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Preparing to Win

Ripples #1131: Making Masterpieces (minus perfection)

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Ripples #1131: Making Masterpieces (minus perfection)
Jan 25, 2021

PEBBLE
You are made for perfection, but you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making.
-The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama
shared by Allexendra in San Diego, CA

BOULDER
Perfection comes out of molds or off assembly lines. It is not the natural state of things. And the great irony is that we value things made by hand more than we do things that come from machines, despite the fact that things from machines are more…perfect.
-Simon Sinek
shared by Sue in Plymouth, MI

PONDER
OH PHOOEY! This was the sentiment I expressed aloud when the first person reached out last week, catching a likely misattribution of last week’s Pebble in our annual tribute to Dr. King (I may have used a different word than PHOOEY.) A few others expressed similar concern, and our collective research revealed no evidence that he ever wrote or spoke the lines.

I strive to accurately and fairly credit the inspiration we share here, and I’ve been willing to put in a reasonable (though certainly not exhaustive) effort to verify quote sources. I’m generally satisfied with a “less than perfect” record of accuracy, but missing this one was disappointing, especially since I spent SO much time last week pouring over Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail to find a longer quote that wasn’t often used.

One of many important lessons I value in Layla Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” and Ibram Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist“: erring and failing are essential components of learning and growing. Besides the fact that actual, literal perfection is unattainable, Striving for perfection requires concentrating on a far off (and possibly unattainable) endpoint. Focusing instead on daily progress is achievable today because it involves what is happening right here, right now.

So today I apologize to Dr. King, to all of you, and also to myself, grateful for an opportunity to grow. Not only did an error reveal a useful theme for this week’s Ripples, it led me to find a slightly more complete and more useful version of the quote submitted as today’s Boulder.

Whatever you’re working on today, may it become a masterpiece.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. After 20+ viewings in the last week, I’m *still* not done experiencing Amanda Gorman’s radiant performance of “The Hill We Climb.” Talk about a masterpiece!… Read More!

Ripples #1129: Rising Above, Choosing Love

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Ripples #1129: Rising Above, Choosing Love
Jan 11, 2021

PEBBLE
See the world as it is. Know you have the Grit and Grace to choose a path of Love.
-Fia Skye, written and shared by Fia of Flying Edna

BOULDER
Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and oppressors free.
-Shane Claiborne, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
So I didn’t think things could get any weirder and harder. And then, uhm….they did.

I’m bummed that we haven’t (yet) figured out how to mediate the polarization that is making it harder to grapple with the other significant challenges we’re facing (you know, little stuff like pandemics, racial reconciliation, poverty, climate change, etc.). Emotions have been running extremely high at the very same time that our collective reserves of patience and compassion are running extremely low. That’s a recipe for Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Poopiness (apologies to The Music Man).

I’ve been struggling to figure out what I wanted to say about the latest messiness. It’s hard because our community of 30,000 Ripplers includes people who hang out at just about every spot on political spectrum. I love that, and I love you! I’m honored and humbled that this incredibly diverse group comes together briefly every week to help lift each other up. I think Ripples works because you all chip in to help me find great content, and also because we primarily focus on the stuff we agree on (you know, little stuff like compassion, kindness, joy, wellbeing, etc.).

On the other hand, I’ve worked hard for 20 years to make sure Ripples isn’t an overly fluffy “let’s just all be happy” kind of thing. I’m fairly sure the reason I’m on this planet right now is to help us all seek the right balance between comfort and challenge, and this includes accepting (embracing?) the discomfort that is required for growth.

I’m determined to rise above the distractions and the defensiveness and seek the elusive field beyond right and wrong that Sufi poet Rumi describes. I want to find it and I want you there with me, too. That’s where we can listen, talk, affirm, challenge, learn…GROW. And I believe this is all possible each time we choose a path of love instead of another path (you know, little stuff like hate, fear, despair, indifference, etc.)

My goal for today is to rise above, and choose love. Who’s with me?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1128: Where to Begin?

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Ripples #1128: Where to Begin?
Jan 4, 2021

PEBBLE
Begin anywhere.
-John Cage, shared by Chris in Denver, CO

BOULDER
Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
-Napoleon Hill, shared by Shelley in Horicon, WI

PONDER
Here we are, at the start of a new year. What shall we make of it?

Even people who aren’t into the whole “new year’s resolutions” stuff still experience some excitement (or at least intrigue?) when we imagine the opportunities and possibilities that come along with a clean slate.

Of course, we sometimes get carried away with our daydreams and too easily overcommit and then underperform, burning through our zeal before we even make it to the end of January.

