Inspiration Meets Sandstone

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“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

This is a short, meaningful read.

Ra Paulette is an amazing confluence of passion, creativity, inspiration and living at choice. He is proof that people can follow their chosen path, as unique as it may be.

At 69, Ra demonstrates that even when we play, our efforts and contributions can stir the hearts and imaginations of others. To say the man has a vision might be an understatement.

For 25 years Ra has been axing, sanding, and forming exquisite sandstone caves in Taos County, not far from where I live in the New Mexico High Desert.

Following is a CBS video of Ra and some of his work. Or is it really work? If you enjoy being inspired and awed, sit back and enjoy this 5.5 minute story.

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If you’re looking for the intersection of your passion and how it might inspire others, consider these three actions:

 

  1. Change your story. We all tell ourselves about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we believe we deserve. If you can dispel your self-limiting stories, you can begin to write new stories grounded in courage and action.
  2. Nurture the nudge. You have inspirations and opportunities coming at you every moment. Start to nurture these inspirations by following through on the insights.
  3. Embrace your natural abilities and use them in new ways to bring excitement into your days. Embrace your strengths by reflecting and acting on them.

Adieu

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“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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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.

Left Brain, Right Brain

“A creative idea will be defined simply as one that is both novel and useful (or influential) in a particular social setting.” ~ Alice Flaherty

We have many creative people in our world. Many, conveniently, blog among us. In the WordPress Reader I recently found a Chris Delatorre post. He’s a creative thinker and (if you’ll pardon the simple word) doer.

Being creative or artistic doesn’t mean you know how to draw or play an instrument. Being creative is a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world. Creative people simply use the right side of their brains more than the left. The enduring question with creativity has always been whether the defining factors come from nature or nurture. Everyone can learn to be creative to some degree, but new Cornell University research has revealed that the extent to which we’re born creative may be greater than previously thought.

As a hardwired ‘left brainer,’ I find some comfort in now knowing this. 🙂

In one of his posts, Chris writes that he believes science and art ought to make a home together. In this video, Max Cooper creatively depicts life coming into being, blooming and then vanishing. I’d be challenged enough to find the right words to express that, let alone create what he has visually.

Researchers have also confirmed that creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.

If exploring the right side of your corpus callosum is something that interests you, here are three easy enablers:

  1. Pause from business thinking. Or any kind of thinking that requires intense focus. While it might be challenging to step outside ‘business mode,’ the mind sometimes needs a rest from bottom-line thinking. Consider taking a mental vacation and indulge in something you’re passionate about. Then come back, refreshed, to the task(s) at hand. You may see things in a very different light. Being with beautiful things (art, nature, passions) creates connections that we often neglect to notice.
  2. Shut down your inner critical voice. Notice I said “critical.” Don’t think. Disable the part of your brain that observes what you’re doing. This is your ego, your sabotage, your self-consciousness. Be in the moment (I know, I say this often). Stop second-guessing everything you’re doing. It serves no purpose to be hard on yourself. Remind yourself that you are creative and that you’re doing what you’re doing not to impress anyone.
  3. Experiment and play with possibility. It’s easy to dismiss unusual or different solutions which you haven’t tried. People often think of all the possible ways that something won’t work. And they easily dismiss the idea of experimenting. We can’t foretell the future even though many would like to. Simply go forward into it in a creative and exciting new way.
Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Like a Shag on a Rock

“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind” ~ Albert Einstein

Australian slang can be a complete mystery to people not from there; as with this title. When “shag” is used as a noun, the expression simply means that one is lonely or exposed, seeing as the regular behavior of a shag is to stand on a rock with its wings outstretched to dry off after diving for fish.

In the past week I read two articles that had me rethink the topics of solitude and being alone. In the Northern Hemisphere it’s vacation time. What could be better than an ice-cold beverage and being alone with your thoughts. As it turns out, just about anything. According to research from psychologists at the University of Virginia and Harvard, people would rather do something – even engage in a little masochistic distraction – than do nothing. On average, most respondents said they didn’t enjoy having nothing to do. The study can be found here.

In a Bloomberg article, doctoral student David Reinhard at the University of Virginia stated, “It seems that the mind may want to engage with the external world, even if that engagement involves pain.” He added, “We may seek out technology because entertaining ourselves with only our thoughts is difficult and technology is an easily available alternative.” “But because we often seek out external stimulation from technology we may then lose practice with entertaining ourselves with our thoughts and that in turn makes it more difficult and less enjoyable.”

Although loneliness and solitude are often thought to be the same experience, little could be further the truth. Loneliness manifests itself as a sense of emptiness and isolation while solitude creates a sense of communion within the self. In loneliness we ache. In solitude we feast. In loneliness we have no one. In solitude we are one with the self.

Personally, I’m comfortable being a shag on a rock. I use that space to ask: What’s really important to me? What do I really want? If you are looking for ways to clear out the clutter or the noise and celebrate who you are, here are three simple ideas:

  1. Start a morning ritual. Wake up little earlier and squeeze in some alone time before you start your day. You can meditate, pray, journal, draw. This process can also give you time to focus yourself before the day.
  2. Be your own muse. When you’re alone, you are the only one stopping yourself from doing something. Discover new foods, people, places, cultures. When you’re alone you have more time to create something meaningful. Get inspiration from your alone time!
  3. Hole yourself up. You can do this in your office or at home. Close the door or find quiet space or use headphones with calming music. Let others know to not disturb you. The key is to find a way to shut out the outside world. Then, be at peace with your thoughts.

It’s Okay to Be Alone

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not defined by another person.” ~ Oscar Wilde

There have been timeless arguments, open-ended debates, and casual conversations about relationships, being connected, and being alone. I am sure compelling cases for each have been and can be made. Yet I believe most would agree that the most important relationship we have in our lives is with ourselves, as challenging as this relationship is.

In June, I shared a post about the importance of our being connected, from a traditional, social perspective. On the flip side, there is abundant research that suggests blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life – that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we need to spend time away from them. When we can shift our expectations with ourselves and others to opportunities for discovery, we open ourselves to new paths and unchartered territory.

As we become more chronologically gifted, and open to finding what truly makes us feel deeply and strongly, we can then make even more meaningful choices about if and with whom we want to share ourselves and create connections. It is the prospect of losing yourself and finding your way back that makes the experience that much better (yet, uncomfortable for some). The end outcome with creating space and allowing time alone, is to give yourself a chance to learn more about yourself.

In a recent study, Eric Klineberg, a sociologist at New York University claimed, “There is so much cultural anxiety about isolation that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude.” Whether it is for a short period of time of an extended duration, why not consider “the benefits?” Here are three ways to explore:

  • Focus some time on your thoughts (because thoughts do create your reality). What are your most powerful thoughts? Where are you putting your attention? Take time alone to become aware of your thoughts. Monitor them, rewrite them, and spend time each day changing negative thought patterns into what you truly believe and want. For those familiar with neuroplasticity, this is how new brain pathways are created.
  • Schedule solitude. Proactively create time on your calendar to spend time with yourself. If you can make time for all the little extras you fit in your day, like stopping at Starbucks, you can schedule time for solitude. It doesn’t have to be gobs of time, just long enough to meditate, focus, relax, produce and/or think deeply is better than no time.
  • Like a vitamin – once per day. Check your online communication once each day. This means one stop to your inbox, Facebook and reader. This rule not only allows you to enjoy more quiet time during your work, it forces you to actually meet people when you are feeling social.