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Inspire. Empower. Connect.  Motivate. Encourage. Uplift. Provoke.  Heart-felt writing. That's what you'll find here from me, MAry anne radMAcher.  Occasionally I provide something worth laughing about.  RSS in lower right hand corner - delivers it to your inbox.

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Courage Doesn't Always Roar

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (2)

Courage doesn't always roar.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, (whispering), "I will try again tomorrow."


This is the last portion of a poem I wrote in 1985. It has evolved over time. It has been coopted by folks from product manufacturers to the President of the Morman Church. It has been lawfully and respectfully licensed and presented on cards, posters, plaques, cups and any number of other products.  In its life of over thirty years I have seen this poem be pressed into service at significant moments in our collective lives.

After 9/11 there were police stations and fire houses  on the east coast who put it on banners and hung it above their vehicle bays.  When Senator Cory Booker faces another steep climb with the mountain of work he does in the world, he will often use this piece to indiciate he absolutely plans to keep on trying.

I am grateful when I hear the many ways these words have been used to inspire and heal.  I think it's a rare opportunity for an author to be alive while their words travel so far and get to "come home" to tell the story of the work they have done. I am blessed. And, please, let me know if you have a story about this poem and its place in your life....you can write me here.



The HAIR Affair

Posted on March 26, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (1)

It was a spur of the moment decision. I had a rare uncommitted 30 minutes on the mainland and I decided to pop into a salon that specializes in quick cuts and have my hair styled. Cut, more to the point.  The stylist assigned to me was a woman, perhaps in her late 40's, and her first sentence led me to believe her first language was likely not English.  That should have been a "humor alert" to me, but such things often go past me.  I spent several minutes answering her question as to what I hoped for from my hair.  It involved hand gestures, using my hands to reflect special angles and the word, "wedge" repeatedly.  She listened, kindly and attentively and smiled, knowingly at what I thought was a humourous, throw-away line,"I'll tell you," I assessed, pointing at the salon poster featured on the wall near us, "some days, I think THAT is the way to go."  Haha. And then I leaned into the comfortable chair and closed my eyes.  Oops. 

At first the sound of the electric clippers made sense in the context of the wedge of hair I'd hoped to have shaped around the back of my head. And when I felt those same clippers popping around the top of my right ear I decided to open my eyes. And quickly I saw I was too late with my attentions.  I sighed. Gave into the the reality and relaxed, willing to just see what I'd see when all the appliances were turned off.

What I saw was a fairly accurate facsimile of the hair on the gentleman in the poster that I'd gestured to, earlier.  "So cute!"  She exclaimed. "So cute?" she asked.  I repeated, like a mantra I wanted to believe..."so cute."  I came home and wrote of my misadventure on my social media.  In the midst of rancor and vitriolic jabs of the political season, I thought some hair humor might go well for some of my readers.  I was stunned. Over the hours that followed almost a hundred folks weighed in.  Not on racism. Not on diversity. Not on politics. Not on water quality. But, my hair. The Hair Affair generated a large resonance.  Because almost EVERYONE has had a bad hair cut some time in their life.  This Hair Affair taught me a lot, as an author, about Story, and about Common Experience. And Jim, wife of a long time client, Peggy, assured me that I might even like it after a few days.  Ha.  Such sweetness in the wish and I was skeptical.  After all, I have shaved my head twice in my life for two very important reasons and in neither event did I choose to continue shaving my head for the sake of convenience. THIS hair cut was as close as I'd come to shaving my head.

The following morning I looked in the mirror with fresh perspective. I could see the whole of my face. I could see the spots where my hair is committed to the grace and gray of my decades on the planet.  I could see my eyes, blink-blink, unencumbered by locks of hair any where near them. AND I LOVED IT.  I thought, with irony, that what seemed like a disaster yesterday seemed like the best. Idea. Ever the next morning. 

Perspective. Only time will tell if this is the cut of preference for the coming decade (and, oh, I so dearly anticipate having a coming decade or two) but I know for sure it's my cut of preference right now. And likely, again, in a few years, when it's long enough to be cut again (yes, I'm kidding).  Just for reference, I've borrowed a man-cut from inspirebeautyUK.com to show you essentially the poster I jokingly pointed out. WHAT A GOOD JOB she did!   So cute. 


Odd Contradictions - Attributing Characteristics to Qualities

Posted on March 23, 2016 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I wonder if "odd" and "contradiction" might not be a redundancy. 

Today I consider how closely related clarity and uncertainty are.  They sit together on a bench in the school yard.  Clarity and Certainty seem to barely remain friends.  Certainty keeps Clarity at bay.  Clarity makes Certainty very uncomfortable.  Certainty has forgotten what it is like to be curious.  Clarity embraces everything that she knows she cannot know.  Which makes her willing to learn.  So while Clarity heads to the library to check out a few more books on a current research project, Certainty stays in the yard...at the ready to convince any student willing to listen of all that she certainly knows.

These are fascinating days for me.  Mostly I stand on a square of uncertainty looking at how often Certainty and Clarity get in argurments.

My Better Angels

Posted on March 12, 2016 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Is it possible that Donald Trump's candidacy for President is making me a better person?

*******

Earlier today people in Decatur Georgia eulogized and buried the mutual friend. Now a dear mother I know in South Carolina tends to the last ritual before her son is buried.

 

In this contentious season in our country here is the Great Unifier: loss. We will all lose people we love; we ourselves will someday be lost to those who love us. There is perspective in this as contrast to the hateful rhetoric and the cancerous divide that anger casts as a contagion upon our country. You who will willingly disparage those you do not know, you who spit upon those whose color differs from yours, who judge as incompetent a gender not your own… Call to mind each of those people share in common with you the inescapable truth – we all come to the same end. Regardless of our political views or the reach or rancor of our public actions, we, every one of us a mothers child, will come to the end of our life. So unique to this day I call out my own better angels and will attempt in the season before me to identify the grace, the goodness, the model that we can all admire and follow. In the spirit of understanding the preciousness of life I am attempting, In this vitriolic political season, to see first that humanity before I hear the rhetoric. I. Will. Try.

 

********

In my  attempt to not sling hateful rhetoric back over the fence, I believe it IS possible that Donald Trump's invective, and tendancy to incite violence in his followers, IS going to make me a better person.  I am already working on how to reframe that characterization.  Try this:

Mr. Trump provides me the opportunity to respond to challenging rhetoric with a different tone.  Because of his behavior, I am requiring a different behavior of myself: that's a good thing!

Everything Continues On

Posted on February 21, 2016 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)


My consulting physicist told me in advance of my lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., "There is NO away. Things transform, yes, but nothing EVER goes away."  Jerome helped me put science behind my opposition to off-shore oil drilling leases being released for the Oregon and Washington coasts.  Before I went to D.C. to testify, deliver 25,000 signatures in opposition to the leases, I helped put in place ON shore conservation measures (obstensibly) that would more than make up, if broadly applied, for the oil that might be recovered off our shores.  I am no longer an activist on behalf of the ocean.  I do still teach that Everything Continues On, that there is no "away."

In a practical way, I am beginning to apply this truth to my home and my own possessions.  In the coming months I will offer practical options, narrative, story and opportunity that will clarify for you, or along with you, your relationship to the things that surround you. 

Today it was my small project desk. Because I rarely involve myself in only one project...my project desk is often the perfect model of chaos in motion.  Not today.  Today everything that was in that top "before" picture continued on...to objects like it stored in anther area, recycle bin, project shelf, or, in very small measure, the trash.  My objective in the coming weeks is to allow my project desk to learn how to accomodate only one project at a time.  Not my usual practice, and I'm excited to make yet another shift in the way I work.  I continue on.  And, when seated at this desk, I will continue on with less clutter in my way!

Going A New Way Home

Posted on February 19, 2016 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I traveled without knowing it was by my side and suddenly, poof, like a white rabbit pulled from the black hat of winter, there it was. It must be magic. The Ziggurat of Ur transported to this foreign place and standing like stacked wedding cakes, frosted white, atop the pinnacle.

The asphalt passed under my vehicle and became wooden wheels on a wagon, then the hooves of a strong horse as my thoughts took me back to the time before yellow lines, painted houses, stop lights and intersecting roads. In that time the mountain still surprised travelers, its presence obstructed by density of forest. Old. Older than my reach of known history, older than the stories I can imagine to tell, this mountain rises up through the land absent humans and stands with creatures wild and running. It waxes upon approach and as history increases in stories, so does the summit seem to magnify. In a car, not a camel, I am observing an edifice of no mortal making. Not a pyramid to evoke awe at the advancements of the ancients but a monolith offering silent, snowcapped tribute to a maker whose hand surpasses time, surprises understanding and eludes grasp. Tectonic geomorphology and volcanology aside, the fire of this majestic uprise is not extinguished,only waiting.

