how to find your calm before you lose your cool
blueprints for a life: 10 lessons my dad taught me

find a balance between having hope and living now

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
You have a choice
You'll make it now

Falling slowly,
Eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me
And erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
You had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly
Sing your melody
I'll sing along


For those of you who haven't seen the film Once from which this song, titled "Falling Slowly," comes from, I would highly advise that you do so. It's truly an inspiring film. Last night, while watching So You Think You Can Dance (yes, I dedicate three precious hours of my week to this show every summer), I heard this song for the first time in a long time and it really moved me. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with these lyrics:


"Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
You have a choice
You'll make it now."


I don't know about you, but I find those words deeply moving and inspiring. Like we all do from time to time, I sometimes feel hopeless, and, to me, to be without hope is one of the sadness states to be in. When I read these words and listen to this song, I'm reminded of the importance of hope. Most importantly, I'm reminded that even when we feel like our boat is sinking, when the water's rising higher and higher, we can always choose to have hope. It's a choice we can always make and it's a choice we should make. No matter how fast your boat seems to be sinking, don't forget that hope floats. Hope Floats, by the way, is another great film, from which this inspiring quote comes from:


"Beginnings are scary,
endings are usually sad,
but it's the middle that counts the most.
Try to remember that when
you find yourself at a new beginning.
Just give hope a chance to float up.
And it will..."

More than I'd like to, I forget about hope. Yes, even when I have a site called Hope Springs Internal, hope sometimes finds it's way out of my vocabulary. In fact, just this moment, I forgot about it. Here I was, sitting at my desk, looking out the window and thinking, "I should be somewhere, anywhere, else." My heart sank and I felt as if I might begin to cry. Just then, out of nowhere, a brilliant yellow butterfly flew up from the ground and past my window, fluttering it's wings softly, soaring graceful. I couldn't help but smile and be reminded that hope is a necessity. Sure, I don't want to be here right now. I'm tired and drained and feel incredibly stressed. But I have hope that I will be elsewhere, doing something else, and not staring out a window longing for the freedom of a butterfly. The butterfly's beautiful flight brought me right back to the present, to remembering that hope is here, always.

Lately I've been struggling with the boundary between being hopeful and being present. Confused? Yeah, me too. See, I want to believe that good things are going to happen. I want to have hope. I want to, as the song above says, "raise my hopeful voice," but, then again, I don't want to put all of my energy into hoping. (See "breaking the spell of someday" if you're not sure what I'm talking about here.) If I allow myself to fall back on hope, to just let it carry me along, floating, I might never really get anywhere. I have to be proactive, aggressive, and work towards my goals, but how can I do that if I'm spending so much time having hope? And, on the flip side, I can't really work hard toward my goals without having hope that something good will happen...Hmmm...

The more I think about it, the more I realized that having hope and living in the present can coexist. It's possible to live actively in the present (and, yes, this means not putting things off until "someday") while also having hope for the future. What's most important, I believe, is realizing that, while it's great to be hopeful, we ultimately have the control over most things in our lives. We have the ability to steer our own boats, to guide them into whatever docks suit us. There is, as with most things, a balance between hope (the future) and action (the present). While I will continue to have hope, I will also remind myself that I can choose where I want to go. I can steer. And with that, I'll leaving you to read the lyrics from Missy Higgins' "Steer," which is quickly becoming one of my most favorite and inspiring tunes:


Feel it falling off like clothing
Taste it rolling on your tongue
See the lights above you glowing
Oh and breathe them deep into your lungs

It was always simple, not hidden hard
You've been pulling on the strings
Playing puppeteer for kings
And you've had enough

But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control
Where you go
You can steer

So hold this feeling like a newborn
All the freedom surging through your veins
You have opened up a new door
So bring on the wind, fire, and rain

It was always simple, not hidden hard
You've been played at a game
Called remembering your name
And you stuffed it up
But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer

'Cause you've been
listening for answers
Oh but the city screams
and all your dreams
go unheard

But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer
And get out of the box
And step into the clear
Cause now you finally know
That you can steer


That song reminds me that I have control, that it's up to ME to make this present moment (and, as a consequence, my future moments) what I want it to be. However, even though I know it's up to me, I also feel that this song is symbolic of hope, of the feeling of coming into the realization that we can steer our own ships. Knowing I can choose my path, making the decision to grab the wheel and steer, is in a way, hope personified. I am, in fact, taking my hope and steering it where I want it to go. In this You Tube version of the song, Higgins says, "This is a song about learning to kind of do whatever makes you happy and not necessarily listen to the people around you that think they know what's best for you. 'Cause life's too short." You're right, Ms. Higgins! Life's too short not to do what we love to do. If that's not a hopeful message, filled with encouragement to take action NOW, I don't know what is...

