Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

“Be a fountain not a drain.”

Rex Hudler

 

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Shower those you encounter with enthusiasm, kindness, compassion, empathy, and love.  Submerge your projects in focus and passion.  Drown the obstacles in hard work and persistence.  Be the spring around which people congregate, and provide them with beauty and serenity.

 

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Genius is eternal patience.

-Michelangelo

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Michelangelo, the world’s best known sculptor, was commissioned to paint well over 5,000 square feet of frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  The project required him to learn the technique of buon fresco, the most difficult type of painting undertaken by only the masters, and challenged him to learn to paint perspective correctly on a curved surface 60 feet above the viewer.  Besides these challenges, it was truly an exercise in patience.

He did it mostly by  himself.  Sure, there were assistants to carry his paints up and down the scaffolds, but most of the brushstrokes were his own.  He painted for four years, bent over backwards and painting over his head.  The master complained that the project forever ruined his vision.  500 years later, all who visit the chapel stand awestruck for a few minutes to soak up the splendor of the work.

You’re going to lose your patience this week.  You’ll sit in traffic or get put on hold for hours.  Your computer is going to freeze, probably before you remember to hit ‘save’, and your boss is going to give a ridiculous and tedious assignment.  Your baked potatoes will take longer to bake than you expect.  The check out line will be too long.  Your kids will need to use the bathroom when it’s time to get on the bus.  But if you can take a deep breath and keep it together, your patience might lead to a stroke of genius.

Have a great week everyone.

-rge

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“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

–Marcus Aurelius

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  You figure most people eat dinner around seven and lunch around noon.  So if you skip the Wheaties, it could be 17 big hours before you break the fast.  That has all kinds of consequences for your metabolism, your focus, and your ability to be effective throughout the day.  I’m not a huge breakfast guy, but I’ve heard nutritionists say that even a glass of water and anything, be it an oreo or a slice of cold pizza, is better than nothing.

Well when I say I’m not a breakfast guy, what I really mean is I’m not a morning guy.  My mind comes alive around 11pm.  I wish I had been allowed to go to class or were now allowed to work from like 5p-2a instead of 9a-5p, because I’m a completely different person.  But just like breakfast, I’ve found that starting your day off with some positive thinking in the morning can be a game changer.  Why wait til lunch?  17 hours is too long to go before you remember to think positively.

One thing I’ve recently started enjoying in the morning is to get on my bike trainer and spin for a short workout in the morning.  I’m normally a runner, but there’s no way I’m going to the park for a run and getting back in time for work.  I can stumble to my bike, turn on the news or a new episode of Breaking Bad and just spin and sip on my water bottle for 15 or 20, even 40 minutes in the morning.  Feeling my heart beating, my lungs expanding, and the sweat beading on my skin gets my mind going on the right track.  Rather than rushing just to get a shave and make sure my shirt is on the right way, working out gives me some time to think about what I’d like to accomplish in the day.  It makes me think of what went wrong yesterday and how it’ll go differently today.  Honestly, it’s completely changed how my day feels, and I actually look forward to getting out of bed a little bit, even on Mondays.  Maybe the best benefit is that when I get home from work and it’s raining or I need a nap, I don’t feel bad about missing a workout that day.  And if I do make it for a run, it’s like a two-a-day.

I’ve also started trying to keep a journal in the morning, or before bed.  I don’t like writing in it very much, it’s a little too Alex Mack.  But sometimes it’s good to get all my thoughts down and be able to look at them in an organized page rather than scattered through my head.  It’s also good to be able to look back at what I was thinking about a few weeks ago.  It helps me to see what I was thinking about that was important, and what was unimportant, so I can be not sure not to think of those things anymore.  Maybe for you, taking a few minutes to meditate or pray will help you greet the sunrise each morning.

I don’t know what will get you to start your day off on the right foot.  Maybe it’s reading on the porch while you enjoy your coffee.  Maybe you just need to add some craisins to your oatmeal.  Whatever it is, don’t wait until Noon to get your mind full of good thoughts and your belly full of good food.

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“We don’t live in our fears, we live in our hopes.”

