of my favorite musical contexts

Concerts and Musicals

How about your first, what I call a show, typically called a concert. Do you remember how that made you feel? Music louder than you’ve ever heard music played. And, even better, the actual physical experience of feeling the music. First experiencing that was such a rush. I will never forget having that feeling for the first time.

Nor, will I forget, after many years of not going to concerts, of going to one about three years ago. Having that physiological experience again. It is hard to put into language how exciting, and what a total mind-body experience that is.

Photo by m on Unsplash

Since that time, I’ve been to many more, and, once we are able to gather again like that, will do so again.

How about the first time you ever saw a musical. I LOVE musicals. The first musical I ever went to was Les Miserables, in Los Angeles. I will never forget the power of the music, and how the music combined with the performance, and story, to create an even profounder mind-body experience.

I’ve not been to a musical in some time, however, as I write this, I am listening to Les Miserables. I also look forward to the day, hopefully soon, where I can once again sit in the audience, and take in all the beauty of the sets and costumes; and, hear the wonderful orchestra combined so beautifully with fantastic performances. A joy.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Music. Profound, life changing, and ever present in my life; and, I for one, am very grateful to have it there. And, now, there are SO many more ways to listen, interact with, and be with music. Yet, that is for a different post; so, let me simply leave you with one more quote about music that I quite like.

“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” – George Eliot

#broadway, #cassette, #concerts, #les-miserables, #music, #musicals, #recod-player, #reel-to-reel-player, #walkman

Writing and Life Series #2: You Are The Hero of Your Story

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Photo by Luke Jones on Unsplash

I love hero stories. Though I did not read much as a child, and youth, I watched endless amounts of television series and movies; and, I was always drawn to stories where the hero found trouble, yet made it through and saved the day. Sound familiar? Yep, to me too. Why do you suppose we are so drawn to these stories? Not sure. Hm. Well, let’s take a look.

The Hero is Inspirational

The underdog, the downtrodden, the person in the story that seems least likely to win the day – then does. That is the hero, and they are inspirational. We like and want to be inspired. Who wouldn’t. It feels good to be inspired; to see someone that has everything to lose, and nothing at all to lose at the same time. Someone that couldn’t possibly defeat the odds, yet does, again, and again.

We are drawn to the hero because we can see ourselves in them. And, in fact, we are them. How is this so? Because we are all human, and these fictional characters are based on human emotions, needs, and desires. These stories, and the characters in them, resonate, because we see ourselves in all of them, including the villains. All of these characters resonate with us.

There are many aspects to being a human being, and those are the aspects that writers draw upon to create these characters. We are all of them. And, they are all of us. One.

We Are The Hero

If they are us, and we are them; and, if these characters are based on human emotions, needs, and desires, then we all have the potential to be heroes. The context differs, yet the pattern is the same.

“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Can you think of a time in your life where you were acting the hero? No? Yes? There are so many heroes in everyday life. And, it is not just those that are in professions that are associated with heroism. Everyday people can be, and are heroes.

Being a hero is not solely about defeating something evil, although that is also possible. In the most basic sense, it is about being confronted with a challenge, or set of challenges that you deeply want to run from, yet don’t. Instead, you dig in, and move forward – you engage, and you commit yourself to your inner hero. Can you think of an example? No? Sure you can.

Think about the times that you have

  • Taken on more than you can handle
  • Committed to doing something that was outside of your comfort zone
  • Helped someone in need
  • Taken care of someone
  • Explained something to someone that was unable to fully understand
  • Given of yourself, when you were already depleted
  • Been there to listen to someone

Now can you more clearly see your inner hero? Yes. Good. That hero has always been there, and will always be there. Does that mean that we are heroes everyday? Maybe, however, probably not. It does mean, however, that we have the capacity to draw upon that inner hero. This distinction is an important one, as we all fall into times when the last thing we feel like is a hero. What can we do in these times?

Draw on Your Inner Hero

When we don’t feel like heroes, what can we do? We can intentionally move ourselves out of the inner space we are currently navigating, and draw upon that inner hero? How?

