Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Nice Surprise - 400 and 463

“I think that growth and spiritual awareness come in slow increments.
Sometimes you don't know it's happening.”

Mariel Hemingway


Recently I had a nice surprise.  I wrote a blog.  (That’s not the surprise.)  It wasn’t my longest blog.  It may have not even been my best blog.  (Also, not the surprise.)   But I got it done.  (Still not the surprise.)  Ironically, it was called I’m falling asleep… because I was. (http://robertf71.blogspot.com/2014/11/im-falling-asleep.html) But, as I said, I got it done. (Almost there.)   The next day, while looking at my blog page, I realized that this was the 400th blog I’d written this year.  It was the 463rd blog I’d written since that time a year ago.  I have been writing and writing.  And this doesn’t even include the hundreds of pages I’ve written by hand this year.
Am I bragging?  Maybe a little, but that’s not the main purpose here.
Here’s the thing.  I wasn’t counting.  I was just working.  That’s what I do every day.  I work.  Some days I do more than others.  But every day I work.  And I’m adding more work and more goals to my days.  I want to accomplish things so that I have something to contribute to the world, so that I can make a difference.  I want my life to mean something.  It’s not that my life is meaningless now, but it is my job to give it the meaning God intended for it. 
So I work.  It doesn’t often feel like work because I’m doing what I love, but it takes the same amount of discipline as if it were a paying job that I loved…or hated.  I still have to show up.   If I want to be effective I can’t waste time.  And the only things that count in work are that I do my job well and I produce as much as possible.  Quality and quantity.  That’s it and that’s enough.  So though I have been known to say that a particular blog may not be my best blog ever, that doesn’t mean I turn in anything that I’m ashamed of.  I do my best every time and I do it almost every day.
It should be noted – and again, I am not bragging, but trying to set an example and show what is necessary – that I write every day.  I write when I can, which is usually on early mornings, late evenings, and weekends.  I can choose to do other things during my “spare time,” but I don’t see how wasting time will bring any of us closer to our goals, make us happier, or make us more useful in this world.
Currently I’m considering new possibilities, not because I’m giving up on writing, but because I want to see what other options are available.  I’m going to add more to my plate rather than take things off.  This means I need to use my time even more effectively.  But I know this – time is the one thing we all have in common.  We all have 24 hours in each day.  And we all have one day at a time.  So it behooves us to use each day, each moment, as wisely and as well as we can.  We can use each moment we’re given to take care of others or take care of ourselves.  When I waste time, I’m doing neither. So I’m writing one more blog because I believe it’s the best use of my time, the best way of taking care of myself and others, and most of all, the best way of doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life and my gifts – the life and gift God has given me.

I Get Started and I Keep Going…and…who knows?  Perhaps one day soon, I’ll have another nice surprise.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm Falling Asleep...




 I’m falling asleep…literally.  So I need to write quickly and then go to bed.  Why don’t I just go to bed and forego tonight’s writing?  I’ll admit that’s tempting, but I’m always being tempted to not do my work.  Every night as I’m coming home from work, I consider not writing that night.  Sometime a voice says, “You’ve worked hard all day.  Take a break.  You deserve it.”
At other times it says, “You need to rest.  You can write tomorrow.”
Sometimes the voice isn’t so nice.  It says, “You’re wasting your time.  Hardly anyone is reading this.”
Then it gets really nasty and says, “You’re such a loser.  If you had any talent you would have made it by now.”
Every night I hear at least one of those arguments.
And I just set my face resolutely ahead and keep writing.
This is it.  As I’ve said before, “There’s no Plan B.”
There’s my writing and my house on the beach.    And that’s it.  There’s nothing else.  I only have one Muse and I’m committed to her.  I’m committed to writing.
And that’s why I’m writing even though I’m falling asleep.
Fatigue, fear, frustration, lack of hope or notice or progress – none of it means anything.  Tonight’s blog might be short, but at least I did it.  I told my Muse and my readers and myself that this real.  Even though I’m falling asleep I was able to Get Started and Keep Going…but now I’m going to bed.


Time and Money

“The common man is not concerned about the passage of time, the man of talent is driven by it.”

Shoppenhauer


I don’t know if I’m a man of talent, but I am driven by time, even moreso as I get older and, more importantly, as I set goals.  I cannot rely on enthusiasm or even energy, though both are nice.  Instead I’d prefer to rely on a moment-to-moment commitment to reach my goals.  I’ve written about time before.  What I’ve learned is that it’s in the top five most valuable things in life.  What are the most valuable things in life?
In no particular order they are the following:
·      Love (for God, others, and self)
·      Health
·      Time
·      Purpose
·      Money

Money may seem like an odd choice as one of the most valuable things in life, but I don’t see how it can be otherwise.  Even the Bible says, “Money is the answer to everything.”  (Ecclesiastes 10:12)  What is money?  It’s freedom. It’s freedom to make more choices.  It doesn’t solve all of life’s problems – in fact, it can add some – but it does create more choices in how to deal with those problems.  If I had all the money I wanted at this very moment, I know how I’d handle it and whom I’d help.  I also know how I would manage my time, how I would change some things in my life, and leave others the same.
I know I would spend a lot more time reading and writing.  I would spend a lot more time doing what I’m doing now and a lot less time doing what others want me to do.  I would help a lot of people and I would change some physical aspects of my life, but mostly I would spend most of my time living out my Purpose. 
Money is not the end, but the means to an end.  As Forrest Gump said when he found out he suddenly had all the money he needed, “Good.  One less thing.”
That’s why I want a lot of money.  It will be one less thing to worry about.  I’m not particularly interested in buying fancy sports cars or eating out every night at a five-star restaurant.  But I would spend a lot more time reading and writing.  I’d make sure my children didn’t have to worry about going to college.
I started this blog talking about time and wound up talking about money.  They are close relatives.  Money can give s time to do what we want.  Time, used well, can help us make money.  How we use both will determine the course of our lives.
That’s why I Get Started and Keep Going every day….because I don’t want to waste time or money. 





