September, 2010


30
Sep 10

Pain Lives

OUCH!

I have always been pretty healthy.  Frankly I have had it pretty easy in the area of physical health.  I have been very very blessed in that way.  In fact I had never spent a night in a hospital.

Historically I have avoided virtually all medications except for an occasional Tylenol or antacid. 

I’ve had the normal colds, flu, stitches, broken arm, and sundry scrapes, bruises, smashed fingers and cuts… normal kids and boy stuff. 

But a couple of weeks ago I got sick, real sick.  The doctor thought I was having a heart attack and I ended up in the emergency room. 

          “It is the sick person not the healthy who knows what health really is.”

                             – Oswald Chambers (paraphrased)

 

I appreciated my health and valued it but you cannot fully grasp health until you lose it or it is in serious jeopardy.  It was the first time in my life I ever felt really vulnerable.  This was a very strange and ominous feeling indeed.

I had surgery on Tuesday.  Compared to many people the surgery was not too serious (gall bladder).  There have been a few complications and it was serious enough to change my perspective on health.  I have a much greater appreciation for health and it instilled a great deal more sensitivity toward those who struggle with illness.

Another insight I have had during this ordeal is the issue of pain.  I have experienced pain as no other time in my life.  Excruciating debilitating pain!

I found you can learn a lot about yourself when in extended pain.  Overall I think I handled it pretty well but then again maybe you should ask my wife.

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”

- Julius Caesar

 

I did find out that this non-pill taking person (and proud of it) was ready to tear into any medication that would relieve the pain. 

Originally I was going to start this blog with a statement along the line that the journey I have been on was being stalled because of the illness.  But in reality our journey in life is accelerated during difficult times. 

Adversity brings reality into focus.  Life has the tendency to cloud what’s really important.  And adversity also tests ones character.  I probably shared this in one of my earlier blogs but it is well worth repeating. 

Many years ago I was taking a tour on the Wedgewood pottery factory in England.  During the tour they showed a video of the process and during the video the narrator talked about the intense heat of the kiln.  Then he made a statement that pierced me between the eyes.

          “In the fire of the kiln the character of the pot is proved.”

 

I don’t know about you but I hate the fire of adversity.  But you learn so much.  Good things, Holy things, Powerful things… if we are just willing to listen.

“Speak Lord your servant listens.”

See you Monday


27
Sep 10

Uncomfortable with Normal

Hi there. 

I embarked on a journey January of this year… a journey to step beyond the comfort of the normal into the risky unknown.   You notice I said the comfort of the normal not that my normal was comfortable.  I’m sure that last statement made you tilt your head and go “huh?”  Let me try to explain.

There is comfort with the known.  The known has a familiarity and predictability.  You know the lay of the land in your life.  It may not be good but you know it and have learned to navigate the waters in which you live. 

Humans naturally avoid the unknown and to top it off we tend to fill the unknown with the worst case scenario.  That’s why so many stay locked in place because the devil we know is better that the one we don’t know.

What amazes me is that people will live for years in a (figuratively speaking) emotionally vegetative state

Just so you know, my life wasn’t terrible… it was quite good.  In fact I had a very good life.  But discomfort began seeping through the cracks.  The discomfort was the awareness that I was living so very far below what God had for me.  There was so much more for me to experience and enjoy if I were willing to step out of my little comfortable world and take a few risks.

“Awareness is like hugging a porcupine, the closer you get the more uncomfortable you become.” 

                   – Me

 

Awareness is a powerful motivator to take you to into the joyous unknown.  But you have to be willing to become aware.  Here are a few things that helped me become more aware.

  • Read things that stir and stretch you
  • Expose yourself (not that kind of expose) to different things.  If you are a sports nut, go to a ballet.  If you are an “Arts” snob, go to a rodeo.  Yes, I know these are weird examples but you get the point.
  • Ask God to open your heart and mind to new experiences
  • Engage with people that are different than you

 

After a while, if you are sensitive, you will notice something stirring… coming to life.  You know when things are coming to life when thoughts and ideas that seem out of the blue begin poking around the edges of your heart and mind.  Things like, taking a course, listening to different types of music, etc.  These are like little tender shoots that need nurishing.

