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Ripples #1046: Empathy

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1046: Empathy.
June 10, 2019

PEBBLE
Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.
–Alfred Adler
shared by Beth in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER

Many people believe that support is something that you give to someone you feel sorry for or that it means propping up someone who would fail unless you were there to give him a boost. But that’s not the way I see it. Support is the boost you can give someone who can help himself but who needs a partner to open a window or push aside a roadblock.
-Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s)
shared by Ann in Mason, OH

PONDER
I’m just wrapping up a weekend spent with friends from grad school who traveled to Cincinnati for a weekend of movies, museums, meals and much merriment. While planning the weekend, we hadn’t realized that it was exactly 30 summers ago that our paths first crossed in Bowling Green, Ohio as we began our graduate studies at BGSU in the field of higher education.

Our journies have taken us in different directions–we’ve all enjoyed many successes and also endured some significant challenges. Even though we each have close friends and partners who provide consistent support on a daily basis, we reach out to each other a few times a year whenever we need help celebrating the good stuff and/or enduring the tough stuff. While we occasionally want advice or an outsider’s perspective on something, it is usually EMPATHY we are seeking, someone to affirm our experiences and validate our emotions. And also to remind us just how far we’ve come on our meandering lifepaths.

I hope you have some people in your life who know when to amp up their empathy, and I hope you make time to provide empathy to them as well. If you haven’t told them lately, make time today to reach out with a quick message of gratitude and appreciation.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. If you’d like a quick primer on empathy, I love this animated snippet of a Brené Brown talk: https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw… Read More!

Ripples #1045: Yielding to Life!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1045: Yielding to Life!
June 3, 2019

PEBBLE
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.
-Eckhart Tolle, shared by Giselle in Cincinnati, OH

BOULDER
Become still, quiet the mind, sit like the mountain and sky—stable and undivided in the face of everything that comes up. Open to the unpleasant part, the down-in-the-dumps part, the making-mistakes part, the prolonged-aching-in-the-heart part. The not knowing and the bouts of joy. Become one in the same as yourself, or “one with” your life.
—Diane Musho Hamilton, “Practice Is the Way”
shared by Lorene in North Royalton, OH

PONDER

How are you, my friend?
Good? Bad? Inbetween?

You are the only one facing the precise combination of good stuff and hard stuff and inbetween stuff that is in your life right now, but I’m pretty sure that every single one of the people reading this issue of Ripples is struggling with SOME combination of good and hard and inbetween.

I admit that it can be frustrating that I don’t get much of a say about WHAT lands on my plate or WHEN it arrives. And some days are just YuckyDuckyDOOOOO! Still, whenever possible I try to focus on the choices I do have. That includes being in charge of how I respond to the challenges that come up, and it also includes reminding myself of the internal reserves of strength as well as the external sources of support that I’ve built up over this lifetime of dealing with GOOD and BAD and INBETWEEN. Remembering this usually helps me access my best self (or at least a better self than I’m sometimes displaying), and also invites me to ask for help when needed.

If you’re struggling today, I hope you can find a moment to pause and breathe and yield. If things are at least okay, maybe you can take a moment to pause and breathe and savor. And as always: keep an eye out for someone else who needs a lift. Sometimes a small gesture ends up making a big difference, and even a brief focus on someone else’s challenges can often help you put yours in a larger context.

Get ready…get set…yield!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1044: Cultivating Character!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1044: Cultivating Character!
May 27, 2019

PEBBLE
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
-Phillips Brooks, shared by Mary in St Louis, MO

BOULDER
Temperament we are born with, character we have to make; and that not in the grand moments, when the eyes of men or of angels are visibly upon us, but in the daily quiet paths of pilgrimage, when the work is being done within in secret.
-J. Baldwin Brown, shared by Lois in Calumet, MI

PONDER
It is so much easier to do the right thing when we know someone is watching, or when we suspect there might be a big price to pay if we get caught. The more challenging moments come during those smaller, everyday occasions when we’re pretty sure no one is watching and we’re fairly confident that no one will ever know if we take an ethical short cut.

Those times when we do cut corners a bit don’t necessarily deserve our harshest judgment, and their existence doesn’t prove that we are horrible creatures. It just means we’re human creatures. The trick is to remain curious and avoid beating ourselves up, since they can help us identify our own opportunities for growth and can remind us not to judge others too stridently for their ethical lapses.

Making time and space for internal check-ins to ponder why we made those choices and whether we acted from our highest standards helps transform these mini-lapses into macro-lessons which can ultimately allow us to strengthen our character and enlarge our integrity.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. This is zooming out on Memorial Day here in the U.S., so I hope you’ll consider taking a moment of your holiday weekend to acknowledge those who sacrificed their lives on our behalf. Attend a ceremony, take a walk in a cemetery, or even just raise your glass at a picnic and ask others to do the same.… Read More!

