Friday, January 29, 2010

Victories and Struggles

Sometimes the only thing we have to hold us together and keep us on track is our determination and will power. I know that is how it has been for me the last week. However having survived the week and won the field with nothing more than determination I will say this for its difficulty the victory is sweeter. While this is not a new lesson for me, it is yet another thing I learned from Role Playing Games it is something that it is good to be reminded of.

When we struggle and work for something that increases the value of it to us. Or put another way it focuses on the things that truly have value. The amount of hardship we are willing to endure to achive a desired outcome is based in how badly we want it. Common scents right? But here is the thing when we start to see the road become difficult we have one of two reactions we press on or we start a propaganda campaign.

The propaganda campaign has one target: ourselves. We create reasons why we don't want something we down play its value and we convince ourselves that it is not as great as we had hoped it would be. What we are really doing is making excuses to ourselves so we will not feel defeated when we give in and quit. Like a dog getting ready to lie down we walk in circles contemplating the ground we are on and make a place where all grass of desire is trampled flat. In this little nest of self deception we can stop trying to achieve something without feeling bad, the object of our desire not achieved but the desire its self disposed of.

The hard work will pay off as long as we do not give up and do not stop trying to achieve what we want. Some days the road may seem blocked and the weather stormy. But as we find the right tools and put in the effort the sky clears and stone by stone the road block is dismantled, or the goats well move on. We can achieve anything we do not give up on.

That said there is a wisdom in knowing when to quit, knowing when the effort to achieve something is more then what the object is worth. Unyielding determination can lead to obsession; this is why it is important to keep our goals reasonable and realistic. When we set a goal so far beyond our grasp we do damage to our selves, we create a situation where we will not taste victory and the long hard road of growth and achievement becomes a never ending hamster wheel of drudgery.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The beauty of a moment

The other day I was walking across campus in the rain and I saw a young woman knelling at a puddle prodding the surface with a pen. The moment held my eye and trapped my mind I thought is she on drugs, I thought is she playing with the puddle (which is something I can see myself doing). As I walked she continued to work and worry at the surface of the puddle, then she rose, pen held out before her and it hit me: all her work and effort had been to save a worm from drowning. She did not care about how she looked, she did not care that she was getting wet to her in that moment that worms life was worth that suffering. It was an act of selfless companion for someone that could not understand what was happening. It was a moment of beauty, a lesson on living and a reminder that all life has value.

We need cherish these moments' in our lives every day. We have to open ourselves to them. When we want to improve who we can spend so much time focusing on our internal process that we can miss the lessons that come from outside, from out of the blue. These impromptu moments of inspiration and opportunities for grater incite in to ourselves in to the nature of this world and our relationship to it are at the heart of what we are trying to accomplish in the process of personnel development. Recognizing these moments and allowing the time to enjoy their beauty and there teaching is both a reward and instrument of personal growth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fear and nervousness outside the comfort zone

Conventional wisdom states that we only grow when we step outside our comfort zone this is different than facing our fears however. Our comfort zone is filled with all the things we are used to doing, the things we understand, and the things that are easy for us. When we step outside in to the wilds of discomfort we start to feel uneasy, and nervous. Why? Because there is a chance we might fail, and it might happen publicly. But as you spend time in the wilds you start to clear the land build a camp site, in other words make that territory yours and as the new skill becomes easier the wilds become part of your comfort zone.

In our society fear and nervousness are often confused. Nervousness is that quivering in our stomach that says I don't like this and happens when we think that something might harm us. Fear, real fear is a powerful instinctive force that we cannot resist without help and training. Fear shows up when we stop knowing that something can hurt us and know that it will unless we act. Stepping outside our comfort zone should not make us afraid but does often make us nervous.

When we try something new, when we reach for our goals we often feel nervous and anxious. We worry that we will fail that we will be laughed at or that people will mock us. What we must realize is that if we want to create a better life for our self first true failure is stagnation. The entire concept of creating a better life for ourselves is rutted in the principle that we are not satisfied with were we are today. I would rather try and fail publicly then to sit and stagnate. Why? I can walk away from the mocking voice of others; the voice inside my own head that tells me I am not achieving what I could is something I can not escape.

What are your thoughts? Let me know I n the comments and stay safe but keep growing and as always have a great day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting my head in the game

Ok time to change my mind set. I woke up this morning tired and grouchy school starts in two hours and I need to get my head in the game. Coffee is helping but chemical mood enhancers are not the answerer but what is? There are a lot of tricks, mental kicks in the pants so to speak that we can give ourselves to put our heads in the right place.

Music: A classic time honored Way to change your mood. No other form of art has such a direct impact on our emotional state then music. Even just a few minutes to listen to the right song or two can put us back on track.

Success: Find something to succeed at that is quick and easy, a video game, a puzzle, a martial arts form something that can be done quickly with a degree of assured success but enough difficulty that we have to work for it. Wining makes us happy.

Rituals: If we have little things we do to prepare ourselves for the day these can go a long way to creating the proper mind set. We recently started using a French press for our coffee and the process of making the coffee is becoming a divider between my wake up time and the productive part of the day.

