Just because a leap of faith is small doesn't make it any less important.
It may, in fact, be the most important thing you ever do. Your leap may be so small no one notices but you. It may be so small it seems you're only a few inches further than before.
But that's all it takes to shift your world.
All you are required to do is love and cherish your courageous leap, just as you would this little frog, who also makes small leaps. But to her, they are the grandest leaps of all, because they are hers, and she knows each small leap helps her legs grow stronger.
She must grow them now, because it will prepare her for when she's bigger. And when that time comes, she will effortlessly take the big, huge leaps that she can only now dream of.
Have you ever seen this photo of a potato? It sold for a million dollars. It's by the artist Kevin Abosch.
One potato. One photo. ONE MILLION DOLLARS.
For real. No tricks. No gimmicks. It wasn't being auctioned for charity, so no one did this out of the kindness of their heart. Someone wanted to pay it, and someone wanted to sell it for that amount. I don't know about you, but when I hear this it triggers all kinds of intense thoughts in me.
The idea that someone did this forces me to question my feelings about greed, value, self-worth, and limitless potential.
On the one hand, I'm amazed that someone valued themselves and their work so highly that they didn't bat an eye at this. On the other hand, the idea of doing this myself terrifies me, and so I want to judge the people who participated in this.
The only way Kevin could sell a photo of a potato for a million dollars is if he believed he could. If Kevin believed in lack and scarcity, and if he believed art has no real value, then this photo would probably be in a flea market right now, where Kevin would be struggling to sell it for $20. But Kevin doesn't play small. Kevin doesn't limit his potential. Kevin clearly believe that all possibilities are available, and that his work is worth whatever he damn well decides it is.
Now, let's be clear here - the price was a million from the get go. Non-negotiable.
Potato #345 (2010), as the photo is known, was always priced at $1,000,000. And that was exactly what Kevin told people when he showed it to them. The fact that he had the chutzpah to do this blows me away.
Because I don't believe in myself in that way, and I don't believe this is possible, I want to be cynical about this.
I want to believe this is just a reflection of the absurdity of wealthy people. I want to believe this is ridiculous, and the reflection of one man's out of control ego. I want to believe this is greedy and wrong.
What I don't want to do is ask myself why I would never value my own work in this way. I don't want to have to consider that when I say all things are possible, it includes this. I don't want to have to consider that I am a firm believer in thoughts become things but ONLY in a way that makes me comfortable.
If I'm being honest, this challenges so many ideas I have about myself and my potential that I can hardly sit with it. It makes me realize I have constricting and limiting conditions attached to the idea of value. It makes me so uncomfortable I don't want to believe Kevin and I exist on the same planet, with the same sets of Universal, cosmic laws.
And yet we do. If I really wanted to, I could stretch and expand myself and face all my worthiness issues until I too did this, in my own way. But as I write this, I don't believe that I can. And since I don't believe it... well as Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right!"
In life, we're always waiting for something. Waiting for a dream to come to pass. Waiting to meet to right the person. Waiting for a problem to turn around. Much of life is spent waiting. There's a right way to wait, and a wrong way to wait.
We hear that word wait, and most of the time we think that means do nothing. Be passive. Waiting is not supposed to be passive. True waiting is actively expecting.
I prayed, I believed... now I'm expecting my health to improve. I'm expecting new doors to open. I'm expecting to have a blessed year.
That's what it really means to wait. When you're waiting expectantly, you know, this could be the day you get the break you need. This could be the day the problem turns around. There's an anticipation in your spirit. You talk like it's going to happen. You act like it's going to happen. You're on the lookout!
When you're waiting with expectancy, you're not moved by what you see. You're moved by what you know. You wait with expectancy like that, and you'll see God show up and do amazing things.
- From the Joel Osteen podcast
Come, gather round the fire. It's story time. Here now is a fable as old as time... the story of the invisible door.
You see that sweet pup below? Yeah, he thinks that his family has closed the screen door on him. It hasn't. But he won't come in until someone "opens" the door. So someone does. Except the door was open all along. He just needed someone to help him BELIEVE it.
This "door" represents all of the reasons you have that you can't have or be or do that thing. It represents all the things in your way. Because all those things... they're an illusion. The way through is open. Has been all along. You just need to believe it.
I know you can have or be or do anything. But do you? Do you believe the door is open?
You are an unlimited being created from the same cosmic star dust as the highest mountains and the most powerful rivers. You are the mountain. You are the river. You are as worthy and valuable as the wild flower in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall.
You have all the tools and resources you need to achieve anything. But maybe you're still waiting for someone to open a door. Maybe you're waiting for that obstacle to be removed, without realizing the only obstacle is your power of belief directed in the wrong way.
