Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Four Word Self Help

Patti Digh has taken an interesting idea and turned it into a delightfully rich little book.Four Word Self Help - Blog Tour 2010

The concept: compile self-help directives which are exactly four words long. How much insight can be delivered in so few words? When I first heard about her intention, I tried myself to concoct four-word sentences which carried valuable insights into living a life. It's not easy to do!

She has succeeded in not only delivering great, impactful statements of such brevity, she has also used those statements to invite a deeper level of reflection.

One of Patti's strengths is her ability to offer up new ways of considering our daily lives, to step back and feel the implications of the decisions we make each day and the cumulative effect not only on ourselves, but on those with whom we interact.

Her professional background in diversity training and consulting informs her more-personal work, what began as essays written for her daughters years ago, became a blog, then a book (Life is a Verb), and now is an ongoing and ever-enriching journey which she has offered to open to anyone wishing to walk along.

On a personal note, it was three years ago today that Patti and I began corresponding as a result of a comment I left on her blog, 37days. I had dived in for the first time a couple of days before and read many of the existing essays, works she was posting once a week. She responded to a comment I left, and we still are in contact to this day.

It was my great pleasure to be an attendee at the first Life is a Verb retreat in September of 2008 and to meet Patti in person and play with her Circle Project partner, David Robinson. I wrote about that experience here and here.

Four Word Self Help is a little book packed with a great deal of the Digh magic, a wonderful adjunct and a complementary eddy to the main flow which started with Life is a Verb and continues next month with Creative is a Verb. While it is a delight to read on its own merit, I do heartily recommend reading it as a companion to Patti's other books, as they set a philosophical framework within which this little book carries even more weight.

Besides, Life is a Verb contains within its pages the only published illustration I have ever created. That, alone, is reason enough to get a copy and become a fan of the work of Patti Digh!

Friday, September 3, 2010

About a month to go

Julia and I are moving to Raleigh, North Carolina in about a month.

Of course, when you have a month to get ready to move from a house you have lived in for nearly 11 years, a house with a full basement and a family with a slight tendency toward accumulation of stuff, you need to stay busy with sorting (this goes with us, this is trash, this is...oh, look! What is this? I better spend an hour paging through this material which has had no importance to me at all for the last ten years!) and boxing for shipment or tossing into the trash/recycle/giveaway piles.

And, if you are the Hamricks, you take a two-week break right in the middle and drive 1350 miles to the cottage on the lake.

We have a perfectly reasonable explanation: there is work to be done in the house to make it ready for renting to some loving family who will take care of our home by making it their home for as long as they want. The work can happen more efficiently if we aren't in the way.

Any reasonable explanation for heading to the lake (Lake Michigan, really an inland sea) is one we accept and dutifully act to align with.

It means we need to be really productive between now and head-for-the-lake day, and we will need to be really productive when we get back, but we both know that the break will do us a world of good.

We invested a tremendous amount of energy in launching Choosing Easy World, Julia's new book which was released a month ago today and is doing very well (thanks for asking!), and to go straight from that project to the moving-prep project was looking a bit too much like not-easy to us.

So, we will do all we can do until it is time to leave for Michigan, take our break and enjoy it just as if every day there is one which offers us all that is nurturing, fulfilling, and refilling of the reservoirs of energy, then come home and pick up stakes.

It is an exciting time. Julia is going home, as she has lived the majority of her life in North Carolina, and I'm going to my ancestral home--I was born in Chapel Hill, but have lived 95% of my life elsewhere, most of it in Denver--where both my dad and mom's families of origin put down roots.

I've been a Denverite since I was junior-high age, and giving up the familiarity and comfortable feeling of a place I have called home for more than 40 years is worth it, but it is also scary. It is sad to be moving so far from my mom, too, but that's why God made Skype. My kids are already gallivanting the globe, so us living in NC is just another stop for them as they travel all over.

We are very lucky to have found the ideal place in Raleigh for us, and that's what prompted the move to take place now. Julia found the house, I said no--too much money--and she called the number anyway.

After instantly bonding during that phone call, she and the owner's son started working to figure out how to make it possible for us to rent his mom's home. They got it figured out well enough that I was able to get on board, so now we have a signed lease and a home in Raleigh! (as you can see from the not-great photo grabbed from the Google street-view images, we are in a grade A location [groaning and rolling of eyes okay])

The house is in a beautiful, tree-filled area which has no through traffic--the enclave has one way in, and you exit right back that same way--rural-feeling streets with no curb and gutter, just asphalt and grass, and a pretty little lake only a block from our place.

The house is bigger than our Denver place, although without a basement we won't be able to stash nearly as much stuff. This is a good thing, if adding to our current challenge a little.

