Stepping Into the Unknown

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“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” ~ Barbara J. Winter

During my recent, brief blogging hiatus, I spent time reflecting on why I and others are often hesitant (if not outright frightened) when it comes to choosing action that requires us to step into the unknown. I know why I sometimes proceed cautiously and at other times, jump in headfirst. Each of us deals with our own blocks and how we break through them or allow them to hinder our growth.

I wondered how much time people actually dedicate to thinking about and addressing the unique rationale for why they cannot or will not step into the unknown. Or how for some, it’s simply a matter of ‘why not?’

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For those of you unfamiliar with BBC One, the U.K. based broadcaster produces some exquisite videos. I particularly enjoy their “Life Story” pieces. Unfortunately, BBC One prohibits some of their videos from being posted to YouTube in the U.S. Instead, I invite you to click this link and (in just two minutes) watch a newborn Barnacle Gosling experience its maiden flight, fearlessly!

My take, after having watched this clip, is if that little one can leap out of its nest and into a vast unknown, I can too! I may have a bumpy ride and end up a little dazed, but I’ll still land on something solid from which to grow forward.

2699398136_0041c8b9fe_mIf you won’t take action because you’re unsure of its outcome or you’re afraid of what might/could happen, consider these three perspectives:

  1. Next time you make a decision, make sure you are doing it because it is indeed a better choice for you, and not simply because it’s the nearest patch of safe ground. If your choice leads you through a period where you just don’t know what will happen, see if you can politely let uncertainty sit down with you. Despite its bad reputation, you never know what it might bring to the table.
  2. Inhale, exhale, and smile. In the end, not knowing can be scary, but liberating and profound. Think of yourself in the midst of a turbulent sea and you are afloat without knowing where anything will go. But this is always true, even of people who don’t admit it to themselves. Enjoy the ride. Look at the amazing place you’re in and acknowledge it. This path of not knowing, is the path of life itself.
  3. If you’re afraid of getting in trouble, remember you’re already in bigger trouble by not following your heart. If you listen to the voice of your fears, you’ll live an empty life. But if you listen to the voice of your heart, you’re likely to live a remarkable life. Cliche but… there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Stealing Time

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“Plant you own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” ~ Veronica Shoffstall

As I type I’m listening to Lisa Gerrard, one of my favorite artists. Her resonant voice has a way of reassuring me that everything is okay and that I’m aligned with my intended purpose and course.

When you’re in the thick of things, it’s hard to get much perspective. Perhaps you’re struggling with a particular decision or you find yourself putting off decisions or making hasty choices if you don’t intentionally pause and reflect. When you’re engaged in any creative activity – writing, designing, running a business – it’s important to create space (some may call this down-time). You need to get away from the constant busyness in order to do the best work that you can.

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Not even a decade ago we weren’t exposed to nearly as much information as we are now. Compare today to a short 50 years ago and the change is mammoth. Processing all this information can be overwhelming, measurably because much of it is useless to us. We need to use our developed cognitive abilities to cope and survive. With so much information having little to do with our personal lives… our well-being, stealing some time away from the helter-skelter can be incredibly relieving.

So I am. I’m going to take some time to decorate my soul. I’ll be offline (and in an undisclosed location) for the next week. Some of us know when time for a break is important.

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I’ll leave you with three reflections tied to solitude, as shared in this post. Some people are blessed with an abundance of time and have the luxury of its being discretionary. For those who presently have less time, consider claiming an hour, a day, or a week, whatever you need to decorate your own soul.

  1. Avoid mindless consumption. When you’re alone you have beautiful opportunities to think clearly about your life and the direction you want to take it. In the “mitote” of today’s world, you’ve earned quiet. If during that time you gain clarity about your path, what fulfills you, or how you’re feeling about what you spend your days doing – then it will have been time well spent. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose epiphany; simple glimmers and insights are valuable too!
  2. Quiet time is often lucid time. Simply sitting down and thinking through a problem can result in very effective solutions. Yet even if a solution isn’t immediately forthcoming, just thinking things through and understanding a problem can bring peace and a certain courage to carry on.
  3. Find a good spot for contemplation. During the week it’s often hard to make time and reunite with nature (or whatever setting works for you). Yet even time for simple walks in fresh air, maybe a very local visualization outing, can bring some clarity and lend a new perspective. Try to find a ‘place of power’ that gives you true inspiration.

