Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“I write to create myself.”

– Octavia Butler 

In a high school philosophy class, I learned about Locke’s tabula rasa concept—the theory that at birth the mind is a “blank slate” without rules; sensory experiences shape who we are. It’s the “nurture” over “nature” argument. While I found it intriguing, I didn’t fully buy into it, given how many personality traits I had in common with my parents and even with grandparents and relatives who had passed away before I was born. 

As I reflect on the nature vs. nurture debate decades later, I see it as limiting, and somewhat reactive. Yes, we are partly the amalgamation of our genetics, our experiences and our environment, but we are more. Rather than defining ourselves by others, we can chart new ground, creating a new version of ourselves in which we take ownership of who we are and who we want to be. Now I see a blank journal as a different type of tabula rasa: a clean slate from which to create our future selves. 

Who are you? Who do you want to be? Launch your future self on the page.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.”

– Donald L. Hicks, Look into the Stillness
When we visited Nuniq, a one-year-old polar bear cub at our local zoo, he dove into the water and swam beside us as we made our way around the exhibit. When I knelt and placed my hand on the glass, he maneuvered a ball to the window between his nose and my palm. And when we went downstairs to the underwater viewing area, he dove down and placed a paw on the glass between us—a beautiful soul seeking and making a connection.

We don’t need words to make a connection. And by giving ourselves opportunities to be present in our lives—to be open to the unexpected—meaningful moments emerge.  

What can you learn from the animals in your life?


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“Every time I get a script, it’s a matter of trying to know what I could do with it. I see colors, imagery. It has to have a smell. It’s like falling in love.”

 – Paul Newman

Not planning to move, I rarely notice home For Sale signs when driving. However, one stopped me: Rather than touting an updated kitchen or a reduced price, the panel atop a house’s For Sale sign said, “Fall in Love.” Those three words prompted me to look at the house—a charming little home on a country road.

To some degree, isn’t falling in love what we all want? Whether spending time with people, choosing a major in college, selecting a career path, trying out a new restaurant, reading a book by your favorite novelist or traveling to a new town, it’s always a joy to feel the sense of exhilaration and euphoria associated with falling in love. It’s a feeling we get, not something that can be quantified by checking off boxes.

When have you felt the sense of exhilaration associated with falling in love? How might you create opportunities in your life to fall in love in some way?


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“You’re beating the drum for justice!”

– Old man in wheelchair to equal rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

Injustices big and small happen daily, and it’s tempting to sit back and not engage. In my case, the actions of my colleagues inspired me to go out of my comfort zone to help plan an event promoting awareness of the plight of contingent labor on college campuses.

Most students have no idea that some of their instructors earn surprisingly low wages and may lack job security and medical benefits. Exposing students to the negative consequences of inequitable employment practices within higher education is a step toward change, a step toward justice.

How might you beat the drum for justice?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

– Milton Berle

For over a year, I’ve been working toward the goal of teaching yoga-writing workshops on my own. Although I have taught writing for years and am now a registered yoga instructor, no job postings exist for the position I seek. It’s something I need to create for myself by meeting with people I know—friends, yoga teachers, studio owners, gym administrators—to share my vision and ask for guidance.

When graduating university students tell me they aren’t finding job postings at the companies where they want to work, I encourage them to request an informational interview with an employee—a chance to learn more about the firm and discover how others found their way to work there. 

What steps can you take to build a door to the life you envision?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

People often “come up with a solution to their own problem halfway through writing.”

– Jordan Harbinger, talk show host and social dynamics expert
Talk show host Jordan Harbinger used to have a live Sirius XM satellite radio show that took callers, but now he fields audience questions through a segment called Fan Mail Friday on his podcast. “I love making people detail their questions in writing,” he says. 

He sees a benefit to having people think things out not in real time while on the phone but by actually sitting down and writing. People often “come up with a solution to their own problem halfway through writing,” he notes. He then helps them with the “how to” tactical planning process and/or comments on how they’re handling their current situation. 

What problem are you facing? Invite writing to shed light on a solution.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Journal Prompt

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

– Anonymous

It’s tough not to compare ourselves to others, especially when our world seems set up that way. The percentile results from standardized test scores are based on performance relative to that of other test takers. Sports teams enter competitions with expectations based on rankings compared to other teams. In our daily lives, we see people who have or do more of whatever it is we want for ourselves.

For some, comparison can serve as a motivator. “If she can do X, I can too.” For others, however, comparison is counterproductive, leading to frustration. By focusing on incremental steps to foster growth in whichever area we want to succeed—going for a walk after work instead of sitting on the couch, making a healthier eating choice than yesterday’s, writing a paragraph a day toward a book, we take the reins and move closer to what we want for ourselves. 

What small step can you take today to get closer to what you want for yourself?