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Ripples #1118: Interconnection & Interdependence

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Ripples #1118: Interconnection & Interdependence
Oct 26, 2020

PEBBLE
When conditions are harsh and life is tenuous, it takes a team of sworn reciprocity to keep life going forward…interconnection and mutual aid become critical for survival.
-Robin Wall Kimmerer, shared by Allison in Cincinnati, OH

BOULDER
Sometimes LONELINESS comes as a reminder that we have to reach out.
Sometimes our SADNESS comes as a way to poke us, to tell us to look up.
Sometimes the thing that FRUSTRATES us is the thing that’s calling us forth to be connected.
-Dr. Bertice Berry, shared by Julie in West Chester, OH via Team Ripples

PONDER
At the beginning of our lives, we are highly dependent upon others for our survival. We count on parents and/or other caregivers to feed/clothe/house us and also to guide us as we grow. As we get a little older, we start to explore our independence. Most of us go through a phase of, “I can do it myself and I don’t need help from anyone!” As we mature into adulthood, we ideally seek close relationships that are interdependent: where we are in some ways dependent on and yet totally independent from the other person.

Adulting has always been hard. I think it is fair to say that Adulting in 2020 has tested most of us in ways that we didn’t want to be tested. If you’re like me, there are some days when you just want to move to an island far away from everyone else and other days when you wish a grown up would come along and make you grilled cheese and maybe some Rice Krispie treats before gently rocking you to sleep.

Our best chance of getting through this year with at least a shred of sanity and a dollop of dignity is to remember that leaning on other people doesn’t mean we’re not grown up enough to handle stuff on our own. And at some point, we’re gonna have to explore better ways to connect and engage with those who look at things differently than us. The future of our society depends on it, and the future of our planet depends on it, too.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. So much gratitude for the recent support. We added a few new Patreon Peeps, sent out a few more books and stickers, and received a steady stream of lovely kindness. Thanks, y’all.… Read More!

Ripples #1113: Making Noise

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Ripples #1113: Making Noise
Sep 21, 2020

PEBBLE
Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

BOULDER
Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
-U.S. Representative John Lewis (1940-2020)

PONDER
I don’t think it is an overstatement to suggest that 2020 may end up being one of the hardest, strangest, and most pivotal years most of us have lived in. Depending upon where things go from here, 2020 has the potential to reset our society’s course on health care, race, politics, climate change, and likely education, too.

And while both of our quotes today were around long before the dawn of this year, I’m sharing them here today in part because I believe they are so timely, and of course also because we are mourning the two remarkable people whose wisdom they reflect.

The pebble was Justice Ginsburg’s response to a question about advice she would give young women today, while the boulder was one of Representative Lewis’ legendary tweets.

We are living through a particularly polarizing time, one which informs which media channels we turn into, who we feel comfortable connecting with, and even what facts we believe to be true.

After Justice Scalia’s 2016 passing I learned that he and Justice Ginsburg had been good friends. Over the weekend, Scalia’s son wrote a moving piece about the friendship, and about the upside of debating fiercely while maintaining close ties.

I’m pleased and proud that over the last two decades we’ve forged a community of hopeful, helpful souls who sometimes disagree passionately about policies and ideas, and yet can still come together every week to unleash ripples of compassion and kindness.

Is it possible for us to make noise about issues we care about without ignoring or denying the humanity of those on the other side? And could we end up having more influence on others if we took a few steps back from the “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric which is often neither helpful nor accurate? My answer for today is, “I dunno, but I want to try harder to find out.”

Rest in power, Justice Ginsburg & Representative Lewis.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1107: Trust Your Light

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Ripples #1107: Trust Your Light!
Aug 10, 2020

PEBBLE
Your light will bring comfort and hope to those in need. Trust your light.
-Britta Buchstabler, shared by Gloria in Salem, OR

BOULDER
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

Inner Light.
In a world full of unrest, fear, and doubt, we need to reconnect with our inner light now more than ever. -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, shared by Kelsey, Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
Lots of people are struggling right now, and you might be struggling, too.

One of the more useful things I’ve discovered about being The Ripples Guy is that I don’t always have to choose between serving others and taking care of myself.

There have been plenty of times when connecting with someone who is having a difficult time has lifted my spirits, too. Acts of service remind me that my contributions to the world are valued and important. My light is worth shining even when I don’t feel like I’m at 100%.

Other times, of course, I do have to withdraw a bit so I can focus inward. Here’s the cool thing about that: the process of taking care of myself can remind others that helpers need to sometimes help themselves. My light ends up shining brighter in the long run, which demonstrates to others that self-care is an essential component to shining brightly.

