Pressure Makes Diamonds

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The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds, a popular album by American rapper San Quinn.

Extreme pressure is required for a diamond to emerge.

A diamond, we equate this rock emerging from nature

        with perfection   with beauty   with spark

        with distinction,  with value, worth.

It is a shiny thing — and we WANT it.

We WANT a lot of things in life.  Some change. Some remain constant.

As a babe we wailed with want to be held or to be fed, for someone to take care of us.

Our wants evolve:  I wanted to be an actress.

                                   He wanted to make money.

                                   She wanted a boyfriend.

                                   They wanted to win the game.

Apply extreme pressure.

The actress must endure rejection, a make over, judgment of her size, her voice.

The real estate mogul must persist in the quest for buyer and building, the funding, the personalities.

The girlfriend must throw herself “out there,” listen, share enough of herself to attract a fellow listener and companion.

The team must train, strategize, study the opposition, vulnerabilities, work together.

All under extreme pressure.

Our minds are capable of monitoring what is extreme.

Is it extreme or merely necessary pressure? Pressure applied to crack the back of the WANT.

What might we expect from that stress?

~A worthy goal met.

~A distinct person realized.

~The sparkle of creativity manifested.

~The beauty of a deal closed.

~The perfection of your diamond.

Go for it.

Apply pressure – now.

You Always Have A Choice

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The choices begin the minute you open your eyes in the morning. When to throw back the covers? What to wear? What’s breakfast? What will you choose to do with this day?

There are phases of our lives when it seems that we do not have a choice but indeed we always have a choice.

Stuck in a job with a nasty boss? in a job that no longer challenges and feels or is rewarding? a job that doesn’t pay enough?

Stuck in a relationship with someone who does not show respect for your time or your feelings? in a relationship you no longer trust is healthy for you?

Stuck in a rut of “overwhelm?” Your mind telling you, irregardless of reality, it is impossible to meet the deadline, impossible to break an addiction to the Internet, to alcohol, to your excuse of CHOICE.

Stuck in a situation that appears “beyond your control?” Even a literal prisoner has a choice.  Even a person born to a beginning of poverty has a choice.

In fact in many situations we may have as many as

FIVE CHOICES

for your consideration:  Choose!

  1. Remain a victim to the situation.  That is your choice.  You choose to stay in the job, stay in the relationship, stay in the mindset that you can do nothing.  You choose to be a victim.  Feel it.  What emotions come up?  Know many happy, carefree “victims?”  I know this sounds harsh, but even victims of mental and physical torture have a choice. They choose to not seek help. They choose to “give up,” or to “never give up.”
  2. Change your perspective.  Consciously view the situation differently.  What – is – the reality here? You have too much work to do in the time you now have left, okay,  you can choose,  keep plugging away, deliver the assignment late, live with the consequences and the lesson that you will feel much less stressed next time around, if you take the lesson from the situation and get some advice on time management.
  3. Change the situation.  Set a boundary with the person who is showing disrespect. Show up differently. From a place of balance and emotional control break the ineffective pattern and see what happens.
  4. Accept the situation.  That is a choice.  It is your choice to accept that you are stuck, stuck, stuck and that you are choosing to accept the toxic boss exactly as she or he is, accept that you are not going to succeed in completing work you said you wanted to do, accept that you are living in the paralysis of an addict. Tough choice.  Own that you are choosing it!
  5. Leave it.  Yes, escape.  Brainstorm, wrestle with every angle of the situation and make a choice to consciously take even the smallest action to leave the negative mindset, to find a more uplifting job, to distance yourself from the person who thinks you exist to bully or demean or blame.

History has taught us that even prisoners of war have, as they were able – made choices: to distract their minds from the brutality of their existence, to not give up on the possibility of a change, of freedom, of a better life.

What is the reality of your situation?  At some point in our lives all of us have been “victims” of something or someone we could not control.

And then we had a choice.

 

 

 

 

Today! The Past – is – Past

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My son works at a chic coffee bar where all employees must wear a head-covering of some sort.  Since this is a hip coffee bar, his choice of head gear is of interest.  Of interest for how he will be perceived by fellow hip employees. Of interest for how he will be perceived by the hip patrons…..  Of interest for the message he bears.  He frequently sports a baseball cap brim backwards. It is a red cap with a rainbow,  the logo from the TODAY show.

It simply says: TODAY.

What an appropriate reminder for morning java patrons!  TODAY.

Not yesterday.

Not last academic year.

Not that season when you were down with mono.

Not that phase of life when you were anxious and knew not what you wanted or who you were.

Not those years when you were in a relationship that depleted you and just felt wrong.

Not any day from the past when you felt sad, or lonely, angry or resentful, apathetic or unsure.

TODAY.

What a distracting trap to daydream or obsess on what went before:

what she did!    what he said!    how unfair was that!   wow! that did not go – as planned!

What of it?

TODAY is here – now.  Focus on the rainbow of possibility of this very 24 hours.

The past – is – the past.

TODAY is here but once. Wrestle with it.  Own it.  Be hip to even its tiniest of messages.

