Saturday, December 20, 2014

What fills you up?


image courtesy of Sculpting Fearlessness


Most of us give so much of ourselves every day. We give to our employers, our partners, our children, family and friends. Give, give, give. Especially this time of year, do you ever feel like the well is getting close to running dry? What fills you up? What can you give to you? This can be as simple as a cup of hot cocoa alone for 5 minutes, or as complex as redecorating a room in your home (I’m a big fan of both of these!).

A few years ago, my parents started redecorating their 1970s ranch home, and I got to be play interior designer! I absolutely love decorating. It fills me up, but it’s not exactly a cheap hobby, so I jumped at the chance to help them spend their money! To date, we’ve done 3 rooms together. What started as a simple night of having dinner together, ended up with measuring tapes and new family room furniture ordered online! (The internet is a huge blessing for folks who have mobility challenges.)

That spurred a kitchen redo, and finally a living room redecoration, with the living room being my absolute favorite of our projects. We completely reoriented the room, created a cozy seating area and an entry way. I’m really proud of the result! We brainstormed together, shopped together and everyone is so happy with the finished room.

To many people, these activities that fill me up would be draining. I get it. Decorating isn’t a passion for everyone, but it is for me. I love it, it energizes me and in the uncertainty that is life, there’s something to be said for a project that has a start, middle and finish. Seeing the fruits of my labors every time I visit the parentals, is really gratifying. Turns out that these projects not only filled me up at the time, but the results continue to fill me up.

What fills you up?  I'd love to know.


❤, Lara


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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Kindness Exchange

Post by Josh Urban for the Kind Kindred series.



photo of Josh's "beacon tree"

A Global Project to bring Light into the Darkness


The frost appears on the windows, the traffic snarls, the brake lights cast a ruddy glare for miles. When the experts aren't debating the definition of torture and national security, the radio spits out a familiar song over the cheap speakers. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Some will agree, others not. I've been in both camps, but no matter where I stand, the holidays are always vivid.

When I was a small boy, I distinctly remember being puzzled at why people couldn't like the holidays. “But mom, Santa comes around this time of year!” The miles ticked away on my odometer, and the road went through some dark and scary forests, as well as golden fields. People died, life got hard, and then, four days before a recent Thanksgiving, my teenage cousin committed suicide.

The Darkness seemed crushing, chilling. It was eating people. And it seemed like it was happening around the holidays. Things got better, but the memories remain. And around this time of year, they reappear like Christmas ghosts, especially when I hear a choir singing my late grandfather's favorite song. He passed away a few days before Christmas in 2006. I remember looking at the tree, and squinting my teary eyes. The lights streamed out into the darkness like Christmas ribbon candy – like a beacon. Those lights...in spite of that darkness...From the other people I talk to, I realize that I'm not alone in this swirl of emotions around this time of year. I came up with something small to do with all of this.

Of all the faiths that celebrate a holiday in December, the theme of light in the darkness is a central tenant. The world is a complex place, but no matter the immensity of the problem, or how cleverly we disguise and forget our humanity and hurt, we do have the ability to create change right now.

Sometimes, when we can't see anymore and the wind howls with a chill in it's teeth – that's exactly when we need to light a match.

There's many ways to do so, and I'd like to invite you to join in this thing that I started last year. It's my way of striking a match. Perhaps you can light one, too. It's called The Kindness Exchange. The idea might seem trite in it's simplicity, but I've found it meaningful.
  1. Do (or see) something kind. Go out of your way, and buy that homeless guy a cup of coffee.
  2. Post about it online using the hashtag #KindnessExchange. (This makes the post searchable.)
  3. I'll be collecting tagged posts, and putting them on a lit beacon tree in my front yard. We'll literally be lighting up the night with our good deeds.
  4. This year, I'm inviting everyone to make their own beacon trees. Simply decorate a tree, shrub, etc, with red Christmas lights, and put the reports of good deeds on it like festive ornaments.
For me, kindness heightens the joy of a bright time, but more importantly, can serve as a life raft in a time of struggle. So, I send out a special invitation if this season finds you sad. I'm wondering if, as Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life showed George Bailey: Maybe the best way to save ourselves is to save someone else.

I'll see you out there. Let's light up the night.

-Josh
Please visit www.JoshUrban.com/kindness to join in.