Exercise: A few pushups or a quick jog can not only get the blood flowing but release some of the tension we are holding on to.

Clean: Straiten up your desk, pick up your room do the dishes. It can be difficult, if not impossible to think clearly in a cluttered and messy space.

Act: Act how you feel. If you do not have the time to do even a quick exercise to get yourself in a better frame of mind just consciously externalize the emotion you want on the inside. Our body posture and facial expression can radiate inward as much as outward.

The bottom line is that when we need to change our mood we need to make a break of some kind with the mental space that has the bad feeling and the new one we want to have. Creating a boundary event for the bad mood draws a line in the sands of time saying that was how I felt then and this is how I feel now.

A quick note on the links here some are internal some are external, some of them are spot on others are tangential to the topic; all of them are good articles worth reading. Have a great day and if you have any thoughts on quick mood alteration let me know.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Being the stone

Picture if you will a quick flowing stream cascading down from the mountains, winding among the hills and finally emptying out in a river below. The bed of the stream is lined with rocks and pebbles. The swift current of the river kicks the pebbles louse and caries them helplessly towards the river below. The rocks stand firm against the rushing waters letting the waters part around them and flow onward. Which one are you? I know that I used to be a pebble going with the flow letting events and circumstance drag me were they would but lately I like to think I am becoming more like the stone.

The river

First let's look at the river. It flow represents time, the floods of activity the droughts of inopportunity and the regular flow of day to day living. The currents are the pull of circumstances and events in our lives and when they are strong enough they can shift even the mightiest bolder from one place to another. We must understand that the flow of the river and its life altering currents are not an enemy but neither are they our friend, they just are. A kind of wisdom is knowing when to fight the current and when to go with it.

The pebble

There is nothing wrong with being a pebble especially while you are young. The pebble is tossed about by the current and dragged from place to place. This is a great way to gain knowledge and experience the world around you but it does have its draw backs. For one thing when we move as a pebble we are not working towards any one goal. While we see the world and what it has to offer our perception of it is limited by being on the guided tour so to speak, we only see what events and circumstance are willing to show us. The other disadvantage of the pebble is that it tends to stay in the same place in time and life experiences. The pebble moves with the water which is the flow of our lives so it becomes stuck in an unchanging way of living.

As the pebble travels down the river it will one day, with luck and a shift from publish thinking to stonefish thinking find a place on the river bottom to settle.

The stone

Having banged around the river bed and finally found a good place to rest the stones of the world stand firm letting the experience of life wash over them. While these experiences might change them they do not move the stone as far or as often as they do the pebble. The stone instead changes the cores of events and currents based on its shape. For us this means that we are working towards our goals, we are working to change the patterns in our life and create stability for ourselves. We do this by becoming aware of our own habits and nature or if you prefer our temperament. With this awareness comes the ability to stop ourselves from making the mistakes of our youth while at the same time nurturing the tendencies that caused us to make good decisions in the past.

Friday, January 22, 2010

True kindness

The world today needs more kindness. I don't think that this is a circumstance that is peculiar to our times but perhaps a key factor in the social condition of the human animal. But what is kindness and how do we foster it, make it grow and flourish in the hard soil of tough economic times?

a definition

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject "Kindness is the act or the state of being kind and marked by charitable behavior, marked by mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others." And this is a good place to start when thinking about the subject. Kindness can be directed at ourselves or at others. Kindness cannot be faked, even when we do something nice for someone out of a selfish motive it is still a kindness. The only time kindness can be corrupted is when we hold our kind actions over the heads of others. However as you can see this does not conform to the definition of kindness since it shows both a lack of tenderness and concern for others.

It is important to note that kindness is not the same as foolhardy generosity. When we are kind we give of our time money and energy to help ourselves and other accomplish what needs to be done. The key here and what separates it from pure generosity is that we do not give what is wanted but what is needed. When you stop to think about it kindness can be quite egotistical, since to give what is needed is to suppose that we can know what others need.

Kindness must be moderated by wisdom

To practice true kindness we must first cultivate wisdom and discernment, we must be able to separate the wants from the needs. We have to have the clarity to see when being given something will do more harm than having to work for it. And we must be able to give only what we are willing to part with. When we give too much we can become resentful corrupting what may have been an act of true kindness. The responsibility for the giving rests with the giver not the receiver since the only action they preformed was to except what was offered.

To give what is not needed is foolishness, to give what cannot be handled is foolishness to give that which we cannot stand to lose is foolishness. When we desired to be generous and kind we must do it in a way that leaves the receiver in a better position not just martially but also holistically. The kind action we take towards them must make them better not just in body but in mind and nature as well.

I need to stop and thank Patty from Why not start now for writing the post that got me started thinking about kindness. So go out there and be kind and be gentle but do it with wisdom. As always I love to hear your thoughts and comments and have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The empowerment of limitations

Our potential is vast. The world is vast. This vast world is filled with approximately 7 billion other people all with vast potential all with a vastly different set of life experiences. The amount of data we take in every day is vast. Our world is huge and it is easy to find our self lost in it. That is the power and beauty of limitations and boundaries. It is interesting to note that while the two words have at their root the same meaning (limitation comes from the Latin limitem which means a "a boundary, embankment between fields, border,") that a limitation has a negative connotation while boundaries does not.

