Posts tagged ‘life’

September 13, 2017

The revolution of travel

Why do we love to travel so much, and how can we get that same feeling of being “untethered and free on the road” in our day-to-day lives back home? Writer, director and former nomad Shebana Coelho has this to say on the topic — advice gleaned from a trip she took to Mongolia in 2007 and then shared in the short story “Snow in Mongolia,” published in The Best Women’s Travel Writing: Volume 10 (edited by Lavinia Spalding):

Mongolia changed everything — how I live, how I see the world, how I see myself. When you travel, you tend to cultivate a persona different from that of your everyday life. You’re open to everything, and you take better care of yourself emotionally. Because you know you’re out of your comfort zone, away from home, you work on letting go of whatever you can so that you can move with ease. . . .

At different points during my time in Mongolia, I remember thinking: one, what if I lived with the same persona I traveled with, and two, if I could manage here by planning only one step ahead instead of ten, instead of trying to see the whole road — well, couldn’t I manage my life like that too?

And that’s really what I’ve done since Mongolia — followed what calls. It’s led me . . . into a period of creativity that I would never have imagined for myself and that only came about because I was able to let go and fully follow what moves me. This has felt like a revolution. For me, it is.

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August 7, 2017

How to succeed: Fail copiously and spectacularly

Looking for the key to success? Apparently the secret is to rack up several previous failures, the more numerous and spectacular the better! I came across the following research summary in the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. The boldface and italic emphases in the text are my own.

A few years ago, two management researchers became curious about what factors predict when a space flight will succeed. Going back to the first launch of Sputnik I in 1957, they tracked every launch globally for nearly five decades across thirty organizations — mostly governments but also some private companies. You might think the best odds of a successful launch would come after past successes, but the data from more than four thousand launches showed the exact opposite. The more times a government or company had failed, the more likely they were to put a rocket into orbit successfully on the next try. Also, their chances of success increased after a rocket exploded compared to a smaller failure. Not only do we learn more from failure than from success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely. 

If you apply this same finding to your own life, what is the result? The more times you fail at something, the closer you get to actually achieving it. And those absolutely spectacular failures that threaten to destroy you? They’re actually your best helpers, because they teach you what you need to know for next time (and force you to learn the lessons).

The next time you fail at something, celebrate that moment as another step towards your future success. You’ve got this. 🙂

August 5, 2017

The path to happiness lies behind Doors 1, 2, 3 and more

Have you ever been floored by some tragic or particularly challenging life event, only to spend your time pining for the way things were before? Here’s a new way to look at your situation, courtesy of the ever-wise Helen Keller:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

There is always more than one positive direction each of our lives can take. If a door to one of those directions closes, it’s OK to spend some time mourning that direction, but then turn and look around you. There are so many other versions of a happy, healthy you just waiting to come to life, if only you give them the attention they deserve. ❤

July 28, 2017

Observed on the street: Pillow talk

If pillows could talk, what would they say?

“Do more of what makes you happy.” Good words to lay your head upon and dream.

April 1, 2017

Let your passion lead you

Inspiration to follow your passion from filmmaker and adventurer Frank Wolf, who made a six-week, 1,800-kilometre canoe journey from Saskatchewan to Nunavut and wrote about it in the Spring 2017 issue of Explore magazine:

I quit my job to do this trip — another necessary loss [along with loss of comfort, loss of routine and loss of connection with those left behind]. I had a choice between stability and passion. Passion won out and now a summer of possibility awaits, future be damned.

And three days into the trip, when Wolf snapped a tendon in his thumb and could no longer flex the digit:

When you put months of time and energy into a venture like this, the loss of partial hand function is a relatively small price to pay. A tendon can be repaired later, but these remote quests are once-in-a-lifetime.

Pursue your passion, people. Move through the obstacles as they appear and keep striding forward to where your heart wants to lead you.

March 17, 2017

Let go of the need to “control” your life

In today’s performance-driven, dog-eat-dog world, we all need a reminder to let go, trust our intuition and go with the flow of where our instincts lead us (even if our minds don’t always agree with that direction). Rower Sara Hall has this to say on the topic in her memoir Drawn to the Rhythm:

The necessity for letting go . . . is hard to grasp and harder to execute because we humans, so gloriously smart, are so afraid to trust our own instincts. We have to control everything — our bodies, our lives, our relationships, our physical environment — and we often try to do this by force, by exercising the strength of our muscles and ego to bend the world to our command. We think if we get a grip on whatever challenges us — a good, hard, take-no-prisoners grip — we’re golden. But we’re not. Sometimes . . . the best solution is . . . to . . . [l]et go. . . .

