Live What You Know

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Tag: John Wooden

Honor The Little Things and Big Things Will Happen

It is in the air right now…setting goals, making resolutions, trying to make changes.  This is all fine and can be a lovely experience…until it isn’t.  For this process to go well, it is important to remember, it is the little things that make success possible.  All things are made up of lots and lots of little things that connect to each other in ways beyond our imagination.  Honoring the little things we do brings more awareness and roots us in presence that allows us to live a conscious and authentic life.  Doing little things well, with our fullest attention and awareness can keep us awake to life and bring peace to us and everyone around us.  The intention we put behind each little thing comes back to us in direct proportion.  Let’s talk about socks…

Little things done well is probably the greatest secret to success.  –Coach John Wooden

Coach Wooden has shared many great lessons about the little things and paying attention to detail.  Coach describes paying attention to detail as the difference between champions and near champions.  In many of his books, he gave us the beautiful story of how he instructed his players to put on their socks.  At the first squad meeting each season, he personally demonstrated with explicit detail how to start with the toes, how to run your fingers along the side to prevent wrinkles, how to handle the heel and much more (it is actually quite a long explanation).  He would demonstrate and then watch each player do it.  Then he would move on to the other foot and do that one, first demonstrating, then watching.  Next, how to tie your shoes.  He speaks passionately about preventing blisters and avoiding laces coming undone.

In various interviews with Coach’s players, they share their perspective of the sock lessons.  They recall being excited and ready to have their first meeting with the greatest coach of all time.  With enthusiastic anticipation, waiting to hear how they would win the championship, how he had been so successful, the secret to winning, etc., anxious to get down to those legendary practices, they would soon find themselves learning how to put on their socks.  They would start the season with intense sock training and end winning the championship; quite a powerful lesson on little things.

Coach left a great gift behind by recounting  his dedication to  the little things for us.  He planned his practices down to the second.  He was all about proper preparation and attention to the smallest detail.  No matter what success his team encountered, he always stayed true to his Pyramid of Success, living all of the little things explained within and doing his personal best in all things (big and small).  He started every single season with the socks.

I have heard Eckhart Tolle talk at great length about noticing how it feels to pull on your pants, how to feel the fabric on your skin, how to experience every part of getting dressed in the morning, bringing presence to it all.  He talks about truly experiencing our morning shower instead of not really being there because we have allowed our mind to distract us with thoughts about the day or worry about the past.  He describes the difference in really being there and feeling the water hit our skin and the joy of that everyday experience we so often miss.

Thich Naht Hanh tell us, “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.  Live the actual moment.  Only this moment is life.”  I have heard him describe the experience of tea.  It is lovely.  When asked how long it takes him to drink a cup, he said it was about an hour.  A mindful cup of tea is an hour well spent.

If you do little things well, you’ll do big ones better.

I have a plaque on my desk that says the quote above.  It has no name attached to it; someone said it, someone made the plaque.  I am grateful they did.  It is a nice reminder.

Years ago, my son found his favorite poem.  He recited it quite frequently, even in front of his preschool class.  It just so happens, it is called Little Things.  It is by Julia A. F. Carney.  I included this image below in a previous post about Beauty.  To me, this is a beautiful image because it is my boy’s sweet young writing and because the words are so powerful and contain so much wisdom.  On his own, at three years old, he connected to these words and repeated them countless times throughout our days.  That little thing he did for us was really a huge blessing.

Little Things

Nothing big can happen without countless little things happening just as they should.  We create and design our world with each and every little thing we do.  This isn’t about doing things perfectly, there is no such thing.  It is about bringing presence to everything we do and doing it with our fullest attention and awareness.  It is also about learning how to set goals that will allow enough room to keep all the little things in sharp focus.  I have noticed how awful it feels when I cannot do things to the best of my ability and with my full attention.  I would rather choose not to do something than have to rush through and half-way go through the motions.  My soul knows about the little things and what grounding myself in them feels like, anything less is numbing, inauthentic and brings suffering.

Doing the little things well is truly living, it’s really being where we are and honoring every little detail.  All the little activities, choices, thoughts, etc., turn into how we are creating the world we live in.  Treating every little thing as sacred brings more presence, more love, more peace, more joy, more miracles, more alignment with our soul’s purpose — more of everything we are meant to live.  As you set your goals and resolutions this year, be sure you have enough room for honoring the little things.  Those little things add up, multiply and come back to bless you in countless ways — big and small.

