Irrelevant Noise

As I tossed and turned throughout the night my mind raced over words, ideas, and the connection of  people in this world. It bothered me how easily people were led by the pied piper playing his flute. One by one they drunk his music following blindly without thinking that his manipulation was not for the common good but only for his gain.

We see it time and time again as history bound to repeat itself with charismatic leaders allow their followers to drink their poison. How does something like Jonestown? Or Waco happen? How do smart people follow without question? And when they do  question the person raising their voice in authority they submit only because that person raised their voice that much louder?

I finally dosed off after an hour of a racing mind and fell into a haze in where I was walking down a busy street. I was trying to drown out the nose to calm what was bothering me. My feet hit the pavement that much faster and harder trying to escape all of it.

One song became the background music as I rushed down those frenetic streets with no destination in mind. I knew it was time to move  away from the irrelevant noise  of the past because none of it was no longer my concern. If I listened any longer to the piper or the sorrow of the town it would only break my own heart.

How do you tune out the irrelevant noise?

The Distant Rumblings of an Avalanche

After we put the kids to bed for the evening we opened a bottle of wine and sat by the crackling fire. It was there we discussed our summer plans and enjoyed the smoky warmth of the cabin. It was only  in the distance we could hear the  faint sound of snow running off the mountainside.

DSC_0031

An hour later we heard a similar noise and this time the cabin began to shake for several minutes. We looked at each other, clutching our wine glasses,   in awe of the sheer force of the avalanche rumbling in the far distance.

It was one of those first warm springtime days which was the perfect condition for an avalanche in the area.  The sun had beat down its warmth  on top of the snowy peaks to grace us with its springtime beauty.

An avalanche is dangerous, its loud, and sometimes unpredictable. You never know which way the snow will run off the mountainside. Sometimes transitions in life are just as unpredictable but always for the better.

The sun has a quiet way of waking up the world and  it cues the changes of the season. Once the snow is shed from the mountain there is a welcoming beauty which is fervent for change.

What do you love about the arrival of spring?

Roger Ebert Challenged Us to Think About What Makes a Great Movie

RIP Roger Ebert: The Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic, who wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 45 years, died on Thursday, April 4, at age 70, after a long struggle with cancer. Two days earlier, Ebert had announced he was taking a “leave of presence” from his job, writing:

“What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved Rogerebert.com and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.”

Roger-red-seats

Ebert wrote in the introduction of his book, The Great Movies, “Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.”

My memories of Roger Ebert start from when I was a young girl, watching him spar on Siskel and Ebert at the Movies every Sunday afternoon. As a haughty young 11-year-old, I was always ready to question his judgement, and went into shock that Ebert never liked Dirty Dancing. I remember rolling my eyes and looking at my friend, “What does he know? I can’t believe he doesn’t like it? They consider him a critic.” Continue Reading at BlogHer

Keep It Simple

We were nestled in the back country over the Easter break with a small cabin, hearty fireplace, and a balcony which offered a view of the world.  On Saturday I took advantage of the warm sun and rented snow shoes for a rendezvous with nature.

snow shoe 1

“What trail is the best to do?”

“Trail? Just go out to the middle of the lake.”

“Well, is there a trail?”

“Yes. But you should just stay on the lake.”

“You need to avoid the avalanche run-off and the other trail is icy.”

“The lake is the perfect condition for snowshoeing and it’s beautiful. Keep it simple!”

I slid on my snow shoes and listened to the crackle of snow beneath my feet.  It felt like the perfect morning  as I wandered out to the middle of the lake admiring the spectacular views.

I was alone in the silence there was no chatter in my head, no noise coming from behind, just the sound of the birds in the trees as the warm sun began to beat down on my face.  It was by keeping it simple, avoiding the ice, that I was able to enjoy such a peaceful experience. Sometimes the least resistance can be the best path to take on the unknown journey.

How do you keep it simple?

What does a Nile Crocodile Have to do with Fear?

It was over two years ago my oldest son and I sat in the Houston airport reading “Consumed” it was about Hendrick Coetzee an adventurer who took his kayak through some of Africa’s most treacherous waters.  He lived for the adventure and died at the hands of a Nile  crocodile.

courage

As we read on with the story and the horror of his disappearance my son looked on with awe and wonder “Why would anyone do that in the first place?” It is a good question is it for the rush of adrenalin? The thrill? Overcoming your fear?

It was this past weekend we watched 60 minutes with Anderson Cooper and he went diving with Nile crocodiles.  My same son looked on “Why is he so close to that crocodile?  It’s staring right at him!” In our observation Anderson Cooper did not seem to be in fear of the crocodile but a curious onlooker in the depths of a ravenous reptiles den.