Limitations help us define what is important to us and help us to give our vast and wonderful world structure. One way we can start to take control of our life is to set limitations on how we use our time and energy. Limitations can also be used to help us be more creative, more efficient and generally have a greater level of focus in our lives. Limitations, and our relationship to them, are like a surfer in the tube of a crashing wave. He only has one way to go surrounded on all sides by the incredible power of the ocean. If he were to turn away and fight against this limitation he would be flung from his bored and tossed about like a rag doll. Instead he decides to move in line with his limitations working within the binderies to find the spot where he has the power of the wave to guide him in a controlled manor. His reward for this is that he gains the wonderful otherworldly experience of being in a place few will ever experience.

The same is true for us as we move about our daily lives, when we struggle or ignore the limitations set by circumstance, by ourselves or by law we will find ourselves tossed about by the power of the world. We come away bruised and battered and often worse off than when we started. I am not saying that we should not strive to change, strive to overcome but that we should do it with full knowlage and in the context of our limiting factors. I will also go to say we never overcome a limitation but instead we overcome obstacles. Limitations are boundaries, the line in the sand that says this is one thing this is another. Rather than overcome them we expand them, making the area of things that are possible and permissible larger. With this idea of limitations in place we can now address how to draw power from them.

Limitations increase focus.

We only have a disceet amount of energy we can expend each and every day limiting our time to certain activities increases our ability to those things we want to do well. When we want to put effoert in to something we will usually shut out the distractions, maybe turn off the phone, defiantly turn off the TV and if you are like me put on some music that is conducive to thought. These actions do not just set the mood for productivity they also limit the information we are having to posses to that which deals with the task at hand.

Limitations define our tools.

When we want to be creative whether it is in problem solving or an artistic endeavor we need to limit the field we are going to work in. As artists we choose our media weather it is pastels, oils or clay. Each of these choices limits what can and will be created. The same is true with personnel growth. When we decide I want ot be better ant this thing, say for example I want to be a better speller this begins to define the tools we will use to achieve the goal. In the case of spelling I may start reading the dictionary every day, or self correcting words instead of letting the spell checker do it for me. However I will not stair at a picture of an apple to learn how to spell apple.

The power of limitations is that they allow us to define what we want to accomplish and how we want to accomplish it. Without defining the binderies of our effort we can easily become bogged down in all the possibilities that we are presented with every day. Do you set limitations for yourself? Let me know in the comments and as always have a great day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Dangers of Optimism Desire and Excitement

So last night I was sitting here brain fried from a good day of school and too much studying and decided to do some random web surfing. With a bit of synchronicity reality decided to validate my point from yesterday by showing me this video and instantly providing inspiration from it. For those of you who can't get to the video it is just a silly little shot of a cat getting its head stuck in an ice cream container and in some ways aren't we all like that cat. We see things we like and we dive in trying to get everything we can out of an idea or opportunity without really looking at the dangers it may poss.

We tend to be blinded by three things when we start on a new project: optimism, desire, and excitement. These three are all good to have to a degree but when they overrule our rational thought and damage our decision making process then we find ourselves in trouble, in over our head and just plain stuck. Let's take a look at each of these ideas and see how to harness them while avoiding the blinding glare of their bright light.

Optimism: When we start a new project all we can see is the way it will succeed, this is so true that American culture has proverb after proverb that deal with this. We are told "do not count your chickens before they hatch" or maybe "Look before you leap". The one that holds the key to not letting over optimism ruin the goal is "Hope for the best plan for the worst." If we do not look at the things that could go wrong at the outset of a new venture we will never see the rewards that can be gained. A strong conviction that successes is inevitable is a powerful tool and can definitely see us through the dark times when a project bogs down but it must be tempered by a complete understanding of the perils and pitfalls that face the project.

Desire: Even more then optimism folk wisdom warns us against unchecked desire. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." "All that glitters is not gold." When we see what we want and rush headlong in to its arms we may find that it is not an old lover returned from afar but a stranger that may react cruelly to our sudden exuberance. We see what we want and we go for it but we must be honest with our self is what we are feeling truly love or lust. Lust burns hot and quick with a desire more potent then love as the first sparks take hold. However those fears passionate flames die out quickly leaving nothing more than ashes behind. Love on the other hand stays the fire burns on and on keeping us warm through long winter nights and cooking our food in the summer. When we dive headfirst in to something new we find ourselves stuck with the trappings or consequences of our actions much like a young woman who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand. In deed we must take the time to date the idea, the item, the plan in order to get to know if it is love or lust before we commit or hart to an idea.

Excitement: When we discover something that makes our hart sing we want to build it it up, increases scope, make it something even more wonderful then it already is. This is true whether it is an idea or a project or something we have created. We work on the project then put it down then think wait what if I do this it will be even better. This excitement can distract us from the other necessary tasks in our life and make a simple thing become an incompressible mess. We must be willing to set aside our excitement, our reckless energy and step away from what we are working on, both to look at it from the outside and so as not to overwork it. This is one of the cycle of failure I have in my life: have an idea, work on it polish it get it ready for production, add another layer to it, add yet another layer, tinker with it and when I am done I have something to unwieldy to even work with.

