Archive for responsibility

Dare I Ask?

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I decided about a month ago that I would pick up the phone and start asking people questions.

I’m constantly asking questions inside my head.

  • How can I give my daughter the education she needs?
  • What’s the best way to support my aging mother?
  • What do I want to do with my career when my daughter is grown?
  • What adventures are in store for me and my husband?
  • How can I strike a balance between community life and personal life?

I took the plunge and asked one specific question this past month:  how can I give my daughter a great high school education? Should we continue to homeschool, or look at schools? If we look at schools, which ones? If we choose a private school, can we afford it?

I had brought up these questions with my husband and daughter several months ago, but I had never taken the plunge and contacted schools.

I think I was afraid of taking action.

If I didn’t make the calls, I wouldn’t have to make any decisions, and I wouldn’t risk looking foolish for not knowing what to do.

Hmmmm . . . .risk. Aren’t I supposed to be taking risks these days?

So I called a school and asked the headmistress a few questions, and the next thing I knew, I had scheduled a visit.  It’s coming up next month. I told my daughter about it, and to my surprise, she said, “If we’re going to look at one school, I’d like to look at several.” She got on the internet and looked up more schools in our area.  She read their philosophies and wrote down the dates of their open houses.

Will she go to any of those schools? Who knows?

What I do know is that asking one question has opened many doors. My daughter learned to take more initiative in her own education. I learned to risk asking questions – for information, for guidance, for help.

Today, I will ask a question.  Will you?

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

Make a Difference Day!

Hey! I’m posting this on October 24th, in the hope that you’ll read this post by October 25th, just in time to catch the wave of…

Make a Difference Day!

I know that a lot of these “special” days are often just for fun, but this one’s for real.  Surprisingly, Make a Difference Day has been around for over 20 years. It was started by USA Weekend along with Points of Light. It’s the nation’s largest day of service, and it always falls on the fourth Saturday of the October.

I wonder if that has something to do with the weather. But I digress!

It’s kind of sad that we need a day named Make a Difference Day to get us out there helping each other en masse. But what’s even sadder is that most of us, myself included until very recently, don’t even know about it!

So that’s my mission with this blog post. No philosophizing, no life story, no spiritual concept to ponder, although I could certainly do any of those here. Nope! Just a public service announcement about this truly special day, an opportunity to do something that improves the life of a neighbor – a neighbor you know or one you just haven’t met yet.

Not sure what to do?

Just go to the Make a Difference Day website, and you can find something fun and close to home. No matter where you live, I feel pretty sure that there’s some project you can join in on. Just go to USA Weekend’s website, or the Points of Light website and do a quick search.

Been wanting to get a project started? Gather some people in your community, and get it going!

I’ll be spending most of my day driving to and then performing a wedding, so I won’t be able to do one of the official Make a Difference Day projects here in the Atlanta area. But I’m making a commitment to you right here and now, that I’ll do my darnedest to make a difference everywhere I go. For one, I certainly hope I make a difference for the couple I’m marrying, but I’m getting paid for that, so I can’t count it as a volunteer project. But, I could pay for the coffee of the person behind me in line. I could offer my neighbor who doesn’t drive a lift to the grocery store and back. And/or I could simply give a smile to all those whose paths I cross.

So, regardless of your plans for Saturday, October 25th, I hope you’ll join in. If you have children and you live in the Atlanta area, there’s a group just for you. It’s called Pebble Tossers (I love that name), and you can check it out here. If you’re sans kids, just check out main website. And I think I read that they even have a Facebook page!

Who knows?

Maybe doing these things, big or small, will feel so good to us, we’ll start making a difference for our neighbors (two-legged and four-legged) on other days, too. 🙂

And please, do share this post widely so we can also spread the word! My Sun Deck Kwan Yin would greatly appreciate your pitching in. Thank you from both of us.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

 

Red Light, Green Light – Time for a Change?

By Guest Blogger, Betsey Brogan.

Why is it so difficult for me to give myself a break?

I hope it’s not going to take my whole life until I learn the importance of rest. How ironic! But sometimes it certainly feels that way.

If I go on vacation, change my location, turn off all connections to the world, then I can take a break. But what if I need to do this right here at home? There always seems to be something that has to be done, someone I need to call, something that must be crossed off the list.

