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All Posts By

Paul Wesselmann

Ripples #1106: Higher Rung

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Ripples #1106: Higher Rung
Aug 3, 2020

PEBBLE
To ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.
-Dan Millman, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
Challenges sometimes confront us when we least want them, and yet it is often in dark times when the most positive inner changes can occur. Life’s occasional disasters can even lead us back to something we have lost along the way, a path with purpose and fulfillment.
-Bill Lucas, written and shared by Bill in Chicago, IL [who transformed a most unwelcome basement flooding into an invitation to spruce up his home, his mind, and his spirits]

PONDER
If your struggles are too mighty to think about THRIVING right now, it is okay to just focus on SURVIVING. If, however, there happen to be some areas of your life where you feel ready to accept the challenge of improving, growing, becoming…well then, welcome to the climb!

I suspect you’ll climb faster and higher if you lower your defenses, set aside your preference for comfort, and move past mere tolerance for discomfort. Can you find a way to embrace discomfort as though it was a long lost friend that you’re really excited to see?

There is a powerful scene in Forrest Gump when he and Lieutenant Dan are about to face a hurricane in their tiny shrimp boat. Having lost both legs in Vietnam, Lt. Dan spent years feeling defeated and despondent. The approaching storm seems to awaken his fighting spirit, and he screams up to God/Mother Nature: “Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a ****! Blow! It’s time for a showdown! You and me! I’m right here! Come and get me!” He ends up conquering the storm, and the resulting sense of satisfaction and peace is evident in several following scenes. Of course the way it is portrayed in the movie is over the top and unrealistic, and yet every single time I re-watch the movie a strong sense of fierce resilience rises up within me. It renews my fighting spirit and strengthens my resolve to tackle whatever life has recently handled me.

Is there a way you could choose to transform a specific difficulty you’re facing right now into an invitation to climb your way to a higher rung?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1105: Interrupting Patterns

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Ripples #1105: Interrupting Patterns
July 27, 2020

PEBBLE
Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening our heart is the work of a lifetime.
-Pema Chödrön, shared by Dana in Long Beach, CA

BOULDER
Pay attention to your patterns. The ways you learned to survive may not be the ways you want to continue to live. Heal and shift.
-Dr. Thelma Bryant-Davis, shared by Doug in Mobile, AL

PONDER
Habits are an important topic in the time management sessions I often present as conference breakout sessions (remember conferences? I remember conferences….and I miss them so!). Managing our habits is an extremely effective strategy for enhancing productivity and reducing procrastination.

Positive habits are useful for several reasons: they don’t require as much motivation to get started, we tend to get them done without having to rely as heavily on our memory or reminders, and they provide their own rewards since we tend to feel better when we make progress.

Unhelpful habits are problematic for similar reasons: they are easily reinforced (which make them difficult to extinguish), and we are often tempted by their short term rewards even though they tend to delay longer term, bigger goals that are ultimately more important to us.

It is also true we sometimes maintain or reinforce habits that have outlived their utility. We keep doing them because we’ve done them for a really long time, failing to notice that what was a boost to our effectiveness and/or enjoyment is now more of a drag.

Identifying unhelpful patterns and replacing them with more useful habits can move us closer to the life we want to lead. I’m still enjoying some down time, but I’ve already blocked off some time over the coming weeks to examine my routines and habits in the hopes I can make some tweaks to boost my productivity and also my joy.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1104: Letting Nature Speak

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Ripples #1104: Letting Nature Speak
July 20, 2020

PEBBLE
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
-Linda Hogan, shared by Terry in Oak Creek, WI

BOULDER
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-William Henry Davies, shared by Terri in Canton, GA

PONDER
Thanks to a childhood filled with year round scouting and summers at Camp Ondessonk, I’ve long known just how restorative it can be to spend time in nature, letting her speak and remembering how to listen to what she has to say. Sometimes, however, I forget.

Here’s my truth right now: burnout is a thing that is real and is happening to me (and others too, I feel quite certain!). And one of the quirky things that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that two of burnout’s most powerful antidotes, change of pace and change of scenery, often elude me when I begin to tire. One of the sneakier aspects of burnout is that when it begins creeping toward me, I often find myself running in the opposite direction…I throw myself into projects and mind swirls that only bring me closer to the brink of a full on freak out.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been following some of the advice I share with others when it comes to certain aspects of self care. On the one hand, I have been doing a pretty good job at the daily tasks: eating, nutrition, exercise, meditation, but it has became increasingly clear that I’ve been neglecting the need for a deeper reset. My soul has been whispering, and I’ve been ignoring.