I believe 2021 is an ideal year to experiment with managing our expectations, and creating just a modest goal or two. Perhaps something that we’d like to do a LITTLE more of or learn just a bit about. That makes it much easier to begin right where we are, following Hill’s advice to utilize the resources we already have as opposed to rushing out and buying new systems or stuff to help us “do it right.”

A few solid baby steps forward in January will get us started on our journey. Perhaps in February we can figure out what else can help us to continue onward and upward. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1115: Let Go, Stand Tall

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Ripples #1115: Let Go, Stand Tall
Oct 5, 2020

PEBBLE
I think of the trees and how simply they let go.
-May Sarton, shared by Loreen in Washington

BOULDER
If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come.
-unknown, shared by Becki in Quakertown, PA

PONDER
I suspect many people will look back on this period of time as one of great loss. My best guess (and my fervent hope) is that these losses are clearing the way for a period of massive growth and creation. Autumn is the time when many plants and trees must drop their leaves and prepare for a period of dormancy.

This can look like a death, and there is definitely a loss. While it is natural and understandable and important to grieve that which is going away, it can soothe us to remember that some things must be released so that our cycle of growth can continue.

Here’s the good news: with a little faith, a dollop of patience, and a decent memory, we can rest assured: things will cycle around. Before we know it, green shoots will burst forth from the fertile ground once again.

Peace,
Paul

P.S. I’m determined to keep Ripples FREE and AD FREE for all who enjoy these Ripply splashes, and I’m now able to do that thanks to the help of several dozen “Patreon Peeps” who are pitching in a few bucks a month to more actively support our mission. If you’ve enjoyed these weekly splashes for a while and might be interested in a bit more direct engagement with The Ripples Guy, you can learn more here: https://www.Patreon.com/RipplesGuy… 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 #1105: Interrupting Patterns

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Ripples #1105: Interrupting Patterns
July 27, 2020

PEBBLE
Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening our heart is the work of a lifetime.
-Pema Chödrön, shared by Dana in Long Beach, CA

BOULDER
Pay attention to your patterns. The ways you learned to survive may not be the ways you want to continue to live. Heal and shift.
-Dr. Thelma Bryant-Davis, shared by Doug in Mobile, AL

PONDER
Habits are an important topic in the time management sessions I often present as conference breakout sessions (remember conferences? I remember conferences….and I miss them so!). Managing our habits is an extremely effective strategy for enhancing productivity and reducing procrastination.

Positive habits are useful for several reasons: they don’t require as much motivation to get started, we tend to get them done without having to rely as heavily on our memory or reminders, and they provide their own rewards since we tend to feel better when we make progress.

Unhelpful habits are problematic for similar reasons: they are easily reinforced (which make them difficult to extinguish), and we are often tempted by their short term rewards even though they tend to delay longer term, bigger goals that are ultimately more important to us.

It is also true we sometimes maintain or reinforce habits that have outlived their utility. We keep doing them because we’ve done them for a really long time, failing to notice that what was a boost to our effectiveness and/or enjoyment is now more of a drag.

Identifying unhelpful patterns and replacing them with more useful habits can move us closer to the life we want to lead. I’m still enjoying some down time, but I’ve already blocked off some time over the coming weeks to examine my routines and habits in the hopes I can make some tweaks to boost my productivity and also my joy.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1100: Self Preservation June 22, 2020

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Ripples #1100: Self Preservation
June 22, 2020

PEBBLE
I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.
-Audre Lorde, shared by Chris in Topeka, KS

BOULDER
Self-care is more than just going to the spa, getting your nails done or drinking a mimosa cuz it’s Sunday. It is so much deeper than what commercialization is going to try to turn it into. Self-care is really rooted in self-preservation, just like self-love is rooted in honesty. We have to start being more honest with what we need, and what we deserve, and start serving that to ourselves. It can be a spa day! But for a lot of people, it’s more like, I need a mentor. I need someone to talk to. I need to see someone who looks like me that’s successful, that’s doing the things that I want to do, to know that it’s possible.
-Lizzo, shared by Grant in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
I adore Lizzo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzo), and I love her take on self-care. It reinforces my instinct that we need to keep reminding ourselves over and over (and over) that self-care is more important and more complex than simply pampering ourselves after making it through a rough patch. It is really about self-preservation.

Grant’s quote submission* led me to a longer piece by Lizzo (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/self-care-has-be-rooted-self-preservation-not-just-mimosas-ncna993661) that helped me respect her revolutionary spirit even more. In it, she poses some important questions that Lizzo asks herself and invites us to ponder, too:

How do I love myself on the days when I hate myself?
How do I love myself in a world that doesn’t love me?
How do I love myself in the face of systemic racism and misogyny?
How do I love myself amid fat-phobia?
How do I love myself still?

