Do Bold Things

bold sloth

“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” -N.M.

Have fun being adventurous and brave. Be a bold sloth. Show the world you are curious and loving. Push boundaries. See what there is to see. Feel what there is to feel. Know your life is precious. Use it wisely.

[Quote by Niccolo Machiavelli, and cute sloth by Paige Danielson.]

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The Dream is Real

janet hill dog bedroom

Life is so interesting. Thinking back to when I was a child, I would have never guessed who the loves of my life would be, or who would be my most impactful teachers. I assumed they would be intuitively wise sophisticated elders, or stern well educated city dwellers, or wildly artistic daring characters, or soft spoken compassionately sensitive environmentalists. I’ve had a little bit of all of that. But one thing I never guessed, is that they would be rescued animals.

Before animals came into my life (I’m speaking of the furry kind), I was loving and learning from the nature landscape. From all aspects of it, but especially from the wind. I had something special going with the wind. I found it loving, unpredictable and exciting. I loved the way it surprised me, by catching me off-guard and gently tickling my skin. It also made me laugh, when it would take crazy-control of my hair and make it look silly. I liked the sound of the wind passing through trees, like melodic paper wind chimes. And the most magical… to watch it make things come alive and dance; to be lifted up, gracefully float, drift, twist and whirl, or race off into the distance.

I still adore the wind, but I don’t pay it as close attention as I used to. At the moment, I love the feel of my chihuahua’s fur. And the sound of her breathing, grumbling and dreaming (she makes noises when she dreams.) I love the way she can sit and happily do nothing for hours. She’s happy to just be. I also like to watch her discover new things and get excited, like when she discovered the vast grass field across the way, or random stinky smells on downtown streets. She reminds me of what it means to be alive, and to focus on the little things. The things that aren’t really little — like love, light, air, sound, touch. The things I often take for granted.

Some time ago, I think last summer, I came across the work of Janet Hill. In particular, I was attracted to her animal paintings. They seemed like such a fun fantasy, a wonderful daydream to have. It never occurred to me that someone could actually live that way, in real life. Then I found Wolfgang2242 on Instagram. I felt like I found a wellspring of hope for dreams. His instragram account was so full of a real life that I never imagined possible. I’m sure there are other people living this way, but I’ve never personally met them or seen their life captured so intimately in photos. (Side note: I’ve visited eclectic animal sanctuaries in the country, but never in the city, not in this way.)

Wolfgang2242’s name is Steve Greig. He has ducks, chickens, lots of dogs of various breeds and sizes, a pig, a rabbit, and I’m sure more that I haven’t accounted for. They all live happily together — in a beautiful conventional home, in a metropolitan city. From what I can see, it seems like a seamless bunch. All of the animals are rescues (mostly seniors, some with special needs, many with tragic pasts.) When looking at Steve’s photos, it’s like looking at a carefully (and lovingly) pieced-together puzzle. Small pieces and big pieces, fitting into each other, unpredictable pairings that make a complete and unforgettable picture.

When I look at Janet Hill’s art or Steve Greig’s photos, I feel at home. I feel like I understand. And I feel a sense of relief, like anything is possible, and everyone is free to live and love.

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book titled Big Magic, she talks about finding your true work, your purpose or life calling. She says that with everything exciting and rewarding, there is a price to pay. For every calling/craft that appears like a suitable adventure or purposeful work, there is a “shit sandwich” that you will have to eat. It comes with the work you’ve dedicated yourself and your life to. If you don’t like the taste (or the hassle) of this particular sandwich that comes with your work — don’t take it on. (These aren’t her exact words, I’m just giving you the gist of her point.)

There is no doubt in my life that Steve’s life is a TON of work. There is no doubt that family members and close friends tried to convince him to not take on such a big responsibility and expense. I’m sure on many occasions (like when Englebert went missing for 36 hours, the littlest of the crew, a teeny chihuahua with special needs), Steve must scratch his head and wonder if his heart can take the burden of this much love, worry and responsibility. My guess is all Steve has to do is think of the rewards. All the moments of joy, laughter, beingness, closeness, contribution and insight the animals have brought to his life. He also knows he is making a choice in how it is all orchestrated. Much is up to him, but the unpredictable moments, the more than challenging times, must come along as well.

There are things in everyone’s life that makes perfect sense to them, but to others looks extreme, burdensome or unknowable. The life of a firefighter fighting fires, or a woman eager to birth/adopt children, or an ice skater spinning, or a writer alone in the woods, or a man taking in an abundance of rescued animals… it’s all people in their element. It’s all people diving into the best life possible for them in that moment. We all have something like that. Something that comes at a price, but is more than worth the effort. The trick is to be honest with ourselves. To ask ourselves and answer honestly: What brings tears to my eyes? What moves me emotionally? What makes me smile? What lights me up? What do I dream of? What feels uniquely mine? What do I cherish more than anything? What do I want to be remembered for? And after that, ask yourself if you will gratefully eat all that comes with it, the good and the bad. And if your answer is the same… then that my friend, is your life work. Go for it. Embrace it fully. Live and breathe it… and never look back.

