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Ripples #1020: Stretching Toward Bigness!

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Ripples #1020: Stretching Toward Bigness!
Dec 10, 2018

PEBBLE
You need your enemy. They hold the keys, or at least half of them, to peace.
-Matt Whitman, shared by Jacob at Cal Poly SLO

BOULDER
You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.
-Cheryl Strayed, shared by Petra in Ft. Meyers, FL

PONDER
I’ll admit that one of the most challenging aspects of the otherwise joyous process of coordinating these weekly splashes of inspiration is addressing current issues in a way that our incredibly diverse readership can hear. I’m proud of the fact that our ripplers include people from a wide spectrum of political, religious, and ideological viewpoints; I want Ripples to be a place where we can all meet up for 60 seconds every Monday and ponder something positive that we can agree on. I’ve learned the hard way that it sometimes gets a bit tricky to talk about certain issues.

When I first read the “You need your enemy” quote that Jacob sent in, it immediately resonated with me personally and yet I was nervous it might make some readers bristle. I was curious enough to reach out to Jacob and ask him why he liked it. His response was powerful for me, and I’m glad he agreed to let me share his additional thoughts here:

Jacob wrote, “I heard the quote while listening to a podcast and it struck me for two reasons. The first relates to the current political turmoil in the US: we tend to portray political ideologies that differ from ours as the enemy, the cause of evil, and we often seek to defeat them and/or suppress them. Matt’s wisdom offers an alternative approach: if the people we view as enemies are part of the problem, then they also need to be a part of the solution. There is no hope of achieving any sort of peace unless both sides are willing to work towards compromise, peaceful resolution, and in this case political stability.”

Jacob went on to share another, more personal reason for sharing the quote: “I have been struggling with stress and time commitments in my life recently. In the past, I have attributed this stress to factors beyond my control, putting myself at its mercy, making it my enemy. This quote helped me to realize that part of the way to address these stresses in my life is to embrace them; owning them puts me in the driver’s seat. This approach allows me to more clearly see the best way to productively deal with the cause of the stress and its negative effects in my life. When I experience stress, I am fighting an internal struggle, and to make things better (as I am sure we all want to do), I need to realize that the way to do that is to address stress head-on.”

I’m eagerly accepting Jacob’s invitation … Read More!

Ripples #1019: Loving Stillness.

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Ripples #1019: Loving Stillness.
Dec 3, 2018

PEBBLE
Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.
-E’yen A. Gardner, shared by Petra in Ft. Myers, FL

BOULDER
I am finding the antidote to overwhelm not by completing more or by doing less but by falling in love with stillness.
-Leah Pearlman, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
I’ve reached the end of a long and in certain ways difficult and in other ways delightful year: I’ve mostly recovered from a couple of health challenges; managed the process of selling my condo and transitioned to living with Jamie in our new house; I’ve wrapped up the last of my speaking engagements; and I’ve been touching base with the groups I’ll fire up early in 2019 so see if they need anything before the holidays.

And now: it is time for me to rest.

I’ve cleared my schedule, set up my vacation messages for email and voicemail, and picked out some books and puzzles and other activities to help me wind down. Most importantly, I’m going to make time for stillness. I’ve learned before that carving out this time at the end of the year allows me to reset my mind, body, and spirit.

Fear not, hardy ripplers: I have been working double time the last few weeks so I could queue an ample supply of weekly Ripples emails as well as the daily splashes that I post on social media (if you’re not familiar, you can enjoy these by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn).

I know this is a hectic time of year for various reasons. Still, I hope you can find at least a few moments stillness in the coming weeks!

Oh, and Happy Hanukkah!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1018: Finding & Unfurling Joy!

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Ripples #1018: Finding & Unfurling Joy!
Nov 26, 2018

PEBBLE
Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
-Brené Brown, shared by Rachel in Rochester, MI

BOULDER
Happiness is a form of power–it’s carbonated consciousness that wants to spill out and be articulated. So if we downplay our joy we confuse our nervous system. Our brain is trying to fire happy neurons but our cool or too quiet behavior is short dousing the positive chemicals. Repeated happiness-muffling numbs our senses. And if you keep your joy under the surface too long, it might stay there. If you’re happy and you know it…show it.
-Danielle LaPorte, via her website
http://www.daniellelaporte.com/truthbomb/truthbomb-1248
shared by one of our original Ripplers!

