I Dare You

I dare you to read this post.

I dare you to cross the imaginary line that separates you from where you are and where you could be. A place where you may find something new and worthwhile.

I dare you to cross a line you don’t even see yet. A line that offers you an adventure you weren’t counting on. Can you resist the dare? Do you want to resist it?

As a kid I heard the words ‘I dare you’ pretty often from my friends. Most of the time they were trying to get me to do something stupid. Something that I’d look foolish doing or would likely hurt me and they could enjoy some laughs at my expense. That’s often what young boys do.

Well actually, that’s what older boys do too.

I was fairly good at resisting their pleas, so they escalated the intensity of the phrase, getting louder and louder. I DARE YOU, they would shout. Eventually I had to decide if I would knuckle under or walk away. Unfortunately, I didn’t always walk away and they ended up getting their laughs and yes, I ended up getting hurt.

The older I got the better I was able to ignore those who dared me. But a funny thing happened. I began to take over their taunt and dared myself to do things.

One time I was walking through a train yard and thought it might be fun to hop onto one for a ride. I dared myself to do it and disengaged my brain. The next second I was running alongside the moving train and hoisting myself into the open boxcar. So far, so good I thought.

After the train picked up some speed my brain reengaged and I thought it might be beneficial for me to get off before it sped up any more.

Here’s the thing about jumping off a moving train, in case no one ever dared you to do it. You have to hit the ground running at least as fast as the train is moving or you fall. Hard.

In my case, after jumping off, I took one step and fell forward, a pretty spectacular face plant, into a roadbed of cinders. Cinders are very hard, sharp, unforgiving black rocks that can pierce clothing easily. And they hurt. Quite badly.

Now you would think I would learn from this experience not to do it again. From where I sit today, I would have counseled my younger self to choose some other dare.

You’ve probably guessed already.

Nope. I dared myself to do it again. Perhaps to prove that I can learn from my errors in judgement (mistakes).

So, I dusted myself off and hopped aboard another train. This time, as it sped up, I ran inside the boxcar and jumped out, got my balance and continued running, keeping pace with the train. I slowed after a short distance and then stopped, watching the train disappear into the distance. Ahhh, success! How sweet.

I wonder whether anyone has dared you to do something you didn’t want to do. Or maybe, you decided to dare yourself. Often dares are meant to challenge you and it can be difficult to overcome your fears or to take a chance, not knowing the outcome. Sometimes the risk seems excessive or you’ve seen others attempt and fail and you don’t want to experience the same results.

What if you knew for certain that you could accomplish whatever you or someone else dared you to do? Would you do it then? Do you need that much certainty?

Here’s my dare for you. I dare you to believe that love is the answer to everything. I dare you to accept that you are loved unconditionally by (the universe, spirit, the divine, god, or whatever you view as sacred). I dare you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer or need. I dare you to look inside of yourself and embrace you innate goodness knowing that you are beautiful and worthwhile and radiant.

I believe you are all these things and more.

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Kindness

Here’s an opportunity to try something new. To open a door in your world and see where it leads. What beautiful shift might occur in your outlook if you allowed yourself some freedom. Freedom to explore some new spiritual practices. Ones that appeal to you and offer hope and excitement and a sense of connection, perhaps to an inner part of you or perhaps to what you think of when you hear the word, ‘divine’.

Ready? I’m going to assume that you said ‘yes’, and I’ll keep going.

Although there are literally hundreds of directions we could go, let’s take just one step and see what happens.

Spiritual practices offer us every possible direction, so we can go inside or stay outside. For this exercise, let’s do both at the same time.

It will be fun. I promise.

So here it is…spend a little time and create an “intentional act of kindness plan” for the next seven days. I say, “intentional”, rather than the more common term of “random”, because I believe the creation of a plan IS “intentional”. You’re doing it “on purpose”, not with a specific idea of how it will turn out, but because you want to be present and somewhat purposeful.