Our endless struggle with ego and control, both within ourselves and in reaction to others, is a diversion that serves us ill. . . .[W]e squander our energy and our precious time on earth, and all of us must find the source of courage that allows us to loosen our hold and follow the calling of a greater imperative. Trust me.

February 23, 2017

Everyday synchronicity

“Synchronicity is just something that I expect as part of my work day.”

Author Gail Anderson-Dargatz spoke these words at a literary festival I recently attended on Galiano Island, British Columbia. Gail had just given a reading from her new book The Spawning Grounds, and she, fellow author Ann Eriksson and the audience were engaged in discussion about those “meaningful coincidences” that pop up every so often in life.

Gail suggested that we should expect meaningful coincidences in our lives every single day — in tiny doses, at ordinary moments, for small things as well as big.

What a refreshingly joyous approach to daily life!

Let’s all welcome an abundance of everyday synchronicity into our own lives. Start today!

December 27, 2016

Follow that trail of crumbs to live more fully

Ever had an exceptionally appealing idea pop into your mind without warning, then dominate your thoughts for weeks or months afterwards?

In her travel memoir A Year in the World, author Frances Mayes suggests that these kinds of spontaneous, powerful ideas may be our subconscious mind’s way of ultimately getting us to where we need to be in our lives. She writes:

Should you not listen well to the questions you ask out of nowhere? Only in looking back do you find those crumbs you dropped that marked your way forward.

So when those seemingly random but totally tantalizing crumbs enter your conscious mind, gobble them up. They are fuel for your fabulous future. ♥

October 14, 2016

Just a dash, yet so much more

At a recent performance by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in my town, orchestra conductor and artistic director Dr. Wes Janzen spoke these words:

On your grave marker, there will be a birth date and a death date. Then there is a dash. That dash is your life.

Wow. Those words drove home for me how short life really is — as short as the dash that sits between the birth and death dates on a gravestone.

Dr. Janzen’s words made me realize how little of “your life” others will see of you when you’re gone: that dash doesn’t communicate any of your joys, achievements or successes. It ignores the obstacles you overcame. It disregards how your smile lit up a room; how you taught kids to play the piano, baked drool-worthy goodies for friends, or fixed people’s cars for free. That dash doesn’t convey any of the depth of your experience. It doesn’t recognize your contribution to the world, to your family and friends, to your community.

This might all sound a bit depressing, but in another sense, it’s empowering. My life truly is my own to make of it what I want. No one cares about the outcome — the substance of that dash — except for me, and possibly some of the people around me. So the best thing to do is live my life according to my own principles and passions, and to share the results of that process with my friends, family and community.

True, my life might be a mere blip on the radar of the larger world, but it can leave a lasting and meaningful mark on the lives of the people around me. I can be a teacher, an inspiration, a confidante, a buddy to laugh with, a shoulder to lean on, a superstar volunteer, a person who always picks up the phone and says, “yes, that’s great, let’s do it!” The people on the receiving or collaborating ends of all this will share the depths of their experiences with the depth of mine, and maybe that is enough.

July 7, 2016

Celebrate being single!

To all you single people out there, check out these inspiring words from actress Drew Barrymore in her book Wildflower:

It’s ironic that we rush through being “single” as if it’s some disease or malady to get rid of or overcome. The truth is, most likely, one day you will meet someone and it will be gone. And once it’s gone, it’s really gone! Why does no one tell us how important it is to enjoy being single and being by yourself? That time is defining and amazing and nothing to “cure.” It is being alone that will actually set you up the best for being with someone else.

Ms. Barrymore is right: we need to celebrate and treasure our single days. Being single is a life experience that, in most cases, is a time-limited opportunity. It’s a time to learn more about who you really are as your own person — about what makes you happy and content, what drives you, what your goals and priorities are — all on your own terms.

Flying solo is an exciting, rewarding, nurturing and adventurous time in your life. So is coupledom, to be sure, but in a very different way.

So be proud of your solo status, and never hang your head or make excuses about it. Own it, and enjoy every moment of it. Being single is a special gift that you get to treasure for only so long!