I’m addressing that with a brief respite. And I’ve decided that for me and for now, traveling isn’t the wisest option for our individual and collective health. So I’m going to hunker down here, and make daily appointments with books, with music, and with nearby Nature. I’ll be back with soon with refreshed spirit and a renewed determination to help us all keep going, keep growing, & keep glowing. In the meantime, I’ve set up the next few issues of Ripples so you can hopefully be inspired while I’m resting.

See. You. Soon.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1103: Your New Life!

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Ripples #1103: Your New Life!
July 13, 2020

PEBBLE
I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.
-Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)
shared by Savannah in Plymouth, NH

BOULDER
Your new life is going to cost you your old one. It’s going to cost you your comfort zone and your sense of direction. It’s going to cost you relationships and friends. It’s going to cost you being liked, and understood. But it doesn’t matter. Because the people who aren’t meant for you are going to meet you on the other side. And you’re going to build a new comfort zone around the things that actually move you forward. And instead of liked, you’re going to be loved. Instead of understood, you’re going to be seen. All you’re going to lose is what was built for a person you no longer are. Let it go.
-Brianna Wiest, shared by Alison in Pittsburgh, PA

PONDER
In case you were wondering: nope, you’re not dreaming. 2020 is half over, and the unfortunate reality is that this Terrible Time of Covidia is most likely *not* half over.

I’ve lately returned to the four strategies we developed in the early days and weeks… Can you remember all the way back to March when we explored the “Covid Coping” hypothesis that WE GOT THIS if we can pull together with Curious Minds, Open Hearts, and Calm Spirits while Nurturing Health?

I’ve also been relying on the “unfortunate and also fortunate” truth about my own life: the hardest chapters have invariably been the periods when I’ve grown the most. So even though part of me just wants to fast-forward through the rest of 2020 and then erase the entire year, I can already identify several ways that I’ve become stronger and more skilled both professionally and personally.

There are three components of coping with challenge and change: surviving, reviving, and thriving. This pandemic is not impacting everyone the same; plenty of people are struggling to just survive. Still, it is important to remember that many of us have at least a little extra bandwidth to occasionally invest in reviving (picking up the broken pieces) and thriving (building of the new). As the quotes above remind us, growth requires getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and moving toward the next destination on our life’s journey requires walking away from where we’ve been.

What are you willing to walk away from so that you move closer to your new life? If it feels even a little scary, remind yourself that growth requires discomfort. You cannot remain comfortable and grow into the best possible version of yourself.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. We still have a batch WE GOT THIS Stickers; visit our Google Doc for how to snag a free and/or buy a few to unleash hopeful ripples to friends, family and colleagues: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc. Oh, and if your group/team needs a lift, let me know and perhaps we can create a package of ripply … Read More!

Ripples #1102: Words: Windows or Walls?

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Ripples #1102: Words: Windows or Walls?
July 6, 2020

PEBBLE
Words are windows, or they’re walls: they sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear, let the love light shine through me.
-Ruth Bebermeyer, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
Words saturated with sincerity, conviction, faith, and intuition are like highly explosive vibration bombs, which, when set off, shatter the rocks of difficulties and create the change desired.
-Paramahansa Yogananda, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
Over the last several days, I’ve written and re-written a rather long and winding “Ponder” that explores some difficult conversations I’ve recently had. Some of it was about online exchanges I’ve had around the challenges and opportunities that exist right now, and other parts involved personal exchanges I had with friends and colleagues. There was some really good stuff in those drafts, and I may end up sharing some of it another time.

Here’s what feels right to say today: we all know that words can be powerful and potent. When chosen mindfully they help us express our ideas and influence those around us. Words can also betray us when they are uttered in the heat of the moment, when they are venting mis-directed frustration and hurt, and when we haven’t finished sorting through what we want to say, how we want to say it, and who best to say it to.

