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Ripples #1131: Making Masterpieces (minus perfection)

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Ripples #1131: Making Masterpieces (minus perfection)
Jan 25, 2021

PEBBLE
You are made for perfection, but you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making.
-The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama
shared by Allexendra in San Diego, CA

BOULDER
Perfection comes out of molds or off assembly lines. It is not the natural state of things. And the great irony is that we value things made by hand more than we do things that come from machines, despite the fact that things from machines are more…perfect.
-Simon Sinek
shared by Sue in Plymouth, MI

PONDER
OH PHOOEY! This was the sentiment I expressed aloud when the first person reached out last week, catching a likely misattribution of last week’s Pebble in our annual tribute to Dr. King (I may have used a different word than PHOOEY.) A few others expressed similar concern, and our collective research revealed no evidence that he ever wrote or spoke the lines.

I strive to accurately and fairly credit the inspiration we share here, and I’ve been willing to put in a reasonable (though certainly not exhaustive) effort to verify quote sources. I’m generally satisfied with a “less than perfect” record of accuracy, but missing this one was disappointing, especially since I spent SO much time last week pouring over Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail to find a longer quote that wasn’t often used.

One of many important lessons I value in Layla Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” and Ibram Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist“: erring and failing are essential components of learning and growing. Besides the fact that actual, literal perfection is unattainable, Striving for perfection requires concentrating on a far off (and possibly unattainable) endpoint. Focusing instead on daily progress is achievable today because it involves what is happening right here, right now.

So today I apologize to Dr. King, to all of you, and also to myself, grateful for an opportunity to grow. Not only did an error reveal a useful theme for this week’s Ripples, it led me to find a slightly more complete and more useful version of the quote submitted as today’s Boulder.

Whatever you’re working on today, may it become a masterpiece.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. After 20+ viewings in the last week, I’m *still* not done experiencing Amanda Gorman’s radiant performance of “The Hill We Climb.” Talk about a masterpiece!… Read More!

Ripples #1130: Scintillating Beauty

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Ripples #1130: Scintillating Beauty
Jan 18, 2021

PEBBLE
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared by Diana in Illinois

BOULDER
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

PONDER
For over 30 years here in the U.S., the third Monday in January has been acknowledged as Martin Luther King Day. For over 20 years here in Ripples, we’ve celebrated Dr. King’s legacy by featuring his words and/or words inspired by him.

As we prepare for what I pray will be a peaceful transfer of power in this country, I’m hopeful that we can cultivate a fresh batch of collective courage and optimism. There is much work to do to replenish the reserves of mutual trust, respect and positive regard that have been depleted over the last few years; I think we have ample motivation and determination for such shenanigans. We just have to bring fresh amounts of persistence and patience and compassion and creativity.

For example: reasonable people can disagree on why it is taking longer than we hoped it would to disseminate the Covid vaccine, and yet most people and agree that this is an incredibly large, complex and in many ways unprecedented process that requires more resources and collaboration and persistence than we’ve (yet) been able to extend. I think the same is true about many other issues we’ve been grappling with: systemic inequalities in class, race, and gender; fundamental reforms to our immigration and criminal justice systems; education and policy around climate change; and of course the list could go on and on.

These are not simple issues, and there are unfortunately no simple solutions. Still, there are measurable, manageable, useful steps we can take, both individually and collectively: repairing relationships, seeking common ground, and searching together for new paths forward. We can do better than we have been doing, we need to do better than we’ve been doing, and I think enough of us are ready to do better than we’ve been doing.

Both conservatives and progressives reached out last week with feedback about last week’s Ripples about Rising Above (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1129). My responses shared a common theme: “We need your help in making things better,” I wrote to them, “and it involves all of us venturing further out of our comfort zone than we’ve previously traveled.” (https://www.facebook.com/ripplesguy/posts/10164735389625010)… Read More!

Ripples #1129: Rising Above, Choosing Love

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Ripples #1129: Rising Above, Choosing Love
Jan 11, 2021

PEBBLE
See the world as it is. Know you have the Grit and Grace to choose a path of Love.
-Fia Skye, written and shared by Fia of Flying Edna

BOULDER
Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and oppressors free.
-Shane Claiborne, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
So I didn’t think things could get any weirder and harder. And then, uhm….they did.