Here are a couple ways you can do so

  • Get outside of your comfort zone – do something you’ve avoided doing, or something that you know is needed, and do it.
  • Create something new – there are so many ways to create, and, correspondingly, so many ways to connect those creations to service. Find a need, create, and serve.
  • Lend a hand – there are tons of people on this planet that need support, and someone to rely on. You can be that person for someone.

Being the hero you already are is all about living a life of intention, instead of one of reaction. When you live a life of intention, you are creating something; and, that something, whatever it is, comes from within you, and is needed in the world.

You are already a hero, always have been, always will be.

Draw upon that inner hero. Let them out. They are needed in the world. The world needs more heroes, and you draw upon that hero more often than you probably realize. How? Continually creating the hero, again, and again. Creating the context for the hero to arise.

As we’ve discussed that context can be something as simple as being there for someone in need. That seems simple, yet can be a life-changing event for the person on the receiving end of your heroic actions. Remember, you are already the hero of your story, so keep creating that possibility, and let that hero out!

Originally published on the4catalysts.com

#creativity, #hero, #hero-of-your-story, #inspiration, #jospeh-campbell, #the-hero-journey, #your-inner-hero, #your-story

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 3: Understanding Our Emotions and Strengthening Our Relationships by Slowing Down

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

What do our emotions have to do with our relationships? Do they really matter that much? And, how much of our emotional selves do we share with those that are closest to us? Not sure, well, this is one area that I’ve been exploring a lot the past two years, so, let’s take a look.

Here is how it worked for me prior to 2 years ago. Something would happen, and I would react to my emotion. Didn’t really matter what the situation was, the event happened, and I would react. Sometimes the reactive emotion would be sadness, sometimes frustration, and sometimes anger.

Not helpful. Why?

Because when we react to our emotions without the time to process that emotion, we are in effect causing a possible chain reaction, especially if your partner is like you. Think about it. How many times have you gotten angry about something, and then you lashed out, unintentionally, and then your partner, or friend, lashed out right back at you? Happens all the time.

Action, reaction; or, reaction, action; or reaction, reaction. A vicious circle, and cycle.

What can we do?

One thing we can do, which I’ve written about in other posts, is slow down our reaction time. How? One way is by adding reflection, and meditation time, into our daily lives. Having the space and time to consider all of our options when confronted with any situation is needed, and necessary.

Though most people don’t prioritize reflection and meditation, there are many benefits, which suggest that doing so is beneficial for our daily lives, and for our long-term health.

What happens when we add time for reflection and meditation into our lives?

When we choose to intentionally slow down, and create more time and space for ourselves to be quiet and to think more thoughtfully about our lives, we actually become less reactive to ourselves. And, when we are less reactive to our own emotions, and thoughts, we are less reactive to other people and their emotions. We create more time, space, reflective possibilities, and actually choice, instead of reaction.

What other benefits are there to making time to reflect and practice mediation?

There are many benefits of making the time to reflect on our lives, and to practice meditation.

Here are a few

  • We are less reactive to ourselves, and all of those around us.
  • We have more time to fully consider all of our options
  • We better understand our own thoughts and emotions
  • We create the space to become more resilient

When we are less reactive, have more time, understand ourselves better, and become more resilient, we are able to hold more and handle more. We are also able to do more, to create more possibilities for ourselves and those around us.

Does this mean that I will never again react?

No. Reaction is needed and necessary when there is danger, or when something urgent is occurring, and a choice is needed right away. However, what I’ve come to realize is that time for reflection can be added into most situations that arise.

As you practice meditation and make time for reflection, you are able to make choices with more clarity. You, in fact, have more clarity. Why? Because you know yourself better, both your mind and your body. You are in touch with yourself on a deeper level, which, in and of itself, creates more time.

What does all of this have to do with my relationships?

When you understand yourself on a deeper level, you also understand those around you better. Why? Because we are all human. We all have the same set of emotions, and thinking mechanism, our mind.

