Beth's Ponderings Have you ever watched a really good improvisation sketch, or participated in an improv class? The basic rule of improv is to say “yes” to everything that the other participants come up with. As soon as one person refuses, the whole sketch falls apart. Pretty much anything and everything is allowed, no matter how zany or bizarre or off-topic it originally seems. Even if the participants have an idea of how they want the sketch to progress, it can end up in a totally different direction or go around in crazy circles. Sounds like life, doesn’t it? As we plan and try to figure out what direction we want our lives to go, things happen and we have a choice - do we say “yes” and move forward, or do we say “no” and stall out? We are all faced with countless options and choices in any given moment or day. Some seem familiar, some seem repugnant, some seem just plain bizarre, some are intriguing, some are routine, some seem to come completely out of left field, some seem like they’d be a good match for someone else, and some seem like they are too good to be true. In true improv style, we have no idea where each of those choices will lead, or what the next choice will require of us. Some choices appear to have clear consequences, while others don’t. We can use our imagination to come up with possible reactions to our choices, however in the end, it is all a mystery till we actually make the choice and say “yes” to whatever is before us. People rarely respond how we think they will - for example, they say “no” at lot less than we think they will, it is just our fear that holds us back from asking. Too many of us say “no” to life’s opportunities before we even think to say “yes.” Fear is our default setting and holds us back. We may think we are keeping ourselves safe, yet all we are doing is adding more stress to our lives, and limiting our chance to move forward and grow. You never know till you say “yes” what you are capable of doing and being, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and isn’t illegal, why not start saying “yes” to what life puts in your path. Beth Read the complete issue of The Chautauquahere. Contact The Chautauqua via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Beth's Ponderings What a difference a year or two can make! If you had told me a couple of years ago what my life would look like in 2015, and what I’d be doing, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here I am. Many people I know who have gone through a significant life change some time in the last year or so have commented along the lines of, “It sure is nice not to have to (fill in the blank) any more.” Ironically, just before I collapsed two years ago, I started reading a book called “The Laws of Subtraction” by Matthew May. I have only read half the book, however, the premise is that value is found in what you take out, or subtract, not what you add. Similar to the theme “less is more,” but deeper. Remember it is the empty space inside a cup that makes it useful. We’re all too busy, too focussed on the wrong things, and too tired to even realize it. If we aren’t rushing here and there, trying to cram endless activities into our schedules, our minds are on overdrive, racing all hours of the day and night. One positive thing about a major life change is that it interrupts our lives and thoughts just enough that we can see what is important to us, and what is draining us. For some reason, we find it easier to subtract what we don’t want to do or have when we face a crisis of some nature. If it is that easy to subtract from our lives, why do we wait? There is a fine line between expressing life through your time investment in various activities, and becoming so consumed by those activities (and heaping even more on your plate) that you are actually hiding from life. We struggle for the elusive “life balance,” but there is no such thing. Instead of balance, we should be aiming for manageable - whatever that means for each of us. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many ball (activities) you are able to juggle in your life, you are juggling most effectively if you are only juggling 3 balls (activities) at a once, and you are most proficient when you focus on only one ball (task) at a time.