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.

Work with What You Got

talent-development-is-exploring-different-skills-and-perspectives-qrfbd3-clipartYou – got – it.  Perhaps only you.

A clever sense of humor?

A gift for storytelling and capturing an audience?

An unusual ability to listen and hear a deeper meaning beneath the words?

An eye for design?

An ease and talent for playing the guitar or singing?

An ability to problem-solve and see projects through to completion?

What you “got?”

Are you honoring it?

Or, taking it for granted?

When did we all start wanting something just a little different, just a bit “better” than what we “got?”

Was it playing with that first Barbie or Ken doll?

Wow – look at Barbie’s waist! Not to mention that chest!!

And Ken, he doesn’t have – red – hair…  He’s – blonde – and he’s handsome…. Why can’t I be like – Ken?  

Was it hanging with the mission-driven pre-med crowd?

Gosh, they know what they are doing…. they’ll make a lot of money….science is so assuringly concrete and exact and free of subjective judgment…. At least, it seems so….

Sure, in a lifetime, many of us will have opportunities to explore what it is like have a different hair color, to expand our skill set and learn how to succeed in fields of expertise that do not come naturally to us, to take a stand-up comedy class or write or paint or sing or dance – to surprise even ourselves.

All good.  As long as the exploration brings us joy and a sense of fulfillment, is self-empowering, not self-negating.

Sometimes the quest or yearning for something else, something more, something different comes from human curiosity.

Satisfy your curiosity – carve out time to read about fresh topics, henna your hair, train as if you were a potential Olympian, eat as if you were model-thin Barbie, but along the way, appreciate what is natural, easy for you.

Ignoring – or – taking what you got for granted – makes the “work” of life more work and just may rob the world of the talent, the genius, the person that is you – and you alone.

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!

 

DaretoFolly!

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!