I found myself singularly focused yesterday while kayaking in unexpected high winds and waves on a churning Kansas lake. And me without my splash skirt.
It is clarifying to shift from sheltered serene peaceful stream paddling to an all-out haul-biscuits effort to stay afloat, keep an eye on one’s pals, and navigate towards the goal amid the murky waters. Life in a kayak.
Clarifying, indeed. After we pulled our kayaks out of the water, I had a persistent list of things I know for sure which bubbled to the surface. I wrote them down over the course of a few hours while making naan, running to recycle, and feeling the feels. They are below in no particular order.
- Spiders need to stay out of my kayak; a girl needs her boundaries
- It is easier to be brave in good company. When good company is unavailable, we must still fight to be brave.
- Busy does not keep the sorrow away; it does add small wins and adventures to memory. Get outside and play, leave the phone at home, stay connected to your pals. It all helps.
- Asking for help is not weakness; asking for help is part of building community
- There is a lot I do not know. Despite the reading, researching, listening, thinking, observing, reflecting, debating, and soaking in, I am still learning.
- Brush and floss each day or brush each day and floss every other day. Just do it.
- Sort out your issues re: scarcity and abundance. Scarcity and abundance are less related to bottom line and finance and more issues of heart, hope, and a healthy mindset.
- Despite what we believed as kids, none of us have it all together. No one. Not your candidate, folks, best friends, best friend’s folks, the cool kids, or Tom Hanks. No one. Compassion for ourselves and others is key.
- If you let others continually do for you what you can do for yourself (and are not overcoming challenges related to physical/perceptual realities), you are missing out. Doing the hard work, partnering with others to do the hard, necessary, and/or mundane stuff of life is essential to building confidence. Start small if you must, but start taking responsibility for you and your stuff. The world needs you and you need to grow up and show up (looking at you there in the mirror…)
- Transparency in your relationships drenched in love and kindness cuts a safe path through many of the minefields in which we so easily wander
- Life is too short to waste and too long to pretend
- We often tell ourselves damaging stories about why or how or always or never; stories we’d never allow others to marinate in without tossing a life jacket or rope. There is nothing noble about feeling wormish…dried-dead-on-the-hot-sidewalk crispy crusty wormish. No. Ask for help. Learn the true stories about you and the world. Be open to the wonder, ordinariness, and places in your story needing your attention. Tell yourself better true stories.
- Pay Attention. Life rarely arrives at your door tidied up and handing you the keys to the kingdom. You need experience and community to cultivate the wisdom to handle them well. (Guaranteed to include falling down, getting back up, risk and reward; risk and failure; and good company.)
- Stop at every lemonade stand where kids have created their own market niche. It may only cost a few quarters to help a kid grow hard-earned confidence.
- Read. Explore, color, throw pots, sing, learn to fence, ride a horse, listen to the cicadas, take a class, learn how to kick a football, and open every door you can. Walk in.
- Map out a few simple goals and share them with your people
- Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Sincerely say you are sorry.
- Be open and generous with the story you tell yourself about others. Seeing the best in people does not make you a sucker and it may keep you from devolving into an arse. “Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.”
- Green is the new black; we’ve got one orbiting dirt clod in which to live and leave to our progeny. Let’s not muck it up especially as we can make it better.
- Wealth is measured in healthy relationships as well as stories you can tell, adventures you’ve earned, hands held, time given, and community cultivated. Stuff, exposure, applause, and a bottom line are like “use by” coupons; they are temporary and only have value among the transactors.
- Reinforce a better story in yourself and others. Speak life. Or as Brené Brown has said, “be generous” in your hypotheses of others.
- Take no sh*t and do no harm. (I’m open to a better way to phrase this.)
- Risks are worthy. As one who has skied sideways off a 10-ft cliff in St. Moritz (ahem…while showing off), I stand by the goodness of well-considered risks.
- A nod to my friend, Tim Abare, “Do something every day that scares you.”
- We are in this together. People will muck up, act foolish, and try to toss the bilge bucket unto you. Do your best to love them anyway (may require all your derring do). This heart set will help when you inevitably need this sort of love and forgiveness.
- Bonus: two Reeses ice cream bits are considered “dinner” as needed.