There is one other key bit of inspiration that I took from the video and it comes near the end. The gray cat has been struggling with the ice cream carton on its head and has all but given up. It sits down and raises one half hearted paw to try and swipe at the problem one last time and then something happens. A second cat shows up and taps the first on the shoulder and just like that the container falls from its face. Some times when we let our ideas grow too big or we rush in without thinking all we need is a friend to tap us on the shoulder and say is that really such a good idea. It is important to seek the council of those we trust before we start a new endeavor or give our hart away to a new idea.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking for inspiration

When it comes to personal growth and development there is nothing in the world from which we can not draw inspiration. Whether we take positive or negative lessons from an experience a piece of art or a video game they all teach us whether we are looking to be taught or not. When we want inspiration we start to search for it high and low when instead of searching all we need to do is open ourselves up to the inspiration that is already there.

The true power of inspiration is that an idea hits our brain and sets off a change reaction of ideas that lead to new and original thought. When we are inspired our world looks different and we feel as if any problem we encounter is nothing more than a speed bump. So what are some ways we can open ourselves up to state of inspiration?

Ask for it: Watch your cat for a few minutes and ask "what can I learn from him?" Watch a movie and ask yourself "what is it trying to tell me?" Everything has some value and message it is trying to communicate to you. When you listen for that message a new idea is put in to your head and can start the chain reaction of inspiration. Interacting actively with our sense and reasoning about the data we take in on a conscious level is a great way to be inspired.

Turn your head: We all have a way we see the world, a series of filters that we use to interpret the data that we take in. If we become aware of these filters and how they influence our perception we can begin to shift them to see things in a different light. Think of the filter like a grid and we line up items we see with the grid, these grids may have names like technology or religion or Saturday morning cartoons. Each of these grids calls our mind to different details about things. One way to look at something from a different angle is with this question "how does this relate to that?"

Save it: When you see something that starts an idea smoldering in your head play with it, get it together with other embers of ideas in your mind, add a bit of kindling and let the fire burn. Even if you do not have time to play with an idea right then take a moment and jot yourself a note, text it yourself or find some other way to save it for latter. I have mentioned in the past my love for role playing games now I have another confection to make, when it comes to game notes and maps I have drawn I am a hoarder. I love being able to go back through those old ideas and search for new inspiration. My partner keeps all of his old art so he can go back and look for inspiration in it.

Inspiration is there in the world around us and every little thing can inspire us to grow, to change, or create a work of beauty. Every bit of data we take in has the potential to chang us and to change how we see the world if we just find the inspiration in it. Where do you go to find inspiration in your life? As always I love to hear what you are thinking so leave me some coments, have a great day and don't forget to fallow the feed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Temperament and Twain

I have been thinking a lot about my temperament lately. Mark Twain asserts that we are nothing more then servants to circumstance and our temperament and that we can do nothing to change either of those factors. I disagree with him in some aspects but I do think that we are mastered by our temperament.
It's partner is temperament- his natural disposition. His temperament is not his invention, it is born in him, and he has no authority over it, neither is he responsible for its acts. he cannot change it nothing can change it nothing can not modify it-except temporarily. - Mark Twain.

I have been fighting against this thought for the last week but I keep seeing the way it is true in my own life. I have habits and ways of acting that are set in stone, habits I fall back in to without even the slightest provocation. It frustrates me that I am a slave to my temperament but I have come to the decision that it is better to work with it then to strive against it.

Because of our temperament and it's immutable nature we can use our past behavior to predict our future behavior. The best thing we can ever do to change our lives is to know our selves, know our temperament, in that way our actions will not be a surprise to us, and we can avoid situations that cause our temperament to make a bad choice.

So do you struggle with your temperament or have you made peace with it? What are your techniques for avoiding situations were you know that nature of yours will get you in trouble? Let me know in the coments and have a great day.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on back to school

Well I am now one week in to my first semester back to school and I think things are going good. There have been some stry observations that have croped up in my time there this week that I think bear some descution.

The learning proses is transformitve

The proses of learning anything new changes us. When we have the new skill or knolage we become incapable of looking at the world the way we did before. Every bit of knolage we gain changes the context of the next bit of knowledge we gain.

What effect will a new bit of education have on us and how it will change us we never know exactly until we have experienced it and by then it is to late to unlearn it. We can only be observers to this change in our selves and then after it has happened mitigate it or nurture it whether we feel it to be positive or not.

I can resist the urge to doodle.

I have always been a doodler, when i am sitting in class and some one puts a pen in my hand I will scribble abstract designs or swords or space ships or trees all over my notes. This semester I have vowed to stop doodling in class and I have found my self more focused and my notes more legible. This has taken a greater amount of will power then my battle to give up soda but I think in the long run it will be just as beneficial.

