How to survive the shortest day of the year

Tomorrow, December 21st is the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year. These are dark times… literally. We get smaller amounts of sunlight each day. Sometimes I forget to see what the world has to offer. When this happens I try to put my head out the window, and look up.

How to survive this moment in time:

  1. Look outside.
  2. If the sky is grey, rejoice in how wonderfully, powerfully grey it is. If it is sunny blue, smile and marvel that you get to enjoy this. If it is raining, be glad for the wet nourishment of the earth. If you have snow coming down on your eyelids, open your mouth wide and taste the frozen sensation of sky particles falling to earth. If you have wind, feel it blow your hair and the pressure on your skin. If you have fog, then marvel at the world as it resolves and dissolves around you.

Realize that tomorrow, and today, and the day after the next, it all is here to be enjoyed, if we can just see it for what it is. After tomorrow, the days will once again get interestingly longer bit by bit until it’s time to switch gears again.

Claim your path, take time to appreciate the view, and walk it, one step at a time. You can do it!

What I do is who I am

Weathered wood

What constitutes our authentic selves?  Who are we truly?  What is our real purpose?

I try to be honest.  I do not like it when people lie to me, and my basic assumption in life is that people will not lie to me.  I choose to, in general, be a trusting person.  Finding our truly authentic, or real, self, involves being able to dig underneath all the accumulated layers of crud that we pile onto our own perception of ourselves, and find the reality that constitutes our true core being.  It means not deceiving ourselves.  If we want to find authenticity, we have to have the courage to be really and truly honest with ourselves.

For me this means trying to ask myself, what is it that I truly want?  What do I really need?  Who am I?  Am I defined by others, or myself, or by some higher power?

If I want to be really honest with myself, I have nobody to blame when it comes to who I am.  I contain the product of all the environmental inputs I’ve ever taken in over the course of my lifetime, but part of that is also my own thought process, my own concept of who I am, my own beliefs about my purpose.  Others do not define me.  Even my parents, who maybe have had the most influence over my development as a person, do not define who I get to be, what I do, what I will accomplish in life.  My DNA does not define me.  My surroundings do not define me.

Authenticity means what is true or real.  We can observe this by looking at actions and results.  While actions do not always map to intentions, they come pretty close most of the time.  If we are acting with intentionality, thoughtfulness and purpose, our actions should reflect who we are.  I am defined by my actions.

What I do  is who I am.

Only by recognizing this, and living accordingly, can I express who I really am inside.  Every day I need to examine what I am doing and make sure that it represents my most true and authentic self.

I think it will make me a happier person in the long run.

Learning to Listen

Sometimes when I am trying to hear what someone is really saying it feels like I’m staring at a blank wall, not seeing (hearing) what is really there or being said. The problem is I’m not really listening.

Brick Wall

To listen is to pay attention.

To really listen, we must stop thinking, planning, pondering, wandering. It requires utmost concentration and focus. We have to be in the moment, and look for every nuance and expression of what it is we are trying to hear. We must be open to the real meaning of what is being said. We have to be present.

I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to say next in a conversation, rather than really taking the time to absorb what is being shared with me. I have to resist strongly the urge to play devil’s advocate, even when there’s no good reason for me to do so. Sometimes presenting alternate perspectives is useful, but just as often the person talking just needs to be heard. I spend much of any given conversation thinking about what I am going to say, rather than really absorbing what the other person is saying.

My challenge to myself for 2013 is to practice deeper, more effective listening habits. I want to be truly present and with that attention, be a better listener.

Only once we have truly heard what is being communicated can we then move forward effectively with the next action.

Value and Valor – Bringing your A Game

Hand-painted sign - A

It’s the end of 2012, and I’ve been thinking about the idea of creating value lately. What makes something valuable, what makes it good, what makes anything worth having? What makes a person valuable and worth having as a friend?

If someone behaves in a way that is considered valuable, especially in the context of a larger community, we say that they’ve acted with valor. There is honor in acting this way. The opposite of this is cowardice.

We measure value in terms of money — it is how we’ve standardized the exchange of value. If I do something of value for one of my clients, there is usually a transfer of money to recognize that. More important than the money, however, are the feelings, emotions, and communications that happen. Gratitude, fulfillment.

Why are the richest people rich? I think that most people who become rich arrive at that state of being because they have found a way to deliver or realize an extraordinary amount of value that they’ve been able to transfer to other people, which those other people then exchange their own value-units (money) for. Some folks do this in ways that I have no desire to emulate, and some are worth studying and learning from.

What should I be doing with my life? I’ve seen advice from people that we should follow what we love. Why? Because when we focus our time, attention, money, energy and soul into an activity, we get better at doing it. When we get better at doing it, we are able to communicate or transfer more value outwards.

My focus for 2013 is to try to deliver the maximum amount of value I possibly can to as many people as possible. — to try to give the most I can. Not for money, but because that is the person I want to be.