Maybe today is the day you stop letting illusions hold you back. Maybe today you'll stop waiting for someone or something to open an invisible door. Maybe today you'll realize that belief is so powerful, it can stop you from walking through a wide open doorway.
Often times, the things we want to accomplish or do seem overwhelming and even impossible in their scope.
This is usually because we are looking at the whole thing as if it all has to be done now. No one, in the history of humanity, achieved their dreams or ambitions overnight. It is a step by step process.
Sometimes, that step is to simply take rest. We often fear taking downtime because we associate that with being lazy, or worse, with the fear that if we aren't constantly going and going nothing is happening.
When I look back over some of the incredible things that showed up for me, they always worked out when I least expected it. It wasn't when I was stressed out, burning the candle at both ends. It was after I put in the effort, set my intention, and then turned my focus else where. I let it go. Sometimes consciously, sometimes not.
Trusting it's being worked out behind the scenes, and that powerful forces are assisting us, is crucial to not only our success, but our well-being and happiness.
Consider today what choices you make in a moment to moment basis. Are they bringing you closer to what you want, or perhaps entrenching you deeper in habits you wish to release? Your life, and your dreams, are built of those small moments.
If you find yourself in a moment of worry and exhaustion, pause, breathe and pivot your thoughts to what's going right. And if things are going right, notice how you feel, breathe into it, and expand that feeling of joy and gratitude.
"He is so small and gentle. Honestly, I don't know how he makes it in prison."
This is how Nigel Poor, a visual artist who volunteers at San Quentin prison, describes Curtis. Curtis is serving a 50 years to life sentence for three separate robberies. During the last robbery, he stole $40 from a cash register. Due to the three strikes law, for the price of two twenty dollar bills, he received a lifetime behind bars.
We'll come back to Curtis's criminal record, why he began stealing, and his life sentence later. First, lets hear Curtis describe himself in his own words.
"My personality is that of almost... child like. Very playful. I've taken on some very adult responsibilities, however, I'm still child like."
When Curtis says he's taken on some adult responsibilities, I don't think he's referring to his prison sentence. I think he's referring to his adolescence, which was when both his parents abandoned him. He was left to fend for himself, having to make adult decisions on his own, all while wrestling with this feeling of rejection.
Around the time he was 19, he went in search of his parents. He found them, but he didn't find the love and reunion he'd been seeking. His dad had moved on and started another family, and he let Curtis know he wasn't a welcome part of it. Separately, he found his mom, and she made no apologies and regretted nothing.
Not even the fact that Curtis's childhood nickname had been "Ugly". And this was how Curtis felt - ugly. His derailed attempt at reconnecting with his parents broke something inside of him, and he went on a dark path, intent on destroying this ugly person through cocaine.
All throughout the 80's, Curtis self-medicated, becoming increasingly addicted to cocaine. He also got married during this time and had a daughter. But his addiction was spiraling out of control, and thus began the stealing.
Curtis's first two convictions were also for robbery. Neither was violent and neither involved a weapon. Curtis is the first to admit that what he did was stupid, but when he committed his third robbery, he couldn't believe he was being given life in prison. When Curtis first arrived, his non-violent persona was put to the test. A knife was put in his hand, and he was ordered to go kill a child molester. He wouldn't even consider it. He accepted any consequences this might incur - even if it meant he himself would be killed.
This desire not to lose himself was his primary goal. He felt if he kept his integrity, he could survive this experience. He wanted to make the most of it, and so he played sports, joined clubs, and became very active in the church. He focused on his health, both physical and mental. He also received a pen pal in the form of a couple who wrote him letters, a relationship that would play an unexpected role in the miracle of the diaries.
But before the miracle happened, something else happened that threatened to smother his inner light. As Curtis tells this part of the story his voice becomes quieter, and the impact of it, all these years later, is still palpable.
In 2008, after 13 years in prison, Curtis was raped. Rape, especially in a well-maintained prison like San Quentin, is not as common as people think it is. This incident was shocking, and for Curtis, beyond unbearable. For the first time, he considered ending his life.
As he says, “When the rape happened, it was like, ain’t nobody coming to rescue Curtis. Ain’t no way getting out of this. And this is what you have to live with for the rest of your life.”
This was beyond a low point for Curtis. He went into a shell and feared he'd never find his way out of it. But strangely enough, it was around this time, that the miracle began to unfold.
It all goes back to Christiana, the daughter he'd had before he was incarcerated. She'd just been five when he left, and his then-wife promised to bring Christiana around to visit. But she didn't. And she even went as far as disappearing. She moved to an unknown place, and from inside those gray walls, Curtis had no way of finding her or his daughter.
