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Ripples #1108: Face Fear & Flourish!

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Ripples #1108: Face Fear & Flourish!
Aug 17, 2020

PEBBLE
Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
-James Stephens, shared by Pete in Sedona, AZ

BOULDER
Remember…things that are new only seem scary because they aren’t old yet. After you finally do the new thing, then the fear it held over you will fade away like the morning mist, because the new will have become the old. Focus on what it will be like after you do this thing and the new will become the old in the blink of an eye.
-Mark Cheverton
shared by Troy in Minnesota (who embraced this proclamation by Crafter’s Great-Aunt Milky in Book 2 of the GameKnight999 YA book series)

PONDER
While assembling this week’s issue, I poked through our archives just to make sure the quotes and theme we’re exploring are fresh. I was initially surprised that FEAR pops up as a theme in our weekly splashes every few years. Upon reflection, it makes sense that we repeatedly need to address fear, because fear continues to pop up in our thoughts and feelings.

I recently enjoyed a compelling video snippet of Stella Grizont unpacking how our brains are wired for fear. She explains that our more fearful ancestors survived over their peers who hadn’t developed a capacity to remain vigilant to potential threats.

Fear, it turns out, is essential for survival, and survival is essential for living. Most of us, though, are going for more than just surviving: we want to fully embrace life…we want to THRIVE!

In order to prosper and flourish, we need to cultivate curiosity about when and how fear shows up in our thoughts and feelings. And we need to consciously, mindfully choose how we relate and respond to the natural, inevitable, useful thoughts and feelings that fuel fear.

Our relationship to fear ultimately determines whether it fuels or flattens our courage, because being brave isn’t about eliminating or avoiding fear. Courage is about seeing, smelling and tasting the fear, and moving forward anyway.

Maybe this week we can consciously choose to be less afraid of fear. Instead, let’s honor it, respect it, and work to rise above it. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

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 #1082: The Gifts of Adversity

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Ripples #1082: The Gifts of Adversity
Feb 17, 2020

PEBBLE
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver, shared by a friend in Montana

BOULDER
Cultivating an awareness of the gifts of adversity can help us to not only weather the difficult storms of our lives but also come out wiser and more compassionate than ever before.
-Carolyn Gregoire, shared by Pete in Sedona, AZ via Tricycle.org

PONDER
I’ve recently connected with a few people who are going through some super duper tough stuff lately, and one of them shared the quote featured as today’s pebble. I marveled at this person’s ability to see glimmers of “something good will eventually grow out of this” while enduring waves (and waves and waves) of really unpleasant crappiness (massive understatement).

Seeing the potential upside of tough times does not require us to like them. And it is important to remember that we don’t have to be glad something happened in order to grow from it.*

I think it is important and healthy and useful to be able to say out loud, “I am greatly displeased by the unpleasant aspects of this current situation.” Or, you know, something more succinct, like “*#&@% this $#@+!”

Acknowledging the downsides of difficulty can make more room for seeing the upsides: “I didn’t choose this, nor did I want this…but since I’m stuck with it, I can choose to either simply go through it or find a way to grow through it.”

If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with either tiny or titanic adversity, I invite you spend whatever time you need grumbling about it and then see if there is room to identify potential gifts it has to offer.

May you keep going, keep growing, and keep glowing all the while.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
*P.S. I spoke these words out loud to my sweetie on Sunday morning while we were sitting at the bagel shop assembling this issue. And then I paused and said, “Wait a minute…that sounds really familiar…is that a meme?” We did a google search and the only place I could find the line being used was in a blog post from 2012…our very own Ripples #687. How the heck did I manage to quote myself verbatim from 8 years ago?… Read More!

Ripples #995: Befriending Uncertainty.

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Ripples #995: Befriending Uncertainty.
June 18, 2018

PEBBLE
Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.
R. I. Fitzhenry, shared by Troy in St. Paul, MN

BOULDER
Leave everything undefined, including yourself. Befriend uncertainty. Fall in love with mystery. Kneel at the altar of Not Knowing. Give your questions time to breathe. And the answers will find you.
-Jeff Foster, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER
There is something so comforting about certainty: knowing all the things we need to know, feeling confident that our opinions are the right ones, and consistently taking clear, decisive action with calm assurance that we chose the Right Way.

The problem, of course, is that there are plenty of situations where you don’t have access to *all* of the information. And there are plenty times when reasonable people have different opinions based on different perspectives. And all too often we aren’t 100% sure which path is the Right Way to go.

If you can muster a bit of faith and perhaps a dollop of openness, it is possible to accept uncertainty, and even embrace it as a sacred opportunity to cultivate the gifts of patience and flexibility.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. TRUE STORY… Because I wasn’t satisfied it was making a ripple-worthy point in a clear and concise way, I shared this draft of Ripples with my boyfriend who has done more than his share of editing of other people’s writing over the past two decades. Jamie thought it was easy to understand and made a useful point. “Are you sure?” I asked, because I just wasn’t. He looked at me and smiled: “Maybe you need to befriend your uncertainty?” Boom. No more edits, other than adding this postscript.… Read More!

Ripples #994: Sharing Pain

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Ripples #994: Sharing Pain.
June 11, 2018

PEBBLE
When you are in the midst of a fog and can’t see the shoreline, you need a compass because we are not hard-wired to go it alone. We need others to survive and thrive.
-Edward T. Creagan (adapted), shared by Donna, in Owings, MD

BOULDER
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
-Henri Nouwen, via Values.com

PONDER
This week I enjoyed a quick trip to Wisconsin to fire up a group of nonprofit leaders at a remarkable event called Enterprising Nonprofits that was sponsored and coordinated by my pals at First Business Bank. The timing of their event created an opportunity to zip over and say a quick hello to my pals at Wisconsin Leadership Seminars before rushing back to the airport for the trip home.

In the midst of my travels, I learned on the news about two celebrities who died by suicide. I’ve learned from several knowledgeable sources that it is wiser to avoid glamorizing suicide by focusing on details. Still, I wanted to recognize the pain people I care about might be experiencing and also acknowledge the darkness that has occasionally been a part of my life.

I wrote a longer Facebook post that you are welcome to read even if you’re not active on social media. Besides that note, I’ll share here that when I was younger and my own strength and courage was not sufficient, the support of trained professionals and a few key family members and friends helped me make it to today. And make no mistake: it was SHOWING UP that mattered far more than what they SAID. Showing up, staying present, and listening to my story. They held me, they heard me, and they believed me. The hardy members of Team Paulie demonstrated that hope exists and is worth clinging to even (especially) in the darkest of times.

Over the weekend I came across a collection of “16 Tweets to Read if you’re Struggling”:

16 Tweets You Might Need to See If You’re Struggling With Suicidal Thoughts Today

This one stood out: “Once in the midst of a major depression, I was crying (I thought softly) to myself on the F train; it was crowded. Someone, as they got off, stuck a pack of tissues under my nose. That person kept me going another day.”

It reminded me that sharing pain does not extend it; instead, it helps to define and diminish the hurt. Sharing pain promotes healing, and reminds us of our common humanity. If you’re in pain right now, I hope you can summon just enough courage to tell someone about it (you can even reply to this email and tell me). If you’re not in pain, we’re counting on you to … Read More!

Ripples #993: The Blechy Stuff!

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Ripples #993: The Blechy Stuff!
June 4, 2018

PEBBLE
Stress is one of the greatest gifts we have. It’s a motivator, a source of strength and a survival instinct that pushes us beyond what we often perceive as the limit of our capabilities.
-Jared Lindzon, shared by Missy Goodell, Olympia WA

BOULDER
Making plans for your life doesn’t get you out of the stuff that comes along whenever it feels like it. (The stuff that comes along whenever it feels like it may actually be what gets you to your life faster.)
-Brian Andreas, Bring Your Life Back to Life: A Guide to Effortless Joy
shared by DCB, living between Eden & Paradise

PONDER

There is no doubt that life can be more challenging and less predictable than we wish it was. And sometimes just when we think things cannot get any worse, Life steps up and says, “Wanna bet?”

If Life has recently poured it on a little too thick and a little too much, gently remind yourself that your track record of getting through difficulty is actually quite high. Always remember and never forget: if you’re breathing, you’re still alive…you made it to today!

Mini-breaks are necessary so often as possible pause to take a few deep breaths (try one right now). Build in brief pit stops as necessary, and then hop up so you can keep trudging onward. Before you know it, you’ll realize you’re much farther along than you thought you were. Remember that even when you don’t have a choice about when and how and whether the blechy stuff shows up, you almost always have options about how to respond: to GO through it, or to GROW through it.

It’s okay to sometimes settle for just getting to the other side. Other times, I hope you’ll choose to grow. #GrowForIt

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.

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Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.
Nov 27, 2017

PEBBLE

We grow and learn the most during the tension we experience in life.
-Ashley Lorah
written and shared by Ashley in Columbus, OH (who has been facing recent challenges by looking ahead to get excited about the growth that will come from them rather than dwelling on the difficulties themselves)

BOULDER
It has been liberating to allow myself to feel and experience life so intensely, to go through the doldrums, and then to come out of them having learned something about myself.
-J. Hardin (adapted; original quote here)
shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER
I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been dealing with some rather unpleasant STUFF lately, including challenges related to my physical health and a few wrinkles with my mental health. Add in the steady stream of really heavy news stories over the past several months….well, it is a recipe for feeling less than my best self (understatement, you have a call on line 1).

The good news is that all of this STUFF didn’t prevent me from having some truly lovely moments over the holidays, and I continue to have a really strong support base that I’ve been able to consistently depend on over the last several weeks. The bad news is that it is gonna take some time and effort to get myself back to my usual self and my usual life, and the progress is gonna be more gradual than I would prefer (control issues, you have a call on line 2).

As I sat down to pull together this issue of Ripples, I confessed to my boyfriend that I wasn’t feeling very Ripply and for the first time in a really long time I didn’t quite know how to summon the right energy and mindset to pull together something uplifting to zoom out on Monday morning. His response was significant and powerful: “Paul, what if you just shared exactly what you are thinking? Lots of other people might be feeling less than stellar either because of all the carbs they ate, or coming down from the high of being around loved ones, or just the letdown of the holiday being over.”

I immediately recalled the “doldrums” quote Leslie had shared with me a while back and knew it would make a good base on which to build this issue. It took only another moment to match it with the simple yet powerful words that Ashley shared quite recently, which reminded me of a consistent truth in my life: I’ve always learned more during the tough chapters of my life than the easy-breezy ones.

Now I’m feeling better about not feeling better than I do, so I can exhale and get back to letting myself feel exactly the way I do. And the irony is that I can already sense the tensions lifting and the doldrums dissipating….

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #965: The Grateful Heart!

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Ripples #965: The Grateful Heart!
Nov 20, 2017

PEBBLE
Even in the most peaceful surroundings, the angry heart finds quarrel. Even in the most quarrelsome surroundings, the grateful heart finds peace.
-Zoe Zantamata, shared by Gretchen in Florida

BOULDER
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
-John Milton, shared by Ria in Fox Crossing, WI

PONDER
It’s Thanksgiving week here in our little corner of the world, a time when many of us will gather with loved ones for feasts and festivities. We here at Ripples HQ have developed a tradition over the last 19 years of using this particular issue to reflect on the value of gratitude.

It won’t come as a surprise to readers of these weekly splashes that gratitude has long been known to be a powerful natural tonic that helps us savor the GOOD STUFF in our lives. It is also true that cultivating gratitude for the HARD STUFF can help us appreciate the opportunities for learning and growing that are inherent in life’s inevitable challenges.

I’ve recently been exploring how gratitude can help us even when life is really, really, REALLY tough. The practice of identifying people, circumstances, events, and things that we’re glad to have in our lives does more than just distract us from challenges; it can serve to help us regain a larger perspective of the overall context in which a particular difficulty is happening. If we only spend time focusing on the difficulty, we might conclude that life is 100% yucky. If we take just a bit of time and energy to recall specific good things in our lives, the hard stuff can seem less overwhelming, less all-consuming. It is still there and it is still really hard, and yet it can be experienced as just one slice of a larger life instead of the whole pie.

If things are super tough right now, I invite you to experiment by jotting down even a few things that you’re grateful to have in your life and see if that helps at all. If life is already pretty swell, perhaps the activity might infuse an extra sense of joy into your holiday. Try it and see!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you want some extra splashes of gratitude, I’m especially proud of last year’s Ripples #913, and 2015’s Ripples #861. We also keep a Gratitude Archive with all 19 years worth of Gratitude Quotes.

 … Read More!

Ripples #943: Entertaining Problems!

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Ripples #943: Entertaining Problems!
June 19, 2017

PEBBLE
The task ahead of you is never greater than the STRENGTH within you.
-source unknown
shared by Kelly in Newport, NH (who noticed this on the back of a college athlete’s shirt, and learned that *all* the runners in a particular race were given the shirt to support another team’s member who was running again after a 2 year recovery from an injury)

BOULDER
Revel in your imperfections. Be entertained by your problems and know that once you looked ahead and wished you were where you are now. And once again you will look back and smile.
-source unknown
shared by Regina in San Luis Obispo, CA

PONDER
I have a challenge for you to tackle this week, if you choose to accept it. First, pick a problem that you’re dealing with right now: it could be something smaller, like a construction zone in your commute; or choose a larger problem like an interpersonal conflict that is getting in the way at work or home. Once you’ve identified a specific problem, I want you to have a talk with this problem where you say something like this:

“Well hello there, problem! I am choosing to embrace your presence, because it turns out that I need you in order to grow, and you need me in order to get resolved. Let’s work together, and maybe we can even have some fun along the way?”

See if you and your problem can work together and help each other out. Are you in? Please, be in. Your problem is depending on you, and so am I!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #942: Purifying Light!

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Ripples #942: Purifying Light!
June 12, 2017

PEBBLE
The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn and shine with increasing clearness on your path.
-Jean le Rond D’Alembert, shared by an anonymous rippler

BOULDER
A true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost, a pure heart can touch the poison of hatred and never be harmed; since beginningless time darkness has thrived in the void, but always yields to purifying light.
-Lion turtle (from Avatar: The Last Airbender, episode 59, by Aaron Ehasz)
shared by Cody in San Francisco, CA

PONDER

We all experience darkness in our lives; times when we feel lost, scared…unable to see what is going on or where we’re headed. Darkness then allows fear and frustration to fester, causing our outlook and our emotions to spiral downward even further.

The useful thing about light is that even a tiny bit of it immediately cuts through darkness, paving the way for more light. Dim rays of hopeful feelings and optimistic thoughts peer through, generating more light which in turn allows us to grow even more confident and more determined to move forward toward other sources of light.

If you’ve been struggling lately, keep your eyes peeled for sources of light, remembering that small flickers of hope come in all shapes and sizes: something as small as spotting your favorite color, encountering a fragrant whiff of fresh baked goods, or hearing one of your favorite songs pop up on the radio can lift your spirits and help more than you realize.

If things are going pretty well right now, spend some extra time and energy keeping your eyes peeled for someone else who is struggling. You can be the PURIFYING LIGHT for someone else by extending your patience, your compassion, and maybe even a warm smile to let someone know that you recognize their humanity. It will light up your day as well.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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