PONDER
There are two aspects of joy I’ve been pondering lately: its availability, and its source.

I love the big delightful versions of joy that show up around the holidays and other special occasions: monumental moments of spectacular awe that can light up a room and light up our lives. Since those big joys can be relatively few and far between, it’s good to keep in mind that joy can also be found in the ordinary days that make up most of our existence. Small delights like a string of traffic lights turning green, an unexpected discount on one of our favorite grocery items, or finding a crumpled up $5 bill while doing laundry (ok, so that just happened to me a few days ago and it was joyous, indeed!).

The other thing I like about joy is that I don’t have to wait for it to show up in order for me to experience it. I’ve come to rely on the premise that there are tiny pockets of joy stored in my consciousness waiting to be noticed and unleashed. At times they get activated by an external trigger: a friend will call or a song will pop up on Pandora and Joy starts dancing. But it’s also been my experience that I can consciously elicit joy when the need arises. Maybe that means picking up the phone instead of waiting for it to ring, pressing play on some of the playlists I’ve purposely curated as joyful, or playing a game of “set the timer for 20 minutes to earn 20 minutes of game time.”

Assembling this issue of Ripples has me eager to experiment with finding and unfurling joy…perhaps you’ll join me in this experiment?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,017: Great Fullness of Gratitude!

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Ripples #1,017: Great Fullness of Gratitude!
Nov 19, 2018

PEBBLE
Gratefulness is the experience of the great fullness of life.
-Brother David Steindl-Rast, shared by Jerry from Helena, MT

BOULDER
Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes to simply be human…At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.
-Meredith Grey (Shonda Rhimes), shared by Vickie in Hanover, VA

PONDER

Since those of us here the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, we here at Ripples HQ have traditionally focused on gratitude as our theme on the fourth Monday of November. Members of Team Ripples, our official Facebook group, can access our compendium of Thanksgiving quotes here.

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever is going on in your life, I invite you to spend time identifying and savoring the good stuff in your life: relationships you value, opportunities you’ve embraced, possessions you’ve accumulated, good experiences that brought joy, and perhaps even challenging times that ultimately served you with helpings of growth and/or wisdom.

There is growing scientific evidence that cultivating gratitude has significant benefits for your physical health and mental well-being. It’s simple, fast acting, and low cost (low calorie even!).

So whether this is a super special holiday time for you or just a typical week of work/school/life, I invite you to serve a helping of gratitude and see just how delicious it is for you and those you share it with.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for a great many things. One of greatest is these tiny weekly splashes of inspiration that have managed to form an ocean of encouragement for so many, myself included. Thank you for reading these and for sharing them and for helping us find the quotes we unleash each Monday. #uRock!… Read More!

Ripples #1016: Whole Heart Service!

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Ripples #1016: Whole Heart Service!
Nov 12, 2018

PEBBLE
To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind. -Pearl Buck, shared by Danny in Brookings, SD

BOULDER
The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: he or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.
-Gordon B. Hinckley, shared by Joan in South Bend, IN via values.com

PONDER

Today is a holiday for many of us since yesterday was the 100th anniversary of what was originally known as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. Now referred to as Remembrance Day in Canada and many other countries, and Veteran’s Day in the U.S., it remains an important day to recognize the sacrifices involved by those who have served their country.

One way of honoring the service of our veterans is to renew our own commitment to service. Let’s make this an opportunity to think about the individuals and groups we give our time, attention, and/or money to; noticing if there is anyone who has inadvertently fallen off our radar, and also identifying people/groups we haven’t previously served that could use our help. And it doesn’t work to just think about it: once you find a whole heart yes to service, follow through with concrete action!

I dedicate this issue of Ripples to veterans for their whole heart service, and to others who are inspired to give back as a way of paying it forward.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S.… Read More!

Ripples #1015: Seizing Control of Life!

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Ripples #1015: Seizing Control of Life!
Nov 5, 2018

PEBBLE
You may not control life’s circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them.
-Atul Gawande, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
-Stephen Chbosky, shared by Sarah in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
Let’s start with an understatement: there is a lot going on in the world right now. There might also be a lot going on for you personally with school, work, or just life in general. Sometimes in the swirl of all the things happening around us and to us, we forget that we do have choices about how to respond even when it seems like we don’t.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, stand up and say (out loud if possible): “I want to feel better than I do right now!” See if you can identify some action that often helps you feel better. If nothing comes to mind, you could try one from my list: brush your teeth; walk briskly around the block; or drink a glass of water.

Next, choose a relatively small action to make progress on something that you need to attend to: a household chore, a school/work project, or a small kindness that will be appreciated by someone else in your life. Hopefully it will give you a lift, or at the very least you’ll be able to cross off at item from your to do list. Small wins provide a feeling of progress that serve as motivation to keep on moving forward. And that momentum will help you seize control of life.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Vote. Please. It matters. So much.… Read More!

Ripples #1,014: Interrupting Injustice!

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Ripples #1014: Interrupting Injustice!
Oct 29, 2018

PEBBLE
Few things are as encouraging as the realization that things can be different and that we have a role in making them so.
-Daniel Taylor, shared by Maggie in Eau Claire, WI

BOULDER
Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and oppressors free.
-Shane Claiborne, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
We live in complicated times. On the one hand, humans have progressed in truly remarkable ways: our advances in science, technology, and education have allowed us to see and appreciate and understand things that at one time seemed beyond comprehension. On the other hand, we continue to grapple with significant challenges and there are ways things seem to be getting worse instead of better.

Election day is just around the corner here in the U.S. I don’t have any interest in using this platform to try and tell you who to vote for, or what issues you should care about. I do, however, want to use this issue of Ripples to remind you that voting itself can be viewed as a sacred, heroic act of citizenship that less than half of eligible voters in our country follow through on.

If “Interrupting Injustice” is important to you, I invite you to step up your participation in the voting process. If you haven’t been a reliable voter in the past, perhaps you need help figuring out WHO and WHAT to vote for, or even WHETHER you are registered and WHERE to vote. Sites like Vote411.org and VoteSmart.org strive to provide non-partisan, balanced information…and can even confirm your voter registration and polling location. If you need help actually casting your vote, reach out to the campaigns you intend to vote for; they are eager to help make your vote count. If you are ready for the next level of involvement, there is still time to get involved with voter turnout efforts, again by contacting local candidates and groups that support issues that are important to you. If you’re already an actively engaged, the challenge might be to directly engage the people you are most closely connected to and encourage them to vote.

Your actions may seem insignificant; but remember that decisions get made by those that show up. Your voice and your vote matter; both make a difference!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. A sincere thank you for anything you can say or do to help extend the positive ripples we unleash each week.… Read More!

Ripples #1013: The Treasure of Connection!

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Ripples #1013: The Treasure of Connection!
Oct 22, 2018

PEBBLE
Assume the person you’re talking to knows something you don’t, and be eager to learn it.
-Nick Offerman at University of Illinois Commencement
shared by Ricky from Fort Smith, AR

BOULDER
I am not old, she said. I am rare. I am the standing ovation at the end of the play. I am the retrospective of my life as Art. I am the hours, connected like dots, into good sense. I am the fullness of existing. You think I am waiting to die, but I am waiting to be found. I am a treasure. I am a map. And these wrinkles are imprints of my journey: ask me anything.
-Samantha Reynolds (adapted slightly), shared by D, who heard it from her friend Gloria during a very important walk

PONDER
Last Friday I had a rare and wondrous opportunity to fire up two different groups that were gathering here in Cincinnati on the very same day. In the morning I spent some time with EOPO (Education Office Professionals of Ohio) and then zipped home for a nap and a wardrobe change before helping Alpha Lambda Delta, a national honor society, kick off their annual conference.

While the presentations were slightly different, a primary objective of both speeches was encouraging them to find the right balance between hanging out with the people they already knew well, and making new connections. I’m at these sorts of events all the time, and I notice that attendees often succumb to the inevitable temptation of hanging out primarily with the classmates and coworkers they traveled with, as well as people they’ve met at previous events. That is understandable, especially since conferences can be great ways to maintain and deepen mutually beneficial relationships.

It is equally important to branch out and forge new connections with people you have NOT yet met, particularly those who have different backgrounds and perspectives and experiences. That can be more difficult since you might seem to have less in common with them, and meeting new people is usually a little less comfortable and a little more awkward than hanging out with your trusted friends. Still: IT IS SO WORTH IT! These new contacts are valuable because they can provide fresh perspectives and ideas which can ignite curiosity and creativity. And you just never know when a brief chat with new connection can lead to valuable opportunities.