And move on to a fresh TODAY.

Dare to Folly!

 

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Innovators, inventors, explorers and farmers dare to folly.  They cannot predict the outcome of their experiments and explorations but know that in the process of moving forward and trying fresh ideas something bright and exciting may be learned.  Innovation, creation, growth does not come from “playing it safe.”

Astro Teller, the director of a moonshot factory, a place where dreams and the unfathomable are tested, recently delivered a TED Talk explaining The Unexpected Benefit of Failure.  Since the age of cave-dwellers man has witnessed the benefits of simply – trying – an idea.  Where would we be today, if some optimist way back when had not “dared” to act the “fool” and rub two sticks together!

When we barge ahead, ignore the negative naysayers and catastrophe theorists – and light the fire of our imagining we both shoot for the moon and pioneer from a place of intuition and passion.  That shooting and pioneering is leading life!  Our work is to not give up until the invention has been realized – or the lessons have been learned.

Okay, in every endeavor we may not invent the next great thing, establish the business that brings in a hefty profit or create the work of art that garners mass appeal. But, if we can maintain an intensity of focus and a burning curiosity to problem-solve and acknowledge the lessons along the way, our actions are simply steps toward a next best thing – one that we are incapable of knowing today, but will become evident as we brush off our baffled ego and – move on.

This summer I had a dream.

I passionately wanted to memorialize a dear connection with a man I loved.

I wanted to grow a field of sunflowers – a field as big as a football field – a field of floral smiles turning toward the light.

I researched seed types, I discussed with local farmers how to prepare the field, how to fight weeds.  I ordered seeds – and then I ordered some more seeds.  The earth was churned. The seeds were planted.  At first, the rain never seemed to come.  Second observation: wicked weeds settled in where the sunflowers should have been.

And then the lesson of my summer experiment:

For the local deer population my dream was their dream.  My first study in sunflower planting was their field of yummy fodder.

Fortunately, I also planted a single row of sunflowers closer to our house.  Those four thriving sunflowers are an exquisite reminder to – not – give up on a dream.

This summer’s sunflower field is neither a folly nor a failure.

My “sunflower” field is a cause for celebration. It has sparked a fire within me to learn more lessons in sustainable farming.

What is your dream?  Your vision?  Your truth?

Churn. Seed. Water. Celebrate.

Your concept?  Your endeavor? Give it some time, observe, re-evaluate, make change as needed.

Patience and persistence may be required.

From the roots of possibility unexpected blossoms will appear!

Yes, and…..

Yes,and.8.16Improvisation groups use those two words as a segway, a verbal cue to move the story forward. Yes, and…. the action pauses for a second until a clear and fresh direction is established.

Where in your life is your yes, and…..?

Yes, you’ll finish the assignment…. when?

Yes, you’ll clean the cupboard……when?

Yes, you’ll make the challenging phone call……when?

Yes, you’ll begin saving money for the downpayment – or retirement….when?

So often during the yes, and phase of life we build a mental barrier that leaves us lingering in the positivity of the Yes! yet mired in a weighted unease that makes the pause before taking action longer and more torturous than it need be.

Simply stating the when and then taking even the smallest action in the fresh direction is what empowering ourselves is all about.  Small actions lead to accomplishments and pushing past the “and” to completed tasks and realized dreams.

It is easy to make the excuse, to distract ourselves and procrastinate, but lingering in that pause is dispiriting, debilitating, depressing.  

In the pause – breathe.  (You were neglecting to take that breath, you too, eh?) and

I will finish and post this blog.  

I will open a savings account and create even the most minimal of automatic transfers into that savings account.

I will take the contents of the cupboard, place it all on the floor, curate and edit and organize until an agreeable order reveals itself. 

I will outline the whats of the assignment, make a calendar for completion and prioritize completion of the assignment so that I can confidently report to my inner boss: 

Yes, and…. Mission accomplished!

 

 

 

What the *!~><!

TheUnexpected7.26.16The unexpected.  It happens.  It takes you by surprise.  You are in momentary shock and your inner voice can only come up with something useless to say, under the unimagined circumstances.

What was your “unexpected?”

A failed test?

It’s your first day at the new job – and the new job is not exactly what you had in mind?  You’re supposed to do that?  Know what?  Stay how late?

Your roommate wants out of the lease?

A few weekends ago my “unexpected” came in the form of a boulder face.  A carefree family hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi….. I have stamina.  I am pretty darn fit, but, uh, I thought we were hiking, you know, walking with hiking boots, to the top.  On the Ammonoosac Trail that meant “scrambling.”  Translation: hand-to-hand climbing rock-to-rock.  Okay, no ropes were required, but this hike that I was now into mile two or three of had “unexpectedly” turned into a more emotionally challenging ascent than I had imagined from the comfort of my air-conditioned New York City apartment!

How we handle the “unexpected” is what makes the difference:

between failure and success,

between not graduating and graduating,

between giving up and adding to a skill set,

between paralyzed inaction and problem-solving,

between walling off, giving into fear and doubt; and remaining curious –

hand-by-hand, step-by-step continuing on the trail.