The parallel between these two men is they  both appear  fearless but how did they overcome that fear? We all have our own Goliath’s to face whether it be a Nile crocodile or the avoidance of something that affects our daily lives.  Malcolm Gladwell writes about the great battle of David and Goliath “When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.”

If the Nile crocodile was Goliath than Anderson Cooper would be David as he stared face first into the eyes of the carnivorous  reptile recognizing that he could get close because crocodiles can only look to the surface and second that they move much more sluggish in the winter.

Unfortunately, Hendrick Coetzee was on top of the water in his kayak which lead to his  tragic end  because a crocodile can always look up.  If you are floating  above the murky water  you never really know what is lurking in the depths of the current. Regardless, of how cautious you are when tackling Goliath there is still the unknown and the possibility of failure.

As a nervous Nelly the moment I see a snake I usually jump and run the other way. I am missing that one factor to be calm in the face of danger and am more apt to take flight.  This response comes from the fear centre of the brain which scientists attempt to examine the link between what makes some people run and others remain calm in the face of fear.

Scientific American points out, “People seem to have more than one way to work themselves into a panic. Contrary to a long-standing assumption of neuroscientists, humans can experience fear even when they lack the brain structure widely regarded as the brain’s ‘fear center’. ” As for many of us if something increases our anxiety such as swimming with crocodiles or playing with snakes we are more apt to avoid these dangerous situations.  The more we avoid our fears the more apt we are to view this as a failure and feed our fears more.

It is suggested in Psychology Today  that we need to expose ourselves to the things that make us anxious and tackle the problem head on. Such as the he more we expose ourselves to crocodiles the more apt we are to become more comfortable in their surroundings.

“On the psychological level, confronting your fear instead of backing down brings about a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Every time you confront your fear you gain power while your anxiety loses strength (I can tolerate it; it’s difficult but not impossible; it’s not the end of the world). Every time you confront your fear you accumulate evidence of your ability to cope (I did it yesterday; I can do it again today)”

It is this ability to cope which enables you to succeed in confronting your fears for better or worse in your life. What we can learn from adventurers such as Cooper and Coetzee? Perhaps, it  is that they both were willing to face their Goliath  in order to explore unchartered territories. If you can fail today and succeed tomorrow is that not  truly a life  worth living.  Sometimes even if we do fail in the face of fear is it still not a  life of one well lived and loved in each moment.

How do you tackle your fears? Or do you prefer to avoid what scares you?

A Year that Matters

I am going to be honest and reconcile that 2013 has not been the best year for me. I have been gritting my teeth, stalled in one place, and recognize that it is time to move forward on an unknown path. I have decided to move forward on this first day of spring as my New Year a renewal of who I am and who I will be in the future.

grassy lake

In Umair Haque’s short essay How to Have a Year that Matters he points that as we move forward we need to look beyond ourselves in order to live our life to the absolute fullest because our only enemy is time.

“Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.”

It is that enduring passion which breaks your heart because nothing has ever been created without some fear of rejection. The thought of believing in something so big but the whole time it never believed in you. Was it ever really your true North?

As I turn a page in the next chapter and celebrate my new year by staring at the bleak outside and know that soon the snow will melt, the cold will vanish. The sun will rise, the tulips will bloom, and the world will shine, again. I will discover my North Star with trepidation and excitement. I will follow it and let it guide me through the roughest times.

As Haque points out:

“For the simple, timeless truth is: You’ll never find the rapture of accomplishment in mere conquest, the incandescence of happiness in mere possession, or the searing wholeness of meaning in mere desire. You can find them only — only — in the exploration of the fullness of human possibility.”

It is from this day I forward I am going to use my ability to make the choice to live my life to the fullest potential and possibility.  It will be full of laughter, happiness, pain, rejection, and heartache.   It’s time to starting have a year that matters!

How do you have a year that matters?

The Expressive Leap: Blogging and the Personal Essay

Janet Steen examines the question “Have Personal Essays Gotten Too Personal?” in a quest to determine what is the truth and beauty of the personal essay.  In her article she points out the shift of the personal essay has transformed with the evolution of blogging.   Steen states “Blogs were an inevitable stage, and a useful one, but often they were narcissistic and ranty and you, the reader, had to sift through. A list of gripes does not necessarily make an essay, but a well-crafted, meaningful list of gripes might.”

winter wonderland

It is these well meaningful list of gripes that many of us sift through to discover the blogs that are gems and acknowledge that there is a truth to their writing. It provides meaning and sustenance in our daily lives.

