Contractions: Catching Up on #VOWcross, #VOWwait, & #VOWspend

It’s the last day of July, and I haven’t posted since May.

Since then, #VOWcross, #VOWwait, and #VOWspend have come and gone.

I just caught up on Sister’s posts for the past three months, and I found myself nodding in agreement. Had I posted, as often happens with us, I would have said many of the same things, so I suggest you read hers.

I did reflect on our verbs. I even put them into practice. I thought about posting. I intended to.

But the last three months…well, they were something.

I think the best way to describe them is that they involved a hell of a lot of contracting, as Madisyn Taylor phrased it in her Daily Om newsletter that we reposted on the blog. (Also, you should totally subscribe to those emails, because they are life-changing; you can do so here.)

At the end of this year, I anticipating looking back on my One Word for 2018, Narrow, and remembering these contractions. I anticipate remembering the months spent trying to cross more things off my list than I possibly could get done. The time put in waiting for it to be time. The money spent when I would have rather saved it.

But despite this tightening, I think what I will remember more about narrowing is the way these contractions, ironically, expanded me. They flexed muscles that allowed me to cross lines and boundaries in nearly every aspect of my life, inspiring me to stretch and grow more than I knew I could—physically, sexually, spiritually, mentally, professionally. They reminded me about the goodness that can come from the Universe when I just sit and, therefore, trust that some things are worth investing in, worth waiting for. They taught me that sometimes Emergency Funds should be renamed Life Funds and spent in the moments that make you life rich, even if a bit cash poor.

And speaking of things that can be gold, this month, in August, we

Treasure.

Exactly this…

Sister forwarded me enough articles from DailyOm that I started subscribing, too.

This darling little article that so perfectly fit our #OneWord2018’s and this year’s VOW schedule. I couldn’t help but share and if this resonates, you may want to get on their daily newsletter list, too.

Contracting Before Expanding

by Madisyn Taylor

It is a natural part of being, that our lives sometimes contract before expanding.

Sometimes our lives contract before they expand. We may be working hard on ourselves spiritually, doing good in the world, following our dreams, and wondering why we are still facing constrictions of all kinds–financial, emotional, physical. Perhaps we even feel as if we’ve lost our spirituality and are stuck in a dark room with no windows. We may be confused and discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. But sometimes this is the way things work. Like a caterpillar that confines itself to a tiny cocoon before it grows wings and flies, we are experiencing the darkness before the dawn.

When things feel tight, it’s easy to panic or want to act in some way to ease the feeling of constriction. We might also spin our wheels mentally, trying to understand why things are the way they are. However, there is nothing we need to do at this time other than to be patient and persevering. We can cling to the awareness that we are processing the shift from one stage to another, and the more we surrender to the experience, the more quickly we will move through the tightness into the opening on the other side. Just like a baby making its way down the birth canal, we may feel squeezed and pushed and very uncomfortable, but if we remember that we are on our way to being born into a new reality, we will find the strength to carry on.

Even as we endure the contractions, we can find peace within ourselves if we remember to trust the universe. We can look to the natural world for inspiration as we see that all beings surrender to the process of being born. In that surrender, and in the center of our own hearts, is a willingness to trust in the unknown as we make our way through the opening.

 

Exactly this…

I attended a summit on human trafficking on February 9th — if you want a topic that will FREEZE your blood, human and labor trafficking will certainly do the trick.

One of our sessions discussed social media and the plight (and danger) that is the internet. This landed throughout the entire audience of professionals, parents, and clergy, all with dedication to want to prevent people (particularly children and adolescents) from getting entrapped by very elaborate schemes to groom and ultimately abduct them.

Facebook in particular seems to be the perfect hunting ground for predators. The information I learned blew my mind and made me reconsider all the more my relationship with social media. I have felt desperate to disconnect from pretty much everything besides LinkedIn. But I’m a semi-Millennial living in a modern world and I know that if I totally phase out, there is a huge number of people I love and care about who will slip into the void.

Plus, I’ll be honest, I get a lot of my news from my various Feeds. I hate frequenting CNN.com (it stresses me out and the app drives me bonkers) so how else will I know what’s going on if NPR doesn’t feel like reporting it?

Lo, I came across this article today that perfectly resonated. How to FREEZE your social media use without becoming a total hermit.

Enjoy:

How to Disconnect from Social Media but Stay Connected to the World (Lifehacker)

Essentially, author Green encourages us to use RSS feeds (Sis and I use Feedly so — check) and Newsletters (again, lots of self-improvement zines come to my inbox so — check). Green suggests subscribing to Vox Sentences, TWP Daily 202, No Complaints, and The Ann Friedman Weekly, which did motivate me to do some additional sleuthing this weekend for more news-centric subscriptions. Of course there are old-fashioned newspapers, which made me realize that I somehow am missing NPR’s app on my phone. Substituting one technology for another feels a little like cheating but for reals, the less I scroll through Facebook these days, the better I feel.

exactly this: Warren Buffett Says This 1 Simple Habit Separates Successful People From Everyone Else

By Marcel Schwantes, this Inc.com article offers a list of seven things that we might consider saying no (#VOWnarrowing) to:

Here are seven things the most successful people say no to on a regular basis. Perhaps you should too?

