It’s early afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas. I can’t stop sighing while I look out my window at the season’s last (let’s hope) snowstorm. My repeated sighs have nothing to do with the thought of shoveling and everything to do with a personal challenge. It may sound corny, but I really do believe that any perceived mistake, set-back, or challenge, is just a learning opportunity. But for the sake of discussion, let’s say there are failures. To me, they’re still an opportunity to learn from and do better next time. I can’t stop sighing because I’ve been so excited about a dream of mine to create a Museum of Inspiration and Humanity. I’ve even started to talk about it with friends and family. I wrote about it in this very blog. I’ve given a talk about the Museum and had a page on my website about it. I surprised myself by returning to the oh-so-annoying Facebook to create a Museum of Inspiration and Humanity corporate page. Months ago I checked to see whether there was a Museum of Inspiration and Humanity out there. And then last evening a friend gently let me know that she thought she saw something like that that already existed. Just like that I gave up on my idea. I decided to unpublish my corporate Facebook museum page. I removed the dedicated page and links from my website. And, I’m pretty close to crying. Now…here’s the thing about feeling that I failed at this dream. I didn’t fail. I had a great idea. More importantly, it’s exciting that for the first time in my life, I had any idea at all. I never used to be able to have ideas or dreams. Making some big changes in my life created the opportunity for me to see possibilities rather than problems so it’s all good. As my friend said, maybe this will challenge me to inspire through some other means. Still, I started to feel embarrassed that I’ve been talking about this idea so freely. But then I remembered how I never used to put myself out there. I never would have risked sticking my neck out because of my fear of looking stupid, making a mistake, getting laughed at, or experiencing a failure. As bummed as I feel today, I’m glad that I pursued this, and let others see what mattered to me, even if it did last for only a few months. It was interesting that when I opened WordPress today, the blog of the day started with this Thomas Edison quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Postscript: You know what? There are a lot of us out there speaking about spirituality and that didn't stop me from talking about spirituality in my talks. There's an entire industry no less. There are so many forms of ideas taking place and so many people all putting their goodness out there. If I hold back because I see others doing something similar to me, then I might as well keep living smaller, stay home, close the door, and never share my gifts. But no way am I doing that. We are bringing ourselves to our ideas and therefore our ideas will resonate differently with different people. The people that are meant to find me will find me. The ones that are meant to connect with someone else, will find them. I'm not giving up on my idea. I'll just do it my way. After all isn't that why I shared the Thomas Edison quote above?
For a while now I’ve been wanting to offer people a positive way of honoring humanity. I’m committed to create a Museum and one that I believe fills an important need. The Museum… of Inspiration and Humanity will honor the human spirit and inspire us, as we learn of small and large, random and deliberate acts of generosity and kindness.
The museum will serve to educate and inspire us by telling stories of forgiveness, cooperation, compassion and love. We’ll learn of extraordinary behavior across the world. The exhibit will encourage feelings of hope and inspire us to take action to create positivity and change. We’ll be reminded that we’re all connected, and even the smallest action, is vitally important to the world. Our positive thoughts and actions benefit all of mankind.
As we experience the museum, we’ll open our hearts and see possibilities for each other and the world. We’re all already humanitarians, in small and large ways, every day. We’ll know that we can be transformed, either by receiving or performing an act of love. After we leave the exhibit our higher emotions may stay with us for quite some time. It’s in this state of living in our higher emotions, that we start to believe in possibilities, and realize we create possibilities.
We’re all worthy, and each of us can perform incredible acts of love, and move mankind forward. We will honor ourselves, by not only setting an intention, but also by acting on our intention, thereby honoring the light within ourselves, and being a light for others.
Yesterday I was a contestant in a Toastmasters humor contest. In the past, this many people in a room with all eyes on me would have sent me 1-running for the Loo, 2- fibbing, “I’m not feeling well and can’t make it today” to, 3- “I’ll be on vacation then” and then booking a vacation so I’m not a liar. However, things were going pretty well for me in my little Toastmasters club and I was on fire. Oh it was going to be one funny talk. Except it wasn’t really. My best friend had been recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I decided to deliver a talk about our 55-year long friendship in my small Toastmasters club. That was the same week they realized they needed an entry for the humor contest for our Division. My talk about our BFF friendship had some cute stories but nothing side-splitting. Unfortunately, only one other person in our club gave a talk that day and they chose my talk as the one to move forward to the Division contest with. “But it’s not really a humor talk” I said. It’s funny enough was their sentiment. They needed a contestant and I could always decline. My club was small and I was becoming very comfortable speaking in front of them. We’re a family of sorts. The contest was a great opportunity to become used to speaking in front of more people, and people that I didn’t know. I decided to step up. Gee whiz this could go really well or really not well. I rehearsed for days and happily no longer needed my notes, or so I thought. I practiced all the annoying Toastmasters advice using vocal variety, moving around the stage and using body language. However, my goal is not to become a poster child for Toastmasters and become an affected speaker. I like my charming mess-ups and just want to enjoy myself. I was all over this. However, yesterday morning the familiar pounding heartbeat started up. The beginning of my fight or flight reaction always tends towards flight. The flight fantasies run from hoping for a small, non-threatening fire where we all have to go home, before my talk begins. Or, I hope for a small EMT emergency where we all want to go home afterwards in deference to the person involved. I’m not proud of these but I’m panicking and this is the best I can come up with.