One lesson I learned while I attended massage school was that pain is the body’s way of communicating to us that something is out of balance. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome may be the body’s way of telling you that you are working too many hours, or that you may to rethink your ergonomics at your workplace. The pain in your wrist may be your body’s way of telling you that something needs to change.

From Wikipedia, we learn that homeostasis (from Greek: homoios, “similar”; and histēmi, “standing still”;) is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition. When our bodies are out of homeostasis, they start to communicate to us this need for change.

When systems are out of balance, things begin to break down.

We all know the importance of eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercise. But when we slack on any of these self-maintenance habits, our bodies don’t work at their best. And we get uncomfortable, cranky, and/or sick.

It really is true that the world will go on without us. Things that need to get done will get done. Therefore, it’s essential that we learn to listen to our bodies when they tell us to stop.

It quite literally is a life lesson.

I don’t know about you, but the next time my body tells me to slow down, I am going to listen.

What a lifesaver!

Note: This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

Throw Forward Thursday

It’s Throw Back Thursday on Facebook.  I feel sure you’ve enjoyed, as have I, seeing the pictures of your friends as adorable newborns, as toddlers trying to walk, teenagers striving to find themselves, couples getting married, and more.

Today, however, I want to offer you something different: Throw Forward Thursday.

You see, I’ve just watched an incredible video, one that I hope you’ll stop right now and watch along with me, as I watch again and again. It’s aimed at women, but I do believe the brave men who watch it will be just as inspired by it as I’ve been.

Please – whoever you are, no matter your gender, your age, or any other circumstance or situation you find yourself in –  please, give yourself the gift of the 4 minutes and 15 seconds it takes to watch this short, powerful film.

I wholeheartedly invite you do so, and then comment with your feedback. I’d love to hear how it affected you – what you thought, what you felt, what you are re-inspired to do, or what you are now inspired to do and/or be for the very first time. In other words, as a result of watching this motivating movie, how will you now Be You Out Loud as never before?

Here’s the video: Your Calling?

PS A favor: If you are willing, I ask you to please share this – specifically the post, and in general, my website and blog, too. You may not get a prize, but you will get my deep appreciation.

PPS Some shameless self-promotion: If you know others who could benefit from a conversation with me, about their callings or  anything else on their minds and hearts, please ask them to email me for an appointment.them to me. It would be my pleasure to offer this to them, as my gift. Why? Because it would mean I’d get t0 be myself out loud, while helping them get clear on how to do that for themselves! And if this person is you, and you’re not a current client, you’re just as welcome to contact me for a chat! Come on in, the water’s fine!

My Little Game

By Carolyn Cook, Guest Blogger.

I’m pondering another life change.  I don’t know if it counts as a risk, but I think any change is inherently risky, so here goes:

I’m thinking about closing in.  Cutting back.  Focusing.  Minimizing.  Simplifying for a while.

If you know me, you know this is a ridiculous idea.  I can’t resist opportunities for adventure, artistic growth, and discovery.  Give me a challenge, and I’m out the door like a shot.  So it would be really, really hard for me to do what I’m talking about.

Specifically, I’m talking about creating a daily routine where the paperwork and the housework and the prep work for my classes actually gets done, every day.  (Oh dear, I’m already terrified.)  I’m talking about planning meals and keeping healthy food in the fridge and getting regular exercise.

I actually have time to do this. For once in my life, I have just enough work to do outside the home, and I don’t want to take on any more.  I have time to see my mother, talk with my husband and daughter, cook dinner, and keep up with paperwork, while still pursuing an interesting career.  I even have time to study voice again.

Yet I find myself putting off going to grocery store, letting my mom’s papers pile up, procrastinating, and of course, feeling stressed.  It’s natural.  My husband and I have a favorite quote, which I believe is from Life 101:  “If your game is too small, you’ll screw up your game just to give yourself something to do.”  Oh, the drama.

What if I mustered the courage, the discipline, not to screw up this little game of mine?  What if I developed the discipline to meet deadlines, take care of my health, create interesting classes for my students, and practice my music?  I know I can do it; I only risk giving up the thrill of running on adrenalin when I get behind.  And the potential reward is so great:  a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of being true to myself.

Maybe being true to myself is the biggest risk of all.  What do you think?

This post originally appeared on my RiskADay blog.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.

Three, Three, Three Cs in One Post!