1. They say no to opportunities and things that don’t excite them, speak to their values, or further their mission in life.

2. They say no to superficial networking events in which people swap business cards and never hear from one another. Why? Because successful people don’t network. They build relationships.

3. They say no to spending time with uninspiring, critical, or negative people who drag them down. Time is precious — choose a small circle of people who will energize you and challenge you to be better. 

4. They say no to overworking. While it’s true some successful people and many entrepreneurs put in 60 to 80 hours per week, very successful people aren’t workaholics who neglect self-care and family. They recognize that if they can’t take care of themselves, everything else suffers. 

5. They say no to doing all the work. This comes down to one word:

D-E-L-E-G-A-T-I-O-N.

6. They say no to giving the steering wheel of life to anyone else. Another Buffett quote affirms this: “You’ve gotta keep control of your time and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”

7. They say no to people-pleasing. Successful people don’t neglect their deepest wishes and desires to accommodate and yield to others’ wishes and desires. 

The whole article is definitely worth a read; click here.

exactly this:

“Never Say Never”
by Tristan Prettyman

Wish I would’ve listened to myself
You would’ve thought I’d known better
Shouldn’t trust my heart this time
But the mind, it changes like the weather
The scars will fade away, and I may never be the same
But you can’t start a fire in the pouring rain
Never say never

Now I hear you’re back to your old self
And I still can’t imagine
Why you take something good, like love, like us
And pretend it never happened
Cause you’ll look back one day
And you’ll wish we still had that flame
But you can’t start a fire in the pouring rain
Never say never

You said you would never let me go
You promised me, our love written on the wall
Felt so easy but I should’ve known better
To never say never

Gotta be careful what you give
You never know just what you get
Who knows, maybe the best hasn’t happened yet
Some days I still feel the same
And my love, it still remains
Wish I could start a fire in the pouring rain

You said you would never let me go
You promised me, our love written on the wall
Felt so easy but I should’ve known better
To never say never

Told the whole world that you were all mine
You put it in my head that we were doing fine
Am I the only one who remembers?
It doesn’t matter now if you change your mind
Cause I won’t be around when you finally realize
Nothing really lasts forever

Flames in the sky
And there’s smoke in my eyes
You set me free
So don’t say you miss me
Just don’t say you miss me

You said you would never let me go
You promised me, our love written on the wall
Felt so easy but I should’ve known better
To never say never

We should start a fire in the pouring rain

[Spoken:]
I may never understand why you left
I guess I just have to accept this is the way it was meant to be
Kind of like how I never understood how the ocean just stops at the shore
And why it doesn’t wash away the land
If only someone could hold my heart and my hand
And make it feel like you did, and not give up so easy
There’s no need to be angry, it’s okay to be sad
I just have to trust there’s something better for me out there swirling around in the universe
Someone who will believe in themselves as much as I do
And never take a wish for granted and always count the stars
Looking back, you’re always closer than you thought
There’s no point now in starting something new
The heart wants what the heart wants
And none of it matters in the end if you can’t love someone back
Love and truth are whispering, “you can’t start a fire in the pouring rain”

Exactly This…

Today’s TED is from Tim Ferriss on Why you should define your fears instead of your goals.

“The hard choices — what we most fear doing, asking, saying — are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls “fear-setting.” Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.”

Tim discusses how to work through our worst fears by listing what we’re afraid of, define what the fears are, ways to prevent it, and ways you can REPAIR the damage if it comes to fruition.

Then he asks you review the benefits at just trying whatever you’re questioning… and the cost of inaction.

Sometimes #VOWrepair is about doing all we can to avoid disaster. Sometimes it is about fixing what is broken. And sometimes it’s just about thinking things through to figure out a solution you don’t immediately see.

Watch the full talk above (or here).

Exactly This…

Nearly every day at lunch, I eat at my desk and watch a TEDtalk. While this may seem depressing and pathetic to some, it proves to be the best way for me to refresh in the middle of the day and enables me to eat lunch without covering my keyboard with crumbs.

As we’ve mentioned before, sometimes our words find us that week. Pico Iyer’s featured Talk about The Art of Stillness made my day, made me think, and (for the first time in some months) made me meditate.

Enjoy…

 

Want more? TED has tons of playlists but Slow Down! Enjoy Life may be my guiding light this week.

