Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Sit Down! You’re Rocking the Boat!

Have you ever noticed that tiny little voice in your head that starts to panic the moment you edge closer to something new? A thought, a project, an adventure – it doesn’t matter. That little voice suddenly gets very loud!

I blame the survival instinct. It is human nature to want to protect ourselves. And our little voice can’t tell the difference between a real danger and one that merely stems from the fear of trying something new. Subconsciously, we have learned to trust that voice and avoid possible danger.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always know what is best for us.

In the case of dark, sketchy alleyways in the dead of night? Hmmm, yes, think twice before venturing there alone.
In the case of auditioning for the series Naked and Afraid? It probably has your best interest at heart.
In the case of wild hungry bears, yes. Listen and run!

But in the case of trying something new? Putting yourself out there in new ways? Going in a different direction? Don’t listen to it! Don’t fall for the tried and true and safe. Don’t be afraid to alter your course.

This is the voice that says it won’t work. Why bother? You don’t have what it takes. And it is equally obnoxious when you can succeed as when you can fail. It may even get a little louder when you chance of success draws near. After all, everyone fails, right? But who are you to succeed?!

Mark Twain said,

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed
by the things you did not do than by the things you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Sadly, this has now started to appear in car commercials, but the feeling is the same. This quote has been taped on my desk for years. It reminds me that sometimes we don’t just need to stick a toe outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we need to run screaming towards it, arms flailing, and just crash right through that self-imposed barrier!

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Ready? Set? Go!

“Ready” is a crutch. It is the oldest excuse in the world. It is the sound of another brick being added to the wall around your comfort zone.

I have to agree with Hugh Laurie. You are never truly ready for anything – not the performance you have practiced for weeks, not that test you have studied so hard for, not the promotion at work. You can never prepare 100% for every possible contingency. There will always be things you still need to learn, skills you still need to acquire.

Mistakes will be made.

This is how we learn and grow.

Perfection would be equivalent to being ready, completely prepared with no room for error. Perfection is highly overrated. It has killed more dreams and more art than any other obstacle. The need for it, the striving for it, the expectation of it. All contribute to a lot of people never dipping a toe into unknown waters.

Instead they sit on the shoreline and wait to be ready.

I think there is no greater time like the present to run headlong toward the pond of uncertainty and what-the-hell and throw yourself in the deep end! What is the worst that could happen, after all? A colossal belly flop in front of your family and friends? Laughter from the people sitting on the shore too afraid to try or to start.

I have news for you. Deep down those folks laughing at you are jealous. They wish they had the courage to put themselves out there. They wish they could take a chance before life passes them by. They dream, but they keep their dreams buried in the subconscious. It will come back to bite them.

Making a big life change is scary. But y’know what is scarier? Regret.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Eight Years Later

 

Photo By Davidmarsland – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48017817

The following post showed up on my Facebook timeline.

It is in honor of those who survived and those who did not.

In Remembrance

I live in a small city in Upstate New York. It is an area that has been hard hit by a poor economy for many years, but an area that is beautiful. The three-season road construction aside, we are surrounded by rolling hills and a short drive to the Finger Lakes and wine country. There are many parks, a university and community college, small playhouses and venues to hear live music.  People are generally friendly and there is a small town vibe in this area of about 200,000 people.

We are pretty quiet news-wise. There is your standard drug charges and occasional violence from that but the majority of the population is law-abiding and hardworking. And I never felt unsafe here.

candle

On April 3, 2009, my hometown made national news. An armed gunman entered the American Civic Association a few blocks from my office and opened fire on everyone in his path. Within minutes, he had killed 13, wounded 4 and then killed himself. The American Civic Association, for those who are not familiar with it, provides citizenship, cultural and language support for area immigrants. It is there for the sole purpose of helping people. Most of the people who lost their lives that day were attending a citizenship class that the shooter had previously attended.

My husband’s aunt was one of the lucky few who survived that terrible day in our history. She was a hero, though I know she would scoff at being called one. After being shot, she crawled under her desk and called 9-1-1. She remained on the line with authorities until they were able to storm the building, playing dead when the shooter returned to stand over her.

As the anniversary of that tragic day looms, I am reminded again of the important lessons that I took away from that day.

