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At What Price, Conformity? April 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People.
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38 comments

At times, we are tempted to conform to the expectations of others ~ to use an external reference point to guide our actions rather than being guided by our own inner compass, vision, and values.

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But is it worth shaving off the non-conforming parts of ourselves in order to fit our square pegs into round holes?

Which is more important:  gaining approval from others or being true to our selves?

At what price, conformity?

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Wikipedia ~ Pinocchio (in Public Domain)

If I pretend to be someone I’m not and people like me . . . I’ve gained nothing, because they’ve fallen in love with a “mask.”

And if they don’t like the “pretend me,” I’m left wondering if the real me would have fared better.

I’d rather be disliked for who I am than loved for who I am not.

Aah . . . that’s better!

To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~ e.e.cummings

Reflections on a Still Pond March 9, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Nature.
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29 comments

alice26thAn arrogant man, who felt that no one could teach him anything, visited a Zen master for tea.  

The Zen master poured the tea until it overflowed the cup, and still he continued to pour.  

The arrogant man cried, “Master, stop!  Why do you keep pouring? The cup is full.”

The master replied, “You too are full of your opinions and judgments about the world.  You must empty yourself of the past, to receive the present.”

* * *

When we let go of automatic responses and live in the here and now, we uncover the joy and happiness within.

Rather than allowing past experiences to dictate our re-actions to new events, we begin to view life with alert curiosity.

Like a water-wheel filling and emptying its buckets as it turns, we empty out who we were to become more fully who we are meant to be.

No man steps into the same river twice ~ for it is not the same river and he is not the same man. ~ Heraclitus

* * *

IMGP2584bLife is a constant flow of comings and goings ~ Every day shapes our lives as running water shapes a stone.

Nothing lasts forever ~ Soft flowing streams erode the hardest boulders.

It does not happen in an instant ~ A bucket is filled drop by drop.  

We cannot force it ~ Pushing the river won’t alter its flow.  Shaking our fist at the sky won’t stop the rain.

That’s OK ~ Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass . . . it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.   ~ Vivian Greene

A still pond provides a clearer reflection.

Aah . . . that’s better!

I Am That I Am March 4, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.
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16 comments

IMGP1472aFace the challenge of simple (not easy) discipline.

* The greatest teaching is to live with an open heart. ~ Anonymous

Heed the signs.

* I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand. ~ Zen Proverb

Avoid over explaining and over interpretation.

* We often learn lessons in simple and everyday ways. ~ Pearl S. Buck

Shed your fear and guilt and you will have nothing to dull the brilliance of your spirit.

There is one Light but many lamps. ~ Proverb

Shine on!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Unearthing The Essential March 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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26 comments

Brian-with-coffee-and-newspaperRefraining from snap judgments about people, places, and things makes sense given our limited vantage point. We should keep our eyes and ears open and mindfully observe life with alert curiosity rather than a rush to judgment.

But . . .

As we observe the world around us ~ seeing people, places, and things with alert curiosity ~ we are going to see patterns which enable us to conclude, suppose, or conjecture about what we’ve observed.

Donald-Duck-BaseballBased on our observations and experiences, we may be drawn to some people, places, and things, while being bored or repelled by others.

And . . .

Maybe that is as it should be.

If we are to honor our own life purpose, we have to allow ourselves to be the arbiter of what we are drawn to and what holds little or no interest or appeal. After all, there is not enough time for all of us to do it all. We have to pick and choose those pursuits and interests that work for us.

* The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it’s a different kind of life. ~ Buckminster Fuller

Donald-Duck-DrivingRecognizing that something is “boring” is OK.  BFF loves flipping through car magazines. I find them boring. I would rather watch paint dry.

That’s a clear signal that cars have nothing to do with my life purpose.

* Take charge of your life or someone else will. ~ Herman Millman

The key to sifting through options and possibilities is to do it mindfully and with alert curiosity ~ a conscious effort to sift through what is “extraneous” to us so that we can unearth the “essential.”

Donald-Director* Once in a while it really strikes people that they don’t have to live in the way they have been told to. ~ Alan Keightly

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  It’s Boring (Candid Impressions) * Judging and Kindness (Find Your Middle Ground)

A Cluster of Chaotic Threads March 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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45 comments

Finding inner calm on calm days is beginner’s work . . . finding inner calm in the midst of chaos and confusion, amid a cluster of chaotic threads, lets us see how much progress we’ve made on the tangled tapestry of our life.

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A few threads, recently unraveled:

Those who want adventure often must choose between safety and freedom.

“Boats are safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.”

Of course, I’m not a boat.
Or a kite.

(Thanks for that, Don!)

Some people must “test the ice.”  Others, like me, are content sipping a Hot Toddy or Umbrella Drink on shore.

I suspect my sense of humor exceeds my sense of adventure, especially in colder climates.

When we are content as and where we are, we need not choose between freedom and (relative) safety.  There is no universal mandate requiring us to “lose sight of the shore” or leave our comfort zone in order to feel free.

