Live Your Verb

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Reinventing Yourself

“The truth is that you have the time for anything you’re absolutely committed to.”

- Wesley Goo

 

We’re almost a month into the new year, which is just long enough for most of us to start falling off that New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon.

Wesley Goo says that most of us fail at reinventing ourselves and keeping our resolutions because we bring last year’s version of ourselves into this year – and that’s not a recipe for success. Here Wesley talks about the five most common patterns we fall into that prevent us from reinventing ourselves and becoming who we want to be, or accomplishing the goals we want to meet.

Which pattern do you tend to fall into? How are you going to commit to making your resolution a reality? Tell me below.

 

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Silence Is the Residue of Fear

Our voices can be our most powerful resources or our worst downfalls. Take four minutes to be reminded why you should always – always – use your words, speak clearly, tell your truth. Silence is heavy; words take flight.

 

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Make good art. And a good life. And interesting mistakes.

Neil Gaiman is an English author of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics and drama. His prestigious awards include the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. In the video above, he shares his insight into failure, success, art and work.

 

My two favorite takeaways from Neil’s speech were “Make good art” and “Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.”

Make good art. First, don’t you love it when just a few words are meaningful enough to take and run with as a life motto?

And even if you’re not an artist by trade or hobby, these words still apply to you. Yes, he’s talking about art, but what he’s really talking about is focusing on the work you’re doing – what you’re producing and how you’re using your passions – rather than the paycheck in your pocket.

Neil adds, “If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.” Yes. That. Because isn’t the work the important thing anyway? Shouldn’t income be the result of pursuing what we are deeply passionate about? Shouldn’t income be a byproduct of investing our time and talents where they will reap the most benefit for both ourselves and others? I’m not just referring to financial benefit here; I’m referring to those intangible goodies like fun and inspiration and mastery of that one thing we never, ever tire of – you know, our passion.

What if the thing you spend the most time doing is the thing you enjoy most, and you just figure out a way to make a living at it? Wouldn’t that be grand? I’m convinced that basing our goals off of what we have passion for, and then spending our lives doing that thing, is the recipe for happiness. I know, I know: my naivete is showing. So is my hippie artist.

But consider this: what if we’re doing it all backwards? Most of us wield our sensible like it’s the only option we have. We choose the right school and the stable, lucrative career in hopes that it will garner enough profit to enable us to spend our tiny bits of free time on our passions. Except that we’re usually too busy advancing – in school, in work, in the race against the Joneses – to maintain a commitment to those passions. They become dusty pictures on the mantle and nostalgic, remember-when conversations over beers on Saturday afternoons… (If you’re nodding right here, guess what? Your sensible is showing.)

So what if we did the opposite? What if we chose our passions as our priorities and we tried to excel at them much as possible? What if invention and inspiration and good old-fashioned poetic stuff held more importance than money? They certainly hold more meaning, don’t they? What if we fed our souls instead of our bank accounts?

Which do you want to show, your sensible or your passion?

And the other one: Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.

I envy those young, buoyant folks I meet that are already settling comfortably into their own oddball skins and speaking their minds, that have found their “thing” early on and have started chasing it before they reach the age where sensible choices and everyone else’s voices take the wheel. Congratulations, kiddos.

As for the rest of us, well… Remember that finding our own voices is a process, a journey; it rarely comes from some sort of epiphany or innate microphone of the soul. It has taken me some wrong turns, heartbreaks, college major-hopping and religious conversion to find my own voice. The only epiphany-like clarity I’ve had along the way has been moments of, “wait, what the hell have I been doing?!? This can’t be right.” If your journey has been smoother, I envy you, too. Feel free to take your place beside the sure-voiced kiddos.

But, really, I don’t envy you. The upside of trying to sound like all those other people before is that there won’t be any second-guessing now that I’ve started using my own voice. Trying to fit into the chorus of shoulds for so long made it clear that my voice doesn’t harmonize well with the They (They say. Oh, do they? Good for them.) or the Joneses or whoever else isn’t, uh, me.

That’s the big problem with this world of technological ease we live in. Everyone has a page, a platform, a profile, an app. Everyone has a voice. It gets loud sometimes. It gets hard to hear ourselves… No wonder we struggle to find our own voices.

The flipside of this is that we have a page, a platform, a profile, an app. We have the world at our fingertips, literally.

Remember that art we were talking about earlier, that good stuff we’re making? We can use our art in any way and any place we choose. We can share it and post it. We can edit it with free software. We can learn about it with free educational tools. We can combine it with someone else’s good art, even a someone who is halfway around the world that we’ve never met. Now that’s having a voice.

The important part is to make sure that what we’re making and what we’re saying is ours. That’s the sweet spot. That’s when we become our own art, when we figure out that we are the good stuff.

Now, as Neil says, “Go, and make interesting mistakes.” And good art, of course.   

