1 billion dollarsThis is an interesting exercise that I like to revisit from time to time. I also love to hear how people respond.

Here’s my question to YOU:  So if I gave you 1 billion dollars, in other words enough money so that you would never need to work for a living again, what would you do with your life?

Now, I don’t just want to hear about how you’d travel or buy tons of shoes – those are fine, but what I would really like to know is what your dreams are, the kinds of things you’d work at or risks you’d take if you knew you didn’t have to worry about making a living.

So will you please tell me in the comments section below? I can’t wait to hear about what you would do!

I know this may be hard for some of us, but I think it’s really important to think about.

It was one month ago (March 6th) that I started this blog and publicly committed myself to living my dream (& writing here every day)!!  Wow, it’s been an interesting journey so far.  There have been moments where it was more challenging than I thought, areas of my life that were challenged more than I could have imagined.  There have been some great rewards already – like being able to help some friends, getting in to better habits, writing every day (even if it’s not a lot, on days when I’m exhausted) and I also got back in to Toastmasters.

I really appreciate the support I’ve received from so many friends.  I feel very blessed by you.  I’m excited about the direction of my life and I definitely have a clearer vision of what I want to achieve and even some directions as to how!  I’m so excited!

In the coming weeks, I may be changing a little bit of the format of the writing of this blog.  To improve the posts, I may end up posting a little less frequently.  I feel like a lot of these posts are, as Anne Lamott would say, shitty first drafts.  But hey at least I’m writing and staying accountable in my journey to fulfill my life’s purposes. I’ll let you know when I finish deciding how to  proceed.  For now I’ll still be posting every day.

Thank you for reading, I am beyond blessed that anyone would even like to read along this journey with me.

<3, Andrea

habits

What if you became a guerrilla gardener, but instead of flowers or grass you plant joy, hope and healing?guerrilla gardeners dumpster

Guerrilla Gardening can be a peaceful protest, a stand for beliefs, and a way to build community.  In urban areas, green-thumbed passionates plant flowers, shurbs or grass to, at the least, make a statement and, even more, foster community cause.  From revitalizing abandoned areas to creating new space for community grown food, Guerrilla Gardening is changing urban life, one  patch at a time.  These rebel gardeners plant in dumpsters, abandoned lots, places that used  to be a blight, a depressive reminder of hopelessness and despair.  More than just beauty or a harvest of food these gardens remind us that hope still exists, even amongst gray harsh concrete,  cold rusted metal and the discarded remains of human use and neglect.

What if we, who believe in the power of our dreams, start acting as Guerrilla Gardeners of hope?  Instead of following the norm, imagine planting seeds of confidence, cultivating joy and hope, harvesting changes of mind, inspiration.  Like flowers that blossom with water, care and fertilizer, so gardeners of the spirit can help people bloom in the most unlikely of places – right where they are.  In spite of hopeless times, harsh environments and the never ending over-stimulation of media, there is hope for a fulfilled life.  It doesn’t just lie in what we want to achieve, but rather it is there all along, latent as a seed waiting to germinate,  in our natural state (notice “nature” in that word), a reminder of who we are meant to be.

I truly believe as we free ourselves from the bonds of fear and negativity, as we give ourselves permission to shine as we were meant to, we unconsciously inspire others  to do the same.  I want to be a Guerrilla Gardener, planting the seeds of hope, courage, wisdom and love in as many seemingly hopeless, fearful and abandoned places as possible.  It starts with my own neglected spaces.  Tending my own garden first will give me the tools to help other’s hope flourish.

guerrilla gardening of hope

To inspire you to think about places you might be a gardener of hope, check out this lovely article from Good, about Guerrilla Gardening:  http://www.good.is/posts/10-most-awesome-guerrilla-gardens-from-around-the-world?utm_source=upw

Last night I heard a powerful story of vision and passion, a story I am excited to share with you.  At Toastmasters* one of my co-members spoke about the idea of vision, specifically our individual visions for what we wanted to achieve through Toastmasters.  He invited us to take a moment  to really think about what we hope to do with the speaking and leadership skills we are learning.  He illustrated what is was like to have vision (& pursue it) with two stories.  One of those stories especially struck a chord with me.

