Shoot Blanks

What do most (if not all) books have in common?  A blank page defiled by the words “this page intentionally left blank.”

As if failure to declare this intention would result in a lawsuit.  But who really cares in the first place?

I’ve bookmarked, color coded, tabbed, and dog eared countless pages. But that blank page always goes without attention.  Maybe there is more to

be told on that singular page than any paragragraph in any book.  At least

one beckoning message is for us to “leave room.”

Our lives are filled with obligations and we saturate every crevice of every hour with trivial distractions! I bet one thing they are not filled with is bordom. Think about it, when was the last time you were genuinely bored? I’m not suggesting our time should be idled away. But it is worth asking, have we left any blank space – with intent?

“Boredom is good when in a creative rut, often you will find gift wrapped answers.” -Stephen King

THE CHALLENGE:  How many minutes of your day are intentionally left blank? No seriously, count them up.  Do you leave any room to just sit and think? Do you leave enough white space to find those gift wrapped answers? I dare you to stop reading this, unplug, and go experience boredom for a few minutes. String together some blank pages and note the tremendous influence it yields on the remainder of your “book.”

Ignore That Too!

My mother-in-law has many gifts and talents, among which is a passion for quilting.  Browsing through the used bookstore recently, I picked up a title that I thought would help me better understand what makes a quilt worthy of regard.

“Plain and Simple” is a true story of an urban California woman, Sue Bender, who developed an obsession for the Amish and eventually lived among their people to discover their unique culture for herself.  The curiosity was initiated in the 1960s over a spectacular Amish quilt hanging in a department store.  Years later, in the fall of 1981, Sue found three strange looking dolls in a folk art gallery store.  She learned these dolls originated from the Amish and over a six month period received twelve of these dolls from seven different women.

Sue observed that the dolls had no face.  They were silent and serene.  There was no pecking order.  None was better or worse than the others.  They didn’t have to perform or prove anything.  No voice said, “Be happy, cute, or pretty.”  No voice said, “Be a star.”

She continues… “In my world, everyone has a face, and many of us try to stand out.  In their simplicity, these faceless dolls said more with less.  They left more to the imagination.  Maybe accepting who they are, they don’t waste their strength trying to change or compete.”

I’m reading this book to my daughters.  My twelve year old has developed a talent for crocheting.  She has made dozens of her own stuffed animals and other clever creations.  Yesterday, she presented me with a surprise gift, a faceless doll.

Adding to the depth of her message, and a lesson for all, was a message born of pure childlike innocence best explained in her handwritten letter.

“P.S. I know the bag says, ‘Happy Birthday’ on it, just ignore it!”

“P.P.S. I also know it says, ‘To Skyla, Love Grammy and Grampy on it, ignore that too!”

“P.P.P.S. I LOVE YOU!”

What a great way to magnify the message of a faceless doll.  We just need to learn what to ignore.  Truth be told, I didn’t even notice the elements of the bag she was asking me to overlook.  Fancy bows and glittery gifts stopped catching my eye many years ago, but there is a lot more work to do in the art of “overlooking.”  Even though I know we are all crafted from crooked timber, I still spend too much time marveling over the incompetence of humanity at large.

THE CHALLENGE: Noah’s ark couldn’t have smelled very appealing, but it was much safer inside than out in the storm.  Maybe your workplace stinks.  Maybe your family stinks.  Maybe your school stinks. When a patch or stitch in your quilt stinks, approach it like an ark.  Approach it like a faceless doll.  Approach it like the wise innocence of a twelve-year-old child who knows what to look beyond in order to get to the real gift and message!  A “faceless” approach will allow you to “FACE LESS” of the unnecessary noise, drama, and distractions of a turbulent world.

The Meaning of Rain

Overhead clouds just teased the parched earth with a rare southern California sun shower. It was a refreshing sight, short lived…but refreshing nonetheless.

What is the primary purpose of rain? Is it to clean the air? Give life and vigor to the plant kingdom? Provide a water source for adult recreation? If you ask my son, he might give you a different answer…

“Wow, it’s raining – that means there is going to be a rainbow!”

Bow

On many occasions, rain can be a burden. Rain can crash weddings, sporting events, or a day at the beach. Rain can cause flooding, damage property, promote injury, or increase populations of unwanted pests – such as mosquitoes. Each of these items acts as stimuli for an emotional response. Maybe you feel mad at God, the insurance company, the meteorologist, or yourself for picking the wrong day for a celebration.

The rainbow isn’t something you “take”. You don’t put it in your pocket. You don’t put it in your piggy bank. But there is gold involved. Rainbows are something you look at, you pause, you appreciate, you smile, you snap a photo and you share it. Trials will give you a new way to look at life. That my friend…is…the rainbow.  Sharing it…is…the gold.

THE CHALLENGE:  When you encounter life’s struggles, it “means there’s going to be a rainbow.”  Look for it, then look at it, then share it.

Photo by Gail

 

 

Have You Found Waldo Yet?

In a recent post, I wrote about how quick we are to give up on riddles.  You can check it out here.  Let’s take another look at this, maybe from a different angle.

Think of someone who has what you want.  It can be a talent, skill, wealth, knowledge, travel, charisma etc.  Let’s presume you approach this person and ask them for their entire blueprint to success by saying, “Hey – I want what you have and I’m here for the taking.  I want it all!”  What type of response would you get?  You might get a handshake, or you might get a smack in the face.  What you WON’T get is 100% of the knowledge (at least not right away).  In fact, it doesn’t matter how you approach them – there is no shortcut to experience.

Thankfully, most people are willing to share at least a little SOMETHING.  Which brings me to today’s point.  Find Waldo.

waldo

Just like riddles, Waldo can be a royal pain in the butt.  You have to scan the page deliberately.  No being lazy.  No shortcuts.  As a child what did you do?  What do most children do?

ANSWER: “Mom, Dad…I can’t find Waldo.  Can you give me a hint?”

For kids, this works for everything.  They understand you won’t tell them what Santa Clause is bringing (not without a fight anyway).  So, they just ask for a hint.

They know you won’t solve their homework problem, so they ask for a hint.

You won’t tell them the surprise movie you have in store, so they ask for a hint.

If they can’t “solve the riddle” with a big hint, they’ll ask for a smaller one.  If that information is too obscure, they’ll ask for another hint, and another, and another.


THE CHALLENGE:  Be a kid again.  Ask for a hint.  Don’t be annoying, but don’t give up on something that came so naturally to you as a youngster.  Maybe you’d like to remember someone’s name, do a little work for it, ask them for a hint.

Perhaps you want a raise, maybe you can ask something like, “I would like to put myself in a position to get a raise next quarter.  Can you give me a hint as to how I can achieve this?”

Maybe you’re mad at God or simply impatient, instead of asking for the crystal ball try asking for a hint.

Asking for hints is a great nonconfrontational approach to reach others and will give you great leverage when used properly.  Now go find YOUR Waldo!