Tag Archives: Robert Frost

Ghost House by Robert Frost – a Halloween Pocket Poem

Here’s a gentle Halloween themed poem by Robert Frost. For a longer, more hair-raising selection from him here’s a link to The Witch of Coos. Happy Halloween! I dwell in a lonely house I know That vanished many a summer ago, And left no trace but the cellar walls, And a cellar in which the daylight falls, And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow. O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield The woods come back to the mowing field; The orchard tree has grown one copse Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops; The footpath down to the well is healed. I dwell with a strangely aching heart In that vanished abode there far apart On that disused and forgotten road That has no dust-bath now for the toad. Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart; The whippoorwill is coming to shout And hush and cluck and flutter about: I hear him begin far enough away Full many a time to say his say Before he arrives to say it out. It is under the small, dim, summer star. I know not who these mute folk are Who share the unlit place with me– Those stones out under the low-limbed tree Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar. They are tireless folk, but slow and sad, Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,– With none among them that ever sings, And yet, in view of how many things, As sweet companions as might be had.

Posted in Pocket Poems | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Slow Ice on Lake Michigan – A Quest Story of A Pause With Purpose

January, Chicago. Cities can show you what fun can be or how harshness can feel. This time it’s the harshness side – I’d been on the road for what felt like weeks already with miles to go before I rested and couldn’t get in my city groove. Days were spent in the hotel room toiling as the winter sun shone outside. The morning after the evening Beer Here Now beer team building program I led at the Hard Rock Hotel, the last morning before I flew out. Somehow I got myself out of that room and for a run in the gray morning towards Lake Michigan. A mile away I found it and ran to the water’s edge. Silence, or more specifically almost silence. There was the quiet high tinkling of thin sheets of ice gently knocking into each other. I looked out and saw those sheets of ice fade into the horizon. A huge sky, and huge plain of slow moving ice as far as I could see. Such calm, such trust in a slow, natural order of things. Nothing trying to get done, nothing extra packed in, no overwhelm, just this subtle movement of ice with thousands of other pieces of ice, all looking alike, all moving as one. I could feel myself empty out in the best of ways and be taken over by this grand, slow rhythm. I had no more than twenty minutes to give to this place, yet it transformed the remembrance of the rhythm of my whole trip and to paraphrase Robert Frost in his Dust of Snow poem, it gave my heart a change of mood and saved some part of a trip I had rued. What larger rhythm can realign your purpose today and save some part of a day you might otherwise have rued?

Posted in Purpose, Quest Stories | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Listen to the Rhythm in Music First (A Music of Teams Music Team Building Post)

Anytime you have the radio on, listen to rhythm in music – focus your attention there. Pick out what the drummer is doing on any song you really enjoy. How is he or she keeping the pulse of the song moving along and providing accents to propel the music to new heights? Listen to how what the drummer does changes from verse to chorus. Drummers usually switch the drums they are playing during this time. Notice how often the ride cymbal (big, bright metallic sound) gets used in choruses and how the high-hat (more of a chunk-chunk kind of a sound) is used more in verses. Notice how the rhythm stays the same in the song but the feel changes so much when different drums are being used. What might that idea look like in your day? As Thoreau noted, you may hear a different drummer. And if you’re able to, you’ll see Frost’s two roads diverging in the woods. Both take you to the same place, but one is less traveled – it’s your very own rhythm. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that links the rhythm of music to your rhythm and the rhythm of your team. Quixote Consulting’s music team building site www.musicofteams.com has a wealth of free resources to help you integrate the power of music into your life, work and team. From the manic fun of Name That Tune to writing a team theme song, learning how to play harmonica, guitar, drums and more, Music of Teams music team building has the musical setting to help your team ‘band’ be at its best.

Posted in Music | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Robert Frost Pocket Poem – Now close the windows

Now close the windows and hush all the fields; If the trees must, let them silently toss; No bird is singing now, and if there is, Be it my loss. It will be long ere the marshes resume, It will be long ere the earliest bird: So close the windows and not hear the wind, But see all wind-stirred. Robert Frost

Posted in Pocket Poems | Also tagged , | Comments closed

“I lower my standards”: William Stafford and How Progress Trumps Perfectionism

The poet William Stafford wrote a poem daily – every morning, starting at either 4 or 4:30 AM depending on which account you read. When asked what happened if the poem wasn’t amazing, he replied, “I lower my standards.” Lowering standards – I can see a sea of executives and testing afficionados react in horror. Standards are standards, right? Not if you want to progress at something you care about. There’s time enough for high standards later, when you publish. The daily act of creation, of innovation of producing the work you were born to produce is going to give varying degrees of quality. The important part is to keep the flow flowing, no judgment. And when it does come in, be like William Stafford – lower your standards. This is the second part of a 40 Days to Change for Good ritual – the first part is to do it daily. Robert Frost also tells us to make sure the work is motivated by delight. Progress is the #1 motivator. If you want the power of the #1 motivator as one of your tools, make sure it trumps your urge for perfection. There’s time later for polishing. Lower your standards until you get the flow flowing and the work moving.