Viktor-FranklViktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist who lived through WWII in Europe.  Dr. Frankl was also Jewish and as such was relegated to concentration camps, where, as you may guess, he encountered the extremes of human suffering.  What set Dr. Frankl apart however was his approach to the ordeals he faced.  Despite the dire circumstances of his surroundings, including all of his family suffering similar fates, he decided to use his passion and experience to help others cope with their desperate situation.  He used his knowledge to help those around him and himself.  Here is an excerpt from the book he wrote after he was released from  Türkheim camp:

“We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp (in German), known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning (1959)

When I heard this story last night it cut me to the quick.  We all have situations we are trying to “survive,” or muddle through without losing our minds – a dramatic family situation, a bad relationship, an irritating job, etc.  But most of us (here in America) are not facing the real drama of living through something like a concentration camp.  Yet this man, Dr. Viktor Frankl, when faced with a nightmare, decided to not give up hope or lose his vision.  He reframed his circumstances and continued to use his God-given gifts anyway and as a result he helped many as well as himself.

Dr. Frankl went on to teach across Europe and the US, including Harvard.  He received 29 honorary doctoral degrees, published 39 books, translated into 40 languages, one of which (Man’s Search for Meaning) was toted one of  “the ten most influential books in the United States.”  In 1985 he was awarded the Oskar Pfister Award for contributions to religion and psychiatry.

I look forward to learning more about Dr. Frankl.  But in the meantime, I am blessed to have heard a bit of his story.  It fuels my commitment to live fully, passions infused and vision intact, despite the hard times.

Imagine what is possible if we choose to shine despite the darkness, if we reach down to the deepest part of us and pull up our true selves to face the world!!

 

 *Toastmasters is an educational group which helps you learn speaking & leadership skills.  (Let me know if you ever want to come with- it’s awesome)

flower_mudI’m tired, but these quotes are true.

Here are a few simple quotes from Eckhart Tolle tonight as I didn’t have the energy to quite finish the post I’m working on. 🙂

Cheers to keep plugging along!

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
― Eckhart Tolle

It’s been such a nice Easter, I actually had some time to do a little art on eggs. I do not get much time to just do art for art’s sake these days. It’s a very peaceful, mindful practice. I hope you had a lovely holiday.

One thing I am going to be working on this week is going to bed earlier and getting up earlier so I have time to start my days with more mindfulness.

Here’s a nice start of the morning prayer from Marianne Williamson:

Dear God,
I give you this morning.
Please take away
My despair of yesterday.
Help me to forgive the things
That caused me pain
And would keep me bound.
Help me to begin again.
Please bless my path
And illumine my mind.
I surrender to You
The day ahead.
Please bless every person
And situation
I will encounter.
Make me who You would have me be,
That I might do as You would have me do.
Please enter my heart
And remove all anger,
Fear and pain.
Renew my soul
And free my spirit.
Thank you, God,
For this day.
Amen.

A nicer home, a better job, good health, more money – we all have something(s) we want. It’s important to focus on your goal so you can achieve it, but sometimes you need to step back & see things from a more open perspective.  If you are always focused on yourself you can’t really see clearly and you’ll probably miss out on opportunities you never dreamed possible.

I was listening to Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now audio book yesterday and one of his points really hit home; this is the idea in a nutshell: If you want to receive great things you should start giving greatly.   You need to plant the seeds of positivity and abundance.  If you want to have more money, add giving of your time to your agenda. If you want people to be kind, be kind to them (easier said than done, I know).  If you want good friends, be one. Don’t wait for others to plop these things in your lap.  Be the friend, spouse, parent, etc. that you wish you had and you will be amazed by what unfolds.

I struggle with this sometimes because I want to get pissed when someone treats me badly, or I feel the urge to bitch and complain, but I know, when I choose this path, of planting seeds of change that it always ends up better.

Of course you still need to do your best to work on your goals, have faith, stand up for yourself and such, but it’s amazing how acts of kindness can create doors where only walls existed before. Not only that, but giving without expecting anything in return is very liberating and can help you in your mission to be more positive.

