essays

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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Have You Listened To The News Lately?

Posted on February 26, 2015 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I said to a poet, "I can hardly  stand to read the news - there's so little I can do."  His response?  "Knowing is doing."  A little knowledge goes a long way.  Sometimes the news leads me to silly antidotes - like putting a chicken hat on my head.  Other times, the news prompts me to take a specific action.  Last fall a young man in my country took his life, and the life of several of his friends.  What grief.  It impacted me deeply.  Within 24 hours I'd formulated my response.  I would visit as many classrooms as I could fit in - in a specified period of time - and teach them ways to manage life's events by virture of journal keeping.  I did that last week.  Hundreds of kids, through the generosity of many who supported my journey, got their own journal and a bunch of stickers to decorate it. 

If you have listened to the news lately and felt overwhelmed by the enormity of it...bring it down.  Bring it in.  What are YOUR unique skills? Perhaps you cannot travel to the other side of the world to use those skills...you CAN use them in your own community in the name of compassion. In the interest of healing wounds.  Honoring the fact that every single person contributing good makes a huge difference in the balance of the planet. 

And - here's me...with a chicken hat on my head. This laughter balances the news for me, as well as taking specific actions.  "Sometimes the best thing to do, in fact, the ONLY thing to do, is just sit down and laugh."  mary anne radmacher

ALL IN Looks Different Than You Might Think

Posted on February 16, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

This is my dog Woodrow.  He's ALL IN.  His tail is wagging wildly and his big dog haunches are poking up in the air.  When he came up for clean air the uppoer portion of his dog body was covered in dirt. He shook it off but a lot of it came home with him.  I know. I  the person in charge of the vacuum. 

I take a lot of lessons from this.  When I am ALL IN, utterly committed to something, I can see very little else.  My butt might be sticking up in the air, vulnerable and without qualification, open to all kinds of judgments.  When I'm ALL IN  there is no multi tasking.  When my head is pushing into an increasingly smaller hole, just like Woodrow here, there's no room for a cell phone, or an iPod, or even another somebody.  Just me. In pursuit of the thing that has called me to be ALL IN. 

When I rise up, or OUT, as in this case, I am dirty. Covered in the hummus of all the soil and matter that I've been digging through.  If I want to do anything else, I have to shake it off.  Clean myself off. Reset.  And carry on.

It strikes me that my humanity, pursuing a passion, is so very much like Woodrow digging after whatever he was digging for in this hole. He doesn't always share the specifics with me.  I cannot always multi task. Sometimes I have to DIG IN, focus, shut myself off from other elements and stimulation.  And that means occasionally my torso might be configured in such a way that is, at very best, unflattering.  Oh, well.  When I am pursuing a passion with keen focus, considering what others might think of me does not figure into the equation.  Upon further consideration...most of the things I've done in my life to date would not have been done if I had been concerned with what "other people" might think.  Perhaps that is the biggest lesson that Woodrow's efforts have brought to me.  Thanks, Woodrow, for the big ole' metaphorical bone of wisdom you just shared at my feet.  Good Dog.  Go. Go dig a hole. I'm All In.

Thinking of Scale and Circles

Posted on February 8, 2015 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (1)

I'm just going to say it.  Bigger is not always better. Sometimes small is elegant and productive and spiritually rewarding.

I get helpful suggestions from inventive and imaginative peoplel all the time. "Here's how you could make more money."  "Here's an idea that might work for you."  "You could scale that production model and increase your income by _______________%."  All well intended. In many cases, correct. 

And. Not. Where. I'm. Standing Right Now.

I spent over 21 years with no less than one employee and, at one point, over twenty.  I started at my kitchen table. I've built an 8000 square foot production facility.  All and everything has conspired to inform who I am today. Many of those suggestions come to me because peoplel would like me to have the ease of wealth, the choice   and option that lots of money provides.  Because my friend and Publisher of MABEL MAG asked me to consider writing about money - I've been giving it a lot of thought.

I've been surprised to discover something about myself.  I thought money was a real motivator for me.  In the process of considering writing about money (which I did not do, by the way) I realize it is the capacity to fulfill my promises and obligations that drives me to earn money, the ability to respond to freinds and causes that need to oil of money to move forward, not the money itself.  My prayer as a high school student was not, "God, I want to grow up and be a wealthy entreprenuer."  I prayed, "I want to be an artist. I want my words to inspire myself and others."  Without the measurement of money or bank accounts or return on investment ...I've been a success at my dream since the moment I started praying that prayer.

"You're kidding.  It takes you HOW long to make each one of those?"  Yes.  I get asked that a lot.  My monthly bundles consume a remarkably large portion of my month.  They are limited in their distribution.  They sell far below their retail value.  AND they do everything that I love about my work. Keeps me constantly creating and looking for new ways to articulate my impulse to MAKE things that have meaning and value. It brings a dependanble and predictable financial structure to the unpredictable nature of being an author and earing my living by virtue of royalty payments. It connects me directly with people who are using my art and words to inspire themselves and others, via gifts. It becomes fertile soil for teaching others about making things, offering designs to my awesome license partners at Applied Insight. And the folks at Quotable, and my publishing partners at SimpleTruths, Conari, Viva Editions and Brushdance.  They now do what I used to have to do myself.  I get to do for them what I do best: make things. Not supervise employees, fill out forms, scrutinize P & L's or scrutinze the folks who are scrutinizing the P& L's! 