May the goals you set for yourself this year be blessed with the proper attention, awareness and presence for honoring the little things necessary to achieve them.  Wishing you joy and presence found in putting on your socks, pulling up your pants, taking a shower and drinking a cup of tea.  Sending you love!

 

 

Help Others…Help Yourself

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no person can sincerely help another without helping himself.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is a mystical law of nature that says the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.  Your true happiness comes from giving, not getting.  It’s the basic precept of all great religions: the Golden Rule.”  — John Wooden

We are so connected to each other.  When you help someone, you expand and feel more of yourself through that connection.  You sense more of your true self, the one that is timeless and connected to everyone and everything…your soul.  Helping others takes the focus off our own stuff and allows us to break down a false sense of separation from everything.  It is easy to go around feeling separate from the world, but that isn’t real.  We are part of it all and with it all.  We connect deeply to all the little things around us…those we can see and those we cannot see.  The more we can feel those connections, the more we can see them.

The ego seeks to divide and separate.  Spirit seeks to unify and heal. –A Course In Miracles

We want to help others from spirit, not ego.  The ego loves to see others “in need” and itself as the “helper”…what we’re talking about here isn’t that kind of help.  We’re talking about the kind of help that unifies, not the kind that separates.

There are big ways to help others.  We can seek them out and give our time, talents, energies and resources to them when we are able.  It is important to build in time for giving back and we get so much in return.  But, there are also lots of little ways we can help others on a regular basis:

  • Listening — People love your full attention.  Simply giving it to them can help in so many ways.  Your fullest attention to show the other that they are important to you in that moment can heal them and nurture them in many ways.  This is for our closest loved ones and anyone we come into contact with throughout our days.  Wherever you’re at…that is the perfect place to truly listen to everyone and everything around you.  It is a gift for others as well as yourself.
  • Eye Contact — This may sound silly, but it is important.  There is something magical behind the eyes.  We don’t want to be creepy about it and stare too long, but we must honor each other by really looking each other in the eye. There are so many distractions these days that it is easy to keep a wall up.  Having that wall up is deadening…it feeds the feeling of separation and creates suffering.  Looking into the eyes of others is like a window to the soul.
  • Smiling — A true smile feels so good for your heart.  Do it right now.  Stop reading this and smile your truest deepest smile.  Your heart tingles and the connection of it is obvious.  Now, imagine spreading that tingle and true form of loving energy wherever you go.  You can.  Years ago I was walking into a Costco with the kids and two older gentlemen were heading towards us.  I smiled and greeted them as we passed each other.  As they went on I heard one say to the other, “Wow, there is nothing like a woman’s smile.”  I was rather surprised at the time.  Now I understand it a bit more and I know what smiles are…true smiles (not the fake ones) from anyone are soul nurturing.  Spread the smiles — nurture souls!
  • Sharing Your Spirit — I have a few close loved ones that allow me to share my spirit.  I also share it here on Live What You Know.  My deepest and truest intention and desire when sharing my spirit is always to help others become more of themselves and make great choices as they know more and live more.  I can feel how uplifting it is for my spirit when I have touched the stillness and allowed the expression of my spirit to flow through me.  I feel so much better when I have quieted the personality and all it’s noise and truly touched the spirit.  Those close loved ones I mentioned that allow me to listen to their deepest feelings and concerns about their life situations are such a gift.  In listening to them, understanding their journey and responding from a deeper place, I get the gift of spirit flowing through me.  If I have truly done it and they can hear it, it is such a miraculous gift.  To have spirits share in this way is what connection is all about.
  • Being With — Things change and evolve, lifetimes go through a natural expansion and contraction.  Everyone is in a different stage of life and viewing life through their own perceptions.  Knowing this and accepting the impermanence of all things, we can give more focus to truly being with each other wherever we are at.  If we can stop expecting our loved ones to behave in certain ways, we can be with them exactly where they are at.  We can be the place of love that allows them to feel loved and accepted as they are.  If we can stop expecting things in general, then life can open up and bless us in miraculous ways.

Personal note — I am so grateful for this space to share my spirit.  As I wrote this, I had some realizations of my own and I can see ways I can focus my actions towards these points even more.  I am grateful that my spirit always has messages for me too!  It’s always possible to live what you know a little bit better.  Now is always the time because it is the only time that ever is.

Wishing you blessed opportunities to help others and feel the lift in spirit as it helps you in return.  Sending you love and joy!

