Alphabet Soup …

Photographs from the world outside that offer a new perspective. Enjoy!

ACCOUNTABILITY
ac·count·a·bil·i·ty  (uh-koun-tuh-bil-i-tee)  noun
1. the state of being accountable,  liable, or answerable.

Origin: 1785–95; account(able)  + -ability

Accountability is a precious commodity that illustrates the difference between owning your life and letting your life be owned. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. So be mindful of how accountable you really are for your actions and your words. Don’t let someone else take the credit or bear the blame. Stand up and be accountable. You’ll be far stronger as a result, not to mention we’ll all look at you with admiration for your integrity and authenticity.

 

 

BEING
Be – ing  (bee-ing)  noun
1. The fact of existing; existence
2. conscious, mortal existence; life

Origin: 1250-1300; Middle English

Being. For human beings, we aren’t always comfortable with just “being.” In fact, we tend to work hard at “doing” so we can excise “being” from our awareness. It makes us squirm when we have to simply exist. We live in a fast-paced, break-neck world that tells us, every day, we need to do more, try harder, keep busy, multitask, and be superhuman. You want to advance, right? You don’t want to get lost in the dust, right? The world celebrates overachievers, right?

Before we know it, we’re somehow so good at “doing” that we’ve just about excised “being” from our awareness. And that’s when we find ourselves in danger of being lost on a storm-tossed current without any kind of rudder or anchor or North Star to ground us.

The dictionary defines “being” as existing, conscious that we are alive and have substance. I don’t know about you, but until I learned to stop “doing” and enjoy “being,” I was always moving, slipping and sliding along, doing what the world and the media said was what I should do. I was looking for meaning in the “doing” things and hoping that doing more would satisfy.

I never found it there. It wasn’t until I consciously stopped myself, slowed down, and learned to “be” that I found myself … in the “being” things. The enjoyment of shared moments, the listening moments, the quiet moments with my own thoughts, the enjoyment of nature.

I encourage you to learn to “be” rather than “do.” When you discover the contentment of being, you’ll infuse the “doing” things with meaning and purpose.

CHEAPSKATE
cheap-skate (CHEEP-skate), noun
a miserly or stingy person; especially one who tries to avoid paying a fair share of costs or expenses

I just got back from the AARP convention (I was an exhibitor … but also an attendee) in feisty New Orleans. That’s where I encountered author and speaker Jeff Yeager – although you might be more likely to have heard of him as the “Ultimate Cheapskate.” I liked his message so much I actually bought his book, “The Cheapskate Next Door,” which talks about commonalities among people who live happily and well beneath their means. And they do it because – gasp – they want to.

It’s the complete antithesis of the American way, isn’t it?

Now, Yeager’s cheapskate is different from the penny-pinching-money-hoarding-so-tight-he-squeaks-when-he-walks Scrooges of the world we all know and don’t particularly love. No, he’s talking about people who understand that “things” don’t bring happiness and that “living rich” means something entirely different.

“Cheapskates know that the best things in life aren’t things,” he writes. Things eventually lose their luster, but those experiences? Yeah. How we spend our time is what deepens the layers of value and meaning we hunger for in life.

Cheapskates look deeper than shiny surfaces for the stuff that truly matters. So, really, is that 72-inch TV or that brand new top-of-the-line SUV what makes you happy? Might it be, instead, the time you spend with others while watching TV or the conversations you enjoy while traveling somewhere?

There’s a difference, and it’s not particularly subtle. What it requires is that we be willing to change our perspective and challenge the expectations that pave the faux American Way.

D-1DARING
dar-ing (DAIR-ing), noun; adjective
n. 1. Adventurous courage; boldness.
adj. 2. Bold or courageous; fearless or intrepid; adventurous.

Origin 1575-85

Daring. It’s a bit reckless, don’t you think? It’s a romantic notion we can probably attribute more to James Bond movies than to anything else. There’s something about being daring that flicks the heart into overtime and puts the senses into high alert.

Daring adds excitement, a sense of being fully alive – and precisely because the very act of daring creates the tension of failure and loss, maybe even loss of life.

So if it takes daring to create a well-lived life, why do so few of us dare? Maybe it’s because we fear risking something so precious, yet we squander that very thing by keeping it on a leash, limiting our chances, our possibilities, the living that might just result when we dare to venture into the unknown, boldly and with courage.

Dare, I say. Dare to make a difference, to take a stand, to tell someone you love them, to reach across barriers, to venture into uncharted territory, to make mistakes, to try new things.

Dare to live, and live well.

E-1ENAMORED
en-am-ored (e-nam-ord), verb used with object
1. To fill or inflame with love (to be enamored of someone …)
2. to charm or captivate.

Origin 1350-1400; Middle English enamouren < Old French enamourer.

Oh, the romance of it all. To be enamored of a brilliant mind, of a beautiful woman, of a charming man. It’s the stuff of poetry, of Shakespearean sonnets, of modern-day writers spilling their souls to their beloveds.

It all seems so very flowery and a little soft-focused. When it comes to ourselves, there are usually more hard edges and primary colors.
So here’s a thought. Get past the flowers and the soft-focused romance and jump right in. Become enamored of something this year; take that plunge. Except, well, there’s just this one little thing.
I think you should become enamored of yourself.

Yeah, make 2013 the year of you.  Not in any narcissistic, self-indulgent way. I’m talking about really, truly loving who you are, respecting who you’ve been, and experiencing who you are becoming. Honor what makes you unique. Care for your own happiness, and embrace your own wisdom. Make good choices that hurt no one else but that are right and resonant for you.

The funny thing is this: when you love yourself – unconditionally with no strings attached – you’ll discover that the world loves you back. You’ll realize that there’s plenty of love to go around, and that you can’t keep it bottled up inside, anyway, so it bubbles out to others. You’ll find that you extend the same love and respect you have for yourself to family, friends, and, yes, even strangers.

What a difference that makes.

So do it. Become enamored of yourself.  Be your own valentine, and treat yourself like a treasured, important, well-loved person.

You know, there’s a reason the airlines tell passengers to take care of their own oxygen masks before helping someone else. Think about it.

F-fixedFLOW

(flô) noun, verb

n. 1. a steady, continuous stream of something; the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream.

v. 2. move along or out steadily and continuously in a current or stream; go from one place to another in a steady stream; proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly.

Origin: before 900; Middle English flôwen, Old English flôwan; Middle Low German vlôlien, Old Norse flôa.

In his book, Ripples of Wisdom, don Jose Ruiz writes:

When you stand in the river against the current, disappointed in what the river took away, you are stagnant to all the beautiful things that are flowing around you today. When you flow with the river, you are flowing with life. Imagine what you will catch if you are riding the current, flowing with awareness.

Positive psychology says we’re in “flow” if we’re thoroughly absorbed, completely focused, and single-mindedly immersed in what we’re doing. In fact, when we’re in “flow,” we generate a feeling of spontaneous joy, maybe even rapture, as we engage in the task at hand — when we are fully “in the moment.”

Don Jose’s words capture the wisdom of living today, or in the “now,” as author Eckhart Tolle says. The past? It’s gone. It’s no longer true. Sure, it happened, but it’s no longer true for us in this moment, today…now.

And the future isn’t true, either. It’s not here yet and it never really gets here … because when it does, it’s the present, the moment, the “now.” We never reach the future because it’s always unattainable.

Yeah, the concept tends to boggle the mind a bit.

So the wisdom don Jose imparts in his meditation is this: we always have what we only ever have — the present moment. He suggests that we flow with the river, ride the current, and stay aware in the moment.

I think that’s excellent advice

GGRATITUDE
Grat – i – tude (grat-i-tood), noun.
1. the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

Origin: 1400–50; late Middle English

So, I’m all about gratitude. I think if we have a grateful heart, if we look for the good rather than the bad, if we reflect on what’s positive inside the negatives — we come to a place where we begin to regularly focus on positive things. And when that happens — when we look purposefully for what there is to be grateful for — then we attract that to ourselves.

Try it. Before you close your eyes in sleep tonight, cull through the day’s experiences and activities. Find one or two things that happened that you’re grateful for. Write them down.

Do it again the next day. And the next. Do it for at least 31 days in a row. Then stop and analyze how you feel. Are you happier? Have you attracted positive things to yourself? Is negativity a little less bothersome? Do people seem friendlier?

Don’t think of it as a Pollyanna activity, because I assure you there are days when nothing comes to mind when you cull through the day. Some days are hard. It’s a challenge to find gratitude in times of stress and duress. But when you can do that, you know you’ve touched the heart of gratitude, and you really get it. Watch for the magic.

h - B&W-webHOUSE
hau̇s, noun
1. a building in which a family lives; 2. the people who live in a house
Origin: before the 12th Century; from Middle English hous and Old English (and Old High German) hūs.

We’re building a house. I can only describe the process (so far) as putting two alpha dogs named Exciting and Scary in the same small space. They either learn to get along or it becomes an untenable situation. I’d like to think we’re training those two to co-exist peacefully.

If you think about it, “house” is a little antiseptic. It’s just a building or a thing where people (or animals) take refuge or are kept. It’s pretty hard to look at a building you’ve not settled into and call it “home.” So right now that word – house – fits. Sometime after October “house” will morph into “home.” It may take weeks or it may take months.

And I think that’s really appropriate. The building of a house is a fairly sterile process filled with logic and math and technical skill. The creation of home, however, is an entirely personal and subjective process. It’s a mental exercise, a shift in perspective, a sense of comfort and ease. I look forward to that process, but for now, “house” will do.

HOME
hōm, noun
1. the place where a person lives. 2. a family living together in one building, house, etc.
Origin: before the 12th Century; from Middle English hom and Old English hām.

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