Hate and anger will eat you up. When something like this happens, I think it is human nature to rage against the shooter, anyone who was linked to the shooter, society, gun control, the universe. We need someone to blame and something to point to that will assure us that this cannot happen again. The shooter’s family residence was shown on the news and I feared that people would somehow blame them. But what many of the family members who were left behind showed us was a quiet acceptance, a releasing of that anger, and a support for those left behind. I didn’t hear the husbands who lost wives or children who lost parents screaming for vengeance on the evening news. Instead, I saw candlelight vigils, prayer and a strength of character that helped them crawl out of bed the next day and keep living.

Life is short. This one seems like a no-brainer. Everyone always says that, right? But how often do you really consider how fragile our existence is? We can be gone in the blink of an eye. Our time here is finite. We do not have unlimited days to follow our dreams, become a better person, or tell people how much we love them. We need to do it now, while we are still able to. I have always been a dreamer and I have always been big on hugs. I think after that day in April 2009, I started to dream a little bigger and do something about those dreams. I also started to hug people a little more, and to tell them how I feel.

We need to really see people. In this day and age, modern technology pretty much guarantees that we are taking phone calls in the middle of everything. I am not sure how they juggle it, but it seems everyone under the age of 25 is adept at texting and carrying on a separate conversation simultaneously while driving and eating. I can’t text and chew gum at the same time, let alone carry on a separate conversation. Please people. Put your phones down. Look into each others eyes and talk to each other. Listen to each other and really hear each other. Even when you are alone, put down your phone and say hi to strangers as you walk by. See the people around you. They may not be here tomorrow.

Lastly, be grateful for your days. I have talked before about how we tend to replace excitement with dread as we get older. Birthdays are no longer celebrations. But remember that not everyone gets another birthday. Not everyone gets another day. No matter what is going on in your life, it could be worse. Grab a hold of the days and moments that you have been given, live them for all they are worth and never give them back.

When we see tragedies like this in the news, they usually feel far removed from most of us. We never think it will happen here. But it can and it does. And it is our responsibility to remember that and to learn from it. We need to live a little more, and love each other more.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight

It seems I am always in a place where I am learning new things. I get stale if I sit still too long. And one thing I have had to get past time and time again is the fear of failure. For many years, this fear kept me from going out on the limb. I wouldn’t put myself out there and try something new because I was afraid I would suck at it and would be embarrassed.

The following post showed up in my Facebook memories this week, and once again, the universe is sending me what I need to hear at just the right time…

Failure: The Great Equalizer

Lately, I have been talking about fear in my posts.

fear2

Fear of failure is probably the number one reason people don’t try to achieve their dreams. Nobody wants to fail at something. But I have a secret to share…

Everyone will fail at something.

Failure is the great equalizer. If you get out of bed each day and go out into the world and try to do something – anything! – you will occasionally fail. It’s the one thing that everyone on earth has in common.

Some people may be reading this, shaking their heads and saying, Nope, not me. I have never failed at anything, nor will I ever fail at anything I attempt in the future… Bullpucky!

If you have never failed, you have never reached outside your comfort zone. If you don’t plan on failing in the future, you are planning on living out the days of your life wrapped in bubble wrap and never interacting with anyone else.

You may be a world class athlete, but you may fail at your first attempt at baking. You may be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but you may have zero flexibility and those advanced yoga poses will beat you. You may be a concert pianist, but fail big time when you try to do your own taxes. You may be perfect 99% of the time in your chosen field, or when working on a task you have done many times, but you will fail the other 1% of the time. You will make mistakes.

Failure is how the universe teaches us. We learn to walk, by crawling and falling down a lot. We learn to talk by babbling in gibberish no one can understand at first. We learn to complete our school work by getting some answers wrong, and we learn to succeed in our chosen careers by making mistakes.

The trick is learning from the mistakes, the failures, the missteps.

If we fail at something and do not take away a lesson on how to do it better, or maybe how not to do it in the future, then we fail twice.

The beauty of failure is its ability to teach us how to succeed. We shouldn’t fear it. Failure, to some extent, is inevitable. I am not saying that we should not care about the outcome, that we shouldn’t strive to succeed. But we shouldn’t let our fear of failure freeze us in our tracks and keep us from even trying.

There is a Japanese proverb that puts it in perspective:

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Great advice. If it is something worth doing, and doing well, you will get back up.

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