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Surrender

Ripples #1104: Letting Nature Speak

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Ripples #1104: Letting Nature Speak
July 20, 2020

PEBBLE
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
-Linda Hogan, shared by Terry in Oak Creek, WI

BOULDER
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-William Henry Davies, shared by Terri in Canton, GA

PONDER
Thanks to a childhood filled with year round scouting and summers at Camp Ondessonk, I’ve long known just how restorative it can be to spend time in nature, letting her speak and remembering how to listen to what she has to say. Sometimes, however, I forget.

Here’s my truth right now: burnout is a thing that is real and is happening to me (and others too, I feel quite certain!). And one of the quirky things that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that two of burnout’s most powerful antidotes, change of pace and change of scenery, often elude me when I begin to tire. One of the sneakier aspects of burnout is that when it begins creeping toward me, I often find myself running in the opposite direction…I throw myself into projects and mind swirls that only bring me closer to the brink of a full on freak out.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been following some of the advice I share with others when it comes to certain aspects of self care. On the one hand, I have been doing a pretty good job at the daily tasks: eating, nutrition, exercise, meditation, but it has became increasingly clear that I’ve been neglecting the need for a deeper reset. My soul has been whispering, and I’ve been ignoring.

I’m addressing that with a brief respite. And I’ve decided that for me and for now, traveling isn’t the wisest option for our individual and collective health. So I’m going to hunker down here, and make daily appointments with books, with music, and with nearby Nature. I’ll be back with soon with refreshed spirit and a renewed determination to help us all keep going, keep growing, & keep glowing. In the meantime, I’ve set up the next few issues of Ripples so you can hopefully be inspired while I’m resting.

See. You. Soon.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1095: Coming Undone

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Ripples #1095: Coming Undone
May 18, 2020

PEBBLE
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
-English Proverb, shared by Denise in California

BOULDER
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
-Cynthia Occelli, shared by Jean in Ellwood City, PA

PONDER
The experience of facing really big challenges that are unlike anything we’ve previously experienced can be quite disorienting to say the least (global pandemic much?). Unplanned shifts like this tend to knock us off our center and force us far (far!) out of our comfort zones, sometimes at dizzying speeds.

Whenever we find ourselves in the middle of something new and hard and yucky, it is normal and it is natural to experience lots of fear and uncertainty. We might be asking ourselves (or screaming at anyone who will listen): What is going on? What is going to happen next? How am I going to get through this?

Keep in mind that not knowing how (or even if) we are going to make it through something isn’t necessarily a sign that we are not going to make it. It is merely a signal that things are too unfamiliar and perhaps too troublesome for us to have complete confidence that everything works out fine.

But you know what? I’m guessing you can scan your memory for other times you felt a lot of fear and uncertainty and you DID make it through. And regardless of how many challenges you’ve faced, and regardless of how many times you may have almost NOT made it through something difficult…if you’re reading this today (and I’m pretty sure you are), you somehow made it to today.

If you are struggling today, I hope you can access a combination of internal strength and external resources to help you persist through the hard times and prepare the transformation that awaits. It’s possible this is both a dark ending of things that are winding down AND a bright beginning for that which is gearing up. If things aren’t too bad for you personally, make an extra effort to look around and identify those around you who are coming undone, and ask them how you can help.

Peace,
Paul… 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 #1019: Loving Stillness.

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Ripples #1019: Loving Stillness.
Dec 3, 2018

PEBBLE
Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.
-E’yen A. Gardner, shared by Petra in Ft. Myers, FL

BOULDER
I am finding the antidote to overwhelm not by completing more or by doing less but by falling in love with stillness.
-Leah Pearlman, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
I’ve reached the end of a long and in certain ways difficult and in other ways delightful year: I’ve mostly recovered from a couple of health challenges; managed the process of selling my condo and transitioned to living with Jamie in our new house; I’ve wrapped up the last of my speaking engagements; and I’ve been touching base with the groups I’ll fire up early in 2019 so see if they need anything before the holidays.

And now: it is time for me to rest.

I’ve cleared my schedule, set up my vacation messages for email and voicemail, and picked out some books and puzzles and other activities to help me wind down. Most importantly, I’m going to make time for stillness. I’ve learned before that carving out this time at the end of the year allows me to reset my mind, body, and spirit.

Fear not, hardy ripplers: I have been working double time the last few weeks so I could queue an ample supply of weekly Ripples emails as well as the daily splashes that I post on social media (if you’re not familiar, you can enjoy these by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn).

I know this is a hectic time of year for various reasons. Still, I hope you can find at least a few moments stillness in the coming weeks!

Oh, and Happy Hanukkah!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1,010: Swimming in Silence!