How do you handle the unexpected in your life?  Consciously? With curiosity and self-awareness?

The “unexpected” – it will present itself.

The choice is ours: Wrestle with emotion. Sleepwalk. Retreat.

Or, observe.  Hear, see the lesson.

Rock on!

How Much Pain Will It Take?

How Much Pain Will It Take?

“In spite of warnings, nothing much happens until the status quo becomes more painful than change.”

                                                                                 ~ L.J. Peter

 Why are we so resistant to change?  Change challenges us to think in fresh ways.  Change challenges us to revisit past patterns – to break those patterns.

To stop the treadmill and walk out of sync for a while.

We must evolve from where we were to where we are going to be.  And it is not always clear where the there  – is.

Facing the unknown churns up emotions: fear of the unfamiliar, anger at discomfort.  What is going on?  What should I do?  Why is this happening?

How is your status quo?

Are you at ease, feeling fulfilled and creatively challenged at work?

Is your financial house in order?  Bills paid on time? Debt-free?

Making enough to be self-sustainable?

How do you feel? Are you tired? Energized? Clear-headed? Focused?  What do you make of the human shape you see in the mirror?  Does it show a thriving human specimen?

How is that human being interacting with family? with work colleagues?

Are your relationships loving and supportive?

Are you lonely? Isolated?

Pain.  Do you recognize it?  Are you curing and conquering it?  Or, numbing it with paralyzing distractions and excesses:

fantasy games and novels and television

vicariously “living” through Facebook

wandering the mall or the Internet

eating and drinking with no awareness of hunger or thirst

sleeping and sleeping some more, rationalizing your life away…

blaming others for your paralysis, your lack of motivation

Put pain to work in your life.  It is there to draw your attention to a dis-ease in your life that requires you to CHANGE, to show up differently, to go boldly down a different path.

Move past the pain and feel the joy of returning to the leading hero that is YOU.

To Understand as to be Understood

Understand7.13.16Have you noticed?  Everyone is very busy.  Busy busy – heads cocked toward their phones, thumbs scrolling through texts and tweets, Instagram and brain challenging “games.” Eyes on their computers, transfixed, clearly connected.  And not “really” connected at all.

The t.v. blares with the latest words of politicians who have sifted to the top of the country’s conversation, and yet, the words are not meant for two-sided conversation.  The words’ intent is to conquer and shame, blame and convict.  And when the politician or the athlete or the person in today’s spotlight of international attention steps aside, other voices fill the void.  Are they offering any real clarity?

Are they listening before they speak?

Are they enhancing productive communication?

“Too busy to respond to your text.”

Yesterday’s “caring and enthusiastic” playmate is today’s former “acquaintance” who resolved that “ghosting” would be the least emotion-averse method of communicating the timing is not right for me, I’m scared you are more into me than I am into you, I’m conflicted and I do not know how to effectively communicate that I am conflicted!

 When you communicate, are you being understood?  How do you know?  Did you see it in “her” eyes?  Did you even look your friend, your colleague, your brother, your mother in the eye when you spoke – or he or she responded?

The message and its clarity remain central to personal realization, to negotiation, to successful sales, to project completion, to – simply – effective interaction with all persons in our midst.

~respond to the text or the email – with care

~listen to the speaker and consider his or her intent before responding

~lift your eyes from the phone, the computer, the distraction that has truly captured your attention

~for just one moment give your attention to someone who wishes to be understood

~communicate with your eyes as well as your voice

“Seek to understand as to be understood.” ~ Francis of Assisi

What might it cost you?

What will it cost you?

YOUR Show Must Go On

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 It is another day. Another curtain call.

Another reminder: I’m supposed to be doing – what?

Uh. Do I have to?

We all have them: days when we wish we had not committed to something, days when we simply do not want to do what we said we were going to do, days when we feel overwhelmed, hijacked by life’s demands, not eager to charge into another day.

But, when the sun rises on another day, you ARE the show. The minute you wink open that one eye and admit to yourself, yep, it is another day… the lighting is being adjusted, the sound slowly being tested: One two – one two – testing…. Kinder still if that sound test is birdsong, but go on, the backdrop of your show is being painted, fellow cast members are beginning to stretch and prepare for their parts – in the play that is YOUR show, YOUR life.

So, what’s the problem? Fear creeping in? You may not be the star you thought you were?

Sleepy? Looooow energy? Wasn’t such a great idea to sit before your numbing computer or tv until midnight?

Just another 30 minutes, your inner assistant producer is suggesting?

Light is getting brighter! Sounds are becoming clearer!

YOUR show will go on. The curtain will rise.

How will you show up?  

When will you show up?

What kind of a show do you want to produce and stage and star in?

Theater is passion, a message, a connection that pulls the audience onstage – into a world of emotion and language that ideally resonates across blocks and barriers and differences – the passion – connects deep within.

From that same depth, observe your show with an awareness that – your show will go on. It is your choice to simply: show up.

to: show up differently

to: raise the curtain on the fullest expression of YOUR show.