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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 #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 #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 #1030: Thriving in the Mess!

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Ripples #1030: Thriving in the Mess!
Feb 18, 2019

PEBBLE
I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.
-Joanna Gaines, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
I don’t have to be perfect. All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect, and beautiful journey of my life. It’s a trip more wonderful than I could have imagined.
-Kerry Washington
shared by Brenda in Dallas, TX, via Oprah

PONDER
Today’s pebble and boulder are attributed to strong women who have faced adversity and figured out how to embrace life’s inevitable difficulties as opportunities for growth (I also happen to know that the women who submitted these quotes have endured their share of difficulty–and are still alive and kicking, too!

It is fairly common to believe that our Best Life begins only when we get a grip on all the big stuff we’re currently struggling with AND solve all the tiny and titanic problems that have bubbled up in our lives. It’s a mythical yet tempting concoction of “grass is always greener” and “the future will be better,” and “Tomorrow Me will have everything together way more than Today Me does.”

Here’s the thing: while they might be nice to have, it turns out we don’t absolutely NEED greener grass or a brighter future or a Better Me in order to thrive. We just need to embrace today’s grass and today’s opportunities and Today Me. Even the toughest days usually have some nuggets of goodness and joy to be savored, and it is more than possible to get stuff done even when our Best Me isn’t available for appearances on a particular day. The bonus treat is that any time Today Me is able to eek out even a teensy bit of progress, it makes things easier and better for Tomorrow Me. (I know for certain that Today Me is deeply appreciative of so many things that several versions of Yesterday Me accomplished.)

So join us (me and Joanna and Leslie and Kerry and Brenda) in thriving amidst whatever messiness exists in life right now. Invite Today You to cut Yesterday You some slack while tackling a few things to help Tomorrow You thrive even more. Work some, play some, and grow some. And go to bed early enough to rest up so we can do it all again with Tomorrow You. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,003: Crazy Powerful!

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Ripples #1,003: Crazy Powerful!
Aug 13, 2018

PEBBLE
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in proportion.
-Sir Francis Bacon,
shared by Natalie in Clear Lake, WI

BOULDER
Don’t let what is crazy to them, stop you from creating what is powerful to you.
-Akeem Lloyd
written and shared by Akeem in Providence, RI

PONDER

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook my reaction to a heartbreaking poem that popped up in my newsfeed from someone who was struggling mightily. I’d like to share a condensed version of my post for you to ponder:

A long time ago I encountered a boy whose sensitive, not-quite-like-anyone-else spirit was nearly crushed in a world that doesn’t value difference. He struggled mightily, but luckily for him (and luckily for the world), he managed to stay alive long enough for his brain and his body to grow into an adulthood that allowed him to heal from some hurts, to make friends with his shadows, and to recognize the differences which made him weird evolved into the distinctions that make him special.

He still remembers what it is like to feel impossibly broken, and he remains grateful that he held on long enough to discover just how incredible it feels to find out that you can make a LIVING and make a LIFE while being weird. Because what makes him weird is precisely what makes him special.

He still encounters hard times, of course. But he also experiences blissful transcendence, like the times he scrolls his social media feed looking for weary travelers who need to be reminded: everything that helped you make it to today can help you make it a brighter tomorrow. Hang in there. Rest when necessary, and know that the world needs your kind of crazy. I know this for certain, because you’re still here.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #998: Becoming You!

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Ripples #998: Becoming You!
July 9, 2018

PEBBLE
Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
-Steven Pressfield, shared by Josh Spector in his newsletter, For The Interested

BOULDER
There is no such thing as a perfect version of you. Every day you’ll make choices that change who you’re going to be. Who you’re becoming is not finished. Which means you can be different, no matter who you’ve been up till now.
-Brian Andreas
shared by our friend D, who savors the slopes and the sea

PONDER

So, how are you?
And while I’m at it: Who are you?

We often answer the first question with, “fine” even when we aren’t, and usually respond to the second with our name and maybe our occupation.

I’ve been lately pondering the longer, deeper answers to both of these questions, and encouraging workshop participants and keynote audiences to do the same. In many presentations, I invite people to form small groups and introduce themselves to each other in ways other than describing their work/education background. As I walk around the room, I hear some people talking about their families (the ones they were born into or the ones they’ve grown into), while others disclose places they’ve lived or visited. Other possible topics include hobbies, community engagement, or even favorite movies, books or songs.

I also provide questions that make it easier to move beyond simple, trite answers about how work/life is going. Even posing this simple pair of questions can evoke (or elicit) longer, more meaningful conversations: What’s working for you right now? What isn’t?

Pondering, sharing, and discussing these questions can help us better understand who we are and who we are becoming. Of course our answers will continue to evolve–one of the exciting aspects of personal and professional growth is that today’s answers have the power to reshape the responses you’ll have tomorrow.

Join us in the pondering, sharing, discussing and becoming!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. You have just a few more days to help us prepare for Ripples #1,000 by snapping a selfie of your smiling self holding a sign of encouragement and emailing it to Smiles@2rpl.me. Early submitters can get a set of goodies to help them unleash ripples of kindness during the week of July 23rd. Peek at other submissions if you need inspiration.  Are you in? Please, PLEASE be in! We have about 100 right now, and I’m really hoping for 1,000!… Read More!

Ripples #987: Loving All The Parts!

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Ripples #987: Loving All The Parts!
April 23, 2018

PEBBLE
Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.
-Lisa M. Hayes, shared by Diane in Tuscaloosa, AL

BOULDER
Can you love your crazy?
Can you love your sane?
Can you trust your foolish heart?
Embrace your scattered brain?

