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Posts Tagged ‘Anais Nin’

My friend Brian and I take a photo journey each year to one of our country’s spectacular national parks. Our journeys have allowed us to drink in the amazing beauty our country offers – Acadia in Maine, Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, Big Bend in Texas, Canyonlands in Utah, Lassen in California and so many more.

 

This July our destination was Olympic National Park in Washington state. Choosing Olympic in July meant one thing – this trip, like most of our trips, was not a vacation.

 

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

You see, Brian is an excellent photographer (view more of his fantastic photography here), which means our trips revolve around chasing the light of dawn and dusk. The first light of day on this trip was at 5:00 AM, and the last light of day was around 9:45 PM. That meant we were up at 4:00 AM to capture a sunrise and not back to our hotel room until 10:30 PM after the sun’s candle went dim.

 

Given that we didn’t get to bed until midnight, we essentially got 4 hours of sleep each night. Let’s face it, that’s not sleep . . . that’s a nap.

 

Yet, even though many of those never-ending days were filled with long 10-mile hikes, aching muscles, and carrying heavy backpacks filled with camera equipment, food and water, every minute of the day was exhilarating! We were never tired. In fact, it was the opposite. We were alert, alive and excited!

 

This experience powerfully demonstrated the importance of doing what you love and doing something that stimulates your mind and body. Whether that is exploring nature, working with children, mastering a sport, building a business, being a parent, practicing and art form, or anything else that fills your heart, the power of that passion is immeasurable. And to do anything less with your precious time – the short 24,528 days we are here on earth – is the true definition of dying.

 

What is it I want to do with the one precious, wild thing called my life? Where am I in my great dream called my life? Where have I allowed my fire to go dim?

Anais Nin

 

Howard Thurman once wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” The message here is abundantly clear and I probably don’t need to say much more. Rather, I will simply encourage you to ensure that somehow in your precious life you take time to do something that stimulates your passions and makes you come alive.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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A few months ago a good friend was visiting, having just returned from a short adventure in China. I really admire how he is living his life. The trip to China was about taking a chance. Chasing an opportunity to see where it might lead. This friend is also someone who easily dances with life’s bigger, more philosophical questions, which is another reason I enjoy our friendship so much.

 

In our last conversation I asked him, “What is your philosophy of living?” We took a moment to get clarity about what I really meant by the question and finally settled on, the principle that guides your daily actions. He wrestled with the question for a bit as he thought out loud, but eventually declared an answer that seemed graceful, fitting and captured the essence of his life.

 

I, of course, knew I now needed to answer this question for myself. I pondered it for a while until this thought emerged – Leave everyone I touch with a greater sense of hope and possibility. At my core, I believe this is who I am, how I approach life and what guides my daily actions.

 

philosophy1If you do not have a sense of what your Philosophy of Living is, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to distinguish this for yourself. I do not believe many people take the time to understand this about themselves, and as a result, they may feel a bit rudderless in life, wondering what they are doing, why they are here or what the meaning of life is.

 

The irony of those questions is that they are not bigger questions about life itself, but rather questions about YOU as an individual and how you define your life. Many people avoid thinking about this because they feel it is hard. In reality, I think they avoid thinking about it because then they might have to actually begin living their life as they truly desire.

 

Don’t waste another year of your precious life avoiding this question. Seek the clarity your Philosophy of Living provides and set sail in 2015 with a stiff wind at your back and a strong rudder to guide you!

 

“What is it that I really want to do with the one wild, precious thing called my life? Don’t go back to sleep. The fires are always kindled. Don’t go back to sleep.”

– Anais Nin

 

The year is young! As arbitrary as time and our declaration of a new year is, it is an opportunity for all of us to begin anew!! If you feel you have been wandering aimlessly through your life or business, now is the perfect time to reset your direction and commitment.

 

As hard as that may sound at first, all it really requires is some quiet time away from your distractions so that you can focus on and reconnect to who you really are and what you are committed to. You may pretend you don’t know, but that is just another smokescreen keeping you from what you really desire.

 

Read how this applies to your business here.

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If I had to measure my life of late, I would hardly say it registers on any scale of magnitude. To be honest, it has become quite stale and safe. Even I think it is boring. As a friend recently commented, I have become “a prisoner of my own mind” trapped in a routine of living and limiting beliefs that promises little in the way of an exciting future.

 

With this state of mind as a backdrop, I recently had the pleasure of being a tourist in my own backyard. I took a ferry across New York harbor, passed under the welcoming glow of Lady Liberty’s golden torch, and made my way to Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants passed through the halls of Ellis Island with little more than hope and a dream filling their pockets. Many of them confronted great amounts of fear, disease and uncertainty on their harrowing journeys from their homeland. At the end of their journey, they traversed an understated, but wonderfully significant area of Ellis Island that came to be known as the Stairs of Separation.

 

These worn black stairs are where most immigrants took their last steps as their “old self” before they left behind all they knew and stepped into the New World. To the left, and they were off to the thriving metropolis of New York City, with its skyscrapers reaching as high as their hopes. To the right, and they were off to the Wild West to chase a dream they carried with them across the seas. Down the center, and they sadly were detained or returned to the land from which they came. Thankfully, most did not travel the center stairs.

 

As I stood at the top of these stairs, staring out a window that perfectly framed the green Statue of Liberty, I thought about my grandparents, and so many others, who tearfully walked each step, with only an uncertain future and a belief in themselves pulling them forward.

 

Their courage is astonishing.

 

After some moments of reflection, I chose the right steps. My spirit headed west, yearning to be awakened from its slumber to once again feel alive and experience adventure.

 

Like the immigrants, I do not know what awaits me in my new world, but the uncertain future pulls me forward nonetheless.

 

Wherever you are in your journey, know that adventure still awaits you. The prison bars that surround us are most often imagined . . . yet they feel so real. But the same imagination that keeps us trapped can create the greatest prison break in history, freeing us to live that dream we so deeply desire.

 

What is it that I really want to do with the one wild, precious thing called my life? Don’t go back to sleep. The fires are always kindled. Don’t go back to sleep.

– Anais Nin

 

What journey or risk will you take this fall? Will you have the same courage the immigrants possessed to walk the Stairs of Separation and begin your journey, or will you live a safe life, never leaving the shores of the comfortable place you call home?

 

Here’s a little inspiration for you when you are standing at the doorway of adventure, uncertain as to whether or not to walk through. I say take that first step, and see what you find, for the journey awaiting you, unfolds one step at a time.
 
 

Photo Credit: Ed Karjala

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