This has lead me to think about what other habits I have that diminish my productivity. I know there are at least a few others I could takle once I identify them.
I am a better personae when I am busy

When I have a lot to do i find i am not just less wasetfull of my time but more asertive about what i want and need to get done. For a while i have tried to maintain a task lits to keep my self on track but since nothing has been all that pressing in the last few months I let things slide, I show up to game unprepaired, spend to much time on video games when I should be working on progects and in genral dily dally. Now that I am back in a world with deadlines I find my self not only finding more things I want to be doing but also finding more time to do them.

In addition to the time management issue I feel more confident, I am sure some of this comes from doing something productive and creative for my self as well as realizing some small victories in the past week. As I have said in the past confidence builds upon confidence, successes upon successes so all I can see for my self at the moment are good things. I must remember not to let this ambition and optimism blind me to the dangers and pitfalls that are out there.

For those of you who are interested I have some really interesting professors who are provoking a number of interesting thoughts about religion and how we communicate as well as how we look at our selves and others. I am sure some of these ideas will spill out here, for example my speech teacher is all about confidence and I am hoping to get a chance to interview him on the topic so as to share his view point with all you good folks who visit me each day. Have a good safe weekend and a beautiful day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The broken pattern and perseverance

First off today a bit of personal news. i have started a second blog related to my favorite hobby: gaming. This cam about because a number of my friends who have tried to read this blog could not get exited about personal growth (this stuff is only interesting if you are doing ti or working up the courage to do it But if you are it is fascinating) but were interested in my thoughts on the subject of gaming. So if you have an interest in the hobby go take a look at the GM's study.

Keeping the gaming theme alive I have a story about perseverance that comes from the gaming table. This story comes again from the amber diceless rpg, first a little bit of background on the game we were in, then the story of Corry and the broken pattern. The game is set in the world of Rodger Zalazneys Amber Chronicles; here is brief explanation from wikipdiea:
In the Amber stories, Amber is the only true world; all others, including our Earth, are but "shadows" of the tension between it and Chaos. A second world, the Courts of Chaos, is situated in Shadow at the very edge of Chaos itself. Royals of Amber who have negotiated the Pattern, can freely travel through the shadows. By shifting between shadows, one can appear to alter reality by simply choosing which elements of which shadows to keep, and which to switch between.
In the game you play one of these Royals of amber or the courts as you via for power and position among your peers.

The pattern is the source of all power for the Amberights, once they walk the pattern (a grueling and potentially deadly task) they are free to travel through shadows. However it is possible for other false or lesser patterns to be created an event that would be disruptive to reality remaking it in the image of the one who rebuilt the pattern.

Corry's character in the game came upon one of these lesser patterns, worse yet an incomplete and broken pattern. To walk it might bring him power but the energy of it was unbounded and could kill him still he set foot on it and began to walk. The game master described how he became nauseous. all Corry said is "I press on" A few steps farther in the game master told him it was like waling through a wall of molten lead. "I press on" was the response. Next he was told he could feel his bones begin to break from the effort and still he said "I press on".

Now the game master hand not meant for anyone to walk this pattern but was moved and inspired by Corry's perseverance. a tornado of light descended on him whisking him away from the pattern and dumping him were he needed to be. Not were he wanted to be but were he should be.

Since that game session when things get tough my friends and I will still call out "I press on" It has become a symbol for us of perseverance, the willingness to suffer for worthwhile results. I press on is a place I can draw strength from when I need it as well as a smile and a laugh in tough times.

What symbols do you use to motivate yourself? As always have a great day and fallow the feed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our war torn inner landscape

A wounded and shell shocked solder wanders through the smoking wreckage of a battle field. Fires burn and his stare is focused some were in the distance. His clothes are torn, his body bloodied, he walks because he can't sit still, he can't pull his eyes away from the horror that is all around him. In the distance the sounds of battle still echo the boom of artiliary the chatter of wepon fire and the rumble of the heavery cavelry and still the solder walks on like a ghost touching this broken building or that ruined vehicle.

That dazed solder is us my friends when we let or mind fill up with clutter. The battel field is our thought prosses, not the decisions we make but the very way we make those destinations. Whether the clutter is physical, metal, spiritual, social or emotional it disrupts how we think and act. What we must do is learn how to clear the battle field and turn it in to something else, perhaps a park. Then once this transformation is complete we need to return the solder to civilian life and give him a new job, in keeping with the park theme lets say a gardener.
Transforming the battlefield

We need to let go. We acumulate stuff that fills our home, old cell phones kitchen gadgets and toys come to mind quickly Similurly we hold on to emotional hurts, inpractical ideas, memorys of insults or mabey guilt over long forgiven sins. We need to get rid of this clutter or make a space for it were it does not get in the way of our daily existence. In the proses of turning the battlefield in to a park this akin to opening a sculpture garden or perhaps a playground.

For example for years I have had the idea for a novel about a man and a taling cat on the great American road trip but every time I try to write it it feels wrong. For the time being it has been moved to the playground of my mental park. It is a thought that I still like to play with and look at when I have time but now it is not a distraction to me every day.

In contrast the the feelings of inadicuisy that I left my last relationship with have wound up in the dumpster. They are something i do not need or want in my house any more. They are the crumbling building that needs to be torn down and replaced with a nice picnic spot.

