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Paul Wesselmann

Ripples #1056: The Freedom of Forgiveness

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1056: The Freedom of Forgiveness.
Aug 19, 2019

PEBBLE
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
―Lewis B. Smedes, shared by Julie in Missoula, MT

BOULDER
If I may I leave you with this, forgiveness is not about saying what the other person did was okay. It simply means that you choose to no longer suffer when you think about the memory of it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness is freedom.
-Leigh Morgan Koechner, shared by D in San Diego, CA

PONDER
A few months back, I had a meaningful exchange with a fellow rippler (and fellow Cincinnatian!), Ron Meyer, who shared with me his definition of forgiveness as a quote submission: “The act of freeing yourself of the pain, hurt, isolation, hatred, anger or resentment caused by the words or actions of yourself or another person so that you can increase your capacity to love.”

I learned that he had developed this definition of forgiveness while designing a spiritual growth retreat. Using a great analogy, Ron explained that just as sink drains can build up gunk and reduce the flow of water, there are times when pain, anger and resentment can build up in our relationships, which in turn reduces the flow of communication and love. Forgiveness, then, can be a form of “spiritual Drano,” unclogging our lines of communication, and reducing the barriers to a freer flow of love.

Importantly, Ron also stressed that forgiveness can be a powerful tool for our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. He wrote, “People tend to miss the point that forgiveness is mostly for us and our own freedom. Forgiveness is not saying that what was done or said was OK. Instead, it is about acknowledging it for what it was and having the courage to let it go so that it does not impact us in a negative way anymore. And forgiveness is not about being weak and giving in, it’s about taking back our power and owning our joy.”

If you’d like to take more ownership of the joy in your life, it could be useful to spend some time considering past hurts to see if you’re ready to experience the freedom of forgiveness.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. Remember that an invitation isn’t a command…if this topic doesn’t feel ripe for exploration right now, just set it aside or hit delete! … Read More!

Ripples #1055: The Only You!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1055: The Only You!
Aug 12, 2019

PEBBLE
Don’t be just like anyone. Be better for everyone by being the only you.
-Justin Jones-Fosu, shared by Mary in Oswego, IL

BOULDER
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.
-Alan Watts, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER
It is so good to be back into the swing of things after a few weeks of downtime; I’ve already fired up some Wisconsin-based educators as they wrapped up an annual summit around inclusion issues, and I’m packing and prepping for another round of college orientation programs.

I’m also doing some un-packing, because I’ve noticed that no matter how many presentations I give and now matter how many messages I get from folks who tell me they’ve benefitted from crossing paths with The Ripples Guy…I still tend to tuck way various insecurities (what if I’m not wise or funny or prepared enough for this group) and worries (what if I’m unable to connect with them) that reveal themselves in the days before a string of presentations.

The good news is that even though I’m not immune from experiencing these thoughts and feelings, I’ve learned not to reject them or run from them or fight them (which usually only helps them fester). Instead, I’m usually able to greet them as old friends whose intention is to prevent me from making a fool of myself.

So I smile, thank them for making themselves known, and reminding them (and me) that the most sacred responsibility I have is to show up with the very best possible version of myself. That often means some self care (sleeping and eating and exercising) and some prep work (creating and reviewing and revising), and then just letting go of the rest.

Can you join me this week by bringing your YOUEST YOU to school, to work, to life?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

Read More!

Ripples #1054: Prioritizing Self-Care!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1054: Prioritizing Self-Care!
Aug 5, 2019

PEBBLE
An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows it to shine vibrantly, lighting the way for others. -Project Happiness https://www.facebook.com/projecthappiness/photos/a.143702586636/10151926969036637/?type=1&theater, shared by Suzy in Providence, RI

BOULDER
Self-care is never a selfish act –It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others lives we touch.
-Parker Palmer, shared by Reoh in St. Louis, MO

PONDER
There lives inside me a younger self who earnestly believes that we can and should help every single person we encounter who seems to be struggling. I’ve come to believe that a central part of my work in this lifetime is acknowledging this younger self’s kindness and compassion while helping him learn a few things. So, Paulie, here are some things for you to ponder….

Limits are Legit!
We do not individually possess all the resources (time, money, knowledge, skill, etc.) necessary to help every single person who we identify as needing help, and trying to do so would eventually deplete our resources to the point that we would be unable to help people that we otherwise could.

Autonomy is Awesome!
Just like doing someone else’s homework keeps them from learning, sometimes the way we want to help someone might actually be keeping them from learning what they need to know so they can grow into the best possible version of themselves. This doesn’t mean we can’t provide some support or cheer them on from a distance. Also: not everyone who seems (to us) like they are struggling actually need or want the kind of help we can offer.