Dread du jour

3291312140_078c833b7d_m“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important.” ~ Ambrose Redmoon

I went online today to do some research. I figured mainstream news feeds might have the data I sought. What an ugly mistake. For readers unaware, I don’t watch television/cable, nor do I read newspapers or magazines. And my online experience today reaffirmed why I do not.

I quickly scanned several well-known sources and 37 out of 39 articles (yes, I counted) featured stories about doom and gloom. The ‘hit parade’ included headlines screaming about:

  • Ebola
  • terrorism
  • climate change
  • social injustices
  • illegal immigration
  • police brutality
  • political propaganda
  • economic demise
  • inadequate militaries
  • religious superiority
  • murders, deaths, out of control crime
  • extremists everything

Not a single positive, feel good or constructive story. Just fear and demise.

2137382661_7f43df918a_mBewildered, I asked myself, “Is this really what we have let ourselves become?” “Have we given in to those who fulminate?” “Are people really buying into the endless dread the media is stoking?”

Fear in any form is an impediment to the free flow of our existence and growth. It limits and restricts our ability to navigate our lives. Fear drains significant emotional energy that otherwise could be available to manifest our inalienable desires and intentions.

308920348_1c265895d9_mFEAR is an acronym in the English language for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Politicians, religious zealots, military decision-makers and greedy corporate leaders use fear simply to advance their agendas and fortunes.

I/you/we don’t have to ingest this daily dosing of fear. We have enough going on in our own lives to keep us challenged, to sustain our wellness, to fuel our dreams, and to fulfill our happiness goals. We’ve got possibilities and opportunities on which to focus and enjoy!

3001987805_14f8beee82_mCertain fears are valid and sometimes, fear can be useful. But not an endless onslaught. If you desire to reclaim some peace, assurance, and hope in your life, you can. For starters, consider these ideas when you feel overwhelmed by fear:

  1. Accept that you will be fearful. If you accept that you will have fear and it is a natural part of life, then you can move on and take action. Not everything needs to be an apocalypse. Fear will always be with us and when we recognize it we can endure it with courage. We will not get rid of fear but accepting it will make it that much easier to take the next positive step.
  2. Manage your sources of fear. When terrible things happen, there isn’t a reason to force yourself to participate. Watching endless repeats of violent newscasts or disasters will increase your fear greatly and for nothing in return other than awful images and worries. It often only makes you feel more helpless.
  3. What could I be doing instead? There is little use driving yourself crazy wondering “what if?” A lot of what you read/hear is fabricated anyway and out of your control. If you are powerless, focus instead on what you can control. Events that you have no influence on are a waste of your time; even though “the voices” want you to believe everything.

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It’s About Having Fun

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“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”   ~ Danny Kaye

Bobette Reeder is Past President of the International Coach Federation (ICF), the global professional organization that represents personal and business coaches. She has been a professional Coach since 1995 and was among the first 20 coaches to receive the distinction of ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC). She holds a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders and her coaching voice has been heard by hundreds of clients in 41 U.S. states and 10 foreign countries.

Bobette Reeder

Bobette Reeder

Bobette is active as a Partner with Serendipitous Events and a Co-Host/Co-Producer of the first invitation-only event for Master level Coaches,”Conversation Among Masters” (CAM). She has been married for 42 years and has two married children, four grandchildren and Murphy the Wonder Dog! Her style both personally and professionally is all about having fun and seeking the positive side and opportunity in everything life brings.

As my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Bobette shared how and why professional coaching can be of considerable value to baby boomers; how the word “pause” and its practice is significant; why it’s important to know who you really are; why playing and having fun, especially when in a life transition is key and; the need for both a coach and ‘coachee’ to have chemistry or a “fit” for the partnership to be productive.