Cultivating a Poetry Practice

As detailed in my previous post, after learning all about Coach Wooden, I read and studied all of his work with a voracious appetite to learn and a grateful heart for the spirit and gift I had discovered.  The thing that Coach expresses first and foremost in most of his work is his great respect, love and admiration for his father,  Joshua Wooden.   As you read Coach’s work, it is quite something to hear about his childhood on the farm and the many life lessons he encountered there.  His parents were a great example of exemplary character through hardships and all life brought their way.  It was quite meaningful to have a glimpse into another time with such amazing people working so hard without complaint.

One of the great things Coach shared was about his father reading to his children at night.  He grew up with no electricity, plumbing, or conveniences.  For their entertainment, his father read to them by the light of a coal-oil lamp.  He read them a lot of poetry and Shakespeare and more.  In Coach’s own words he says, ” The poetry Dad read to us when we were kids instilled a love of reading, English, books and knowledge.”  He also recalls, “Dad reminded me often, ‘Johnny, you’ll never learn a thing that you didn’t learn from someone else.’  Good books help us do that.” 

When Coach graduated from grade school, his father gave him what he called The Gift of A Lifetime...it was a little card that had a very special verse on one side and a list of “Seven Things to Do” on the other side.  He eventually called the seven things “Dad’s Seven Point Creed”… When his Dad handed him the card, all he said was, “Son, try and live up to these things.”  In Coach’s humble way, when sharing about these things, he says he wishes he could say he lived up to them.  He says he tried.  I think we can all see how he more than tried, he soared.  He lived up to his father’s Seven Point Creed and he brought it to so many in a time when it is so needed.

Number four on the list was, “Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.”  Coach certainly did that.  His love of books and reading started those nights listening to his father reading.  When I learned of this in his various retellings of it, it hit me deep and it changed me.  I thought of my own little ones and my heart tugged and I remember feeling, “Oh, how I wish we lived in a time when we could do this.”…next thought was something like, “Duh, we can do this now.”  Mad dash to the computer to order poetry books and our family poetry nights began…

We have kept with family poetry nights over the years and we have practiced in various ways.  At first we would rotate turns and let each family member lead the reading and discussion.  Whoever’s night it was would read the poem and then we would all discuss what it meant to each of us.  It was delightful to hear how we would each interpret things in our own way.  It also helped us to understand each other better and see things through the eyes of our loved ones.  We went through a stage of everyone reading each night, as we discussed several poems or at least listened to several.  We began to crave going deeper into just one or two poems again, so we returned to assigning nights.  Sometimes the kids are so enthusiastic, we read more.  We are going with the flow of it now.

Our family poetry practice has been a great gift in our lives.  Poetry cannot be read quickly, you must slow down and give it your full attention.  It speaks to the soul.  It brings meaning to our days.  We are by no means poetry experts, we simply follow our hearts toward what speaks to us.  It has led to so many wonderful works, discussions and experiences.  Often when we’re out in the world, one of the kids will see something that reminds them of a poem…they will begin reciting it and excitedly experiencing life in a deeper way.  It is miraculous.  The poetry doesn’t just stay in the house with us where we practice it…it lives with us all the time and blesses us constantly.  We love reading poetry from all corners of the world, it connects us to more than our lives here.  We have been blessed by poetry in our lives in countless ways.

As the years of our poetry practice are adding up, I can truly see just how much it has added to our children’s lives.  It makes them willing to look deeper at things and try to understand that which isn’t immediately obvious.  It has also developed their love of reading and learning in so many ways.  For my husband and I, it has been equally amazing.  Cultivating a poetry practice was new for us both and it has been the most delightful gift.  The poems have a way of finding us.  We have been exposed to so much more than we expected.  We will keep this family practice alive in our home and hearts as long as possible and continue to cultivate it and go deeper and deeper into our practice.  We are grateful for this gift!

Wishing you a life full of poetry!

One of The Great Blessings In My Life…Wooden Wisdom

Coach John Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010.  That day was a life changer for me.  We happened to be sick that weekend and uncharacteristically had the television on, allowing us to see some of the coverage…I am so thankful for that.  I was deeply touched by what I learned about this amazing man that day.  I haven’t written all that much about Coach Wooden here yet because every time I think about putting my feelings into words, I get a kind of terrified feeling.  I think it is because I fear that I could never quite express how knowing about what he did with his life has affected mine and that of my family.  Even now, I sit here with tears starting to form, a sick feeling in my stomach and a lump in my throat.  What is this?  I don’t really experience this with my writing, I am willing to share and be open about just about anything…  Fear is a ridiculous illusion that tries to stop us from so many things, so I will just bulldoze right through it.  Wish me luck please!

As I sat there learning about Coach Wooden that day, I was stunned to see that someone like him had existed.  There was so much more to the story than the man who had coached basketball so successfully.  So much more.  I SAW LOVE!  I think it stood out because it was all men talking about this man and they were just so completely raw and open and loving as they recalled what Coach had meant to them and what knowing him had done in their lives.  The coverage included a little about his great love for his wife who had passed away many years before.  We saw that he had written her a letter every single day for twenty-five years since her passing.  We saw some of his Pyramid of Success.  We saw so much, but for me I wanted to know much more.  I had to.

I decided to read everything I could get my hands on that Coach had written.  He has many books out there.  I devoured all of them.  I would never be the same.  This man knew what success meant.  He began thinking of it back in high school when his math teacher asked his students “What is success?”… Coach never let the question go, he worked on his Pyramid of Success for thirteen years.  He lived it and he devoted his life to teaching others how to live it as well.  His pyramid is something my family has studied since we discovered it and we will continue to do so for years to come.  Coach’s definition of success is this–

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.  –John R. Wooden

Here is his Pyramid of Success:

wooden_pyramid

I could attempt to explain all that the Pyramid and all of Coach’s work mean to me, but I know that it really can’t be put into words.  It is much more than words.  I will just say that I think it is very strange that they put his books in the sports section at the book stores.  He taught about much much more than sports.  He taught about life and he lived as an example.

I am grateful for many teachers in my life.  Just prior to reading all of Coach’s work, I had been reading various spiritual awakening books and memoirs.  I was really trying to grasp consciousness and awakening and in some cases, reading and rereading the same books again and again.  Somehow Coach’s work was exactly the piece of the puzzle that I needed at the exact moment…a gift from God.  It felt like my grandfather explaining life to me in understandable terms.  I probably couldn’t have understood Coach so deeply if I hadn’t already been changed by awe-inspiring lessons from many before I found him though, so for that I am grateful!  I think of Coach’s work as the glue I needed as my foundation to understand all the other lessons coming my way and to make sense of all that I had already learned.  I believe Coach Wooden was an enlightened being among us and the best part about him was that he was so humble he didn’t label himself at all.  He was just a man, doing his personal best.  We are all so blessed to have his example.

For me, the Pyramid and many more things I learned from Coach Wooden’s work are my foundation.  That foundation is always there for me reminding me to work hard towards becoming the best version of myself, while being open to Life in every way possible.  Life is always supporting and growing and blessing us with miracles and lessons, but we are also responsible for doing the work of co-creating with it.  Coach’s work brings good old-fashioned character lessons and supports us while we also tap into the moment and the flow of God’s love that is ever-present.  For me, it is the perfect combination.  I am so grateful for the gift of Wooden Wisdom in my life!

We love Coach Wooden’s books for children so very much.  He did a great job in the later part of his life bringing his work to kids.  In his last book, The Wisdom of Wooden, he shared a special picture and a great message about his children’s books.  He said that the people at the company that worked to bring his kids’ books into classrooms asked him if he had ever thought about changing the Pyramid in any manner.  Coach shared that when asked, he had replied, “No, except for one thing.  I wish I had included the word ‘Love’ somewhere.  Love is the basis for everything I do.”  He was excited to share that they granted his wish by making him the picture below.  You can see love in the cement holding the blocks together.  It is so very special.  I saw the love that day that I first learned of Coach and I will never forget it.

Scan 133060001-3

The pictures in the children’s books don’t have the love in the cement…he shared this in his last book.  I scanned it directly from the pages of The Wisdom of Wooden.  I was not surprised at all to hear that was the only change he would make.  I could see on that first day I learned of him that he was a man who lived full of love and I am so grateful that he showed me what a lifetime full of love looks like.

From all the spiritual teachers I have learned that love is always the answer.  I know that is why Coach mentioned this late in his life when asked…he knew deeply that love is the only answer and it is always the answer.  He was and continues to be an amazing example of a life lived well and with lots of love.

I can see as I try to wrap-up this post that it would take many more words to even begin to explain my feelings for Coach.  I feel that I will have many opportunities to share my feelings in the future here on Live What You Know…for that I am grateful and to you, my cherished reader, I am grateful!  Thank you!  Please stay tuned for many more specific lessons I learned from our beloved, Coach Wooden.  For now, lets just try to remember that love is always the answer.  No matter what it is, stop and flex that heart muscle and you will feel it and summon the courage to use it.  You can move mountains with love.  You can forgive, cherish, laugh, cry, squeeze, smile, create, build, win, lose, adore and so much more with love and that muscle we call… the heart.