Another thing we can do to help the transformation from battlefield to park is to reclaim or rededicate our mental space to a new purpose. I have mentioned before about how it can be helpful to refight old battles in order to put defeats out of our mind. Another techiques is a simple rededication. By making a clear an conscious decision that things are going to be different from now on we can set the ground work for the clean up prosses.

Rehabilitating the solder.

Once we have cleaned up the battlefield the next proses we need to consider is how do we keep the armies of our daily struggles from overrunning the calm, clean park we have built. The answerer is one of those things that is simple to stay but difficult to actually achieve: we must retrain our solder for a pursuit other then violence. Let us say that he will now be a gardener tasked with keeping our park neat and tidy. he must learn how to pick the weeds from the grass, keep the play area clean and clear of broken glass and other things which may be dangerous to us.

How do we become that gardener instead of the shell shocked veteran? How do we stop the clutter from building up? The only answers I have for these questions are constant vigilance for things that could be clutter. Constant reevaluation of the condition of our environment and the willingness to put things away both physically and mentally when we are done with them.

If you have thoughts on decluttering life and keeping that way I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I would be remiss in not mentioning that this post was inspired by some excellent thoughts from both Gretchen Ruben and Anshu. So before I tell you to have a great day don't forget to comment and follow the feed. that said have a great day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ask Questions

"The willingness to ask questions is a sign of courage not a sign of confusion" Steven Bernstine

Weather we are confused, lost, feeling complacent or in the proses of making a decisions one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is the ability to question. However we are encultured, especially the guys in the audience, to not ask questions, it is viewed as a sign of weakens, of low intelligence and discontent.

Remember this: No great change has come from some one who is satisfied with the way things are. If we are afraid to ask our selvs and our leaders hard questions we will get the life and leadership we re given. If insted we put our hand in the air and ask why do I do this? Is what we are doing the right thing to do? Does this realy solve the problem? Who am I? we open up the posbility to recive the leadership and life we create.

Asking questions makes us responsible for finding the answer weather it comes from inside us or we find an outside source. Because of this it is important that we ask the right questions in the first place. When we craft a questions we need to make sure that the answer will be useful, practical, and understandable.

If the answer to a question will not produce results or impact us in some way what is the point of asking?

If the answer to a question can not be applied to the situation at hand, weather it is a good idea or to, how can it help us to make the world a place we want to live in?

If the answer to a question is beyond your comprehension how can it impact your life?

So today I challenge you to get out there ask questions that matter, of you self and of others. Listen to the answers and use them to make changes in the world around you and the world inside you. Be bold, be cognoscente and be vocal. If you have thoughts on this let me know in the comments and don't forget to follow the feed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

lessons from a hectic morning

So here it is my first day back to school and I don't have all the time I thought I would. Lost keys, late buses and a long honey do list have conspired to make the morning hectic. So what can I take away from this to make tomorrow go smoother. here are some of my ideas, if you have any tricks for getting over or through a hectic morning I am open to suggestions.

Make time for coffee: Really this is more then just giving our selves enough time to hit up Starbucks, we need to make sure we account for all the time we need to get ready in a realistic an honest fashion and then make sure we have that time.

Use the Scotty principal: This goes hand in hand with make time for coffee in that it focuses on the scheduling side of the problem. In Star Trek Captain Kirk would always need Scotty to fix something, when he asked how long it would take Scotty would tell him some number of hours and Kirk Would demand he have it done in half the time. Some how Scotty would manage to do it, was this because he was a bad ass or because he built the extra time in to his schedule in case he needed it. We will never know but we can take this lesson from him give your self enough time to get things done then give yourself a little more just in case you need it.

Forgive before they apologize: It is a fact of life in my household that we get snappy when we get tense. When we are dealing with loved ones and they get short with us we know they don;t mean it and that most likely they will apologies latter. When time is short don't wast it getting grumpy about how you are being treated this wastes time and energy and focus. Instead just let it go for give them and move on with what needs to get done.

There are probably a few more lessons I can take from this morning but since I am still under the gun to get things done I better not spend to much more time pondering and just get back to doing. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome in the comments, if you like what you see do not fogret to fallow the feed and as always have a wonderful day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

When the possibilities are to much

There are many things that can stop us from ever getting started on chasing our dreams, doubt, worry, and low self confidence come to mind easily, but one area that is not often mentioned or thought about is the overwhelming issue of possibilities. Some times the problem is not what is my dream or how do I find my passion but instead we are trying to decide which passion should I fallow or which dream should I work on. I was talking to a friend about this very problem and we hit upon an interesting way of handling it.

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you may have figured out that i like lists as a way to organize my thoughts and that is were we will start off once again. Get your self three sheets of paper and a pen and we will get started. On the first dheet of paper write out every idea you want to pusue every dream you want to fulfill and every passion you wish to explore. When this is done go through the list and on the second sheet of paper write out the top five ideas from your first list giving your self plenty of room between each item.

