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Embrace Possibility

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 #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 #1117: Serendipities!

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Ripples #1117: Serendipities!
Oct 19, 2020

PEBBLE
The universe is always speaking to us. Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more.
-Nancy Thayer, shared by Genna on Sanibel Island, FL

BOULDER
A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change. -Earl Nightingale, shared by Curt in Kansas

PONDER

TRUE STORY: Once upon a time (okay, last Wednesday morning) I had blocked off some time to work on Ripples. I was wading through previous quote submissions as part of my process for assembling these weekly splashes, and I was sidetracked by an email notification from a friend who was asking if I knew anyone who could help her with a specific aspect of her business. SHUT UP STOP THE PRESSES! Still awaiting a reply in my inbox was a message I had received a few hours earlier from someone I know and respect who has recently launched a consultancy to help small businesses…specializing in the specific area my friend needed help with. I quickly and excitedly exchanged email introductions so they could explore mutually beneficial possibilities and then paused to delight in the joy of serendipitous connection.

And then I giggled at myself for a completely different bit of synchronicity. Earlier that morning I had been reviewing notes I took on the nifty book Indistractible (https://www.amazon.com/dp/194883653) as I prepared for a mini-presentation I was giving that afternoon for my Patreon Peeps (https://www.patreon.com/RipplesGuy). In it, Nir Eyal shares two core strategies for gaining traction on your goals and priorities: blocking off time for focused work on specific projects, and hacking back against distractions like the notification dings that emit from our devices. Here I was playing with some new concepts I was about to teach to others and the universe concocted a lovely teachable moment, inviting me to put theory into practice (my grad school professors would be so proud!).

After spending a few minutes disabling notifications on both my phone and computer, the time I had purposely set aside to work on Ripples was rapidly dwindling without much progress. I decided to commit to a handful of really focused minutes with the ambitious goal of identifying the theme and quotes that would help guide the ponder. I reopened the Ripples folder on my computer and spotted a file dated May 6, 2019 has been patiently waiting for me to rediscover it: an abandoned early draft of an issue of Ripples that never quite found the right ponder. It had two quotes all paired up, and a few sentences of the ponder that just trailed off. The theme? Can you guess? Wait for it…Serendipity!

I’ve long experienced coincidences like these as delightful God-winks: merry moments of meaning-making that hint at our intertwined, interconnectedness which too easily falls from our consciousness. And I’ve loved … Read More!

Ripples #1116: Water Your Wild

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Ripples #1116: Water Your Wild.
Oct 12, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t water down your wild.
-Heidi Osborn, written and shared by Heidi in West Virginia

BOULDER
More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm. -Oliver Burkeman
shared by Pete in Colorado via Oliver Burkeman’s final Guardian column

PONDER
Today’s pebble showed up randomly in my Facebook newsfeed, so I curiously reached out to the person who posted it. I soon learned that “Don’t water down your wild” had become Heidi’s personal motto, one she uses to motivate herself and others.

“I spent many years in self-doubt and holding myself back,” Heidi shared in a message exchange. “I did A LOT of healing and growing to finally allow myself to be the person I wanted to be and was meant to be.” She went on to describe several key crossroads in her considerably challenging life when she heard what she calls “Wild Whispers,” opportunities she experienced as invitations to release her authentic, powerful potential that hadn’t been tamped down or tamed by the expectations and limitations others had placed on her. Some of these wild whispers seemed risky and/or difficult, and yet she looks back on them as key opportunities for growth that she’s glad she embraced.

This line was especially cool to read, “Once I found my wild, I promised myself that I would use that knowledge and wisdom to spark the wild in others. I want people to remember that greatness already lies within…and not to stifle it.”

Here’s my take on Heidi’s awesome motto: maximizing your potential requires harnessing your power without diminishing it. It means not just healing from your many hurts, but also extracting the lessons and wisdom they offer. It means not just overcoming obstacles, but also recognizing the strength you couldn’t have gained without facing those obstacles.

Your wild needs to be encouraged and not extinguished, so keep in mind:
When you WATER your wild, you nourish your power and give life to your potential.
When you WATER DOWN your wild, you dilute your power and weaken your potential.

Be careful and be curious about the choices you make for yourself this week. Do what you can to encourage your authentic voice and instincts while resisting any temptation or habit to diminish what you know to be your real self.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1112: Leveling Up

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Ripples #1112: Leveling Up
Sep 14, 2020

PEBBLE
There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow.
-Elizabeth Gilbert, shared by Gina in Tucson, AZ

BOULDER
One reason I could never be a true pessimist about humans is the humans themselves. I think people, especially when pushed to extreme situations on the brink, have ways of surprising us and doing things that that do seem impossible and figuring out ways to go up against powers and trends that have until certain points in history been unshakable.
-Vann R. Newkirk II, shared by Emily in Carlow, Ireland

PONDER
Our number one job, especially in challenging times, is to survive: to stay alive so we can make it to another day. When we are feeling safe, and have a little extra time, energy, bandwidth, and gumption…that is when we look for opportunities to grow: gaining new skills, insights, and new ways of looking at the world.

If you’re struggling mightily today, it’s okay to take a hard pass on the concept leveling up right now. Still, I’m wondering if you could pause long enough to take a deep breath, look upward and day dream about what the next level might look like.