Perhaps freedom lies in wanting to be who, what, and where we already are.

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I agree with the Dalai Lama . . . we are here to be happy.   If we are happy where we are, pushing, stretching, pulling, tugging, and reaching for the next “brass ring” seems to be both a counter-productive and counter-intuitive practice.

Eat when hungry.  Sleep when tired.  Move when restless.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  A Tangled Mess (Water Witch’s Daughter) * Do You Want Safety or Freedom? (My Light Bag) * Comfort Zones (Awakening to Awareness) * Haiku ~ State of Mind (Janna T. Writes)

Most Days Involve Hiccups March 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , ,
28 comments

Days don’t always go as planned.  Sometimes we veer sharply off course.

* You’re probably on the right track if it’s uphill. ~ Anonymous

Even on smooth days, we face a few hiccups.

* A certain amount of opposition is a great help.  Kites rise against the wind, not with it. ~ John Neal

Chinaman-fishingNo matter what happens, we make things a bit better when we remind ourselves that “it could be worse.”

* Storms make trees take deeper roots. ~ George Herbert

Stay calm.  And keep breathing.

* The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. ~ Edward Gibbon

Aah . . . that’s better!

No, No . . . NOT the Negative! February 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , ,
40 comments

Chinaman-fishingAssume for a moment that something’s happened to “rock your boat.”

Let’s call IT the “what is.”

For purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t much matter if someone cut you off in traffic (or mid-sentence), called you names on the playground, stole your lunch money, or died.

The “what is” is.

IT happened.  And, like much of life, IT is out of your control.  IT cannot be changed.  The question becomes:  How are you going to respond to IT?

How you relate to IT is the issue.

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.” ~ Simone Weil

The-Pink-Panther“To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.” ~ Miguel de Unamuno

How we feel about life depends on where we place our focus.

If we get in the habit of focusing on the negatives, life is a dark and dingy place.

If we turn our attention to what is “right” with life, we find ample evidence that life is light and bright.

Focusing on the positives does not mean that we ignore warning signs and symptoms.  We note them, decide on a course of action, and then turn our attention to other matters without dwelling or obsessing on the negative.

Exercise-SunsetA strong positive attitude helps us overcome challenges and bounce back from adversity.

We become strong by stretching our muscles and daily repetition.

If we don’t use a muscle (including our funny bone chakra), we lose it.  It atrophies (and so do we).

“Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.” ~ Elbert Hubbard”

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Gymnastics

If you want more joy in your life, start now.

Do whatever you’re doing with more joy.  Even if you are peeling potatoes, dusting the living room, or cleaning the toilet.

“There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.” ~ Salvador Dali

Go easy/easier on yourself and others.  Practice acceptance, patience, simplicity, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Scruffy-Cat“If at first you don’t succeed you’re running about average.” ~ M.H. Alderson

“What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” ~ Colette

Find peace with the “what is” . . . whatever IT is.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Yesterday, BFF and I had a 2nd Blog Meet Up with Pix and CH from the Tiny Ten in Missouri (Sweet Days Under The Oaks).  Pix met Tigger for the 1st time and found him to be a happy little guy.  (Much happier than the scruffy cat in the avatar above.)

After giving Tigger a treat and a pat on the head, we swung by a Clyde Butcher exhibit at the Studio at Gulf and Pine where we spied a photograph offered for sale at . . . $130,000!  We didn’t buy it.  We popped into the AMI Historical Museum and wandered the Anna Maria Pier before returning to the villa for Heavenly Cupcakes and Wine Time!  A Fine Time.

What Lives Would YOU Like To Live? January 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People.
Tags: , , ,
36 comments

Donald-Duck-DivingSome people maintain a single-minded focus from birth to death.  They plunge into a field of endeavor, become specialists, and never look back ~ not concerned about what they might be missing.

Others take a different approach.

We can choose to live multiple lives . . . even if we are not schizophrenics with multiple personalities.

Mickey-SurferSometimes we live multiple lives in sequential order ~ moving from one career to the next on a continual path.

Other times, we engage in simultaneous lives ~ splitting our time between various pursuits.

Let’s say you have 13 lives competing for attention and you’d like to live them all . . . in this lifetime:

Musician ~ Writer ~ Cook ~ Singer ~ Traveler ~ Boater/Sailer ~ Disc Jockey ~ Artist ~ Entrepreneur ~ Host ~ Fitness Guru ~ Lecturer ~ Lawyer

*  Which of these lives can you devote yourself to this year?  Next year?

*  Which can you enjoy for 60 minutes or less a day?

*  Which can you do on weekends or while on vacation?

*  Which lives can be combined with others to create a custom career?

Opening a coffee house might satisfy the desire to be an entrepreneur AND the desire to host social gatherings.

Mickey-Ta-DaaaJack might utilize his talents as musician, singer, or disc jockey to provide entertainment in the evening.

Jill might engage her inner artist to decorate the walls or use a back room to lead Zumba, Yoga, Tai Chi, or Meditation Classes.

