Rip it Up

Rip it up – To have a great time and live it up.  Definition from The Urban Dictionary.

Two weeks ago I was preparing for a run in beautiful and historic downtown New Bern, NC.  I was warming up with a short walk on Middle Street (the main street through the heart of downtown) when a stranger seated at an outdoor table at a coffee shop asked me if I was getting ready to rip it up.  The question caught me completely off guard and so I stopped, and noticing my perplexed look, he asked, “Are you walking or running today?”  the rest of the conversation went something like this.

2012 Charlotte Run for Peace at Home 5K

Me running in the 2012 Charlotte Run for Peace at Home 5K

Me:  “I am warming up with a walk but yes, I am going for a run.”

Stranger:  “Where are you running?”

Me:  “All through the downtown and historic part of New Bern.  It is a great place to run, especially on a beautiful spring day like this.”

Stranger (nodding his head in agreement regarding the beautiful day):  “How far are you going to go?”

Me:  “Somewhere between three and four miles.  Probably closer to four.  I will probably have to do a couple of loops around this section of town to get the distance in.”

Stranger: “Are you going to jog it or sprint it?”

Me:  (Laughing lightly at the idea of sprinting for four miles while I answer) “It will definitely be faster than a jog but slower than a sprint.  I plan to push it a little.”

Stranger:  “Awesome man.  Have fun.  Rip it up!”

Me:  “Thank you!  Take it easy.”

As I walked away my first thought was that given his use of the phrase “rip it up” and New Bern’s proximity to the coast that this man must have some surfing experience.

But his statement and the meaning behind it definitely stayed in my head.  A few minutes later I started my run, but I thought about this short conversation with a total stranger throughout.

You don’t hear the phrase “Rip it up” associated with running very often – at least I don’t.  I associate it more with activities like surfing, snow boarding, and skateboarding.  So his use of this term in association with running not only caught me off guard, it got me thinking.

I am a runner.  I like to run.  So why don’t I ever feel like I am ripping it up while I am running?  Why don’t I ever prepare for a run with the expectation of ripping it up?  I never say anything like, “I can’t wait to go rip it up” just prior to going for a run and after a run I might say “That was a good run” but I never feel like I really ripped it up.

So I focused on that term while I was running that day.  I focused on enjoying the fact that I was running and getting good exercise.  This simple statement by someone I had never met before helped me change my perspective on my run that day.

And it has stayed with me.  Not just related to running.

I actually found another definition for the term “rip it up” that I like much better than the one from Urban Dictionary.  I found it on WordReference.com (one of those question and answer forums).  Here it is:

Rip it Up – “Really getting into something or doing something really well.”

I really do like to run but I don’t think I allow myself to really rip up a run very often.  While I enjoy the exercise, the fresh air, and the challenge, I am usually just trying to get through with the run.  I am more focused on getting finished than actually enjoying what I am doing step by step and moment to moment.

Surfer - North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Surfer – North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

I do the same thing with work.  There are many things about my job that I really like, but it is really challenging – mentally, sometimes emotionally, and because of the travel aspect even physically.  So I often find myself just trying to set up the meeting, just trying to get to the appointment on time, just trying to get through the presentation, just trying to make a sale, just trying to keep up with the email, and like so many others, just trying to get through the week.

But I have a choice.  With running.  With work.  With life.

I can choose to be lost in the drudgery or I can choose to really get into it.  Really enjoy it in the moment for what it is.

I think for most of us in today’s world, we reserve that feeling of really enjoying something for those adrenaline rush type activities – like surfing, or zip lining, or even enjoying a mountain view or a sunset.  But we all have the opportunity to enjoy so much more.  Think about more everyday activities – like running, working, playing with the kids, mowing the lawn, eating an apple.  We can get into them just as much if we choose to do so.  All it takes is a little creativity and awareness on our part.  Maybe we change things up a little.  Go for a run somewhere new.   Be fully present with your kids when you are playing with them.  Approach work from a moment to moment basis – email to email, presentation to presentation – doing the best you can at any given moment and not worrying so much about what you have already done or what you still have left to do.  Isn’t that what life is all about.  Living.  Now.  In the moment.  Isn’t that all we ever really have.

I have liked the phrase, “ripping it up” since the first time I heard it (I think it was while watching the movie Soul Surfer).  The message in this statement really resonates with me.  In short, ripping it up is a state of mind.  A positive state of mind.

Thank you to that stranger for sparking my thought process.  For helping me wake up – not only that day but in other aspects and times of my life.

