There's good news for those of us who love to travel, but don't have the funds for a bus ticket, let alone a plane ticket. Rumor has it - from those rumor-mongering neurophysicists - that PLANNING for a trip is as stimulating to the mind as actually being in an exotic environment, feeling the sand between your toes, or smelling the cool mountain breezes, or listening to the calls of the unseen birds in the jungle canopy. The even BETTER news is that researching, planning, and envisioning your travels presumably prepares your mental wiring to be able to say YES to the universe when, out of the blue, the stars align and a ticket to Aruba appears in your mailbox. Quantum physics suggests that we attract that which we attend to. It is my desire to attract the opportunity to explore as many places on the globe as possible. So, I'm willing to give it a try. And I'm willing to let my fellow Dabblers choose my first destination - either Scotland or Greece. Please comment with pros/cons/gutfeelings/randomvotes, and then once the choice is made, we will start planning over on the Study Abroad page. You may all join me in planning for a trip to the chosen location, or follow the same process in preparing for your dream trip. The polls are now OPEN.
Above: Someplace in Greece at dawn.
Right: Someplace in Scotland at dusk.
I'm there already...
In the past few weeks, I have failed at 2 stated goals:
1. to write one blog post p/day for 7 days straight
2. to lose 7 lbs in one month, in order to claim some winnings from the DietBet pot (a pretty cool site.)
- ALSO TRUE -
In the past few weeks, I have made significant progress on two projects:
1. I managed to get 5 blog posts written during that exceptionally crazy week
2. I managed to lose 6 pounds during one month
True, I did not reach my named goal in either case, but the effort brought me closer to both valued targets than I would have reached without participating in these challenges. At Dabble University, I offer the kind of progress toward valued learning that comes with stating your hopes and bearing witness to one another's efforts. I don't know exactly what final form this site will take, but for now, I am offering a chance to help me get things moving in the right direction by becoming a V-Flyer subscriber.
For the LOW LOW PRICE of $10.00, you can become a V-Flyer Subscriber. As a V-Flyer, you will have access to the V-Flyer Forum where we will dabble together on topics of mutual interest and/or personal value. The first 20 subscribers will also be entered into a drawing for an exclusive DabbleU tote bag!!! I know, right?
Now, in order to model good dabbling closure, I want to share with you my final (for now) learnings around the topic of Breathing, which I have been aggressively researching for the past few weeks. First of all, yes, I am breathing more clearly now, mostly due to getting over a lingering cold. But also, thanks to some wisdom shared by a friend of mine who is a Breathing Master. Meagan Johnson is both a professional vocalist and a teacher of the Alexander Technique (check out her website HERE), both of which center themselves in proper breathing. In a short interview with Meagan, she shared these words:
In the Alexander Technique, I instruct people to stop trying to "take a breath."
First, the goal is to release the breath that is already in your lungs, even if it's just a teaspoon.
Second, pause. Wait without holding or tensing. Release the tension in your neck and shoulders.
When your body says "breathe," ALLOW the breath to return.
Try not to "take" a big breath, but to see what comes to you.
I am drawn to this concept of not TAKING a breath, but ALLOWING breath to return - trusting in life to give what is needed without grasping and gasping. The universe is on my side in this - it wants to give me the breath I need in order to thrive. So, just let it.
Finally, I stumbled across a video series that I've been enjoying: Cosmic Kids Yoga. Clearly, as stated, it is meant for kids. But, I find it mesmerizing and adorably affirming as Jaime leads us through our yoga/breathing exercises while telling us stories in a perky British way - encouraging us to "try not to wobble." I mean, how can you resist a Zen Yoga instructor who sprinkles her lessons with "Lovely. Gosh your clever!" and who ends her lessons with "... and now, we give ourselves a cuddle."
Reminder - SUBSCRIBE NOW TO V-FLYERS AND BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED FOR THE DABBLEU TOTE BAG DRAWING!
I gave myself permission to skip yesterday's blog, and to miss acing this blog-a-day challenge for the week. I was entrusted with preparing a funeral service, and that just had to take priority. Tonight, I'm back home catching up some "homework" before working on a sermon, while battling a cold which has decided to sneak in while my guard is down. It is tempting to pass on this one as well - especially since I found out that none of my previous posts have actually survived the submission process at the challenge site, due to technical difficulties on their end. Have I racked up enough pity points to let this day pass as well?