People who act unselfishly on the behalf of others are considered to be valorous — they are recognized as being valuable people, because of what they do. That is the person I want to be, not for glory, but for the true happiness that comes from being a help to others.

Please call me on this if you see me acting like a jerk, or if I can do better. And consider for yourself, are you prepared to commit to being the best version of yourself that you can imagine?

Is it true that Apple (APPL) Facebook fans are worth 90% more than non-fans? Probably.

Pretty interesting info-graphic about the role of business on Facebook. I’d say it matches my own take on it — Facebook is where people spend time, and businesses and organizations that want to reach out to people need to have an active presence there.


Via: Vocus

Trying out wp-svbtle, a new theme and way of writing

wp-svbtle is an open-source clone of the svbtle platform, which has been developed both as a fresh approach to writing content and as a way of developing a network of excellent writers. I’ve really enjoyed reading posts on the svbtle network, and after an excellent conversation today with Jonathan Hess @hessinteractive I decided it was time to test out a new writing style for myself. I moved my previously developed playful colorful theme to a new WordPress multi-site subdomain play.gabrielserafini.com and proceeded to install the new wp-svbtle theme and editing environment.

So far, I do like how the focus is very much on words — there are basically very few distractions. No image uploading in this version. I like the way that the svbtle network seems to have handled that issue, and hope that the same technique can get ported to the WordPress version as well.

I did end up modifying the theme a bit, and it looks like as of this writing, there are 124 people who have forked the project on Github. I hope that the main / master project can end up reflecting all the good ideas other people have had, so there aren’t in the end like 50 “Improved wp-svbtle” projects floating around out there.

Words, words, words. One of my goals for 2013 is to write more, and to try to be more meaningful for more people. The idea of a personal motto that I’ve been developing is this:

“I like to help people.”

Not too profound, but pretty much summarizes what it is that I hope to do with my life. I look forward to exploring this further next year.

Namaste.

Yes.

I love my niece!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPanionSSF4

I am grateful for good tools

Every craftsperson has a toolbox that they rely upon to help them get their job done to the best of their ability.  If you’re a carpenter, you have sharp saws, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers in multiple sizes, an excellent tool belt, and a box to carry it all.  When you arrive at a job site, you are ready to go, ready to provide your best effort to the problem at hand.  You can judge a craftsperson by the quality of their tools.

My toolbox consists of my computer, phone, and an internet connection.  With these 3 items, I can talk with people and design, build, deploy and maintain high quality websites.  I can consult, share ideas, help discover insights that can transform lives.  I love my job, and having excellent tools is truly something to be grateful for.

I like my Apple products so much that I’ve even invested in AAPL.  I currently own 8 shares and hope to acquire more, as long as they continue making excellent tools.

HARDWARE

These provide utility and delight for me every day:

  • 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina screen — this is a game changer.  So FAST, so BEAUTIFUL, I love it.
  • iPhone 4S – A lovely phone, it is really a computer you carry in your pocket all the time.  A magical device.  The new iOS 6 Maps does occasionally provide some interesting and humorous results.  They can and will fix this, I know.  It may take 10 years and self-driving cars to get there, but it’s too important to leave it as a failure.  I just upgraded to be able to use my phone in tethering mode, which means I can now work from anywhere I have cell data coverage.  Pretty rad.
  • 2TB Time Capsule — automatic, wireless backups of everything every hour.  What’s not to love?

SOFTWARE

As you probably know, I love using WordPress to build websites for my clients.  It remains the easiest to use solution, and the plugins and themes available are wonderful.  It keeps on getting better all the time, and is a core asset that I rely on to get things accomplished that would take much longer any other way.

  • WordPress
  • TextMate 2
  • VMWare
  • Adobe CS 6 – it is very nice using the newest version of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.  I had been stuck using an old copy of CS (1).
  • Transmit (excellent FTP client)
  • Safari, Chrome
  • Address Book
  • Gmail
  • Microsoft Office
  • Sequel (excellent MySQL client)
  • Stickies
  • Calculator
  • I could list a lot more that I’m grateful for!

What are your favorite tools to use?

 

I am grateful for my wonderful clients

Beautiful sunset over San Francisco

Once again it is November, and I am very grateful to have a job that lets me work directly with a bunch of wonderful clients.  Most of my clients this year are are small non-profits, church groups, and people who in general are trying to make the world a better place.  I LOVE helping them communicate more effectively.  It is very rewarding to help break down barriers and walls that people have been holding onto, and help show them how to really express themselves in this wonderful digital era of the Internet, social media and excellent communication tools.

I’m really glad and grateful for the progress that everyone has made, and will continue to make  in the future…

I am grateful for my wonderful family

Not everyone has a family they get along with. I am very grateful for my family. Each one of us is different, special and unique. I am blessed to have a wonderful brother, two lovely sisters, a kind and wise mother, and a caring step father. Happy November everybody.

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