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The unboxing

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“Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.”

You are born fearless and powerless. Let that sink in for a bit, think this sentence over for a while. Fearless and powerless. The only thing you’re afraid of is loud noises. That’s it. But you can’t walk, can’t feed yourself, can’t do much. The paradox is that you are born powerless, yet feel invincible. Insatiable. Restless to assume the world, to acquire the knowledge and wisdom required to make your dreams come true. Passionate, brave, wanting to build great, big things. You look up at the stars and want to reach them.

But, in time, you figured out that some things are just not possible.

The people around you place you inside this cardboard box. You fill it up with all the things you know are possible, all that you have learned, all your emotions and states and feelings and what you define as your personality. You slowly turn away your gaze from the stars.

You start building walls instead of bridges. Lots and lots of walls. Failures upon failures. Mistakes, bad habits, a bit of misfortune here and there.

Things that keep you awake at night. Regrets or loneliness or both.

You live inside this box and you call it life. You forget about the child who was filled with love and passion and this restlessness filling his veins.

“This is who I am,” you say to the world. “This box contains all that I am, all that I’ll ever be. All that I can, all that I can do.”

This is all that you’ll ever be able to be. Yet, there’s a small… let’s say that you never truly close the box entirely. You peek out from it once in a while. There’s still a bit of hope that you can become more than what you are, but…

Change is so painful. So hard. Why does it have to be like this? All these bad habits, so difficult to give them up.

That’s the moment most people die.

It could be when they’re twenty or forty or sixty, it doesn’t matter.

The moment you’ve built your box and decided that that’s all you’ll ever be, that’s when you’re dead.

But make no mistake. You’ll keep on dying, day in and day out, in more insidious ways, until you’ll find that suffering has its own appeal.

You’ll die so many times that you’ll be so lukewarm when the final moments come that you won’t care about many things. But when the end will be nearest, that’s when you’ll realize that the box was just a hoax. A lie.

You’ll be a box full of regrets and pain and bad memories that you couldn’t let go of mixed in with some good ones that should have lasted forever.

You must realize there is no box. There are no limits, no fatal defeats, no definitive victory. There is no road to success, no how-to book on being happy, and there isn’t any kind of certainty.

Life is about discovering. It’s about creating.

You built that damn box yourself. You told yourself that you’re stupid or shy or just not talented enough.

You told yourself that story, over and over again, and built your box.

And it takes a hell lot of will power to change this. It’s going to be painful.

Growth is painful.

Deciding that you can expand on what it is you think you are is harder than just deciding that it is possible, that it can be done.

People reach a certain point in their lives when they decide that they’ve suffered enough. And they don’t want to suffer anymore. So they play it safe. They give up on the dreams that seem too big to ever come true, they diminish themselves. They want comfort so bad that they spend their lives reacting to all kinds of discomfort, never seeking to improve.

And thus they keep on suffering.

The idea?

Keep suffering…until you decide that you’ve suffered enough that no one else has to suffer again. If you can do something about it, you will.

That’s how you decide what your life is going to be about. That’s how you stop trying to break walls and realize that you are being guided towards something.

The ideal you.

The one that is capable enough of leaving a mark on this world.

The one who is wise and gentle and open to new learning.

In life, in love, in work, it is important to either change what you don’t like or learn to accept it.

It’s equally important to know when to do so, unless you want to die knowing full well that you didn’t decide your life. You just settled for it.

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Three Poems by Laura Potts

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Please read and enjoy the work of a talented writer.

BURNING HOUSE PRESS

The Body Broken

Mass and Sunday mourning pass the chancel black

and chalice-back of I, spire-spined and last to part

my plumping bud to take the nocturne wine. Mine

the softly hills, mine the spill and steeple-swing

of fruiting breasts and bells, yes. We break the bread

and bless. Lady in the lancet holds the apple mocking red.

Dappled chant and dark, ahead the blood-bright night

and first-light glass of gasping Eve, winter’s heave

hangs always here with heads that bow before the vow

to never grieve the leaving eyes of youth. Truth

is lost and winterworn. Borne away on snarling winds,

the greening drop of spring falls from my hair. The cleric’s

cloak is a darkly thing. My deeper, deeper throat

receives the gloaming sermon there, heir of the berry

dreamt to burst in his hand. Damn the vestal

up-and-swung of lust that Woman loved, budblood

and the Garden…

How to Nudge People Toward Dragons

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How to Nudge People Toward Dragons

Opportunity often knocks before you’re ready.

A brief dialog from the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, illustrates the power of “nudges”.

 

if you're refering to that incident with the dragon all i did was give your uncle a little nudge out the door

Frodo Baggins: “Before you (Gandalf) came along, we Bagginses were well thought of. We never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.”

Gandalf: “Indeed. If you’re referring to that incident with the dragon, all I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the door.

Frodo Baggins: Whatever you did, you’ve been officially labeled a disturber of the peace.

Nudged:

If you’re fortunate, someone “nudged” you.

Remember the first meeting you led? The first tough conversation? You wanted the opportunity. You needed a nudge.

My first public presentation was to a high school assembly. I was sixteen. I only THOUGHT I was ready.

How to nudge:

#1. Ask people to do things they haven’t done.

FIRSTS are exponential growth moments.  Usually growth is gradual. Sometimes, like learning to ride a bike, it’s frightening.

You grow when you do something for the first time.

#2. Instill confidence with 4 questions.

  1. What qualities do you have that will serve you well in this new challenge?
  2. How have you succeeded with challenges in the past?
  3. What do past failures warn you to do now?
  4. What does support look like to you?

Don’t simply tell people what you see in them. Ask them what they see in themselves.

#3. The secret to growth is feedback.

Two nudge-lessons from my first presentation.

First, I was too foolish to know the principal was giving me this opportunity because he was committed to my future. I needed to hear, “I want you to succeed.”

Second, I didn’t receive feedback. Perhaps silence was perceived as kindness. It wasn’t.

Timely feedback stabilizes growth and expands potential.

How might leaders nudge people out the door?

What might a growth-feedback plan look like?

14 Websites to Read Free Digital Books

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In honor of Read Across America Day–March 2nd 2018, also Dr. Seuss’ birthday–I’m sharing fourteen websites where you can find a wide variety of free digital books. For us addicted readers, we know that the cost of the ereaders that curate our ebooks is minor compared to the cost of what we are reading. The books of many best-selling authors cost just as much if you purchase them digitally as print though there is no cost of paper, machinery, distribution, shelf space–all that. Still, I am getting used to digital books and like them better for a lot of reasons–I can write on the pages without getting arrested, I can bring ten books in case I don’t like the first five, they are light-weight, the font can be enlarged (that’s a new appreciation as I get older).

But, it’s increasingly difficult to find affordable ebooks. Thankfully, the library now offers Kindles (or similar) with the digital book on it at no cost. I know over time, they’ll get a bigger selection but right now, they’re just getting into it. Here’s a list of free book sources I like:

Bookopolis

Bookopolis is a large collection of fiction and nonfiction books for ages 7-12. Here, students can read, get ideas for new books, comment on books, and earn badges and points to reflect their love of reading. Educators sign up with a Teacher account and then set up classes and accounts for students. Students can practice persuasive writing, comprehension, and typing skills by completing reviews, reports, and reading logs online. Parents can sign up home accounts to help students keep track of favorite books. Available books include Newbery Award Winners as well as many other reader collections. Kids can even watch book trailers before making a selection.

Books can be read online or on most mobile devices.

Class Literature

A free collection of the most popular public domain pieces in classic literature (Shakespeare, Jane Austen and more)

Great Books Online

By Bartleby. An extensive collection by the preeminent internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge.

Gutenberg Project

This site provides thousands of digitized books, audio recordings, DVDs/CDs from the public domain (or out-of-copyright). This includes Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, A Tale of Two Cities, Heart of Darkness, and more. These are great for all ages to not only read but research topics that might have been well-covered years ago but not so much now (like primitive tribes).

You can read them online, on a mobile device, or download them.

International Children’s Digital Library

The ICDL offers over 4,600 digital children’s books in over 59 languages that exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages, and ideas. Books are made available from a variety of sources including the Library of Congress. Readers search by title, author, country, or category (or several other options such as ISBN). By setting up an account, readers can add tags to books and organize them according to their preference. Many ICDL books are classified as “activities” meaning they are perfect for digital story times, scavenger hunts, and creative writing exercises.

Most books are only available through the website or a link to the website.

Internet Archive

Internet Archive offers over 12,000,000 freely downloadable books and texts. There is also a collection of 550,000 modern eBooks that may be borrowed by anyone with a free archive.org account.

Librivox

Free public domain audio books that can be listened to on computers, iPods or other mobile devices, even burned onto a CD.

Loyal Books

Free public domain audiobooks and ebooks in many genres, for all ages

Many Books

Over 33,000 ebooks that can be browsed by language, author, title. 

My Books

My Books is an app that includes over 51,305 free books of various genres, even nonfiction. You canread online or download and read offline. There are also 5,199 audiobooks. 

Online Books Page

Listing over 2 million free books on the Web that can be searched by author, title, series, and keyword. They also offer news and other special features. 

Open Library

Open Library is a curated list of over 20 million books (and growing) that are available worldwide to all age groups whether from the public domain or under copyright protections. Once you find a book, you access a scanned version (if available, say from Project Gutenberg) or purchase it at a linked bookstore. 

Access this catalog via the website.

Read Any Book

A wide collection of genres included, for all ages.

World Cat

World Cat is a comprehensive curation of books, CDs, articles, videos, and more available at all libraries in a geographic area or around the world, for all age groups. This includes not only public libraries but colleges and universities. Once you’ve located a resource, you check it out from that local library. You can get help from a librarian, leave comments and reviews, even factual notes (much like Wikipedia). 

World Cat only includes libraries that have joined the World Cat group. 

–published first on Today’s Author

More on reading:

Forget Summer Reading. The Classics are Timeless

National Poetry Day

Unconventional Research Sites for Writers

My Research at the Library of Congress 

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The Contract

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Did you love?
Did you hate?
It is all part of the contract we sign above,
So do not look down, look straight.

Did you smile?
Did you frown?
It is part of our lifestyle,
Just look around.

Did you get it right?
Did you commit any mistakes?
Do not worry everything will be alright,
Enjoy their embrace.

You see, all of this;
All the pain, the sorrow and regrets,
It’s part of the game; enjoy life’s kiss,
And eradicate your stress.

After all, we did sign the contract above,
So do not give up.