Very, very cool indeed. 

Awareness is necessary but not enough.  Once awareness has blossomed you must be willing to take a step.  Action is the key.  This is the point of courage to step out into the unknown, with no guarantees, and take a risk. 

Think like a man of action, and act like a man of thought.
-Henri Bergson                   

 

Taking a few steps takes you to new exciting places.  My few steps have paid off in amazing ways. 

So… why not join me on the journey and take a few steps. 

Later, Thursday.


23
Sep 10

Arms Full & Dropped Keys

Hi, good to have you hang out with me for a few minutes.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day.  He was sharing all the things going on in his life, the challenges and opportunities.  After I left him it became clear to me that his arms were full and he had dropped his keys.

What I mean by this is that he was loaded with so much he couldn’t go anywhere.

“You can do anything you want but not everything you want.”

- Roger Merrill

I will attempt to make some practical sense of what I am trying to say.

This blog journey I started in January is simply an expedition in the larger journey of my life.  The blog takes a lot of arm space but it continues to be well worth the effort because I know that it enhances the greater.

At some point I may drop the blog.  Anything you drop is because of one of two reasons… design or default.

  1. Design: The item had served its use and now’s time set it aside and move on.  This is an intentional act of release.
  2. Default:  It fell because my arms were too full to carry it all.

I find that life is a series of choices.  There is the constant cycle of taking on and letting go as we roll forward to our desired destination.  For example, I have acquaintances that I enjoyed but they are no longer an active part of my life.  Our lives crossed, we were both enhanced by our relationship but time, distance and personal journeys have taken us to a different place.  These are fond memories and a thoughtful reminder that life rolls on.

This principle is not only true with people we have known but with activities, hobbies, clubs, etc.

The Sobering Question

What do we carry in our arms?  I’m serious.  This is the tough question we must all ask.

You see, we only have a limited capacity and so we must choose carefully what we carry with us and what we set aside.  This ongoing process of daily choices determines whether we move forward vibrant, alive, energized and growing; or we fall prey to arms being overloaded which slows us with strain, drain and insipid existence.

Sad Reality

Here’s the scary one (It’s scary because it is so very real).  Unfortunately, if not careful, we carry something in our arms that not only take up space but literally prevents us from moving forward (dropped keys).

These are things that have negatively happened in our lives that we continue to carry forward.  These things do not get smaller but in fact enlarge and continue to displace good things and will only get worse until a DECISION is made to jettison the load.

What types of things am I talking about?  Things like…

  • A past failure
  • Missed opportunity
  • Lost love
  • Bitterness or resentment
  • Our sack of rocks (see blog on March 4, 2010)
  • Self-hate
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Name your own

This is why the blog I write is so important to me.  I had to jettison some fears to be able to pick my dropped keys and get moving.  As I said earlier, at some point in time this blog will have served its purpose and  it will be time for me to set it down and joyfully add something to my arms that takes me forward.

So I will continue to peck away on this blog and enjoy the beautiful scenery as I roll forward.  So I encourage you to drop something, pick up the keys and get going.

Ciao.  See you Monday.


20
Sep 10

Unfinished Starts

Hi there. 

Did you happen to see the video at the end of the last blog entry?  If not it is well worth a couple of minutes to scroll down the page and take a look.  It is a wonderful true story on finishing the race.

I think I may have given the wrong impression on the issue of unfinished starts.  If I am honest with myself I may have inadvertently thrown some of my baggage onto your cart by accident.

Side Note:  Throwing our baggage onto other peoples cart is something we all do without intent.  Our baggage is such a part of us that it just bumps into all kinds of stuff.  This is normal (not good necessarily but pretty normal).

The bigger issue is if you let my baggage stay on your cart.  That is, if you recognize it.  We all know a lot of baggage looks the same. 