As the years went by, Curtis continued to hope he could somehow, someway reach Christiana. He wanted her to know he never forgot her, and so he began writing her letters in diaries.
"I wanted her to know that her father really loved her and this was not a reflection of her at all. This was a reflection of the turmoil within her father and not her. I wanted to be very clear with that. There's a voice inside of me that questions what was it about my own mom and dad that they didn't want me. So, I carry that voice. What was it about me? And I didn't want my daughter Christiana to have that."
Years and years go by. The diaries fill up, and he continues to write them. Meanwhile, the couple he was corresponding with, continues to write him. They live several states away, but he grows close with the wife, who becomes like a mother figure to him.
Eventually, he asks her if he can send her the diaries. He's worried they'll be confiscated, as the corrections officers are often in the cells and taking things away. The wife, who he calls J to protect her privacy, agrees.
And then, something remarkable happens. J is looking in the newspaper and sees a list of names of students in the graduating class. It's been 13 years since Curtis saw his daughter, and she's now 18.
In that list of names is Christiana.
J, who lives nowhere near where all this began, lives a stone's throw from the daughter Curtis has been hoping against hope to find. J is a school teacher, and she asks if any of her students know this girl. Someone does, and J learns Christiana works at a local pizza parlor.
Just a quick reminder here - Christiana was moved by her mother years prior, and Curtis had no idea where they'd gone. He had absolutely no way to find her, or to know she was not only in the same state as his pen pal, but the SAME TOWN. It's a pretty wild coincidence.
J speaks to Christiana and gives her the rundown of her part in it all. She asks Christiana if she'd like to write to her father, and she does. After they begin this connection, J gives Christiana the diaries. Curtis, who had sent the diaries to J just for safe keeping, is blown away.
Let's just take a moment here and recap the astounding level of coincidence that went into this. Curtis is incarcerated in a prison in California. He meets another inmate who has a pen pal they don't care to write to. So Curtis takes up with J, who lives hundreds of miles away. Out of a sea of eight BILLION people, J is the one who writes to him for YEARS. And then it turns out, she lives in the SAME TOWN where his wife took his daughter. And when it came time Christiana was old enough to decide if she wanted to speak to her dad, Curtis spontaneously sends the diaries to J. This timing, in itself, is pretty profound. And J just happened to look in the newspaper the SAME DAY Christiana graduated and sees her name...
And let's not forget that all of his took over a decade to unfold. It was all built on Curtis's belief that his daughter would somehow receive his words and his love. He had no reason to believe his diaries would reach her. She was gone. She was in a sea of 8 billion people. And yet... all these moving pieces, that he had no control over, brought her to him.
If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. I don't think there's any way to explain that other than to believe, on some level, there are divine forces at work in our lives. They are working behind the scenes, moving pieces, arranging things, and taking care of us. These mystical forces make things happen that we couldn't make happen even if we tried.
After Christiana read the diaries she began building her own relationship with Curtis. Unfortunately, after a year of this, she decided that she needed to move on with her life. Curtis didn't get the outcome he had hoped for, but that didn't diminish the profound effect this experience had on him. Especially at a time when he needed it most.
And that my friends, is the Miracle of the Diaries. I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did.
The "Miracle of the Diaries" is a true story that was featured on the podcast Ear Hustle. Ear Hustle is a thought provoking, insightful, and often times moving podcast by Radiotopia. It's made by prisoners inside San Quentin, who tell their own stories in their own words.
If you'd like to hear the full episode, check out "Left Behind", on season 1, episode 8 of Ear Hustle. You can also subscribe to it on iTunes, Podcast addict, or wherever you get your listen on. I'm a huge fan, and am so grateful to Curtis and the Ear Hustle team for bringing this powerful story to me.
One of the hardest things for me to put into practice in my life has been shifting my anxious feelings in the moment.
Usually, when something stressful or negative happens, I quickly lose myself in the feelings. I get overwhelmed with anxiety, think only of what's happening, and feel powerless to what I'm experiencing. It isn't until much later that I can calm myself and recenter through yoga, meditation, walking or some combination of all three.
I have always wanted to be able to STOP an overwhelming, anxiety-ridden response in the moment, but have always struggled to do so. However, I keep telling myself I can, and one day I will, which is always the first step in making a real change. In preparation for this, I am always telling myself "I can choose to be happy at any time." Along the same lines, I often repeat the line from A Course in Miracles, "I can choose peace instead of this."
I can choose to be happy at any time. I can choose peace instead of this.
The other day, I had a chance to truly shift my responses in the moment. One of my close family members is perpetually involved in some sort of chaos or crisis at any given time. I struggle to deal with something I cannot control and feel powerless to help. As each situation arises, I feel my chest tighten and my breathing shorten. When I was told about the latest situation it was worse than I expected, and I could feel the panic slipping over me.
