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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!

Ripples #1,010: Swimming in Silence!

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Ripples #1,010: Swimming in Silence!
Oct 1, 2018

PEBBLE
Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.
-Francis Bacon, shared by Kelly in Philadelphia, PA

BOULDER
I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.
-Albert Einstein, shared by Katherine in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
I make my living as a leadership trainer and keynote speaker, designing and delivering presentations that encourage individuals and teams to cultivate their potential. In short: I get paid to talk.

While I’m proud of the talent I’ve developed as an orator, I credit much of my success as a speaker to silence. In early conversations I ask event planners what they hope attendees will be thinking, feeling, and doing after my time with them, and then I get quiet so I can listen to the responses. During the preparation phase I spend quite a bit of time talking through all the things I might want to say about the topic we’ll be exploring, but then I need a good length of silent time (days, weeks, even months) to let things simmer in my soul. Even as I’m giving the actual talk, silences are powerful pauses that provide some space for the audience to receive the ideas I’m sharing.

Silence is also a sacred part of my process for assembling these weekly splashes. I often sit in silence before and after I’ve selected the quotes–at the very least to give myself time to think about what I want to communicate. When things are really flowing, the silence becomes a transcendent portal which connects me to wisdom from a higher source.

I’ll confess to you that events of this past week (the personal and the political) depleted me mightily and I wasn’t sure how to rally the creativity I like to bring to Ripples. One moment of silence helped me find my center, and another allowed the juices to begin flowing. If you’re enjoying this so far, that means silence helped us both.

Perhaps you can extend the ripples and invite silence to work some additional magic in your work and life this week? I hope so.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I apologize for any extra spaces may be creeping into my typing…the spacebar on my laptop is doing something quirky of late. Maybe interpret them as opportunities for silence? 🙂… Read More!

Ripples #1,009: The Small Things!

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Ripples #1,009: The Small Things!
Sep 24, 2018

PEBBLE
If you feel like life is passing you by…try throwing yourself into the small things and repeating to yourself: This is where I start.
-Rob Bell, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
The question you should be asking is, “Can I do one small thing tomorrow to make things a little bit better?” And the answer is almost always yes.
-Dan Pink, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER

I just wrapped up the final trip of my fall orientation tour and headed back home to catch my breath and rest up a bit as I prepare for some upcoming conference keynote addresses sprinkled around the midwest. The challenge is that the new home we are just moving into isn’t quite ready for relaxation. While most of the renovations the house needed are winding down, there is still quite a bit of cleaning and unpacking and settling in that needs to be done. Upon arriving home, I was too tired and too overwhelmed to even know where to begin.

Luckily, my partner had a better vision of both the finish line and the path to get there. We began with a few small tasks that would have an ongoing impact on our spirits and motivation: getting the music system set up so we could keep on jamming while we were cleaning, and getting the floors cleaned so we wouldn’t see dirt and dust every where we looked. Soon we were making steady progress, and even the breaks were productive as we talked through where to put things, what size rugs we should look for, etc. We still have a ways to go, but our many small efforts are really paying off.

I’ve spent the last few weeks reminding new students that the biggest impact on their grades are their small, daily decisions about preparing for, attending, and participating in class, and the biggest impact on their health are the small, daily decisions about what they eat/drink, how much they move, and how much they sleep. The more overwhelmed you are, the more likely you’ll benefit from identifying the smaller actions that can serve you well.

So…what small things might lead you towards bigger success this week?

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. Have I told you lately just how much joy it brings me to have such a fun and engaged group of upbeat people spending a minute with me each Monday? #uRock… Read More!

Ripples #1,008: Surrounded By Safety!

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Ripples #1,008: Surrounded By Safety!
Sep 17, 2018

PEBBLE
Create safe spaces for yourself. Wrap yourself in goodness and warmth and love. Stay surrounded by people who are genuine-think twice if you can’t trust them with your heart. You are allowed to protect your peace. Be mindful and aware of all energy that you allow into your life.
-Alex Elle, shared by Jennifer in Sacramento, CA

BOULDER
There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who do not…. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.
-José N. Harris (adapted), shared by Chyral in Menomonee Falls, WI

PONDER
With the recent chaos in my life that I mentioned last week, it was so lovely to receive an outpouring of kind messages from many of you. I’ve also been depending on a deep bench of reliably supportive people in my life and they have been enormously helpful.

There’s no doubt about it: life is sometimes hard. As I read and reread Alex Elle’s encouragement to “wrap yourself in goodness and warmth and love”–I keep seeing in my mind an image of a giant sheet of bubblewrap–not a barrier that could magically prevent life’s inevitable falls, but a spiritual and emotional coating that could break the fall and cushion the landing.

If you read this and can immediately identify a few people in your life that provide goodness and warmth and love, make an extra effort to express your gratitude this week. If you’d like to surround yourself with more of the right kind of people, wander into new spaces and meet some new people this week. Ask the universe to help guide you to fresh sources of support, and be mindful of opportunities to extend support to those you encounter.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,007: Endurance!

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Ripples #1,007: Endurance!
Sep 10, 2018

PEBBLE
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance. -James Baldwin
shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
Grit is not just a simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again.
—Sarah Lewis
shared by Monica in Chicago, IL via PassItOn.com

PONDER
I love that so many people enjoy their weekly splashes, and I especially love that every week a few of you let me know that the theme for that particular week must have been written just for you because it arrived just as you needed it.

Well, this week’s theme is actually for ME. It’s been 185 days since I began packing up my stuff to move in with my partner while the house we purchased received some much needed upgrades. On the one hand, I’ve had a roof over my head the entire time and plenty of support from Jamie and my entire network of awesome people. On the other hand, living and running my business out of cardboard boxes has been significantly challenging and a tremendous drain on my energy.

This weekend we finally started the process of shifting our belongings over to the new place which, thanks to the inevitable delays and detours, isn’t quite ready for us. I thought these steps would feel exciting and rewarding, but it proved exhausting and overwhelming (Why is the brand new dishwasher displaying that dire warning? And how are we ever going to get all this construction debris out of here? Can this place ever really feel like home?).

While I’m quite confident these “first world problems” will eventually resolve themselves, it has become increasingly obvious that both my patience and my sanity have been wearing thin. Things got worse when I realized: “Oh, no…it is Sunday afternoon and I haven’t spent any time putting together Ripples. YIKES!”

I plopped down in my relatively dust-free comfy chair and took a few deep breaths (Here now. Here now. Here now!). Then I put on my favorite Pandora station and opened up my laptop: the above quotes popped right out, reminding me that so much of our potential success is about cultivating our capacity to persist.

I hope that you can recognize any challenges that *you* are facing as opportunities to enlist and enlarge your endurance. Rest and hydrate when necessary, and then get back to it. Before you know it, you’ll be farther along than you realized. And you’ll be stronger for the next big challenge that will inevitably arise.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. A hat tip to my pals at Dewey’s Pizza who fed me dinner on Sunday evening and provided the all important wi-fi access so I could queue this issue up to zoom … Read More!

Ripples #1,006: Working The Right Amount!

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Ripples #1,006: Working The Right Amount!
Sep 3, 2018

PEBBLE
If you’re tired…learn to rest, not to quit.
-Nishan Panwar
shared by Jessica in Los Angeles, CA

BOULDER
To become the best you, sometimes you need to push yourself. Just don’t push too hard, you don’t want to break what you worked so hard to improve.
-Alexis Mazure
written and shared by Alexis at Central Michigan University

PONDER
Many of us here in the U.S. are enjoying an extended weekend thanks to Labor Day, an official holiday to recognize “the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country” (from Wikipedia). Unofficially, this marks the end of the summer when some people are diving into another academic year while others prepare to focus on a final burst of productivity before the end of the calendar year.

Labor Day is a great day to ponder the complimentary aspects of work and play. It is important for us to get our work done, of course. It is equally important for us to include enough rest and play so that we can unleash our best work. There is a ton of research that supports them as crucial strategies for maximizing productivity and potential.

Whatever you need more of, I wish you the right combination of happy resting, happy playing, and happy working!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,005: Relentless Pursuits.

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Ripples #1,005: Relentless Pursuits.
Aug 27, 2018

PEBBLE
Gradual pressure, relentlessly applied.
-Dick Mantis
shared by David in Lexington, KY

BOULDER
I don’t think you should just do what makes you happy. Do what makes you great. Do what’s uncomfortable and scary and hard but pays off in the long run. Let yourself fail. Fail and pick yourself up and fail again. Without that struggle, what is your success anyway?
-Charlie Day​
shared by Lorene in North Royalton, OH

PONDER
I’ve spent the last few weeks on several college campuses firing up anxious-yet-excited new students as well as some remarkable student leaders (welcome to over 1,000 new ripplers from Findlay, Tiffin, Heidelberg, Central Michigan, and Plymouth State!).

Over and over again, one of the central components of each of these pep talks was encouraging people to experience life’s inevitable challenges as opportunities for growth and mastery. It frustratingly true that while the easy days are often more enjoyable, they just don’t help us grow as much as the tough days. If your workout weights aren’t heavy enough, they will do nothing to strengthen your muscles.

In four simple words, today’s pebble reminds us to keep our efforts manageable AND to keep them coming. Our fishy pal Dory says the same thing in only three words, “Just Keep Swimming!” The boulder wants us to to remember that it is our struggles more than our successes that strengthen us.

I don’t wish any particular difficulties for you, but since they will eventually show up on their own, I do hope you’ll consider greeting them as friends, or at least as respectable adversaries who will help you train for even tougher battles that may lie ahead.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,004: Rekindling Hope!

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Ripples #1,004: Rekindling Hope!
Aug 20, 2018

PEBBLE
Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons do not last. The spring rains will come.
—Sarah Ban Breathnach
shared by Pete in Colorado via Values.com
https://www.passiton.com/inspirational-quotes/7015-expect-to-have-hope-rekindled-expect-your?

BOULDER
It’s better to be a hopeful person than a cynical, grumpy one, because you have to live in the same world either way, and if you’re hopeful, you have more fun.
-Barbara Kingsolver, shared by Deb in Madison, WI

PONDER
I agree with the above quote that says it is generally better to be hopeful than cynical. At the same time, I also know that hope can be harder to maintain. Even us optimistic folks can find ourselves in a pessimistic downward spiral because the more you look for reasons to roll your eyes and sigh, the more reasons you’ll find to do just that.

With a little bit of practice, though, hope is equally addictive. Once we decide to look for signs that things are going to get better, they start popping up all around. These little hopesparks make it easier to spot the more sustainable reasons for steady optimism. Even when my way forward is still steep, I notice that the more I climb, the better the view, and once you get above the fog and clouds, it is so much easier to find the sunshine.

If you’re struggling right now, I encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open for tiny hopeful signs. If you’re doing okay, keep your eyes open for a fellow traveler who is struggling and go a little out of your way to BE the hopespark for someone else. A smile, a nod, a generous gesture…any of these could make all the difference to someone who is at the end of their rope.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,003: Crazy Powerful!

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Ripples #1,003: Crazy Powerful!
Aug 13, 2018

PEBBLE
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in proportion.
-Sir Francis Bacon,
shared by Natalie in Clear Lake, WI

BOULDER
Don’t let what is crazy to them, stop you from creating what is powerful to you.
-Akeem Lloyd
written and shared by Akeem in Providence, RI

PONDER

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook my reaction to a heartbreaking poem that popped up in my newsfeed from someone who was struggling mightily. I’d like to share a condensed version of my post for you to ponder:

A long time ago I encountered a boy whose sensitive, not-quite-like-anyone-else spirit was nearly crushed in a world that doesn’t value difference. He struggled mightily, but luckily for him (and luckily for the world), he managed to stay alive long enough for his brain and his body to grow into an adulthood that allowed him to heal from some hurts, to make friends with his shadows, and to recognize the differences which made him weird evolved into the distinctions that make him special.

He still remembers what it is like to feel impossibly broken, and he remains grateful that he held on long enough to discover just how incredible it feels to find out that you can make a LIVING and make a LIFE while being weird. Because what makes him weird is precisely what makes him special.

He still encounters hard times, of course. But he also experiences blissful transcendence, like the times he scrolls his social media feed looking for weary travelers who need to be reminded: everything that helped you make it to today can help you make it a brighter tomorrow. Hang in there. Rest when necessary, and know that the world needs your kind of crazy. I know this for certain, because you’re still here.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!