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Archive for May, 2010

Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.

Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real.

It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.

~Natalie Goldberg

I once read a quote that stated “It’s the beginnings and ends of things that can be messy.”

So true!

Life doesn’t arrive in neat chapters with a well-defined beginning and conclusion.  We don’t always see the cues that signify we’re moving out of one thing and into something else.

In life, it’s often difficult to see the starting gate or hear the starter’s pistol.  And it’s just as unlikely to know exactly when you’ve crossed the finish line.  Many times, it is only when looking back through the wisdom of time that one can discern the beginning and ending of various stages of life.

One thing of which we can be certain is this:  Each day is a new beginning. You need to treat it like the incredible opportunity that it is!  Yesterday is complete, finished, done — use it as a springboard to the future today holds, not as an anchor to keep you tied to the past.

Remember today,
for it is the beginning of always.

Today marks the start of a brave new future
filled with all your dreams can hold.

Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true.
~ Unknown

Don’t think of it as crossing the finish line, think of it as starting a brand new race.

Whatever you are, you’re at the edge of the beginning!

Deanna

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I subscribe to an electronic newsletter published by Before & After — a company that helps individuals and organizations design cool stuff.  What I enjoy about the information Before & After provides are the questions. Who is this for? Why? What if? Doesn’t it make more of an impact when . . . ?

And although I am not a graphic artist, I help many clients think creatively. Picture how things could be. Expand possibilities. Erase boundaries. Design a better life.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative creature, you are definitely a designer.

Sure, you may not be handy with the hammer or able to decorate with decoupage. You may have a black thumb and paint may be your enemy. But all other projects aside, you are responsible for designing your life. You select the paths and the projects, make the friends and the enemies.

Each choice you make limits options and expand possibilities.

I was reminded of this while reading an article from Before & After on Possibilities by John McWade:

One of the thrills of youth is that everything is possible. At 18, you can attend any school, follow any profession, travel anywhere, marry anyone or no one. There are practical restrictions but no conceptual ones. The freedom is exhilarating!

As you make choices, the possibilities diminish. Choose one school and you eliminate a thousand others. Marry one girl, and you forsake all others. Travel here, and you can’t afford there.

Find a profession, and it becomes what you do. The better you get, the more distant alternative professions become. There is some irony in this. As you build your life, decision by decision, the possibilities of youth go away.

For some, this is a good thing. Possibilities are unsettling. Certainty, predictability, routine create a comfort zone. Life feels secure. These people become product reviewers.

But this is not you.

You have a life.

When was the last time you thought about what your life could be? Took time to create, design, build the framework for a future you envisioned?

Was it in High school? During College graduation? While planning your wedding?

Do you even remember?

Don’t allow the predictability of your life lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t become a product reviewer — simply commenting on life as it passes you by.  Become a product creator — take an active role in writing the story of your tomorrow [McWade].

Whatever you are, make the decision to design a life you love!

Deanna

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Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have
was once among the things you only hoped for.
~ Epicurus

We have a lot of things to remember.

Shopping lists and schedules.

Appointments and deadlines.

Birthdays and travel plans.

Heroes.

When was the last time you spent any time remembering your hero?

Not the idols who thrill us with their fantastic voices.

Not the dancers who amaze us with spectacular choreography.

Not the athletes who bring home the championship trophy.

Not the authors who write compelling prose.

Not the hosts who ask the intriguing questions.

True heroes.

Those who gave their lives in the line of duty in our nation’s service, so that we might enjoy the things we once only hoped for.

They gave up everything for honor.

For love of country.

For freedom.

For me.

For you.

With Memorial Day right around the corner . . . as you make your lists and schedule your plans . . . relishing a day outside of your normal routine, don’t forget to remember the ones who have made our freedom — our way of life — possible.

Our true heroes.  The men and women who gave everything so that we have the opportunity to live the life we have imagined.

Let us never take their sacrifice for granted.

Let us never forget to remember.

Whatever you are, be grateful — our freedom wasn’t free.

