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Ripples #1095: Coming Undone

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Ripples #1095: Coming Undone
May 18, 2020

PEBBLE
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
-English Proverb, shared by Denise in California

BOULDER
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
-Cynthia Occelli, shared by Jean in Ellwood City, PA

PONDER
The experience of facing really big challenges that are unlike anything we’ve previously experienced can be quite disorienting to say the least (global pandemic much?). Unplanned shifts like this tend to knock us off our center and force us far (far!) out of our comfort zones, sometimes at dizzying speeds.

Whenever we find ourselves in the middle of something new and hard and yucky, it is normal and it is natural to experience lots of fear and uncertainty. We might be asking ourselves (or screaming at anyone who will listen): What is going on? What is going to happen next? How am I going to get through this?

Keep in mind that not knowing how (or even if) we are going to make it through something isn’t necessarily a sign that we are not going to make it. It is merely a signal that things are too unfamiliar and perhaps too troublesome for us to have complete confidence that everything works out fine.

But you know what? I’m guessing you can scan your memory for other times you felt a lot of fear and uncertainty and you DID make it through. And regardless of how many challenges you’ve faced, and regardless of how many times you may have almost NOT made it through something difficult…if you’re reading this today (and I’m pretty sure you are), you somehow made it to today.

If you are struggling today, I hope you can access a combination of internal strength and external resources to help you persist through the hard times and prepare the transformation that awaits. It’s possible this is both a dark ending of things that are winding down AND a bright beginning for that which is gearing up. If things aren’t too bad for you personally, make an extra effort to look around and identify those around you who are coming undone, and ask them how you can help.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1094: Congruence & Authenticity

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Ripples #1094: Congruence & Authenticity
May 11, 2020

PEBBLE
The authentic self is soul made visible.
-Sarah San Breathnach, shared by Pete in Sedona, AZ

BOULDER
We’re at our strongest – emotionally, spiritually, and quite often, physically – when we keep our beliefs and our outward behavior neatly in a row. When they drift one side or the other of ‘center,’ that instability will weaken us, whether or not anyone else notices.
-Tom Lally, written and shared by Tom in Cincinnati, OH

PONDER

Most of us hold idealized versions of ourselves in our minds; we imagine being someone who consistently acts on our highest intentions while successfully managing our least helpful impulses.

While we all admit to certain moments of incongruity when our actions don’t live up to our proclaimed values, I think it is mighty tempting to confuse the idealized “this is how I wish I showed up in world every day” version of self with the more realistic, more accurate “this is how I actually show up in the world on most days.”

Being aware of the temptations and the tendencies of self-delusion is useful, and learning to respect and genuinely like your “real, actual me” is an important step to more consistently living your professed values.

When I first paired these quotes together, I couldn’t decide whether to identify the theme of this issue as “Congruence” or “Authenticity,” terms I’ve sometimes used interchangeably to talk about practicing what you preach. My pal Pidge made a useful distinction when she texted me in a recent exchange, “I think of authenticity as how others experience us and congruence in how we experience ourselves, if that makes sense.”

It DID made sense to me, and her distinction invited me to get curious about how congruence (how well my actions line up with my intentions) influences authenticity (how others perceive the overlap between my behavior and my values).

Since we’re human, with all our contradictions and our flaws, it is not possible to remain impeccable in maintaining perfect congruence of our actions and our proclaimed values. Still, the more often we can mindfully minimize incongruence, the more respect we will gain from ourselves and those around us.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1093: Grief (Love’s Receipt)

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Ripples #1093: Grief
May 4, 2020

PEBBLE
Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.
-Glennon Doyle Melton, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
It’s just fine to feel a little heavy, and it’s just fine to sit here and catch my breath, and it’s just fine to be a mess at times, and it’s just fine to be relatively normal sometimes. It’s just fine to miss them. It’s just fine to let it all hit me, surrendering and succumbing. And it’s just fine to remember that grief has no rules, and that really, it will in many ways last as long as love does. Forever. -Lexi Behrndt, shared by Eric in Los Angeles, CA

PONDER
Over the years, many people have reached out to me in search of support to help themselves or someone they care about who is grieving. Last fall I shared some thoughts on Unimaginable (but not unbearable) Grief (https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamRipples/permalink/10156607585716662/), and I’ve been gradually assembling a compendium of advice, articles, and quotes for you to use and share as needed: When Grief Happens. (https://www.facebook.com/notes/2691270684531155).

Way back in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic (you know, a couple months ago), I stumbled upon an article that resonated with me and many others: “The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.” https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief It is a conversation with grief expert David Kessler who worked with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, and who recently identified a sixth stage of grief: Meaning. https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Meaning-Sixth-Stage-Grief/dp/1501192736. The article helped me better understand, anticipate, and manage some of the swirl of emotions that many of us have been experiencing in the last few weeks.