This new chapter is one we have been anticipating for a long time, and now we are turning the page to see how the chapter starts. I know it will be filled with adventure, joy, thrills, and satisfaction in all ways possible. There will be opportunities to grow and chances to learn more of our own courage and determination. All in all, it will be one more chapter in the book we started writing about the middle of last century. Julia and I each wrote many chapters, and only since 1998 have we cowritten them. This means our shared chapters have an interesting flavor of new mixed with experienced, still learning about each other mixed with the "here I go again...how many times does this lesson need to revisit my life?" feelings which come with the stuff we find to be our companions. Maybe this chapter, we learn some of those life lessons and move on to the next level!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Battle

The battle is joined
forces aligned in opposition

The horn sounds
and peace breaks out, unbidden

Monday, August 16, 2010

Julia hits the big time

We are now almost two weeks into the life of Choosing Easy World, Julia's book which details her own journey into the magical realm where we are designed to thrive.

On the way to this, the 13th day since publication, we are having media adventures!

Early on the morning of the 11th, Julia was on TV.


Later that same day, Julia gave a talk and signed copies of Choosing Easy World at the venerable and much-loved independent book store, the Tattered Cover. It is the single-most-famous indie between Chicago and San Francisco. If you are an author and want to sign in the best book store in Denver, you seek to sign there.

Here's the exterior of this, the third edition of Tattered Cover, located south of town.

Julia, holding a copy of Choosing Easy World, awaiting the appointed hour at which she will give her talk.

And, the line forms for folks who want her to sign their pristine new copies of Choosing Easy World.

As you can imagine, since we were at the TV studio before 7 a.m. and did not leave Tattered Cover until close to 9 p.m., followed by a small celebration at Indulge Wine Bar, it was a day we enjoyed to the hilt and one we were ready to close so we could move on to a good night's sleep.

First, though, we had one more impromptu Easy World adventure to experience.

As we drove home on a route different than the one I intended--the freeway on-ramp was closed, so we chose to drive up a city street instead of looking for another place to get on the fast track home--Julia noticed that there was a patrolman partly hidden by foliage on the side of the road. I noticed I was going faster than the posted 35 mph limit. As we passed him, we saw his lights come on, so I immediately pulled over.

He was from the county sheriff's office and was very polite and patient as we searched in the dark for our insurance card in the glove compartment. I'm good at getting those important documents into the little place, but not so good at removing old ones. So, we kept pulling out more and more pieces of paper, all expired.

The officer finally said, "Let's just go with this one which expired last year." He went back to his patrol car and did whatever it was he did. In the six or eight minutes he was in his car, Julia and I sat. She was invoking Easy World, and I was simply resigned to whatever was to come. In a way, it is Easy World, too, just without any rainbow. Allowing is a huge part of moving into Easy World.

When he came back to my side of the van, he said, "I'm going to let you off with a warning. All you need to do is take your proof of insurance to the county office, and they will dismiss this citation for not having it available for me. There is no fine, and there will be no points once you prove you have insurance."

We drove home with big grins on our faces.

At some point in a couple of weeks--the deputy mentioned that it might take that long for the citation to be available on their computer system--I will need to drive ten miles to the office and get the ticket dismissed, but that's small potatoes compared to the impact my mistake of going too fast could have had. I'm happy to run the errand when the time comes!

Oh...and I have cleaned out the glove box. Only current documents are stored there now!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Helping by staying out of the way (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

It has been a long time since I have written a formally acknowledged Sacred Life Sunday post.

This morning, I reached a tipping point which inspired this.

The world is a big mess. All those folks on the other side of the political chasm are jerks and worse. We are ruining the planet with uncaring and irresponsible actions, best illustrated lately in the Gulf of Mexico. Needless killing continues all over the globe, and we in the United States are providing both cannon fire, and cannon fodder.

What can I possibly do about it all?

My own path to peace--a path so short I can traverse it even as I type, and the keyboard will never be out of reach--is my way of helping.

Becoming a beacon, a human Klieg light intensely lighting the way from where I am to where I am peace, is my own salvation from despair. It is far more than that, though.

By making that journey of a single breath and shining my light, I grant others implicit permission to do the same in their lives, lighting their own lamps.

The very lighting of the lamps provides just what is needed to heal the wounds we have inflicted on each other and on Mother Earth.

The level at which all of the perceived troubles of our existence will be solved is the level we reach when we pause, accept our divinity, and create ourselves as peace, as Love, as accepting beings who know all is well.

The beauty of it is that no knowledge of deep-water drilling or insurgent engagement or dietary requirements for the starving is required.

We help by getting out of the way. It is by allowing all that is, to be, that we come to the aid of our fellow beings. Stepping away from the anguish allows infinite compassion. Radiating Love allows endless capacity for healing.

Breathe.

Relax.

Allow.

Enjoy.

In gratefulness, I remain your good and faithful servant in the Great Game we call life. See you next time around the game board.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh. Okay.

Anyone who pays even a little attention to current events has heard of the guy who, after getting bonked on the head by a piece of luggage and cursed by a passenger in violation of the "stay in your seats until told otherwise" edict, decided he had been abused enough and chose to exit by the inflated slide.