I’m bummed that we haven’t (yet) figured out how to mediate the polarization that is making it harder to grapple with the other significant challenges we’re facing (you know, little stuff like pandemics, racial reconciliation, poverty, climate change, etc.). Emotions have been running extremely high at the very same time that our collective reserves of patience and compassion are running extremely low. That’s a recipe for Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Poopiness (apologies to The Music Man).

I’ve been struggling to figure out what I wanted to say about the latest messiness. It’s hard because our community of 30,000 Ripplers includes people who hang out at just about every spot on political spectrum. I love that, and I love you! I’m honored and humbled that this incredibly diverse group comes together briefly every week to help lift each other up. I think Ripples works because you all chip in to help me find great content, and also because we primarily focus on the stuff we agree on (you know, little stuff like compassion, kindness, joy, wellbeing, etc.).

On the other hand, I’ve worked hard for 20 years to make sure Ripples isn’t an overly fluffy “let’s just all be happy” kind of thing. I’m fairly sure the reason I’m on this planet right now is to help us all seek the right balance between comfort and challenge, and this includes accepting (embracing?) the discomfort that is required for growth.

I’m determined to rise above the distractions and the defensiveness and seek the elusive field beyond right and wrong that Sufi poet Rumi describes. I want to find it and I want you there with me, too. That’s where we can listen, talk, affirm, challenge, learn…GROW. And I believe this is all possible each time we choose a path of love instead of another path (you know, little stuff like hate, fear, despair, indifference, etc.)

My goal for today is to rise above, and choose love. Who’s with me?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1128: Where to Begin?

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Ripples #1128: Where to Begin?
Jan 4, 2021

PEBBLE
Begin anywhere.
-John Cage, shared by Chris in Denver, CO

BOULDER
Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
-Napoleon Hill, shared by Shelley in Horicon, WI

PONDER
Here we are, at the start of a new year. What shall we make of it?

Even people who aren’t into the whole “new year’s resolutions” stuff still experience some excitement (or at least intrigue?) when we imagine the opportunities and possibilities that come along with a clean slate.

Of course, we sometimes get carried away with our daydreams and too easily overcommit and then underperform, burning through our zeal before we even make it to the end of January.

I believe 2021 is an ideal year to experiment with managing our expectations, and creating just a modest goal or two. Perhaps something that we’d like to do a LITTLE more of or learn just a bit about. That makes it much easier to begin right where we are, following Hill’s advice to utilize the resources we already have as opposed to rushing out and buying new systems or stuff to help us “do it right.”

A few solid baby steps forward in January will get us started on our journey. Perhaps in February we can figure out what else can help us to continue onward and upward. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1127: Next Year’s Words

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Ripples #1127: Next Year’s Words
Dec 28, 2020

PEBBLE
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.
-T.S. Eliot, shared by Karen in Newton, MA

BOULDER
May we accept and appreciate the time we have, abandon fear and its affiliates, choose to be kind, to love & be together, pay attention, not take any one/thing for granted.
-Annie Weisbrod
shared by Craig in Cincinnati, OH (who shared this snippet from his colleagues annual new year letter…he also raved about how helpful and fabulous she is: “Every workplace needs an Annie!”)

PONDER
We have finally made our way to the last week of 2020.

As we reach the end of a most exasperating year, I think this is an excellent time to notice: we lived through it. We made it all the way to today, and there are reasons for genuine hope that 2021 will be a transition from this tumultuous, uncertain chapter in our lives to something less heavy and maybe, just maybe, a little more fun.

Many substantive difficulties remain, of course. The road ahead remains steep. Still, I think we’ve earned the right to celebrate reaching the end of a really strange and really difficult year. More importantly, it is time to scour the recesses of our soul for any remaining scraps of optimism and determination as we dare to ask ourselves and the universe the same question President Bartlet used to ask on The West Wing when it was time to move on: “What’s next?”

Peace,
Paul
P.S. A big THANK YOU to another handful of Patreon Peeps who signed up as Founding Members! Y’all are fabulous, and besides leveraging your support to unleash several new initiatives in the coming months, I’ll be sending everyone who signs up in 2020 an extra trickle of inspiration throughout 2021. https://www.patreon.com/RipplesGuy… Read More!