Can you love your tears?
Can you love your worry?
Can you hear your darkest fears?
And listen to your fury?

Can you love your inner child?
Your body as you age?
Can you love your wild side
Release it from its cage?

If you’re thinking “NO!”
To some of the above,
Then can you love the part of you
That’s learning how to love?
-Leah Pearlman, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER

My dear pal Pidge recently sent me a lovely book by Leah Pearlman: Drawn Together: Uplifting Comics on the Curious Journey Through Life and Love.

The book begins with the poem above and then lightly winds its way through a series of simple-yet-whimsical drawings to illustrate the power of loving yourself, loving the people around you and loving everything about your crazy, tumultuous life.

The whole book is a delightful read, but this particular poem really struck me at potent, and I’ve been coming back to it repeatedly over the past few weeks. The last stanza grabs me every time, gently reminding me how important it is to love even the less polished parts of who I am.

I’m grateful to Pidge for gifting me with the book, to Leah Pearlman for quickly and eagerly granting permission to include the poem here, and to YOU as you hopefully continue pondering the idea of learning how to love all the parts of you.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. You can see more of Leah’s work at DharmaComics.com or by ordering her book.Read More!

Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!

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Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!
Dec 11, 2017

PEBBLE
If you find who you are and embrace it, your life will work for you.
-a wise & happy woman
shared by Lauren in San Diego (who’s never forgotten this tip she heard from a guest lecturer when she was a student at Cal Poly)

BOULDER
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
-E.E. Cummings, shared by a Rippler in the Northeast

PONDER
A few weeks ago after I mentioned some ongoing health challenges I’m currently facing, a Ripples reader suggested I take a peek at Pema Chödrön’s “The Wisdom of No Escape,” a written compilation of remarks given by a warm and wondrous Buddhist nun over the course of a 30-day meditation retreat. In the very first chapter, she focuses on the concept of Loving-Kindness and how important it is to apply that to yourself.

She writes, “When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.” She then goes on to challenge the idea that meditation is about improving or changing. “It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”

These lines were underlined in the copy I acquired from a used book store, and someone had written in the margins, “We come to God as we are, not as who we think we should be.” That was reinforced by a Facebook post I came across a few days later: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is, “supposed to be.”

I’m still taking all of this in…trying to be curious about how I can embrace myself and my current situation just as it is, and making a conscious effort to gently release any expectations about how things are “supposed to be.” It’s a tall order, and it might seem ironic that embracing ourselves just as we are is an essential first step to growth and change. How about we all keep pondering and working on this. I will if you will!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #954: Doing Your Work!

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Ripples #954: Doing Your Work!
Sep 4, 2017

PEBBLE
There is not a man or woman, no matter how fit he or she may be, who is capable of carrying the entire world on their shoulders.
-Edwin Jarvis (Agent Carter TV show),
shared by Melissa in Westfield, IN

BOULDER
Your work is not to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new awareness. Your job is to simply do your work sacredly, secretly, silently which will emanate Light wherever you are, and those with eyes to see and ears to hear will respond.
-The Arcturians,
shared by Pete in Ouray, CO

PONDER
There is so much work that needs to be done, so many problems to solve, and so many people that need our help. Even attempts to simply increase *awareness* of all the challenges that exist in our world (or just in one little corner of it) can be overwhelming enough for temptation to curl up into a ball and tune out.

In between doing absolutely NOTHING and feeling obligated to do EVERYTHING, there are a whole big bunch of SOMETHINGS that can generate substantial, meaningful contributions to people and situations that need help. And serving others not only *feels* good internally, all the good things we do end up getting added to the big pile of good things that are being unleashed by others. And all of this combined goodness adds up to measurable progress.

Finally, I have BAD news and GOOD news: The bad news is that when we eventually solve the problems we’re currently addressing, there will be new problems waiting to reveal themselves. The good news is that we just need to focus on doing the stuff we feel called to do, building in breaks as necessary to enjoy all the goodness that really does exist.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Speaking of WORK and BREAKS: Happy Labor Day Weekend to all of my fellow USians & Canadians who are celebrating this holiday that recognizes the many important contributions of the labor movement (which actually includes weekends off of work!).… Read More!

Ripples #947: Confidence!

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Ripples #947: Confidence!
July 17, 2017

PEBBLE
If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life….with confidence, you have won even before you have started.
-Marcus Garvey, shared by Michael in Rochester, MI

BOULDER
Feeling confident is important for success. One way to boost your confidence is to allow mistakes. Don’t expect perfection. Instead, learn from your mistakes and forge ahead.
-Kristin S. Vickers Douglas, Ph.D., shared by Donna in Owings, MD
dvmillar@verizon.net

PONDER
On your best days, are you pretty darn good? Are you able to get stuff done that needs to get done and deal with the people you encounter in ways that are both useful and enjoyable? When I ask these questions in presentations, I find that most people feel pretty good about their BEST SELVES, the version of themselves that shows up when everything is going well.

I think one of the tricks to improving your confidence is getting curious about how you can more frequently and more consistently bring your BEST SELF to work, school, and life. If you can identify things that knock you off your game, the specific situations or people or developments that trigger fear or frustration, perhaps you can experiment to see if you can identify strategies to either PREVENT or MINIMIZE their impact on your performance.

Remember that we don’t need the PERFECT you, nor do you need to pretend to be like someone else. The world just longs for you to show up with the best available version of yourself as often as you possibly can.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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