So to celebrate this new awareness, yesterday I went for a run and decided to do something I had not done in a long time.  Hill sprints.  And you guessed it – I ripped them up!!

What areas of life are you rippin’ up right now? 

What areas of life would you like to rip up but you feel are currently a struggle?  What can you do to move from where you are to where you want to be?

Please feel free to leave a comment with any feelings, ideas, or suggestions that you might have.

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve

Posted in joy, life lessons, Personal Growth, Running | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Men Moving Forward: Mike Hrostoski and The Conference for Men

Mike Hrostoski

The Conference For Men

 

 

Are you a man who wants more out of life?

Are you a woman who knows a man who wants more out of life?

If your answer to either of these questions is “yes” then you will want to read on to learn more about The Conference For Men.

First though, let me frame The Conference for Men with a personal story.

A few years ago I was on a business trip and chose to go out to dinner with a couple of colleagues.  Nothing unusual so far.  Soon after we were seated I noticed that there was a large group seated at a table nearby – a table of about 15 or so.  I noticed balloons and gifts on the table.  Obviously a birthday party so I did not think much of it at first.  But something about the group struck me as unusual.  I just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what.  About halfway through dinner I realized what it was.  All 15 of the people seated at the table were men.  How bizarre right – 15 men, across at least three generations all gathered together to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Really?  Is that really so unusual?  In my experience it is – unusual enough to catch and hold my attention that night as well as for it to still be fresh in my memory three years later.  Adult men almost never get together to celebrate like that and if they do they do not do it publicly unless of course there is sports, poker, work, or some other distraction involved.

This group of 15 men were at that restaurant for the sole purpose of getting together to celebrate a friend’s birthday and they were doing so in a sober and quiet fashion without the vices of sports, cards, or large amounts of alcohol.  It was so refreshing to see!  Don’t get me wrong.  I like watching and talking about sports and I like to have a beer or glass of wine from time to time, but I want to have friendships with men that involve connection on another level – one that goes deeper than the traditional male bonding conversational topics.  In my experience, I see women naturally getting together in groups for all kinds of reasons – birthdays, to exercise, to talk, to support each other, but I never see or hear about men doing this.  I don’t currently have a group of  men in my life that I feel comfortable getting together with just for some type of mutual support but I have felt the need for something like this for several years.

Mike Hrostoski

Mike Hrostoski

So when I first heard about The Conference For Men I was immediately intrigued.  Mike Hrostoski, a life coach specializing in helping men, is hosting this new conference in San Diego, CA during the weekend of April 25 – 27.  I, unfortunately, am not in a position to attend but I can certainly help promote it by raising awareness around this awesome opportunity.

A key quote from The Conference For Men website, that really captures the force and focus of the event is:

“In 3 Days, Conquer Your Anxieties Around Women, Wealth, and Emotional Well-Being, While Uniting With a Community of Brothers Committed To Creating A Life On Your Own Terms”

It is the “Emotional Well-Being” and “Uniting With a Community of Brothers Committed to Creating A Life On Your Own Terms” pieces of that quote that resonate the most with me.  Where can I sign up?  Well, unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I cannot but maybe you can!  I encourage you to visit The Conference For Men website by clicking any of the hyperlinks  provided within the text of this email.

If you do attend please let us all know what the experience was like by coming back and leaving a comment on this post.

How can we support Mike Hrostoski’s vision in our own communities?

I am interested to hear from my male readers:

Do you have a group of male friends that get together to support each other emotionally?  By this I mean do you get together and talk honestly and candidly about the issues, challenges, successes, failures in your lives?

If so, please share your experiences by leaving a comment.

If not, what are some things you might be able to do to start a group like this in your neighborhood, community, city?  Please share these ideas with the group via a comment as well.

For my female readers, please feel free to share your experiences.  Do you have a group of female friends that support each other emotionally in some way?  Do you feel that it would help the men in your life to have the opportunity to get together with other men in this way?

As always, thank you for your readership and thank you for your help!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

Author’s Note:  To further frame how unusual it is to find/see men supporting other men really is, I offer another personal example.  I am a self-professed expert on positivity on Facebook.  For several years I have been following, via Facebook, numerous people, groups, and organizations that promote positive awareness.  The good news  is that I have found so many such sites (and the list continues to grow) that I truthfully cannot keep up with them all.  My finding, in following these positive focused Facebook pages, is that they all are either not gender specific in their audience or they cater specifically to women.  I have not found a single group on Facebook that focuses on positive oriented topics, emotional support, etc. that is designed for only men.  Likewise, there are many life coaches that do not specify a gender preference in their clientele and there are many female life coaches that specialize in working with women.  I only know of two life coaches (including Mike Hrostoski) that focus their work on men’s issues.  I state this here because I feel that it further supports the need for The Conference For Men and other events focused on the specific challenges that men face.

