I touched a tadpole!

On Sunday this past weekend, Nelson and I went kayaking. It had been quite awhile since we’d sat in our boats. Life sort of got in the way with the move to the mountains and the wedding.

Happily, Sunday was a gorgeous day. Cascade Lake in Pisgah Forest is a little gem. A friend of ours came along and we headed out. Destination: Hooker Falls.

The cool thing about Cascade Lake is you can paddle right up to the base of one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area. Most people hike in and don’t even realize it’s a paddle destination, too!

Hooker Falls is located in Transylvania County, Land of Waterfalls. Seriously, we have some 250 waterfalls here and all of them are gorgeous. Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls are all located close together and are big tourist attractions. There were lots of folks swimming and picnicking, riding horses, hiking, and even a few crazy souls who jumped off the top of the falls (not recommended).

On the paddle back, we took our time. Jeremy and Nelson did a bit of fly fishing. I meandered along near the bank and into the shallows. In one particular place, I noticed a lot of movement. I set my paddle on my knees and got very still.

To my surprise, this shallow arm of the lake was full of tadpoles! Now, I have a bit of an obsession with wanting to touch things under the water (as long as I can see them, mind you). So, for the next few minutes it became my goal to touch a tadpole.

I’d push my boat forward gently and immerse my hand without making waves. And then, I’d wait.

It probably took ten minutes for me to touch a tadpole, but I did it! And as soon as we made contact, he skittered off into the cover of the sand and aquatic weeds.

Still, it was a victory! I pumped my fist in the air and let out a primal scream.

No, I’m kidding. I didn’t do that. I just sat quietly and enjoyed the nature.

Our day ended with a final paddle across the lake, a turtle sighting (a really BIG one) and no fish were harmed during our expedition.

Why does all this matter?

It doesn’t really, except that I felt very at peace and relaxed during and after our outing.

My phone was off except to take pictures. I didn’t think about work, didn’t feel any stress, and pretty much lost track of time.

I was in the flow.

Gentle reader, when was the last time you were “in the flow.” Totally absorbed in what you were doing, happy as a clam (what does that expression mean, anyway?), without a care in the world?

If you haven’t been in the flow in awhile, your homework is to go find it.

Read a book. Do some crafts. Restart a long forgotten art project. Go outdoors and hike, paddle, or raft. Fly a kite. Ride your motorcycle somewhere curvy and beautiful. Enjoy the splendor that is LIFE.

And once you do it, write to me and tell me how you felt.

I bet it’ll feel gooooooood.

Make some room,

Angie

P.S. Haven’t gotten your copy of my Make Some Room Manifesto yet? Order one for some inspiration. Then make some room for fun today!

Technology is not the boss of you

If you’ve known me for any stretch of time you’ve inevitably heard me rant that technology is not the boss of you.

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that further strengthened my less-than-positive feelings about our over-reliance and fixation on technology being the end-all, be-all answer to what ails us.

It happened as I was listening to a book on tape during my commute from the city back home to the mountains. I was listening to a book about spirituality when the narrator shared the following wisdom:

“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

I’d heard this quote by Lao Tzu many times before. For some reason, on this day it struck me in a new way. I reworded it like this:

“Technology is wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” Angie Mattson Stegall

Think about it: using technology can be wonderful. There are real gains to be had in ease, efficiency, and effectiveness if we’re in control of it.

The downsides of becoming a servant to technology, though, are tremendous.

  • Kids who can’t focus, play, read, or engage with their own imaginations because they are so used to the “rewards” of playing and interacting with devices.
  • Adults who don’t communicate with another over dinner, driveways, or desks because their eyeballs (and minds) are glued to their devices.
  • Folks who are completely addicted to online porn, gaming, or gambling. This includes people who are far more invested in social media drama or their “Second Life” than their real lives.
  • Anyone who texts and drives. And a lot of people who talk on the phone and drive. A potentially deadly multi-tasking sh*t storm.
  • People who, as soon as their alarms go off, grab their smartphones or tablets to check email and social media instead of embracing their partner, spouse, kids, pets, or themselves.
  • Everyone who grabs for their devices when they hear anyone else’s devices beep, bing, ring, or vibrate. That hit of dopamine in our brains feels goooooooood, doesn’t it? What a reward!