How do you balance hope for the future with action in the present?
What actions do you take to live in the moment while still maintaining a hopeful outlook?


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LOVE the song lyrics - and this whole theme. When I started really practicing present moment living, I too wondered just where does hope fit in here? I still have days where I have to stop myself before I launch into all this hopeful stuff which makes me sail away from the present into the future - it sneaks in tho, regardless. I think I'd feel totally weird if I didn't have hope for something! On the other hand, when I am in the present moment, there seems to be a peaceful sort of "knowing" that almost makes hope unnecessary. I'm struggling with this thought and how to write about it - sorry I just haven't had enough coffee and time to chew this - but I really resonate with what you've said!

Thanks for the movie recomnedation. I checked out the review on rottentomatoes and it got a 97%! That's pretty rare.

Ending with a question(s) is a great idea. Kind of like a lesson learned through the post and then a personal application to take away.

Re: the 1st question, when I plan for the future (with hope guiding me), I'm in the moment doing it. I'm in the present planning the future.

Once planned or action steps taken to get me on that path, I stay in the moment (or try to!). This way I know where I'm going (if anyone does!) and can still be. Mainly I want to just be, because you don't know who or what will come along and change your direction. To stay open to those possibilities makes life that much more fun.

My own experiences lately have been inspired by detachment. I think about what I want at some point in the future ("hope"), get real honest with myself about where I am right now ("present moment"), and then detach and go about my daily life.

Somehow, it's worked. I don't even think about how or why, because I know the moment I do I'm conceptualizing, which usually leads to negating (either thoughts or energies).

Love what you've put our way today. Thanks for being you --- hopeful as well as right now in this moment.

There's a reason that Dante placed the phrase: "All hope abandon ye who enter here" over the entrance to hell. If hell is to have a definition, then that definition is a life without hope. Hope moves us, hope helps us, hope gives us strength in the face of adversity. Without hope, we cannot face the challenges or overcome the obstacles that are placed in our paths.

Hope is our faith in ourselves.

Yes, we are responsible for moving ourselves forward. Yes, we are responsible for the choices that we make. Yes, our lives are under our control. But if we don't have hope...if we don't have faith in ourselves...then we lose our ability to steer our boats through the rapids of life.

Hope gives us strength to be the people we know we can be. Without it, all is lost we are lost.

So never abandon hope. As long as there is hope, there can be will to move forward.

Suzen - I'm so glad you like it and related to what I'm going through. It's not always easy to figure out where hope fits in to present moment living, but I think that we can have a balance of both and use our hope to motivate our present living.

Akshay - Awesome! 97% is good! Thanks for your responses to the questions. I really like what you've said about staying open. It's such an important thing to do.

Megan - Thanks for your comment! Your insights on this topic are really great and I love how you've framed them. I'm so happy to know you liked the topic today!

Jay - What a wonderful comment! You've hit the nail on the head with your words. We have to have hope in order to keep moving forward in our present lives. You've done such a great job of highlighting why hope is a necessity (and not an excuse to do nothing and wait around). Thank you for sharing these thoughts!

Hope is something that we pin on throughout our lives under any circumstances. Without hope, there is no expectation or motivation to drive us towards a goal or objective.

There's always hope. Hope in the present, in the moment. And hope for the future.

I do watch my thoughts on this though. Because if I'm missing this moment and not fully experiencing it, my 'hope meter' goes down. It's being in the moment that allows me a sense of calm and peace (as opposed to worry or anxiety) and that keeps me in hope.

But yeah. I'm also fortunate. The way I was raised has a lot to do with this one too.

All the best!

You describe beautifully the struggle between hope and presence.

But it is only the dualistic mind which struggles. The dualistic mind says hope is good, so not having hope must be bad; optimism-good so not trying to be optimistic is bad...and so on. In my experience, awareness (presence) is blissfully absent of any polar concepts--there is no good or bad, no hope and no hopelessness, there isn't a sense of time at all, there is only joyful flow.

