Wonder, curiosity and yet another truth...

               

 

Photo by Matt Chmielarczyk www.mattchmielarczykphotography.squarespace.com

Photo by Matt Chmielarczyk www.mattchmielarczykphotography.squarespace.com

I got tired. Really tired. I wanted to sleep every day as soon as I got home and that was all I wanted to do. 

It is always like that in the beginning of the school year. It is hard to adjust. I become so expansive during the summer, reading, meditating, having great conversations, daydreaming.... Then the year begins and I have the feeling of having to stuff myself back in to a tame and sensible life. Imagine stuffing a giant sleeping bag into the tiny little sack that came with it- it feels like it will never fit. I feel like I will never fit. But I always do- eventually.

 I began to think I was foolish to try to carry on this Truth and Dare project and be a full-time teacher. I was. A little. I was considering ending the project. But then I realized something else. I need this project and I think others do too.

I've still been doing weekly dares and reaping great benefit. I just didn't think I had the time to write about them weekly. I developed a deer in headlights feeling towards my writing, not knowing quite what to do.

Then three days ago,  came my AHA moment. I created this project for people just like me- people that have tough jobs and long hours. I created this project as a way to experience freedom, curiosity,  freshness and mindfulness when you don't have a plane ticket to Italy and Indonesia or even a vacation. I created this project to be the opposite of "privileged literature". I wanted to create a way for us to find the "expansiveness" and unexpected joy into our daily lives. A way to discover all of the wonder in between the things we notice.

So I decided to change weekly dares to monthly dares. You are as busy as I am. If it is hard to manage for me, then it is probably hard to manage for you. I get that now.

Each month will be based around a theme. September is space. Where can it be found in between moments of stress and overwhelm?

Here are three dares.

I dare you to be bored. Do nothing for 10 minutes to an hour.

I dare you to notice wonder. What are the things that made you wonder? Write them.

I dare you to take a silent walk with another person. Notice things.

Find space with me. I dare you to. I dare us all to.

Let's inspire each other. Help keep me inspired too. Please share comments. Like this post. Share this post. Help create a ripple of beautiful boredom, wonder and space by sharing the project with others.

Post Script: I have been daring to do live broadcasts weekly. I did not want to. I never thought I would. If you asked me to a month ago, I would have said "hell to the no!"

I am vain. I think my face looks funny, my voice sounds awkward, I may say something stupid...but a week ago a friend dared me to do it.

Damn dares. It's hard to turn one down. That is why they are magic. I did it. I lived through it. I did it again the next week. I am not cured of vanity and insecurity- but they can't exactly dictate my life anymore. I defied my insecurities and acted anyway. There is some amazing potential in such such rebellion and defiance against our own limitations-and speaks to the value of this work. This is just one of the many powers of daring; to rebel against our own limits.

If you want me to be interviewed, email me at sarah@souldaring.com.

 

 

Rediscover the Lost Art of Boredom

The Lost Art of Boredom

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When I was a little girl in I used to seek out patches of sunlight in the house. I can still remember the feeling. I would watch bugs crawl on the window and wonder where they were going. I would watch the shadows shift outside and ponder the deep greens and vibrant glowing ones. Closing my eyes I could feel my sense of self hovering above me, much bigger than my body. I wondered how I could fit myself back in sometimes. It was a glorious feeling. It was magical, needless, timeless. It was what I later learned might be called boredom.

When we learn about boredom, it comes with negative connotations. Yet, there was nothing negative about these magical "nothings" of childhood.

Boredom as a negative comes with the knowledge of lack - there is a feeling that the world is not enough, that we ourselves are not enough.

We are enough. YOU are enough. And boredom is gift. My gift to you this week, and yours to keep. It is the forgotten jewel at the bottom of a cluttered box. Boredom is the velvety black soil of a fertile mind.

Turn off your phone. Sit down.  

Close your eyes or don't. I am daring you to do nothing. Do nothing for ten minutes.  

Overachievers? Win this one by underachieving. Do nothing for an hour.  