For the last several days, I’ve been at the farm – walking, writing, dreaming, and planning. A large part of my work here has been creating content in preparation for delivering discussions, workshops, and retreats on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Brené Brown. As you probably know, I’ve been studying with her and her team since September of 2011. I’m currently authorized to offer her work, and soon, I’ll be Certified!

You may know of Dr. Brown from her best-selling books, I Thought It Was Just Me, The Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly, or from seeing her TED talks from 2010 and 2012. Or maybe you’ve come to know her more recently, perhaps from seeing her two appearances on SuperSoulSunday with Oprah Winfrey.

What does all of this have to do with the AB…Zs of Self-Care series? Well, because of this immersion into her work, I’ve decided that in this blog post, I’ll have not one word inspired by the letter C, but three! And these three are… Courage, Compassion, and Connection.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that these words were already of huge importance to me, even before I started working with Brené.  That’s one reason I’m so excited about delivering offerings based on her research for a long time to come.

Today, I’m  excited about simply sharing with you one of the many powerful tidbits from Brené; one that includes the three Cs. I think it’s probably meaty enough for us to ponder a good while. Brené says,

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Poetry and the Olympics: Michael Phelps and Me

As of now, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time.  Wow – that is so exciting!  And, as much of a star as he is, he’s also been known to make mistake or two. I, too, have been know to make a mistake now and again.  🙂  And I’d like to apologize for at least one of them here.  My apologies to Jane Yolen, Mary Oliver, Jack Gilbert, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Tony Hoagland. In my enthusiasm for your amazing work, I posted your poems without asking for your permission or for the permission of your estates.  I hope you can forgive me.  Please know that l’ll be removing your poems from my previous posts, and replacing them with links…  And, starting right now, I’ll be posting only links or original poems, such as the one I posted yesterday by my friend Ken Carlson, and the one I am posting right now, by me!

The Call to Connect

There is a need I have
To connect
From waaaay down deep inside me
To waaaay down deep inside you.

You can take that to mean something
Sexual, and sometimes it does,
But mostly it doesn’t.
Mostly, it means

I have a need to see you, know you, feel you and
To be seen, known, felt by you.
And then there comes the time when I am done
Connecting with you.

This is when the call comes
To connect with me
Only. Sometimes
I answer.

Laura Overstreet Biering (Copyright 2008)

 

Eleanor Roosevelt, Goddess of Authenticity and Courage

I have been re-reading one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt biographies, Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, and seriously, this woman rocked!  Hence, I see her as a great choice with whom to kick off Women’s History Month (after my mom, of course)!

I am not going to even begin to think that I can do her justice here, in a little ol’ blog post.  What I am going to do is point you over to her page on Wikipedia.  First, however, I am going to list only some of the many great things she is quoted as having said.  Enjoy!

  • Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run, it is easier.  We do not have to become heroes overnight.  Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
  • Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
  • I you have something to say, you can say it.
  • I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
  • In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
  • It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
  • One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.
  • People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.
  • Readjustment is a kind of private revolution.
  • Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.
  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.
  • What matters now, as always, is not what we can’t do:  it is what we can and must do.
  • When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
  • When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
  • Work is easier to carry when your heart is involved.
  • Women are like tea bags – you can’t tell how strong they are until you put them in hot water.
  • Women, whether subtly or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world.

Here. Now. You. This is it.

Hello, my dear – A poem for you…

Always We Hope
~ Lao Tzu

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

Abide at the center of your being.

It’s so easy to wander outside of our center and get bogged down by what we think we should do…can’t say…need to worry about. But through all of the messages we take in every day, the regret over things done and not done, the anxiety about what lies ahead of us, the one thing we really must do is be our full, true selves – the magnificent, human, spiritual, multi-faceted, creative, authentic beings that we are created to be.  It is only by being ourselves – abiding at the center of our being – that we have an opportunity to live full, rich, purposeful, joyful lives.

And it’s not just about us. We can fall into the trap of thinking that in being ourselves – honoring our dreams and desires and authenticity – that we are being selfish or self-centered. But I believe there’s a space in our world that is created just for us, a space in it that is ours and ours alone. It’s not only our right to be who we are, but it’s also our responsibility. It is only through being ourselves and filling our space that that our world has a chance to function the way it’s supposed to function. Think about that:  If we don’t fill “our space,” who else possibly can? Being ourselves – saying what we think, listening to and acting upon our voices within, honoring our dreams – is the only way that we can fill our unique space and fulfill our responsibility in our world.

The way to do is to be. Read More→