Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope
January 14, 2012
Well it’s another year. 2012. By now, any of us who do the New Year’s Resolution thing, have made and probably already broken, at least one or more of our New Years Resolutions. I have some questions about this New Year’s Resolution thing.
My first question is: Why do we do this to ourselves?
Our New Years Resolutions of any year seem to always become just one more thing that we beat ourselves up for, sometimes for the entire year running. Why do we even make NYR’s knowing we are going to end up not only breaking them but also beating ourselves up on top of it?
My second question up for general consideration is: Are there any other options out there somewhere to take the place of NYR’s?
I believe there are other options.So now for your consideration, I propose to you, Dear Reader:
THE WORDS TO THRIVE BY” NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS PREP KIT
The “Words to Thrive By” New Year’s Resolution Kit begins with how to look at both the previous year and the year to come with a new perspective. The ”Words to Thrive By” New Year’s Resolution Kit will hopefully help us each find some New Year’s Resolutions we can even achieve for once in our lives.
Here are 4 questions for you to ponder for your life as you begin this new year:
1. What went RIGHT last year?
Yes you heard me: What went right last year? Now make a list of all the things you did that were really pretty darn good last year. This list doesn’t have to be the things that you did that were “perfect” or even “reasonable.” Those two lists would probably be pretty darn short in length.
I’m talking simple things. Smiling at a stranger. Helping someone out in some small way. Just being nice, maybe when you didn’t even feel like it. Maybe you made a good decision last year that darn it all, you’re proud of it. Maybe it’s something you did well, like get to yoga class on time for a change. Maybe you paid off your bills or got on a payment plan finally, after wondering what that experience would be like all these years.
So what is it for you? Think large and small not perfect or reasonable. Now write them down at the top of a piece of paper.
2. What do you have to FORGIVE yourself for?
Now make a list of what you feel you need to forgive yourself for. These would be the things you may have said or done deliberately or even accidentally that you still feel bad about. Serious “my bad” stuff. Guilt feelings, whether huge or tiny, is what we’re talking about here. Add them to your list.
3. What would you like to LET GO of from last year?
Then we have all the other stuff we did or said last year that we’re still feeling embarrassed about or otherwise kicking ourselves for. This is one of those: ‘OMG! I cannot believe that I did that! I will NEVER live that down! EVER!’ experiences.
The first thing I want to say about these kinds of horrific experiences, those “full stop” moments, moments that perhaps now frequent your nightly dreams, (or should I say nightmares?), is that you are not alone. We all have ‘em. Sometimes throughout the entire year. All the little persnickety things that nag at you all the time, sometimes once in a while, sometimes day and night, can really wear you down.
No more. Today is the day you are gonna let at least one of ‘em go from last year. Whatever it was, it’s over now. Done. You cannot go back in time, only forward. (OK, quantum physics or “wormhole” experts might argue with me on that one but…) Time to give it up.
Go ahead. Put it, whatever it was, on your list. Say out loud, ”I’m finally ready to let go of my incredible, idiotic, stupid, bizarre whatever….” Trust me. You can do this.
4. What can you imagine yourself looking FORWARD to in the New Year to come?
I would like to believe that together, we as the “Words to Thrive By Community,” could make a very long list of answers to this question. But if you get stuck, here’s want to do:
Close your eyes for a moment and ask yourself:
“What can I imagine myself looking FORWARD to in the New Year to come?”
Now, don’t panic. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t give up. Just let your mind wander until you feel pulled or motivated from a new idea or image or vision for yourself doing or feeling something that may come to mind that you might enjoy.
A new hobby? Maybe you’ve have always wanted to learn how to quilt but have been putting it off and putting it off. Can you imagine yourself sitting in front of a sewing machine, surrounded with bright colored fabrics all around you and hearing the “Hummmmmm…” of the sewing machine in action?
Can you imagine it and see it? It could be a new work design in your mind or the yarn of a knitting project or a kit for a motorized model airplane or trip you’ve always wanted to take?
Whatever comes to you, write it down on your list. Don’t be afraid to allow your mind to wander for a few minutes until something comes to you.
So now you have your own personal WORDS TO THRIVE BY RESOLUTION LIST FOR 2012.