Posted in Men, Men's Issues, Personal Development, Personal Growth | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Steve’s Thinking Space Update

daffodils blooming in March

Signs of Spring

Hello again!  It has been a while.

I have been thinking a lot about posting.  I have even written two posts that I never published.  I just couldn’t get them where I wanted them.  No worries though.  The content from them will show up in other posts at some point.

Since it has been some time since I last published anything here I thought I would write a quick overview regarding what my plans for this blog are in the near to mid-term future.  My plans can be organized into three main categories.

Category 1 – Inspiring Business Series

Some of you may remember that just under two years ago I started publishing a series about North Carolina businesses that I found inspiring in some way – the Inspiring Business Series.  I highlighted four NC business in that series (via four separate posts) but I unofficially stopped publishing these articles about one year ago.  I am going to bring that series back and will expand it beyond NC businesses (though NC businesses will certainly continue to be highlighted from time to time).  Next up to be featured in this series is Gretchen Bee Ranch in Seguin, TX.

Category 2 – Highlighting Interesting Projects

Going forward, when I learn of an interesting project that I feel deserves to be highlighted for some reason I am going to write a post about it here.  I might highlight projects for any reason but will likely choose projects that are doing something out of the ordinary in some sort of positive way – demonstrating compassion, promoting peace, helping people learn and grow emotionally or spiritually, etc.  The first of these projects to be highlighted will be the Mike Hrostoski’s Conference For Men which is scheduled to take place in San Diego, CA this April.  Stay tuned for more details.

Category 3 – The Quest for Inner Peace

This is the most general of the three categories.  It is also in line with other things I have mentioned an interest in via other posts on this blog.  What I want to do is focus on general concepts and activities that can be used to help people achieve a higher level of personal peace.  At first anyway, I will focus on things that I have tried and had success with but I will eventually branch out into concepts that I have not personally tried but that others have found helpful.  Anything that can help break the cycle of stress, worry, and anxiety that so many of us feel on a regular basis, and that therefore can help me/you with being more relaxed, centered, present has the potential to be covered at some point in a future Steve’s Thinking Space blog post.

I anticipate increased activity in my posting now that I have organized my thoughts and plans into these three categories.  If you can think of anything that would fit into any of these three categories that you would like to learn more about or that you think would work well for me to consider please let me know by leaving a comment!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

Posted in announcement, inspiration, Inspiring Business, Peace | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Discovering Peace: Experiencing Life Like a Kid Again

Great Smokey Mountains National Park

View from overlook at Great Smoky Mountains National Park between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN.

I have become very interested in the topic of inner peace lately.  My interest in this topic is due to my own inner exploration.  From that I have found that I have a desire to help others discover more peace in their lives as well.  So it is from that perspective, that I write this blog post today.

Lately I have been contemplating my thought processes as an adult as they compare to my thought processes as a child.  My focus on this topic is due mostly to some recent experiences I have had where, faced with a given situation, I was able to enjoy that scenario as I would have at a much younger age.  I found these situations to be very liberating and joyful experiences.  I write here about two specific situations.

Tree in Fall

Tree in Fall

A few weeks ago, we were enjoying a warm fall day in North Carolina.  I took advantage of the weather and went for a run in the neighborhood during my lunch hour.  While the fall color had passed its peak, there were still a lot of yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees.  It was a sunny day but clouds were rolling in.  The sun peering through the clouds gave the air a golden glow that made the tree colors more vibrant against the blue and white sky.  It reminded me of a couple very similar fall days while I was in college (Okay, so I was not exactly a kid – but close enough :) ) when I would make the one hour drive to visit my grandmother.  I remember how free I felt on those trips, leaving the world of college behind for a day or two to visit my grandmother on her farm.  And I remember how in touch I felt with the beautiful nature around me on those drives.  Accessing that memory while I ran and comparing it to the scenery I was seeing in my neighborhood brought back those same feelings of freedom and wonder.  As an adult, I often feel like I miss out on a lot of the natural wonder around me because I am in a hurry to get to my next obligation or destination or because my mind is full of concern over some current issue involving my job, finances, family, etc.  At that moment I was very thankful that at least for a few minutes I was able to witness and appreciate the fall beauty that was all around me.

About a week later, we had a family movie outing.  We chose to see Thor: The Dark World.  It is safe to classify this movie as a science fiction, action thriller.  This is not the type of movie I usually enjoy anymore, mostly because I probably approach movies with too much adult rationality.  But as a kid, I loved science fiction movies.  Well, for some reason, I settled in for this movie, accepted it for what it was, and I actually really enjoyed it.  I did not over think the movie.  I did not try to rationalize everything.  I did not get lost in thoughts about other things that were going on in my life.  I just sat back, relaxed, and had a good time with the family.  I was aware of this while I was watching the movie – that I was enjoying this movie the way I would have as a kid – and I was very thankful for it.

Fall Leaves on Grass

Fall Leaves on Grass

I think very often as adults we get bogged down in all of our grown-up worries and because we do, we start missing a lot of the joy in life.  We start living too much in our heads – thinking about the grown-up things we have to do.  This leads to thoughts of worry, fear, regret, frustration – and all of these types of thoughts keep us from living in the present moment.  In the two instances I describe above I was able to access feelings that I used to feel all of the time as a kid (or as a college student), because at those two specific times I was present in the moment.  I was really running in the beauty of fall nature and I was really watching a sci-fi movie with the family rather than performing these two activities while letting myself be bogged down with all types of other worries.

I have heard several wise people say recently, that the things you loved to do when you were a kid (maybe 8, 9, or 10 years old) should be part of your life today.  I agree with this statement and think that it can be expanded further.  I think that the presence that we had as children should be part of our adult lives as well.  When we can look at the world around us with the fresher, more present and mindful eyes of children we give ourselves the opportunity to live with more joy and peace.

Have you had an experience like this recently – one where you found yourself in a situation that reminded you of a joyful experience you had as a child or young adult?  Please feel free to share by leaving a comment!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

*The photos in this post were taken by me via smart phone.  While they do not directly relate to the subject matter of this post, the photos are included as part of my goal to add visual appeal to my posts through the use of nature photography.

Posted in Gratitude, Peace, Thankfulness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Claiming Spirituality

I mentioned on my new About page that defining what spirituality means is difficult.  I feel

Charleston, SC

Path at Marion Square

it is difficult mainly because it means something different to each of us.  The fact that spirituality is hard to define though, does not make it any less important.

For all of my life I have shied away from any conversation that involved discussing spirituality publicly, content to think about it personally and maybe talk about it with my closest friends and loved ones.  Anything more than that just seemed to scary.

So I took a major step last February when registering for the TEDxCharlotte event.  The theme of that event was “Unlimited” and as part of the online registration each person was asked to choose one word from a list.  The word each attendee chose was supposed to identify something that unlimits them and it was clear that this was going to be used as some type of ice breaker at TEDxCharlotte.  There were many things on the list that I could have chosen.  Several that would have been easy and comfortable.  But right there, in the middle of the list, was the word “spirituality”.  I came close to choosing something else but I decided to be fully honest with myself and others this time even if it meant some uncomfortable (though probably beneficial) conversations at the actual event.  Of all of the options, spirituality was definitely the one that unlimits me the most.  So I picked it.  It turns out that the word each person chose was printed on their name badge.  The intent was that people could see your word and ask you about it as an ice breaker to get conversations started.  Interestingly enough however, while I had many conversations with people at TEDxCharlotte, nobody asked me about spirituality and how it unlimits me!!

A few months later, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS).  It was an incredible experience that I detail in two previous posts – Pushing Way Past My Comfort Zone and Perfecting My Anti-Elevator Pitch.  At WDS, there were many opportunities to sign-up for attendee led meet-ups.  One of the meet-ups was called “Accidental Seekers, Hippies and Spirituality Enthusiasts Unite! A Gathering for Conscious Living” and was sponsored by Huffington Post writers Karen Talavera and Beverley Golden.  In the past, while this type of meet-up would have interested me, I would have skipped it, for fear that I would not have anything of value to say to anyone or that I would have trouble defining spirituality.  Not this time.  I signed up and showed up.  And I met some great people and had some good conversations about spirituality and peace in the process.

After shunning my spiritual side publicly all of my life, I have finally begun to publicly

White clouds in fall afternoon sky

White clouds in fall afternoon sky

claim spirituality as important to me.   In addition to the two situations detailed above,  I am now publicly claiming spirituality as important to me here on this blog.  I have reached a point in my development where I feel I cannot fully move forward without discussing spiritual concepts with others and so making this move to claiming my spirituality is a big and important step.  I also have a strong feeling that there are a lot of people out there that have the same need.  By opening up to the universe with full realization that I am a spiritual being I hope to reach others that are looking for spiritual conversation and connections as well.  This cannot happen by just thinking about spiritual concepts.  It requires action – the types of action that I am starting to take.  I look forward to the journey!