Love is always the answer.  Wishing you love!

A Well Lived Day – Your Masterpiece…The Morning.

“Make Every Day Your Masterpiece.”  –John Wooden

One day is the perfect metaphor for a lifetime.  We wake up, we live the day, we return to the source to regenerate.  For our lifetime, we are born, we live our life, we return to the source.  If we can live our day well, we can live our life well.  Coach Wooden said it so simply – “Make Every Day Your Masterpiece.”  It is simple and at the same time, it is profound and life changing.  How would you spend the day if it was to be your masterpiece?  I believe it is worth figuring out and going for… we never know how many days we will have and the days we are given truly are a gift.  Our days are precious; we create and design our lives with them.  If we can figure out what our Masterpiece day would look like, then we can take the steps to live it each day.  A well lived day will be an on-going topic at Live What You Know, lets begin with the morning.  My Masterpiece Morning for a regular day would look something like this:

  • First thing – a nice cuddle with my husband – just a few special moments before we begin the day (he leaves incredibly early, so those few moments are precious)
  • Up before dawn, see the sun come up, see the birds and the rays of light (or just take in nature depending on the weather), feel connected to it, rested and ready to start my day
  • Workout –  something to get the energy flowing and body moving – build strength and health, help the soul return to a body that is ready
  • Shower and put on comfortable morning clothes
  • Meditate and pray – touch the stillness and set the intention for the day
  • Coffee and writing – create from the stillness where all true creativity comes from
  • Post a meaningful blog that touches many people and inspires a great day for others as well as myself (not every day – but when the post is there)
  • Be ready to greet the kids as they wake with joy and present energy – take in their beings as they start their day…fun cuddle time.
  • Healthy breakfast with great conversation and very present energy where the kids and I set the foundation for making it a wonderful day
  • INSERT REST OF MASTERPIECE HERE – with a morning like the above – anything is possible!

So, that would be my masterpiece morning.

The morning is the most important part of ensuring a well lived day.  First of all, we want to live our life…we don’t want life to live us.  As a recovered “night person” and someone who loves to sleep, I don’t say this easily.  It takes a lot for me to stay in the vibration that allows me to make the most important decision of the day – get up real real early and get out ahead of the day and start it your way.  As you can see, my idea of a perfect day includes a lot of things before the kids get up (or before others are requiring something from me – for you it may be work, etc.), the point is to start your day with plenty of time for yourself as you begin to design the day.  I know for sure that this is essential to a well lived day.  I have been on and off this wagon so many times, certainly enough to see that doing it is the best choice and it really does set the tone for the day!  Otherwise life can take you for a ride and you are out of the driver seat and off and running in the direction of what everyone else wants from you.

Figure out what makes the morning a masterpiece for you.  Include time to at least set your intention for the day.  Some quiet time that allows you to feel the stillness that is behind everything will change your life.  Even just meditating for a few minutes and praying to whomever you pray to (God, Universe, whatever you call it).  The stillness you touch will stay in your background, it will be there when you need it later on.  You can access it to add space around your choices and live in the vibration of your soul…with purpose and presence rather than reaction.  It will make you better at everything you do.  The prayer will remind you of your intention for the day and allow you a chance to ask to be used in the service of life…you can feel more connection to everything around you throughout the day just by taking a few minutes in the morning to ask for it.  If you’re not used to morning prayers, just a few statements to yourself will do…its the same thing (another topic for another day).

Creating these habits and a great morning practice that works perfectly for you takes time and patience and lots of tweaks.   There was a period where I really had it down and it changed my life…it created my best year ever…ah, 2010.  As the kids got older and new commitments came in for them I let new obligations get in the way of my mornings and lost the ability to make it a priority…I just couldn’t quite figure out how to get it all in.  Since that time I have been sporadic about keeping it up.  I can see the effects of that on my life.  I am ready to give myself the gift of living what I know in the mornings consistently.  Wish me success!  I wish you success too!

The first step is admitting that getting up earlier to do it is necessary and will enhance your life in countless ways.  As they say…the first step is admitting it.  Lets admit it and then have a go at doing it and making it stick.  Admit it, try it, keep doing it if you already are, try even earlier if there is more you want to do…wherever you are on the subject… Happy Early Mornings!  Be kind to yourself with setbacks!!!

PS – it should be noted that masterpiece mornings require changes at nighttime too…stay tuned for more about creating your masterpiece evening.

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