Posted in Persistence, Positive Psychology, Change | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Where is the lowest humidity in the world? (Olfactory Delight is in the Freezer)

Where is the lowest humidity in the world? Take a guess. Which desert might that be? I first heard of winter being referred to as a desert by poet Robert Frost in his poem Desert Places. The smells of earth, life and growth are all locked in, frozen and waiting. The dry air. Along with the cold, the air is too dry for leaves. They’d burn up. Evergreens protect their needles with a waxy substance that locks in the moisture they need and keeps the dry air out. With this in mind, where is the lowest humidity in the world? Now you’ve got it! Antarctica has the lowest humidity on earth. A desert is a good guess (Las Vegas has the lowest humidity in the continental U.S.), but consistent cold trumps consistent sand. Here’s another question – how do you know spring is coming when it arrives? The first thing I notice is the moisture and the smell in the air. The first warm weather unlocks moisture, and with it the wonderful smells of the earth and new growth. If you feel dried up and in the winter of your creativity and passion for your work, perhaps there is a way for spring to arrive in your daily work, just as it literally arrives at your door every spring. If you breathe against your hand or a mirror, you know that you have this same breath of spring inside you all the time. How can you bring this capacity for spring that you carry with you 24-7 to what seems most barren in your daily life? Here’s to spring growth coming to the good work you do.

Posted in Passion, Purpose | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

Boiling Down Your Sweetness – The metaphor of turning maple sap into maple syrup (Part Two)

Recently I wrote about the process of gathering maple sap and transforming it into maple syrup. If you listened with an ear for metaphor you may have found some wonderful parallels to live your life more sweetly and richly. There are powerful teachers of purpose, persistence and passion in turning sap into syrup. Here are some metaphors that spoke to me. The Colder the Night Before, the Stronger the Flow I’ve seen it again and again. If I can patiently and tenderly get through a day that seems to be going nowhere, with frustration after frustration piled on weariness and overwhelm, the next one is often a gift of focus, productivity and calm. That’s just the day to day. In the snapshot of a life, I’ve noticed that challenges and hard times, when faced with even a small degree of calm, integrity and flexibility, are responsible for all of life’s vigor and sweetness. Every beautiful thing in my life was born from a painful event – everything. How about you? 60% in the AM, 40% in the PM – Do Your Most Important Work in the Morning 60% of the sap flow happens by noon and declines from there in the afternoon. At least 60% of my conscious attention, productivity and completed work exists in the morning, probably more. This is not true for everyone, but through leading Resiliency trainings, I’ve noticed this to be true for many, many people. If it is true for you, I invite you to do whatever it takes to protect and nurture this valuable time for you. All time is not created equal. You do have your good and your bad times. Start by protecting the peak productivity times. Boil Immediately – Positive Inertia and Unitasking Sap must be immediately boiled otherwise it will spoil. One way you can protect your peak productivity time is to ‘boil’ one thing you care about – to unitask. Stick with one thing. Get it done and move on. There is a cost to every interruption and positive inertia slows, until it stops and becomes negative inertia. The idea that has slowed down to nothing stays at rest without a jump start. I put this segment of this article aside for a week before returning and there was a more intensive energy cost for me to re-enter than if I had stayed with it. I’m not saying that’s always the right answer to complete something, but if you’re still feeling positive about something and have good energy, boil immediately and keep boiling. If the process while boiling becomes less sweet, that’s a good clue to stop, not other nitpicky obligations. Beware Too Warm, Too Early Robert Frost told his young apple trees in winter, “keep cold, young orchard, keep cold.” The cold and inactivity kept the trees safe and rested. If it gets too warm the maple syruping season is in danger as well. The trees need to be below freezing at night for the freeze-thaw process to occur. Ideas and inspiration and dreams can be like that as well. Fresh ideas and longings are like fawns on fresh legs, vulnerable and unsteady. Pushing them into completion and public scrutiny too fast because we’re scared to do otherwise can be damaging. Some ideas and hopes need a deep rest before they can burst into a new day with energy. Many Mysteries Still To Be Explored Lastly, there have been thousands of studies and countless research on maple trees, maple sap and maple syrup. And there are thousands of mysteries yet to be explored. That’s a beautiful thing. Who knows what sweet mysteries of your life have yet to be explored? This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that examines the power of purpose to engage, inspire, energize and build happiness. Purpose, or meaning, is what happens when you connect your individual life and work with something larger than just you. This is the point where you meet the world. The power of purpose is explored in Quixote Consulting’s Charity Team Building and Collaborative Team Building events.