But rather than think of all the myriad of ways this could tragically end, I just stood and breathed, and said, "I just need a moment." I stopped my thinking and focused on my breathing. And then my words came back to me, and my mind filled with the thought, I can choose to be happy at any time.
When presented with something difficult, especially regarding someone else's life, it can feel irresponsible and even selfish to consider your own happiness.
It's something I've struggled with for years. However, what I've learned, and am still learning, is to acknowledge that not all circumstances are the same. If someone called me with life changing news and they needed me, I would of course be there, and would not suggest they were impeding my path to happiness.
Learning to see this family member's choices as not my own, and to stop putting their own happiness above mine, has been a struggle. I have to continuously remind myself that suffering in response to this person doesn't change anything - they will only change when they want to - and I must learn to choose happiness rather than guilt.
And this is usually what it comes down to for me. I feel guilty I'm not doing enough, didn't do enough before, and that somehow guilt and sadness is the only appropriate response. I often lose myself in thoughts of their suffering, and forget that each life in this world is equally valuable - including my own. I also forget that being miserable myself doesn't make anything better.
In fact, I respond with much more love, compassion and kindness when I remember to value my own life and feelings.
As I took a moment to breathe, I asked myself, "what makes me happy?" The answer was instant. My tomato plants. I planted a few tomato plants this year, and they grew big and wild, healthier than any other plants I've ever tried to grow. Each morning I go out and pick fresh cherry tomatoes, and I feel immense gratitude and joy.
Wanting to shift my response in the moment, I went out to my plants. I first stood there, admiring the vibrant green leaves and ripening fruit. I then sat in the dirt, with my feet in the shade of the plant, and just breathed. I felt the warm sun on my back. I became completely calm. I focused only on this thing that makes me happy. I chose happiness. I chose to value my existence.
And then I surrendered it all, because it was never mine to begin with.
As life continues to present itself, I hope you remember to value yourself and your place in it all. You are loved. You are cherished. Your happiness is important, and you are allowed to be happy. Choosing to radiate joy, no matter what's happening around you, doesn't mean you are ignoring the world around you - it means you are choosing to put something positive back into the world.
If you need more help finding peace and calm, particularly in regards to a family member or friend, try my Ho'oponopono meditation. It's all about forgiveness, love and inner peace. It's only $5 and the most popular meditation I sell.
"If you feel crappy, it's because your brain is telling you that there's a problem that's unaddressed or unresolved. In other words, negative emotions are a call to action.
When you feel them, it's because you're supposed to do something.
Many people are taught to repress their emotions for various personal, social or cultural reasons - particularly negative emotions.
Sadly, to deny one's negative emotions is to deny many of the feedback mechanisms that help a person to solve problems."
- Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Just for today I will let go of worry.
I will let go of wondering when or how,
and I will immerse myself in trust.
Just for today I will trust that the Universe has my back.
I will trust that the Universe is taking care of everything.
I will trust that I don't have to do it all alone, and that the more I let go and embrace that, the more magic and synchronicity shows up in my life.
Just for today I will acknowledge that love is more powerful than fear.
I will remember that love is my natural state, and holding onto fear takes far more energy than letting go does.
I will breathe deep and remember all the good things in my life.
I will do all of this, just for today, because today is all there is.
Today is the most powerful day of my life, and just for today, I will be in a cosmic, divine flow.
One of the most frustrating feelings I know is the feeling of being STUCK.
A stuck feeling is one of stagnation, it's almost like a negative feeling, like all of my energy is held inside of me like a breath I need to let out. In order to get this feeling out you need to find something else to feel.
An easy way to feel something else: get your body moving. The more you move the more you feel.
Moving yourself physically gets things moving through you emotionally and energetically.
It also gets you breathing deep as your body works, which pumps you full of mood lifting oxygen. It gets your mind out of believing you're stuck as you feel you really can move and change your perspective at anytime.
Let that feeling of stuckness wash through and fall away with each step. Look at the world around you and notice all of its nuances and subtle signs that it's all alive, all a part of an ever-evolving system that connects to everything.
Being in physical movement will put the energy and intention of motion in your inner world. Take a walk after work. Ride your bike around the block. Anything to get your energy moving and you will be free of believing you're stuck in no time.
My favorite thing is to take a walk every morning.
Sometimes as I go I feel into my body, into the strength of my muscles, into the actual movement within my body of blood pumping and my breath going in and out. I breathe in the new energy of a new day and remind myself that nothing is ever stuck. That feeling is only a state of mind and I can replace it with a new feeling at any time.