5055545286_5983b7c600_mShe also addressed continuous learning; having a positive impact and ‘giving back’ and; how coaching helps to create new awareness. Interested in listening to the show, here’s the podcast link. If you’d like to learn more about coaching, you can reach Bobette at: http://www.bobettereeder.com http://www.coachinitiative.org or coachbobette@gmail.com

That Time of Year

9466455337_8c3cfda7ae_m“Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action.” ~ Joshua Welch

Though she lives 1,800 miles (2,900 km) to the East, I talk with my Mom every Sunday. At 83, she is blessed with a sound mind and able body. She lives independently with a healthy dose of pride. And soon, in one of our conversations, she’ll ask: Did you get a flu shot? What can I say, she’s a Mom; a wise one.

We in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into that time of year: winter, the solstice, an extended holiday period, the annual cold and flu season… and whatever else typically accompanies days of shorter daylight. In the spirit of awareness and your personal wellness, are you preparing for the coming months?

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Yes, we get colds and we try to avoid the flu. But there are other seasonal risks. It seems unfair, but if you’re prone to summer allergies, chances are you’re susceptible to them in winter too. Why? Because those warm weather irritants are around all year, like pet dander, mold and mildew. When you settle indoors for chillier weather – the windows closed, the heater on – your exposure to the same allergens heightens.

Research also shows that the incidence of heart attacks spike during the holiday period. In combination, overeating, overdoing alcoholic consumption, being too sedentary, and even the stress of the season can trigger heart attacks. Yet how many people plow, unwittingly, into the vacuum that this time of year can be?

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Some people plan for the challenges that accompany this time of year. They consciously prepare. Not that preparation can cover everything that presents, but it can provide some insulation from endless marketing, external stimuli, bacteria, and things that can threaten our wellness. Getting a flu shot is simply one of those preparations.

There are countless other considerations. You likely have practices that work well for you. If you are looking for some simple ideas to help prepare for and get you through the next few months, here are three suggestions:

  1. Slow down. Intentionally. We all have so much to do and so little time in which to do it. And you want me to slow down? :) Who has time for that? Rephrase the question: who doesn’t have time for that? The answer: our bodies. If you squeeze every second out of every day at record speed, your flesh, bones, muscles, and organs will eventually suffer. A serene mind really is nothing without a healthy body to carry it.
  2. Rethink your commitments. Ask: Are you committed to something because of genuine compassion or interest rather than a sense of obligation? Continuing to give your time and energy when your heart isn’t truly engaged often does you and others a disservice. Think fulfilling your own needs while connecting with and helping others.
  3. Highlight health and feeling well. Focus on the way being healthy makes you feel and what it gives you. Feed your body nourishing food so you feel your best, and remove the worries about dis-ease and poor health.

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To our Southern Hemisphere friends, here’s wishing you a refreshing spring and summer.

Destinations

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“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” ~ Paul Theroux

As a verb, Google the word “destination” and you will find endless web sites for spas, resorts, retreat centers, honeymoon locations and exotic, far-away places. When you think “destination,” what typically comes to mind? Probably Paris, skiing the Alps, Disney World, safari, a tropical beach or perhaps a historic cultural site, among many possibilities.

What if, instead, a destination was somewhere within you? A place where you could intentionally focus on your inner self, where you could practice extreme self-care and where you could reground and renew.

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When was the last time you created space in which to realign with your mind, your body and your spirit… without, as Toltec Wisdom says, the “mitote” clouding your thoughts or your visions? Nurturing our personal wellness, our wholeness, is one of those matters we too often neglect. Until we are forced.

How often have you considered anticipating things rather than having expectations? Might you find value in some alone time where you could avoid over thinking things? What if you were to break away for a bit rather than ‘following the crowd’? How often do you find yourself operating on ‘auto-pilot’ just to keep up in this demanding world?