Are there important areas in your life that you have kept hidden but that you are now stepping into fully and embracing in a more public way?  Spirituality, fitness, love, peace, public speaking, travel, it could be almost anything!  If so, I would love to hear more.  Please share by leaving a comment!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

Sunset Over Soccer Field

Sunset Over Soccer Field

*The photos in this post were taken on my iPhone.  While they do not directly relate to the subject matter of this post, the photos are included as part of my goal to add visual appeal to my posts through the use of nature photography.

Posted in life lessons, Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Changes at Steve’s Thinking Space

Sunrise over Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Sunrise over the Rocky Mountains – Colorado

Hello everyone.  I hope you are all doing well.  It has been a while since I posted and  so I wanted to let you know I am still here :).  I am working on some new projects that are consuming quite a bit of my time, however I do plan to continue my writing here at Steve’s Thinking Space.  I wanted to take this opportunity to update everyone on a few minor changes that I have planned.

About Page:  I started Steve’s Thinking Space more than two years ago but never constructed a true About Page for the blog.  Well, that is, until last week!!  Last week I put together the About Page for this blog and published it.  Some of you have been asking for this for some time.  To take a look you can click here or you can simply click the “About” tab at the top of this page.  Some of my objectives for this blog have changed slightly over the past year so even those of you who feel like you have a good handle on my focus here might want to glance over it.  Please let me know what you think.

Inspiring Business Series:  Some of you will remember this series of blog posts I started about 1 1/2 years ago.   Well in early 2013 I unofficially discontinued the series because I was having a hard time devoting enough time to it.  In February of 2014 I plan to bring the series back but will do so in a way that will be more sustainable.  Stay tuned to learn more about my plans for this series.  I will post a more detailed description of what I want to do with this series in December.

Nature Photography:  You may have noticed that I like taking nature photos.  I have often incorporated some of these photos into my blog posts.  The sunrise photo above is a case in point :).  I have decided to incorporate nature photography into my blog posts more regularly.  Even when the topic of the post has nothing to do with nature.  I find nature helps me relax and feel more peaceful.  Per my About Page, a main topic of this blog going forward is going to be Peace (especially personal peace, spiritual peace, peace within – however you want to describe it).  Because I have noticed a link between my own peacefulness and nature I plan to highlight nature photography on my blog more often.  A lot of this will be photos taken by me and my wife (Kylie took the photo in this post.  I rarely get up early enough to see a sunrise :) ) but I welcome photos from guest photographers as well.

Blog cleanup:  Over the next few months I will be performing some minor housekeeping here at Steve’s Thinking Space.  I will re-examine the widget area on the right of the page with the intent of reorganizing the layout and possibly replacing some of the widgets.  I will also revamp the suggested site links.  The links that are there now have been there since day 1 of this blog and some of them are no longer relevant.  In fact some of them may no longer work.  So you can expect the appearance of Steve’s Thinking Space to change gradually over the next few months.

Please let me know what you think of the new About page by leaving a comment either here or on the About Page itself.  Please also feel free to provide feedback as I make the other changes.

Thank you for your readership!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

Posted in announcement, Nature, Peace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Perfecting My Anti-Elevator Pitch at World Domination Summit 2013

Last fall I read a blog post by Seth Godin titled No One Ever Bought Anything on an Elevator.  In that post, Seth emphasizes that when you are having a quick conversation with someone about what you do, what your dreams are, etc. you are going to lose them if you try to sell them right out of the gate with a long two or three-minute description.  Better to keep it short, simple, and to the point.  From there, if well crafted, they start asking the relevant questions and the conversation advances naturally.

World Domination Summit 2013, Portland, Oregon

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

This resonated with me, but I have to admit I did not apply it to my own situation.  That became abundantly and even somewhat embarrassingly obvious when I attended the World Domination Summit 2013 (WDS) in early July.  As I described in my last blog post, Pushing Way Past My Comfort Zone, each year Chris Guillebeau hosts WDS with a focus on how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world.  The conference attracts a huge number of people (over 2800 this year) with big ideas, strong passions, and lots of creative energy.

Attending WDS reminded me a lot of my college days.  In college, I met a lot of enthusiastic people who were eager to learn, and had hopes of doing things to make the world a better place.  I had the same experience at WDS.  In college, when you met someone new, usually you asked them two questions.

1)  “Where are you from?”

and

2)  “What is your major?”

Mingling at WDS 2013

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

At WDS when you met someone new, the first two standard questions were:

1)  “Where are you from?”

and

2)  some variation of “Why are you here?”