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Ripples #1,010: Swimming in Silence!
Oct 1, 2018

PEBBLE
Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.
-Francis Bacon, shared by Kelly in Philadelphia, PA

BOULDER
I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.
-Albert Einstein, shared by Katherine in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
I make my living as a leadership trainer and keynote speaker, designing and delivering presentations that encourage individuals and teams to cultivate their potential. In short: I get paid to talk.

While I’m proud of the talent I’ve developed as an orator, I credit much of my success as a speaker to silence. In early conversations I ask event planners what they hope attendees will be thinking, feeling, and doing after my time with them, and then I get quiet so I can listen to the responses. During the preparation phase I spend quite a bit of time talking through all the things I might want to say about the topic we’ll be exploring, but then I need a good length of silent time (days, weeks, even months) to let things simmer in my soul. Even as I’m giving the actual talk, silences are powerful pauses that provide some space for the audience to receive the ideas I’m sharing.

Silence is also a sacred part of my process for assembling these weekly splashes. I often sit in silence before and after I’ve selected the quotes–at the very least to give myself time to think about what I want to communicate. When things are really flowing, the silence becomes a transcendent portal which connects me to wisdom from a higher source.

I’ll confess to you that events of this past week (the personal and the political) depleted me mightily and I wasn’t sure how to rally the creativity I like to bring to Ripples. One moment of silence helped me find my center, and another allowed the juices to begin flowing. If you’re enjoying this so far, that means silence helped us both.

Perhaps you can extend the ripples and invite silence to work some additional magic in your work and life this week? I hope so.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I apologize for any extra spaces may be creeping into my typing…the spacebar on my laptop is doing something quirky of late. Maybe interpret them as opportunities for silence? 🙂… Read More!

Ripples #991: Soar, Stumble, & Flourish!

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Ripples #991: Soar, Stumble, & Flourish!
May 21, 2018

PEBBLE
You are worthwhile and capable even though you make mistakes.
-original source unknown,
shared by Hannah in Asheville, NC, who received this message from her 8th grade science teacher, who may in turn have stumbled upon this mantra when it was shared by Joan Redeen in response to a 2010 blog post about advice you wish your 13-year-old self could hear
http://kellehampton.com/2010/10/to-thine-own-self-be-true.html#comment-226761 (yup, I poked around the interwebs, determined to find the original source!)

BOULDER
The purpose of this glorious life is not simply to endure it, but to soar, stumble, and flourish as you learn to fall in love with existence. We were born to live, my dear, not merely to exist.
-Becca Lee, shared by Lee in Wichita, KS

PONDER

Last week in my excitement to commence our countdown towards Ripples #1,000, I encouraged people to join our official Facebook group, Team Ripples so they would be in on the scoop about how they could participate in unleashing some ripply goodness this summer.

On Monday morning after Ripples #990 zoomed out, I eagerly anticipated dozens or maybe even hundreds of you joining us there. I waited, and waited, and nothing really happened. I was starting to wonder if ya’ll had stopped reading these little splashes…and then someone messaged me, “Hey, Ripples Guy–the links don’t seem to work!”

YIKES!

Rather than being relieved that our fabulous team of happy Ripplers hadn’t abandoned me after all, I instead started to kick myself for not checking the links before sending it out. Maybe *I* am the one who had abandoned Ripples…since I apparently hadn’t bothered to throughly proofread the draft before zooming it out to our 30,0000 readers.

And then I took a breath. And another.

I realized that waiting another week to share corrected links wouldn’t significantly delay our plans. And several ripplers demonstrated their passion by finding their way to the group on their own. I began to realize that maybe the mistake wasn’t so bad after all.

When it was time to prepare this week’s edition, I began my weekly ritual of reviewing quote submissions to identify which pebbles and boulders were ready to be shared. Joy and gratitude washed over me as I realized just how vast this massive ocean of inspired wisdom has become thanks to the steady stream of submissions over the last 20 years…another sign of how much ripply love is simmering in our collective conscious. And ever so gently, the two quotes above emerged from the collection as if to say, “Sweet friend, stumbles aren’t obstacles. Stumbles help you soar! Mistakes are simply tiny treasures that reveal your humanity and pave the way for growth.”

May your journey this week include plenty of opportunities to soar, stumble, and flourish.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I’ll try again: please join Team Ripples, our official Facebook Group, if you’d like to help us prepare for Ripples #1,000: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamRipples/?

ALSO: If you’d like to participate … Read More!

Ripples #981: Preaching From Scars!