This is not meditating- no need to reel in your mind. Let it wander. Do not try to tame your thoughts. 

 We are bigger than our bodies, bigger even than the lives we live.  

We stuff our enormous selves into containers and create distractions to keep ourselves there. What happens when we deliberately put them away? 

The consciousness begins to weave its way around the room, changing shape, creating new potential universes. Emotions come in too. They ask to be felt and moved through us. This is healthy. We were born to be conduits of emotions, of thoughts, of energy. 

Maybe stresses will come in. Things You have been trying avoid thinking about. Be with them. Let them come in. Just sit. Perhaps new solutions or ideas for how to solve them will come through. 

Personally, this dare has been hard, so challenging for me that I have been putting it off for days. You see,  my youngest daughter Evalina left for Indonesia this week to become a Shark Warrior with the Gili Shark Conservation. This leaves my husband  Matt and I with an empty home for the very first time. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a mother. The last thing I thought I needed was emptiness. But, I did it. At first, every time I sat down, my eyes would fill up with tears. I don't cry often. I almost ached to get up and do something, anything. Instead I stayed- I dared to. The tears began to roll, pretty soon my shoulders were shaking. It was a rolling storm of a cry. It lasted a long time.

Who wants a thunderous cry? The thing is, it was exactly what I needed. Beneath the tears, there was love, a deep clear love, for myself, for my family, for the very nature of being a sentient being. The emotions I was blocking with distraction were also standing in the way of my ability to tap into infinite love and peace. 

Be bored. Allow your consciousness to go wandering outside of you. Expand. Whatever comes up it is exactly right. Ideas and solutions can be found here. 

 There are gifts in your nothing. Treasures in your boredom. Enjoy. This one is on the house. You're welcome. 

 

 

Dropping into the body...

Week of dares to remember what a gift it can be to inhabit a body. 

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When was the last time you felt mud squishing through your toes or plunged your hand into a bag of rice?  It feels like days go by when the only thing we hold with intention is the steering wheel or our cell phones.  

When I saw a recent post from a wise yogini reminding us to drop into the sensations of the body, I immediately began to think of how to make a dare for all of us around doing just that.  

As children we are constantly seeking out sensations of the body- running our hands along bumpy walls until they are buzzing with sensation, playing with silly putty and green slime- often getting into trouble for making a mess by sticking our hands into a lovely piece of cake.  

As we grow and our heads fill with responsibilities, worries and thoughts we can sometimes even forget we have a body- unless it reminds us with some ache or discomfort.  

So this week your dare is to drop into the body every day. 

Plunge your hands into a bag of rice.  

Find mud and sink your feet into it.  

Go out walking in wet grass at night with your bare feet.  

Use organic soap to make a lather in the sink- hold it up to your face and feel the tiny bubbles burst against your skin.  

Put your pajamas or your sheets into the freezer for 10 minutes, then put them on.  

Heat river stones in the oven and hold them on different places on your body.  

Run the fringe of a shawl along your legs.   

Lie on the grass and put your bare feet on the bark of a tree.  

How do you drop into the sensations of the body? Share your ideas with me and I will add them. Please let me know how it goes.  

I am so....not sorry.

This dare is a both big and small.

camille

 

This dare is so big it could alter the fabric consciousness if it were to spread far enough. Yet, it is also as small as the flap of a butterfly wing… it is a quiet warrior of a dare.It is harder than you may think and has more impact than you can imagine…

We dare you to omit the word sorry from your vocabulary for an entire day.

Double dare: I dare you to omit the word sorry for a week- for a month…?

Giving up the word "sorry" is a hard dare. Fear Not. There are replacement words for sorry. We can thank my clever friend Szaz for the following public service announcement to help us with this dare.

PSA:

The word sorry and all of its derivatives has been cancelled. SORRY

Replacement Options Include:

A) Surprise!

B) You're welcome?

C) Thank you

  

I have been testing out this dare for a few days now and I can attest that it is a sleeper hit. It is harder than it may seem at first. It maybe harder for some than others.This weekend with a group of friends, I practiced cancelling sorry. Some of the conversations that ensued were hilarious.

-          I threw up on your shirt… SURPRISE!

-          I ran over your foot with my bike!… You’re welcome??

-          I ate all of your olives!.... THANK YOU, they were so good.

We played with this for a long time conversing about what it would mean to omit “sorry” from your vocabulary. It would definitely have an impact on the fabric of meaning. If you accidentally bumped in to someone’s cart at the grocery story- surprise!.... challenged someone’s belief… you’re welcome?

The same day I wrote this, I accidentally forgot to tell a friend that I could not make it over for a movie night she invited me to. When I realized this, I felt awful. I could not say "Sorry", but I was naturally contrite. Because I couldn't say or use the word ‘sorry’, all I could do was own my part in it and tell her how I was feeling. The conversation went like this:

"I completely forgot to tell you I couldn't come to over tonight!   I hope you still love me... I love you!"

The challenge deepened my connection to the experience, and tell a rather- new friend how I felt.

 I am not saying on any level that I am against apologizing. I love apologies- I would even go so far as to say I crave them.  They are the verbal equivalent of “rinsing or showering” – if they are sincere. But...

“How would you change things if you couldn’t just say ‘sorry’?”

We would have to become more mindful around what we do and less eager to blame when there is no fault. Apology can be overused. We tend to apologize for things we shouldn’t be sorry for. We can even an unconscious energy of apology simply being or getting basic needs met . I am sorry Ineed help… I am sorry I can’t do this alone.  Being apologetic can block us from getting what we want- or feeling that we are worthy of it. .

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"Sorry" can be dangerous. There is a hungry, clumsy energy that hovers around this word sometimes. "Sorry" can also permit a certain carelessness that actually dismisses or passes over the truth behind an issue. I am proposing that we try to shake things up. Shake up the energy around apology with a little fast for apology.

  I am challenging you to give up the word for a few days to stir up new energy in your life. While you are at it, get clear on where you feel apologetic and have nothing to be sorry for, it will create space to clear on where you truly need to seek forgiveness and where you do not.

 #notsorry

So tell me…

What are you not sorry for? send me pics, journal entries, comments or essays at or even apply as a guest blogger sarah@souldaring.com

Also be sure to check thecommunity folder for participants notsorry pics.

Here are ten things I am not sorry for:

I am not sorry for having a human body

I am not sorry for being a female- and everything that goes with it

I am not sorry for having an impact in the world

I am not sorry for needing help

I am not sorry for NOT needing help

I am not sorry for taking time for myself

I am not sorry for not having money and for having money

I am not sorry that I want to be ridiculously happy

 

matt chmielarczyk
miette notsorry

Lights out...honey, sea salt...and the magic of presence.

Your weekly dare

lightsout

This week’s dare is rich and delicious… possibly even... sexy?

I will explain, but to do so I will have to weave together a series of events that co-created yet another masterpiece of a dare. I had written this dare when I first began the souldaring project, but it morphed-as dares do. Over time it took on a life of its' own. The beauty of souldaring is actually contained in this statement;  This is what happens; you do something-, in your way, because it is your life- so it looks different. Life is not linear or predictable. When you change one thing, something else happens- you get an idea-you see something you didn't before, and the adventure begins.

If you are busy, like me, you may not want the whole story- you may just want your weekly dare. I get it. So here it is. Reading on is optional- but you knew that.

This week I dare you to have a no-technology night.

That is, turn off all phones, computers, and televisions in the house.

Double dare: Turn off the lights too- using only candles.  (highly-highly recommended)

I will be joining you joyfully, because I already know how good this one is.

You see, back in June my aunt, Aunt Honey, had a stroke. She was in a coma- and would not recover.

My first thought was throw some clean clothes into a backpack and drive to Montana- just to be near- be with the family, but the fifteen-hour drive was too much to pull off at the time.