Next we are going to look at each idea and start to make an actionable list of what needs to happen to make the dream a reality. this does not have to be a point by point plan just five or six things that could be done to get you started. Now that this list is complied start to look at what is practical and achivabul from your curent situation.

Now with the field narrowed down and the proses laid out before you turn to the thrid sheet of paper. At the top write out your long term goal in life. Below that write out your values, and your commitments numbering the values and lettering the commitments. On the second sheet next to the description of each dream place the number of the value and the letter of the commitment that each idea satisfies. Now do the same with the values and commitments that the idea goes against but this time cross out the number.

This proses not only gets the ideas out of your head, it allows you proses your passions and dreams again your values and commitments so we can live in a manor that is responsibul both to our selves and to the world around us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Finding the eye of the storm

This week has been hectic for me to say the least. I start school next week and my partner is on his winter break, there are so many errands to run and so little time to do everything. Today I have decided that it is my day I need time to collect my self and sit quietly doing the things I enjoy.

It is important in my mind to be able to find peace and stillness in a way that works for you. For me a quite day hunting around the internet for interesting things to look at is a good day, maybe playing some video games and reading up on a new RPG I want to play. Would this work for my other half, not a chance he would be bored and wanting to go some were or if feeling a bit more low energy he would rather work on an art project. The point here is that you need know what is rest full for you, were you find relaxation and not try to emulate others when it is time to rest.

For most of us the hardest part about resting is finding the time. The problem with this is it is not about finding time but about making time. We are in complete control of our own schedules even if we do not feel like we are. Every action we take, every meeting we set, every minute we spend doing something happens because that is what we decided to do. Not every moment may be spent the way we want but it is still better then the alternative. If we choose to not go to work we don't get paid, if we choose not to go to school we don't get good grades and so on. By knowing that we set our schedule and understanding that we have the power to decide what we want to do we can find that moment of peace, the eye of the storm.

One problem most people make when they budget there time is that they treat time to rest as a luxury rather then a necessity. Every day that we go with out time to relax and focus on the things we enjoy doing degrades our ability to deal with stressful situations. Our ability to foucus suffers, our tempers become shorter and our willingness to listen to others advice erodes. I am remnded of my father, an avid tennis player, he worked hard all week to suport our family. Saturday and sunday mornings were his time to get out to the courts play a few sets. If we had plans to do something as a family for the weekend we made sure that he still got to go play, he would come home much more relaxed and happier. He had found his peace.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The world is full of mirrors.

We spend time every day looking in the mirrior making sure we look good, haven't gained wait or if you are like me making sure you havent spilled something on yourself. We need to take time every day to do the same thing for our mental state as well. The reflective surface we use is other people, ther actions, opinions and there attitude towards us. So lets take a look at how to check our selves out.

Personality mirrors: We interpret the actions of others through our own personality so whether people annoy us or do something that makes us happy we are seeing a reflection of our selves. We try to understand there motivations based on what would motivate us to act that way.

The mirror of expectation: I have talked about this one before but it is worth revisiting. We act the way people expect us to. By living up to our commitments and fallowing through on our promises we create a higher standard for our selves and the subconscious desire to clear that bar.

Active mirrors: Some times a quick glance is not enough to get the full view out of a mirror and the same is true for other people. It is good to have people you trust who you can sit down with and ask do you think this is a good fit for me. A good friend will see qualities in our selves that we miss or ignore or do not find to be all that important. A good friend will also be willing to tell us the truth even when it is not what we want to hear. Do not be afraid to ask for other peoples options but do not get mad at there honesty, anger like that is a defense mechanism that keeps us from listing to what we need to hear.

The other advantage to thinking about how other people think about us, is that we start to think about others as more then just the roles they fill in our lives. We start to think about who they are as people and the life they lead. this begins to happen with casual acquaintances and the people who help us in stores when we are shopping. As there lives become more clear and real to us it is harder to be prejudices or stereotypical in our views of them.

So get out there and see your self in others and see others in your self. Be honest with your self and open yourself up to honesty of others. Have a great day and remember to be beutiful inside and out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time to play

I am an advocate of play, I like to have fun and I think it is an essential part of the day as important as breakfast. Play relieves stress and allows our subconscious time to work on problems as well as helping to keep the brain young. However one of the biggest problems is growing up is we are tought that playing is for children and should be put behind us. In our collage years we turn to partying to replace play and after that TV fills the void.

When life gets fast passed and the deadlines start to loom we put our shoulder to the wheel and pull all nighters to accomplish what needs to be done. All to often the result of working like this is that we turn in shoddy work while we wind up stressed and burnt out. On top of this we tend to over fill our lives with to many things that we feel must be done now, we set unreasonable time lines and overburden ourselves with to many projects. So what is play and how do we learn to play again.

Play for the purposes of this discussion is any activity that is fun while still being mentally stimulating. For some this may be crossword puzzles for others hanging out with friends talking about life or analyzing a movie. The idea is to use the brain for something you enjoy, it is as simple as that. Play should also be socail, an activity that stimulates us and we enjoy but is done alone does not have as great an impact as one that is done with others.