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The grand voyage given to each human being as a birthright wasn’t intended to be a rat race in which we speed, mindlessly, from one activity to the next. Our birthright is to experience life in all of its euphoria and its challenges. Experience it! But not at a disproportionate cost of overlooking one’s whole self — the physical, emotional and spiritual you.

When you consider your next ‘destination’, maybe visiting your inner landscape of personality and purpose could, as a possibility, become more audible. Maybe some inner healing and restorative work would be appreciated by your mind, body and soul. :)

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If you’d like to more deeply explore your inner self, here are three environments in which you can reflect and renew:

  • Sedona, Arizona, USA. Sedona (pictured above) is a geological wonderland with hiking trails, remote lodges and the breathtaking Red Rock State Park. It is also well known as a spiritual and energy vortex.
  • The Camino de Santiago, Spain. Also known as The Way of St. James, hikers walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life.
  • A Vision Quest is, traditionally, a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. The multi-day vision quest ceremony is one of the most universal and ancient means to find spiritual guidance and purpose. In practicing cultures, a vision quest is said to provide deep understanding of one’s life purpose.

Why We Do, What We Do

Shall We Swim?“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” ~ John E. Southard

A friend emailed this. It has likely toured the Internet though the excerpt is new to me. It speaks to the ‘what really matters’ that some people have experienced/know. It’s a true story; a gratifying read that I am ‘passing along.’

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, ‘Thank you. Thank you.’

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In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck,’ as my dad used to say. Or, to onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant… maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida… That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better.

His full name:  Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World War I, and then he was in WWII. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger and thirst. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were or even if they were alive.

Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.

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The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle.

They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged on. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft… suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal of it – a very slight meal for eight men. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait….and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull…and he never stopped saying, ‘Thank you.’ That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Do you have a meaningful ritual that honors someone or something?

Source: Max Lucado, “In The Eye of the Storm”, pp. 221, 225-226

Walking Your Talk

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“Well done is better than well said.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“There is no magic wand, my dear. In this world if you want to accomplish more, you need to do more.” Wise counsel from a mentor some 20 years ago. Her advice was good across the board, whether starting up a business, changing jobs or simply checking a few things off your bucket list.

I was somewhat of a talker then. Reasonably accomplished, I talked a lot about what I wanted to do. Yet, I found myself challenged when it came to fulfilling personal chores, completing deliverables, and planning for what I wanted to do. I was bluffing myself and others. And at some point I acknowledged I wasn’t a doer.

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These days I’m on the other side of that fence. I collaborate with people who choose to plan for their personal development; people who have specific, realistic, small, and manageable goals. In hindsight, what I now see clearly is that an individual’s success is often attributable to designing a living (meaning: breathing/flexible) working plan versus simply thinking and talking about their goals.

Early on I figured out that plans and outcomes are not built on good intentions alone. Positive perspectives help yet intentions lapse when the distractions and demands of the real world present. What I remind people about is that the real work is in making things happen. And for plans and intentions to bear fruit, they require diligence, hard work, vision, application, self-belief, energy and consistency. Plain and simple. Perseverance is essential even if you lapse or come up short on your plan.

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If being successful is an outcome to which you aspire, fairy dust and wishful thinking might make you feel good, but they’re not going to deliver results. I used be a great thinker. A dreamer, too. I am, still. What has changed though, is now seeing these matters through a time, experience and knowledge lens. And we all have this vantage! We simply need to recognize what is practical and applicable in our own frame.

Walking your talk is undeniably doable. In doing so consider these three foci, each which can strengthen and empower your walk:

  1. Banish distractions. Getting past distractions is one of the biggest obstacles to taking more action. It may not be challenging for people with enough willpower but for many, stopping procrastination and focusing requires a lot more effort. Turn off things like your TV and phone more regularly and scale back your usage of social media sites and Netflix. I know I am far more productive absent distractions. Perhaps you, too?
  2. Be a doer. Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. The longer an idea rests without being acted upon, the weaker it becomes. After a few days, details get hazy. After a week, ideas get relegated to a back burner. As a doer you get more done while stimulating new ideas in the process.
  3. Visualize success. This is a tried and true technique. People know the benefits of visualizing their goals. Elite athletes do this all the time. In a similar way, create an image of the outcomes you want and use that for inspiration.