Deanna

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We had assumed or hoped for today to be so much more than yesterday. Isn’t it strange how we do nothing and expect different outcomes?”  [James I. Dyer]

Who did you think was going to arrive on a white horse, clean up the mess, and save the day?

Did you think your amazing life was going to arrive like a lottery check — with little effort?

That the “Future Fairy” was going to sneak into your room, while you were sleeping last night, and exchange your wearisome reality for something extraordinary?

That a call was coming that would change everything?

Were you hoping that a brightly-wrapped “surprise life” would be waiting at the breakfast table this morning?

Sorry to disappoint.
It doesn’t really work that way.

The days of childish fairy tales and happy endings and magical powers are behind us.  We are no longer banished to our castles, pretending to be powerless, forced to await rescue.

We are in control of us . . . our today . . . our tomorrows . . . our destiny.

We decide the action to take, the road to travel, the adventures to chase, the monsters to chase down.

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence.
Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear.
Perhaps the action you take will be successful,
perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow.
But any action is better than no action at all.”
[Norman Vincent Peale]

When the ugly dragons arrive unexpectedly, with smoke bellowing and eyes glaring, we can allow fear and insecurity and the unknown to paralyze us, or we can march confidently out to engage the adversary in battle.

It’s a mistake to wait until you feel strong, powerful, and courageous to take action.  If you do, you’ll be waiting for a long time. As Mack R. Douglas correctly observed, “Courage follows action.”

Hope for your tomorrow springs from the action you take today. Stop hiding out, wishing for a better tomorrow.

Get up off the sofa. Step out of the routine. Fight some dragons. Make the call. Ask the question. Ask again. Plant some seeds. Show some kindness. Take action. Be courageous!

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask.
Everything you want also wants you.
But you have to take action to get it.”
[Jack Canfield]

Whatever you are, it’s time for action!

Deanna

~ This is a repeat performance of a favorite post originally written September 17, 2009. I know I could use another “shot in the attitude” and thought you might, too!

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Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination,
we forget the journey.
~ Unknown

One vacation day. Sixteen hours in the car.  Nearly 960 miles added to the odometer.  Scenic travel through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.  Two stops to refuel. Two additional stops to stretch the legs.

The Aunts from Ohio had been summoned.

At the other end awaits one very excited four-year-old, a pink tutu, and three minutes of Bob Marley singing Three Little Birds:

. . . “Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

It’s Summer’s first dance recital. Her chance to shine. To excel at something her older brothers don’t care about and for which her younger sister doesn’t yet have the coordination.

A middle child’s first moment in the spotlight — literally.

Summer has been taking lessons since last fall. Every week she has been introduced to new exercises, moves, dances, and music. It’s her thing.

Over Easter, she brought her dance costume with her to Ohio to give us a preview. She flitted and fluttered around the living room, up on tiny toes, arms moving like a butterfly, to a rhythm she alone could hear.

As the curtain opened for Act 11 on Friday night and the lights came up in the small auditorium in Richmond, 11 delightful preschool dancers appeared. White dance shoes pointed, hands positioned, all eyes on the instructor watching for the cue.

It was magical. It was fun. It almost fell apart — but the girls, under the skillful guidance of their teacher, held it together through the end. The crowd clapped and cheered, whistled and shouted.  Grandparents wiped tears. Parents breathed a sigh of relief.

Two aunts from Ohio were oh, so happy to have made the trip.

In five years, I don’t know if Summer will remember the details of this night. How excited she was to wear make-up for the first time, that Dawn and I were present, that her father handed her a huge bouquet of flowers during intermission, or that we went to Red Robin to celebrate.

Until Summer has children of her own, she probably won’t realize that her mother sat in the seat next to me feeling more anxiety than the dancers — but certainly less than their teacher.

What I hope she carries with her is that the journey brings its own reward — it can be just as fulfilling as the destination. The the work is worth it. That if you dance long enough, the spotlight will eventually shine.

