Archives For life

Life is full of ups and downs. Have you ever stopped to consider if either extreme is within your control?

I’ve lived long enough to know that I’ve lost some of my naiveness from younger years. I believe that life will naturally take its twists and turns and, the majority of the time, we are simply along for the ride.

Yes, we can choose to concentrate on development and eliminate distractions to put ourselves in the best position to learn and evolve. Yes, we can make time for and really listen to those around us in order to build better relationships. Yes, we can make daily choices in order to solidify better habitual patterns.

Yet life doesn’t always go according to one’s plan. You expect the fast ball. You get the curve.

So believing this to be true, I struggle sometimes with my conflicting desire to try to be in control of the uncontrollable.

I want to be seen as a top achiever, as having a firm grip on life, as being compassionate and present in the moment. I want to be seen as trustworthy and able to be relied upon. I hope by controlling “x” in my life, then “y” will naturally result.

The problem with wanting to be seen though is that you need to first answer the question, “Why do I want to be seen?”

There is a big difference between giving off the illusion of having what society deems is “it all” – prestige, power, influence, health, wealth, and happiness – versus what gives you a sense of purposefulness when you are alone with your thoughts. One is a facade, the other is truth.

Why do I want to be seen?

I want to be seen to know that I matter to others. To know that I am of value to them. To know that I make their life happier.

Fortunately for me, my scope of “others” is relatively small. My “others” are also generous in doling out their gratitude. My family in first place, friends and confidants second, creativity sharers third, and so on and so forth. Believing that God sees me in my truest form, I know I am trying to do right by Him too of course.

I believe I originally embraced blogging and other forms of social media sharing as a creative outlet. I love expressing myself through writing. Selfishly, it feels good to know that others find value in what I choose to write about.

However, the social media sharing world from when I first began back in 2009 has spiraled into what I can best describe as social sabotage in less than 10 years time.

I’ve seen people fight about posts and pictures. I’ve seen relationships I once thought were solid fall by the wayside. I’ve seen people needing to be right more than needing to be understood. I’ve seen people (young and old) not wanting to miss out online, while inadvertently ignoring what’s waiting for them to discover in real life.

And while I’ve been watching all of this unfold on screen, real life had a way of moving on in all of its inherent beauty. That’s the funny thing about life. It happens with or without you noticing sometimes.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes recently that talked about people’s reliance on their smartphones and how Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps, and social media to get you hooked. Here’s a snip-it I highly encourage you to watch.

In this episode, Anderson Cooper interviewed former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris along with several other guests. Tristan left Google to lead a movement called Time Well Spent, with a mission of aligning technology with humanity.  I would also encourage you to read his most widely read essay How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist.

The information that Tristan shares in his interview as well as in his writing escalates that icky feeling I experience anytime I have my own nose buried in my phone or I see those whom I love doing the same.

My blog posts are fewer and farther between these days. And that is intentional.

I will continue to write. I still want to share (overshare?). I still want you to read what I have to say. I still want to hear from you.

But more important than any of those things, I want to start seeing more and being seen less.

Do you feel the same way?

What can we discover together, yet not feel compelled to share with each other?

Life is most breathtaking when it is unfiltered, with no clever captions, and uncontrolled.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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Listen up little dreamers

January 29, 2013

I’ve read various renditions of blogs written by someone older to someone younger. Some are written by parents to their children, while others are written by adults to their younger selves if only they could go back in time and instill advice to avoid the pitfalls of growing up. All give insightful glimpses into lessons learned.

One of the most recent and inspiring that I’ve read is called Letters to All the Beautiful Little Girls – Part 1.

Don't fence yourself in.

Dream big. Don’t fence yourself in.

I mainly blog at night, once my three kids are settled down to bed and my mind is freed up to think.

Tonight, I won’t promise to solve all their problems. I’ll simply offer up these words of wisdom.

To my daughter:

1. I wish for you the kind of love that Rapunzel finds with Eugene Fitzherbert in Tangled. But, even more than that, I wish for you to know the feeling of loving life.

2. Don’t waste a single breath complaining about your body. The boys and friends who only pay attention to you for it, and not your heart and mind, aren’t worth impressing. I know that is so much easier to preach than to practice. Mom needs a reminder herself every now and then.

3. Learn to love your crazy hair. Consider it an outward symbol of all the wild, rebellious ideas you’ve got floating around in that head of yours.

4. If wearing a dress and matching hair bows is what makes you happy, I’ll do my best to help out. Just know that your mom sucks at fashion and has a hard time understanding why people care so much about what covers their bodies. (On a related note: bras are dumb but you must wear one.)

5. Know that I love telling you that you are my favorite daughter and hearing you say that I am your favorite mom. I realize these words will undoubtedly run away during your hormonal years, but I have faith they will inevitably return.

To my sons:

1. Never underestimate the power of prayer…or deodorant.

2. You have no idea how lucky you are to share a bedroom together. I know it causes you much stress and angst now, but there will be a day when you look up and realize that your loud, obnoxious brother isn’t there. And the silence will be deafening.

3. Don’t fall for the girl who tells or shows you why you should like her. You are both smart. The best things in life are those you have to work for, including the attention of a female.

4. Know that you can remain within boundaries while helping to define them. You will face multiple paths in life. Do what feels right with the knowledge that you won’t choose right every time. Don’t be afraid to fail or you may never fully realize how far you can go.

choose your path wisely

choose your path wisely

5. When you screw up, seek out your father. When you are lauded for your accomplishments, thank your mom. Kidding…I’ve got your back no matter what.

Created by Heidi Woodard

“When we are fearlessly who we are, we don’t need external validation, just an opportunity to express ourselves, live fully, and serve the world.” – Arianna Huffington, Founder of the Huffington Post.

I read this quote, re-read it, paused to ponder, then compared it to another quote I stumbled upon from Aaron Levie, CEO at Box, Inc.:

“A great (company) mission will attract like-minded individuals that want to go on the same journey…Be on a mission that doesn’t suck.”

The combined essence of those two statements basically sum up how revitalized I felt following a trip I recently took for work.

I documented my leap of faith earlier this summer when I decided to finallyย leave my old job. I’m happy to say I’ve gone through the awkward and exciting acclimation period with a new company, new coworkers, and new mission.

I’m not sure if what I’m doing today will be the same job I’m doing 10 years down the road, but today, well today it simply feels right.

One week ago, I was sitting in a room full of marketing professionals and realized it was the first time in my professional career that I was surrounded by people who didn’t generally look or think like me. Even better…despite our variances…the notion of serving others over ourselves was a unifying belief we all held close to our hearts.

Near the end of a jam-packed multi-day session of strategy development and information sharing on how to help each other move our company forward, our group leader asked us to pause.

To close our eyes and place our hands at our sides.

To breathe deeply and imagine being in a room with family and friends.

To come to a startling realizationย that everyone around us in grieving deeply.

To imagine that our life has ended and we are watching our own funeral unfold before our very eyes.

To see the person we love most dearly attempt to collect themselves as they pull out a piece of paper to address the crowd.

To imagine the words we would want them to say to describe how we lived our lives.

Were we there for them? Or did we shove them behind other priorities like work, drugs, possessions, power, etc.? Did we use our life to build more than our bank account? Did we falsely assume there would always be time to not only achieve our own dreams, but also help others fulfill theirs?

This simple exercise forced me to think about my own mortality. I share it with you so that you may do the same.

Created byย Heidi Woodard