Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Everyday Courage

Lately a number of people have been telling me that my positive energy rubs off. That means a LOT to me. It matters. I want to be a positive, loving force in the world. I even received a Love note from one of my colleagues half a country away! Wow.

I mean . WOW! that took courage for her to write and to know that I would receive it exactly the way she intended. Thank you KB!

It would be easy to assume that I was born positive or "up". I suppose that I was. I could self-amuse. Be made happy by stepping in a puddle or eating jello. Had parents who adored me. BUT...

If you knew me as a kid, a teen, a 20-something, you may or may not recall that I threw fits. I was a bit of a firecracker--prone to the odd explosion with so many things acting as matches. To say my moods were "up and down" would be understating it. A LOT. (Ask my sister: as teens,  I kicked her hard enough in the arm to break her wrist.)

Lucky for me, she forgave me and we love each other. Here's proof:

A few years later, a wise boss, Carol Hyams, told me that I needed to smooth myself out for the sake of others. She had seen me practically immolate a vendor over a difference of opinion. Carol later explained that not everyone wants their hair set on fire (or wrist broken)--that sometimes a breath, some empathy and gentle words are all it takes to stop the emotional backdraft and see the other's perspective. 


After that, I learned to pay more attention to the mercury of my interior world so that I could not only see inside or outside myself more clearly, but inside others. I got good at  inhaling oxygen away from my internal sparks so that they didn't ignite emotional dust bunnies or self doubt. I got a grip. And I got curious about how fear and love wrestle inside us. I became a lion tamer.

Still a passionate person, I'm also a lot easier to be around. I've learned to channel that  crazy tempestuous life-force in service to others rather than merely to light fires and watch them burn.

I am so lucky to have worked for Carol. That she had the guts and level of care to tell me the tough truth. That I could hear her because I respected and liked her tremendously (still do). Carol speaking her truth fundamentally changed who I became--who I am. Her courage changed my life. 

Now, that's a hero isn't it? A hero is someone who chooses to step into a dangerous situation for the sake of another's well being? Well, Carol is my hero. In a very real way, she saved my life with her everyday courage. Now, I am able to help others, and be a more positive force myself.

Are you noticing something that could really help someone else but you are afraid of telling them--don't want to hurt their feelings? Maybe consider how a little everyday courage could really transform things. Sure, they might get mad at you. But what if they really listen? What's possible then?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." Epictetus

These wise words come from a Greek slave who ended up teaching an emperor, Marcus Aurelius, about life. And almost 2000 years later, Epictetus' words are still true.

I'm playing the role of a bar tender in the play "Home is Where Your Dog Is," written by my friend and mentor, Doon Wilkins. Doon has infused the play with quotes from Epictetus with my character quoting the Stoic philosopher by way of giving patrons advice. 

Something I'm particularly enjoying is that Doon lives life according to many of Epictetus' philosophies--and it's starting to rub off on me. Over two years ago, Doon told me he was going to record his first music CD. He was in his late 60's at the time. He did it! 

Then, a year ago Doon told me he's going to write his first play. Then he did that too. 

He told me he was going to ask famous Canadian playwright, Norm Foster, to review the script to see if it's any good. It is. Norm Foster says, "very, very, very good." And Doon says we're shooting to win the one act play competition so that we can go to High River and compete. We'll see, but I expect we'll do, since the whole cast has already booked the dates in our calendars.

I started 2018 off with an mantra, "Plan. Do." I think the piece that might be missing in this recipe is "Vision the becoming." Makes me think of the wonderful art film "Beckoning of Lovely." about Amy Krouse Rosenthal magical 8.08.08 gathering in Chicago. 

Once you set your vision, and start yourself in motion, something wonderful is inevitable. Or as Epictetus says, "Know first who you are, then adorn yourself accordingly."