The three minutes she was on stage could not begin to showcase all of the talents Summer has developed or the new skills she has mastered that led up to the night of the recital.  In life, as in dance, the destination doesn’t shine as brightly without the journey.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward;

but it is the journey that matters, in the end”

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

Keep dancing, Summer!

Whatever you are, enjoy the journey!

Deanna

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You will recognize your own path when you come upon it,
because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination
you will ever need.

Jerry Gillies

Do you ever wander around your life, wondering when things will make sense?
When you will discover your purpose?
When your destiny will arrive?

You’ve taken the tests and discovered your strengths. Read the books and identified the steps.

Yet something remains elusive. In the shadows. Just out of sight.

Surely, you think, there’s more to it than this.

Not that your life is a disaster waiting for the clean-up crew. No, that’s not it.

It feels more like you’re living your life in black and white, when you know for a fact that there is a high-definition option available.

Don’t give up!  Keep searching, researching, looking for your life. It’s out there just waiting to be discovered.

And when you do find it, you must be willing to take the biggest risk of all — exchanging the comfort of what you know for the opportunity to live the life you have imagined.

There is a point
at which everything becomes simple
and there is no longer any question of choice,
because all you have staked will be lost
if you look back.

Life’s point of no return.

— Dag Hammarskjold
U.N. Secretary General (1905-1961)

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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The Roots of Violence:

Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.

~ Ghandi

I came across this quote a while back and it caught my attention.  No, really it was more than that.

It stuck in my conscience and would not let go.  It caused me to examine my own motives and actions — my life.

In just 21 words, Ghandi provides a spot-on summarization of why we find ourselves living in such a tumultuous society.

We have a case of the “withouts.”

We strive for the latest and greatest, and as Dave Ramsey says, “we spend money we don’t have for things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know.” And we wind up with garages and closets full of stuff, while — as human beings — we are bankrupt in the areas of humanity, morality, principles, sacrifice and conscience.

No wonder we find ourselves in such a confusing time — we have too much and too little all at the same time.

If we want to exterminate violence and live peaceful lives, perhaps we should heed the words of Robert Fulghum (author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten):

Peace is not something you wish for;
It’s something you make.
Something you do.
Something you are.
Something you give away.

Ending violence requires a paradigm shift. A new set of rules. New ideals for which to strive. Instead of chasing things like power and wealth, knowledge and pleasure, we will need to pursue the higher callings of sacrifice and morality, character and principles.

Not easy, not always enjoyable, but worth every ounce of effort. The condition of our society (and our lives) is the product of our choices. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

Whatever you are, make the choice to be the peace you wish to see in the world!

Deanna

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The Beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.

~ T. S. Eliot

We are in the season of endings.

Winter has ended. School years are ending. And with June being the month of weddings, many single lives are ending.  And those are just the big things.

You’re probably dealing with other endings in your own life. Perhaps a job is ending or a relationship (as you know it) is ending.  A project may be coming to a conclusion. Hopefully, the rainy days of spring are ending soon.

It is a conflicted time of sadness for what we’re losing and joy as we anticipate what the future holds for us — or at least it should be.

To the pessimist it is The End. To the optimist it is The Beginning.  Same event — two different view points.

As Jim Rohn asks, why is it that the same measure affects people so differently?

It all depends on how you look at it. Our lives are mostly affected by the way we think things are. Not the way things are. The way we think they are affects us most.

Your life is like a closet filled to the brim.  If you want to add one more item, something else has got to go!  Stop thinking of the End as a loss, and instead look at is as a necessary exercise to make room for the amazing things waiting for you in your future. I guarantee your outlook will change.

“There are things that we never want to let go of,
people we never want to leave behind.
But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world,
it’s the beginning of a new life.”
~ Unknown

Whatever “End” sits on your calendar, don’t stare at it too long or you’ll miss the possibilities that are waiting your arrival. Take what you’ve learned — all the experiences and lessons —  and use them to create a fabulous new beginning for yourself.

Whatever you are, it’s time to get started — your beginning is waiting!