Ripples #1126: Accessing Peace

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Ripples #1126: Accessing Peace
Dec 21, 2020

PEBBLE
We will have so much peace in our life if we stop trying to control what is not ours to control.
Fr. Joseph Krupp (found in a Facebook video)

BOULDER
The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.
-Thich Nhat Hanh, shared by Keith in Lompoc, CA

PONDER
Today’s pebble presented itself when I randomly stumbled upon a Facebook video of a priest responding to a concern about bawling babies at mass. His response was both light-hearted and also deeply profound: “When we have a little squeaker at mass and they are making a lot of noise, I assume the parents are doing the best they can and I assume I don’t know what I don’t know.” This seems like a gentle yet constructive way of remembering that what we observe in someone else’s behavior is such a tiny tip of the iceberg of what is going on in another human being’s life.

He then invites a shift in our experience of a crying baby, a pivot from annoyance to recognizing the blessing of new life. He even suggests we could use the situation to improve our concentration: “If you need perfect quiet to focus, you will never be able to focus.”

Peace remains elusive when imagined as a state of mind that we can achieve only when certain external conditions are just right. Peace is more accessible and more available by turning inward and remembering it is always there, patiently waiting for us to visit. So, the next time you’re feeling particularly unpeaceful, can you pause to take a few deep breaths (Here, Now!) and see if a peaceful feeling reveals itself.

Cultivating a culture of peace isn’t as simple as a deep breath, but here’s the deal: the more we access our inner peace, the more readily we can encourage peace in our relationships and throughout the world.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. Another shoutout to my Patreon Peeps, a group of several dozen Ripplers pitching in to keep Ripples free and ad-free for all. Everyone who join us in 2020 will be considered a “founding member” and will be helping us launch several new initiatives. They’ll also receive a stream of bonus treats throughout 2021, so if you’ve been thinking of joining us, you’ve got 10 days left to make a splash:… Read More!

Ripples #1125: Take It Slower

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Ripples #1125: Take It Slower
Dec 14, 2020

PEBBLE
Life isn’t a race, so take it slower. Hear the music before your song is over.
-Gary Kunath, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

BOULDER
The faster we live, the less emotion is left in the world.
The slower we live, the deeper we feel the world around us.
-Stanko Abadzic, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER
I cringe at the thought of becoming yet another voice encouraging you to SLOW DOWN a bit, especially if you’re trying to GO GO GO so you can get everything done that needs to get done in the next few days/weeks. And trust me, I know how annoying it can be when some well-intentioned person encounters me in “hustle bustle” mode and spouts some trite, “stop and smell the roses” nonsense. Gah!

Of course, part of me knows this isn’t nonsense…and plenty of times (including like right now as you read this), I’m the one trying to whisper to someone I care about, “Is it possible that a slower pace or maybe even a brief pause might ultimately help you maximize your productivity?”

Brené Brown once shared a line she said a priest had spoken to her, “If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire.” Ooh, every time I’ve reviewed this line in the last few weeks, I realize more deeply just how often I operate in overdrive mode.

I am 100% okay if you need to ignore this message right now, or even roll your eyes a little. Just promise me that you’ll make an effort to balance your GO GO GO with some SLOW SLOW SLOW. Pretty please and thank you!

Peace,
Paul
P.S. I’ll be taking some down time over the next few weeks, but don’t worry: I’ve got a few weeks of Ripples all queued up and ready to go. ALSO, you may know that I’m moving our DAILY SPLASHES to a better platform that allows me to text you a quote each morning AND have easier engagement if you have a question/comment for me. It’s free, and you just text DAILY SPLASH to 513-436-6599 and follow the prompts.
https://bit.ly/DailySplash… Read More!

Ripples #1124: Bringing Out the Best

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Ripples #1124: Bringing Out the Best
Dec 7, 2020

PEBBLE
You can work miracles by having faith in others.
By choosing to think and believe the best about people,
you are able to bring out the best in them.
-Bob Moawad, shared by Tim in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
-Margaret Mead, shared by Debbie in Knoxville, TN

PONDER
Way back at the beginning of the Incredible and Awful Pandemic of 2020, my friend Toby and I brainstormed a Handwashing Meditation (http://2Rpl.me/HandwashingMeditation.jpeg)
that allows us to spend twenty seconds scrubbing our hands while remembering that most of us, most of the time, are doing the very best we can…even when it seems like our best isn’t good enough.