 

I probably gave the impression that anything that you started and didn’t finish was a bad thing.  I don’t believe that’s totally the case.  There is something to be said for trial and error. 

In my humble opinion, here’s the nut of the issue (for me at least). 

There are two opposing facts.  There are things you want to do (or be) or called to do (or be) and things in our lives or surroundings that hinder us from getting there. 

This is the marathon race… the moment you see where you can be and set out to get there.  The ways of getting there may be many.  This is the trial and error.  The failure is not being successful in the myriad of things you try to move forward but in giving up the race.

Side Note:  Be open to trying something again that you had tried before.  I think that there is a right timing for certain things.  What you tried a few years ago and cast aside now may be the time to try it again.

 

I do believe though that there are some initiatives that rise to a different level of significance in the race we run.  It’s one of those things we know in that deep part of us that this particular endeavor will be a major mile marker in our journey.

To me this blog is one of those things for me.  I just know that this initiative for me has breakthrough potential.  So I am not as casual to cast it aside when I’m tired or discouraged.

So I will see you Thursday.  Fight the good fight and keep your baggage off my cart.


16
Sep 10

Death by Neglect

Hola Amigo.

I just thought I would try my hand at Spanish today.  Hopefully it didn’t throw you off too much.

I almost talked myself into not writing a blog entry today.  It was tempting.  But I couldn’t let myself stop.  This blog journey is too important to me.

Historically I have started far too many personal initiatives in life to have them wither and slowly die… death by neglect.  It’s easier to let things die that way.

A decision to stop requires acknowledgement of failure and announces one’s lack of resolve.  And since we don’t want to look bad the pill is less bitter if we ignore something to death.

Starting and not finishing wears on you.

I do have a helpful hint.  If you are starting a personal initiative you need to choose something that doesn’t leave monuments.

Monuments to unfinished starts:

  • The dusty exercise machine in the basement
  • The cob web covered skis in the garage
  • The hobby kit that has never been taken out of the box
  • Unused cookbooks
  • Unused lessons
  • Half painted house
  • Credit balance left with Weight Watchers
  • Clothes too small with tags still on
  • Add you own monument

It is a bit embarrassing to talk about my starts and stops.  I also know that many of you can relate.

Here’s the sobering truth if we are not careful.  The starts listed above transform into monuments of failure.   They stand as a symbol of our shortcomings… and, if not careful, we believe it.  If we believe it, we give up trying.

Here is my point for today.  It doesn’t matter the number of starts we make, or the lapse of time to the finishes.  Are we willing to try again?

I am so thankful I am not where I used to be.  A few years ago I would have given in to the whim of blowing off writing this blog.  I am very good at making excuses for non-action… lots of good reasons in my repertoire.

I ran across this video that encourages me to start again, to get back up after I have fallen, to persevere.  Take a look.

YouTube Preview Image

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So, I will be here next Monday.

See you then.


13
Sep 10

The Story of Sex

Hello.

I figured the title would get your attention.  This blog has nothing to do about sex.  But I figured if you knew that there was going to be another blog about the topic of the “future” you would go screaming in the woods.

I was going to start a different topic but there was a quote that I had to share that stirred me on a different level.

Side Note: I have become very attuned to things that stir me.  There is a difference between something being interesting or intriguing vs. a deep stir.  I may not always know what the stirring means or the intent but I listen.

Being stirred on a deep level is a gift, and we are not to be casual about such a sacred thing.  If you want to get a deeper understanding about this “stirring” thing go to the right side of the page to the I Write About list and click on stirring.

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Here is the quote that caused me pause.

To a father, when a child dies, the future dies; to a child when a parent dies, the past dies.

- Arnold Jacob “Red” Auerbach (September 20, 1917 – October 28, 2006)

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I am not exactly sure what struck me about this quote so I am going to poke at it for a while.  So if you allow me, I will just noodle it over as I write this blog.

For me, this is the way I have found best to explore the things that stir me.  I poke at it with no expectations.  I don’t try to force closure or understanding.  Sometimes it takes a while.  It is like a pot of stew on the back burner that you peek under the lid periodically, stir it, taste it, throw some more ingredients into the mix and let it cook to perfection.