I'm Josh. I'm a musician. I recently wrapped up a music project centered around the creation of kindness in the holiday season - and unwittingly uncovered a cultural puzzle that I think can be solved by language to dramatically better the world in which we live. 
The puzzle is this: 
How can we talk about the good things that we do - without bragging?
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Pretty, Seedy Calling

Post by Stephanie Jagger for the Kindness in Business series.




I live in a house that is perched on the edge of a Californian canyon. My office, the official BirdString nest, is in a breezy sunroom at the front the house, a perch on a perch. It’s the space from which I coach and the place from which I do some of my soaking up of the world. I sit in my chair and read everything I can get my hands on and when those hands have had their fill, I move to my desk and set them free on my keyboard. On some days, the best ones really, hours will go by in minutes, seconds even. I look up occasionally, and when I do the only things in sight are swaying eucalyptus branches and sometimes an artist or two who set up shop and attempt to capture the same eucalyptus sway that I’m seeing.

The other day was different though. The other day, it was my neighbor who caught my eye and I couldn’t look away.

She was sitting, sidesaddle on the curb in plain clothes, a faded tie-dye t-shirt and shorts that were soiled with soil. There wasn’t a stitch of makeup on her face and all but a few rebellious strands of hair were pulled back in a red bandana, tied at the top. Rosie the Riveter done proud. In her lap sat a large silver bowl, and while the sun glinted off of the bowl’s metallic curves, my neighbor’s left hand steadied it with a loose grasp on it’s edge. Her right hand was moving in and out of the bowl, mixing what looked like soil and seeds, dipping deeply into the earthy contents and pulling up a gentle fist full. Her fingers moved in a feathery motion, sorting and separating like a palm sized sieve. And like a well-timed partner, the breeze would kick up around her ever so slightly and cast bits of the dirt into the wind. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I could see the light carry the finest pieces of earth through the air and into the canyon. There was a rhythm to it, one I didn’t know personally but that seemed written into every movement she made.

Whatever it was she was doing looked like a simple task. The simplest. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, off of her. I sat in my nest and watched her move through what, by definition, was likely mundane. Only nothing about it said mundane. What it was, was magnetic, majestic even. And her face was perhaps the most beautiful part of it all - a freeze frame of serenity.

I smiled to myself because I knew that I was watching a person who was, who is, deeply rooted in their calling, practicing, performing and perfecting their purpose. And when we see someone in the seat of their soul, it’s simple - we can’t take our eyes off of them. It’s as if we’re witnessing a conversation between them and The Universe, between them and who ever it is they call God.

Later that evening, as the sun was setting on another soft Californian day, we bumped into one another, my neighbor and I, and I said, “This morning…I know this sounds creepy but I was watching you. You were sitting out front with a bowl and sorting something or mixing something.” She laughed, “Yeah. I was sorting seeds.”

“It was beautiful and I honestly couldn’t stop staring. It seems you’ve found your calling.”

“Yes. Yes I have.” she said.

Later that week she brought us a bowl of fresh tomatoes from her garden, the same garden, I found out, from which she produces some of San Diego's only hand-harvested, hand-packaged seeds. In her words, “seeds of passion and patience.

Look. Listen. Hear your calling whispering to you and when you hear it, plant yourself firmly in that place. Drop roots there, and eventually people won’t be able to take their eyes off of you.


Stephanie Jagger lives in California where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She believes courageous living doesn’t happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber. Stephanie is currently working on her first book, a memoir about skiing about the world, and yes, you read that last bit right. 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Heart Resolutions and Vision Boards

Post by Heather Shafer for the Kind Kindred series.


photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain High on Flickr

Hello Beautiful Person!

The last few weeks we have explored ways to reflect, ways to vision and even ways to create space mentally and physically for what we want to create in the year ahead.

Now let’s look a bit deeper into two practices/rituals I do every single year!

I create Heart Resolutions (I have been doing this for over 4 years) and I create a vision board for the year and what I want it to hold. 


First let’s look at Heart Resolutions:

What are Heart Resolutions?
Simply put, Heart Resolutions are about getting to the Heart or the Core of what YOU really want, the feeling - not the task. The feeling, the emotion of what you want for your life is what you use to measure your progress or success, not the task. This is a process I have used for years. While all my lists my not have check marks next to them I do not let that be the deciding factor if I lived my year with intention, inspiration and meaning. I check in with my Heart Resolutions that I created at the start of the year!