One of the many diamonds  in the rough contribute each day whether it is a ranty post about poor customer service,  an inspirational post about a walk in the park, the political manifesto that your never thought of,  or a humourous look at motherhood.  All of these have helped to shape and transform our world and bring people one step closer together within the global community.

Janet Steen  points out “A great essay takes some little leap out of the ordinary, it has alchemy to it, it has magic.” It’s when you discover that hidden gem which makes blogging more interesting and exciting!  It is underneath that gem which holds a truth of what is beautiful and imperfectly human.

I have seen and read comments on occasion that suggest every Tom, Dick, and Harry seem to have a blog these days. It maybe true but the rubbish usually fades into the sunset while many bloggers seek to find their own truth through the words of their own blogs. They seek out to be better, to express themselves with eloquence, and shine on their own page.

Seth Godin, points out in his  short novel The Dip “The people who are the best in the world specialize at getting really good at the questions they don’t know.”  So perhaps as many bloggers throw in the towel there are many bloggers out there attempting to be the best by expanding their growth as writers and taking the time to seek out the truth.

It is by pushing ourselves to the limits that we create new expressive thoughts in personal essays.  As the world evolves, technology pushes us too new limits, our thoughts, and dialog will change. It is our role as bloggers to break the rules and seek the limits of discovering the truth through our own creative work. It is up to us to determine what is good and thumb our nose at the rigid critics who are unwilling to change with the times.

Do you attempt to take a leap out of the ordinary with your blogging?

The Life of a Crab Apple

Still-Life-With-Skull

The crab apple hangs from the tree just stuck there sitting and waiting for something to blow it out of the tree. It waits. It gets sour and cranky.

Maybe it needs to push itself?  It tries  to sway, back and forth before some greedy child climbs the tree to take a bite out of it.

The life of a crab apple is boring with the same thing day in and day out.  It waits. It becomes more sour. It is inevitable demise is the moment it gets worms and falls from the tree. After, that it turns into lifeless decay and rots into the ground.

Some days I feel like a decaying crab apple.

How do you shake the crab out of the apple?

Navigating Emotion and Creativity

Anne Kreamer points out in It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace the greatest things in life that bring us to happiness “are the things we chose to do.”  It is by recognizing our own power to choose  which helps navigating  how we control and choose to live our own life.

pearls before swine

As we navigate the day-to-day in life we attempt to build our emotional intelligence in order to move forward to accelerate our creative path. It important to recognize that sometimes people will not always get along and  many of us speak in different languages of communication. At the end of the day how you treat people and how you are treated affects the balance of how we feel in the workplace or at home.

It is by bottling up our emotions and not asking the right questions which can lead us to more stress in our lives and stifle creativity. The bottom line is we have the power to choose how we want to live instead of depleting our happiness quota.  The most important tool is to recognize your  own emotions and then move forward learning how to navigate the source of the conflict which may be bringing you down.

Anne Kreamer sums it up perfectly with the advice given to her from Anne Sweeney, the President of Disney/ABC TV on managing creative people “I think emotion is critical to the creation of content. I love people who unabashedly tap into their inner lives, because the people who dig deepest in their personal stories come up with the best things.” It is those things which propel us to be better and create for the joy of happiness.

Just as many bloggers share their inner lives they are at their best because they are able to tap into their emotions and dig deep coming up with thought-provoking posts. The best way for creative types to seek this happiness is to step outside of their surroundings and tap into the environment around them. It is by taking the time to go on a hike with your children, or a photo walk in a city which can lead to inspiration and new ideas leading to greater happiness.

What helps to fill your happiness quota? Is it breaking free from the routine and tapping into your creativity?

Reaching for Freedom

The other morning  I was listening to Jian Ghomeshi interview  J.K. Rowling about her new novel “Casual Vacancy” and she said something that struck me, “You have to be free to fail in this life.” She pointed out our creative work should never be an imitation of our previous selves and then we have to be willing to take chances in order to evolve in our work. 098

I know we are all destined to fall on our face from time to time but sometimes the fall is life’s greatest lesson.  We grow and learn from our mistakes which propel us to move forward to take the next chance, work hard, and embrace lady luck.

We have the freedom to move forward and know that there are a world of possibilities.

We all face challenges and obstacles but how we rise above these is the common testament to our strength, will, and creative spirit. So at the start of 2013 I will begin my 365 Day Blog Project and smile knowing that is one small project which may succeed or fail. But that  is all up to me!

Do you believe  a life well lived is one from learning from our failures?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,056 other followers