Balance is best!
The most effective way to help others is to take good care of ourselves, to use good judgment and boundaries when offering help, and also to make sure we are good at asking for (and receiving) help when we need it.

I love that my inner Paulie wants to help everyone; to try and save every single person we think is struggling. That is sweet, and it is noble. It is also idealistic, and ultimately unrealistic. The best way to love that part of myself is to help him learn that we are at our best when we’re doing the right kind of helping and the right amount of helping.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Speaking of self care, I am back in action after a few weeks offline. If you reached out to me in the past few weeks, please know that I may not be able to read and respond to every single message that piled up. Please re-send anything that needs a reply!… Read More!

Ripples #1053: Cactus Sitting!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1053: Cactus Sitting
July 29, 2019

PEBBLE
Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.
-Joyce Meyer, shared by Diane in Marshfield, WI

BOULDER
Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.
-Irving Berlin, shared by Jeanne in Waupun, WI

PONDER
So is there a cactus in your life right now? Some thorny, uncomfortable situation that is making things uncomfortable, difficult or just plain blechy? If there is, I’m sorry you’re stuck with it right now. I hope there is a way to minimize the discomfort and I hope that things clear up soon.

Remember that you don’t have to have a sunny outlook on things if that doesn’t feel right. If things are poopy, it is ok to stand up and scream, “THINGS ARE REALLY POOPY RIGHT NOW!” Just remember that even when you don’t get to choose what happens next, you do have a say in how you respond. You can choose to be less or more optimistic to suit your taste.

I’ll also add that you don’t have to choose between being caustically pessimistic and cloyingly positive. There is a middle road that looks something like, “Eh, this situation stinks but hey it’ll be over eventually.” The key is to choose mindfully and wisely.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I’m wrapping up my downtime and I’ll be online next week!… Read More!

Ripples #1052: When They Let Us Down!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1052: When They Let Us Down!
July 22, 2019

PEBBLE
Life is imperfect.
People are imperfect.
Love is the perfect response.
-Kristi Nelson, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.
-Brene Brown quoting her husband Steve in her book, Rising Strong,
shared by Mary Kay in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER.
People let us down.

Sometimes it happens because it turns out they are not the people we think they are, or they aren’t who we wish they were. Other times it is because we had unrealistic (or at least unspoken) expectations. It also happens because people aren’t always able to show up as the best possible versions of themselves because, well because life is hard sometimes.

When people let us down, we sometimes react from a place of frustration and/or hurt when we might be better served if we could pause a moment to regain a sense of peace and respond from a place of love. This doesn’t mean we have to tolerate bad behavior, silently suffer the consequences of other people’s choices, or take on other people’s responsibilities.

Responding from a place of love does mean that we can be assertive without being acerbic; we can show compassion while explaining consequences; we can even cut people a little slack for their shortcomings even as we invite them to think better and do better.

Can you give it a shot this week, just to see how it goes? I will if you will!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. Remember that I’m offline for a few weeks and won’t be checking emails regularly. I’ll let you know when I’m back online!… Read More!

Ripples #1051: Life’s a Workout!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1051: Life’s a Workout!
July 15, 2019

PEBBLE
People aren’t born strong. People grow stronger little by little, encountering difficult situations, learning not to run from them.
-Christina Grimmie, shared by Jack in Aurora, CO

BOULDER
Muscle is created by lifting things that are designed to weigh us down.
When your shoulders are heavy stand up straight and call it exercise.
Life is a gym membership with a really complicated cancellation policy.
-Rudy Francisco, shared by Deborah in San Antonio, TX

PONDER
A few years ago I was in Phoenix hanging out with some of my NIRSA peeps at a regional conference with the theme of CHANGE. Since they work in the field of campus recreation and wellness, I borrowed some concepts that we normally use when talking about physical fitness and asked attendees to think about their “Change Fitness…”

Flexibility: adapting to changing conditions
Strength: taking action despite resistance
Endurance: persevering through hardship
Balance: remaining steady and upright

If life has been an extra challenging workout because of change, change, change…keep in mind that in addition to being frustrating and exhausting, change can also help you increase your change fitness which will likely make it easier for you to handle future change.

Oh and just like with physical exercise, it’s important to make sure we’re getting enough rest and hydration, and ask for a spotter if you’re dealing with some really heavy stuff. Make sense?

Get ready…get set…CHANGE!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. Remember that I’m offline for a few weeks and won’t be checking emails regularly. I’ll let you know when I’m back online!… Read More!