Posted in Purpose, Persistence, Put It Together | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Who’s on your support team? Here are nine players for you

Your ritual is a support team for something you care about and want more of in your life. But who’s on the support team for your support team? Here are nine suggestions to keep your ritual going 1. Get support from others Partner with someone to check in with you to see how you’re doing with your ritual. Find others that want to do their own ritual at the same time. Share your ritual with your loved ones. 2. Make it public As the poet Robert Frost says in his poem Revelation, “all who hide too well away must speak and tell us where they are.” You’re more likely to do something if you publicly declare it. Don’t keep your ritual and your intent a secret. Let people know about it. 3. Connect it with a specific time I have a morning and evening ritual. The more specific I make the time the more likely I am to do it – it becomes a good habit. Dawn, dusk, twilight, lunch time or just before going to bed – when is good for you? Pick a time and stick with it 4. Connect it with something you do already I do my morning ritual before yoga – I do that already. I do my evening ritual just before I turn out the light and go to sleep – I do that already. How about your morning coffee, brushing your teeth, turning your car on, turning your computer on? What do you do already that can remind you to do your ritual? 5. Connect it with purpose How does doing your ritual help something larger than you – your loved ones, your community, the world? How can something outside of you support you? The number forty is found throughout most major religions, astronomy, and nature – if your ritual is for forty days you’re connecting your ritual with purpose. 6. Celebrate your persistence every time you do it Gold stars, smiley faces, a pat on the back, a “good for you”, a piece of chocolate, whatever it takes. Celebrate your success – it breeds more success. 7. Get inspired by nature and art I’m getting a lot of support from music, poetry and nature for my ritual. There’s a wealth of inspiration to draw from these and a thousand other sources. There is a long history of questers to draw from as well as the natural world. 8. Journaling Note what you’ve discovered, write down your experience with your ritual for better or worse, describe your hopes, dreams, fears about what you want to change, record how your ritual changes. Research has shown that journaling is an incredibly powerful tool in many ways. 9. Welcome imperfection Rumi says, “Come, even if you’ve broken your vow a thousand times, come and yet again come.” A friend who is also taking part in this forty day ritual actually uses that quote as his ritual, which is ingenious to me. Don’t let the fact that you missed a day/week/month/year of your ritual dissuade you from returning again and again with a light heart to what you care about every day. This post is part of a series on using persistence to create lasting personal change for the better. Forty Days to a Change for Good is part of Quixote Consulting’s Change Quest change management training and Resiliency: Five Keys to Success training. Research shows it takes at least 30 days to make a positive change in your life that lasts. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that examines what makes change initiatives work, what makes them fail, and how daily rituals support positive changes you want to make.

Posted in Purpose, Persistence, Training, Change | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

What Robert Frost has to say about devotion

The heart can think of no devotion Greater than being shore to the ocean– Holding the curve of one position, Counting an endless repetition. -Robert Frost Somehow Frost nails the essence of passion, persistence and ritual in only four lines. Counting an endless repetition Our days can be seen in a poor light of endless repetition. Yet somehow comparing them to the ocean changes the view of that repetition. Perhaps you and I both can think of our day today of endless repetition as being as renewing as the ocean. No matter what you do, your day is full of endless repetition. You get up, brush your teeth, put on clothes, eat something. That’s just some of the things that happen in the first hour or so. Repetition, repetition, repetition. This is a major thing that grates me about air travel – the number of repetitive steps involved to get somewhere or return home. If repetition is our daily companion, it’s a good idea to befriend it. Holding the curve of one position To me, holding the curve of one position is what we do when we engage in our daily ritual, when we persist in something and when we apply our passion and our strengths to our days. In a sea of change, these things can be unchanging. Our core passions remain constant throughout our life. The subjects may change, but the way we best like to approach things, think about things, interact and learn are eternal – they hold the curve of one position. When we persist, we repeat and repeat something. We try and try again. Learning a piece of music, engaging our passion in our work, being a better mate or friend, speaking truth with love, these all come from daily persistent practice. Here’s to your daily ritual, your persistence and your passion continuing. Here’s to your devotion to what you care about being as beautiful, elegant and eternal as the place where the ocean meets the shore. This post is part of a series on using persistence to create lasting personal change for the better. Forty Days to a Change for Good is part of Quixote Consulting’s Change Quest change management training and Resiliency: Five Keys to Success training. Research shows it takes at least 30 days to make a positive change in your life that lasts. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that examines what makes change initiatives work, what makes them fail, and how daily rituals support positive changes you want to make.

Posted in Passion, Persistence, Training, Strengths, Change | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Gathering Leaves – a Pocket Poem by Robert Frost

Great poets have the ability to examine the mundane and the humble and transform it into poignancy. They take the time to unearth the meaning, the purpose, the treasure located in daily tasks. Here’s what happens when Robert Frost rakes leaves. I’m about to start raking this week. If you are too, perhaps you can also see this task with new eyes through Frost’s poetic sight. Gathering Leaves by Robert Frost Spades take up leaves No better than spoons, And bags full of leaves Are light as balloons. I make a great noise Of rustling all day Like rabbit and deer Running away. But the mountains I raise Elude my embrace, Flowing over my arms And into my face. I may load and unload Again and again Till I fill the whole shed, And what have I then? Next to nothing for weight, And since they grew duller From contact with earth, Next to nothing for color. Next to nothing for use. But a crop is a crop, And who’s to say where The harvest shall stop?

Posted in Purpose | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed