Friday, July 31, 2009

Tools for the Journey #3 - Backing up

Tonight, as I was reading through my first two blog posts, I realized I had not begun this blog with a context for my concept of gathering "tools for the journey". Some clarification at this point may provide readers with perspective about what constitutes a "tool" and how those tools can come to us.

Every person we meet on our path has a gift to share with us. Those gifts once seen clearly, become tools we can use on our journey going forward. They extend their hands and hearts, they exhale out to us, and as long as we are open we can discover what their gift is for us.

It is easy enough to think only the nice people we meet or the "good" things which happen are to be considered "gifts"...but if we don't get too caught up in labeling things as "good" or "bad", then we may be better able to see the "gifts" which can be hidden in plain sight even if they are disguised as something "bad". All of these things are gifts, and collectively they become our tools for the journey.

This blog is my way of sharing some of the gifts I have received along the way. The gifts of heart and wisdom we receive from our fellow travelers are the true and golden treasures of our journey; yet the heartbreaking things born out of our darkest moments - these too are "gifts" and are equally valuable as tools for the journey.

Once we learn to recognize the gifts, the tools, then the most important thing we can do is share. The best gifts get better when we share them and even if we do nothing more than share our gifts we will make a difference in the world.

My path has been dazzlingly rich with treasures and sharing is a way for me to "pay it forward". Perhaps among my "tools" you will find something of use. And just maybe as you read about my gifts, my tools, you will begin to have clearer eyes to recognize the gifts along your journey. If we each do this - passing our gifts and tools along hand to hand and heart to heart, we have the opportunity to create a sea of good ripples which will translate into a technicolor tidal wave of goodness.

A good friend of mine is always reminding me to take deep breaths. The thing I'd add to that is: Don't forget to exhale! Your inhale is the receiving, but your exhale is how you share your gifts, it is what you give back to the world.

Remember all you have to do to find the treasures on your journey is to keep your eyes, heart and mind wide open; and when you find them don't forget to share! Don't forget to exhale!

Here's to the journey!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tools for the Journey #2 - Navigation

When I was a young woman I had the amazing good fortune to spend time working along side R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (inventor, futurist and humanitarian – he is the man who coined the term, “Spaceship Earth”). During our times together Bucky gave me many “tools for the journey” which I still use today. One of the lessons I learned from him is about trim tab vs. rudder.

A trim tab is a small device on a ship’s main rudder which must be turned before it is possible to turn the larger rudder to change course. Fuller saw trim tabs as a symbol of the small but strategic acts which change the course of world events, and he devoted his life to trying to determine what a single individual like him (or us) could do to better the human condition that large organizations, governments, or private enterprises could not.

One of the things Bucky said to me when I was just 16 years old was: “If you learn well how to be a trim tab then you can grow up to be a rudder”. This message has stuck with me. It has provided perspective on countless occasions over the past 29 years since he said the words to me.

I’ve been thinking about Bucky’s lesson a lot lately in regards to my work and my life-journey. There are others who have gone ahead of me - they are the rudders – they are leading the way, cutting a path through the high seas. My job as a “trim tab” is to pay attention, stay open, and learn so I can extend a hand back to bring up another trim tab when I become a rudder. The rudder may seem to get all the glory, yet the trim tab is a vital part of the whole, the mechanism by which the rudder is able to turn, and thus chart a course to the far shore. Each plays a vital role in the process of forward motion.

In some arenas I am a trim tab, in others I am a rudder. I became a rudder by being diligent and bold even when I was terrified; by standing at the edge and staying open and receptive. In order to grow into being rudders we must be open to learning from those who have made the journey before us. Let your E-GO. (= ditch your ego), and let your Chi (energy) flow! And never forget as a “trim tab” you are a vital part of the whole. Consider where in your life you are already a rudder - be sure to acknowledge, encourage and support the the trim tabs around you. On your journey - if you are deeply committed to lifelong learning - you will alternate again and again between trim tab and rudder. Honor the circular motion. Celebrate duality. Light and dark, joy and sorrow, trim tab and rudder. It is the "death" of our trim tab self which must occur for our rudder self to be born.

Today celebrate your “trim-tabness”, and remember that one person (no matter how small) can make a difference!

Here’s to the journey!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tools for the Journey #1 - We begin

Everyone knows when you are preparing to climb a mountain you need to be sure to bring along good tools for the journey. My friend, Erik Weihenmayer has climbed all Seven Summits - these are each of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. There are fewer than 100 mountaineers in the world who have ever accomplished this goal. Erik is a master at packing tools for the journey. Oh, and by the way, Erik is blind.

Erik is a role model for me about not letting things stand in the way of my goals and my dreams. Erik lost his eyesight when he was thirteen years old but he never lost his vision of what he wants for his life...and he believes in the power of turning adversity to his advantage.

Erik asked: "How can you use your everyday adversities to make the undo-able do-able, to pioneer new possibilities so you can continue to grow and flourish? The first step is to select an adversity-rich, worthy challenge. It should stretch you in new ways and represent new possibilities, if achieved. It should be something which involves some kind of risk or resistance, and just the idea of completing it should make you tingle with excitement. The second step is to create a plan and then engineer the systems which will be the key to helping you reach your goal. The third step is to "Practice to Perfect" so you can make those systems work when they count the most." (From Erik's book: The Adversity Advantage

I began this blog as an exhale from me to the Universe (=you). Along the path I will share - with whomever is interested - some of the Tools for the Journey I am finding most useful. No one climbs a tall mountain alone; it takes a team. Together we can reach the summit (whatever that summit might be for you), and it is my privilege to be making this climb with any fellow traveler who cares to land here awhile, anyone who wants to break their journey for a short spell and hang here with me and ponder some of the "tools" we are collectively gathering as we travel.

When I am ahead of you I will reach back and give you a hand up. When you are in the lead please do the same, and together failure is not possible. And remember that if the mountains were smooth we could not climb them at all!

"When I look with my eyes I see what is there. When I look with my heart I see what is possible." - Cheryl C.

Here's to the journey!