Here's my compromise. I have collected a few quotes about breathing which have either inspired me, or made me laugh - both bonus points for the day. I will share a few with you here, and then we shall all move on in GREAT HOPE that tomorrow will bring more time to breathe in a blog-worthy way.
“There is a saying in the Neverland that,every time you breathe, a grown-up dies.” - author, J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
“Yes, they are elves," Legolas said. "and they say that you breathe so loud they could shoot you in the dark." Sam hastily covered his mouth.” - author, J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)
"Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again." - author, L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz)
"I opened the large central window of my office room to its full on the fine early May morning. Then I stood for a few moments, breathing in the soft, warm air that was charged with the scent of white lilacs below." - author, Sir Angus Wilson (The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot) (yes, I'm already thinking about that first whiff of lilacs in a few months.)
"Every day I try to do breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. These things sound awfully cliche, but they help me slow down and try to point to a truth." - actor, David Duchovny (come on... It's Mulder. From the X-Files. The truth is out there...?) Never mind. He inspires me :)
On Monday, I committed to blogging every day for a week. That evening we got the news that my husband's aunt had died - a classy, intelligent, spiritually adventurous woman. Tuesday morning, I received news that a member of my congregation had died and that I would be needed for a Memorial Service on Saturday. This was a man who lived life on the go, pausing only to dish up cones to customers at the family Frozen Custard shop. That evening, I got an email letting me know that one of my best friends from high school had lost her mother - a woman who had patiently hosted countless sleepovers for us throughout our teen years, so I attended her service on Wednesday. This morning (Thursday), as I was preparing to go visit with the family from my church, I got a call saying that ANOTHER member had suddenly died - one of my favorite older gentlemen. A couple of years ago, I had declared he and his wife, both in their 80's, to be the VERY CUTEST COUPLE ON EARTH. They have held that title ever since. But, before I actually walked out the door, I did a quick check of Facebook only to learn that a childhood friend had just died suddenly. She was the pesky little girl whose summer cottage was next door to ours - adorable, wiry, limber, curious, and determined to spend as much time with her older neighbors as humanly possible. Mostly we let her. Because she was really cute. How this beautiful, now grown woman, with 4 children of her own and a job teaching school could suddenly pass is a story I've not yet heard, but what I do know is that another light has gone out in the world.
My dabbling topic for the week was/is that of "breathing." If I needed any reminders of the power of a single breath ... no longer. With so much loss comes the recognition of so much love and so much life. Breathing into it all.
(Image: view from my writing desk)
Here we are on Day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge. Yesterday, I announced that I would enter into an official Dabbling exploration of BREATHING. For those of you who have been following this blog challenge, I invite you to note that, even as you are reading these words so artfully arranged before you, your body is taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. Good for you. Well done. What you may not know is that you are simultaneously expelling moisture from your body. But now that you do know, I'll bet you're suddenly thirsty. Clearly there is a lesson to be learned here - too much breathing can dehydrate you, so choose wisely.
This is going to be a short blog because, not only am I struggling to breathe without becoming parched, but I am also keeping a close eye on my forehead. My first foray into this field of breathing led to some disturbing research suggesting that "simple breathing exercises can help to oxygenate and rejuvenate your hair and entire body." In digging deeper, I discovered that what the author really meant was that breathing can help to rejuvenate your hair ON your entire body. Specifically, it seems, if you naively embrace the pop science that believes in the health benefits of breathing, you will expose yourself to the potential unintended consequence of thicker, bolder, "what is that crawling around on your face?" eyebrows. While this may be a trend in some celebrity circles, I am sticking to shallow breaths until further notice.
Last week, I made two promises: 1) I vowed that I would blog every day for a week, starting yesterday. When you finish reading this, I will have completed 2/7 of that pledge. 2) I also promised someone that I would give meditation a try. I've made fleeting efforts in the past, but they were less an experience of meditation than one of stressing out in a less comfortable position than usual. Weirdly, it's not the quiet that disturbs me - as an introvert, I'm pretty content with the idea of being alone with my thoughts, until my thoughts finally get bored and leave, allowing me (presumably) to enter into a meditative state. It's the whole breathing thing that freaks me out. Every "guide" I've listened to or read has started with this simple instruction of "listen to your breathing." It is meant to relax me, but as soon as I start paying attention to what my lungs are up to, the whole system goes haywire. I am reminded of the days before a piano recital. The music is memorized, and my fingers know exactly where they need to be when, and everything is in place - until I start actually thinking about how to play the piano. Suddenly, my fingers start tripping over each other and I lose my place in the music, and the flowing notes of Für Elise turn into Chopsticks meets Falling Down the Stairs meets Sudden Stop.
