Saturday, August 23, 2008

True Expectations

I had the privilege to spend the entire day today doing a Ropes Course with a group of high school students that are members of my 13th Project: Inside Out leadership team. These kids were freshman and sophomores....a total of 6 kids. Unfortunately, I had two kids miss the mark as no-shows for this event, leaving me a bit disappointed at first, which soon changed to full acceptance. It was obvious the way it worked out was just as it was meant to be.

In creating the Project: Inside Out groups, I purposely seek out a variety of students. GPA status, level of popularity, social groups or cliques, quiet and outgoing personalities are a few of the areas of diversity they represent. All students are interviewed beforehand where they sign an agreement to be respectful and kind and agree that all those present are equal....including the adult leaders. There is no room for comparison since all are appreciated equally.

As usual, my expectations came true. I expected that with a safe space created where there would be no fear of judgment, all involved would show up fully. They did. I expected we would all have great fun. We did. I expected they would meet all challenges without fear of failure holding them back. They did. I expected them to outwardly support one another, physically, emotionally and verbally. They did. I expected them to be creative problem solvers. They were.
I expected them to learn from their experiences. They did. I expected them to experiment with their abilities. They did. I expected them to learn something new about themselves and one another. They did. I expected them to be authentic. They were. I expected a great day. It was!!

Tomorrow we will meet again for two hours and co-create our Alliance for how we will work together from here. Following that I will meet with them weekly during school where we will continue playing with leadership experiences focusing on appreciating themselves (Inside) and also appreciating the uniqueness of others (Outside). I expect they will continue to grow and learn and develop in a very positive way. And then....they will impact others being their best, authentic the same way they did today. Just as I expected!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Natural JOY!

I love to be inspired and a source of great inspiration for me is in watching children naturally be themselves.

Yesterday was beautiful....temperature was in the low 80's, sunny, light breeze, no humidity. On days like that, I usually find somewhere to go in my Boxster with the top down. While on my way out of town I stopped at a stop sign and saw about 30 pre-school age children, lined up in pairs, walking to the pool from the local Child daycare center.

The line up of these cherubs was long. There was an adult leading the pack, two in the rear and one in the middle. It looked very similar to a mother duck leading her ducklings to the water.

The timing was that just as I came to a stop, the line up was waiting to cross. Naturally, I waved them on and got to sit and enjoy the scene as they passed. As they walked by in two's, with their towels draped over their necks, some wearing sunglasses, each little face showed complete and natural JOY! Many of them looked at me and waved. All were apparently delighted to be going to the pool and obviously were enjoying the trip getting there.

This natural presence and enjoyment inspires me to live my life this way. Even though a goal or desire for my life may be a bit off in the distance, enjoying each moment getting there makes the walk of life much more pleasant to experience.

Isn't that how we were meant to live? Ask a child, I'm sure they'll agree.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dance without Looking

While on my walk early this morning, I listened to my I Pod as it randomly played songs. ( I love being surprised) A beautiful song came on by Linda Elder. There was a line about not looking at your feet when you dance. It reminded me of a time I was taking dance lessons and was instructed to trust that my feet will find their way... that I didn't have to watch them.

To see this little lesson on dancing as a life metaphor, the connection seems perfect. Life is a dance after all. If I trust myself and simply stay present, following the rhythm of the music, the dance is a joyful experience. If I second guess every step, or am fearful I may make a mistake, the dance is not going to be much fun. If I simply follow where I am led, my experience will be much easier than plotting out my every move. I might miss step or even stumble, but I regain my balance, tune in to the music that is currently playing, and begin again.

I love to dance....especially when it isn't choreographed. I love living my life the same way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blissed Out

I have a habit of creating very nice experiences for myself. Some are just little things like an afternoon coffee break with a good book. Others have a much stronger this evening.