There are unfortunately no easy, fixed answers to these questions. And there are likely other hard questions that you may need to consider depending upon your situation and external messages about your own worth that you’ve possibly internalized. Still, these questions are worth asking, and answers are worth seeking, because you are worth preserving.

So keep asking questions, keep seeking answers, and keep being you.

Peace,
Paul
*P.S. Thank you, Chris, Grant, and everyone who remembers the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below (https://theripplesguy.com/submit-quote/), patiently resting at the bottom of each issue so you can help us keep the inspiration flowing!… Read More!

Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health

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Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos––the trees, the clouds, everything.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, shared by TK in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER
Doctors won’t make you healthy.
Nutritionists won’t make you slim.
Teachers won’t make you smart.
Gurus won’t make you calm.
Mentors won’t make you rich.
Trainers won’t make you fit.
Ultimately, you have to take responsibility.
Save yourself.
-Naval Ravikant

PONDER
It is hard to believe that six weeks have passed since I returned from vacation just in time to craft the first Covid-related Ripples (#1086 What’s Happening? https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1086). A week later in Ripples #1087 (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1087) we unveiled our WE GOT THIS sticker (https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc), created as an invitation to focus on four strategies that we’ve been steadily unpacking here in the last few weeks: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1090), and nurturing our health. I sheepishly confess that I still recall being concerned that all of this focus on Covid might seem irrelevant by the time we would get to the final topic of the series.

Our health is foundational to every aspect of our lives: work, school, relationships, just everything. And given the unique challenges of living through a global pandemic, tending to our health is absolutely crucial. I shared this quote (https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Kjg51D6Pb/) with my online buddies: “In the dream, a wise one whispered, ‘If there is a chance you’ll soon fall ill, anything you do in the coming days to bolster your health will matter.'”

My intent is to help us all remember that even though we don’t have complete control over whether this pesky virus finds us, there *are* practical steps we can take to minimize the chance we get sick, to minimize the impact if we do get sick, and to minimize the impact on our health care system which still needs our help.

Over the past several years, the U.S. Army has transformed Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep (http://www.eatmovesleep.org) into the “Performance Triad” (https://p3.amedd.army.mil/what-leaders-need-to-know/what-is-the-performance-triad): a laser focus on sleep, activity, and nutrition as three cornerstones to maximizing health and wellbeing. I’ve revisited these often in the last few weeks, assessing my choices and habits to make adjustments that will bolster my health. I invite you to do the same, since even a few minor tweaks would be beneficial to you, the people you care about, and our society at large.

My plan in the coming weeks is to broaden our attention to the typical variety of topics we explore in these weekly splashes. I also wanted to let you know I’ve been field testing a one-hour online presentation that was inspired by our “Covid Coping” series. I’ve re-imagined it as “Ripples of Resilience: Surviving, Reviving, and Thriving Amidst Challenge & Change.” If you’re interested in spending an hour with me and a few dozen fellow Ripplers, send an email to ROR@2Rpl.me and I’ll get you some information.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. We printed up yet … Read More!

Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits

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Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t worry about calming the storm.
Calm yourself; the storm will pass.
-source unknown, shared by David in Northridge, CA

BOULDER
When your life seems messed up, it’s incredibly depressing to start thinking about the next year or the next month or, sometimes, even the next day. Take the next hour or even the next five minutes and find a way to be happy and positive in those moments. Maybe it’s watching a funny video or calling a friend or eating your favorite food, just find a way to not be miserable in the short term. If you string enough moments of ok-ness together, you’ll find your way back to the light.
-Brady Krien, written and shared by Brady in Iowa City, IA [who offered this advice a few years ago to a struggling college student]

PONDER
Welcome to the third in our four-part “Covid Coping” series, exploring four strategies we can focus on to get through this: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits, and nurturing our health.

Many people have shared with me just how exhausting and exasperating the last few weeks have been, and I’ll tell you: I’m feeling it, too. I think I handled the first few weeks of all this weirdness with an infusion of adrenaline, my innate optimism, and a solid sense that our best way through this turbulence and uncertainty was by pulling together and staying together.

I’m aware that my instinct to jump into helping mode has impacted my ability to step back and regain my center.

Instead of spending more time crafting a ponder about the importance of cultivating calm through meditation, prayer, relaxation exercises, walks in nature, or some other mindful practice….I need to pause, take a few deep breaths (here now), and expend fewer minutes explaining it so I can spend more minutes doing it.

Some additional deep breaths, an extra meditation session, and a few hours of laying the couch will likely invoke a lovely evening of ok-ness; I’m guessing tomorrow will find me a little closer in my journey back to the light.

May you make your way toward a calmer spirit, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… 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!

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