This fear of the sudden stop has prevented me from finding the focus on breathing to be an effective pre-meditative relaxation technique. The minute I sit down, straighten my back, plant my feet and dutifully turn my attention to my breathing, I discover that I am not, in fact, getting enough air. Panic sets in and my breaths become increasingly shallow and rapid and ... I'm gasping just thinking about it.
My goal with www.dabble-u.com, is to help people engage with their interests long enough to allow those interests to change them in some way. Dabble ducks feed from whatever is available just below the surface of the water - dipping in just long enough to grab their meal. But it is a meal. What they find there in the shallows is enough to feed them, to sustain them, and to nurture their growth. It makes sense for me to spend a few days dabbling in "breathing." After all, it's kind of at the center of everything I do. I will be contacting some people I know who are in the "business of breathing," while reading, studying, watching, experimenting, and - with any luck - figuring out how to breathe in a way that deepens my connection to life. If you have any thoughts, or want to join me on this Dabble exploration, please comment below.
As I mentioned in my last post, I am participating in the Your Turn Challenge Blog beginning today and going for a week. So, this is the first of seven "blog events!" (kind of like a "weather event!" but without the shivering/soggy/windblown reporter.) Wait - we interrupt this blog post for a Special News Bulletin: "Weather Channel Reporter in a Storm" is an actual Halloween costume option - see Exhibit A.
While it's true that my earliest vocational goal was to become the next "Wendy the Weather Girl" for Romper Room - following my actual appearance in Miss Margaret's Magic Mirror on my 3rd birthday (it's true - in an episode similar to this one), that is not, in fact, the purpose of this post.
Instead I want to answer the question which is on all of your minds - what will I win if I manage to post something every day this week? Answer: nothing. zero. zilch. nada. zippo. diddly-squat. There is no reward awaiting me as I post my final challenge blog on Sunday. If there's no reward, then - you may ask - am I doing this to avoid some sort of punishment? Am I truly so weak-willed that I need the lurking threat of public shame and humiliation for failing to follow through on an announced intent to prod me into doing what is to my benefit anyway? ................... maybe......
But, when Miss Margaret's Magic Mirror saw me on my 3rd birthday and spoke my name on national television, I'm fairly certain that the vision for Dabble University was planted in my mind, recognizing that I would come to know so many others whose names may not have been spoken on National Television by Miss Margaret, but who would need to be affirmed in other ways. I would come to believe that some of us are Dabblers whose purpose and meaning is found in allowing our minds to explore at will, satisfying our curiosities and indulging our interests as they emerge. But, that brief moment on NATIONAL TELEVISION also gave me a taste of community, witnessing how each individual has their moment in the Magic Mirror (or not... sorry.....), but thrives when we become part of a dabbling flock that encourages, challenges, and cares whether or not we write 7 blogs just because we said we would.
(Note to moderators of the Your Turn Challenge: if you change your mind and decide to award a prize to THIS winner, the following would not go unappreciated):
I have been spending WAAAAAY too much time trying to figure out the best way to use this blog as an entry point for those who read it, and have concluded that there is no particular flavor or theme that will characterize the entries that follow. I am just going to be Me with You, which means I'm going to be all over the map. Today, we are in Okabena, MN (a spot I just randomly landed on in Google Earth), which apparently has a population of 188 people as of the 2010 census, and is currently a sunny 36° as of this writing. Just think, if those 188 people stumbled across this blog and subscribed (see V-Flyers page for update)... oh, the dabbling we could do.
One of the challenges faced by dabblers is that our dabbling activities are seen as "extra-curricular" or "distractions" or "frivolous." This is especially true when you are broke (that would be me), and the job market seems to have specifically decided that your particular degrees, skills, and experiences are no longer of value (also me), and you have every reason to be completely depressed (should be me.) But, I would contend (she says in her most persuasive debater's voice) that it is in these challenging times that there is a greater need for dabbling than ever. So, I dedicate this blog post to any one of you who are going through a rough patch...
There are periods in our life where we may become tempted to define ourselves by what we are NOT. We become the absence of things - the lack of a job, the emptiness of a wallet, the blank spaces on our dance card. But Dabblers don't have to look very far at all to find something that grabs our attention and reminds us of our own substance - what we ARE.