Eckhart Tolle says it much better: Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future, and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the NOW and therefore your unhappiness.
Forget about your life situation for awhile and pay attention to your life. Your life situation exists in time. Your life is NOW. Your life situation is Mind-Stuff. Your life is REAL.

Everything Counts - Thanks for your comment. You make a great point about the need for hope. It motivates us!

Deb - I love what you wrote in your comment about hope. Hope in the present moment is something I never really think about, but it's essential. Thanks for reminding me of this!

This was very inspiring. I am a strong believer in Hope and in making things happen. You are very talented dear friend!

Great post. You have a really clever way of using song lyrics in all your posts. Definitely some major insights. It is important to maintain hope, but we have to remember not to get too caught up in the future.

Kaushik - Thank you for your wonderful comment. You make some great points about the dualistic mind. I have a hard time not thinking of things as either "bad" or "good" and I think that is at the root of a lot of my emotional struggles. Thank you for reminding me of Tolle's words and of the idea of being present in the sense of not only time, but awareness.

Tabitha - Thank you! I think it's possible to have both hope and to make things happen, but sometimes I struggle with the idea of relying on "hope" and "someday." Through this blog and great comments like yours I'm learning to balance the two.

Srinivas - Thanks! I love lyrics (have you noticed? haha) and I find that they almost always inspire me to write something on my site. There's a fine line between relying on hope and using it as a force to maintain our present focus and I think I'm learning more and more how to balance it all out.

I could not live without hope. I am an eternal optimist...I always look for hope where I can find it. I think if I ever let go of life would be sad and meaningless.

Caroline - I agree. If I didn't have hope, I don't know where I would be, which is why I was struggling with the idea of how having hope fits into living in the now. After writing this and reading all of these great comments, I'm starting to sort it out!

Hi Dani .. you have some wonderful comments here - to a really good post .. finding the balance of hope and living now .. it is possible ... it's just hard work, but it will come - just keep doing ..

Thanks - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary - Thanks for your comment! I agree that it's possible to find a balance and I'm working hard at it.

Hi Dani - I think the balance between hoping for the future and acting in the present is this: having hopes for the future can inspire you to action now, so that what you are hoping for actually exists one day. We don't want to spend all of our time in the future, but some speculating is necessary. It's just important that we take action now, so that one day are hopes are not just hopes, they are reality. :)

Amanda - Thank you so much for your comment. You make some really excellent points about how hope is useful now and as a tool for getting to our future now. Thanks for your insights!

I just wanted to say, I enjoy your blog very much. There is always something I find helpful or motivational.

Adam - Thank you so much for you comment! It means a lot to me to hear that you enjoy reading the blog and gain something from it. Hope you keep coming back for more! :)

Hi Dani. I just love your writing! And the quotes you share too. When I'm reading your blog a lot of "information" is uncovered. Does that happen to you when you're reading other blogs? What a gift this is that you are sharing. When I was reading about hope and being present with the now, I heard these words: "Having hope has brought you to where you are now. Hope is living with you now and with each step you take." So, that is my message to you today :-) Thanks for another great post.

Davina - Thanks for your comment! It makes me feel great to know that you enjoy reading my posts and that you believe I'm sharing something with the world. :) I love what you wrote about hope and being present. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

Dani --
You seem to be a sucker for quotes, poems, and lyrics. So I'll leave you with this... my favorite poem on hope is "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickenson. I love that poem.

Vi - Absolutely! I love words -- poems, lyrics, quotes -- and I actually am a big fan of that Dickinson poem, though it had completely slipped my mind. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Dani -

My stomach leapt into my throat when I saw the lyrics you posted. This song was my anthem during a really tough period and watching the dance on SYTYCD brought it all back for me. I love the movie and the song speaks volumes. Another connection for us...

I was really moved by Michael J. Fox in his documentary about hope and optimism. He's got some amazing insights in regard to this post of yours - if you've not seen the special, check it out. I've toyed with picking up the books, so I can't speak to those yet - but the documentary is very inspirational and has such an authentic message.

Moment-to-Moment Optimism

Also, the "Steer" lyrics are just amazing. You need to do a post on your playlists - we'd all benefit from them!!


Veronica - I really need to see that Michael J. Fox documentary. I've heard great things about it. I'm also planning on reading the book soon. I'm so glad you like the songs I use in my posts. For a playlist, check out "Smile-Worthy Songs" over on the right hand side. Most of my favorite songs are in there!

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