How to create Heart Resolutions:

Write down some of the things you want to accomplish, create, explore etc. this year. Now look at that list and ask yourself: For those tasks, what is it that I really want to get from them? How do I want to feel, what is the core of the task that I am actually trying to gain here? So if losing weight is something that is on your “task list” then ask yourself: ¬What do I really want to feel - energetic, empowered, healthy, light, nourished? Choose the word that best describes what it is you are really seeking. If that seems like a disconnect for you, pull some words from the list that describe what you need to accomplish it (courage, focus, support, etc).
The same goes for any other type of “task” you come up with. Keep these in front of you on a daily basis (type them, write them, paint them, collage them). It doesn’t matter - just get them in front of you!!) For the full PDF of ideas and steps go here.

Now let’s explore a little bit about creating a Vision Board:

A lot of you probably created one or have heard of one. In a nutshell, a Vision Board is a visual representation of what you want to feel, do, create, explore, experience in an area of your life. There are so many different themes you could use. For me, I create one that encompasses those things for the year. (Throughout the year I make other ones for various areas of my life.) If it feels better to call it an “inspiration board for this year” then do that. Some people don’t connect to the words “vision board” so phrase it and create it in a way that feels true to you!

This would be great to do after you have created your Heart Resolutions.

  1. Find a surface that feels good to you. You can use anything - a canvas of whatever size feels right to you, a poster board, index cards. (You can do a mini one or do several for various areas of your life.) You can even create a digital one to print out and have in a space you will see often. 
  2. Grab magazines, catalogs etc. and pick the images and words that you are drawn to. Then go through them and decide what ones you really want to use for your vision board. (Check in with your Heart resolutions, goals, dreams, etc.) Follow your gut. 
  3. Remember the images and words only have to make sense to you. The image may not be of exactly what you want, but if it represents the feeling that is triggered for you when you see it, then trust that! 
  4. Glue it down on the board. I often, but not always, lay the images down to see how I want them set up before gluing. 
  5. Again: Put this up somewhere where you will see it daily. 
  6. Another idea is to create a Pinterest board as a Vision board. I have created one that is all about inspirations ideas (images, words, articles, things to learn or explore) for that year. Check in with it daily; add to it as it feels right. I love the idea of getting some of the images printed out and sticking them somewhere you can see daily. 
However you “vision” or whatever rituals you have for connecting to your truth or your dreams for the new year, I hope that they unfold beautifully.

Here is to living Inspired, Creative and Empowered
Heather



Hi! I am Heather Shafer and I am a certified Dream Coach, and Holistic Life Coach, and Inspirationalist! 
I believe that connecting to our deepest and most creative Selves is critical to living our best, most powerful, lives. 
My purpose in life is to learn to express myself fully and authentically, and to teach and inspire others to do the same. 
My website features inspiring stories, tips and ideas to help you live an Inspired, Creative and Empowered life.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah



The festival of lights begins!


May your days and nights be filled with peace.




I wish those who celebrate a very Happy Hanukkah!

❤, Lara


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Perfection is fatally uninteresting




photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson


Ah, perfection. One of my favorite subjects! I say that somewhat sarcastically, but it's definitely a subject with which I am familiar. Yes, friends, perfection and I go way back. We're old friends. You might think I'd look at is perfection as an enemy these days, but that'd be giving her more attention than she deserves.

These days, my relationship with perfection is subtle. I know she's still in me, and I meet her with appreciation for the lessons she's taught me. I no longer fight her. I know her well. I know how she shows up; what she feels and looks like. I walk hand-in-hand with her some days, and trust me friends, she is fatally uninteresting.

I've learned a lot about her. She's something I used to try to portray. You know how it goes... I'm great! All good! What can I do for you? (deflection is a very close friend of perfection)...


HOW BORING!  Think about the most interesting people you know.  I bet they never play the "everything's fine" card when that's not a true statement.  That's fatally uninteresting.  After all, NO ONE is perfect, so if I'm trying to appear perfect...  I just end up appearing shallow, even unreal.  Perfection is an illusion, and quite frankly, an exhausting waste of time!  

It turns out, those who love me, don't only love perfect me.  In fact, I think they might actually love perfectly imperfect me, even more.  I'm definitely more interesting, more real and more comfortable exposing my depth. Best of all, I'm more comfortable in my skin.  I'm better able to let go of that which doesn't serve me, and the craziest part is, I learned that I really like me.  Perfectly imperfect me.


Thanks for being on this journey with me.
❤, Lara


CLICK TO TWEET I'm with @KindOverMatter and @AnneLamott: #Perfection is fatally uninteresting.




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