Ripples #1050: A Sacred Pause

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples!
Ripples #1050: A Sacred Pause
July 8, 2019

PEBBLE
I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun warmed rock in the center of a rushing river.
-Dawna Markova, shared by Thomas in Kansas City, MO

BOULDER
Believe us, they say, it is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world. I beg of you, do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance.
-Mary Oliver, shared by Judy in Tampa, FL
https://wordsfortheyear.com/2017/08/28/invitation-by-mary-oliver/

PONDER
I love the hustle bustle of my crazy full life. It is so exhilarating! It is also exhausting. I long ago learned that I am most effective as a professional and as a person when I carve out time and space for occasional pauses. That usually means a few minutes each day, and a few hours each week that are unplugged, unscheduled, and unrehearsed.

It also means that a few times a year I need a more substantial pause: one that involves stepping away from my regular schedule and my regular activities…even social media and these weekly Ripples emails that I love so! It is time for me to press pause for a bit. Fear not, Ripply friends: I spent the last two months creating and uploading a few extra Ripples so they will still zoom out to you each Monday during this sacred pause.

While I am resting and daydreaming and meandering through space and time, I hope you will consider daydreaming about how a sacred pause might help replenish your spirit. See you in a few weeks!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I will eventually glance at emails that pile up while I’m offline, but may not be able to respond–I’ll let you know when I’m back in action so you can resend anything urgent.… Read More!

Ripples #1049: Delusions of Disconnection!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1049: Delusions of Disconnection!
July 1, 2019

PEBBLE
There is only one problem and there is only one answer. Every problem emerges from the false belief we are separate from one another, and every answer emerges from the realization we are not.
-Marianne Williamson, shared by Tara in Salt Lake City, UT via Project Happiness
https://www.facebook.com/projecthappiness/photos/a.143702586636/10155743554021637/?type=3&theater

BOULDER
A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
-Albert Einstein, shared by David in Topeka, KS

PONDER
I notice it when I’m driving: I too easily fall into a mindset that all of us are racing each other. So someone who passes me is now winning (which means I’m losing), and if they get in “my” lane too quickly (forcing me to slow down), well I’m sure they did that on purpose because they are meanies. This makes me a dummy for letting them do that to me.

With just a minor tweak of my mindset, I lean into the idea that we are all connected, which invites me to step out of the limited game of winners vs. losers or us vs. them, and shift into the LARGER game of life where we’re all on the same side because: we are all connected.

This alters my perspective and instead of just focusing on getting ME where I’m trying to go in the most efficient and safest way possible, I began to see that I’m part of an ecosystem of drivers where the ultimate goal is to get us all where we’re trying to go in most efficient and safest way possible. Sure there are some people who are going “too fast” or “too slow,” but once I rev up my patience and generosity even a teensy bit, the drive becomes more enjoyable while only costing an extra minute or two of my time. BONUS POINTS: I get to arrive at my destination a little bit calmer and a little bit happier.

And yes, I regularly encounter people who have forgotten that we are all connected and are careless in their choices. And there are plenty of times that I unwittingly accept their unconscious invitation to compete, which unfortunately causes a chain reaction of unkindness. Luckily, there are also times where I can let it go: instantly and cheerfully accepting that right now they have too much going on in their lives to remember that we are all indeed connected, and we are all here just to help each other … Read More!

Ripples #1048: A Collection of Moments!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1048: A Collection of Moments!
June 24, 2019

PEBBLE
Life is made up of a collection of moments that are not ours to keep. The pain we encounter throughout our days spent on this earth comes from the illusion that some moments can be held on to…clinging to people and experiences that were never ours in the first place is what causes us to miss out on the beauty of the miracle that is the now.
-Rachel Brathen, shared by Tom in Kansas City, MO

BOULDER
If there’s one thing I want to take away from Paul’s speech, it’s that living in the moment is essential. Planning is great, but if you’re always looking ahead you’re never taking in what’s around you. Reflection is valuable, but if you’re always looking back you never know what good things are coming your way. “Here, Now:” I love that.
-Conor Van Santen, written and shared by Conor from St. Louis University, MO

PONDER
Today’s Boulder was extracted from a message forwarded to me last fall after I gave a talk to a few hundred energized residence hall leaders. I appreciate how succinctly Conor framed the benefits and costs of looking ahead (planning) and looking back (reflection).

I was also pleased that he embraced the HERE NOW mantra that began as a private, sacred ritual I whispered to myself before stepping on stage and transformed into a core component of most talks I give. Just last week a graduating Cal Poly student made my day when he put the message on his mortarboard (Thanks for that honor, Sean!)

Life is so darn full and so darn busy these days; it seems to zoom by faster than we can savor it. Remembering to pause and take some deep breaths while repeating HERE NOW a few times can help us stay more present and more appreciative of the collection of moments that create a full life.

I’m going to strive to be a little more here and a little more now during this week’s collection of moments, and I invite you to join me. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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!