Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to Write Your Eulogy

Imagine this: you are in a funeral home surrounded by your friends, family and other familiar faces. It's decorated with your favorite flowers. The photo on display at the center of the room is your own. The program has your name on it. You died last week.

This exercise is from the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. 

Covey asks the reader to picture themselves at their own funeral and asks:
  • What are they saying at your eulogy?
  • How are they describing you?
  • What kind of impact did you have on them?

Covey makes an interesting point: There are various roles we lead in life, and many relationships that we choose to foster. Do you want to be a loving parent, a prolific artist, a constructive community member, an effective activist, or a passionate  careerist? 

Keeping the end in mind might help us set our priorities today.

Covey says the next step is to take that list and actually make it real by blocking out time on the weekly calendar. How many hours, days, weeks, months, years will we put toward it? This is the true art of scheduling. 

When I did this exercise I learned that self-discovery isn't easy. It takes effort to articulate values and life goals—but they are definitely there, sometimes hidden in the subconscious. I sat down with pen and paper one day and thought long and hard about Covey's words. 

It took some time, but I pulled a few things to the surface and found the spots in my schedule to make it happen. That's why I volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters—and during my busy months when I can't devote as much time to them, I can at least spread the word,** which is just as valuable.

It's a deep question to sit with, but I'm glad I did. I straight up asked myself:

What do you want in life? And what do you plan to do about it?

**There are 600 littles on the waiting list hoping for a mentor...just in Puget Sound alone. 
Most of these children are boys who don't have a strong father figure in their lives, but there just aren't enough male volunteers. If you know someone who might be a great mentor, let them know. It doesn't take much, but it makes a huge impact. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self-Compassion: More Powerful Than You Think

                          "You really should be kind to yourself, 
                       and it'll actually be really healthy if you are." 

Check out this interview with Dr. Kristin Neff on compassion science and it's relationship to your self esteem.

Kudos to Dr. Neff at the University of Texas for pioneering this highly intuitive, yet much needed field.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gettin' Back to Nature

Ahhh...the joys of modern industrialized life. There's even a meme that pokes fun at how spoiled we are:

As time passes, our world becomes more urbanized...and what's not urbanized becomes suburbanized. There are more buildings, vehicles, pollution, and fewer outdoor communal spaces. With all the privilege and convenience, I wonder: are we losing touch with nature?

Nature and humans used to share a deep bond. Aside from the fact that nature provides life force, the simple act of observing the natural world has driven math and science. It has inspired us to think and question why things happen the way they do—take great thinkers like DaVinci or Darwin for example. And with physics, humans have come up with some answers.

For me, long hikes teach me to appreciate and understand the value of life on earth. Enjoying nature—and soaking it all in—awakens my senses to the beauty of the trees, water, mountains, sky, and critters. Have you ever just layed on the grass and observed how the trees move in the wind? Those are my moments of zen.

But I'll admit, Seattle spoils me with easy to access gorgeous scenes from Mount Rainier to the Olympics.   

At Crystal Mountain with my best ski buddy/trad climber extraordinaire Lindsey. 

For my friends out there surrounded by the urban jungle, get creative. Go to a park or place a bird feeder at your window. Got any vacation time? May I suggest a couple of the most majestic places Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

The goal is to immerse ourselves in nature's grandeur. It's easy to fall in love with the outdoors, the hard part is just allocating the time and making it happen. But for me personally, it's worth it. Nature is our greatest gift, a gift we owe to ourselves, and a gift meant for sharing.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


As a yoga newbie, I heard the word “Namaste” a lot, but never reeeally understood what it meant.

yoga cameo in the short film Everyday is a Journey (I'm in the grey pants)

Namaste means "I bow to you.” For the fellow linguistic nerds out there, it is derived from Sanskrit and combines two words, ‘Namaḥ’ and ‘te.’ Namaḥ means 'bow' or 'adoration' and te means 'to you.'

What a poetic concept—bowing to others with admiration.

My translation is, “I open my heart and bow to the magic inside of you (which is also inside me).”

It means seeing people clearly for what they truly are…as the miracles of life. The fact that we all beat the odds to get here—from the big bang to procreation—is truly awe-inspiring! Namaste goes deeper than just understanding that means cherishing it and relishing in its beauty. I'll definitely bow to that!

“Namaste” is also a good reminder to drop stereotypes and get to know them for who they really are.

Sure, that may not always be easy. Who hasn’t come across a rude person or an awkward situation? Who hasn’t been disappointed or hurt? Sh*t happens, but I view those bumps along the road as opportunities to exercise compassion. By taking a moment to pause, breathe, and actually say Namaste, I remember that everyone has faults (especially me).

When we accept our humanness and the humanness of others we relieve ourselves from carrying an unnecessary and stressful burden. It’s liberating.

Disclaimer: exercising compassion doesn’t mean we have to like everyone’s personality or put up with abuse. We luckily have the freedom to choose the people we enjoy. We can open up and learn from everyone who crosses the path.

So, to you my wonderful reader, I bow to you. I bow to the love, magic, and beauty inside of you. From the bottom of my heart to yours…Namaste.

3-10-12 edit: A Redditor offered their own interpretation of Namaste, which I also really like. "The spirit in me, sees, acknowledges, and bows to the spirit in you." [show Redditor Frost 57 some karma]