Adieu

3274224582_e00b5d4dbe_m“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

I thought about titling this post Bigger Fish to Fry but realized the idiom inferred more important matters to address. And in some respects this is true. But I didn’t want readers (you) to think yourselves unimportant in my eyes because you genuinely matter to me.

However, it is time to bid you farewell; to move on. Not long ago I shared a post in which I asked if any of you had been (or perhaps, are) On a Verge. Its premise was simply to honor your intuition when you know there are other opportunities calling. To those possibilities, I have listened and am aware of ‘what’s next’ and why.

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

For me, it’s always been about following my heart… helping, healing and sharing. To continue contributing in these and other ways, I am choosing to pair my ‘next set of priorities’ with abundant time, renewed energy and unbridled inspiration.

Many of you know, sustaining a blog and actively interacting with many writers can be time-consuming. And the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable! I’ve acknowledged this once before, but it bears repeating… I have gotten more out of what’s been shared in your posts and comments than with my written offerings.

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I’m excited about this next life chapter. I’ve been looking forward to continuing to realign with what really matters to me. And I suspect some of you are leaning in, whispering, what is it you’re going to be doing, Eric? :) Well, I hope this doesn’t disappoint but there’s little noble on the radar screen. There are some nearer-term and some longer-term activities that will receive due attention. Once they’re completed, time will avail to do more — yet to be determined, good things.

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For those interested, here is what’s on the forward leaning plate:

  • I will be committing a hefty chunk of time to rehearsing for and competing in the (my now, fourth) Toastmasters International Speech Contest. While still untitled, my speech this year is about compassion creating connections.
  • I will finally, finish and publish my first book which will reflect much of what I have shared in this blog.
  • I will be creating more time to be in and with nature. Solitude rejuvenates and is immensely healing for our mind, body and spirit.
  • I am going to learn to speak/read Italian. This ought not surprise many given my professed fondness for nearly all things Italian.
  • I am going to travel. A lot. :) I keep encouraging my Mom to do whatever she wants while she is of sound mind and body. An advocate for ‘walking our talk,’ I will practice what I encourage others to consider doing.
  • I intend to find a cause or organization that will welcome my time and services – in a volunteer capacity. I have mentored and been in service to others for decades, just not at the level I can now. It’s time for me to augment my contributions.
  • And perhaps most important, I will be spending much more time creating and rekindling connections with people. Live, in-person, connections which for me, are the most authentic and fulfilling.

I may someday return to this amazing WordPress Community; time and passion will tell. Know that I will cherish this mutual adventure and you… many of you more than you will know. I am privileged to have shared our connections.

With appreciation, respect and love,

Eric

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Accepting Predicaments

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“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants you to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.” ~ Dan Millman

It is generally acknowledged that there are two things we can count on in life: death and taxes. I would offer there are two more: stress and pain, which reveal in emotions such as shame, guilt, fear and anger. And when we experience these, we often feel the need to “fix” them.

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “What would it be like to have no problems?” Imagine the stress in that world! Think this through… having problems or challenges actually enables you to develop creative solutions. And once you’ve solved a problem, you feel a sense of fulfillment. Right? If you had no challenges, boredom would set in and boredom can be seriously stressful.

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There are lessons in predicaments, pain and inconvenience. They actually describe for us a way of being. Our work can be done from the perspective that life’s challenges teach us and we grow through the opportunities of problems. As difficult as they may be, they do make life interesting. (And yes, “interesting” may not be the ideal descriptor).

In my observations, most people feel that when their life is filled with resistance, obstacles and challenges, it’s because they are doing something wrong. To an earlier reference, we launch in “fixer” mode. We ask ourselves, “What do I need to do to get rid of this?” or “How can I fix this problem so it goes away?”

When things don’t go our way, we get upset, sometimes angry. And stressed.

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Here are two thoughts; perhaps you’ve considered them: 1) Simply focus on the things that really matter and; 2) The solutions to the problems you face are already within you. You only need to bring your energy and attention to them.

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As you encounter life’s predicaments here are three ways in which to ease their acceptance:

  1. Respond with a positive attitude. Challenges often have two participants: a victor and a victim. Victor’s mentally prepare, using tools to boost their confidence and positively rise above the pain or challenge. Victims frequently choose to accept the status quo.
  2. Promote patience. When confronted with a challenge, permit the circumstances to fully reveal before making judgments. Allowing time to pass can help to facilitate change. Make use of available techniques (prayer, meditation, contemplation) to learn the virtues of patience and endurance.
  3. Banish self-pity. Yes, people still have pity parties. And if that’s where one chooses to spend time, so be it. Be watchful though for the “It’s not fair” or “Why me?” statements when things are challenging. Those reactions can reflect an attitude of entitlement. Be open to accepting these situations as gifts rather than suffering.

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Becoming More Connected

Eric Tonningsen:

Three strikes and you’re out or perhaps … third time is the charm :) Whatever the case, a third and final reblog of one of my own posts.

Originally posted on Eric Tonningsen's "Awakening to Awareness":

“The most basic and powerful way to connect with another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

The value of our life, work, and relationships is the power of our connection to and with them. The question is, are we connected to them or just attached to them? The answer affects not only the value, but the energy they give to or take from us. If we are connected to them they enrich the time we give to them. If we are attached to them, they drain our energy and can leave us disappointed.

The source of our attachment is always found in the perceived needs of what is missing in our lives. We want to possess people, money, and…

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You ‘Can’ Let Go

Eric Tonningsen:

Lately, I’ve read several posts wherein the subject of attachment versus detachment, and wanting to “let go” surface. I thought I’d share this older post.

Originally posted on Eric Tonningsen's "Awakening to Awareness":

“Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.” ~ Anais Nin

Yesterday I wrote about trying different versus trying harder. Sometimes trying a different approach entails letting go; an action many of us have a hard time doing. Here’s a visual: Trying to maintain control in life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will…

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Untethering

“If experience is the best teacher, there’s nothing that comes close to the experience of life.” ~ Michael A. Singer

I’ve not discovered a cure for a major disease nor have I invented something that radically changes how we live. And it’s probably fair to say that neither have you. Still, we are significant; why else would we be here? Each of us is making a contribution to humanity simply by living in full expression of who we are. For whatever or however you are contributing, I honor and respect you!

Life is about continuous progress; the ability to move forward and achieve your own version of greatness. To get there, however, some of us need to let go of things from our past and listen to our inner voice that can urge us toward a space that seems both unclear and at times, crazy.

When we listen to our voice we begin to imagine and dream about following this higher knowing and the possibilities that lie ahead. Sometimes though, when we start to believe in such prospects, the ego-mind interjects itself and we find ourselves doubting our dreams and desires. And we retreat. You’re familiar with this, right?

So, why do we self-sabotage? One reason for inaction can be understood when an individual not progressing is viewed as part of a larger social situation. When one has to marshal the herd and get others to move, there is some risk that accompanies that. It is much easier to not lead the way, blend into the crowd, and wait for somebody else to assume the risk and be responsible. In social psychology this is called the “bystander effect.” But when others are not involved, it becomes justly about you.

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If you are On A Verge, listening to your inner voice, perhaps sensing opportunity and an associated need to untether, these considerations are important to remember:

  1. Appreciate what you have. Rather than focusing on what you think may be missing from your life, reflect on that with which you are blessed. It’s too easy to look at the people you surround yourself with and want what they have. Just because someone has material possessions doesn’t mean s/he is internally happy. Be grateful for what is most important to you instead of what you perceive as lacking.
  2. Take full responsibility. Near always, you are responsible for the quality and condition of your life. Sometimes we choose to do nothing when we get hit hard because it’s just easier (and less painful) that way. But disappointment is often only deferred. You have to live with that inner voice that says you didn’t try hard enough in pursuit of your dreams/desires. It’s your choice to plow through and keep moving forward.
  3. Do one simple thing. To move forward; start moving. One step, small steps, in the direction of your goal or vision is progress. Determine one (simply one!) area of your life where you have wanted to move forward. Spend time visualizing what it would take to get you started. And act! Take that first step. Then, move on to the next step.

Rowdy Girl Sanctuary

Eric Tonningsen:

An advocate for the voiceless, I abhor animal abandonment and cruelty. I find Renee’s story inspiring. She has a dream and is taking action to see it happen. And I’m happy to share her message.

Originally posted on My Vegan Heart Blog:

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Rowdy Girl Sanctuary is the dream of Renee-King Sonnen.

Renee is a singer and songwriter from the Houston/Brazoria County area who met her future husband, Tommy Sonnen, while singing at a nightclub.

Renee and Tommy

She went suburban living to ranch living 6 years ago when they got married. She lives on a 96 acre cattle ranch right on hwy 35, 50 miles southwest of Houston and 30 miles from Bay City/Matagord.

Her husband has been a cattle rancher for 15 years. . It’s beyond my ability to describe! My husband’s great-grandfather supplied almost all of Houston with meat in the early 1900’s – his great-grandfather had a slaughter-house.

When she married him 6 years ago, she had no idea that she would become vegan as a result of the horrors of the sale barn episodes with the calves.

Like Howard Lyman, the cattle rancher turned vegan she had an epiphany that opened…

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Search On

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Hope
  • To be inspired
  • Discoveries

These were three of the most frequently searched words/terms in 2014, according to Google. Personally, I am encouraged by this news.

Permit me then, if you will, a somewhat disjointed post; one which makes sense to me though it may not be entirely clear to you.

Fresnel Lighting of Pigeon Point Lighthouse

What else might people be searching for beyond these three foci? Could it be around:

  • Forcing breaks or sealing cracks?
  • Being a puppet or pulling the strings?
  • How to act on one’s dreams?
  • Possibilities
  • Swimming with or against tides?
  • Being part of a cure or part of an ongoing disease?
  • How to be more open to exploring?
  • Calling
  • Could it be worse… or better?
  • How to summon strength you already have?
  • If I had wings, where could I fly?
  • Significance
  • What you want people to know about you
  • What lights will guide you home?
  • How to be a greater contributor?

Regardless of what you may be searching for — finding it, being it, and appreciating it, comes easier when you are inspired; whether through self-inspiration or by others. Would you agree?

92646099_cc9d599dee_mThere are countless ways in which to become inspired. You’ve read about them, you’ve practiced them, and you’ve seen others successfully embrace them. If you’re searching for or open to a couple of ideas, here are three on inspiring yourself or others:

  1. Create space. Be clear about your position on changes you believe you or another individual can take. But don’t force the change. Instead, give time and space to stay the same; to consider choices. Allow awareness and self-determination to make clear that impending change can bring about desired results.
  2. Consider non-conformity. Falling in step for the sake of business or social conformity makes hypocrites of most. It requires you to replace the real you with a fake you. Expecting that everyone follows rules made and imposed by others is a ploy that creates conformity, establishes control, and drains inspiration. People aren’t made with cookie cutters. You need to be you!
  3. Tell yourself a different story. The stories we tell ourselves inspire us or bring us to our knees. Invoke your inner story-teller and tell yourself better stories. Tell yourself stories about hope, inspiration, and strength; confidence, competence and compassion. Write and tell a new chapter, a new ending, a new story forward.

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Living Measurably Better

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“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” ~ Doug Larson

This past May I heard Rudy Maxa speak at a professional gathering. Maxa is a renown travel journalist who has hosted many widely syndicated travel shows in the U.S. and overseas. He shared (and enlightened those present) his knowledge of and experiences with Blue Zones.

In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better. In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the U.S.

After identifying the world’s Blue Zones, teams of scientists were dispatched to each location to identify lifestyle characteristics that might explain longevity. They found that the lifestyles of all Blue Zone residents shared nine specific characteristics, called the Power of 9 ®.

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I know some of you might be thinking: I don’t want to live longer. And that’s understandable. But what about living better? What if you’re wondering where to go on your next holiday/vacation? Perhaps you’re itching for something new to do and you’re curious about building a Blue Zone in your business or community. Or maybe you’re contented with your current lifestyle yet interested in learning more about ‘how do these people do it?’

The five Blue Zones are located in Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan and; Nicoya, Costa Rica.

"Hara hachi bu"

“Hara hachi bu”

Blue Zones has created a validated tool called Vitality Compass, an accurate life estimator. You might want to try it. It’s not one of those unscientific quizzes that abound on the Internet. It also provides recommendations to help you live longer.

Following are five (Power of 9) evidence-based common denominators among all five locations. To me they are not surprising, only to the extent that people outside Blue Zones don’t take the time to consider or weave them into their lifestyle. :)

  1. 5762508115_db482cd924_mRight Tribe. The world’s longest lived-people choose – or were born into – social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created “moais” – groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.
  2. Wine @ 5. People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food.
  3. 80% Rule. “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2,500 year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight and gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more for the rest of the day.
  4. Down Shift. Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.
  5. Move Naturally. These people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house or yard work.