Deanna

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There it is.  The reminder that we’ve added something, deleted something, or created something and are ready to move on:

Do you want to save the changes you’ve made?

Several times during the course of the day, my computer gently prompts me to make a decision. But the question behind the question is this one that interests me.

Does your effort matter or were you just filling time?

Was it a success or failure?

Are you making a conscious decision to move on or is the randomness of immediacy guiding your actions?

Is it truly time to close out or are you simply exhausted by the effort?

Have you learned anything that will help you in the future?

I wonder what our lives would be like if we had a “Do you want to save your changes?” button.  Where we would be forced to confront the question — Has this been a colossal waste of your time?  Is there anything worth saving before moving on to the “chapter”?

Instead, we dip our toe in the water of change — ready to jump out at the first sign of trouble. Not realizing that the situation could very well hold the key that will unlock the future, move you further along, provide the knowledge you need to tackle your next big challenge.

We’re not committed. We’re interested.  If it’s easy and convenient and fun and we see immediate results, we want to save changes.

If, however, the task becomes difficult or inconvenient or something else shiny catches our attention, we want to close this chapter and begin a new one. (As a throw-away society, sometimes, it’s not so easy to understand long-term benefits.)

Who doesn’t love a clean fresh sheet ready to fill with our hopes, dreams, and desires . . . until it , too, becomes difficult or inconvenient or unpopular.  Then — in a blink of an eye — it’s out with the old and in with the new thing.

Before moving on, discarding or throwing out, perhaps it would be wise to see what changes are worth saving. Review the lessons you’ve learned. Build on your progress.  Otherwise, you may be throwing the baby out with the bath water — not something the experts recommend!

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know it’s me.
~ Unknown

Whatever you are, don’t forget to save the change,

Deanna

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Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

It seems everyone wants to know the secret to success these days.

There are seminars and webinars, books and CDs, late night infomercials and full-length videos touting the latest millionaire’s “10 Steps to This” or “5 Principles of That.”

But what if it were much simpler than all of that?  What if life truly were like the Kentucky Derby?

Think about what it takes to win:  The right choices — a lot of hard work, training, planning, determination — luck.

That’s right — luck — defined as what happens when preparation meets opportunity [Seneca].

Todd Pletcher, trainer of this year’s Derby Winner Super Saver, says, “It takes the right horse on the right day. On any given Derby day, the best horse can lose.”

And Pletcher should know.  Over the course of a decade, with 24 starters, the Kentucky Derby win eluded him until this year.

“You would like to say you need the best horse, but in this particular race I don’t think that is necessarily the case,” Pletcher says. “When you look at surprises like Giacomo (50-1, 2005) and Mine That Bird (50-1, 2009), they haven’t proven to consistently be the best horse but the horse who ran the best race on the right day.

As I was thinking about this story of a trainer who worked tirelessly for more than a decade before his dream was realized, I collected some life lessons:

  • You don’t have to be the best at what you do to win.
    • “You have to run the best race on the right day.”
  • You have to be determined, be ready, and show up.
    • “Obviously, the horse had all the tools to get it done,” Pletcher says. “But you’ve got to show up on the day.”
  • You have to be in the right race.
    • “Certain horses might show up in the wrong Derby. You might have a horse with natural speed who gets involved in a hot pace. You might have horses who are deep closers who don’t have enough pace.”
  • Maintain grace under pressure.
    • Jockey Calvin Borel shares what it takes to win: “Calm, cool, collected, a lot of luck and you just hope the good Lord is on your side.”
  • Enjoy the journey.
    • Owner Robert LaPenta, knowing that the percentages typically add up to defeat says, “Enjoy the ride. Very few people get to take it.”

Are you running the right race? If you are, run it until you win. Today could be the day it all comes together and you take home the trophy. But you won’t know unless you show up and give it your best.

And if you don’t win?

Take the advice of Mary Anne Radmacher, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Whatever you are, get in the race and enjoy the ride!

Deanna

PS: Check out the entire story, Kentucky Derby represents a humbling, challenging race, by Tom Pedulla.

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