It turns out there are all kinds of losses that are being experienced right now: jobs that have been eliminated, routines and options that are now restricted, and the myriad ways we’ve had to give up our well-established ways of working, studying and living. And then there is the literal loss of life: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others who have died.

All of these losses, the small ones and the big ones, the temporary and the permanent need to be recognized, acknowledged, and grieved. And extra care must be extended since these losses have come in an already stressful time when we are unable to gather together and support each other. That means feeling all the feels, thinking all the thoughts, and giving space and grace for sadness, frustration, confusion, and hurt. Oh, and celebration to acknowledge the memories and the gifts that are luckily left behind in the face of loss.

I’ll close by dedicating this issue to my mom, the fascinating and remarkable Tootie Wesselmann (1930-2020), who last week went off to play cards in the Great Beyond. I’d prefer not to hear or receive condolences; maybe instead you could extend a little extra compassion and kindness … Read More!

Ripples #1092: To Listen

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Ripples #1092: To Listen
April 27, 2020

PEBBLE
To listen is to lean in softly with the willingness to be changed by what you hear.
-Mark Nepo, shared by Sandra in Kent, WA

BOULDER
One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.
-Elton Mayo, shared by Holly, Phoenix, AZ

PONDER
To listen is to care: deep listening is a powerful way to demonstrate our willingness to support someone who is lonely, hurting, sad, and/or angry.

To listen is to grow: curious listening enlarges our knowledge base, giving us a wider view of specific topics and inching us toward a wiser, more informed maturity.

To listen is to learn: critical listening helps us understand why others might hold a different opinion than our own. It also provides clues about how to speak in a way that improves the odds they can hear, consider, and possibly even be influenced by our perspective.

To listen is to lead: comprehensive listening models the communication and connection skills we hope to transmit to those we lead whether we’re a supervisor, manager, parent, mentor, etc.

To listen is to love: empathetic listening affirms those who long to be heard, to be seen, to be validated.

Let’s up our listening game this week when we connect with those we lead, those we love and those we can learn from. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health

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Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos––the trees, the clouds, everything.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, shared by TK in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER
Doctors won’t make you healthy.
Nutritionists won’t make you slim.
Teachers won’t make you smart.
Gurus won’t make you calm.
Mentors won’t make you rich.
Trainers won’t make you fit.
Ultimately, you have to take responsibility.
Save yourself.
-Naval Ravikant

PONDER
It is hard to believe that six weeks have passed since I returned from vacation just in time to craft the first Covid-related Ripples (#1086 What’s Happening? https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1086). A week later in Ripples #1087 (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1087) we unveiled our WE GOT THIS sticker (https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc), created as an invitation to focus on four strategies that we’ve been steadily unpacking here in the last few weeks: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1090), and nurturing our health. I sheepishly confess that I still recall being concerned that all of this focus on Covid might seem irrelevant by the time we would get to the final topic of the series.

Our health is foundational to every aspect of our lives: work, school, relationships, just everything. And given the unique challenges of living through a global pandemic, tending to our health is absolutely crucial. I shared this quote (https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Kjg51D6Pb/) with my online buddies: “In the dream, a wise one whispered, ‘If there is a chance you’ll soon fall ill, anything you do in the coming days to bolster your health will matter.'”

My intent is to help us all remember that even though we don’t have complete control over whether this pesky virus finds us, there *are* practical steps we can take to minimize the chance we get sick, to minimize the impact if we do get sick, and to minimize the impact on our health care system which still needs our help.

Over the past several years, the U.S. Army has transformed Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep (http://www.eatmovesleep.org) into the “Performance Triad” (https://p3.amedd.army.mil/what-leaders-need-to-know/what-is-the-performance-triad): a laser focus on sleep, activity, and nutrition as three cornerstones to maximizing health and wellbeing. I’ve revisited these often in the last few weeks, assessing my choices and habits to make adjustments that will bolster my health. I invite you to do the same, since even a few minor tweaks would be beneficial to you, the people you care about, and our society at large.

My plan in the coming weeks is to broaden our attention to the typical variety of topics we explore in these weekly splashes. I also wanted to let you know I’ve been field testing a one-hour online presentation that was inspired by our “Covid Coping” series. I’ve re-imagined it as “Ripples of Resilience: Surviving, Reviving, and Thriving Amidst Challenge & Change.” If you’re interested in spending an hour with me and a few dozen fellow Ripplers, send an email to ROR@2Rpl.me and I’ll get you some information.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. We printed up yet … Read More!

Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits

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Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t worry about calming the storm.
Calm yourself; the storm will pass.
-source unknown, shared by David in Northridge, CA

BOULDER
When your life seems messed up, it’s incredibly depressing to start thinking about the next year or the next month or, sometimes, even the next day. Take the next hour or even the next five minutes and find a way to be happy and positive in those moments. Maybe it’s watching a funny video or calling a friend or eating your favorite food, just find a way to not be miserable in the short term. If you string enough moments of ok-ness together, you’ll find your way back to the light.
-Brady Krien, written and shared by Brady in Iowa City, IA [who offered this advice a few years ago to a struggling college student]

PONDER
Welcome to the third in our four-part “Covid Coping” series, exploring four strategies we can focus on to get through this: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits, and nurturing our health.

Many people have shared with me just how exhausting and exasperating the last few weeks have been, and I’ll tell you: I’m feeling it, too. I think I handled the first few weeks of all this weirdness with an infusion of adrenaline, my innate optimism, and a solid sense that our best way through this turbulence and uncertainty was by pulling together and staying together.

I’m aware that my instinct to jump into helping mode has impacted my ability to step back and regain my center.

Instead of spending more time crafting a ponder about the importance of cultivating calm through meditation, prayer, relaxation exercises, walks in nature, or some other mindful practice….I need to pause, take a few deep breaths (here now), and expend fewer minutes explaining it so I can spend more minutes doing it.

Some additional deep breaths, an extra meditation session, and a few hours of laying the couch will likely invoke a lovely evening of ok-ness; I’m guessing tomorrow will find me a little closer in my journey back to the light.

May you make your way toward a calmer spirit, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1089: Open Hearts

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Ripples #1089: Open Hearts
April 6, 2020

PEBBLE
We can never have peace if we cannot understand the pain in each other’s hearts. The more we interact, the more we will come to realize that our humanity transcends all differences.
-Wayne Shorter, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to the other, should the need arise.
-Rabbi Yosef Kamefsky, shared by Laurie in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
This is the second of our four-part “Covid Coping” series covering the four strategies I believe we can focus on to get through this together: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1087), open hearts, calm spirits, and nurturing our health.

It is more important than ever that we cultivate a sense of our shared humanity; it was already in short supply and the past few weeks have made coming together even more complicated. It is tricky to mentally and spiritually come together while we are physical distancing! It has always been true that our own behavior impacts those around us; our current situation requires us to confront just how significantly we are interconnected and interdependent upon each other.

Add in our frayed nerves and the frequent exposure to significantly disconcerting news updates, it is essential that we cut ourselves and each other some extra slack whenever possible. We need to extend patience, generosity, and kindness towards ourselves and others. Last week my pal Toby and I crafted a lovingkindness meditation to help us open our hearts and extend generosity to ourselves and others. Because it takes about 20 seconds to recite, we’ve been calling it our handwashing meditation:

Right now, I am doing the best I can.
Right now, my best may not seem good enough.
Right now, my best is the best I have.

Right now, everyone else is doing the best they can.
Right now, their best may not seem good enough.
Right now, their best is the best they have.

Right now, we are all doing the best we can
Right now, our best may not seem good enough.
Right now, our best is the best we have.
-Toby Causby (https://www.tobycausby.com) & Paul Wesselmann (https://theripplesguy.com)
(downloadable PDF available here: bit.ly/RightNow-DoingOurBest)

There is still room for disappointment, disagreement, and even disgust. There is still room for speaking up on behalf of yourself and others. When possible, see if you can also make room for a little extra patience, a dab of extra generosity, and maybe a sprinkling of extra kindness? It will help others feel a little better, and I think you’ll find it helps you feel a little better, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Thanks to many of you, we’ve now distributed almost two thousand WE GOT THIS stickers that … Read More!

Ripples #1088: Curious Minds

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Ripples #1088: Curious Minds
March 30, 2020

PEBBLE
Wisdom isn’t about accumulating more facts, it’s about understanding big truths in a deeper way. -Melinda Gates, shared by Sr. Miriam in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
Of course, life does not unfold according to our desires or even according to our beliefs. We are part of life unfolding and teaching us all the time.
-Michael Ketterhagen, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
We revealed last week the idea of our WE GOT THIS stickers to cultivate curious minds, open hearts, and calm spirits while we nurture our health. (Cool news: we’ve since distributed over 1,000 stickers and just ordered another batch! If you’d like a free sticker for yourself OR perhaps order some colleagues and loved ones, please visit this Google Doc for details: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc)

I thought we’d spend the next few weeks unpacking these four Covid Coping strategies, and it makes sense to start with the first one: Curious Minds. My intention in leading with this one is to remind us that there are choices about how to respond to things even when we don’t have a choice about the thing happening. Leaning into these questions can help: How can I learn from this? Who do I want to be on the other side of this? Is it possible to grow through this even if I’m not pleased that I have to go through this?

