What Will Your Verse Be?

I'm not sure how I feel about those Facebook posts that read, "It's been a great year. Thanks for being a part of it." How do we sum up the entirety of a year in just a few photos? And more importantly, can we all honestly say that it has in fact "been a great year"? Even those of us whose year hasn't been fraught with challenges can safely say that with all the goodness there were also several dips and valleys. Because that's life, right? The beautiful chaos. The yin and the yang. 

It would seem that Robin Williams understood the complexity of this idealogical balance all too well. How ironic that the words he spoke in one of my favorite films symbolize his legacy: “To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Life is like a heavy sigh at times--filled with uncertainty, plagued with darkness, and marred by failures. But it's also so damn beautiful. Because we are alive. Because even though our expectations and plans don't always match the reality, the powerful play goes on and we may contribute a verse. 

Forget the resolutions. Don't worry about making 2015 a "great year." Just live. Breathe. Wake up. Be grateful for small things. Extend your hand and heart to another human being. Engage in joyful pursuits. And most of all, contribute your verse. That is why you have been chosen to be a part of the powerful play. That is why you exist at all. 

Posted on January 12, 2015 and filed under What Will Your Verse Be?.

Where's the Fun in You?

I can recall several Christmas and spring breaks during college when after studying relentlessly for months, I spent my vacation curled up in bed with a box of tissues and cold medicine. So, it came as no surprise that last week when I finally stopped moving and demanding so much from myself, my body responded with a full-blown cold. Not wanting to let anything prevent me from enjoying my much-needed vacation on the east coast, I downed copious amounts of Vitamin C and greens. Despite my stuffy nose, I had an incredible time in Baltimore and DC with friends and family, all of whom reminded me what the holidays are truly about: love, laughter, and most of all, food. I capped it all off with a weekend in New York City, skating in Central Park, walking through Times Square, visiting Santa Claus at Macy’s, and eating authentic New York pizza in the East Village.
As I made my way back home to LA, I felt a familiar paradox grinding its way through my brain: I was relaxed from a satisfying vacation, while also anxious about the weeks ahead. Taking a deep breath and relishing in a clear nasal passage, I overheard a passenger on the plane talk about how “crazy” the holidays can get. People nodded their heads and smiled, their responses automatic, complacent even.
It doesn’t have to be, right? So crazy? Certainly it’s a bit more chaotic around the holidays, but I know more than anyone how much of that is self-induced.
What if I changed the paradigm? What if instead of working myself to the bone and trying to do so much before I collapsed in a heap of exhaustion for my two-week winter break, I approached it all differently? What if I asked, as my gregarious eight-year old niece did when her parents frowned after she poured red pepper into her sister’s water, “Where’s the fun in you?” It’s always so humbling when a child’s simple question puts it all in to perspective. She truly nailed it. I mean, honestly:Where’s the fun in us?
I, Tenley Hardin, promise that this December will be different. Despite the hectic schedule, I hereby commit to finding the fun in me. For the sake of my sanity and more importantly, for the sake of my health.
And I challenge you do to the same. As you make your way through the next few weeks of work, engagements, traveling, shopping, entertaining, and more, catch yourself in moments of stress and ask, “Where’s the fun in me?” I guarantee it’s in there somewhere just waiting to laugh at the irony in life, tell a joke, play a prank, or even dance a little jig. So let it loose.

Posted on December 29, 2014 .

From "ah-ha" to "huh?"

I recently went from "ah-ha" to "huh" about a business venture. I had been toiling with some big ideas in my head and was left feeling the immense aggravation of stunted creativity. And then...BOOM! I got it. I heard the light bulb turn on, so I did my happy dance (to the song "Happy" of course). Then, I sat back down at my computer, assuming the creativity Gods would bless me even further. Nope. Nothing. Nada. As quickly as I had the awareness, I also had the daunting thought, "Okay, so what do I do with this information?"   

My soul was revved. My brain was buzzing. Electric inspiration was surging through me. So one would think it would have been easy peasy to make it all come to fruition in one big dreamy pie, right? Um, not so much. I just sat there, staring at the computer screen, eating my chocolate covered almonds, with a "Huh?" look on my face, thinking "What would Oprah do?" But then I realized she'd probably organize an "Ah-Ha Commission" with the Dalai Lama, Bono, and Michelle Obama and broadcast it on OWN. I'd have to settle for a good, long run with major bass rocking tunes.

I wish I could say that "huh" turned back to an "ah-ha," but alas, no such luck. Even now, I'm still left wondering just how I plan to use my light bulb moment. And that's okay. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to always have it all figured out when we all know how much life likes to laugh at our plans. Why not instead just let the "ah-ha" and "huh" dance a bit? See if they can work it out on their own and wrangle through the interchange of truth and illusion? And in the process, we allow the thoughts and ideas to mold, shape, and grow as they need to. The destination then becomes less of a fixated object and more of an easeful breath, one that we feel drawn to like a familiar scent. 

Here's to your next "ah-ha" and its potential transition into "huh"; may both moments be exactly what they need to be: a doorway into the the truth of your soul. 

Posted on December 29, 2014 and filed under From "ah-ha" to "huh?".