An Invitation

Fire Rainbow

“I believe I have a personal responsibility to make a positive impact.” ~ Anthony Fauci

I chose this image (source: Pinterest) of a “fire rainbow” to illustrate a rare and wonderful atmospheric phenomenon. I also wanted to contrast the point that beauty demonstrated, is not always rare.

Some of you know that I have been wanting to give more of my time, talents and energy to a meaningful and significant cause — on a volunteer basis. This Spring a beautiful opportunity presented.

This March, 2016 Press Release announced my election to the Board of The Coach Initiative – a ten years young organization that supports nonprofit initiatives worldwide to make a greater positive impact.

An Invitation

More specifically, The Coach Initiative (TCI) offers, on a pro-bono basis, coaching support to exponentially expand the positive global impact of projects that focus on the betterment of the human condition and on uplifting the human spirit.

TCI looks to a future where every not-for-profit organization with the purpose of making a positive impact in the world has the support of an experienced professional coach to enhance their contribution toward safer, healthier, happier, more productive global citizenry and the protection and care of our planet.

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We are moving quickly! And herein lies the invitation:

If you are aware of an established not-for-profit organization that could benefit from what TCI offers (see above link), I would like to learn about that nonprofit from you. Preferably, it would be an organization that you have personal experience with, one that you can vouch for their efforts and meaningful focus. In turn, I will have TCI contact that organization with information on how to apply to its program.

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In lieu of often shared points for consideration, following are three quotes that, I believe, remind us of what we are capable of doing. Choices that we make can contribute to the betterment of the human condition.  We simply need to act.

  • “A freely given gift can create a ripple of positive change in a person’s life, their family and their community.” ~ Unknown
  • “You have to throw the stone to get the pool to ripple.” ~ Glenn Tilbrook
  • “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

When Life Calls

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“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When Death Calls was the title of her last Saturday presentation. An expert in the field of planning for death and subsequent life celebrations, she shared some statistics that gave me pause – one of which is that slightly more than 70 percent of Americans do no planning specific to their own or other family members demise. Most leave the matter unaddressed simply assuming others will take care of things. And that can be an unfair burden.

Thinking later about her message, I acknowledged this as a serious topic, one truly worth talking about and planning for.

Then my mind pivoted.

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Are you prepared for when life calls? Not necessarily for death (though it warrants attention) but for how you find meaning and significance in your remaining years?

Many people simply go through the motions, allowing life to determine outcomes rather than each of us having a measurable say in what’s next. Yes, there is tremendous satisfaction, often fulfillment, in going with flow – just as there can be in letting go and lessening the need or desire to control. However, I’m talking about how you can proactively determine the extent to which you want to be engaged with your life; what is important to you.

Without doubt, planning for and making life decisions can be made more helpful when one has a sense of and comfort with their financial plans and security. They’re definitely interwoven.

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Yet when and as life calls, I invite you to ask yourself…

  • How often do I deliberately pause to consider what really matters to me? Deliberately?
  • What is it that can make me a better person?
  • How clear am I on who I want to be in “x” years?
  • What causes are worthy of my active involvement?
  • What have I missed?
  • What stirs my soul?
  • How can I give back?

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Embracing this as a process and creating time to intentionally plan, what unfolds could be renewed clarity about what to do When Life Calls (as well as when death calls).

For your consideration, three thoughts as you explore this theme:

  1. Create space. Don’t cram your life with too many things to do. Give yourself room and permission to enjoy each experience. Give yourself space to find your joy.
  2. Spend time with loved ones. If you want to know how to live an even more meaningful life, spend more time with the people you love. Quality relationships truly matter.
  3. Think “aloha.” This Hawaiian term does not simply mean hello or goodbye but in the truest sense stands for “the process of passing a blessing from one person to another.”

Credit: Light at the end of the tunnel / iStock by Getty Images photo ID 35839548

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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Proportion

1193640557_d9fa8902e2_m“You are wholly complete and your success in life will be in direct proportion to your ability to accept this truth about you.” ~ Dr. Robert Anthony

When I think of proportion, finding the right mix is what comes to mind. Concepts of balance, unity, measurement, harmony or relative size might come to mind for you as well. Proportion can be simply defined as the proper relation between two things.

Proportion is abundant in its everyday presence. It applies to and we find it in/with:

  • investment allocations
  • food servings
  • sleep or lack of
  • sun exposure
  • use of time
  • relationships
  • spending/saving
  • Barbie dolls
  • scare resource use
  • home decorating
  • determining where to live
  • social media use
  • architecture
  • exercising
  • “work-life”
  • giving/tithing

6828186220_23d97e16c5_mThere will always be a mix that is appropriate for you and according to where you are in life. The challenge with proportions is how to consciously manage them. For example, how do you act at an all-you-can-eat buffet? Do you skimp on vital sleep at the expense of your health? Is you exercise regimen excessive… or too infrequent? Do you use water judiciously?

How often do you think about the various mixes in your life? Is there too much or too little of some things?

108139247_81df889079_mIf you’re open to reflecting on proportion, here are three steps you can consider taking:

  1. Focus on your mind and body. Start in small ways and find what level of healthy habits work well for you. Pursue being fit. Take a 20 minute walk. The same goes for your mind. A fresh mind is a fresh spirit. Read two out–of-the-ordinary articles each week. Listen to a podcast once a week. Spoken and written words enliven and harmonize our minds. Be rich in thoughts.
  2. Eliminate things that frustrate you. (This aligns with my recent post on being inconvenienced.) If getting home late on Fridays kills social events and puts a strain on important relationships, leave work a little early or limit your travel on Fridays. There can be endless sources of frustration in your life which yield disproportionate reactions. Simply take time to identify and manage them.
  3. Be intentional about time and proportion. Think of each year as 365 days of equal value, and then set out to get full value from each one no matter what you are doing.

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What to Give

5824862885_0e7c2dd835_m“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt

As a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I fondly recall my Dad taking us to the REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) store in downtown Seattle. With its warped wooden plank floors, it was located on the upper levels of an old warehouse. A co-op for all things outdoors (and more), it remains my favorite place in which to lose myself and spend considerable moolah.

My siblings and I were introduced to hiking, backpacking and camping at early ages. And we loved it! Now living in the desert Southwest, I pine for the pines, the mountain trails, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and nature’s majestic tranquility — well, unless one is white water rafting.

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So where did I find myself today? At a local REI outlet. I was browsing for Christmas gift ideas because I rarely give a gift unless it jazz’s me first. I left the store empty-handed, returning to my car. And it was in that parking lot that I had an insight: I am a giver. I always have been. Of myself and the material/tangible. I enjoy benevolence and I know many have appreciated being on the receiving side of gifting.

But I’m done with what has, for decades, been tradition; unless there is a pressing/genuine need for something perceptible. This year my Christmas gifts are going to be different. I’ve got some ideas but I am committed to identifying creative alternatives. At my cost, my objective is to invite family and friends to be part of creating joy and significance for people who may have little or receive nothing. Something substantive yet beautiful in its simplicity.

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This is where you can help and in doing so, share ideas for we of like mind. I would love to read/learn what you have heard about or done in this vein. I’m inviting your input. I’ve already had someone suggest gifting through Heifer International, an established, reputable organization that empowers sustainability efforts around the world with/for poor people in developing countries.

If you’re inclined to think ‘outside of the box,’ please do. I am encouraging all suggestions. In advance, thank you for taking a few moments to enlighten me with your thoughts. I’m navigating a new path and I’m excited for how this will be a win-win for, perhaps, you too. 🙂

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It’s About the Smile

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” ~ William Butler Yeats

I got half way through typing a post and thought, nope, not today. It seemed too heavy a message to start or conclude a week, depending on which way you view Sundays.

Instead, I am sharing the above three minutes video. It’s four years young yet today was the first time I’ve viewed it. It easily brought a smile to my face and a lift to my spirit. The clip is a voice only, live orchestra, welcome home greeting. And it obviously accomplished its goal of pleasantly surprising arriving passengers.

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As inspiring moments often do, this got me thinking about the impending, year-end holidays. And what each of us can do to make someone’s day uniquely memorable. Be it Thanksgiving in the U.S., Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa – whatever one celebrates – many people will plow full-steam ahead into the next two months without giving fair thought to how and what they can do for those not anticipating anything.

We don’t need to stage elaborate productions as in this video. We can create and present small acts that may well be emotional and unforgettable for others. Simple things like a pair of gloves or a scarf, a small gift bag, a blanket or (gasp!) an invitation into your home or a restaurant for a meal, can generate an endless smile, even tears of appreciation.

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I’m going to flip my post format today. Rather than offer three ideas for you to consider, I’m inviting you to share one act (in comments) that you intend to perform in the coming weeks to create a special moment for someone, especially a stranger.

Of course, it is my belief that we ought to be doing this continuously. But that’s an opportunity for you to mull. 🙂 Let’s see what we’re capable of doing to pleasantly stun a new, even if momentary, arrival in our life.

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Significance Personified

images“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that some (many?) of my posts are not “on the light side.” Lest you think that Eric is always deliberate and doesn’t write about “joyful” matters, I am sharing what follows. It was sent by a reader who understood yesterday’s post, yet thought this saying was a light-hearted way to ‘bring it home.’

In the spirit of small acts and making contributions, I invite you (in comments) to share something you’ve recently done that you consider significant (all random acts count!) and that brought a smile to your and someone else’s face. 🙂

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What Really Matters

“Do not care overly much for wealth or power or fame, or one day you will meet someone who cares for none of these things and you will realize how poor you have become.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

A friend shared the following with me a few months ago. It came without an author or attribution, however, someone clearly deserves credit for its composition.

“Ready or not some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected whether treasures or baubles will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and loses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter if you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many people will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories but the memories in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.”

There is a reason I chose identical subtitles for this blog and my radio show. It is my belief that we can be who we are and fulfill our incredibly unique purpose, if we so choose.

How can you really matter to others? There are countless ways. Here are three for your consideration:

  1. Tell the people in your life how you feel about them. If this doesn’t come natural to you, all the more reason to do it more often. It will become natural. “You matter” is what many want to hear. These work well too: “I’m happy to see you.” “You mean so much to me.” “Your contribution to the team is immeasurable.” “I so appreciate you.” The language of mattering is universal. Tell people and tell them often how much they matter.
  2. Sometimes following your calling means leaving the ones you love behind. This is a tough one. Sometimes it’s not our role in this life to be the best sibling, spouse or friend because we’re here to contribute in a different and unique way. Honor what’s true for you rather than falling in line with how society tells you to prioritize. You can only be and do you.
  3. Talk about others. Few like the person in the family, at work, or at the party who only talks about themselves, their interests, their accomplishments and their importance, right? You become far more interesting and important when you talk about the exciting things other people are doing, trying, creating, writing, and sharing. Doing so gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as someone who is learning and growing from others.

Aging and Giving

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~ Betty Friedan

This is a quick post to simply extend the messages shared in two recent posts about: 1) giving and; 2) aging. Let’s hope we can be as spunky and as generous as this woman of 98 years… if/when we are blessed to reach her age (and possess her health). More power to her and those of like mind and spirit!

How Much Giving Is Enough?

“For it is in giving that we receive.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

I recently read some (to me) interesting statistics. For the 12 months ending September 2013, only 25.4% of Americans over age 18 volunteered their time and/or money. That’s one in four adults. Of this population, 40.8% got involved after being asked to volunteer or donate. 43% engaged on their own initiative. If I’ve done my math correctly, less than half of that ‘one in four’ people acted on their own.

I cannot comment on comparable data in other countries but as an American, I find this news bewildering. Individuals aged 65 and over contributed on average 96 hours of their time annually which is understandable given their greater amount of discretionary time. The median adult commitment was 52 hours annually. That averages one hour per week.

Americans, I believe, are a generally generous people. We tend to be a compassionate lot, especially in times of devastation and destruction. Many are moved to local acts of kindness in support of people who have lost their jobs, homes and/or family lives. Our willingness to contribute is most often in the form of charitable giving and volunteering of time. Yet I wonder…

In a country (and world for that matter) where there exists so much pain and suffering, where poverty, hunger, pollution, overpopulation and government corruption are increasingly pressing issues — how much of our time, talents and energy can we give to help those in serious need? What within us drives our desire to give to others, especially when we are abundantly blessed? I recognize personal choice is involved yet is giving a moral responsibility?

Most of us have a passion for our own growth. Yet none of us can succeed alone. We need to be there for others. And we can do this not only by offering time and money but by giving respect. We can become a servant of and to others. We can become friends with people we may be uncomfortable befriending. We can acutely listen to, not just hear their plights and basic needs.

So I wonder… How much giving is enough? Is it ever enough? Who defines what is enough? Is it one-time or is it continually? How much of your giving is coming from your heart and how much of what you give is a personal sacrifice?

We can feel.  We can care.  We can educate.  We can inspire.  We can give.  More.

For those who believe I am on a soapbox, please feel free to share your thoughts. The more I age, the more I become aware, the more I know that it is about giving it away for free. And the beauty in doing that is ever so rewarding.