What tickles me no end is how that event becomes a starting point for all manner of stories. This one got me, big time. If you were forced to choose, words unread, between these two people and assigning one the label, "crazy" and the other, "really important guy whose opinion matters to me" would you have chosen as did US Weekly?
Maybe it's just me. I'd rather sit down to share a bite or a beer with the guy on the right.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I live in Easy World

I have had a thought ripening in my head for a week, and I believe it is now time to let it burst forth.

Even as there have been times during the last month, as my wife and I have done all we know how to do in order to make the launch of her book Choosing Easy World as successful as our little Earth-bound selves could make it, that we have stressed out during the process, there have been long stretches of time when I have been flowing along without a care or concern, going about my chores in Easy World.

I do the family grocery shopping, usually with the largest amount of it done early on Saturday morning. A week ago, I drove to the grocery store where I start the odyssey--I shop at three stores on the average Saturday--because it is the one which opens at 6 a.m. and is virtually deserted at that hour. Plus, they are not stocking shelves as they are at my main destination store so it is less of an obstacle course.

What was unique about that drive to the store was that I did not stop all the way there. It's about four miles, and the route includes ten or more traffic lights. One, in particular, is always red if I make the three lights just prior to arriving at that intersection (hey, a computer guy has to do something with all that spare brain power when he is out of work! I track traffic signals and remember the patterns). A week ago, it was green. Heck, all of them were green either in time for me to breeze through or in time for me to slow a bit but not stop and wait.

It's exactly the kind of thing many people would miss! I noticed it because of my, uh, unique passion for such things, and because when you are in Easy World, you are much more aware of RIGHT NOW. You are not trapped in your past or wasting energy worrying about stuff which probably won't erupt into your life at all.

[Editor's note: Rick gets carried away by stuff most people find excruciatingly meh. Skip ahead if you are not fascinated by parking-lot pull-thru's]

Last week, in addition to my "make all the lights" experience, I noticed at my first stop as I drove into the parking lot that the parking place I chose was a pull-thru, which is an opportunity to pull into a spot and keep going so that you are in the spot which would have been occupied by a car facing toward you...only, there is no car there.

I like pull-thru spots because you are heading out, therefore no backing up is necessary when it is time to leave. I really don't like backing out of parking spaces in grocery-store parking lots. It's just scary, as I have thousands of pounds of metal under my control, and the pedestrian I might not see is vulnerable to significant injury if they don't see me coming and I don't know they are there.

At the first store today, I had parked in a spot, a regular spot, and expected to need to back out of it when I came out of the store. In other words, there was a car in the spot opposite me, meaning I could not pull on forward.

Lo and behold, when I come out of the store, the car which had been blocking me was gone. I had a clear path to pull forward, and then head on out of the lot without any backing needed.

Look out! The Hammer is in Easy World!!

Next stop, I see the same situation, in that the parking spot I chose has an occupied opposite spot. No problem! I'll get my stuff in the store, come back out, and the person will have left. I'm understanding all of this now. I have this figured out!

When I finish shopping, I come out to discover that the car blocking me is still there.

Oh, the agony! The car blocking me is still there.

I have fallen out of Easy World!!

Thank goodness I was able to let go of that initial impression easily. I had fallen for a Difficult World Dictator trick, which is to lure us into thinking that we are able to control/drive/predict exactly how Easy World will deliver the goods for us. Of course, we are not. If we fall for the trick and think we are in control, our first conflict with reality will sell us that the DWD was right. Life is not easy! It is hard, hard, really hard.

Wrongo, moosebreath!

Easy World is totally autonomous when it comes to playing out how something happens when we are there to witness it. Think about it! If the way to Easy World is paved with ALLOWING tarmac, you gotta know that allowing is a required action in order to stay put in easy, breezy, lemon-squeezy, twice-as-nonsneezy world.

That's where I had booted myself to the curb. I had decided that my first experience of the day, where the opposite car was gone when I came out, would be replicated at store # 2.

When my expectation wasn't met, when the car opposite was still in the way and I had to back out, I doubted at first. Practice in this tricky "allowing" thing made it possible for me to get over myself and continue on my route. Before I had traveled even six blocks, I was rewarded with another light sequence made which normally is red, and I noticed a traffic policeman on the side of the road awaiting speeders in time to make sure I was at a legal speed (not that good, law-abiding Rick would *ever* exceed the posted limit!).

Every single item on the grocery list my lovely wife had made was found with ease and acquired without the slightest difficulty. This is not always the case! Do you think it is easy to find free-range, organic spring mix? Most of it is grown in captivity, not allowed to roam. [grin]

Bottom line: Easy World thrives on residents which allow it to do its work, to provide exactly what is needed at exactly the proper moment with exactly no drama at all.

We are the source of all of our drama! When we allow our lives to unfold while, at the same time, holding to our passions and seeking their expression, we are in a sweet spot, a divinely designated place, a matrix I like to call Easy World.