If you’re headed to a professional development event or really any gathering of like-minded souls, consider it a quest for the treasure of connection!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you’re enjoying Ripples, remember that the best way to show it is to SHARE Ripples with your peeps and encourage them to join us, and also click the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below whenever you encounter a groovy quote that we should consider for an upcoming issue. Thanks for both!… Read More!

Ripples #1012: The Pleasant Present!

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Ripples #1012: The Pleasant Present!
Oct 15, 2018

PEBBLE
The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.
-Thich Nhat Hahn, shared by Cheryl in North Mankato, MN

BOULDER
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
-James Baraz, shared by Darren in Oregon, WI

PONDER

These weekly splashes come together in a variety of ways: sometimes there is something happening in the world that inspires me to focus on a certain theme; other times it is something unfolding in my personal life that guides the topic. There are also plenty of times that just scrolling through the pile of recent quote submissions reveals the right quotes for the week.

This week, well….nothing screamed or even whispered to me, even though there was plenty going on in the world and in my life. Even worse, I had depleted my “just in case” secret stash of pre-made Ripples. I was beginning to panic when I borrowed the trusty ritual I use before presentations: three deep breaths, thinking HERE on the inhale and NOW on the exhale. By the third breath I was feeling calmer.

I scooped up my laptop and walked to a nearby restaurant, determined to enjoy the walk and the meal as pleasant distractions. By the time my chili arrived, I was curious: could focusing on the present work as this week’s theme? I received the answer when the above two quotes quickly revealed themselves when I glanced at the same big pile of quotes I had already scoured several times.

Whether your life is currently pleasant or unpleasant, or even a quirky mix of both: do what you can to stay mindfully present as you savor the good and tolerate the difficult. It will all change soon enough, giving you a fresh landscape to practice your present-minded presence!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,011: Rhapsody on Persistence!

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Ripples #1,011: Rhapsody on Persistence!
Oct 8, 2018

PEBBLE
We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.
—Tobias Wolff
shared by Mary in Montana via Values.com
https://www.values.com/inspirational-quotes/7656-we-are-made-to-persist-thats-how-we-find-out?

BOULDER
I feel it too – the urge to give in to gravity’s call. I feel the stress and fatigue which accompanies endless tests, homework assignments, and the consideration that my future is ahead of me and may be crushed by my mistakes. But my backpack holds my wings, not my woes. -Ayda Ozdoganlar, shared by Nick in Pittsburgh, PA

PONDER
I gotta tell you: the “wings not woes” quote instantly captivated me. I asked Nick for more information on where he found it and why it stood out for him. It turns out that he spotted it in his advisor’s email signature block; the quote helped him manage the feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty unleashed by his decision to pursue a graduate degree.

At my request, Nick reached out to his advisor for more information about the source of the quote and why she had it in her email signature. Nesli shared that it was an excerpt from her daughter Ayda’s college application essay; for Nesli it seemed equally relevant to the graduate students she advises. “We all know it is a tough place,” Nesli wrote to me about graduate school. “I thought of how happy my students are once they graduate and secure the job they have been dreaming about. That is the moment I think they are spreading their wings.”

I was also lucky enough to hear directly from Ayda about how this passage had been a burst of inspiration during a late night push to finish the application essay (while listening to Rhapsody in Blue–how jazzy cool is that?). She admitted she hadn’t originally thought her perspective on education would be read by so many others. She shared these additional thoughts with me: “I don’t believe education is a storm to be weathered, but a storm to embrace. Getting through high school was a wild, gut-wrenching whirlwind of a challenge, and I’m sure [college] will be too. But I feel so blessed to be able to say that I’m a student. Even if the path to knowledge is fraught with challenge, Learning something new is incredibly special. It gives me joy—enough joy that I was able to write a 2 a.m. rhapsody on the subject. I want others to feel that joy and appreciation too.”

Well, Ayda, I *am* feeling joy and appreciation. I’m overjoyed to live in a world where students like you and Nick are willing to embrace both the challenges and the opportunities of continuous learning, and I deeply appreciate that there are people like your mom who are committed to supporting the kids she’s raising AND the kids she’s advising.

Ripples #1,011 is dedicated to this trio of remarkable, ripply individuals and everyone else who summons the courage to soar with wings provided by their challenges.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. I … Read More!