Renee might offer lectures on stress reduction or provide vegetarian cooking demonstrations on weekend afternoons.

Colin might choose a boating, sailing, or cruising vacation . . . or even lead group excursions through the Scottish Highlands or Greek Isles once or twice a year.

Instead of choosing to become master of ONE thing, Jack might survive and thrive by being a Jack of all trades.

With Jill, Renee, and Colin tumbling happily ever after.

Aah . . . that’s better!  

Does the idea of living multiple lives hold any appeal?  What lives would you like to live?

Related reading:  I Could Do Anything . . . If Only I Knew What It Was

Illustration: Wikipedia ~ Jack & Jill (in Public Domain)

Your Work Is To Discover Your Work January 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , ,
40 comments

When I stopped practicing law, I spent hour upon frustrated hour trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I didn’t realize at the time that our life’s work is to discover our life’s work:

Your work is to discover your work and pursue it with passion.  ~ Buddha

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To help sort things out, I reviewed my life experiences and created a list of clues to consider.  This week, while sorting through my writing files, I found the list:

1.  Time is our most valuable commodity. Once it slips through the hourglass, it is gone forever.  Each option we pursue precludes other pursuits.

So many options . . . so little time.

2.  I don’t want a set bedtime.  I don’t want to set an alarm.  I don’t want to play dress up.  I don’t want to cart weighty litigation bags through snow and slush.  I don’t want to waste time at the water cooler.

I want to spend my days “in the flow” doing what I want to do.

3.  I want to be happy by making others happy and sharing what I’ve learned ~ teaching a class in Zen, operating a B&B on a sailboat, playing with kids, singing, painting, cooking, writing.

When we do what we love, we never have to work another day in our life.

4.  The work we do adds (or detracts) from our joy of living.  Before law school, I enjoyed working as a babysitter, a beer-tender at the Hoi Polloi, a food server at the Garden State Arts Center, and as the campus distributor of Exam Survival Kits at W&M ~ the kits contained candy, snacks, and a Crammer Hammer . . . to cram knowledge into over-stuffed brains.

Hey, maybe that hammer led me to Becker’s Hardware where I met BFF?

5.  Silence your mind.  Just be.  Focus on your breath.  Slip into the space between your thoughts.  Meditate.  In the silence of not doing, we begin to know what we feel.  LISTEN.

When we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live.

6.  Stop living by consensus.  Be who you really are.  Follow your intuitive impulses.  Do what you want to do.  When we switch from an external to an internal reference point, people find it much harder to manipulate us with insincere compliments and unwarranted criticisms.

Stop struggling against the current.  Go with the flow. Let the future unfold.

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7.  Now that you know WHO you are, update your resume.   Focus on what makes you, you:  

Resumes should be
the ultimate marketing
tool ~ toot your own horn

Don’t feel constrained by past choices.  You made your bed . . . you can unmake it. Consistency is consistently over-rated.

When the time is right, you’ll know it.  Everything will coalesce.  You’ll have the time, the experience, the idea, the spark, the inspiration, the ability, the enthusiasm to fulfill your life purpose.

Great.  Now breathe.  Relax.  And let the Universe work its Magic.

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Writing the list allowed me to embrace the uncertainty with a touch more confidence.  Instead of feeling panicked at the idea that I didn’t know what was next on the Agenda, I relaxed into the flow of life with alert curiosity.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Ordeals and challenges may serve the purpose of shaking us loose from our moorings to set us up for important changes we can’t see or imagine from our limited time-based perspective.  

Has that ever been your experience?

Related post:  What is Your Unique Purpose in Life? (Ordinary Vegan) * Grow in the Direction of Happiness

You Say You Want A Resolution . . . January 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , , ,
34 comments

I’m not big on setting goals or making far-reaching resolutions.  I prefer to go with the flow without any specific aspirations for the future.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~ Lao Tzu

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When we convince ourselves that reaching a set destination or goal is a pre-requisite to happiness, we are apt to be disappointed ~ since the rewards we envision, if they materialize at all, often feel less like rewards and more like dead ends.

If we are living “full lives” there is little reason to get caught up in regret about people we didn’t meet, books we didn’t read (or write), conversations we didn’t have, foods we didn’t taste, pounds we didn’t lose, movies we didn’t watch, or places we didn’t see . . . yet.

Happiness is not waiting for us at the end of the road . . . it’s found here and now, by enjoying each step along the way!

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Several years ago, I framed a resolution for our front hall ~ one that I strive to live every day:

May we stay resolved to each breath,
each act, each moment being enjoyed,
and may thanks be given,
regardless of the setbacks.

~ Jim O’Connor (Issue 13, HERON DANCE)

 Here’s to enjoying the journey as each moment unfolds into the next.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Artwork available at Roderick MacIver Arts.  The beauty of Rod’s art lies in his ability NOT to control all aspects of the water ~ he allows it latitude to do its thing while he does his. The result speaks for itself.

Related post:  The Anti-Resolution (Lisa A. Kramer)

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