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Pragmatic and Magnetic

Mike Jaffe

Mike Jaffe

“A fool despises good counsel, but a wise man takes it to heart.” ~ Confucius

This year I heard Lisa Nichols speak in person. If you’re unfamiliar with Lisa, check her out. She is a global speaker and successful businesswoman, who envelopes people in an inspiring life story. In my opinion, she is magnetic. Lisa used a phrase that has stuck with me because it aligns well with what and how I choose to share some of my perspectives and her simple phrase is, “I’m just here to stir your soul.”

In our respective blogs, each of us is privileged to open our minds, to express opinions, and to share whatever we deem relevant or worthy. I try to awaken people not only to their potential but to inspire individuals to see new possibilities and to live their lives at conscious, intentional choice.

Robin Lunney

Robin Lunney

As some of you know, I also host a weekly radio show with the same name as this blog. When I highlight show guests in a post, it is not to promote my show. Honestly, it’s not. I simply share a brief summary of my guest(s) and the program so you can consider whether their story might be of interest to you. I deliberately feature guests who have fascinating life experiences to which you might relate and who have unique information to share.

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Chuck Riley

For your consideration, I invite you to listen to any of the three most recent shows. They feature a 9/11 survivor and motivational speaker, a career professional who hasn’t allowed devastating loss to stifle her healing and positive outlook, and a financial professional who provides foundational advice for people planning for or transitioning into retirement.

Here’s a link to these and other Awakening to Awareness show podcasts. Happy listening!

I Dare You

285024032_0b8b039b63_m“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

I dare you… to stretch yourself. I’m not talking about exercise or warming up your muscles. Rather, I’m encouraging you to test your perceived limits; to learn, maybe even begin to master, a new skill; to explore something unknown that you’ve been curious about; to challenge your mind, body or spirit.

With most activities, if we want to get better, it helps to stretch ourselves. Athletes strive to move faster or become stronger. Musicians aim to complete a harder, more intricate piece of music. Writers endeavor to craft that literary treasure. And business people are driven to increase productivity, sales and the bottom line.

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In our busy world, where time flies, if you don’t challenge yourself your creativity and even happiness can stagnate. When the status quo becomes not only the norm but comfortable, you may find yourself unrecognizably following your routines even though they are no longer fulfilling or enriching.

This “dare” doesn’t necessarily mean doing something that makes you anxious or nervous. The point is to open yourself to new opportunities when you’re ready. As you meet new challenges, you encounter new character traits, gain new confidence, and enhance your sense of accomplishment. As you meet your doubts and broaden your horizons, your mind can become too busy to worry about inconsequential things that life throws at us from time to time.

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Something I’m uncomfortable with is being humorous while speaking in front of large groups. Some people are naturally humorous; I’m not. Entertaining and witty I can be, but humorous, not. So I am enrolling in an Improv class to learn how to become more at ease integrating humor. For me, this is a stretch.

You have probably given thought to stretching yourself. What’s preventing you from doing so now? :) For those who are curious how or where to step into this, here are three considerations to get you started.

  1. Take cooking classes. Even if you’re hesitant to go to classes of any sort, especially if you consider yourself an introvert, drag yourself out of the house and be open to chatting up (not for long) strangers. There is fun to be had, watching everyone learn and seeing people enjoy being newly creative. Go stimulate your taste buds!
  2. Volunteer at a local mission or soup kitchen for a day and realize how comfortable your life really is, while helping others at the same time. It will likely broaden your perspectives and reground your sense of appreciation.
  3. Be willing. An attitude of willingness is essential. You can make excuses all day that will keep you from stretching yourself and taking the next step. You need to step away from the demands of every day life. An attitude of willingness will stretch you simply by making a commitment to take the plunge.

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