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Courage

Ripples #1098: Doorways to Courage

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Ripples #1098: Doorways to Courage
June 8, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1083: Time to Leap!

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Ripples #1083: Time to Leap!
Feb 24, 2020

PEBBLE
We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success. -Henry David Thoreau, shared by Nick in Indiana

BOULDER
The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be…
because of all I may become, I will close my eyes and leap!
-Mary Anne Radmacher, shared by Marie in Delray Beach, Fl
https://www.appliedinsight.net/product-p/rc12106.htm

PONDER
I’m excited that this week wraps up with a quadrennial quirk: Leap Day!

February 29 is that day we squeeze in every four years to help us keep the calendar year matched up with our planet’s year which clocks in at 365.242190 days. Some people like to celebrate by playing games that involve literal leaping (leapfrog, hopscotch, jumprope), or drawing/crafting animals that are known to leap (frogs, gazelles, rabbits).

It might also be a good opportunity for metaphorical leaps: leaps of faith, leaps of courage, leaps of joy, etc. Can you identify a significant action that would move you forward in some meaningful way?

It is helpful to make time for daydreaming, preparing, and talking about your plans. These are necessary, and yet not sufficient for success. Let’s make this week TIME TO LEAP!

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!

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 #984: To Dare!

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Ripples #984: To Dare!
April 2, 2018

PEBBLE
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
-Søren Kierkegaard
shared by Gina in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
Gardening, like life, requires courage. We must be brave enough to cut back the old and sit with bare branches, awaiting new growth. And we must trust that it will come.
-Cheryl Richardson, Waking Up in Winter
shared by Sue in Plymouth, MI

PONDER
Have you been hibernating or feeling stagnate lately? As spring bursts forth and nature prepares for growth, this is a good time of year to prepare ourselves for our own burst of growth.

Can you think of any actions or goals that you’ve been meaning to work on? Personal or professional, modest or massive, sensible or silly: I dare you to identify some specific steps that might help you grow, and then incorporate them into your plans for the spring.

In fact, I don’t just dare you, I triple dog dare you!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Speaking of growth…. As we inch toward our 1,000th week of sending out these weekly splashes, we’d be so honored if you took some time to forward an issue on to your family, friends, and colleagues, sharing with them why you enjoy Ripples and inviting them to join us. Thanks! -pw… Read More!

Ripples #939: Conquering Fear!

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Ripples #939: Conquering Fear!
May 22, 2017

PEBBLE
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
-Carrie Fisher, shared by Lauren in Dayton, OH

BOULDER
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but triumph over it. I felt fear more times than I can remember, but I hid behind a mask of boldness. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
-Nelson Mandela, shared by Allexendra in San Diego, CA

PONDER
Several years ago I came across an adorable video on YouTube that features a young child named Asa making up a story about a mouse and a bear to a film student named Bianca who needs a story for her senior video project. The two-minute story is delightfully sweet all by itself, but the video takes an interesting turn that leads to a revealing discussion about fear. The video ends with a song that I’ve turned to many times over the past few years when I’ve found myself temporarily overwhelmed by fear. If fear visits you more often than you like, it is worth carving out a few minutes from of your busy schedule to hear what a wise 6-year-old wants you to know about fear. If you’re too busy, or too scared, to watch it…well, here’s the punch line if you don’t mind a bit of a spoiler: “The Scared is scared of things you like.”

Peace,
Paul
*The video: https://vimeo.com/58659769
**interview with Bianca https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qJ_Lh99aWk… Read More!

Ripples #910: Dropping Fear!

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Ripples #910: Dropping Fear!
Oct 31, 2016

PEBBLE
Fear is the faulty belief of impending danger and can be dropped at will by living in the present.
-Abraham A. Low, (founder of Recovery International), shared by Florence in Cleveland, OH

BOULDER
I’m tired of fear shouting directions, so I don’t take them even though I hear those old voices. It’s just that they aren’t gentle, or beautiful and hopeful, so I give them no time.
-MaryAnn Fry, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER

Boo!

Since Monday is Halloween, I thought we could focus on helping us manage the scary things that are lurking in the shadows of of our minds.

Here in the U.S., the past several months have been especially hard on our fear activation systems since candidates and political parties are often trying to SCARE us rather than INSPIRE us. It’s not because they’re mean, by the way…it’s just because it is cheaper and simpler to fire up the parts of our brains that are hard wired to react to danger. The good news is that we’ve almost reached the finished line for this election cycle; the bad news is that if we’re not careful we could end up carrying the fear with us long after next week.

Fear can be a useful warning and a powerful motivator to act quickly in the face of real danger, although it is often misused and misunderstood. Our response to fear starts in a more primitive part of the brain, so it can’t always recognize the distinction between a small inconvenience and an impending catastrophe. This sometimes creates heightened states of alarm, especially when facing long term stress and multiple challenges at the same time When people are purposely trying scare you, it’s like living in a haunted house with no escape!

Perhaps you can spend some time taking stock of the fears that have accumulated in your mind lately, whether they relate to current events or current challenges you’re facing. Take care of any legitimate concerns, especially those that could easily be lessened or resolved with action. For fears that you determine to be overblown or otherwise unhelpful you might start by thanking them for their honorable intentions. Then you can imagine gently setting set them down OR dropping them into a deep dark hole if that feels more satisfying!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. You may find it useful to read a great article from The Greater Good Science Center that explores how to Find the Good in a Nasty Election Cycle.… Read More!

Ripples #903: Opportunities Within Uncertainties.

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Ripples #903: Opportunities Within Uncertainties.
Sept 12, 2016

PEBBLE
Uncertainty is where things happen.
It is where the opportunities — for success, for happiness, for really living — are waiting.
-Martha Nussbaum, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better. I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory.
-Helen Keller, shared by Susan in Ashland, Oregon

PONDER
There are just so many times that we are afraid to step out into the unknown. The less certainty we have about what is going to happen, the more trepidation we are going to have. It might be useful to keep in mind that just as fear is a critical component of courage since you’re only being brave if you’re also scared, uncertainty is a necessary part of stepping into new realms of possibility. The only way to *accomplish* things we haven’t yet done is to *do* things we haven’t yet done.

That means scooting farther away from our comfort zone and spending more time in our challenge zone. Not so far that we’re terrified; just far enough for our knees to wobble just a tad. What could you do this week to wade into the pond of uncertainty? Splash around a bit, and maybe make some ripples, mkay?
Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #852: Welcoming The Storm.

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Ripples #852: Welcoming The Storm.
Sep 21, 2015

PEBBLE
We are like the little branch that quivers during a storm,
doubting our strength and forgetting we are the tree—
deeply rooted to withstand all life’s upheavals.
-Dodinsky, shared by Pete in Salida, CO

BOULDER
Every storm we face is an opportunity to be better and braver on the other side. There is something about the worn face of someone who has been through many a storm. With every line, crease, and scar there is also a confidence, peacefulness, and wisdom. Whatever the trial is, freedom is around the bend. So set sail. Welcome the storm. Be not afraid.
-Scott Pace, SecondChance.org, shared by Trisha in Wales, WI

PONDER
If you’ve been struggling lately, it might be tempting to think (or scream at the top of your lungs): “Why can’t life just be easier?”

It is a common question because for too many people, challenges pile up on top of each other, and oh my gosh why, why, WHY? If life was actually and truly and completely fair, then it seems reasonable to conclude that all the good things we’ve done and all the tough things we’ve endured should earn us a lifetime supply of “Get Out Of Difficulty” cards. Right? RIGHT?

Well, here’s the issue with that perfectly reasonable, seemingly logical line of thinking: Life. Isn’t. Fair. There’s a great Dennis Wholey quote, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” I’ve heard another proverb suggest that expecting fairness in the world is like expecting a lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him. That’s two different animal references to make the same point that life just isn’t as fair as we wish it were. Whether it is bulls or lions…beasts are gonna come at you even though you don’t deserve it.

But here’s the thing, fellow Ripplers of the world: we don’t actually NEED life to be fair or easy. The more storms we’ve weathered in the past, the more impressive it is that we’ve made it to today AND the more skill we have to batten down the hatches when another storm is brewing. I’d go another step and suggest that we don’t even WANT life to be easy, because we all know that if we want to be stronger tomorrow, the weights we lift today need to be heavier than the weights we lifted last week.

Of course we need to take breaks, and of course it is okay to feel exasperated and to scream into the void, “ENOUGH ALREADY I NEED A BREAK!” Rest when you must, my friend, but recognize just how tough you are and just how much you’ve prepared for this storm you’re facing. You’ve got this!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Is it okay with you that the ponders are getting longer? I think they are getting better, … Read More!

Ripples #832: Allowing Others In.

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Ripples #832: Allowing Others In.
May 4, 2015

PEBBLE
Spiritual growth is characterized by
the capacity to allow others into your heart.
-Tijn Touber, shared by Terry in Oak Creek, WI

BOULDER
A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend,
one human soul whom we can trust utterly,
who knows the best and worst of us,
and who loves us in spite of all our faults.
-Charles Kingsley, shared by Nick in Indiana

PONDER
It isn’t always easy to let someone into your heart to develop an authentic connection with them. Sometimes it is our personality that prefers to keep emotions at bay and connections at arms length; other times it is the norms we picked up from our families, communities, and/or cultures that dictates how close we get to those around us.

It is also true that past hurts sometimes create protective coatings to safeguard us; and while they have incredibly noble aspirations of preventing us from being hurt, they also unfortunately keep out empathy and compassion that is being extended by those with noble intentions and worthy goals: they want to love us, but we are sometimes too afraid to let them in.

The first step to allowing others into the sacred and softer places in our heart is to notice both the benefits and costs of keeping people at a distance, and seeing if there aren’t some small risks we could take to let someone in just a bit. Might you be willing to experiment this week: sharing a bit of personal information with a colleague you’ve spoken with several times, or opening up to a neighbor or acquaintance that you’ve known superficially for years? I’m in if you are!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I was inspired to assemble this week’s Ripples by a recent encounters with a few remarkable people who are taking courageous steps to emerge from their protective casings and seek the healing embrace of vulnerability and connectedness. I extend my kudos to them, and an invitation to the rest of us to allow others in this week.… Read More!

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