When many hear about my fear around public speaking they often share, “Oh talking in front of others doesn’t bother me at all”. Thanks for sharing. I respond with, “How wonderful for you, you’re so fortunate”. And, they might even add, “Throw away your notes and just wing it. I do”! Hmmm…consider who you’re speaking to because the reason I’m in Toastmasters is because I can’t do that yet. FYI, we phobics don’t want to hear how comfortable you bad-ass speakers are. We’d rather hear how scared you used to be but now you’re capable of delivering a TEDTalk. It’s just that your well-meaning suggestion is terrifying. For me, winging it = brain freeze/blank stare/temporary blindness which means I can no longer read my speech notes because now they seem to be written in another language. Then there’s the inevitable suggestion to imagine everyone naked. THIS DOES NOT WORK. They’re still people and, naked or not, they can still judge me.
Fear isn’t something I can just talk myself out of, anymore than I can talk myself into feeling confident. Hearing “you go girl” or, “you rock” or, “knock ‘em dead” is well-meaning and lovely, but no one can talk me out of fear with platitudes. I use platitudes too, and surprisingly heard myself cheering, “break a leg!” to one of my fellow contestants. But happily, I’m already experiencing that the more talks I give, the more comfortable I’m becoming. Even after all these years, as I’m letting go of my long-standing limiting beliefs, confidence shows up. It would have been nice to tackle this in my 30’s but it’s happening now.
There were some funny folks that deservedly won our Division contest. Yesterday, I showed up and did my best. The next time I’ll do even better. I quite possibly could have been the most frightened person in the contest, but also the bravest. No matter who was the most courageous, or the biggest ham, we all put ourselves out there and I met some really nice people.
A few years ago I started taking responsibility for my environment and improving how I felt about everything…me, other people, the world in general. A large part of that process, was beginning to work towards becoming a lighter, better version of myself and, living differently. I made positive changes that supported me. In the beginning, the changes were just around outside influences that touched my everyday life, such as the news.
There were many reasons why I loved monitoring the news so closely. I felt smarter and could uphold my end of a conversation about current events. And, I felt like I was on a moral high ground as I complained about and condemned anyone I thought responsible for the world’s problems.
My clock radio would wake me up to NPR. I’d listen to NPR’s news, non-stop for a couple of hours, while I went from bathroom to dressing to commuting to the office and back again. I’d also check the news on my computer while I’d eat lunch and, when I came home at the end of the day, I’d watch the national news while I ate dinner.
While it was never my intention, there was no shortage of ways, every day, for me to kill my optimism. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the media I consumed, wasn’t doing me any favors. Instead of creating an environment that facilitated a belief that I could make a difference, I was stuck in feeling hopeless about the world. I was accomplishing nothing by yelling at the TV. And I never did anything to help the issue I was complaining about, in part, because everything appeared to be overwhelmingly hopeless. In part, because at the time, I didn’t believe one person can make a difference.
I began to see that the longer I went without opting in to negativity, the better I felt. If I allowed it into my day, negativity was everywhere. No longer letting oodles of it in to bombard me I could give myself a fair shot at having a good day, right from the moment my alarm goes off. And no longer reacting to something with anger and frustration, I started to feel better, about…everything.
It will be easier for us to turn things around when we stop being horrified bystanders. That provides little to no benefit to the world. Negativity just seems to feed negativity. I believe that the more of us who stop watching fear, disaster and chaos, the more we can see how we can create a better world. What benefit do we derive from being extremely informed on current events, but hopeless, overwhelmed, angry and frightened? We can we make a positive difference when we choose to create an environment for ourselves of positivity and possibility.
Ever since some unhappy homeowners have been on a rampage with our condo homeowner’s board, which I’m on, I’ve been miserable. I feel like we, I, work so hard and yet a couple of folks have nothing but complaints. I used to practically skip into my home because I love where I live. However, now I run the mad dash to my front door. At times I even seem to be matching them in negativity. And then remind myself that I don’t have to become the other side of anyone’s argument.
Here’s what I’m learning and sometimes forget…
- Most things are just not worth getting upset about.
- Believe in myself.
- Don’t take anything personally. Other people’s challenges are their challenges, it usually has nothing to do with me.
- Allow others to be who they are rather than wishing them to be who I want them to be. What’s that famous saying?…”We can’t feel compassion toward someone we wish to be different.”
- I’m not anyone’s moral compass. I have my own life to look at.
- Sometimes human beings disappoint each other. Someone makes an unfortunate move and then someone else makes an unfortunate move. Everyday conflicts and, I believe, even wars start this way. But the good news is there’s a pony in there somewhere. There’s a path to learning a better way, through experiencing and feeling what comes out of all that miscommunication, blindness, deafness and force. When each of us has had enough, we’ll feel more than think, cooperate rather than compete and, love rather than hate.
- The words we choose, and the actions we take, carry a vibration and, because we’re all connected, we have an enormous impact on each other.