Random Thoughts

To me the quote touches on one’s perspective or vantage point in life.  To one, life’s view was forward and to the other, backward.

To a father, children represent the future beyond ones existence.  To a child a parent represents the source of one’s existence.

Insight

I don’t know if this insight is the core of the stirring but it’s in the right vicinity.

I am at the age where both of my parents are deceased.  They were great parents (not perfect) who loved their children.  Also, on the other end of the spectrum my wife and I were unable to have children.

So here I am, according to the quote, with past that has died and a future that never existed.  Now this sounds heavier than what it is but it is sobering.

Analysis

Now I need to determine what this means.  Is it just a sobering reality or is there a learning that I need to capture.  Something that I need to grab hold to that calls me to a deeper or higher place in my life.

OK, on the burner it goes and I’ll check in to see what, if anything, I am to do with this.

See you next Thursday and I promise… no more future talk.


9
Sep 10

The Miracle Qualities

Welcome back.  I thought I may have scared some of you off after my last blog.  It was a bit heavy.

Today I want to focus on the positive side of the future.

The past is over (even ten minutes ago).  Although we can’t re-live it in reality we can (and do) re-live the past in our minds.  This is not all bad.  We re-live fond memories and pleasant events.  The only time it gets a bit dicey is when we carry the negative past into the future.

Whatever your past has been your future is spotless.

- Anonymous

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Isn’t this quote great?  I never really thought of it before but in reality each day we get a fresh start.  I don’t want to sound hokey but it’s true.  We, unlike any other animal, have the ability to impact our future by intention vs. default.

There are several distinct human qualities that allow us not to be doomed by the past.  Humans have an Imagination, a Conscience and a Will.

Imagination

We have the ability to create something out of nothing in our minds.  We can create, innovate, and improve.  We can be in the current reality and see something beyond where we are.

This may sound too simplistic but you will not go if you don’t think there is something beyond where you are.  Imagination provides the capability to take us to beyond what we think exists.

I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.

- Miles Davis

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Conscience

We not only can see what is not yet created; we also have an innate sense of right and wrong.  This is the quality that elevates mankind beyond themselves to the good of the whole.

Will

This is ability to choose; to choose your response to any given set of circumstances.  Animals are locked by instinct or conditioning.  Animals react, we as humans can decide to act.

Stephen Covey when talking about these qualities states that “will” is the greatest point of freedom.  The freedom to choose.  We are not doomed by our past, our family history or our conditioning.

I have asked this question before in an earlier blog but it is worth asking again.  What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

Our future depends on how we look at it and what actions we take.

I don’t know about you but I plan on making the most of it.

See you Monday


6
Sep 10

Future Tense or Tense Future

Yep, me again, good to see you.

I must be in an ornery mood because I will probably tick some people off today.

Side Note: If I were really in a testy mood I would have probably said “pissed off” some people today.  Humm… maybe I should rethink my wording. Ticked off doesn’t have quite the panache as “pissed off” does it?

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Seriously, I may offend some folks today.  I don’t particularly enjoy making people angry but the future is too important not to address some of the hard issues.

Today I felt the need to tackle the prickly negative problem of prickly negative people.  Just so you know, if you were bothered by the term “prickly negative people” then today’s blog may be for you.

NOTE:  The Clue Phone rang and you answered.

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Here’s the piercing point of today’s blog.

Some people corrupt the future before it even happens because of their attitude.  They don’t even give it a chance to be crappy before they make it crappy because of the way they think.

I see this happening with two types of people.

The first group is made up of people who are good happy individuals but their perspective of the world is from a negative standpoint.  They would call it realistic, but in reality NEGATIVE.

These are people who naturally default to the negative vs. the positive.  They do eventually get to the positive but unfortunately the luster has been rubbed off due to their “realistic” observations.

If not careful they can corrupt the future but can easily avoid it if they are aware of their tendencies.