Think back in your own life to moments where the simplest thing changed the course of your day for the better. Some kind compliment or smile or maybe just knowing that the person heard what you had to say, these things can have a life changing effect on people.  Here’s one from my life:

When the doors first open at Trader Joe’s there’s usually already a line of anxious shoppers in queue  There is a smattering of business people on their way to work and  moms  shopping, but the majority of the morning crowd is comprised of elders.  Some are grumpy, some are not very healthy and some are friendly and very talkative, shopping being one of their few social activities these days.  They enjoy chatting and taking their time, paying with coins and cash, you know the types I’m talking about.  Trader Joe’s is a great place for them because employees are encouraged to make the customer feel at home and even take the time to really listen.  I made so many friends working that morning shift.  The funny thing is,  I thought, I’m going to slow down and take time with this person, I’m going to show them that I care because I want to make a positive impact on their day.  Most times I know I did bless them, but honestly, they ended up blessing me even more.  I have one friend with whom long conversations were the norm and at the end she would pray for me and my family.  She would encourage me and bless me every time I saw her.  I hope that I brought some light into her life, but I am sure she ended up blessing me much more.

Who can you bless?  Maybe someone you don’t like all that much? (poke, poke)  The trick is, we have to remember to do it without expecting anything in return, because, ironically that’s when the miracles start to happen.

be the change you wish to see in the world

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
(My favorite quote, I wear this ring nearly every day to remind me)

 

20minutes

I came across this exercise a while back and tried it.  It worked for me, in a big picture sense, and I was shocked.  You should try it!  At the very least it’s a good exercise in gaining some insight into what you really want.

Oh & I would LOVE to hear about your results.  I’ll share mine if you share yours. 🙂

 

Here’s the link:  http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/01/how-to-discover-your-life-purpose-in-about-20-minutes/

 

Oh & fair warning…I was pretty much bawling at the end, in a good way.

How was your Monday?

It’s that dreaded day of the week for many.  When my business used to be my sole form of work (before adding two jobs to make ends meet, more recently) I never really didn’t fear Monday.  I looked forward to starting the week fresh and making progress on new projects, talking with clients, etc.  Working for someone else has changed that perspective a bit.

My first side job was for Trader Joe’s, as a crew member in the store.  As people who work in retail know, your weekends are generally never the traditional ” Saturday & Sunday” that the majority of the workforce enjoys.  You’ve either been handed a couple midweek days or in my case, a split, one day off here and another somewhere else in the week.  So Mondays were really not my Mondays.  But the air in the store changed on Mondays, the customers coming in had a different feeling to them in general.   It was an interesting phenomena to me to see this ‘cloud’ hang over people just because it was a particular day of the week.

It’s astonishing to me how many people cringe when it comes to the idea of work on Monday.  So many of us are in a job we either hate, or just “pays the bills,” or is a stepping stone where we really want to be.  Deep within each of us there is a dream (or a few), an idea of something we want to do with our lives.  Something we feel, will be our greatest contribution to the general population, festers in our hearts, until we free it or squash it.  It’s extremely hard to acknowledge our dream and pursue it.  How are we supposed to balance making ends meet now with pursuing our life’s purpose(s)?

There’s a fire that is kindled within you when you commit to following your dreams and it challenges you in ways you never thought of.  One of those challenges is working your “day job” while working on your dream job on the side.  Shifting gears back and forth is hard.  We are creatures who love to indulge pleasure and working on your dreams kind of feels like the weekend that comes before Monday.  It can be hard to balance going back to the job that isn’t necessarily your ideal.  It doesn’t even have to be a bad job, it’s just not your dream job and that makes things difficult because once you’ve awoken that dream, it’s like Pandora’s box – it can make your current job, by comparison, feel like something you are muddling through.  It’s hard to just “get the job done” at work sometimes when you have so many ideas bursting through as you pursue your dream.

However if you choose positivity as your daily practice you can look at your current job as exactly where you are meant to be at this moment.  You’re meant to learn something right now.  It’s challenging you to grow and go after what you really want.  If nothing else it’s teaching you humility as you wait for your plans to unfold.

I am working on reframing Monday in my mind as the day of “starting.”  Ask yourself:

What do I want to acheive this week?

What personal or professional goals can I work toward this week?

How can I rise above the stigma of Monday?

How can I be the best version of myself today/this week?

When I look at it that way it fuels creativity and good feelings within me.  (Now I just need to get through the rest of the week! Ha Ha.)

 

Hope you had a great Monday.  Mine went by fast, was good, bad and a little ugly at one point, but it was a start to an exciting week.  I look forward to seeing what tomorrow will hold.  Let me know your thoughts!