Following my random curiosities allows me to continue to become a more interesting person to be around - especially for ME. I mean, I'm stuck with myself all day. I have to listen to my mind jabbering nonstop. Would I rather listen to the squawkings of my discouraged, bitter brain, or to the mirthful glee of my neural synapses as they fire in anticipation of some new discovery. I say, Let's Go Team Snap, Crackle & Pop! - who, by the way, were designed by Vernon Grant for Kellogg's "Rice Krispies," which is adorably packaged as "Rice Bubbles" in Australia. True fact. What else makes Australia adorable in your mind? Comment below. (p.s. this week, I will be blogging every day as part of the Your Turn Challenge - so, this is my warm up round.)
Dabble University has been closed for renovations for these past few months. There has been a lot of enthusiastic energy directed my way as people are immediately drawn to this idea. A number of people have made it clear that Dabble University could be big, Big, BIG! And these are BIG people! And so, I have been studying, attending conferences, talking with "experts," and trying to figure out the one question that everyone asks: how are you going to make money with this? Months later, the truth is - I don't know. I would like to know, because my hope is to ultimately turn this into a project that not only supports my family, but that will allow me to support so many of the great organizations in the world that are working to serve people, animals, the environment, etc. But, if I wait to figure it all out, I will never make anything happen.
So, for the folks who join me on this journey, we're going to just begin and let the algorithmic analytics fall where they may!
For this re-entry post, I wanted to share with you a brilliant idea I had as I was trying to sort through boxes of old artwork created for me by my two (mostly) grown children over the course of many years. What does one do with these sentimental masterpieces? Obviously, one cannot simply trash that painting of the cowSTARbikeTREEmonster thingy. Or the pen and ink study of our family, lovingly highlighting the GIANT FROG that apparently lives just outside the door. About halfway through the first box, it came to me. I could combine my career as a Dabbler with my role as a mother, and I could reciprocate by creating cherished memories of my own for each of my children to receive, hang on their respective walls and then save FOREVER. And so it begins...
You're welcome. Now that I've given you a new outlet for your dabbling impulses, you can do something for me. If you have any interest in seeing Dabble University become A THING, please subscribe to the blog, or click on the Facebook and/or Twitter links below and let me know you're here. Yay for You!
To really master a subject, you should know it well enough to teach it. Given that, I find that a good measure of a successful dabble is - do you know it well enough to teach it to a 6 month old? Coincidentally, I have a 6 month old living in my house at this moment! Meet my grand-daughter, Leona - a willing (aka "captive") audience for this lesson in Avian Anatomy (a topic suggested by her other grandmother, Karla.)
After this afternoon's crash course, Leona could confidently point out the cranium, cervical vertibrae, scapular, tibia, fibula, and furcula (though she may opt for "wish bone"), carpals, metacarpals and phalanges. It is equally possible that she might perform a taste test on this diagram, and then drool in an adorable way. The important thing here is that, in absorbing the knowledge in a deep enough fashion to share it with another, I am more likely to retain it myself. Have I now MASTERED the field of Avian Anatomy? Absolutely not. As dabblers, we are free to explore without the pressure to master. Likewise, we are at liberty to veer off our initial path to follow our curiosities as they unfold - which is what landed me atop the Times Square Building in the previous post.
For the sake of demonstration purposes, I have kept this particular dabbling journey relatively short - just offering an example of what may happen when we turn our dabbling attentions toward a topic of interest, or an activity, or a new skill. If I were to stay with this subject, I might:
1. go birdwatching
2. build a bird skeleton out of toothpicks
3. consider how their internal organs relate to their food choices, flight, song, etc.
4. research the mechanics of flight, and drift off into learning more about Amelia Earhart and Nellie Bly
5. visit a nearby farm and hang out with the chickens
6. challenge people to wishbone duels until I win and get my wish
7. go hang-gliding (ok, that might be my wish...)
8. get sidetracked by the passing thought of cuckoos and cuckoo clocks and the Black Forest of Germany and (... sorry, I'm back. Just spent some time chasing links related to the original cuckoo clocks and the fact that "The mechanism to produce the cuckoo call was installed in almost every kind of cuckoo clock since the middle of the 18th century and has remained almost without variation, until the present." (Wikipedia.) (Huh.)
9. interview someone who actually knows about avian anatomy (most experts LOVE to talk about what they LOVE.)
10. learn about the kinds of birds who live right near me, and find out what kind of food/housing support would be most beneficial to them.
11. read a book on John James Audubon.
In fact, I may go do one of those things now. How about you?