If you’re doing okay right now, it might be fun to do more than just dream about the next level. Could you jot down a few ideas about what personal or professional growth might look like for you in the next few months or years? While you’re writing, identify some specific steps you could take to start the ball rolling. And then…TAKE ACTION, even if it is a baby step. Each small step up is an ascension.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. Thank you for forwarding Ripples to your friends and colleagues who might enjoy a weekly splash of inspiration. We’ve had a steady stream of new subscribers lately that are learning about Ripples from YOU and not from ME! 🙂… 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 #1023: Radical Amazement!

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Ripples #1023: Radical Amazement!
Dec 31, 2018

PEBBLE
Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you.
-original source unknown, shared by Tammy in Dallas, TX

BOULDER
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, shared by Paul in Parkville, MD

PONDER

Radical Amazement?!
What a phrase…so delicious, so daring, so delightful!

It reminds me of a YouTube video that I sometimes show in presentation about the Power of Awe. In just under three minutes, Jason Silva delivers a passionate mini-sermon, extolling the virtues of “radiant ecstasy” and the dangers of hedonic adaptation, a pesky habit we humans have of growing bored with things that initially amaze us.

The message of the video and today’s quotes is to encourage our conscious cultivation of radical amazement. Not just to see and feel the WOW that is all around us, but to BE THE WOW for ourselves and those we encounter.

As we wrap up the last few hours of 2018 and dive into the new year, I’m curious if you can unleash some radical amazement while savoring memories of the last 12 months and daydreaming about what you want 2019 to look like and feel like and be like.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I hope the year that is ending has provided plenty of laughter and also some learning. And I hope the year that is about to arrive will delight you and dare you. As long as you’re still in, I’ll continue to meet up with you every Monday morning with a couple of quotes and something to ponder for the week. You can help by keeping an eye out for exceptional quotes to share, and submit a quote here when you find one!… Read More!

Ripples #1022: Inhaling Peace.

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Ripples #1022: Inhaling Peace.
Dec 24, 2018

PEBBLE
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
-Giovanni Giocondo
shared by Jeane in Taos, NM
excerpt from “Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia degli Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513”, which may or may not have been written by the Italian Friar Giovanni Giocondo

BOULDER
moment (a poem)
moment
as we take in a breath
we inhale peace,
exhale peace, love, kindness and joy
in every moment
-ted balser
written and shared by Ted in Lady Lake, FL

PONDER
You may be busy on this Christmas Eve, and if that is the case let me just quickly tell you that I hope this holiday week provides many opportunities to inhale peace.

If you happen to have a few spare moments, consider finding time to read and ponder the full letter that is excerpted in today’s Pebble. While some historians question its source, many people know it as a Christmas Letter attached to a basket of fruit given by a priest to a friend. I can’t say with certainty WHEN it was written or WHO wrote it, but I know for sure that pausing to mindfully read it over a few times brought me both enthusiastic joy and also a sense of calm peace.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. For those who celebrate Christmas: I hope it is a magical and quite merry holiday for you. For everyone who has spent time reading these weekly splashes, sharing them with friends, and submitting quotes: thank you for helping extend their reach!… Read More!

Ripples #1,011: Rhapsody on Persistence!

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Ripples #1,011: Rhapsody on Persistence!
Oct 8, 2018

PEBBLE
We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.
—Tobias Wolff
shared by Mary in Montana via Values.com
https://www.values.com/inspirational-quotes/7656-we-are-made-to-persist-thats-how-we-find-out?

BOULDER
I feel it too – the urge to give in to gravity’s call. I feel the stress and fatigue which accompanies endless tests, homework assignments, and the consideration that my future is ahead of me and may be crushed by my mistakes. But my backpack holds my wings, not my woes. -Ayda Ozdoganlar, shared by Nick in Pittsburgh, PA

PONDER
I gotta tell you: the “wings not woes” quote instantly captivated me. I asked Nick for more information on where he found it and why it stood out for him. It turns out that he spotted it in his advisor’s email signature block; the quote helped him manage the feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty unleashed by his decision to pursue a graduate degree.

At my request, Nick reached out to his advisor for more information about the source of the quote and why she had it in her email signature. Nesli shared that it was an excerpt from her daughter Ayda’s college application essay; for Nesli it seemed equally relevant to the graduate students she advises. “We all know it is a tough place,” Nesli wrote to me about graduate school. “I thought of how happy my students are once they graduate and secure the job they have been dreaming about. That is the moment I think they are spreading their wings.”

I was also lucky enough to hear directly from Ayda about how this passage had been a burst of inspiration during a late night push to finish the application essay (while listening to Rhapsody in Blue–how jazzy cool is that?). She admitted she hadn’t originally thought her perspective on education would be read by so many others. She shared these additional thoughts with me: “I don’t believe education is a storm to be weathered, but a storm to embrace. Getting through high school was a wild, gut-wrenching whirlwind of a challenge, and I’m sure [college] will be too. But I feel so blessed to be able to say that I’m a student. Even if the path to knowledge is fraught with challenge, Learning something new is incredibly special. It gives me joy—enough joy that I was able to write a 2 a.m. rhapsody on the subject. I want others to feel that joy and appreciation too.”

Well, Ayda, I *am* feeling joy and appreciation. I’m overjoyed to live in a world where students like you and Nick are willing to embrace both the challenges and the opportunities of continuous learning, and I deeply appreciate that there are people like your mom who are committed to supporting the kids she’s raising AND the kids she’s advising.

Ripples #1,011 is dedicated to this trio of remarkable, ripply individuals and everyone else who summons the courage to soar with wings provided by their challenges.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. I … 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!

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