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Ripples #981: Preaching From Scars!
March 12, 2018
PEBBLE
I only preach from my scars, not my wounds.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber, shared by Kelly in Evanston, IL
BOULDER
We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and challenges and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives. By remaining stuck in the power of our wounds, we block our own transformation. We overlook the greater gifts inherent in our wounds–the strength to overcome them and the lessons that we are meant to receive through them…to teach us to become compassionate and wise. -Caroline Myss, shared by Annie in Los Angeles, CA
PONDER
A few years ago, I heard a panelist at a higher education conference reference the “scars and wounds” quote in today’s pebble. In a lovely splash of synchronicity, I learned afterwards that it was my dear friend and colleague Toby Causby who had shared the quote with her.
I knew I’d eventually want to use the quote in Ripples, but wasn’t sure how. The answer came just recently when I happened upon the above passage from Caroline Myss and I knew it was the right time to swing back around and share an update on my health with everyone on Team Ripples.
You may recall a few months ago I made passing reference to some unexpected health challenges I was facing. I didn’t share much–not even with family and friends. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but as I began to feel better I realized I was waiting until I could get a better handle on what was happening and what was coming next before I started talking about it. The short version is that after a particularly busy and stressful period of travels last fall, I ended up in the ICU with internal bleeding. We still aren’t sure exactly what happened or where a few pints of my blood managed to disappear to, but I’ve been steadily improving over the past few months and glad to report that I’m gradually starting to feel like my regular self. I’ve got a ways to go, but I’m getting there!
While I don’t recommend misplacing a quarter of your blood supply, I will tell you it was a profoundly useful opportunity to revisit my self-care strategies. Over the last few months I’ve strengthened my meditation and tai chi practices and removed several things from my schedule and to-do lists that weren’t contributing to my effectiveness and/or enjoyment.
Now that my wounds have mostly healed, I’m eager to preach the good news: the challenges we face might scar us, but they don’t have to break us if we lean into the opportunities for learning and growth. In other words: WE’VE GOT THIS!
Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you’re enjoying Ripples, remember that the best way to show it is to SHARE Ripples with your peeps and encourage them to join us, and also click the SUBMIT A
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Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!

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Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!
Dec 11, 2017

PEBBLE
If you find who you are and embrace it, your life will work for you.
-a wise & happy woman
shared by Lauren in San Diego (who’s never forgotten this tip she heard from a guest lecturer when she was a student at Cal Poly)

BOULDER
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
-E.E. Cummings, shared by a Rippler in the Northeast

PONDER
A few weeks ago after I mentioned some ongoing health challenges I’m currently facing, a Ripples reader suggested I take a peek at Pema Chödrön’s “The Wisdom of No Escape,” a written compilation of remarks given by a warm and wondrous Buddhist nun over the course of a 30-day meditation retreat. In the very first chapter, she focuses on the concept of Loving-Kindness and how important it is to apply that to yourself.

She writes, “When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.” She then goes on to challenge the idea that meditation is about improving or changing. “It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”

These lines were underlined in the copy I acquired from a used book store, and someone had written in the margins, “We come to God as we are, not as who we think we should be.” That was reinforced by a Facebook post I came across a few days later: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is, “supposed to be.”

I’m still taking all of this in…trying to be curious about how I can embrace myself and my current situation just as it is, and making a conscious effort to gently release any expectations about how things are “supposed to be.” It’s a tall order, and it might seem ironic that embracing ourselves just as we are is an essential first step to growth and change. How about we all keep pondering and working on this. I will if you will!

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 #923: Winter’s Sacred Quality!

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Ripples #923: Winter’s Sacred Quality.
Jan 30, 2017

PEBBLE
If you touch the sacred quality of winter inside yourself—that quality of everything returning to its most essential form—you find yourself falling off the end of the mind and into openness.
-Adyashanti, shared by Pamela, in Hawi, HI

BOULDER
Now I realize that the trees blossom in spring and bear fruit in summer without seeking praise, and they drop their leaves in autumn and become naked in winter without fearing blame.
-Kahlil Gibran, shared by Carol in Tennessee

PONDER
We recognize spring and summer as seasons of emerging and developing, yet we tend to forget that autumn’s decomposition and winter’s dormancy are also vital components of the growth cycle. Winter is the time when many organisms are resting and recovering as they prepare for another growth spurt that will inevitably arrive when spring showers and summer sunshine returns. And while it’s perfectly natural (and perfectly acceptable) to long for those warmer, brighter days, it might be useful to cultivate an appreciation for the regenerative, restorative nature of winter.

If too many bleak and blustery days in a row have you feeling down, I invite you to reframe the need to bundle up as an opportunity to practice insulating yourself from unwelcome bitterness of the elements. And instead of feeling “stuck inside,” you might choose to leverage your inside time with an inward focus: a chance to rest, nest, and digest…which will return you to your best.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. It is completely acceptable if you just groaned at the last line. Completely. Acceptable.… Read More!

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