Just keep swimming

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
"I think that a lot of people in our country have gotten depressed, pinned in, pinned down with living lives they don't want...tell me what your dreams are. What are you chasing? It's not impossible." ~Diana Nyad There are lots of big stories in the news right now. Some of national import, others of international import, but the one of personal import is about badass Diana Nyad. She's a 64-year-old marathon swimmer, she set a new record, and perhaps most importantly, she refused to be defeated by time, circumstances or self-doubt. She went for an Xtreme Dream and made it come true. Age is not an excuse for giving up. Allowing yourself to grow passive and draw back is a sign of personal defeat. There may be a retirement age at…
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Be true.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you? If you summon your courage to challenge something, you’ll never regret it. How sad it would be to spend your life wishing, “If only I had a little more courage.” Whatever the outcome, the important thing is to take a step forward on the path that you believe is right. There’s no need to worry about what others may think. It’s your life, after all. Be true to yourself. ~Daisaku Ikeda I first saw this quote in the November 2012 issue of Living Buddhism magazine. Sae Chonabayashi said it encouraged her to pursue her dreams. It encouraged me to do the same. At the time I read the piece, I was at a crossroads;…
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On looking and leaping. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge
Do you always look before you leap? Of course. Gravity is real and objects are solid. Not looking where you leap can lead to injury. Or worse. That said, looking first doesn't negate the leaping. It simply means assessing the situation beforehand. I weigh pros and cons. I mull things over and consider multiple angles. I do a gut check: How does it feel when I think about leaping? I can't say if I put more stock in feelings over facts. It depends on the leap in question. I don't do all of this to talk myself out of leaping, but rather so I can leap mindfully. I think a related question is Have you ever taken a leap you've regretted? The answer to that is a solid no. Regret…
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Good credit. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity
When good things happen, people tend to underestimate how much credit is due to their own efforts, and overestimate the influence of outside forces. That was just luck. It's only because someone else did thus and such. I was in the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, when something negative happens, the opposite is suddenly true. They get plenty of credit for the poor outcome, while the external forces are let off the proverbial hook. It's all my fault. I always do thus and such wrong. If only I had done this, that or the other thing. In either case, the scales are always tipped to favor luck for good things, and self for bad. Why is that? We are co-creators in this world. That means just as there…
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Beyond the Bright Side | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy

30 Day Blog Challenge, Spirituality, Temple Building
Success is not a matter of accumulating more of this or that; it is not measured in quantity. It means changing the quality of your life. Wealth, power, fame and knowledge alone cannot make you happy, no matter how much of these you acquire. Nor can you take them with you when you die. But by improving the quality of your life you will at last approach true happiness. ~Daisaku Ikeda But how does one change the quality of life? Lots of guidance encourages us to remain steadfast in difficult times; refuse to give up during challenging circumstances. Some people mistake this kind of rhetoric to mean just look at the bright side. This understanding is inaccurate, or at the very least, incomplete. The better reading is that you should…
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Don’t Give Up | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity, Writer's Craft
Anyone who has ever made a resolution discovers that the strength of their determination fades with time. The important thing is not that your resolve never wavers, but that you don’t get down on yourself when it does and throw in the towel. ~Daisaku Ikeda 23 down. 7 to go: I have made a commitment to write (and share) every day for 30 days. Some days it’s been a joy – especially those days when I have time to truly craft or be playful on the page. It’s also rewarding when I’m feeling a bit righteous and want to make a little noise about something on my heart. Unfortunately, not all days are sunshine. When I’m tired, or my day simply hasn’t gone as planned, I often debate skipping and…
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Treasures of the Heart | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Spirituality, Temple Building
The treasures of the heart can never be destroyed. Daisaku Ikeda wrote a message to fellow Buddhists and other Tohoku residents whose surroundings were decimated in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. His message included these words, which were meant as both solace and inspiration. I’m attending a Buddhist lecture this weekend, and the members of Tohoku were used as an example of maintaining faith – the spirit to remain hopeful and cheerful – in the most dire circumstances. Ikeda wrote to encourage them to remain undefeated, even in face of devastation. Now, over a year later, many people have temporary housing and still don’t have jobs, yet they maintain high spirits. Ikeda’s encouragement was based on this well-known passage from the gosho: More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the…
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Every Tiny Bit | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity
I’m proud of myself. I have written daily, without fail, during the 30in30 and WriteLikeCrazy challenge. Today, I don’t have much to say, yet I remain committed. So here I am, showing up, even though I’m sleepy and am not up to writing any of the brilliant ideas germinating. I have no harsh words for myself. Only love and congratulations for continuing to forge ahead, one word at a time. I wish the same for you. Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the…
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On Behalf of Justice. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
Reading in preparation for a lecture on Buddhist writings, I came across this quote: What is the noblest way of life? My unhesitating answer to that question is: a life dedicated to truth and justice. Only in a world where truth and justice flourish can people freely bring forth their innate goodness. If, in contrast, philosophies or belief systems that deny the possibility of infinite human improvement prevail, misery and suffering will abound. ~Daisaku Ikeda, Lecture on Nichiren’s Letter from Teradomari This resonated today. As some of you know, I’m becoming an activist and advocate for modern abolition – the end of mass incarceration. These days I’m mulling a series of essays. I want to help us imagine a world in which imprisonment is no longer the strategy of first…
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