“There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
~ John Hightower
“Might, could, would — they are contemptible auxiliaries.” ~ George Eliot
Both of these quotes are talking about the same thing. The opposite of taking the middle of the road or dreaming about what you might-could-would do is having the courage to take the plunge, to go all in.
The photo was one I found on a stock photo site when I typed in “Courage”. It made me laugh. I can’t imagine what would go through a bird’s mind before taking that leap. And before you think, “It’s just instinct” — have you seen videos of crows problem-solving? One on FB the other day showed a crow dropping pebbles into a water bottle to raise the level enough his beak could reach. I’m not sure any of my kids would’ve figured that one out. 🙂
I’d love to hear a little story about courage you’ve witnessed or experienced—big or small. Comment for a chance to win a free download from my backlist of books!
“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”
~ Erma Bombek
I love that quote. Isn’t it soooo true? When my sister lived in Texas, she had a property in the country—and a white-as-hell carpet. You know where my kid spilled the grape juice, right?
I’m thinking about kids because school is back in full swing after Snowmageddon. Online, for our house. But there are Zoom meeting alarms set, homework to supervise. We’ll be busy.
The snow is melting. Yesterday, we had huge slabs of ice slide off the roof. It was dicey getting out the doors. There’s snow in patches, and “The Great Mudding” has begun. Towels are on the floor in front of every entrance for folks to clean off their shoes before coming inside.
I’m busy working on two sets of edits, plus charging back into my Work-in-Progress, Hardman—along with 20 items on my daily To Do list. Gah.
So, to the contest…
Tell me about your family’s “tests of courage” for a chance to win a download of your choice from my backlist of books!
“You can’t catch trout with dry breeches.”
I know. I love obscure quotes. I collect books of them. This one, to me, is funny. Not sure why. Maybe because I’m not a fisherperson. Still, it does make a point. You can’t catch this fish without wading into the water, getting your boots and pants soaked. An inconvenience, sure. However, those wet pants are also a badge to be worn with pride. You went “all in.”
So, why am I posting this? Because we all have moments when we can go all in or chicken out. We can choose the comfy sofa or do something to prove we’re part of life. I chose to be in the Army. When war broke out, I contacted everyone I knew to get a posting somewhere in the war zone. Why? Because I’d spent twelve years preparing for it and didn’t want to sit on the sidelines. I wanted to see it firsthand, with my own eyes. I got my wish. Fast forward eight years… When I decided I’d had enough of working in a cubicle and attending boring meeting after boring meeting, I decided I’d give writing a go. It worked for me. That choice could just as easily have led to failure, but I succeeded. Of course, I didn’t quit the day job until I was sure I had a fighting chance.
So, my question to you is what dive into the deep end of the pool did you take? Share for a chance to win your choice of a download of one of my backlisted books. I’ll choose three winners! When did you get your breeches wet?
The happiest of all lives is a busy schedule. ~Voltaire
I’m not sure that’s true. The thought of a slothful day sounds like heaven. Lately, because I have so much work on my plate, I rise around 6 AM to begin my days. I write down every little thing I want to complete in the order I want to complete them. None of that Steven Covey stuff about working on the highest priorities first because if I didn’t put “Shower” on the list, I’d forget!
Today’s list includes a shower, yes, and editing a certain number of pages, writing a certain number of pages, reading a certain number of stories, cleaning my desktop (my art supplies have overtaken its surface!), blogging, the daily art project, and many little administrivia things (phonecalls to be made, for example), and if I can get to it, vacuuming and mopping!
I like a list—even a long one. Today’s has 15 times! Checking off accomplishments is my nirvana.
A big Thank You to Delilah for the opportunity to write a guest blog!
I write about spirituality – some of it deeply traditional and some of it in the practical context of everyday life. Since we’re in the season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a story about GRATITUDE and how this simple practice worked some serious magic in my life.
George Lucas – the creator of Star Wars – referred to professor and spiritual guru Joseph Campbell as his “Yoda”. Campbell remains a favorite among the intellectual literati in spiritual circles, and his best-known one-liner is probably this one: “follow your bliss”.
This mantra sounds great when we’re stuck in a miserable place, but the truth about how it works is a bit more nuanced. Let’s start with the full quote by Campbell:
“Follow your bliss, and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls”.
There is perhaps no better context for this quote than when we seem to be stuck in a miserable job.
“That’s it!” we tell ourselves. “I need to get out of this awful place and do something that brings me joy – I’m going to follow my bliss!“
I know a number of people who have left a job to “follow their bliss” only to find themselves in a place of regret. I have learned that it’s a bit more complicated than just doing what feels good, which is – unfortunately – how Campbell’s quote is often interpreted.
Like most spiritual wisdom, the statement is at the same time complex and simple. To illustrate what I mean, I’ll share my experience with the concept.
