Saturday, March 7, 2009

Innate Gift or Practice?

As I think about the various gifts, skills and tendencies people have, I can't help but wonder if these gifts are innate or learned.

In some cases such as the 4 year old virtuoso pianist, or the savant mathematician, evidence seems to clearly point to their talent being a part of them since birth. In other cases, people prove over and over that many talents are learned and improve to a significant degree simply with practice.

When I was a child, I spent hours playing with my Etch-A-Sketch. It's a toy still around today that the user can write or draw with one continuous line using two knobs, one that makes vertical lines and one for horizontal. I do not consider myself to have a strong natural artistic ability. On the other hand, when I enjoy something, I do it a lot and often get good at that particular skill.

Today, I can pick up an Etch-A-Sketch and write quickly and easily in cursive, or can draw pictures with detail, using the one continuous line. The feel of the two knobs in my fingers, moving in unison feels just like it did when I was eight years old.

So whether we see ourselves as being talented in a particular area, or not, isn't it possible to learn and even excel at something as long as we love doing it? I say "YES"! Our human minds are capable of more than we can imagine. We can always learn something new and feel the thrill of expanding our prior vision for ourselves. If we love it, we'll do it. If we believe it's possible, we can live the dream. We just have to practice.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Getting Out of the Way

One of my favorite lessons in life is to simply "get out of the way". I have found when I stress about, over-plan, worry, talk about, or fiddle with anything beyond the point that it feels like ease, it is time for me to get out of the way and allow the solution to show itself. I have learned that dedicating my thoughts in a negative way (concern of a problem developing) only adds to the negative elements around the situation.

Last evening I sat down to complete a grant for Project: Inside Out. First of all I was dismayed to see it was due in less than 24 hours. I noticed some tension building and fear of missing the deadline. Next, after going over the list of required data, I soon became overwhelmed by the amount of information that was needed....the result.....more accompanied by some anxiety. I accidentally got the cover sheet wet and couldn't find some information I needed. The final straw was when I couldn't figure out how to complete the financial sheet. I love to work with kids, but typically turn to ice when I think about crunching numbers.

In a very short time, I went from being happy to a mix of fear and dread. When I finally remembered to breathe, step back and get out of the way, I could think clearly. I called our Board of Director's finance officer for help. I was feeling better already. Thankfully, she had a window of time to meet with me and go over the figures and complete the finance report before she caught a plane to Arizona. Whew.....that was close.

With that piece out of the way, I was able to think clearly while completing the remaining forms. In fact, it was fun to add some extra information that speaks to the service of our non-profit.

Next, I made it to the office store to make duplicates with no one ahead of me in line. Finally, I turned in the documents duplicated by five, 40 minutes before the deadline.

All I had to do was get out of the way and everything fell into place. Next time, my goal will be to remember before I trade in happiness for fear.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Unabashed JOY

I love to observe children. They are my favorite teachers on the subject of joy, by simply being themselves ......without embarrassment or holding back. Their natural propensity for unabashed joy always inspires me to enjoy life more myself.

A few days ago while watching a play, a platinum blond 2 1/2 year old was sitting directly in front of me. Some people may have feared the worst for the next three hours and moved their seat. I, however, was delighted and looked forward to taking in the play and whatever this little guy would be up to. I didn't expect him to sit perfectly still and quiet. My prediction was correct.

For the first fifteen minutes of the show, he was enthralled with the activity on stage. He bounced to the musical parts and would stage whisper his comments to his mother. Soon, he lost interest in what was straight ahead and decided to take in the show behind

First we played peek a boo. Next he reached out and took my program from my hand. After playing with it for awhile, he faced me again and began the dance portion of his show. The more I chuckled, the more enthusiastic he became.

I imagine we all started off this way.....naturally joy filled and expressive. Somewhere along the line it seems, we are taught to hold back, to behave, and be quiet. How unfortunate in our learning to be respectful of others, we lost our natural tendency to be joyfully delighted with life.

At intermission, his mother turned to apologize. I reassured her sitting behind him increased the value of my ticket.

In the last hour of the show, this little guy fell blissfully asleep in his mother's arms. Apparently he was totally fulfilled.

I hope he doesn't change.

Monday, March 2, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

A few days ago, my husband I attended a local high school production of The Wizard of Oz. It was a great show and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing many of my students playing the familiar roles.

As a child, this was a favorite movie for me and my siblings. It was one of our family traditions to gather in front of the television set with fear and delight as the metaphorical story unfolded, even though we knew how it ended.

Probably the most famous line from the story is "There's no place like home". Dorothy's reference was her home in Kansas....the home she previously rejected. As I thought about this line, I saw home in a different context, meaning my true self....the real me....the essence of who I am. Just like Dorothy, there are times I also forget the truth and will reject "home".

There is no place like home since it is the one place I can always return and always find love. My "home" knows the truth of who I really am. When I am home I trust that I am cared for. When I remember who I really am, I cannot be harmed....I am eternally safe. When I am home (connected to the truth of me) I need not try to impress. I have no need to blame or judge. Being home is freedom.

When I forget about home, or if I should condemn it or reject it, I am lost. All that matters most to me seems out of reach.

All Dorothy had to do was click her heels together three times and repeat this famous line. Although I don't have ruby slippers, I can do the same. All I have to do is pause to remember the truth about me and soon I am home once again.