I’m writing this today to remind us all that we have opportunities and responsibilities when it comes to detonating our verbal “vibration bombs.” And we need to keep in mind that explosions can have both constructive and destructive outcomes depending on when and how we use them. Choose mindfully, consider the consequences, and commit to using your “love light” to improve the world. And please: find the strength and courage to repair any unintended damage your words may cause.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. A brief-yet-hearty shout out to the few dozen long time Ripplers who are pitching in to help cover the cost of sending out Ripples while my speaking income has been virtually eliminated. If you’re so inclined, you can visit Patreon to can learn more about how you can chip in to become a Ripply Patron: https://www.patreon.com/RipplesGuy… Read More!

Ripples #1101: Freedom’s Opportunities

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Ripples #1101: Freedom’s Opportunities
June 29, 2020

PEBBLE
May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.
-Peter Marshall, shared by Laura in Charleston, IL

BOULDER
When my grandfather talked about freedom, his attitude was really interesting. His view was that you had obligations or you had responsibilities, and when you fulfilled those obligations or responsibilities, that then gave you the liberty to do other things.
-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, shared by Paul in Orville, OH

PONDER
As those of us here in the U.S. prepare to celebrate Independence Day just a few days after this year’s Juneteenth celebrations received renewed attention and interest, I thought this week might be a good time to ponder freedom and its relationship to responsibility.

I can recall so many times when I felt weighed down by the “restrictions of childhood”–being stuck with school and homework and chores and vegetables and bedtimes. I imagined adulthood as this massive experience of freedom since I would be the one making all these decisions about eating and playing and sleeping and such. I suspect I’m not the only grown up who now looks back on childhood with a different perspective, recognizing that adulthood comes with quite a few responsibilities that frequently get in the way of the freedoms we were so excited about as kids.

At some point, I realized it can be helpful to reframe some of our responsibilities as freedoms in disguise. For example, in our household we have a “Filter Check Day” at the end of each quarter, where we check all the filters in our home (air conditioner, vacuum cleaner, shopvac, dishwasher, dehumidifier, refrigerator, stove vent, clothes dryer…did I get them all, sweetie?). It is a chore, for sure. But with a bit of reframing, I can see that making sure all these filters are clean helps ensure I get to enjoy lots of free time in a comfortable home. And it also frees up time/money that won’t need to be spent on repairs required by clogged filters. Oh, and Filter Check Day here at Marklemann Manor also happens to be “Jam out to 1980s Dance Music” Day, so that is pretty freeing as well.

Can you think of a chore or other requirement that currently seems like the opposite of freedom to you? Perhaps you can dig a little deeper, look behind the mask of obligation and recognize an opportunity to help you celebrate freedom. It will likely take a little practice and a little reframing, but it may just help you enjoy Freedom’s Opportunities more than you ever have before. Try it and see!

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1100: Self Preservation June 22, 2020

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Ripples #1100: Self Preservation
June 22, 2020

PEBBLE
I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.
-Audre Lorde, shared by Chris in Topeka, KS

BOULDER
Self-care is more than just going to the spa, getting your nails done or drinking a mimosa cuz it’s Sunday. It is so much deeper than what commercialization is going to try to turn it into. Self-care is really rooted in self-preservation, just like self-love is rooted in honesty. We have to start being more honest with what we need, and what we deserve, and start serving that to ourselves. It can be a spa day! But for a lot of people, it’s more like, I need a mentor. I need someone to talk to. I need to see someone who looks like me that’s successful, that’s doing the things that I want to do, to know that it’s possible.
-Lizzo, shared by Grant in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
I adore Lizzo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzo), and I love her take on self-care. It reinforces my instinct that we need to keep reminding ourselves over and over (and over) that self-care is more important and more complex than simply pampering ourselves after making it through a rough patch. It is really about self-preservation.

Grant’s quote submission* led me to a longer piece by Lizzo (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/self-care-has-be-rooted-self-preservation-not-just-mimosas-ncna993661) that helped me respect her revolutionary spirit even more. In it, she poses some important questions that Lizzo asks herself and invites us to ponder, too:

How do I love myself on the days when I hate myself?
How do I love myself in a world that doesn’t love me?
How do I love myself in the face of systemic racism and misogyny?
How do I love myself amid fat-phobia?
How do I love myself still?

There are unfortunately no easy, fixed answers to these questions. And there are likely other hard questions that you may need to consider depending upon your situation and external messages about your own worth that you’ve possibly internalized. Still, these questions are worth asking, and answers are worth seeking, because you are worth preserving.