Truthfully, all this makes me desperately sad.

It’s why I harp on it. And why I’ve chosen NOT to focus on technology solutions in my business.

I think who we are and how we are being is far more important.

In fact, Nelson and I are exploring creating an off-the-grid retreat where people (YOU) can visit and disconnect from your devices. A place to make some room to rest, relax, write, and dream. Come sit around a campfire with us and talk about your big ideas. Go hiking or fishing or horseback riding with us. Walk a labyrinth as a moving meditation. Purposefully take time to unwind, unplug, and recharge. It’s a big vision for sure, but one that is becoming clearer (and we hope) closer to reality each day. We’ll hope you’ll come stay for a night, a weekend or longer.

In the meantime, I’m interested in how you manage technology use in your world. Are you a servant to your technology or have you mastered the art of controlling it in your life?

Share your examples and stories with me, please!

Make some room,

Angie

P.S. Playwright Max Frisch said, “Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn’t have to experience it.” Think about that deeply for a couple of minutes. How is technology keeping you from really experiencing life and genuinely interacting with the people right in front of you?

Trails, snails, and other hard stuff

This past weekend, Nelson and I packed the dogs into the Subaru and hiked some hard stuff near our new house. It’s been awhile since we’ve done a hearty hike and we all needed it!

After picking out a loop hike that we hoped wouldn’t be overly crowded, we strapped on our hiking boots, grabbed the dogs, and headed out.

I’ll admit it: the 3.7 mile loop kicked my ass. More than half of it was uphill, some of it pretty steep. Nelson and the dogs went ahead while I persevered step-by-step, supported by my trusty hiking poles.

At one point, I was head down, huffing and puffing and wondering why I was doing this. “If I turn around now,” I thought tiredly, “it’s all downhill from here back to the car.” I felt tired. Alone. And a bit vulnerable.

And that’s when I almost stepped on it.

A little snail was on the trail in front of me – heading UPHILL.

I smiled, carefully maneuvered around him on the narrow trail and saw the lesson: if he (or she) can do it, carrying everything he has on his back, surely I can continue uphill, too.

Awhile later I passed a black snake on the side of the trail. She (or he) didn’t really react as I jumped back with a small squeal. We watched each other awhile before I continued my upward climb and arrived to find Nelson and the dogs resting at the trail junction.

We had a great day. I’m happy I kept going up that mountain. I’m happy I didn’t quit.

My “Pay What You Can” day was a big success, too. Nearly a dozen people signed up for an hour-long session with me.

Asking for help can be uncomfortable. Vulnerable.

And I’m grateful that each of these people felt comfortable enough with me to reach out and say, “Hey, I have something I’d like to work on with you.”

The reasons for these sessions varied:

  • Feeling stagnant in business growth
  • Overwhelm
  • So many ideas and opportunities!
  • Working too much IN the business
  • Perfectionism, succeeding, failing
  • Getting (and staying) organized
  • More!

This list contains common, universal struggles. And it excites me that each person felt some measure of vulnerability and still raised a hand to say, “I’m ready to find answers!”

I’m loving being able to ask penetrating questions that help you discern where you’re stuck and for us to create an actionable plan to get you into clarity and action. Out of fear, overwhelm and confusion.

After all, in life, the hard things are worth persevering through. The folks who signed up for a “Pay What You Can” session know this is true.

Will you join us?

Make some room,

Angie

P.S. If you know someone who is hungry/desperate/eager/ready for something like this, my best client engagements come through referrals. Don’t be shy about forwarding my notes to folks you know who are suffering from overwhelm or feeling stuck.

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