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Don't Care

All I can do is sit here and write.  That’s all I need to do.  I just got home from a long day and while I have the right to make a big bowl of popcorn and read some comic books, I don’t care. 
I’m going to sit here and put out one more blog, not because anyone but a handful of people (and my Muse and I) are reading it, not because I’m making any money on it, not for any reason other than I am committed to my Muse…for life.  That means I write.  And I keep working until I reach my goal, until I can hear the ocean from my back patio.  When I can, I will keep writing.  I will not stop.  This is my assignment from God.
I’m going to keep working.  I am not going to stop.  I’m going to work more, not less.  The only people I want to impress are God and my Muse.  They are who I am listening to.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, “Prime the pump.”  In other words, put water down the well in order to get more water to come up.  The more you put in, the more you will get back.  And that’s why I’m writing now after a 14-hour day.  I’m putting in until I get something back, until I get the results I want and the results God wants me to reach.
That’s what Purpose is.  You show up when you can and as often as you can.  This takes careful planning and it takes recklessness, both at the same time.  The planning means I set concrete goals that are quantifiable.  For example, I might commit to reading 30 pages a day.  The recklessness comes when I bring a book with me and read every chance I get.  The recklessness comes when I get up early and stay up late to write every chance I get.  The recklessness comes when I say I don’t care.  I’m going to reach my goals, no matter what.
Have I said all this before?  I don’t care.  At least I’m writing.  At least I’m doing my work.
Am I rambling?  I don’t care.  Next time my work will be more focused.  Or maybe it won’t.  I don’t care.  I’m going to keep working anyway.
Does that sound grandiose or delusional?  I don’t care. 
If people think I’m crazy, if even I think I’m crazy, I don’t care. 
The current state of my life, my circumstances, argue for anything but the attainment of my goals.  I don’t care. 
If I have to work another two years, five years, ten years, I don’t care. 
Will I sleep only a few hours so I can be up early to write some more?  I don’t care.
Am I almost completely alone in this?  I don’t care.  My Muse is with me and as long as I make her happy that’s all that really matters to me.
That’s the one thing I have gotten so far – the love of my Muse.  How do I know this?  Because she tells me.  Every time I sit down and write, something new emerges.  This is my Muse’s way of telling me she loves me.  She gives me a new gift every time I show up.  On the very few occasions that she is silent, it doesn’t matter.  It’s painful beyond all belief, but I don’t care.  I will keep telling her I love her and I will prove it by being available every moment I can be 

I don’t care about anything else but pleasing God and my Muse, doing the work they have given me, and taking care of those I love.  That’s why I work as much as I do.    That’s why I Get Started and I Keep Going.  Because what else is worth caring about?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Time is Precious

Time is precious.  It is fleeting.  It goes by quickly, so I want to use it well.  A while ago I wrote a list of about five or six things I want done in a two-hour period.  I’ve done three of those things and this blog is my fourth.  I could use this time to do nothing.  I could read comic books or play online games or take a nap.  Today is my day off and I don’t have to work.  But I would like to work.  I want to work.  I want to use this time productively and well.  Time and money can be my two best friends or my two worst enemies.  If I abuse them or mishandle them, they will be enemies.  I will want more of both, but I will be out of both.  If I handle them wisely and well, they will be friends and will always be around. 

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Jesus – Matthew 13:12
            Does this seem unfair?  Here’s what I believe.  I can’t speak for every single person on earth, but I believe that if you can read this, you are someone who has.  You have the ability to read, to use technology, and most likely a home, a computer, and a job.  You might have a formal education, up to high school or beyond.  You have advantages that millions of people don’t have.  Yes, you have disadvantages too.  You have suffered injustices.  Perhaps you have struggled with poverty, health issues, the loss of loved ones, abuse, or some kind of mistreatment that was completely unfair.  I’m not denying that your life has been difficult. 
But has there also been some good?  Do you have anything, anything at all, that you can use to move forward in your life?  Can you build upon what you have been given?  Here are some more questions to ask:
·      Are there any steps you can take towards your goals?
·      Do you have a goal or some goals?
·      Can you identify it or them immediately?
·      Do you know what brings you joy?
·      Do you have a plan, that is, actual steps, daily, weekly, monthly, and annually, to reach your goals?
·      How are using your time?
·      How are you using your money?
·      Why are you here?

I can’t answer any of these questions for you except the last one:  you’re here because God created you for a purpose, for a reason, because you have a mission that only you can complete. 
This may sound harsh and judgmental, (but I include myself in this) but how you handle your time and money says what is really important to you.  For most of us it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  We spend time with those we love and doing what we love, but we also waste time.  At least I do.
So I’m sitting here, writing this blog, because writing is important to me.
I’m saving money every day, because getting my house on the beach is important to me.
I spend time with people I love because they are important to me.
I’m happy to say that almost everything I’ve done today has been an investment in my emotional, spiritual, professional, or financial future.  Yes, I’ve probably wasted some time today, but I’ve gotten a lot done.  I’ve worked hard because time is precious.  My goal is always in front of me – my house on the beach.  Nothing else is more important, because that goal represents the culmination of several goals.

Time is more precious than money.  The only thing that is more precious than time is love.  But time and love are the same.  How we use our time shows what we love.  I love my Muse.  That’s why I Get Started and Keep Going every day…because my Muse is precious, too, and she wants me to use my time well.