I had a great exchange with someone last week who messaged me after watching one of the videos I whipped up to help talk us all through this weirdness. She wrote, “Thanks Paul! I hear and appreciate everything you’re saying – but I am struggling with the curious minds part. I don’t want to do this! It’s too big and too overwhelming. I am hanging in there but not liking it one bit.”

I fully agreed that this is indeed really big, and many of us are experiencing daily doses of overwhelm. I asked her to imagine a teacher on the first day of school thinking it would be a good idea to give the class an overview of everything they’d learn for the entire year. My thought is that would probably make you think or even scream something very similar to: “It’s too big and too overwhelming!” Instead of grappling with the whole big mess and how we’re going to get through this, an alternative might be to notice one thing you’ve done in the past couple of weeks that has helped you grow personally or professionally.

Another small way to help activate your curious mind is to pivot from judging people who are handling this differently than you are and instead get curious about what might cause someone to think, say, and do the things that seem at first glance to be irrational or unhelpful in some way.

As for the part about not liking this one bit, I shared that it sounded to me like a part of her is … Read More!

Ripples #1087: We Got This!

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Ripples #1087: We Got This!
March 23, 2020

PEBBLE
Heads Up, Hearts Up, Hopes Up.
-Jonathan Kwiatkowski, shared by Christine in Racine, WI

BOULDER
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge–even wisdom.
-Toni Morrison, shared by Wendy in Oconto, WI

PONDER
I ended last week’s Ripples by confessing that I wasn’t sure how weird and how bad things might get in the coming days. Well, here were are a week later and I am feeling even less sure about the weirdness and the badness we’ll soon be experiencing. Can you relate?

While I believe it is vital that we courageously face the gravity of the situation, I am equally passionate that we do so calmly, and together. I’ve been posting a steady stream of upbeat content on social media and with some other folks created WE GOT THIS stickers that share four helpful skills I’ll unpack here in the coming weeks (see the postscript below if you’d like me to mail you a sticker!)

In the meantime, the quotes above are helping me remain positive and focused even though I’m not turning away from the bad news. Even though some people aren’t taking this as seriously as we wish they would, there is ample evidence that many people ARE taking this seriously and some of them are doing so with style, flair and grace. There is art, wisdom, kindness, and even humor being unleashed by celebreties and everyday folks. They are my heroes, and are making it easier for us to keep our heads, our hearts, and our hopes up.

I’m telling you…We got this!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. We’d be thrilled to zoom you a WE GOT THIS Sticker, for free if you’d like. Visit this Google Doc for the details: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc… Read More!

Ripples #1086: What’s Happening?

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Ripples #1086: What’s Happening?
March 16, 2020

PEBBLE
Life isn’t only happening to us, we are happening to life.
-Toko-pa Turner, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
A big event can make it feel like the world is falling apart, but there are millions of tiny acts of kindness still holding it together. -TwistedDoodles, shared by Nick in Indiana via Team Ripples Facebook Group

PONDER
I realize this is an understatement, but for the record let me state it clearly so we are on the same page: there is a LOT going on in the world right now, eh?

No matter where you are, and now matter the distance between you and the nearest person who is sick, the situation regarding COVID-19 is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and quite unpleasant. It is not, however, unbearable. I know this because we are bearing it right now. You, me, and millions of other people are adjusting and making plans and making it through. This is impacting some people more than others, and the longer it lasts the more messy it is going to get. Which makes it even more important that we balance the protection of our physical safety with equally radical measures to ensure our emotional and social safety, too.

New levels of hand-washing will help us decrease the spread of germs; we also need to refresh our habits around staying mentally positive: cleaning up our attitude and our outlook while scrubbing away excessive cynicism and unhelpful negativity. Social distancing requires temporarily maintaining physical distance from each other; we will need to counter with a greater reliance on alternative methods of of “social closening:” brief texts and longer video chats, emoji waves and virtual hugs, goofy new social greeting gestures and good old fashioned handwritten letters. None of these are perfect replacements, but as a society we simply cannot afford to drift any farther apart than we already have.

I can tell you that I’ve ramped up the frequency and intensity of my Facebook and Twitter posts, and our Team Ripples Facebook Group is helping us all stay informed and inspired. I’ve also committed to posting brief upbeat videos like this and this; you’re invited to subscribe to my YouTube page.

And of course these weekly splashes will keep zooming out every Monday morning, just like we did in the aftermath of 9/11, the 2008-09 economic meltdown, and the myriad natural disasters and human-caused tragedies that we’ve helped each other face in the last two decades. For over a thousand weeks in a row we’ve kept each other going and growing with inspiration and resources and genuine support. We’re not stopping any time soon.

I don’t know how long things are going to be weird. And I don’t know how bad things are going to get. But I’ve lived through enough difficulty to know: we humans are built pretty darn tough, and we do life best when we do it together. Whatever happens in life, remember that we are happening, too. … Read More!

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