Exactly this:

Repost from Leo Babauta’s amazing blog Zen Habits

This post hit me right in the #VOWplay feels. So frequently we bounce about, not savoring or enjoying what we’re doing. Oftentimes it’s work (more on that in my reflection post) but also, it seems, in play.

For instance, I recently bought a book on doodling. Which sounds kinda dumb, I know. And unnecessary. But I had a Barnes & Noble giftcard and it seemed like fun. My doodles have always felt relatively uninspired and another post about grimoires got me jonesing to build a talent for decorating pages. When I opened the book, I was in such a rush to do ALL THE DOODLES that I actually felt a bit of a failure for starting at the beginning. The rush of mastery almost ruined the fun of the learning — of the PLAYing.

 

Why I’m Always in a Hurry, & What I’m Doing About It

BY LEO BABAUTA
DATE : March 6, 2017

I’ve come to realize, more and more, that I’m always rushing.

I rush from one task to the next, rush through eating my food, impatient for meditation to be over, rushing through reading something, rushing to get somewhere, anxious to get a task or project finished.

What’s the deal? This coming from a guy who has written a lot about slowing down and savoring, about being present, about single-tasking?

As always, when I write these articles, they’re as much a reminder to myself about what I’ve found to work as they are a reminder to all of you. I’ve found them to work, but that doesn’t mean I always remember to practice them. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, by any means.

So what is going on? Why do I hurry so much?

I’ve been reflecting on this, and the answer seems to be that my mind has a tendency towards greed. This isn’t greed in the sense that I want a lot of wealth … but my mind finds something it likes and it wants more. Always more.

Some examples of greed:

  • I like chocolate (or wine, or coffee, or cookies) and I crave it, and want more even if I just had a bite of it.
  • I am doing a task but also want to do 20 more tasks, because I want to do as much as possible. Wanting to do more and more, to do everything, is a good example of the mind’s tendency to greed.
  • When I learn, I want to learn everything about a topic. I’ll look up every book I can find, every blog post or article, every podcast or video, every forum post, and want to read all of it. Of course, I can’t possibly read all of it now, but I want to. I’ll buy 10 books but jump around from one to the next, not finishing any of them.
  • When I travel to a new city, I want to see it all — all the best sights, all the best vegan restaurants, all the best bookstores and museums and experiences. I can’t possibly, but I’ll do my best to fit all the best stuff into the small container of my trip, and research it for weeks.
  • When I’m going about my day, I try to fit as much as possible into it: not only all my tasks, but spending time with the wife, reading with the kids, working out and meditating and doing yoga and going for a walk and reading and learning online and answering all my emails, watching all the best TV shows and films, and checking all the forums and news and blogs and more and more.

I rush around, trying to fit all of that in. I’m trying to maximize every day, every trip, every event, every moment. I’m trying to get everything possible out of life.

This comes from a good heart — I appreciate the briefness of life, and I appreciate its brilliance, and I want all of it in the short time I have left here. That’s not a bad thing, wanting more of life.

But what is the result of always wanting more, always wanting to maximize? It’s rushing, grabbing onto everything, never having enough, never being satisfied, never actually stopping to enjoy, not really appreciating each moment because I’m greedy for more great moments.

Indulging in this greediness for more, this maximizing everything, doesn’t satisfy it. It just creates more wanting for more.

Indulging isn’t helpful. Staying with the feeling of wanting more, wanting to maximize, wanting to rush, wanting to do it all … that’s more helpful. Stay with the feeling, Leo, don’t indulge it.

Don’t try to do it all, but instead be here now.

Don’t rush, but appreciate the moments in between things as just as important as the next thing.

Don’t try to maximize, but instead practice letting go. Let go of greedy tendencies, let go of whatever you’re clinging to (having it all, doing it all), let go of the urge to rush.

Whenever there’s a tendency towards greed, counter it with generosity.

The Practice of Generosity

What does generosity have to do with hurrying and trying to maximize every day? In one sense, generosity might be giving money or possessions to people who need it, or giving help wherever needed, when possible. But that’s just one sense of generosity.

Generosity is any way that we turn away from our self-centered view and start turning towards others. It could be as simple as turning towards another person in our life and trying to see what they need, rather than focusing on what we want to get out of life.

Or it could be turning towards that person and giving them the gift of our full attention. Really try to be present, with an open heart, trying to understand and hear the person. This is the spirit of generosity.

When doing something alone, the spirit of generosity can be turned to each moment — giving that moment the full gift of our attention, seeing it fully and opening our heart to it. This is a salve to the usual spirit of needing more, more, more, of wanting to satisfy me, me, me.

I’m trying to practice the spirit of generosity, whenever I notice my greedy mind wanting everything, wanting more, wanting to get the most out of every day. Instead, I turn to this moment, each person, each activity, and give it the loving gift of my wholehearted attention.