What Others Need Now

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“Make yourself necessary to somebody.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

People watching / observing human interaction is a favorite pastime. I got to do this today, waiting (for quite a while) in a hospital pavilion. Behaviors abounded ranging from sheer joy to bewilderment, from rudeness to emotionally drained — with smiles, laughter, tears and ugliness interspersed. And I got to thinking…

There are a lot of people who are vain and arrogant, who see themselves as the center of the world. And I wondered… if the human species ceased to exist today, while the animals that we underrate lived on, would the world be changed for the better? Then I snapped out of it, reflecting instead on how our we favorably impact others.

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When I think about the people who made the biggest impact in my life, it has been those who showed a sincere belief in me; those who let me know through their words and actions that I mattered. And to me, mattering is a universal human need, one that each of us have an opportunity to satisfy.

With those people I observed today, the mere fact that they were born, that they exist, regardless of their circumstances, mood or looks — reminded me that each one of them is indispensable, necessary, and irreplaceable. They matter.

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Have we become superambitious and hyperproductive in order to create some semblance of outer control in place of no inner control? Are we that detached from our fellow-man? I think not. Rather, I think we sometimes forget that we can create a world in which each of us knows we matter, believing in ourselves and supporting one another. Actions you take today can make a difference in someone’s life tomorrow. And that ripple would carry into future generations. Just imagine…

If you are unsure about what to do when you encounter or interact with someone significant or yet-to-be significant in your life, here are three things to consider:

  1. Notice everyone. When you do, you recognize their value and importance. Go out of your way to acknowledge people. Make an effort to “see” them. I’m not going to suggest how; this is where you get to play.
  2. Ask meaningful questions. We show people how much they matter by the questions we ask. For example: How can I make your day? Do you know how smart you are? Are you aware of all you have accomplished today? People’s feelings can be significantly changed, simply by your thoughtful questions.
  3. Show hope. How you interact with people you meet could be the stimulant that provides them with encouragement for a better day. Enthusiastically, let others know you believe in them and their potential. The idiom Hope Springs Eternal does infer promise. :)

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In Those Five Minutes

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“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you can help them to become what they are capable of becoming.” ~ J. W. von Goethe

The firefighter at your door sternly states you have five minutes to gather whatever you choose and evacuate your residence. A physician summons you with news that you probably have no more than five minutes with a dying loved one. You’re entering emergency surgery and asked to consider an organ donor consent. You’re on a flight when the captain instructs passengers to brace for impact.

In times of uncertainty, danger, or impending loss we are forced to transcend the thinking that usually dominates our everyday awareness. Without notice, you have to make lightening-quick decisions to which you haven’t given much prior thought. Shifting from the trivial to the critical usually exceeds your brain’s speed limit. And you’re likely unfocused and unsure about what to do. In those precious moments are these important…

  • your degree(s)
  • your age
  • technological conveniences
  • what you control
  • social media
  • what’s on the news
  • your investments
  • what you look like
  • global politics
  • how you’re acting
  • material possessions?

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I suspect not. You’re dealing with a racing mind, feeling physically exhausted and depleted, and scrambling to make sense of the seemingly unfathomable. What can you say, think, do? Is this a space in which you anticipated being?

When standing at such an edge, uncertain about the future, one can hope to draw strength from knowing what really matters — for those five minutes… what to grab, what to say, how to react and how to decide, with compassion.

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There’s a purpose here. It’s to encourage thought about what you value and to invite aligning your life with same. Because possessing clarity about what matters, matters!

In anticipation of having only five minutes, would confirmation of any of these help?

  1. Be yourself. When living as a passionate, inspired being, the only challenge greater than learning to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is to walk a lifetime comfortably in your own. Let your heart lead and take your brain along. When you’re clear and comfortable about what matters to you, making tough decisions can come more easily.
  2. Be a front-runner. Associate with others who share your values and aspirations. Don’t find yourself in a position where social gravity draws you into an unenlightened world and obscures who you are, what you know to be important and how you embrace, confidently, being at choice.
  3. Don’t stop remembering why. Many of us have tendencies to lose touch with what we loved as a child. The social pressures of adolescence and later professional pressures squeeze the passion out of people. Remember what you enjoy doing, with whom and why. You only need to be good at being and valuing you, and being there for others.

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