A few years back, I left a position with a tech start-up to go into a much more traditional position in a government agency. I took a pay cut, went from working at home to driving into an office 5-days a week, and turned in the corporate Gold card and business class travel options. Some people thought I was crazy, but I had my reasons, and knew it was the right thing to do.
About a year and a half into this position, I was miserable with a capital M. The culture was old school bureaucracy, and there were many long-time employees whose favorite game was creating conflict. Many days it felt like the Hatfield & McCoy feud, and it was the place where I learned what the term “gaslighting” meant because I experienced it almost daily.
I was ready to admit that this career move had been a HUGE mistake and began to make plans to find a new position – ANY position away from these mean and spiteful people…except it wasn’t that simple.
One of the reasons I had come to this organization was to capitalize on my military time, and I had planned to at least stay long enough to secure my pension. Things had gotten so bad that I wasn’t sure I could even do that; but before I walked away, I decided to apply some of the spiritual tools I was writing about and teaching to others. If those didn’t work, another job was always an option.
In the darkest days, I found very little to appreciate, but I kept looking and doing my spiritual work. Finally, I settled on the fact that the store on the installation had fresh, cut-up fruit available every day. I was working on eating healthier and this little treat was a $2.17 way for me to stay on track – and it didn’t require me to do any food prep or remember to grab something from my fridge on the way out the door.
Each day on my break I looked forward to the strawberries, cantaloupe or grapes that I would find in the store and I focused my appreciation on this small piece of sanity during the workweek.
Soon after shifting my focus to appreciating the fruit, I realized that the culture – while still leaving a lot to be desired – at least encouraged people to walk at work. The campus is a lovely, suburban one where walking in decent weather is not only feasible but pleasant.
I kept my focus on being grateful for these 2 things, not letting myself descend into the misery that seemed to be all around me. I also discovered that the commute, while aggravating at times, was perfect for listening to audiobooks. Another plus!
My mood began to soften, and I decided one day to make a list of the people at this job who were positive additions to the experience, and I quickly had a fairly long list.
Now almost halfway into my 7th year in this job, I have achieved multiple awards, career recognition, and a stability in my position that I could have never foreseen in the depths of that darkness. Indeed, the Universe had opened doors where I once saw only walls.
The “bliss” I followed was not running off in a huff when things were going badly. I found it in small islands of good that I discovered when I opened myself to the possibility that they existed – even there.
While it is lovely to be able to walk into stores and see some of our favorite spiritual quotes emblazoned on t-shirts, coffee mugs, throw pillows, and more; we must take care to remember that these teachings are MUCH deeper than cute one-liners.
I did follow my bliss, and the Universe absolutely opened doors where there were once only walls – but it didn’t happen with me throwing up my hands and quitting in a dramatic, made-for-TV resignation. It happened when I spent time in quiet meditation, which helped me to see the great value in staying and securing my pension. It happened when I practiced the pivot, moving my energy and attention to all the positive aspects of the position and letting go of the negative ones. It happened when I focused on being grateful for the small things that were all around me.
Following our bliss is not a magic spell we can cast to transport ourselves from a tough situation to sipping cocktails on a white-sand beach. It is a process we can use to, one step at a time, transform the formidable walls in our path into doors that open to better experiences, happiness, and peace.
Wishing everyone a bountiful & blissful Thanksgiving weekend!
About the Author
Rebecca Harmon is a mother, grandmother, US Navy veteran, and keeper of cats who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A healthcare professional and educator, she maintains a blog on spirituality and enjoys speaking in front of large groups of people! She has self-published 2 non-fiction books about careers and the workplace: Discover Your Path – a map to job happiness and 7 Simple Steps – job satisfaction, any place, any time – both available on Amazon – and would love it if you dropped by her blog for a read, a Like, a Follow or a Share!
Follow Rebecca’s blog: A Practitioner’s Path Follow her on Twitter: @Practitioner2Be Instagram: PractitionersPath
Follow her professional journey on LinkedIn
“I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life as slick as a sonnet but as dull as ditchwater: I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone…” ~Tallulah Bankhead
Last night, my daughter and I heard a very loud whomp while we were sitting outside in the dark gossiping about our day. Spooked, my dd told me to go upstairs and tell her big, brave hubby to take his high-powered flashlight and see what it was. I did. I found him already asleep, so I turned on my phone battery and wandered out into the front yard, checking the gate, fences. No bear (we have neighbors with pics of bears going through the trash). No intruders (we’re on hyper-alert due to warnings to LEO families of random attacks). So no, I’m not afraid of things that go bump in the night like she is.
Three things I am afraid of…?
I’m afraid of being normal. (I know it sounds silly, but it’s been my thing my entire life. I never wanted “ordinary”.)
I’m afraid of losing a child or grandchild.
I’m afraid of heights.
Now, how about you? What three things are you afraid of?