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‘Ain’t Life Grand’ Category

  1. Have Internet, Will Time Travel

    July 7, 2019 by Diane

    Do you talk to yourself out loud? Loud enough for others to hear?

    Maybe it’s the result of getting older, but occasionally I mumble to myself. It’s as if my brain is so full, to make room, the excess thoughts need to come out somewhere. Or it helps me remember something if I hear it spoken. Or the sound of my voice is soothing.

    My landlady, who’s older than me, talks to herself constantly. She mutters when she takes out the recycling, spouts monologues as she waters the garden, argues as she heads to the grocery store, jaw jutting forward. “Are you talking to me?” I’ll ask. But no, it’s herself she’s talking to. And she always sounds pissed.

    If you’re going to talk to yourself, at least be kind.

    What if you could talk to your future self? And what if, in the future, those words arrive?

    They can.

    It happened to me.

    I wrote myself an email in 2018. Last week, it arrived in my in-box.

    This reminds me of the movie Frequency. It’s about a father living in 1969 who, through a freakish weather event, is able to communicate to his son 30 years in the future via ham radio. Together, they solve a decades-old serial murder case. If you haven’t seen it, do. It’s fantastic.

    Rather than people traveling through time, in the movie, it’s information that’s traveling.

    Just like my email. Although I’m not solving any murders.

    How did I pull off such a feat?

    Through a website called FutureMe.org.

    On the site, you compose an email to yourself, choose a date in the future for it to arrive, and click “send to the future!” It doesn’t cost a dime. No need to create a login. Just type in your message, select a date, and send it on its way.

    Think of the possibilities!

    Newlyweds, on the day of their wedding, can compose messages to their future selves about how they doubted whether they made the right choice, and say: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t let doubts get in the way?” Worrywarts can list everything that plagues them, finishing up with: “I’m so grateful you rose to the challenge, and it’s all behind you now.” A struggling artist can praise their future self for finishing a project, and ask for guidance.

    Go ahead, try it.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Dear FutureMe,

    I love you.

    I don’t say it enough, but I love you!

    I love that you got a new job.

    I love that you’re putting your fiction first.

    I love that you’re exploring the possibility that copywriting might not be the path you want to take, but you’re open to taking it anyway to see where it leads.

    Here’s what I hope for you:

    I hope you set boundaries with people, so they know that you deserve respect and breathing room and the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

    I hope you allow yourself to make those mistakes, and that you love yourself anyway.

    I hope you strive to maintain balance between work and what your heart longs to do, between what your heart longs to do and play, between play and rest, between rest and physical movement, between physical movement and reflection.

    I hope you say I love you to the people who matter most in your life, and that you allow them the space to work, play, rest, be active, reflect, make mistakes, and do what their heart longs to do.

    Forever at your side,

    Diane


  2. Do it for the Joy

    April 28, 2019 by Diane

    I was listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR, and the guest was Laird Hamilton, a champion surfer who never entered a competition except as a teen when the prize was a T-shirt. But when money became involved, he lost all interest in competing.

    Laird, who spends his life doing what he loves doing, made the cover of National Geographic, became the subject of an indie film, and just released a book, LifeRider, about navigating the turbulence of life.

    When asked how he makes money as a surfer, he said he has sponsors. Paula Poundstone, one of the comedians on the panel, tried to reason that out. “You’re a guy with a surf board, and you go to the beach and there’s a wave and you surf it, and then somebody runs over and gives you a check?”

    And Laird said, “No, you ride a giant wave, somebody takes a picture, they put it on the cover of National Geographic, and then a company says they’d love to give you money, and try to get on National Geographic again.”

    The point is, the dude was just living his joy. No goal, no quest for fame or money or followers. Just doing what he was born to do.

    What were you born to do? Are you doing it?

    I love writing fiction. When I write for the joy of it, an amazing thing happens. No writer’s block. I’m learning my craft, exploring my writer’s voice, letting my subconscious loose on the playground. No expectations, no goals, just doing the thing I love.

    Enter a goal, and I freeze. My subconscious takes a nap. My writer’s voice is strained. Craft becomes something I wrestle with, rather than a game to master.

    Why not take a lesson from Laird, I tell myself. Ride the wave for the joy of it. Compete with yourself, expand your own boundaries. As the Nike ad says: Just do it.

    Here’s the thing…if we’re doing what we love, someone will notice. Unless we live in a cave without human contact, or hoard what we do so it never comes to light, someone will notice. Our joy will touch another’s soul, and that person will share it with another and so on.

    We never know what ripple may be caused by what we do. But one thing’s for certain: if we don’t do it, that ripple will never be felt. If we don’t do it, we’re cheating ourselves, our fellow humans, and our maker.

    Join me this week in doing what makes your heart sing. Then share it. Don’t check any stats, don’t see if it attracts any followers. Just do your thing and release it to the world, then do your next thing. And tell me what you’ll do, in the comments.


  3. If Life is What You Make it, Make it Matter

    July 23, 2017 by Diane

    You live in a world where you wake up and the sun shines, coffee percolates, teeth gleam, and breakfast waits on the table on good china, next to rolled napkins of the finest cloth. Where politics is a word buried in a dictionary. Where windows are floor to ceiling, and the view is a white sand beach, with seagulls dipping into gently rolling waves. You live in a world where nothing matters except good food, good wine, good company, a good view, and something good to fill the days—something that does matter.

    Or…

    You live in a world where you drag yourself from bed thirty minutes after the alarm goes off, and rush through a bowl of cereal to arrive late at a job that bores you. Where the workplace is poorly lit with no windows. Where every surface is piled with clutter, the internet screams politics, and the only view is your own. Where nothing matters except quitting time, making it through traffic, opening a can of soup without slicing your thumb, and numbing your pain with reality television.

    Who visualized that life?

    Someone who didn’t visualize their ideal.

    Are you filling your days with what matters, or with what doesn’t?

    Let’s face it: unless you have a helper, you do the housework, wash the dishes, clean the clothes and get the groceries. Chores take up a portion of your waking hours. Can those hours matter more than something to get through? Can they be times when you do your best creative thinking, times when you practice gratitude for earth’s bounty, times when a clean home makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into House Beautiful?

    Do you know what matters to you?

    Is it writing five pages in your novel, or shopping for another pair of shoes that you don’t really need? Is it time spent reading, or time spent searching for your car keys under the clutter on your desk? Is it walking along the shoreline with a loved one, or standing in line at Starbucks checking your Twitter followers? The world is full of choices, isn’t it? Dizzying.

    What’s your vision?

    Without a vision and a plan to get there, we live our lives dealing with matters that don’t matter. And to make matters worse, sometimes we don’t even know it.

    Brian Tracy, in his book, Goals! How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, says, “If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, you end up getting something else.”

    So: visualize what you want, every morning when you wake up, and every night when you turn out the lights. See it, feel it. Engage the senses. Make it as real as possible. A funny thing happens. With a clear target to aim for, like a magnet, the brain focuses in that direction.

    Make it matter

    Every waking hour, touch upon those things that spark your life force. Ask yourself periodically, does it matter, what I’m expending time and energy on? If not, can I make it so, or let it go?

    We live in a world of matter, shaped by our thoughts, our actions, and the thoughts and actions of billions and billions of others. Shape it wisely, and with an open heart.

    Because it matters.