I just returned home from a two hour full body massage that was the ultimate gift to myself. The total relaxation (no muscle was left untouched) created a feeling of bliss. My mind was clear although it was not active. My body felt strong and resilient. My heart was open, fully receiving. The careful attention to the specific techniques throughout the massage were answers to what my body was asking for. It was a treat for all of body, of course, but also for the mind and spirit.

The wonderful thing about this experience is that the Blissed Out feeling of peace and appreciation feels natural.....the way I am meant to feel. I will gratefully repeat the experience next month.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Benefits of Discomfort

I love comfort. I always look for ways to enhance my comfort. My clothing is comfortable....I love nice soft, flowing fabrics. My family room sofa is verrrrrry comfortable. My bed is the all-time pinnacle of comfort. All of these things, and many more, are consciously chosen and thoroughly enjoyed.

There's nothing wrong with being comfortable, yet there are also some benefits of being uncomfortable.

As we stretch ourselves into experiencing things that are unfamiliar, it can be uncomfortable. Whether the experiences are professional, educational, social, recreational or as in my recent case, technical, trying new things where we are not already competent, secure and talented, reminds us that there is more to learn and discover. The joyful benefit of willfully stepping into discomfort is that we are often surprised by the results.

A dreaded social engagement that was out of your comfort zone, can be the opportunity to meet the person of your dreams. A professional discomfort can introduce you to a whole new part of yourself where some unknown talents were hiding. A never before experienced sport can bring out a new sense of athletic confidence and enjoyment.

If you don't try it, you'll never know, so I encourage you to look for something that makes you uncomfortable and give it a shot. If nothing else, you will have a new interesting story to tell and I guarantee your joy level will go up regardless of the results.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Justified Victim

Sometimes things happen in our lives that we don't believe we deserve. Today was one of those days. In fact, it was a double hit. Two seperate, but related incidents that were not fair or respectful of me....that I didn't deserve, occurred back to back, taking me by surprise.

Following the first incident (the specifics don't really matter here), I was able to see beyond what was happening without animosity, only mild annoyance. It came as a surprise and there was nothing I could do but let it happen and move on.

A few minutes later, the same type of incident with another person occurred. This time, I had a wave of "poor me" flash into my mind. Fortunately, I was aware enough in the moment that I was slipping into being the "victim". I was justifiying my victimness.

Two things that were not my fault happened and left me standing alone to pick up the pieces. When I felt my good mood slipping away, I decided it wasn't worth it to wear the "victim" badge on my sleeve. Yes, two people broke their word to me and backed out of a commitment. Others were still depending on me to save a project. I decided to look for a solution rather than wallow in the pool of victimization.

At the time of this writing, most of the sting of the surprise events has left. The choice to not feel bad even though one could justify it, is the one I am making. Feeling good rather than angry, annoyed, hurt and victimized is what I want.

These events today have given me some memorable lessons. For that I am grateful. Victimization never feels good....even when it may seem justifed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Polite Politics

I always keep my distance from any sort of political arguments and mud slinging that we typically see during a presidential race. It saddens me to see how desperate and low the fight can get.

Last evening I watched a very pleasant alternative. Rev. Rick Warren hosted a forum for both Senator McCain and Senator Obama to be interviewed separately in his church in Lake Forest, California. Both candidates received equal time and attention and were asked the same questions.

What I immediately noticed was how relaxed both candidates were during their interviews. It was very compelling to watch. Since both candidates knew they were in a safe space and were not going to be attacked (Rev. Warren was a gracious host and interviewer), it seemed they were able to show more of who they are and even be a bit vulnerable, without being defensive.

The result was a clear opportunity for the senators to share their political views, opinions, visions and even a bit about what makes them tick. The audience was able to witness a calm, polite and relaxed forum enabling all to hear what was being shared minus any negative attacks.

I can't help but imagine what it would be like if all of our country's issues were managed in a respectful setting such as this, where all involved are on their best behavior and all opinions can be expressed without interruption. I would have a greater interest in politics if this was the case.
Since I'm a great one for holding high ideals, I think I will add this one to my list!