wolfgang instragram

pig as pet

chihuahua movie night

wolfgang2242 denver

dogs at dinner table

duck in car

instragram Wolfgang

Irish wolfhound rabbit

rescue chihuahua

small dogs in winter coats

Wolfgang dogs instagram

janet hill art

glamourous dog walker JH

irish wolfhound JH

winter clothing for small dogs JH

bicycle dogs JH

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BJ Miller: What Really Matters

BJ Miller

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Alan Watts: Conversation with Myself

alan-watts-nature

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From The Inside Out

What I know

What I know is that living close to friends and family, owning a beautiful home, having children or pets, earning an academic degree, being busy with a well-paying career, wearing top-notch clothing, owning the best gear, sporting a fit body or claiming someone as your life partner… does not equal health, well-being, fulfillment, a passion for life or true purpose. It does not equal happiness. I’m very much a believer that life is best lived from the inside out. Meaning; your greatest investment of time, money and energy is best spent on that which can never be taken away.

For everyone it’s a little different, so I can only speak for myself. The happiest times of my life were always the simplest. They were the times when I was most simple, totally present, gracefully aware, tenderly compassionate, extremely dedicated, playfully curious, vulnerably humble, completely open or bravely honest. These moments could have been with me alone or with anyone. What makes them/it special is the connection and the aliveness of the moment.

Here are a few examples that apply to happy/fulfilling experiences I had over the last week or so…

Over the winter I tried to preserve some of my summer garden. To my pleasant surprise, much of it survived! But what made me most happy, wasn’t that things were still green or still growing after a bitterly cold season — it was the feeling of my hands in the soil, digging and being part of the ongoing process. I loved feeling intimate with my garden plot, bending over, digging things up from winter, planting new seeds for spring and seeing the aliveness and magic in nature. It wasn’t having the garden that made me happy, but the feeling of being present to life — to the aliveness of myself and the aliveness of the soil, and actually connecting with it, fully.

My dog Pen-Pen is the sunshine of every morning. When I wake up, it’s like she hands me my smile. It’s as if she is the reason I am happy. But I know in my heart that she is my reminder to be happy, and grateful, and loving, and generous. It’s her aliveness that reminds me of my aliveness. But I wouldn’t be able to see this or appreciate it fully, if I was in a rush or lost in my thoughts (or daily to-do list.) The reason I experience this so much from/with her, is because I slow my/our moments down. I take the time to be fully present with her (which is also being fully present with myself.) I take time to simply be with her, which is taking time to simply be.

The same can go for my body. Whether it’s fit as a fiddle or in need of work, it’s so easy to take it for granted (like any other relationship.) But when I am good to it, and I see how amazing and alive it is — that’s when I experience health and happiness in my body. I feel my eyes magically open in the morning, or I feel the strength of my legs carry me for miles, or I see the deft capabilities of my fingers — it’s all a big wow! And what could be more amazing than my heart beating without me asking it to? Or my lungs breathing me, fulfilling my needs and taking care of me? How loving and marvelous is that? Why would I ever want to take that for granted or not be good to my body/self? Yet, it’s so easy to do.

So as you can see with those three examples, it’s not the body, the companion or the garden that makes me happy — it’s the presence, openness and attention I have when experiencing those things. The same can go for your home, friends, careers, finances — whatever you like! Those things are best lived from the inside out.

As many of you know, I’ve studied/taught/practiced meditation for a long time. I think meditation is very helpful for learning mindfulness, or what presence looks like as a structured practice. A designated time or place to meditate is great. But the real practice comes when you don’t bring a meditation practice into your life, but your life into a meditation practice. Instead of having an hour that you are fully committed to presence — I think a bigger, more fulfilling practice would be having a life where ongoing presence is the priority and goal.

I can definitely say that I want a fitter body, a better home, a bigger income, an exciting career, and even another dog! I do! Why wouldn’t I? All of those things sound fabulous! But more than that, I want full presence and deep appreciation for what I already have (whatever it may be.) I want to feel fully alive and full of glee, from the inside out. It’s the way I want to spend my time with all that I have and all that I love. To me, that’s a good life. It’s also a good daily practice. It’s something that can never be taken away and can forever grow within me.

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Robert Greene: The Utility of Weirdness

robert_greene

I know I bombarded you with a bundle of videos last week, but this week I have one more. It’s Robert Greene answering questions asked by Tom Bilyeu of Inside quest.

“There will never be anybody who is wired like you are wired. And the problem is, as you get older, you become more and more like other people… You are not in tune with something really special; and I like to use the word weird, because I think weird is a good word. There is something weird about you! It could be bad, but it could also be really good, you know? And your not mining that weirdness. You are letting it go, and you are becoming a copy of other people…” — Robert Greene

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School of Greatness

lewis howes

lewis howes

Who doesn’t love Lewis Howes? He’s got to be the cutest and sweetest guy on television. Well, not quite television, but I consider Youtube my TV. As I mentioned before, I’m a fan of a few shows on Youtube. I gravitate towards educational videos and positive shows that feature inspirational people. So of course I stumbled upon Lewis Howes’ show called School of Greatness. (Which is also a podcast on iTunes and a book available on Amazon.) There are many great episodes that I could share with you, but I’ll post a few that I really enjoyed.

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Filed under inspirational books, inspirational shows, sunday is for lovers