Nothing up my sleeve . . . Presto!

sky II by Cammer's Camera on flickr

Watch me pull a blog post out of my hat.

I have been away for a while. Away from the blog, away from my friends, away — to a great degree — from being an active participant in my life.

It’s hard to come back. Hard to explain what was going on, hard to reconnect, hard to make the multiple daily decisions to step out and not retreat.

Many days over the past six months, I have not wanted to come back. Not to any of it.

Other times, it seems like things are on an upward trajectory, like I’m making progress, like the end of this is in sight. I have not determined why this happens, or how; I am glad when I feel better, and devastated when I slip back down again.

I’m have decided to keep making the attempt, though. I’ve been working on reminding myself of all the things I love, all the people I miss, all the reasons that life is worth truly living. Trying to see the blue sky reflected in the puddle that is left from all this rain.

So here I am.

Presto!

sky II” by Cammer’s Camera / CC BY

Live Your Legend

Scott adventure

Scott Dinsmore died recently while nearing the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He and his wife were on a year-long trip around the world. He was only 33 years old.

I did not know Scott; in fact, I’d never heard of him before I read about his death a week ago, but Leo Babauta’s tribute to him was so compelling that I decided I had to find out more. I’ve now watched his popular TED Talk, read articles by him and about him, and scrolled through online tributes to his life and his  life’s work, Live Your Legend. I’ve begun to get a glimpse of who Scott Dinsmore was and what he accomplished in his short life.

Live Your Legend is a community dedicated to helping thousands of people around the world “find and do work you love and surround yourself with the people who make it possible.”  Scott was doing that work himself by helping others to become what he called Living Legends, both through his website tools and through local chapters. He defined a Living Legend as follows:

… someone who’s willing to step into the arena and fight the good fight. Who leads each day making your own mark on the world, no matter how big or small – using your unique strengths, talents and passions to help the people around you.

From everything I’ve read about Scott this week, what made him special was how he did this work. Being open about his own journey. Making connections with people. Listening with focus. Sharing his enthusiasm for life and its possibilities. (In fact, Scott was in Africa as part of a year-long trip to visit Live Your Legend Local groups in other countries, to hear their stories and celebrate their successes.) The picture everyone paints is of someone who genuinely believed in serving others and who used his personal talents to do so in the best way  – really, the only way – that he could.

I feel odd writing a post about Scott. I know that his loss is impacting his friends, family, and Live Your Legend community deeply, and they are far more qualified than I to speak about him. Still, I think it is important to note that Scott Dinsmore is still making an impact on people who never had the chance to hear from him during his life. That speaks volumes about Scott and the legacy he is leaving the world.

These are the challenging questions I’ve been asking myself this week, thanks to Scott Dinsmore and Live Your Legend:

If I were to die unexpectedly, would it be clear to a complete stranger what I was meant to do with my life? Would people be able to speak with such clarity about how I had made an impact on them and on the world? Should I not be putting my efforts into getting outside of myself and my own insignificant struggles and instead working to find a way that I can contribute? What are the strengths, talents and passions that I could be using to serve the world?

What is the work I can’t not do?

Scott’s climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro was his first time he had been “off the grid” from social media in five years.  The last entry to Scott’s blog, I’m Going Off the Grid: Therapy for an Addicted & Over-Connected World, was a beautiful post about disconnecting from being online in order to make this climb.

ashes to ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We receive ashes on our foreheads in the sign of the cross, representing our repentance, our willingness to take stock of our spiritual life and begin again.

It’s time again for the three main practices of Lent:

Prayer –  We take time to reflect on what we can do for others, how we can bring more light to the world, and where we have fallen short. It’s a great way to reconnect with God and recommit ourselves to the path we want to follow.

Fasting – We give up things that keep us from living the life we want to be living. I know, for instance, that I am a slave to my phone, whether I spend my time reading late at night or playing mindless games or scrolling through endless feeds. Giving up those (wasted) hours will free me to do good in the world, in my own home and in the community.

Almsgiving – Lent helps us focus on what we can do for others. Can I give up my Starbucks runs or lunches out and give the money I save to people who really need it? The money I spend on my luxuries could go towards someone else’s necessities. It’s the right thing to do.

There is such a feeling of excitement to Lent! I appreciate having the chance to make some adjustments in my life. I have sooo far to go to be the person I want to be, but I’m going to take this opportunity to make a start.