Barack Obama Motivational Poster about his Nobel Peace Prize

All politics aside, I thought this was a pretty well done motivational poster.

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Hilarious Motivational Posters about Futility, Work, Goals and Government

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Zen Talk: A Reminder to Live in the Moment

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

Everyone needs a good ol’ reminder to live in the present, and that is just what this quote is. Be in the moment of what you’re doing.

It’s very hard to pay attention to the things that you’re doing because our lives are inundated with stimuli and distractions, whether from television, work, life planning or what have you. Our own thoughts preclude our ability to live in the moment – rather than pay attention to the meal in front of us, we think about that look Suzy at work was making when we were talking to Joe. But why? Why can’t we take a nice walk and enjoy the sites and smells around us rather than dwell on the past or plan for the future.

Live in the moment and enjoy life.

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Zen Talk: The Mundanity of Zen is the Essence of Its Profundity

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but merely concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunkyu Suzuki

I think that’s a point that people miss a great deal. Zen is existing in the present by having control over our minds. It’s not some exciting, shining AHHHHHHH that endures at every moment overpowering all that is. Zen is existence in the moment, or as Suzuki puts it, “concentration on our usual everyday routine.” Most of us are thinking of other things as we shower in the morning, brew our coffee and travel to work. We are planning, daydreaming, dwelling on yesterday or lord knows what else.

Zen is not doing all of those things with a feeling of blessed majesty surrounding us. Zen is doing each of those things with complete awareness of what we are doing and total existence in the moment. Zen is taking the shower and feeling the hot water as it courses over our bodies. Zen is smelling the coffee brewing and basking in its aroma. Zen is seeing all that passes us as we make our way to work. Zen is not being distracted by the constant running of our minds but existing in the constant presence of the moment.

Practice mindfulness and being present. Enjoy your life in each moment as it happens. Don’t constantly plan for the future and dwell in the past. Live moment to moment. That is, in essence, living.

What do you think about this quote? What does it make you think?

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Zen Talk: A Quote by Buddha about the Wise

“As a solid boulder does not shake in the wind, the wise are not moved by censure or praise.”

This saying by Buddha lets us meditate on our inner conviction and resolve, as well as our understanding of ourselves, lives and accomplishments.

Now, do I think that we should never feel pride when complemented or never let criticism help us rethink our actions or work? No, not necessarily. Censure and praise can act as important buffers in guiding us towards better things or higher qualities of work, wishing to achieve more praise the next time or improving ourselves for fear of chastisement.

Personally, when it comes to constructive criticism I listen with open ears because only through editing, for example, does a piece of writing improve. As the Buddha expresses, though, that criticism shouldn’t be taken personally or to heart or let it move us as people, but only affect the quality of our work.

Buddha makes us realize that accolades and criticism should not ultimately make us feel bad (or too good) about ourselves or be dwelled upon excessively. They are there to be taken or left as appropriate and not to turn our worlds upside down as many people allow both praise and censorious remarks to do.

What does this Buddha quote make you think about? What are your thoughts about letting praise and censure affect you? Have you ever had an experience where such remarks affected you in a particularly noteworthy way?

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Topical Tuesdays: Volume and Pitch – The Noise a Writer Needs to Do the Deed

And just to clarify for those of you with less than savory minds (or particularly savory minds, as the case may be), that deed is writing.

Yes, this Topical Tuesday is all about the volume: TURN IT UP! Or maybe for me, turn it down. We’re all a little different with our noise preferences when we sit down at the computer to write (or just work), but in order to do what needs doing, we all need it to be the pitch and volume we like it.

Noise In Israel

When I was getting my Masters in Jerusalem, I happened to live on the corner of a particularly busy street (Hapalmach and Koveshei Katamon, for those of you who may be familiar), and it was a noisy street. The #13 bus ran down Hapalmach and began very early in the morning and ended very late. Cars honked incessantly (everywhere in Israel) and motorbikes roared. It was also heavily trafficked by pedestrians and people had no consideration for the volume of their voices as they reprimanded their children, called out to a friend or simply discussed the days events. Honestly, all that noise never made it too hard for me to work. I wrote and I read and I did just fine.

But then the Sabbath would come. Though Israel itself stays relatively lively on Saturday (that’s the Jewish Shabbat), Jerusalem truly becomes very quiet and Sabbath-like. All the buses stop, very few people continue driving, and though the foot-traffic increases so more people are talking on the streets, there really is something less noisy about it all. Shabbat was quiet and on Shabbat you better believe I could concentrate and got some work done (though you’re not supposed to work or use computers and electricity or write, but if that’s the only time Israelis shut-up what can God expect).

Quiet in the U.S.

Upon returning to America I lived in the suburbs in a quiet neighborhood where the only noise was the kids across the street playing for an hour outside as they got home from school. It was blissfully quiet. This is where I wrote most of my book, but this level of silence actually has its ups and downs.

It was so quiet that I’d get sleepy around 1 p.m. (after 5-6 hours of writing) and want to take a nap. With no noise or external distractions, I would succumb to this unnecessary sleeping sensation and waste the rest of my day napping, then being groggy, then saying it was too late to keep writing. So in this way, noise can be good for me and my work.

Volume Up

Now I live on a busy street in downtown San Francisco. Buses go by. People are loud checking into the hotel across the street and walking around, and the noises of the city (and my loud cat) keep me up. Though I haven’t begun writing again I think that this environment, similar to my life in Jerusalem, will keep me alert and active and able to write – and if I need to turn down the volume there are always earplugs, my recommendation to everyone who needs that whether awake or trying to sleep.

Oh, and as for music: only when I do mindless work. I can’t write to music at all because the rhythm doesn’t allow my brain to think entirely in its own way. Do you listen to music when you work?

Do you like noise or quiet when you work? Is your situation conducive to those needs? What tricks do you use to keep things at the proper volume for you?

For more on this Topical Tuesday discussion check out Chandler’s blog.

Exercising Mind and Body: Avoiding the Potentially Stagnant Life of the Household Writer

Like many authors, I write from home. I feel comfortable at home. It’s my comfort zone. Home has my stuff and my books, my computer and my desk: my collective work station where my mind is most free to do its thing and my fingers are most free to follow it through the keyboard. But this love affair with life at home – that is, working life at home – can be detrimental in other ways.

I fear – and I think it’s a grounded fear – that I don’t get enough exercise. Of course, in the last few weeks, I’ve managed to walk up and down the hills of San Francisco in search of apartments, accoutrements and everything else we need to set up, but now that this process has wound down and I am about to re-begin my sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to consider physical exercise.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to exercise. It sucks and I don’t feel like using my time that way. However, I know it will make me feel better and I know that it’s good for me. Plus, I always get tired unnecessarily at about 1 o’clock and if I went to exercise instead of my usual two hour nap, it would be a better use of my time.

Those things considered, I decided that I need to join a gym. I like to swim and so it needs to be a place that has a lap pool (also, my knees suck and I can’t run long distances – especially not in this hilly town). This gym also needs to be close to my house because despite going to exercise, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to gym distance and won’t travel far (more than a ten minute walk) to exercise.

So, do you think I should join a gym? Do you work at home and need regular exercise? What do you do to stay fit and healthy? Any good suggestions for delicious snackfood?