Alphabet Soup …

Photographs from the world outside that offer a new perspective. Enjoy!

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty  (uh-koun-tuh-bil-i-tee)  noun
1. the state of being accountable,  liable, or answerable.

Origin: 1785–95; account(able)  + -ability

Accountability is a precious commodity that illustrates the difference between owning your life and letting your life be owned. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. So be mindful of how accountable you really are for your actions and your words. Don’t let someone else take the credit or bear the blame. Stand up and be accountable. You’ll be far stronger as a result, not to mention we’ll all look at you with admiration for your integrity and authenticity.

Be – ing  (bee-ing)  noun
1. The fact of existing; existence
2. conscious, mortal existence; life

Origin: 1250-1300; Middle English

Being. For human beings, we aren’t always comfortable with just “being.” In fact, we tend to work hard at “doing” so we can excise “being” from our awareness. It makes us squirm when we have to simply exist. We live in a fast-paced, break-neck world that tells us, every day, we need to do more, try harder, keep busy, multitask, and be superhuman. You want to advance, right? You don’t want to get lost in the dust, right? The world celebrates overachievers, right?

Before we know it, we’re somehow so good at “doing” that we’ve just about excised “being” from our awareness. And that’s when we find ourselves in danger of being lost on a storm-tossed current without any kind of rudder or anchor or North Star to ground us.

The dictionary defines “being” as existing, conscious that we are alive and have substance. I don’t know about you, but until I learned to stop “doing” and enjoy “being,” I was always moving, slipping and sliding along, doing what the world and the media said was what I should do. I was looking for meaning in the “doing” things and hoping that doing more would satisfy.

I never found it there. It wasn’t until I consciously stopped myself, slowed down, and learned to “be” that I found myself … in the “being” things. The enjoyment of shared moments, the listening moments, the quiet moments with my own thoughts, the enjoyment of nature.

I encourage you to learn to “be” rather than “do.” When you discover the contentment of being, you’ll infuse the “doing” things with meaning and purpose.

cheap-skate (CHEEP-skate), noun
a miserly or stingy person; especially one who tries to avoid paying a fair share of costs or expenses

I just got back from the AARP convention (I was an exhibitor … but also an attendee) in feisty New Orleans. That’s where I encountered author and speaker Jeff Yeager – although you might be more likely to have heard of him as the “Ultimate Cheapskate.” I liked his message so much I actually bought his book, “The Cheapskate Next Door,” which talks about commonalities among people who live happily and well beneath their means. And they do it because – gasp – they want to.

It’s the complete antithesis of the American way, isn’t it?

Now, Yeager’s cheapskate is different from the penny-pinching-money-hoarding-so-tight-he-squeaks-when-he-walks Scrooges of the world we all know and don’t particularly love. No, he’s talking about people who understand that “things” don’t bring happiness and that “living rich” means something entirely different.

“Cheapskates know that the best things in life aren’t things,” he writes. Things eventually lose their luster, but those experiences? Yeah. How we spend our time is what deepens the layers of value and meaning we hunger for in life.

Cheapskates look deeper than shiny surfaces for the stuff that truly matters. So, really, is that 72-inch TV or that brand new top-of-the-line SUV what makes you happy? Might it be, instead, the time you spend with others while watching TV or the conversations you enjoy while traveling somewhere?

There’s a difference, and it’s not particularly subtle. What it requires is that we be willing to change our perspective and challenge the expectations that pave the faux American Way.

dar-ing (DAIR-ing), noun; adjective
n. 1. Adventurous courage; boldness.
adj. 2. Bold or courageous; fearless or intrepid; adventurous.

Origin 1575-85

Daring. It’s a bit reckless, don’t you think? It’s a romantic notion we can probably attribute more to James Bond movies than to anything else. There’s something about being daring that flicks the heart into overtime and puts the senses into high alert.

Daring adds excitement, a sense of being fully alive – and precisely because the very act of daring creates the tension of failure and loss, maybe even loss of life.

So if it takes daring to create a well-lived life, why do so few of us dare? Maybe it’s because we fear risking something so precious, yet we squander that very thing by keeping it on a leash, limiting our chances, our possibilities, the living that might just result when we dare to venture into the unknown, boldly and with courage.

Dare, I say. Dare to make a difference, to take a stand, to tell someone you love them, to reach across barriers, to venture into uncharted territory, to make mistakes, to try new things.

Dare to live, and live well.

en-am-ored (e-nam-ord), verb used with object
1. To fill or inflame with love (to be enamored of someone …)
2. to charm or captivate.

Origin 1350-1400; Middle English enamouren < Old French enamourer.

Oh, the romance of it all. To be enamored of a brilliant mind, of a beautiful woman, of a charming man. It’s the stuff of poetry, of Shakespearean sonnets, of modern-day writers spilling their souls to their beloveds.

It all seems so very flowery and a little soft-focused. When it comes to ourselves, there are usually more hard edges and primary colors.
So here’s a thought. Get past the flowers and the soft-focused romance and jump right in. Become enamored of something this year; take that plunge. Except, well, there’s just this one little thing.
I think you should become enamored of yourself.

Yeah, make 2013 the year of you.  Not in any narcissistic, self-indulgent way. I’m talking about really, truly loving who you are, respecting who you’ve been, and experiencing who you are becoming. Honor what makes you unique. Care for your own happiness, and embrace your own wisdom. Make good choices that hurt no one else but that are right and resonant for you.

The funny thing is this: when you love yourself – unconditionally with no strings attached – you’ll discover that the world loves you back. You’ll realize that there’s plenty of love to go around, and that you can’t keep it bottled up inside, anyway, so it bubbles out to others. You’ll find that you extend the same love and respect you have for yourself to family, friends, and, yes, even strangers.

What a difference that makes.

So do it. Become enamored of yourself.  Be your own valentine, and treat yourself like a treasured, important, well-loved person.

You know, there’s a reason the airlines tell passengers to take care of their own oxygen masks before helping someone else. Think about it.

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