I’m going to suggest that you start out with creating ideas. What acts of kindness come to your mind. Just let them pop into your head and write down a bunch of ideas that appeal to you. Once you have them captured, say each one out loud and see which ones your heart is drawn to.  Make a list of 3-5 ideas (or more) that you want to put into practice during this week.

Once you have your list, imagine what you need in order to perform these acts of “intentional kindness”. Remember that they can cost you nothing or something. That part is entirely up to you.

How are you going to create some magic for someone else? Who will it be? When will you do these things? Plan it out a bit, but not too much. This isn’t intended to be a chore for you. It’s not another “to do” item, but rather an overflowing from the joy that lives inside of you, now and what is to come.

Okay, so now you have your plan.

One more thing. I’m going to suggest that you perform some acts of kindness anonymously and some where the person you’re doing this for knows that it is you. I’m very curious to know if that changes anything about the experience for you, so I’m going to ask you, if you are willing, to record your feelings about each one of the “intentional acts” you perform. That’s really a big part of this exercise.

That ought to be enough to get you started.

I would like to share with you that for my sixty-third birthday I performed 63 intentional acts of kindness. It was an amazing adventure. I learned so much about myself throughout the process, which actually took me all month to complete.

I was constantly surprised, amused and overjoyed by my experience. I found deep connections are always within reach, as long as I was willing to take one simple step.

I wish you well on this journey and would love to hear whatever you care to share.

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Worthiness

Do you seem to have an endless list of things to do and not enough time to do them? Even the most important ones?

There’s probably some club you could join where everyone feels this way. Of course, it’s likely you wouldn’t have time to go to any of the meetings.

I could be in this club.

I have a TO DO list almost a mile long and as soon as I start to feel I’m getting ahead, I add new things to it. Most of the time I add more than I complete.

I asked myself recently how I felt about this. The answer was, burdened.

My thinking mind said, ‘but there’s so much to do and we need to get it done. We have to organize and prioritize. We can do this, we just need to make some adjustments. Let’s identify ways to handle this.’

My thinking mind set about brainstorming ideas; I could get up earlier, avoid distractions and break up my TO DO list into smaller more manageable pieces.

Perhaps these were reasonable fixes, but the feeling part of me knew each of these ideas would only add more items to my already bulging list.

An idea dawned on me.

Maybe the answer wasn’t to identify and fix the reasons why I couldn’t get everything done.

Maybe the answer or answers would appear if I explored the belief(s) that drove my need to check off all of the items.

This felt promising.

I began to wonder what would happen if I didn’t complete each of my self-assigned tasks. As I looked at each item, I discovered a common theme. I would not feel good about myself.

But why?

That now seemed like the critical question to ask. What did completing items from my list really do for me? Well, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Beneath this, where my beliefs live, I realized there was more. It also gave me a sense of worthiness, which came through the praise of others and my own self-congratulations.

So, why is this necessary?

That answer eluded me at first, until I went inside and looked into my heart and spirit, and then I knew. I saw clearly how my ego was driven by fear and how it believed this fear was necessary in order to protect the self-image it had created. An image that firmly rested on praise from the outside and the inside. My ego believed it was vital to create opportunities (like the TO DO list) that would serve as nourishment to keep me healthy.

In the past I would have begun an internal argument with my ego. I would have attempted to convince my ego that it was wrong and that this approach would always lead to unhappiness.

But, I’ve learned that my ego plays a necessary part in my life and I no longer argue with it. Instead, I offer it love, which is the only thing that allows it to relax and calm down. I thank it for doing its job and keeping me safe. I offer it my gratitude and then share from my heart and spirit a more powerful truth. That I am inherently worthy and valuable. That I am radiant and beautiful and beloved. That I am a child of god and never need to prove myself, to be found worthy.

Looking beneath the surface, beyond my worldly concerns and thinking mind, I find a place of love. My true home.

In this light, I can let go of the significance of all of my TO DO items and they can each patiently wait their turn now.

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