Ripples #1043: Happiness Without Conditions!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1043: Happiness Without Conditions!
May 20, 2019

PEBBLE
I accept life unconditionally. Most people ask for happiness on condition. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set any condition. -Arthur Rubinstein, shared by Pat in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER
Happiness is singing together when day is through,
And happiness is those who sing with you.
Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime, too.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.
-Finale, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
shared by Abby in Cincinnati, OH

PONDER
The weekend included a fun opportunity for me and my sweetie: our neighbor-friend Abby invited us to join her family for a local production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” Not only was it a unique version of the show (the music was performed entirely by the characters who each played several instruments), the entire experience was made sweeter with my nostalgia for the show: way back in the 1980s I thoroughly enjoyed playing the role of Snoopy in our high school production.

The storyline zig zags around, highlighting the myriad challenges and joys that inevitably exist as part of a full life. By the end of the show, Charlie Brown and his friends conclude that it is possible to find and savor happiness even with a few annoyances here and there.

It was a lovely, lyrical reminder that we don’t need everything to be perfect in order to experience happiness. Plus, there is a bonus treat waiting for us when we make it a habit to notice and name the ordinary, everyday things that cultivate joy: this process invites gratitude, which leaves us feeling…well, even happier.

“Not bad,” Snoopy sings in one of his solo numbers. “Not bad at all.”

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1042: Not Knowing!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1042: Not Knowing!
May 13, 2019

PEBBLE
I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.
-Olivia Newton-John, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
Sometimes you don’t need to have a Master Plan.
You can trust in your Not Knowing instead.
Sometimes you just need to take the next step.
A small step.
Into safety.
Or into the wilderness.
Trust.
Breathe.
The great Master Plan unfolds with each tiny step you take.
-Jeff Foster, shared by Lorene in North Royalton, OH

PONDER
The other day I was enjoying a “walk and chat” with a good friend as she was contemplating a potential job shift that seems intriguing but wasn’t previously on her Master Plan. The conversation led me to daydream about the vast number unplanned twists and turns in my life that seemed so arbitrary and incidental at the time and yet ultimately proved to be fortuitous. Many of the connections and opportunities I’ve so immensely enjoyed throughout my lifetime were borne out of chance meetings and happy accidents.

I’ve also done lots of dreaming and planning and goal setting, and there is enormous value in sketching out long term Master Plans since they can help us harness our precious time, energy and focus. Plans help move us forward! If they become too rigid or restrictive, though, Master Plans can get in the way, preventing us from pursuing deviations that seem like detours and yet could lead to unimaginably exciting new destinies we haven’t previously dared to dream.

If there are ways in which Not Knowing is present in your life and yet seems problematic or worrisome for you right now, invite yourself to linger in the unpredictable (and admittedly uncomfortable) zone of Not Knowing, trusting that a Master Plan will eventually come into being. Think of yourself as out for a meandering stroll, temporarily setting aside any usual preferences for specific, mapped out itineraries. Who knows where you’ll end up!

Of course I don’t know if this experimentation will ultimately prove helpful. Still, I can be okay with that Not Knowing. Can you?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1041: Ugly Little Moments!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1041: Ugly Little Moments!
May 6, 2019

PEBBLE
If you get tough enough and stop complaining, your potential to view experiences as enjoyable increases.
-Brendan Leonard
shared by Melissa in Westfield, IN (via REI)

BOULDER
Everything grand is made from a series of ugly little moments. Everything worthwhile by hours of self-doubt and days of drudgery. All the works by people you and I admire sit atop a foundation of failures. So whatever your project, whatever your struggle, whatever your dream, keep toiling.
-Pierce Brown, shared by John in Findlay, OH

PONDER
It is a fact of life that our day-to-day existence often includes activities that are less fun and less interesting than the most exciting parts of our lives. Once we accept that as part of our reality, it gets easier to see the upside of the “ugly little moments.”

The yucky parts of life can cultivate discipline and tenacity and strength; these in turn help us achieve successes which often lead to lots of prettier, more enjoyable moments. Also, if every moment of every day was filled with stimulating and exciting activities, we’d eventually get overwhelmed by all of it and it would be too much to handle. Perhaps most importantly, the ugly moments can help us savor the more beautiful moments. Whenever I’ve had a couple of blechy days in a row, the next good day feels all the more enjoyable.

This doesn’t mean you have to LIKE the unpleasantness that inevitably appears in a full life. This just gives you the option of seeing their benefits, and recognizing the power that comes from consciously choosing how you experience and respond to them.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. We will soon be sending out Ripples an hour later than we used to so I can have one more chance to check for minor errors. I apologize if this gets in the way of your Monday morning routine, but it will hopefully help decrease the presence of errors! 🙂… Read More!

Ripples #1040: The Dance of Optimism!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1040: The Dance of Optimism!
Apr 29, 2019

PEBBLE
I find it a kind of reassuring thought, in these morose times, that at any given moment a sizable portion of the human race is dancing.
-Walt Anderson, shared by Claire at Central Michigan University

BOULDER
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
-Howard Zinn, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER

You likely know some folks who are so pessimistic that they could spend more time complaining about the taxes they’d have to pay on their lottery winnings than daydreaming how they would spend the balance.

Hopefully you also get to spend a decent amount of time with a few people who are good at seeing the upside and can joyfully anticipate the next sunny day even when the rain is pouring down. I’m not talking about those who paint clown-like artificial smiles on their face and grit their way through every situation, their faces strained with tension. No, I’m talking about the folks who take deep breaths, relish small pleasures and whose arrival consistently improves your mood (or at least makes a tough day a tad more tolerable).

Do me a favor and not only enjoy their presence in your life this week, but maybe also take a moment to THANK them for being a consistent source of light for you and the others they cross paths with. Then, if you have a few ounces of energy to spare, spend a little time wondering how things might change for you and those you encounter if you bumped up your courageous optimism a notch or three.

Be one of the many souls who are dancing this week, celebrating all the good stuff that exists in the world while harnessing the energy to tackle the challenges that need to be addressed so we can keep moving forward.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1039: Refrains of Nature!
Apr 22, 2019

PEBBLE
We have not inherited this earth from our parents…we have borrowed it from our children and we must be careful to use it in their interests as well as our own.
-Moses Henry Cass*, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ (see postscript for additional information about the quote source)

BOULDER
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
-Rachel Carson, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER

Happy Earth Day!

One of my favorite Earth Day rituals is to revisit a charming 4-minute video that combines Carl Sagan reading a brief passage from his book, “Pale Blue Dot” with a backdrop of stunning time lapse photography of various natural and man-made landscapes. (For those who would appreciate a lighter take on the same passage, check out Adam Winnik’s whimsically animated video.)

I recognize that reasonable people can disagree about what to prioritize and how to seek the ideal balance of enjoying and conserving our natural resources. Still, I think we can ALL recognize the truth in Sagan’s acknowledgement that at least for right now, this is the only option we’ve got as far as a place to live.

Let’s agree to spend extra time this week appreciating what we love about the planet while at the same time renewing our commitment to both ENJOY and PROTECT the earth which is, as Sagan points out, “the only home we’ve ever known.”

Are you in?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

*P.S. Today’s Pebble has been attributed to many sources, so I turned to QuoteInvestigator.com for help. They conclude this saying most likely evolved from a passage in noted environmentalist Wendell Barry’s 1971 “The Unforseen Wilderness.” I preferred the wording used in a 1974 speech by an Australian Conservation Minister and therefore listed him as the source.
Read More!

Ripples #1038: F.E.A.R.

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1038: F.E.A.R.
Apr 15, 2019

PEBBLE
Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.
-Zig Ziglar, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
Being free of fear is not a matter of never feeling it, but of not being flattened when we do. We can feel it and know it is a natural phenomenon, also an impermanent one, which will have its say and be gone.
—David Guy, shared by Pete in Nederland, CO
https://tricycle.org/magazine/trying-speak-personal-history-stage-fright/?

PONDER

What role is fear playing in your life right now?

Probably present in some form or another, Fear is most likely trying to focus on its number one job: protecting you from harm. Fear makes an excellent advisor, helping you steer clear of danger. It is often less helpful when put in charge of making decisions and choosing direction for the long term.

Whenever I notice that fear has taken the helm, I start by thanking it for the protection it is trying to provide and then asking for help in identifying potential dangers. Jotting down a list of concerns helps to separate actual risks I can prepare to minimize/avoid while setting aside unrealistic fears that are often left over from younger days.

That makes it easier to think of fear as a friend who sometimes lingers too long at the party rather than an enemy who must be avoided or banished…and therefore easier to Face Everything And Rise!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1037: Comparison Hangover!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1037: Comparison Hangover!
Apr 8, 2019

PEBBLE
You can only compare your current self to your former self. You’ll get a comparison hangover if you constantly measure your worth against someone else.
-Dax Shepherd, shared by Nora in Shalimar, FL

BOULDER
Your opponent, in the end, is never really the player on the other side of the net, or the swimmer in the next lane, or the team on the other side of the field, or even the bar you must high-jump. Your opponent is yourself, your negative internal voices, your level of determination.
-Grace Lichtenstein, via values.com
https://www.passiton.com/inspirational-quotes/7316-your-opponent-in-the-end-is-never-really-the

PONDER
Comparing ourselves to others is an easy habit to fall into even though it tends to alternatively feed our insecurities (when we compare ourselves to those who seem to be doing it all effortlessly and excellently) and our ego (when we observe those who have stumbled and we can temporarily feel better about ourselves with a snarky, “Well, at least I’m not in THAT situation.”).

It’s an inevitable part of being human and yet it is frequently more destructive than it is developmental. It can create unrealistic expectations that might temporarily give us something to aspire to, but then eventually damage our confidence and diminish our hope when we fall far short. Other times it can cause us to reach unhelpful and inaccurate conclusions about our value and our potential when we subtly transition from, “I guess I wasn’t as _ as I thought I was,” to “I guess just I’m not that _.”

If you’ve been doing lots of comparing yourself to others, see if you can notice it without judging yourself too harshly. Instead of trying to quickly eliminate the comparison, perhaps let it illuminate: get curious about why you’re comparing yourself and whether there is a more helpful way to achieve the same goal.

Striving for excellence helps maximize your potential. Trying to be like someone else is a recipe for disaster: you can’t be just like them because that job is already taken, and in the meantime you’ll miss out on becoming the best possible version of yourself.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!