Eight months later, I still recite it several times a day, and it continues to help me access reserves of compassion and generosity toward myself and others. It hasn’t kept me from growing exasperated at times, but it has allowed me to put my frustration in context.

I’m sure I’ve said this before in these weekly splashes, and I think it is worth repeating: there are plenty of times we declare a person or group to be stupid, crazy, and/or evil when it is probably more useful and more accurate to describe their words/behavior as uninformed, irrational, and/or lacking compassion. Those are less caustic and more generous terms, and they help us remember that there are times when WE are the ones guilty of speaking/acting from a place that is less informed, less rational, and less compassionate than we realize.

We have a long road ahead of us, and the polarization we’re currently experiencing is indeed daunting. I believe that 2021 holds some opportunities for us to step back, pause, pivot, and hopefully find some new ways to step forward. Easy? Nope. Possible? Yup.

Peace,

Paul
P.S. Thanks to everyone who is sharing Hope for the Holidays with our Ripply books and goodies. I’ll soon be taking some down time over the holidays, but will mail out Bundles of Hope, books and other orders that come in by the end of this week.… Read More!

Ripples #1123: Free Your Focus

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Ripples #1123: Free Your Focus
Nov 30, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t water your weeds.
-Harvey Mackay, shared by Carol in Bloomington, IN

BOULDER
What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.
-Robin Sharma, shared by Ted in Lancaster, PA

PONDER
As we get closer to wrapping up the year, my partner Jamie and I recently sat down to write our holiday letter. Our first thought was, “What are we gonna write about? We’ve basically been stuck at home for most of 2020!” It didn’t take long, however, until we were thinking about some fun adventures we had before Covid inserted itself into our lives. And then we remembered quite a few good times we had despite all the limitations and restrictions.

We also realized that even though the year is almost over, there is still time to focus our time and energy so that the year can include a few more bright spots. My pal Toby reminded me in his weekly tobynotes email that there is still 8% of the year left, and there are plenty of possibilities to be explored!

If we focus primarily on our weeds, we might inadvertently set ourselves up for more weeds in 2021. So this week, I’m asking myself:
What thoughts and actions are keeping me in the weeds?
How can I pivot away from them and move towards more productive thoughts and actions?
To end the year strong, are there areas that need my attention more than others? Rest? Reflection? Chores? Planning?

I invite you to join me in pondering, planning, and pivoting.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. We’ve already sent out all the Bundles of Hope we assembled last week. I’m open to creating a few more if you or someone in your life needs Hope for the Holidays: https://bit.ly/HopeBundle-Doc… Read More!

Ripples #1122: Gratitude in Tough Times

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Ripples #1122: Gratitude in Tough Times
Nov 23, 2020

PEBBLE
When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton, shared by Amy in Charlotte, NC

BOULDER
When people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire, for ourselves and for future generations.
-Angeles Arrien, shared by Scott in Madison, WI

PONDER

Gratitude is important, powerful, and helpful, even when life is really hard.

You know what? Let me state that again with a tweak:

Gratitude is important, powerful, and helpful, especially when life is really hard.

Expressing gratitude is not about ignoring the unpleasant aspects of our lives, and we sometimes misuse the concept. Think about the last time you heard some version of: “I know things are crappy right now, but things could be worse so we should just be thankful for what we have.” You may have even used a version of this on yourself, and that’s not good, either.

Even when this is accurate, it may not be particularly useful because it reinforces a false choice that we can either be blissfully happy about the good stuff in life OR miserably disappointed about the inevitable hard stuff. Especially in the midst of tough times, the key is to expand our awareness to make room for both the yummy and yucky aspects of our existence. Cultivating gratitude allows us to savor the yummy stuff, and puts the yucky stuff in a context so we remember that it isn’t the ONLY stuff we have in our lives.

I’ll wrap up by extending an extra helping of gratitude for the many Ripplers who have chosen to sacrifice some traditions this year in order to help us minimize the spread of Covid. May our choices in 2020 lead to a much more enjoyable 2021!

Peace,
Paul
P.S. If you’d be interested in sharing Hope for the Holidays, we whipped up a limited-edition gift package called A Bundle of Hope: https://bit.ly/HopeBundle-Doc… Read More!

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