Yesterday I had my annual appointment with my traditional GP. After testing my hearing he suggested I may want to see an Audiologist and I may not want to put off getting a hearing aid. I totally didn’t see that one coming. Earlier today I gave my second Toastmasters speech. Later on I just wanted to go for a nice walk to relax and sit on my favorite bench in a Nature Center I like to visit. It’s Barney Honeychuck’s bench. According to the info on the bench, Barney died a few years ago and I feel with a name like that he had to be a great man. My cell rang and I thought it might be a neighbor but no it was the nice person I take Zumba and a painting class with and who heads up a program I volunteer with. How nice of her to call. She asked me “Are you coming?” Hmmm coming to?…Zumba…no that was earlier today…painting class is….tomorrow…mentoring is…now!…oh “CRAP!!!!!” I scream into my cell hopefully not causing her any hearing damage. Immediately wishing I could have chosen a nicer word to scream into the phone such as RATS! or DARN IT! or OH NO! all come to mind. “Oh, I’m sorry” I say “I had a Toastmaster’s speech today and I went for a walk to relax and I completely forgot. I just have to walk home and get in my car”. Suddenly it doesn’t seem I live that close to the Nature Center. See you Barney! I start to run even though I haven’t run in years, over the numerous rocks on the path and over the pretty bridge at the end of my lake. I’m already winded. So I change to a fast walk. I fly by wildlife, too frantic to see if the Wood Ducks are still there and start to run up a little hill but give up to a walk again and vow that when I reach the road I’m hitchhiking. I get to the road and run down the sidewalk and keep looking back for a car…any car. I see one! I stick my thumb out. I think he might keep going but he pulls over. Yes!! I give him the quick once-over, he seems nice and besides I really don’t believe anything terrible will happen to me in this lifetime. Nevertheless, as I open the passenger door I ask him “You’re not a murderer are you?” He says no as I shut the door and off we go. We chat as I give him directions to where I live and explain how I’m supposed to be at the mentoring program I volunteer with. I’m mentoring a fourth grader but that I forgot today because yada, yada, yada. He asks me if I’m a teacher and I say no, no I’m just a…person and he chuckles a little. This is my first time hitchhiking and clearly I’m pretty good at it. Once again I’m learning it’s never too late. I never ask the nice man his name but learn that he’s a schoolteacher at the high school down the street. I shake his hand and tell him he did a good deed today. I run inside, grab my car keys and jump in my car and fly to the elementary school hoping my student doesn’t think I don’t care about her. I’m 30-minutes late and she and two others are playing a fun card game called Set. We hug as I apologize and I join in on the game. At the end of our time together we hug again and all she says is “Don’t be late next week”. I really like her.
I’m awake this morning at 4:30am again. I’ve been doing this off and on for the past few years. I think big thoughts, deep thoughts, annoying thoughts, silly thoughts, can’t get back to sleep thoughts. I think about why I’m not moving along faster in my current (next) phase of my life. And then I start to answer my own question with some ideas that occurred to me before, but I’d never followed up on. Now I will. And then I ponder tomorrow’s Condo Board meeting, and that leads me to think about how I can feel both compassion and frustration with the other homeowners, all at the same time. And that’s frustrating to me. After that observation I try to slow my breathing down and fall into the famously talked about meditative moment between a thought and my awareness of my thoughts. And hey that actually worked and I start to fall asleep but then I need to roll over. I roll over onto my stomach but that’s never a good idea because my knees hurt when I sleep on my stomach. I roll over again. I’m beginning to feel that I might be saying the words “Bite Me” a lot today. So I make a mental note to listen to a lot of James Brown. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag should do the trick. I hear a bird chirp and notice the light poking through the sides of my blackout shade. It’s now 6:30am. I say the heck with it, sit up and have an out loud conversation about everything I’ve been pondering. I always feel better when I feel somebody’s listening even if I can’t see or touch the somebody. I bring my laptop to bed and edit my Toastmasters talk. I feel pretty good about it and record it so I can start replaying and memorizing it. I’m just too tired for Zumba class so I take a shower and wash my hair. While in the middle of drying my hair the hair dryer sparks fireworks and dies. Wow…really?! Ok, not a problem I’ll just use my travel size hair dryer…Oh…right…that one’s at my boyfriend’s place. One side of my head has smooth, wavy hair and the other side is huge like a bird’s nest. Off I go to Target in search of a new hair dryer. I ask a couple of store employees where the hair dryers are. When I take my rain slicker hood off, I point to my hair and tell them my hair dryer broke. They look at me, laugh loudly and one says “well at least it’s raining today and you can wear your hood”. The dryers all have various product features. Some have ions, some are ceramic, others are infared and some are tourmaline. I have no idea what they’re talking about and grab the one with all of the features listed because it’s only a few dollars more anyway. The promise is to make one’s hair smooth and shiny and I wonder if they’ve tested it on women with diminishing hormones and changing hair texture. When I return home I notice how green everything is from the rain. The lake looks so peaceful, the leaves are chartreuse and there’s a foggy mist over it all. While staring out the window I realize I no longer feel like saying “bite me”.