Before I even attended the WDS Opening Ceremony at the Portland Zoo I had probably already met close to 30 other WDS attendees.  I met 5 just riding from the airport to downtown Portland on the MAX Light Rail.  The others I met at unofficial meet-ups that were hosted by other WDS attendees and that were encouraged and even promoted by Chris Guillebeau and other WDS staff.  On the bus ride to the zoo I realized my description of what I wanted to do wasn’t working.  The disjointed description of how pointing to the positive and wanting to promote peace and compassion and joy and how I was planning to do all that was too much of a traditional elevator pitch.  It was too long-winded and generally lost the listener in the details.  It is safe to say that WDS attendees are generally supportive but I saw at least a few eyes glaze over during some of my initial conversations.

While at the zoo, I started to panic a little.  I needed to do something.  I needed a way to describe my passion in a nice concise statement.  I had no idea how to do that.  I had been formulating ideas for over two years and had not come up with such a statement.  How could I do it right away.  I took a deep breath, relaxed a bit, and kept talking to people.  Each conversation led to refinements in my description and by early Saturday morning (the 1st official day of the conference) I had developed what I call my Anti-Elevator Pitch.  And here it is:

I want to help people discover more peace in their lives.

Future blog posts will detail some of the things I want to do to help accomplish this and this blog is certainly a place for me to start.

World Domination Summit 2013, #WDS2013, Portland, Oregon

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

If I had not attended World Domination Summit or some similar type of event, it might have taken me another two years (or more) to summarize my hopes, passions, and goals into that one simple statement.  In my regular life, prior to attending WDS, I just did not put myself in many situations where I had to answer that type of question.  At WDS, I was asked questions like “Why are you here?” or “What is your dream?” at least 100 times and answering those questions 100 times helped me really get a better understanding of the core of my passion.  With that understanding I was able to develop this simple statement to define my passion – I want to help people discover more peace in their lives.

Have you developed what I refer to as an anti-elevator pitch to describe your job, a dream you have, or a current project?

Please let me know your thoughts and dreams.  If you have an anti-elevator pitch please share that if you would like as well.  If you do not have one yet, I would love to help you with it!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

For those that would like to know more about World Domination Summit from the perspective of other bloggers, I have included a few links below to blog posts that I feel help capture some of the spirit of WDS.

Dreams, Doing Things, and Memories – Thoughts on Living a Remarkable Life – Ryan S.

#1 on the Bucket List: Give a Speech to More Than 500 People – Bo Cordle

52 Unconventional Ideas & Stories for Moving From Idea to Impact – Scott Dinsmore  (#31 really resonates with me.  I will explain in a future post.)

Leadership and The Art of Non-Domination (WDS review, Part 1) – Blair Glaser

And finally, Chris Guillebeau provides a recap of WDS 2013 as well as a sampling of about 40 attendee blog posts (at the bottom of the post below the images) titled WDS 2013: A Partial (And Impartial) Recap.

Bo Cordle on stage at WDS 2013

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

Posted in B4Peace, life lessons, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pushing Way Past My Comfort Zone

World Domination Summit, Portland, Oregon

I am a runner and am therefore accustomed to pushing past my comfort zone from both a mental and physical perspective when training and racing.  When it comes to other areas in my life however, I am not proficient at all with leaving the easy, calming comfort of the known.  So this past weekend I took a risk and pushed the envelope.

I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) In Portland, Oregon Friday, July 5 through Sunday, July 7.  For those that do not already know, each year Chris Guillebeau hosts WDS with a focus on how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world.    As you might guess, the conference attracts a huge number of people (over 2800 this year) with big ideas, strong passions, and lots of creative energy.  WDS is a blogger’s dream conference and so naturally I wanted to attend (see #10 on my New Year’s Resolutions post from last December).

It is safe to say that prior to attending WDS, I expected to be inspired by the speakers, workshops, and fellow attendees during my time there.  WDS easily met and surpassed my expectations.  I will leave the specific highlights of WDS for a future blog post however, because I want to focus on something different here – something that was less expected.

Opening Ceremony at the Portland Zoo

I signed up for World Domination Summit back in January.  My excitement grew as the conference approached.  About a week before the conference however I started having a degree of trepidation about attending.  Thoughts like, “What am I thinking,  I do not know anyone there” and “What if I do not fit in” started running through my mind.  But there was no backing out – tickets had already been purchased, travel arrangements had already been made.

So I made a deal with myself – to show up fully for the opportunities that presented themselves at WDS.  Attending WDS was a rare opportunity and I did not want to let my worries keep me from experiencing it completely.