Still I wanted to connect with her somehow. I wanted to find a way to hold a space in my heart while she was in this in-between place. I took inspiration from a clever artist and dear friend, Marina Eckler, who used only candles to light her house for the entire month after her father passed. I loved this idea-an meaningful dedicated and private vigil. I knew it was the perfect way to honor my aunt.

I told my daughter and husband about the idea and they agreed. Surprisingly, Evie, my -tech-savvy teen daughter, was especially into the idea and decided to come home early to be a part of it.

Matt made a fire in the back yard, and I filled the house with candles. I didn’t know exactly what we would do. The though of no distractions seemed both peaceful and lovely and a little vulnerable and scary somehow. I don't know why.

Sometime during the preparation it occurred to me that it would be nice to enjoy some of my Aunt Honey’s favorite foods. The problem was, most of the foods I remember her loving- were fresh seafood. Our family always gathered at the family home on Cape Cod where seafood was abundantly available. In landlocked-Colorado, fresh clams, lobster, and crab cakes are not easy to find or afford- plus it isn’t really the same to eat these things without the smell of the ocean and the sound of distant seagulls.

Seafood was not going to happen- but I did have a more literal tribute; raw honey from local bees. I have a vague memory of eating homemade vanilla ice cream with honey drizzled on top- I don't know if this was something I did with my Aunt or not- but it seemed a fitting choice. I sent Evie to the store to pick up some Haagen Dazs vanilla and stashed it in the freezer for later.

 As the sun went down, we quietly put away our phones shut down our devices and sat by the fire. We rolled through phases of talking and silence- easily noticing the change in light and outlandish phases of the sunset- drinking in the moment where the sun disappeared behind the tallest peak that towers above our town. There have never been words that I find adequate to describe the Colorado sunsets-or any sunsets- suffice to say that they are twice as good without distractions- or even the temptation to want to hold on- or grasp the untenable with a photograph.  

Although I did not see her often in my adult life- I was able to share some of the things I loved about my Aunt Honey with my husband and daughter, many of which were the impressions of a child- rather innocent and curious. Here is my Aunt as a child.

 And here are some of the things I really loved about her.        

  • She was a classic beauty- with Honey colored hair and fine features- yet she did not appear to spend a great deal of time on her appearance- no need really. She would simply comb her hair put on a summer shift or linen pants and pull a hot pink bougainvillea from the bush at the side of the house to put in her hair before dinner.

  • In the 1950’s portrait of my fathers’ family in the dining room of the Cape Cod summer house she is young – maybe 12- she is wearing high waisted pinstriped gray pants. There is a look of savvy, relaxed defiance on her face. Even then, she seemed ahead of her time.

  • She never spoke in hushed tones-not even around the children as the other adults did. She swore frequently and openly used inappropriate words, if they best served the story she was telling at the time. As a child, I adored her for this- as I hated to be talked down to. She never did that to me.

  • She was a brassy raconteuse, Matt likens her to Judy Garland later in life- smart, sassy, sharp-witted and classy with signs of hard-living but obvious charm. She was anything but demure- even when women were expected to be.

  • She was very capable person-, a professional woman with a stylish modern house we used to visit in Fort Lauderdale. My sister remembers her as a strong person.

  • But the most fascinating and probably my favorite trait was the fact that never tried to hide her shadow material. She openly admitted her mistakes in her life- shared her misadventures, owned her vices, and told things like they were. She was BRAVE AS F*CK- and no matter where she is I will always honor and admire her for that- and I know not everyone did.

After sharing memories and watching the sky and the fire for a while, we decided to make the sundaes. Evie and I pulled out the vanilla ice cream and honey by candlelight and spooned them into bowls. While drizzling the honey over ice cream ( a beautiful sight by candle light) I spotted some pink Himalayan Sea Salt and decided to sprinkle a little over the top of the sundaes. The result was –delicious. So so good.

honey pink salt sundae

Maybe it was twice as good without distractions- maybe not.

I do know that removal of technology and even lights gave this personal little memorial some impact.