Mike Tomlin

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I like Mike Tomlin as a coach.  The guy is 41 years old and has coached in two Superbowls, including a victory.  When Tomlin is on the sideline, he’s intensely focused;  another quote attributed to him is “Be where you’re at.”  Live in your moment.

Coach Tomlin can be tough on guys who make mistakes and can flash a healthy smile when things are going his way.  But what I really like about him is that he isn’t afraid to shake things up if the Steelers’ performance is less than stellar.  Playing .500 football isn’t the Steelers’ way, and some stars were held accountable and let go after last season’s lackluster finish and replaced by some young talent.  There are a lot of teams (including one across the state) where that kind of objective first attitude wouldn’t fly.

I like the quote for this post, because Tomlin isn’t afraid to do what it takes.  He is talking about the way that life manifests itself around what it is that we focus upon.  Are you focused on what could go wrong?  What you don’t know?  A risk? A challenge?  Are are you focused on the end?  That goal? A dream?  Your hopes?  Put yourself there, and live in it.

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“When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it. ”

— Boris Pasternak

It has been a while since I found myself at the helm of this blog. I’m sure the last thing you would expect from the optimist is feelings of guilt, but two weeks have gone by without a post, so here I sit, ready to make amends. You can imagine there is a reason, and here it is: in the past two weeks of my life, I have moved my entire life for a new teaching job, found a place to live, moved my entire classroom, begun unpacking in both places, obtained a new car and drove 1,200 miles in those two weeks. I tell you all of this because within the chaos and movement and craziness that have been the past 14 days, I have found something special within myself. It is a sense of recognition. A new vision and the ability to listen for life’s great moments.

For the past two weeks, I have been waiting for a “hiccup”. A stumbling block. The “catch.” With all of the good that came along, I knew it was good. It felt good to see “good” coming my way. I worked my behind off and it came to fruition. But you just never know if the “good” while find its way downhill.

Believe it or not, with all of the good I wrote about, there wasn’t anything to counteract it. Sure, there was stress. There were tears, breakdowns, and doubts that began to creep into the most trying times. I’m smart enough (and realistic enough) to know that life is not perfect. Mine is no exception. I asked myself, colleagues, and close friends alike. They helped me to come to terms with the fact that these wonderful moments were simply that… GOOD things happening. It was hard-fought, it was long sought-after, and it was meant to be good. Perhaps the reason I was so worried about this “great moment” and all the moments that crammed themselves into that short time was my inability to see the good without looking for the lurking, ever present “not-so-good.”

These long-awaited moments snuck up on me. The ferocity with which they made their entrance left me stunned. When something this big happens, we expect to see it coming for miles and miles, The greatest moments in life find a way to lie in wait for the right time. They listen when we do not. They follow us, echoing our hopes. The fill our soul and our heart. They become the beat that we follow as we dance through life. Before we know it, we are right in the middle of the greatest moment we can imagine.

The great moments do not come by accident. We do also not stumble upon them by accident. We need to learn to listen for the gentle knock of great opportunities. The calm we use to listen more closely to our opportunities will bring calm to the rest of our lives as well.

Life is knocking. Calm your inner voices and feel the pulse of life like you would your own heart beat.

Life is calling. LISTEN. 

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“All we can do is try and live like we’re still alive.”

— Chasing the Sun, Sara Bareilles

It should come as NO surprise to you that I am posting yet another Sara Bareilles lyric. Take note that this will be the last one for a while to save you from becoming overloaded.

I’m a sucker for any song that starts with piano. You should know that from the get-go. I knew from the start I would like this song. I couldn’t imagine that the lyrics would have such a profound effect on me each and every time I hear it. It reminds all of us that we need to savor each day we are given. It reminds me that in an everyday, simple moment we can be reminded just how lucky we are to be HERE, right NOW. I sat back, loving the highs and lows of the melody and then it hit me– my favorite line.

“And the gift of my heartbeat sounds like a symphony…”

Find a tune to sing or the song in your heart and dance with life. Live your life embracing each note, each rest, each beat of your own heart.

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