 

Yes, it must be a certain magic.

And then I came home and looked up Mt. Rainier.  The First Nation inhabitants said the mountain was Magic. They called it Tahoma. And the tales, myths and legends of the power and reach of that mountain were jaw dropping.  I loved that in the midst of my European ancestry and the rush of a modern highway, the Magic, the ancient power once known as Tahoma, still could be heard by this traveller.

You?  Try taking a new road home.

mary anne radmacher

My Friend Is Dying / I LOVE Your Shoes

Posted on February 17, 2016 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (1)

My friend is dying.  Inoperable-we've-done-everything-we-can-for-you cancer. This ain't her first rodeo. She's visited oncology a LOT of times.  This time, out of options, they've sent her to hospice.  She's known for many things, my tall soul.  Epic trainer.  Mad research skills.  Stellar coach. Funny as hell.  Well, how'd THAT phrase come out?  Hell's nothing to be laughed at and yet here I am, writing for all to read that she's "Funny as Hell."  Take your own meaning from that. I'm letting it stand because that's the kind of day it is.

My friend is dying.  She is kind of famous for using a candle on a cupcake as an icon for transforming energy.  She's been modeling transforming energy during her walk (walk? seriously? Walk?  stumble, freefall, swim, mountain climb) with cancer.  So now, I see a cupcake in the store and I get all verklempt.  One day I burst into tears at the sight of them.  At the very least, this response will be good support for my weight loss program.  It's awkward, though.  The bakery department just isn't used to random outbursts of unstoppable tears.  She also loves herself a fine pair of shoes. And she's given to noticing outstanding footwear on others.  There were days in the hospital, given position and energy, that all she really noticed about a person was their footwear.  She'd manage to say, "I love your shoes."  Because when you only have energy for approximately four words, what better thing to say? 

Today, at the post office, I told an absolute stranger, "I LOVE your shoes."  Her face lit up. She smiled really big. And she said, "Thank you. I love them, too. AND thank you for noticing."  Thank you for noticing. Which, really, at the end of the matter, is the point.  Perhaps she could have more accurately said, "Thank you for seeing ME."  As I pressed on to the remainder of my errands I decided that, right there, is how I am going to focus on transforming energy.  I LOVE your shoes. 

And, while I'm at it, I might just roll somebody's socks up and down by declaring what is utterly unexpected in a public place by declaring,  "I love you."

Because. I do.

I love you. In general principle.  Yes, I do. And, if I saw you this day, I might also love your shoes. I won't lie to you, though.  If they are worn. old Teva sandles with thick white socks, I'll pass on loving your shoes and just stick with loving you.

Mary Anne Radmacher

PS If you would like to see this woman discuss cancer, and, using a cupcake as icon, transforming energy ... look here:   http://www.37days.com/strong-offer-friday-transform-terror-into-commitment-and-entitlement-into-hope/


Paul Simon sang, "I know what I know..."

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Fascinating.  You know what you know.

You simply forget that you know.

Connecting to our core passion, remembering and doing what matters, being in alignment with our deepest values are all components of a wildly rewarding life.  And then, we get busy.  Working. Attending. Responding. Answering. Watching. Saying YES when we long to say NO. In the vortex of all that wild life-weather, we forget what we know.

I remember. I do what matters (most of the time). I remember and I long that my work will help YOU remember.

Ask yourself - "What do I KNOW in my gut that I have been ignoring."  Once you answer, do something about that.  Will you, please?

On The Subject of Asking for Help and Accepting Offers of Help...

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)


 

He’s called “Mr. Brilliant,” for good reason. Some time back John F. Ptak faced A Very Large Medical Issue. Very. Large.

 

And then...The “How?” of “How can we manage this?” became “How can I accept such

Grand Offers of Help from so many people?” Something I am facing and, by extension, David is facing these days. On his own David’s attitude is very straight forward. David is grateful and he is practical. I say “How? How can I ask or accept all this help?” and he  says, “Just say thank you.” John’s instructions had a resonant ring to them.

 

In the conversation John first and last acknowledged two important things. It took him a bit of time to come to terms with the “I can/should do this all on my own,” mentality with which our generation was raised and most everything he learned about being able to accept the Gift of Help he learned from Patti Digh and Amy McCracken. Noted.