Surprised? Did I just hear you say, “Huh?”
I know it’s not a long list of all the habits you want to break, or the ways you promise you’ll change or the somethings will never happen again. But no. This is a very different kind of list.
It’s a list filled with your imagination of possibilities you could look forward to:
Dreams. Hopes. Possibilities. Fun. Adventures. Joys. Play. Love. Delights. Inspirations. Creations. Foods. Projects. Conversations. Coffees. Competitions. Naps. Weekly Sports highlights.
Yup. that’s definitely different for a New Year’s Resolutions List.
So as we enter The New Year 2012, I wish for each of you, my Dear Readers:
The awareness of what went right last year.
The letting go of guilt.
The letting go of shame.
The looking forward to the you who you’ve always known down deep inside. That would be the you who believes anything is possible, embraces their dreams, follows their heart and doesn’t give up. No way. No how.
Happy New Year. 2012.
With warmest regards,
Mary Anne Dorward
December 8, 2011
Earlier this year I participated in the traditional Japanese New Year’s rice ceremony called Mochitsuki, at beautiful IslandWood, an unusual 255-acre outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Island-Wood was originally designed to provide exceptional learning experiences. I certainly had an exceptional learning experience that day. I discovered that the Mochitsuki ceremony is the perfect metaphor for my life.
In the Mochitsuki ceremony, glutinous rice is soaked overnight and then cooked.
The hot, cooked rice is then pounded hard over and over and over with large
wooden mallets called kine in a traditional mortar called an usu. Eventually, the
individual grains of rice have been pounded so much that they let go of their
separateness and change into a smooth, sticky, opaque paste of rice dough. This
soft, opaque white dough is twisted off and smoothed into balls called mochi.This mochi is then eaten with salty shoyu sauce, dropped into hot vegetable soup, orused to cover red bean paste, or ice cream and many other dishes.
Like the countless grains of rice in any batch of mochi in the Mochitsuki ceremony, all of us have had countless experiences. I have been pounded and pounded over and over again, and as a result, I am now much more smoother, more elastic, and more flexible. Just as I love each piece of mochi, different in shape or taste depending on what is around or inside it, the many experiences of my life have been tasty, some easier to get down than others, I’ll admit.
But each moment, each experience, has transformed me and helped me grow into who I am now. I have learned that the painful pounding, stretching, and shaping I have endured is as important to my life journey as my moments of deep joy, laughter, and peace. Each experience, from devastating to glorious, has had its own measure of grace. Now, I just try to be open to what is present in each moment and allow all to be well, no matter what comes.
We are, each of us, a collection of stories. In the end, the words we choose to define any moment of our lives will be the legacy we leave behind.
What are your favorite words and what do you imagine will be the legacy you will leave behind?
November 28, 2011
Inspiration is an extraordinary feeling, whether it comes from a book that changes our perspective, from a person who lifts our spirits, or from simply being out in nature. The impact of a sudden inspiration can change your entire day.
Whenever someone talks and hits the nail right on the head about a particular subject, a parts of my head and heart feel like they explode simultaneously. Positive inspiration brings me great joy.
But when the bottom falls out and I’m personally lacking in inspiration, or I feel that my spirits are flagging, I turn to my bookshelf. Sometimes a particular book catches my eye, and I pay close attention to which section or shelf I feel drawn to. This is also true in bookstores, as well. At times, books have seemed to jump off the table or shelf in Barnes and Noble or at the East West Bookstore here in Seattle.
Sometimes I even create an inspiration field trip of several hours, where I go to the bookstore and wander around until I feel drawn to a particular book or section of the bookstore. There I wait to see which book “speaks” to me. I pick that book up and open it to discover what surprises of inspiration lay in store for me. I have always found these inspirational field trips fun and fascinating. I absolutely love that special pull towards a new book. Reading for an hour or so is just a delight and a welcome break in my workday.
Where do you find inspiration in your daily life? A book? A place? A person? An activity? A slice of delicious cake perhaps?
November 23, 2011
It is said by the masters that even a little poison can cause death, and even a tiny seed can become a huge tree.
And as Buddha said: “Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.”
Similarly he said: “Do not overlook tiny good actions, thinking they are of no benefit even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.”