When I arrived at WDS it did seem a little awkward at first.  I did not have anyone to tag along with or to help me break the ice with new people.  I had to rely completely on my own social skills to get the job done.  A scary thought for an introvert like me.  But what I found as I navigated through the crowd of the WDS weekend and attended a full schedule of talks, discussions, workshops, informal meet-ups, etc. was that the reality of it was actually quite liberating.  I met some awesome people at WDS and I hope to keep in touch with as many of them as possible going forward.  Because I was alone, I had complete World Domination Summit 2013, Portland, ORflexibility with how I planned my schedule. I could have chosen to take it easy by attending only the big sessions while skipping out on the smaller meet-ups and the larger celebrations that necessitated closer social interaction.  Instead, I chose to put myself out there and I met all of those great people.  World Domination Summit provided a number of great learning experiences for me – the most unexpected being that I found I can survive quite well in a big crowd of people who I do not know.  In fact, going somewhere you have never been, without anyone else around that you know, and really showing up by being open to the learning opportunities is an experience I recommend to everyone.

Have you pushed past your comfort zone in some way recently?  Please feel free to leave a comment to share your story.

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

*Be looking for at least one more post about my experiences at World Domination Summit 2013 in the near future.

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Peace in Nature Haiku

The May Bloggers for Peace challenge is all about the relationship of art and peace.  Kozo of Everyday Gurus has asked participating bloggers to post about how art and peace are related in their lives.  Some of his suggestions for completing the May challenge are:

  • Create a piece of art that brings peace to the world and post it on your blog.
  • Publish a photo, painting, film clip, poem, sculpture, music video, dance video, or book excerpt that brings peace into your life. Explain how the art makes you a more peaceful person.

My May Bloggers for Peace challenge entry consists of a simple iPhone photo I took while on a business trip in Kentucky this week along with a haiku that I wrote to capture the experience.

The Photo:

Sunset over Morehead, Kentucky

Sunset over Morehead, Kentucky

Haiku:

Mountains at sunset.

Sweet scent of honeysuckle.

I know there is peace.

Explanation:

Nature always helps me feel more at peace.  When the stress and struggles of life start weighing on my mind it is usually an experience with nature that helps calm me down.  This was certainly true this week during my business trip in Kentucky.  The end of fiscal year stresses of my sales job combined with the fact that my exercise routine (running) has been curtailed by a foot injury for the last two months had me feeling low.  Low to the point of actually feeling run down.  On Wednesday, despite this feeling, I went for a walk anyway and I was treated to this scene.  It was a pleasant night with the temperature in the mid 70s.  The sky was vibrant with the pinks, purples, and blues created by the waning sun.  Honeysuckle, blooming thickly in the empty lots around the hotel, produced a heavy, sweet, scent that calmed my mind.  The sounds of crickets in the brush and birds calling to each other in the trees rounded out the experience and helped lift my mood.

Nature has a way of helping me remember how much more there is to this world.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in perceived problems and therefore miss the beauty that is all around.  When I witness the beauty of nature I become thankful.  Thankful that the beauty exists.  Thankful for the opportunity to witness the beauty.  Feeling thankful brings me peace.  My Kentucky sunset experience brought back my peaceful side and the feeling has stayed with me ever since.

Does nature help you feel more at peace?  Does art?  Music?  Please let us know by leaving a comment.

An interesting side note:  I had not read the May Bloggers for Peace challenge prior to my walk this past Wednesday.  I went for the walk and had the peaceful experience first. I returned to my hotel room and then read the challenge.  I knew right away that my walk at sunset experience was what I needed to write about.

If you are a blogger and would like to join this movement, simply click here or on any of the links for Bloggers for Peace within the text of this article to find instructions for how to do so.

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

Related Blogging for Peace Articles

Art – A Bloggers for Peace Post

Peace is Flowing Like a River

A Peace of Picasso

Amitabha Buddhist Retreat Centre Weekly Teaching

Peace and My Piano

Posted in B4Peace, Haiku, Peace | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

May 7 – Basic Goodness Day

I am a big believer in serendipity.  In fact it is one of my favorite words.  I have recently

Beautiful Flowers on Path, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Beautiful Flowers on Path

had a chain of serendipitous events unfold in my life leading up to the point of my writing this post.