So keep asking questions, keep seeking answers, and keep being you.

Peace,
Paul
*P.S. Thank you, Chris, Grant, and everyone who remembers the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below (https://theripplesguy.com/submit-quote/), patiently resting at the bottom of each issue so you can help us keep the inspiration flowing!… Read More!

Ripples #1099: Connecting With Heart

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Ripples #1099: Connecting With Heart
June 15, 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

BOULDER
Your heart is connected to the entire picture. Your mind cares about temporary circumstances. The more you connect to the bigger picture, the faster that the temporary will take care of itself.
-Kyle Cease
shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA via Fb https://www.facebook.com/KyleCeasePage/posts/10154865625313062?

PONDER
Another week of struggles and strains from Covid-19, and another week of tumult and tragedy around systemic racism that still plagues our society. As tensions continue to rise and patience continues to diminish, there is an urgent need for all of us to bring our heads AND our hearts to the tasks of listening, learning and leading.

Connecting with Heart reminds us that our our perceptions inform our perspectives, and our perceptions are often shaped without our full, conscious awareness. For example, it’s tempting to focus on the most egregious faults of our foes as evidence of their inhumanity, while excusing the inevitable missteps of our allies as “well-intentioned errors.” Over time, these patterns make it so easy to view people on our team as flawed-yet-fabulously GOOD and the people on their team as dangerous-and-damaging BAD.

It is true that there have been fault lines around politics for centuries, and they won’t be going away any time soon. Still, I believe that our current challenges are complicated by how easily it has become to gather information primarily from sources that reinforce our views and opinions, and not just distinguishing but also demonizing theirs. Furthermore, our patterns around social media and communication tools encourage impulsive reactions that include “you’re either with us or against us” messages and mindsets that at their best are oversimplified shortcuts to rally our troops, and at their worst can be misleading, divisive and dangerous.

Connecting with Heart requires gobs of patience, persistence, creativity, curiosity and commitment in order to increase your understanding of how “they” are looking at this differently than you. And we don’t have to AGREE with them or even LIKE them in order to hear them. It does require acknowledging and respecting their humanity. It ain’t easy, but I believe it is our best move forward.

I’m proud that our diverse readership comes together every Monday morning for 60 seconds of inspiration, opening our minds and our hearts to connect and grow. We’ve had a few bumps in the road here and there, and we’ve lost a few friends along the way. Overall, though, I’m glad we’ve found a way to Connect with Heart.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. A heart-filled thank you to all who pitched in for a Hope Share to help get Ripples of Hope into print. We are quite close to a big announcement. More soon.… Read More!

Ripples #1098: Doorways to Courage

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Ripples #1098: Doorways to Courage
June 8, 2020

PEBBLE
It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you are about to do something really, really brave.
-Mandy Hale, shared by Rachel in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER
I’ve found that the changes I feared would ruin me have always become doorways, and on the other side I have found a more courageous and graceful self.
-Elizabeth Lesser, shared by Pat in Omaha, NE

PONDER
It seems clear to me that the times we currently live in call for tremendous courage. More human beings have been pulled farther out of their comfort zones for a longer period of time than any time in recent history. It is hard, and it is scary.

Several thousand Ripplers have already downloaded the (free!) digital book on hope we released last week (Ripples of Hope: Wisdom for Navigating Uncertainty is still available here and here, waiting for you whenever you’re in need of a sustainable boost). In Chapter 9, courage is included as one of the “6 Cs of Cultivating Hope:”

“Fear may be what we feel, but courage is what we can do. We can cultivate our capacity to move forward despite being afraid. When we’re knee-deep in fear is when we need skills to be able to push forward. Being brave, being courageous, is seeing, smelling and tasting the fear, and still standing firm in our resolve to keep moving forward.”
-Ripples of Hope, p. 181

I’m increasingly optimistic that we’ve (finally) arrived at a precipice of profound cultural transformation, one that is long overdue and yet wasn’t possible until enough of us were prepared to do our own work while inspiring others to do theirs. Walking through this doorway of change does not require us to abandon or completely eliminate fear. Instead, we need to acknowledge, respect, befriend, and learn from fear. Consciously choosing our relationship to fear ultimately determines whether it fuels or flattens our courage. Choose wisely.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

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!

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