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Where is Home?

Writer Pico Iyer talks about finding a sense of home in the modern world.

 

 

Home. Such a delicious word. I’ve been rolling it around on my tongue as long as I can remember, romanticizing the idea of it someday holding an intimate truth for me instead of just being an idea. Even as a small child, I was hyper-aware of everyone else having a Home and of me not really having one. I was shuffled around a lot. I always had a bag packed. I slept on other people’s couches and in their guest beds, in hospital lobbies and patient room chairs. I didn’t reach a place of thinking, ‘I can settle here. This is mine.’ Because soon I would be somewhere else.

I still haven’t reached that place of Here, Mine. The nomadic shuffle of my early years has carried on through adulthood as I have moved through a series of roommates and boyfriends and more roommates. There are places that have felt familiar, yes, but never Here, Mine. Never Home.

I have tasted little bits of Home, tried it on for size when I could – mostly in dance studios. I grew up taking ballet classes six days a week, and the studio became the closest thing to a home that I have ever had. What I have always loved most about ballet is that it is a universal language; I can walk into a ballet studio anywhere in the world and the steps will be the same, the basis of technical requirements will be the same.  There will be cold floors, smooth barres running along the walls, huddles of dancers stretching and pulling on knit legwarmers before class, the tinkering of a pianist warming up his hands. No matter where I am, there can always be a ballet class. What a lovely idea. It is always the same. It is a sort of home.

In the TED Talk above, Pico Iyer talks of finding oneself – and realizing one’s home – through a balance of stillness and movement. I have mastered the movement to some extent; I am accustomed to living in a flux state, ebbing and flowing with the tides. But I have always longed to be still, to feel still. Maybe this is why I became a dancer in the first place – by doing so, I found a way to create some consistency in all that movement, a way to stay upright in the currents.

It took me a very long time to realize I had the option to control this life of perpetual motion. That I could speed it up, slow it down, surrender and let myself be carried along, or learn how to navigate and steer it all in the direction I want to go. I am learning when to hold tighter and when to simply open my palms and be carried. It’s a fine art of having faith in my center, even when I am off-balance – which is, of course, another lesson from ballet class. There is more to it than creating my own momentum; I also have to be able to harness that momentum, make it work for me instead of being led by it.

Iyer says, “Movement was only as good as the sense of stillness you could bring to it to put it in perspective.” Even in movement, the center is necessary. Even in flight, the idea of Home is steady ground.

I haven’t found my sense of stillness; I haven’t found my Home. But I have faith that I will find it eventually, buried amongst all the other things in the center of my being.

I realize now that maybe Home will never be a place for me to settle and plant roots, or a person to come back to at the end of the day. Maybe Home will just be the sweet calm that I feel when I learn how to let the strongest currents wash over me without eroding any of my faith. Maybe finding Home will be nothing more than finding a stronger sense of myself – learning to create roots the same way I have created wings, learning to find and hold onto faith the same way I find and hold onto my center, learning to ignite an internal stillness the same way I propel my body into motion. Learning the balance. Because that’s what Home really is: the balancing point.

“And home, we know, is not just the place where you happen to be born; it’s the place where you become yourself.”

- Pico Iyer

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Unless…

In this TEDx video, Larry Smith, a Professor of Economics with a keen storytelling ability, will tell you why you won’t have a great career. Why on earth would you possibly want to listen to him say that? Because if you listen closely, he’ll also tell you why you will have a great career…

 

“Why would you seek refuge in relationships as your excuse not to find and pursue your passion? …You know why you get all warm and fuzzy and wrap yourself up in human relationships… It is ’cause you’re… afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail.”

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Nine Life Lessons From Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin shares his philosophy for leading a good life while being awarded an honorary doctorate by The University of Western Australia.

 

“Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic… and then there’s love and travel and wine and sex and arts and kids and giving and mountain climbing, but you know all that stuff already. It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one meaningless life of yours.”

 

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Downward Dog: An Italian Guy and A Chihuahua Do Yoga

Yoga is healthy for everyone, even dogs. Take a moment to laugh and watch this chihuahua center his body, mind and spirit.

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The Time You Have (In JellyBeans)

“So what are you gonna do with this time? How much of it do you think you’ve already used up? If you only had half of it, what would you do differently? What about half of that?

How much time have you already spent worrying instead of doing something that you love?”

- Ze Frank, American online performance artist, composer, humorist and public speaker

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The Innovation of Loneliness

“Loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world,” says Shimi Cohen, creator of this video. He’s right. We are more connected now than ever before, and yet there is a very real phenomenon emerging: more people are complaining of depression, loneliness, loss of humanity and lack of intimacy. Is Cohen right about “the connection between social networks and being lonely?” Watch and decide. And maybe consider putting your phone down.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

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