I think it is important not to completely ignore the darkness that exists in the world right now. I just happen to believe our best way forward is to focus more on the many bright lights that are beacons of hope (have you seen the dad who wholeheartedly embraced his daughter’s mermaid photo shoot? Talk about trusting your light: https://www.facebook.com/ripplesguy/posts/10164086482495010 )

This week I dare you to trust your light a little more than you have been: let it shine inwardly, outwardly, weirdly, magnificently!

Peace,
Paul
p.s. If you enjoyed the free digital download (https://app.box.com/s/s6rwgxtt9yq64mmb3tzaur7tmatr7r4z) of RIPPLES OF HOPE: Wisdom for Navigating Uncertainty (https://www.dropbox.com/s/nea9ckw66gp3tbi/Ripples_of_Hope.pdf?dl=0) we unleashed a few weeks ago, we now have some printed copies now available. We’re experimenting with letting you choose what price to pay! if you order 2 or more this week I’ll sign ’em (and maybe throw in a little extra ripply magic!): http://RippleHope.com… 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 #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 #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 #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 #1056: The Freedom of Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

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

Ripples #1032: Making Someone’s Day!

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Ripples #1032: Making Someone’s Day!
Mar 4, 2019
Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples: 1999-2019!

PEBBLE
Be the best part of someone’s day.
-Amy Harless Tucker, shared by Jenny in Indianapolis, IN

BOULDER
Strong social support is one of the keys to happiness and good health. Making an effort to improve relationships with people already in your life is one way to increase your social support.
-Jeanne Graner Krochta, shared by Donna in Owings, MD

PONDER
When I first saw Jenny’s submission, I wondered if it might seem too simplistic or too obvious to be the Pebble in one of our weekly splashes of inspiration. Still, every time I glanced at I found myself curious about where she found it and why it was important to her. So guess what I did…I asked!

It turns out that “Be the best part of someone’s day,” was the motto her friend Amy adopted during a journey with cancer. It seems that because Amy was a really kind person, and perhaps as a strategy to distract her from the more unpleasant aspects of her illness, Amy remained committed to trying to make other people’s day even when she wasn’t feeling 100%. I learned from Jenny that even though Amy passed away last year, friends and family have kept her motto alive.

Jenny also shared with me that Amy’s motto inspired her to spread patience, compassion, and kindness even to people who she might initially be frustrated with. “I believe that most people don’t set out to try to ruin someone’s day,” Jenny wrote. “Maybe the person who took that parking spot I was waiting for recently got some bad news and isn’t thinking clearly. The person who seemed rude was possibly just harassed by someone or perhaps just lost a beloved friend or family member. While these scenarios aren’t fun to deal with, I get to choose how to react to them. And if we choose to react by showing compassion, then maybe we can end up being the best part of someone’s day.”

While I think striving to make another person’s day is a worthy goal with lots of benefits to everyone involved, I also would caution against reading the quote as an encouragement to ignore your own needs and focus exclusively on others. Instead, I embrace it as a fun challenge to look around and see whose day I could improve with even a small gesture of patience, kindness, or encouragement. It can temporarily distract us from our own challenges AND it actually feels pretty darn good, too!

The next time you find yourself having a tough day, I dare you to experiment with setting aside your frustrations and focusing on making someone else’s day better just to see if it might end up making your day better, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1021: What If?

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Ripples #1021: What If?
Dec 17, 2018

PEBBLE
Only if we become calm as earth, fluid as water, and blazing as fire will we able to rise to the task of peacemaking.
-Brother David Steindl-Rast, shared by Paul in Parkville, MD

BOULDER

What If (A Rainforest Poem)

What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?

What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?

What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?

-Ganga White
(c) 1998 Ganga White, whitelotus.org, All Rights Reserved
Reprinted from Yoga Beyond Belief, by Ganga White
Used with permission

PONDER
For those of us who identify as Christian, next week marks one of the holiest of days: the birth of Jesus. While honored differently, most religions and cultures have similar marker events they embrace as opportunities to rejoice, to reflect, to remember. Ultimately, I think the primary purpose of most of them is to help us live the highest, holiest versions of ourselves.

The conflicts that continue to rage around the world involve political, religious, and ideological divisions often seem like barriers to peaceful coexistence. Instead of being viewed as problematic, what if we chose to view these divisions as divine opportunities for us to grow stronger and more compassionate as individuals and groups?

What if we recognized them as life lessons that could help us grow? What if these difficulties could help us learn about each other, strengthen our ability to explain our perspective, and cultivate the capacity to listen patiently as our opponents explain how and why they look at the world and certain issues the way they do?

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S.… Read More!

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