I am fortunate that the things I would do if I were a full time corporate trainer as my "hobby" are actually what I do as my full time job.  Has it happened to you?  You've  created something for the sheer joy of it and your friends adore it and immediately validate their admiration in this way, "You could make those and sell them."  There IS a certain validation that occurs when something one makes is successful in the marketplace. And for those in the industry, that kind of success is indeed essential for sustaining the model of a business. 

I was in my teens when I started making gifts for my friends instead of buying them.  Over the decades I've learned from my friends that still the most meaningful gifts they receive from me are those that I make for them.  When I started my company at my kitchen table I couldn't have predicted the path it would take and the various levels of international distribution I would attain.  And now, that model is before my license holder, Dr. Deanna Davis.  An author herself and trainer, she is harnessing her broad spectrum of gifts and taking the challenge of managing changing market place realities and shifting consumer trends.  And me?  I'm at what is, essentially, a larger than ever, kitchen table.  Making things that bring me joy and relishing the capacity to say, "Here, I made this for you." 

If the measure is authenticity, saying what's true and operating close to the core priorities of ones soul...than I can say, without hesitation, that I am more successful that I have ever been in my entire life.  Scale. Circle.  Right now they work together perfectly.  And for you - I wonder if that whisper of longing that you held in your heart as a young person is answered in how you spend your time in your every day.  And what would it take for you to move closer to that place if that is not where you stand?  Just pondering...

Seize the Regret/Wishing VOID

Posted on January 16, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (1)

What would it be like if all the seconds, minutes and moments that are taken up with wishing and regrets were instead seized for leaning forward into your life?  How would a day change?  Instead of that musing over coffee over the longing you have to start the next creative project...you might, instead, start it.  I love to say "start starting."  The START is one of the hardest parts.  It's easier to live with an idea in your head and complain that you haven't the time to realize it.  And yet...when those musing moments are seized and put to work in practical ways...suddenly a dream has wings and it begins its flight to realization.

Where to begin?  Really, ANY where.  A step forward toward that longing is a better use of your precious seconds than the time spent wishing you wold take that step. 

Begin. Now.

Do You Get A Choice?

Posted on December 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Yes.  I know I get choices.

You get all kinds of choices.  What holiday(s) you celebrate. And how. And when.  Really.  The various faith and season based celebrations can deliver themselves with all kinds of obligations.  You get to CHOOSE if you pick up those obligations. Or not.

Christmas had become a very stressful day in my household.  My husband gives gifts when he finds them or makes them. He does not enjoy begin told by a calendar or anyone else when he SHOULD deliver a gift.  It is against his nature.  Now that I know what a holiday is like sharing a home with a person whose nature is repulsed by required and imposed traditions...I made a shift.  I am celebrating my gift giving quietly.  I am opening my presents from friends when they arrive.  There isn't a shred of evidence in our home that the Christmas season is upon us. 

There IS a lighting of the eight nights of Chanukkah.  That works well.  We focus approximately 18 minutes before dark on the light we want to bring to the world and we light the candles.  We like it so much we might continue after the eight nights are through. WE choose.

At first I thought it would be difficult to give up the festooning and festivities associated with Christmas.  I learned our temporary neighbors (here for a a family medical emergency) had not one holiday decoration. VIOLA!  My collection of sweet holiday decorations found purchase in the soil of a neighbor's need.  They are happlily pressed into service and will be returned after ephinany to be stored another year.  I don't know if our home will be decorated for Christmas  next year.  We'll choose. Then.

For now, I embrace that I have a choice in how I articulate the celebrations of the season.  And I am grateful to be in a stress-free home.  Where we pave our own kinds of traditions. One. Day. At. A. Time.


xo,  mary anne radmacher

Thoughts On Writing Spaces

Posted on July 25, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Mary Anne Radmacher updated her status.

11:36am

"How do you set up a writing area that is effective?

 

The answer to that is a different as the person asking it. I can tell you about my process and you can find the things that are resonant for you. First, from my formal consulting days: your IMMEDIATE WORK ARC is that semi circle right in front of you. If you hold your elbows to your rib cages and reach them in a half circle, that area should be clear of everything except your writing tools. Keyboard, pen and paper, recording device. the SECONDARY WORK ARC is the semi circle you create by extending your arms and drawing an imaginary half circle. Within this easy reach should be the other tools you require for your writing. Favorite pens. Timer. Notepapers. In mine is my timer, my hourglass, some inspiring icons, a calculator and my "stick to it" writing system papers.

 

This arc applies whether you are working on your sofa, at a coffee shop, or an established station in your home or office. If you find yourself working ON TOP of piles or in between stacks of other projects, those things become the entity on your shoulder that Virgina Wolfe writes about. They are screaming for your attention and even if you do not tend them they are completing for your focus.