 

Here are the notes I took on this very helpful conversation...If there are quotes around it it’s as close as I could capture to what he actually said. Otherwise it’s commentary on what he shared.

 

“The whole thing of being able to accept offers of help is pretty simple. Maybe even easy (although it took me a while to grasp this and come to grips with really how simple it is). Do you know what you need? Ask for it. Does someone give you something?

Accept it and say thank you. In the context of need, that’s pretty much it. You’ll busy yourself thinking, and I thought of this a lot, HOW can I possibly pay back these big kinds of favors. Forget pay back. It’s not about paying back. It’s about paying it forward.

 

“Once you get past all the issues and thinking about it. Once you get past all THAT, you realize that with people helping you, you’ll be better able to help others. You’ll be able to help more and do more.

 

“I know we’ve all been raised to do things on our own. Stand up. Do it all. There are times that with that attitude you can lose everything: drown. Go down with the ship. You’ll be under water but at least you’ll have your pride? No. Part of the deal of a gift is that you have to accept it.

 

“When people ask you what they can do to help - specificity is your gift to them. They WANT to help you, it would make them feel good to help you and if you have nothing specific for them to do you are going to end up with a freezer full of potato casseroles.

Because when people want to help you and they don’t have a specific thing to do, they'll make you food. It’s just want people do. So be kind - and be specific and LET them help you..”

 

I remarked that in a weird way, not identifying the ways I could really use help in this period of challenge, is kind of selfish. Like it’s okay for me to help others but it’s not okay for people to help me. As I said that I also heard the arrogance of it. Feeling resistance to help is being prideful about my own need. I was in conversation with two academic who deal in leadership issues. Just today it was topical as to how important it is for a leader who is overwhelmed to be able to say, “I cannot do all of this myself, I have to delegate some things or set some things down.” There’s a clear grace and humility involved in being able to receive help. Or ask for what you need. Ironically I am a strong advocate of asking for what is needed. It’s theoretical. I feel pride in the small asks,or asking for support in ways that help others in addition to me,  but the big asks push me into a wobble.

 

John agreed that in a kind of twist on the script, refusing to specifically ask for helpis kind of selfish. It makes the person who wants to help you feel uncertain...and then, all those potato casseroles.

 

“Look just ask. Ask for what you need. And then, when you get it, say thank you. There’s no next thing. There’s no pay back. You don’t have to go solve some world crisis or invent the next vaccine to pay people back. You just go on better able to do what it is that you do and you help others when you can.

 

“So, start a list and look at a calendar. Identify specific times that you’ll need help.

Then ask. Let people be happy that there’s something they can do for you that you really need. It’s good for everybody.”

 

Indeed.

These notes brought to you by someone who is practicing specificity and acceptance.

They helped me, A LOT. Perhaps they’ll help you or someone you know who is in the same situation.

 

mary anne radmacher, taking notes on the knowing of John F. Ptak

Gifts

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been receiving so many gifts, lately. Friends are being helpful as I anticipate major surgery (brain surgery) for my husband. My birthday's coming along. And, because I have such generous friends, I get gifts for no particular reason at all.  I looked around last evening as I was busy being enchanted with three vintage wobble dolls (I've been writing a  lot on social media about "the wobble" you can find me on Facebook maryanneradmacher10).  Wanting to have these wobble gifts front and center in my work environment led to an unexpected activity last evening.


I removed everything from the curio shelves in my writing room.  I dusted the shelves.  I parsed out the materials asking,"Is this still relevant to the work I am doing now?" and if there answer was no, I asked, "Do I know someone who might find value in this piece?" If the answer was no...(and the answer was 'no," quite a bit) it is a sweet little something that is heading to our local thrift shop a little later today. Now the shelves hold gifts and reminders of people who are in my circle. Now. Who are doing good work with me in the world. Now.  The shelves are not reminders of what was, but rather what is.  Because I am increasingly aware that what captures my attention a little soon captures my attention a lot. 


Even a very important reminder that I made for a calendar years ago is getting passed along.  The sentiment stays with me. "What you feed - grows. For WHAT do you hunger?"  It has a fork that belonging to a great grandmother of mine and a dictionary bit defining "Calendar."  How I spend my time is a true reflection of my hunger...what I really want.  So, I'm noticing that in bigger and more practical ways these days.  You?


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