RSS Feed

‘Ain’t Life Grand’ Category

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. The Mother of All Mothers

    May 14, 2017 by Diane

    The earth in the shape of a heart, elements of this image furnis

    I am the product of a remarkable mother. A woman who saves the hair from brushing the cat, rolls it into miniature fur balls, and stores the balls in a wine glass above the stove for future jewelry projects. A woman with the impressive ability to stretch a single serving of steak from Sizzler into six meals, and who is not above concocting sore-throat remedies from orange juice, crushed ice, and blush wine that comes from a box with a spigot, a box that will last longer than most marriages. A woman who, when I’m wallowing in despair, reminds me: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train. 

    I consider myself blessed to have such a mother. The mother of all mothers.

    Not everyone is so blessed. I’ve known mothers who would rather nurture a stiff drink than their own child. Mothers who care more about what others think than the thoughts of their own offspring. Mothers who will protect their abusive husband, not the child who is abused. The only wisdom these mothers offer is: Leave me alone. If you have such a mother, heed her advice. Leave her. Alone. She has issues to sort out, and you don’t need to be the one she sorts them out on.

    This Mother’s Day, if you don’t have a mother to honor, is there another woman who offered guidance, support, affection, or protection? A friend, wife, lover, sister, teacher, relative, or just a stranger you met once who made a difference in your life? If so, honor her. If no such woman comes to mind, honor Mother Earth, who offers this nest we call home.

    And if you, too, had a mother of all mothers, but she’s now with the Divine Mother, or God, or wherever divine spirits go after leaving the body, honor the gifts she gave that now flower in you.

    Speaking of making a difference, this story illustrates how every act of kindness matters. I urge you to read it. Trust me, it will make your day.