 

Chaos can swirl around. Piles can be ceiling high...just NOT in these two work arcs. Just like Charles Schultz found he created the best cartoons in his dependable working environment, which he kept the same for years, so do I find greater output when I maintain these physical structures.

 

I hope this experience relates in some way to your writing experience.

Seattle Pacific University

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

When the sirens went off we were always startled,

we wee ones,  just first, second and third graders  in

our wing of the old school (it was old even then, decades ago).

I knew I didn’t fully grasp the nature of what we called a drill.

The only context for air raid exercises was the can of insecticide

my parents kept under the kitchen sink.  Raid.  
Raid - sprayed in the air and I could watch the bugs fall.  

Twitch.  Argue.  Flail toward something other than their end.

And then, they were dead.

This is what I related to air raid drills.

In such a event, I felt  silly going on a table or lining the

puke green oil painted walls, dirty brown molding and olive

green lockers with our backs.  How would our arms locked

over our bent heads protect us from inhaling that dreadful spray?

It seemed futile, to me then and ever so much more now.

What protects a child from an air raid?

Perhaps parents weep as they ask the same question

about the campus shooting in Seattle. Today. Minutes ago.

Like my childhood,  these students have drills. Their drills

address a more modern menace than an “A” bomb.  Random,

angry gun propelled violence.  There are drills that keep those

students more calm than they might otherwise have been - but

it is only the unique heroism of a few individuals that saved

lives today.  No hiding under a table or putting one’s arms

over their bent head could have shielded them from the raid

of this bullet on their life.  Only quick thinking bravery stayed

the trigger finger of today’s assassin.  I would like less of them,

less  assassins, less angry gun news and more heroes.  Alive.

Alive heroes able to save cats from trees, dogs from wells, and

not to worry about their fellow students and having to protect

their lives.   I confess this wish comes to my lips as a whimper.

I will be angry about the extraordinary availability of guns tomorrow.

Today I’m weeping for the losses at Seattle Pacific University.

 

ONE More Thing

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Perhaps you have said it recently,  "I can't handle one more thing."

Your days are already full to bursting of delightful opportunities, accepted obligations and tasks that don't really ring a bell but need to be done. And yet, there is always an invitation to "one more thing."

It's ironic and ever true - the busier I am, the busier I get. My best ideas knock on my door when I perceive I have the least amount of time for them. I've learned to take a strategic deep breath, open the door, and invite the idea in to sit awhile. Have a cuppa something.  Then I learn if the idea is just passing through or if it is here to stay.

I've been "quote bombing" for years. Quietly.  Without fanfare. Word-leaves.  Left behind in random or unexpected (but always legal, i.e. not windshields) spots.  With a sweet little prayer/hope that just the right person who needs that particular set of words will find them. At just the right time.  Now I begin work on a book honoring the role of words in our lives, BY THEIR WORDS.  And the Quote Bombing project becomes more important to me than ever.

I've begun a community on facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/quotebombing   ; There I will provide downloads of uplifting quotes. My own and as I gather important words from others, I will share them, as well.  In this community we will share our stealth with pictures. And, if there are stories of discovery or delight to tell, we will tell and share. 

Join me?  Quote bombs are one of the few kinds of bombs I wholeheartedly endorse.


love, mary anne

Many Roles, A Single Day

Posted on February 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

As I prepare for a 17 day book tour for SHE A Celebration of Greatness In Every Woman...I ponder how complex it is to get ready to

leave home for 2-1/2 weeks.  Then I remember some of my dearest friends who "left" their home never to return - thanks to the Grim

Reaper.  They were not madly preparing, fussing, doing, sorting, and in general rushing around. No, they were just living, leaning into another         

day and then they stepped  into The Great Mystery without any notice whatsoever.  There's some kind of lesson in this for me. Clear as a puddle muddied by spring rain. 

As I anticipate sharing this fresh work with hundreds of people on the road, I know this for sure.  The most important things I can do as I prepare to leave have nothing to do with the book tour, or finishing projects, or creating one more fresh surprise for the upcoming Bundle.  They are an extra kiss for my husband, an unexpected hug, a litany of appreciations for all my friends do for me.  Dog scratches.  Throwing dog toys and taking the time to say, "Who's a good dog?  YOU'RE a good dog. " Such questions and subsequent answers are the truly important ones.


Note to self.  Remember What Matters.

Find Balance

Posted on October 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Balance occurs in the whole not within the parts. Searching for balance in the specifics of the little bits  yields little return. At low tide, with long mud flats,  it is hard to imagine a river lapping the edges of the banks. Yet in a moon cycle there is evidence of the balance - the ebb and flow -of the tide waters.

 

There is imbalance in a moment. That moment of seeming asymmetry, taken as an important  part of the greater view, becomes part of a account of balance.

 

Close the ledger book.  Look up and be present to the experience in front of you. When you have time for a backward glance you will be surprised at the equilibrium written into to that ledger of your heart.

 

Parity occurs in the big picture, not the small parts.

 

mary anne radmacher


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