Later a friend of Evie’s dropped by. He came to the back yard and sat down and said-

“Evie said I could come by if I left my phone in the car… I’m down with that”

We all sat by the fire for a while longer. Matt played the mandolin and we talked about Tolkien and science. Evie said- I guess- this is what you do when you don’t have your phone- you talk about books and science.

After a while, Evie and her friend left. Matt and I put out the fire and most of the candles. Two of the larger ones we took to our bedroom.

Here is the mild TMI I mentioned so…. Consider yourself warned.

We found ourselves feeling very connected- a side-effect of the removal of distraction.

With not enough light to even read by, we had nothing in the way of intimacy.

The result was...-umm… amazing marital relations.

 It seems we found the sexiest thing we had was... presence.

Sexier than a drawer full of lingerie... we had the magic of presence.

Full intentional presence- is, perhaps the best aphrodisiac I have ever experienced.

If I could wrap it and sell it or write a little jingle maybe...

"Everything is better with presence..."

"Give them all a little dab of presence

"Or (said in a husky female voice)... presence... put it on before you put on anything else- your man WILL notice.

or for guys...

"I don't always use presence...but when I do, the ladies find me irresistible."

"The power of presence."

I know I am being silly now. But this dare reminds us, that simple and real presence is so so good. and it is free.

I also know I am not reinventing anything here. The Buddhists, Sufists and Yogis have been saying this for thousands of years. I did not invent presence. I just found it again, buried in a closet- and remembered once again its' magic. Presence is "the wheel" of traits- a design that cannot be improved upon.

Brene Brown has encouraged tapping into the concept of daring- and before her, generations of adolescents playing Truth or Dare. I also know I did not invent daring. The idea is that of tapping into a forgotten power and the beauty of these simple things is that each human manifests them differently. 

We have had a couple of subsequent no tech nights since then. We have invited friends over (not to our bedroom, of course!). We’ve played instruments, we’ve laid down and looked at the stars- things we might do while camping but we never left the house.

I hope you enjoy your no-tech/no-lights dare. I would love to hear your stories, thoughts, ideas, or revelations. Tomorrow is our next no-tech night (Matt does not know- he is out of town) – maybe you are somewhere sharing the experience. Tell me about it.

 

P.S.

Yesterday we photographed the honey-vanilla sundae for this blog post with the help an artist friend, Sophia Rose. We recreated the sundae for the image. Because the pink sea salt was so pretty I used a lot of it for the photograph- maybe too much. After the photos were finished, we ate the sundae together. I thought I may have added too much salt for it to be tasty. But I was wrong- it was amazing- mmm out-loud good.

The Honey Sundae was like my aunt; unique, sweet, layered, lovely and maybe a bit too salty for some. But not for me. 

Aunt Honey Sundae

1 scoop vanilla HaagenDazs Ice Cream

drizzle of raw local honey

sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt

 

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Memorial  Stone for Aunt Honey

Dare to climb a tree today.

Write to me. Tell me how it felt. Send me pics. 

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Today I woke up, got my coffee and began to write my daily to-do list, when the feeling washed over me that there was nothing more important I could do today than climb a tree. 

With the daily news of the destruction of the natural world, there is a temptation to fall into despair. Yet- there is another force that calls; the vibrant green of the newest leaves against the rich dark of the older leaves,  the rustle like glittering coins, the exploding scent of the Lindens, the loamy smell of a wet ponderosa pine. 

Maybe I will set the to-do list aside and dust off the childlike friendship with nature- not the mature hiking, backpacking relationship of adulthood- but the one of awe, danger, imagination and bewilderment.

There is really nothing on this to-do list that is more important than that. It occurs to me that if we can find that innocent relationship with nature we can allow the earth to help us remember how to take care of her. 

Climb a tree with me today. Get a scrape on your arm or your leg from the bark. Feel the texture of the leaves on your face. Send us a picture, a story, a poem. Share this post- dare 10 friends. If you cannot physically climb a tree, lean your body against one- linger there. Find the innocence that runs beneath knowledge. Play.