Now the second group of people are a different matter.  They can be the most disturbing and challenging.  There are a few people in the world who are just plain sour.  Nothing is good or can be good.  They are sour, their life is sour and they inadvertently make their future sour.

There may be some very legitimate reasons for their state.  Bad things happen to no fault of their own and it taints every aspect of their life.   The saddest part is that they allow it to taint the future.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.

– Sydney J. Harris

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There is no rationalizing with a sour person.  They have no desire or ability to consume encouragement or embrace positive statements.  Death comes quickly to such things because they are overwhelmed and cannibalized by the sour nature.  Then it burps with satisfaction having thwarted another attempt to be sweetened.

I know this is heavy and seems pretty hopeless… but it’s not.  Sour people who reject sweetness tend to respond best to a knock across the forehead (gotta get their attention).  It is best done by a stranger because there is no baggage.  So, if you are sour… lean forward… a little closer… WHACK!!!

Side Note: The whack has to be out of genuine Love not frustration or anger.  The future is too sacred to destroy it before it starts.

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Now that I have your attention, sour people tend to see nothing better in their future.  I have no sweet words just one assignment.

I posted a short video in an earlier blog that is perfect for you.  On the right side of the page are the archives for previous blogs.  Go to the March blogs and find the one titled A Sack of Rocks.

Take a look and let me know how you’re doing on Thursday.

Later.


2
Sep 10

Simply the Future

Hi there.

I hope you read the last blog entry because if you didn’t the next sentence will make no sense.

This blog entry was last Monday’s future.  It is no longer the future but present.  Tomorrow it will be history.

The motion of time is a stubborn task master.  It stops for no one.   If it does stop for you it’s time to start looking for that bright light.

Before I go on I must say, I feel pretty inadequate tackling the topic of the future.  There are literally hundreds of books about the future where minds much better than mine have studied, analyzed and hypothesized.

Nothing makes me an expert on the future and there is no logical reason why you would even take note of what I have to say.  For those who are regular readers I’m sure you have noticed by now that not knowing something about a topic doesn’t keep me from having an opinion.

Anyway, I think a person who possesses something (in this case a future) has a right to pontificate.  I have a future like anyone else.

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.
- George Burns At age 87; he lived to be 100

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Like George the future is where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.  Now there are no guarantees as to how long of a future I have.  In three minutes I could keel over from a heart attack.  It’s not likely and I sure hope that it is not the case but… who knows?

So I plan to poke around the edges of the “future” topic and just maybe something will tumble out of my head that makes a little sense and encourage or challenge you.

This future thing can get pretty heady if we are not careful.  And like so many things that tend to feel beyond us we make it much too complicated.  The future in reality is rather simple to understand… not easy but simple.

We may not like the simplicity of it but it is simple none the less.  There are two of the basic truths that are important to keep in mind as we look forward.

Simple Truth # 1

We cannot ultimately control the future.  We can potentially impact and influence the future but as I said earlier there are no guarantees.

Life Alert: It has been well over three minutes and I am still kicking.  There have been no bright lights so that’s good news.  So I still have a future… who rah!

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OK, back to the future.  As I stated, we cannot ultimately control the future.  Our best plans and efforts are just that.  We all on some level know this truth but some use it to justify not doing anything.

Simple Truth # 2

Live life now and live it right.  Although there are no guarantees regarding the future the journey is the joy.   I remember as a kid building little towns in the dirt.  I would make roads and bridges and had all sorts of fun stuff.  The joy and pleasure was in the creating not the completion.  Yes there was a degree of satisfaction upon completion but the good memories are of the process

So to help you loosen up regarding your future you have an assignment.  Enjoy yourselves now.  Enjoy the process.  Here are a few things I encourage you to do.

  • use the good china
  • burn the fancy candles
  • take the plastic off the furniture
  • eat the gourmet food in the pantry that you picked up on vacation 3 years ago and you have been waiting for that special occasion (usually it goes bad before you use it anyway)
  • wear the expensive perfume

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Enjoy!

See you in the future… Monday.