Knowing yourself well, is one of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship. Which does not mean, however, that all of your relationships will be easy. In fact, it may mean that some of your relationships will be harder. Why?

Because as you understand yourself better, you may find that you are less compatible with someone you’ve always been compatible with. It can be hard. However, overall, I think you will realize that understanding yourself better creates the opportunity to have the strongest relationships possible.

And, that is the case, because you have created a stronger relationship with yourself first.

#emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #meditation, #reactivity, #reflection, #reflection-and-meditation, #relationships

Creating More Time: Choosing to Incorporate Reflection Into Your Daily Life

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

How much time do you spend reflecting upon life? Is this something that you do daily, weekly, monthly? How does it work for you, or does it not work for you?

I remember a time, not long ago, when reflection was something I did infrequently. It was not that I didn’t want to reflect upon situations as they arose. More, it was not a skill set that was fully developed within me; and is one now, that I work on daily.

What is reflection? Reflection is basically the process of deeply considering a situation or issue before making a decision or a choice.

Why is having time to reflect important?

As I’ve written in other posts, humans are reactive. Stimulus, response. If we simply react to a situation or issue, however, without the time to reflect on it, we are limiting the possibilities that may present themselves on how to solve that situation or issue.

We can all create more time to reflect upon the situations and issues that are confronting us. It takes actively creating that space; and, that is possible.

How can you add more reflection time into your day?

  • Slow down your decision-making process – when you believe that a decision needs to be made quickly, consider why that is so? Ask yourself a few questions.
    • Why is it necessary to make the decision right now?
    • Has there truly been enough time to seriously consider the decision?
    • What will happen by waiting a few hours, or a full day, before making the decision?
  • Add more reflection time into your work day – intentionally create space on your calendar to reflect upon and consider the conversations of the day; and add reflection time into meeting agendas, and, or into conversations you are having during the day.
  • Add more reflection time into your time off – similarly to your work day, intentionally create time to reflect upon and consider your day. Both during the week and weekend.
  • Let people around you know that you’ll need time to reflect – let everyone around you know that you’ll need time to reflect upon decisions and choices, if needed; which will help slow down reactivity, and expectations of those around you.
  • Practice, practice, practice – once you get started, keep going. You can start with smaller amounts of reflection time, and add more as needed, and as you get more comfortable with your new routine.
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

How will you benefit from adding more reflection time into your day?

Though I cannot say exactly how you will benefit from adding more reflection time into your day, I can tell you how I’ve benefited. Here are a few of the more important benefits of adding more reflection time into my day, and of practicing reflection daily.

  • Space to breath.
  • Slowing down, and slowing down those around me.
  • More time to seriously think about and consider all of the options available to me with any situation or issue that arises in my life.
  • Knowing that the decisions and choices I’ve made have been thoughtfully and meaningfully considered.
  • More time with myself, and my thoughts.

How else will you benefit from actively practicing reflection?

There are also a couple more benefits to actively practicing reflection. Here are a few of the ones that have impacted me most.

  • Seeing how situations and issues that arise are related to other areas of my life, both personally or professionally.
    • Solving issues in these areas, previously thought of as unrelated.
  • Seeing past an issue at hand, to possible related issues in the future.
    • Creating the ability to solve these issues before they arise.
  • Creating future possibilities by reflecting upon current situations and or issues.
    • And, creating action plans for these possibilities.

Though there are many other benefits of actively practicing reflection, to really understand the benefits, one must experience the effects of reflecting more often.

Does this mean that I will never again react to a situation or issue?

No. Some situations and issues that arise require making quick decisions and choices. Yet, what I’ve found is that by reflecting upon and fully considering most situations and issues as they arise, there are less quick decisions and choices I need to make. Why?

Because when we react to a situation or issue without fully considering it, we may, inadvertently, be creating more issues – more reactivity follows reaction, simple.

However, when we choose to incorporate reflection into our daily life, we reduce reactivity by intentionally creating the space and time needed to fully consider situations and issues as they arise. Not sure, that’s okay. Whether you’re sure or not, here is my invitation to you.

Create the time to consider this post, or a situation or issue you are currently facing in your life and reflect upon it, and see what you get.

#benefits-of-reflection-time, #choices-and-decisions, #daily-life, #more-time, #personal-and-professional-development, #reaction-versus-intention, #reflection

The Sound of Series #3: The Sounds of Summer

Photo by Brady Cook on Unsplash

Remember being a child during summer time. Gosh, I love the summer. I grew up in Southern California, and, though the weather in Los Angeles is pretty good all the time, it is extra special in the summer. Long sunny days, breezy afternoons, where everything was sort of a-glow all the time. Mm. Wonderful.

There are also certain sounds that remind me of summer’s in LA. Though, you may not have grown up in LA, chances are some of these sounds might also be familiar to you.

The Sound of the “Ice Cream Man”

If there was one sound of summer that I adored as a child more than others, it was that of the ice cream truck. Gosh. I remember being outside playing with my sisters, or with other neighborhood children, when we would hear that most familiar sound coming from a street or two over.

We would stop everything we were doing, and stand very still to ensure what we heard was true. And, as soon as we were sure that the ice cream truck was coming our way, we would run as fast as we could to the house to get money from our parents.

Once we had the money, we would race back outside, and wait. And, as soon as that wonderful truck started to make its way down our street, we would run after it, hollering and waving our hands so it would stop. So much fun.

In case you’ve forgotten that wonderful sound, here it is.

The Sound of Fireworks

Another sound of summer I adored as a child was that of fireworks on the fourth of July. We would always go to my aunts house, where all of my cousins and I would play away the afternoon, as we eagerly awaited the evening firework festivities. The crack, boom, and bang of the fireworks was enticing, and very exciting.

We always had quite the firework show. All of my dad’s brothers and sisters would take up a collection, and head down to the fireworks stand to purchase several bags of fireworks. We always had a ton.

Typically, we would start out by lighting some of the smaller ones, leading up to, after at least a good hour or so, the “grand finale.” The grand finale included using most of the larger fireworks, and lighting many of them at the same time. Quite the show. I love the sound, sight, and smell of fireworks. Excellent.

Photo by Tim Zänkert on Unsplash

The Sound of the Water Hose

Though we went to the beach often when I was a child, during the summer my sisters and I would also play with the water hose. We had a myriad of different attachments for the hose, some sprayed water up and down, and some all over. Often, we would simply just attach the sprinkler to the hose and use that. Running back and forth across the lawn, jumping over the sprinkler, time and again.

We also had at least two or three different slip and slides growing up. Fun, and sometimes dangerous, if your not being careful. I remember running so fast, and jumping as hard as I could, to the point that I would slide off the slip and slide into the grass. Covered in grass, called for more trips on the slide, and rinsing off with the hose.

Ah, the sound of the water spraying out of the water hose was a reminder that summer was here, school was out, and it was time to play, and just be.

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

The Sound of Cookouts and BBQ’s

Another sound I love of the summer is that of family cookouts, especially BBQ’s. Now, any barbeque grill is fine, yet the good old fashioned charcoal grill is what I’m referring to in this post. I love the way charcoal heats, coals going from black, to glowing embers, turing red, and eventually white. Love that.

I also loved the food that went with those BBQ’d meals, which included watermelon, corn on the cob, potato salad, beans, and usually burgers and hot dogs. The sounds of family preparing food, cooking food, and ultimately eating all of that food, while conversing about this and that. Cookouts and BBQ’s, truly summer.

Photo by Kirsty TG on Unsplash

The sounds of summer bring back all kinds of memories. Memories of a simple time, where playing, creativity, and all of the worlds possibilities were available. From ice cream trucks to family cookouts and BBQ’s, the sounds of summer remind me of being a young child, and the openness that comes from a summer full of possibilities, and delightful sounds.

#barbeque, #bbq, #childhood, #cookouts, #ice-cream-truck-sound, #sounds-of-summer, #summer, #summer-time, #summertime