What is not play:

Most Tv: Tv gets us to turn our brains off and worse then that it teaches us to shut down any time we are in front of it. There is programing that stimulates the mind and news shows that require us to form an opinion but for the most part we just take in the information and make no effort to prosses it for our selves.

Partying: Going out drinking with friends can be fun, it can releave stress but it is not play. Drugs and alcohol cloud the brain, they interrupt the subconscious minds ability to proses the days events and in the long run can make normal situations more stressful.

Work: This one may be a no brainier but so often we treat work like play, after all it can release stress by getting things done and for some of us we work a job we love. However at the end of the day any work we do is something that has to be done. Part of play is allowing yourself to do something different that is not necessary. The knowing you are free to fail or succeed with out risk of lasting and serious repercussions is an important element of play.

Learning to play is easy, were we usually run in to problems is finding the time. Make the efoert to set aside some time to do a stimulating and chalanging activity that will not mean finacial ruin if you fail. Turn off the TV and gather up the kids for a night of bord games, call your budies up and go shoot hoops.

So how do you play? Or if you don't play now what are you going to do to start?

If you like what you see here feel free to leave a comment (or for that mater if you don't like what you see let me know that as well) and don't forget to fallow the feed. Get out there today and play, have fun, be silly and most of all be happy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Open thought proses: Confidence and enthusiasm

Over at the happiness project Gretchen is talking about how she would rather be enthusiastic rather then confident. I want to be both. I want to enjoy what I am doing while knowing in my hart that it is the right thing to do and that I will succeed. This has me thinking a lot about these two states of mind this morning and while I have not come to any real conclutions I thought I would just share my thought proses on the mater and open it up for discussion.


Enthusiasm lies on the same emotional spectrum as a apathy, we either care or don't care about an idea, an issue or an action.

I see this state of mind like the shot of nitrous pumped in to a drag racer to make it go go go. When we are enthusiastic we can not wait to get going on a project a task or a challenge. But like the quick burning fuel additive if we hit a wall or a project is harder then we think our enthusiasm can burn out and fade a way.

On the other hand whne we hit a project hard and fast and meet with success (I want to share a small victory with you: as you may or may not have realized I am a horrible speller. I always misspell the word sucsess (as i just did) to day for the first time I was able to correct it with out the spell checker. I now return you to your blog already in progress) we lay the foundation for building confidence.


Confidence lies on the same emotion spectrum as timidity and possibly arrogance. The argument can be made that confdence taken to far can become argance I am not sure if I belive this my self but it is something to think about.

Confidence is the steady fuel that gets us through the hard times and will give us power when we need it. Like the gas in our cars it does need to be topped off every now and then by seeing results, progress and success from our endeavors.

Can confidence build enthusiasm? I'm not sure, I feel that it can revive lsot enthusiasm when we start to see results in an area that has become challenging for us. This is one question I would love to here your thoughts on.

Gretchen states that:
Confidence has an overtone of posture; also it relates to the way I’m seen by others, or the way I feel about myself.

and while this is true i also think that confidence caries the connotation of the cool quite place at the center of our being were we can act with resolution, clarity and decisiveness.

At the end of all this thinking I still know Iwant both and I now have the mental image of enthusiasm as a hyper puppy and confidence it's master keeping it from harm while letting it learn about the world. Or perhaps a mother bare and her cub is a better image...

So what are your thoughts on enthusiasm and confidence how do they relate and is one more important then the other?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Letting my self be me

A quick note before I get started, this is a post I have had in my head for a few weeks now. Two other posts that I read yesterday gave me the finally push I need to get this story told. I would like to thank Hulbert Lee at From the Bottom Up and Armen Shirvanian from Timeless Information for giving me the shove that I needed.

If we are not honest with our selves about who we are all the work we do to change and grow is built on an unsound foundation. We need to look into our own harts and know and except our selves for who we are only then can we begin to make the changes we want in our lives.

Let me share a story with you, it is a very personal story, an embarrassing story, and one that I am a littel scared to put out there even today. I may risk scaring away some readers with this but yesterday I challenged myself to be courageous and I think this is something I need to to put out there.

I am a gay man, that is the part of this story that I fear will loose me some readers but not the part that enbarses me. What does embarrass me is that I hid this from myself for many years, years I spent trying to live as a strait man and trying to find happiness in things that did not please me. My friends were all verry voacl strait nereds who alwas talked about girls, they never did anything and it was all talk but I tried to be like them because I wanted to be liked, I did not want to different.

Then I hit a low point in my life my girlfriend had left me, i had quit a job I hated and was moving in to a friends garage because my roommates were all moving out of the apartment we shared. I had two weeks in that apartment by myself, one of the first times I have ever been completely on my own. I had a long talk with my self during that time and came to except who I was and what who I was really attracted to.

Comeing out to myself was a great step and a relife and started a healing posses which is still working in me today 10 years latter. It still took me a while to come out to others in my life but none of my friends or family has rejected me and I am a happier person today for being honest with myself.

So today listen when i tell you if you are not honest with yourself about who you are then you will find yourself chasing false dreams and conforming to a self image that is not real. Thank you for reading to day, don't forget to fallow the feed and as alwys have a great day, and remember be yourself.