As some of you know from my previous posts, I follow a writer/blogger/meditation instructor named Susan Piver.  I am a member of her Open Heart Project which means that I get two emails from her per week, each containing a 10 minute meditation instruction video.  I am a meditation novice but am sensing more and more the importance of developing a regular meditation practice in my life.  At some point many months ago I am sure I read on her web page that a man named Sakyong Mipham is her spiritual teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage.  This did not register with me though until I was listening to an interview of Susan Piver conducted by Jonathan Fields (another writer/blogger that I follow) as part of his Good Life Project.  In that interview I learned that Sakyong Mipham is a runner.  I am a runner too so at that moment Sakyong Mipham caught my attention.

About a week ago (and several months after learning that Sakyong Mipham is a runner) I, on a whim, decided to visit a store I like in the NoDa section of Charlotte, NC called Pura Vida.  On this day, Pura Vida was displaying about 10 books mostly related to spirituality.  While browsing these titles I pleasantly discovered a book titled, Running With the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham!!  This was serendipity in action.  I knew right away that I should purchase this book and promptly did so.  Since purchasing the book I have read a few chapters and really like it.  As you might imagine it focuses on the similarities and differences of running and meditation – two activities that I am very interested in.  One that I have participated in for many years and know pretty well – running.  And another that I have known about for a long time but that I have really just started to explore – meditation.

Scenic trail view at Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Scenic trail view at Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado

So after reading a few pages of this book tonight I decided to try to find Sakyong Mipham on Facebook.  I was successful in doing so and literally in the last hour of the day discovered that Sakyong Mipham had declared May 7 (today – at least when I started this post) to be Basic Goodness Day.

What is Basic Goodness Day (from a note on Sakyong Mipham’s Facebook page):

“When we approach ourselves, others, and our world as basically good rather than basically bad, our actions, words, intentions,aspirations, gestures, energy—everything—change. This subtle shift in our state of mind can alter the environment we live in. It can actually change the world.

 Each of us holds human destiny in our hands. It will be completely determined, not by what we think, but by how we feel. Do we want a world where everyone feels they are basically good, worthy, and kind? I believe we do.

 We invite you to join the effort to declare the truth of goodness and reaffirm our collective belief in ourselves, our fellow humans, and our world.

 We declare May 7, 2013 to be Basic Goodness Day, a day when people all over the world, no matter what their beliefs, religion, culture, or creed, collectively affirm their own and others’ basic goodness.”

~ Sakyong Mipham

Since I did not learn of this until the end of the day on May 7 that means that when you

Sunrise as seen from Hampton Inn and Suites Beachfront Hotel, Myrtle Beach, SC

December Sunrise, Myrtle Beach, SC

ready this post it is no longer May 7 and the official Basic Goodness Day has passed.  No matter.  Simply make today, or some other day, or every day Basic Goodness Day in your life.

How?

Here are some ideas that I plan to use in my own life in order to work on this concept.

I will start with Wednesday, May 8 as my first official Basic Goodness Day and will make an effort to acknowledge Basic Goodness every day going forward.

  • I plan to take time to affirm the basic goodness of my children and my wife.
  • I will also affirm the basic goodness of my parents, my brother and his wife, my in-laws, and other family members to thank them for being who they are.
  • I will make an effort to affirm the basic goodness of friends, coworkers, and other work acquaintances.
  • I will, whenever possible, choose to show my belief in the basic goodness of strangers that I come in contact with on a daily basis.  This can be done without being intrusive by simply looking at people and smiling rather than walking hurriedly past without acknowledging their presence.
  • When I witness the thoughtful or mindful act of another I will acknowledge it and express gratitude.
  • I will relax and acknowledge my own basic goodness.  I am not perfect.  Nobody is.  There is a lot I want to do.  I will get there one step at a time.  I am doing my best and my best is enough.
  • I will look for ways to reach out in peace to people of various religions, cultures, ethnicities, etc..  I have an interest in finding people who believe, as I do, in the possibility of peace.  I will begin making strides to locate others with this same interest.  Together we can focus on our similarities and find ways to bridge the perceived gaps of our differences.
  • Doing all of this will be a challenge, especially at first.  When all else fails, I will take some time to just think about the basic goodness in the world.  Reading Sakyong Mipham’s Basic Goodness Manifesto on a regular basis will help (see below).

I offer my plans for practicing Basic Goodness Day in hopes that they might help others find ways to celebrate basic goodness as well.  Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on how you might celebrate Basic Goodness Day as well.  We can all learn from each other!!

With Peace and Gratitude,

Steve Strother

The Basic Goodness Manifesto:

I trust in my own and others’ goodness.

I know that caring changes everything.

I trust my heart.

I trust you.

~ Sakyong Mipham

Posted in B4Peace, Basic Goodness, inspiration, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments