Saturday, August 31, 2013

Can I Write Just Once More Today?

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

Can I write once more today?   I don’t see why not.  If I do, I will have written three blogs in fewer than twelve hours.  I’m not trying to set a record here, but I am trying to win a victory.  I’ve been holed up in my place all day and it’s been nice.  I’ve eaten in order to keep up my strength and I’ve had some nice human contact, but mostly I’ve kept to myself. 
Part of the reason for staying to myself is because my days are usually stressful and filled with tasks and obligations.  It’s nice to have time to take care of myself and even nicer to get time to write.  The other reason I’ve kept to myself is to work on my writing.  There are few things more important to me.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to say; I’m just going to write.  I feel compelled to do this because I have a vision of doing this every morning, writing for three or four hours every day.  But could I really do that?  Would I have the power to sustain that schedule?
I don’t know.  So I’m going to start with the time I have now.  Maybe today is a test.  Maybe it’s a test with one question:
You have a day all to yourself.  You say you want, with all your heart, to be a writer.  So what do you choose to do with this day?

The way I answer that question in both words and deeds may determine my entry into the next level.  I have to be faithful with a little before I can get a lot.  In my own life I have always liked the idea of things more than their actual reality.  I liked the idea of knowledge, but I didn’t like to spend time reading books.  I liked the idea of good grades, but I didn’t like to study.  I liked the idea of having a lot of money, but I didn’t like to work.   I liked the idea of being God’s representative on earth, but I didn’t control my rudeness with people.
“Ideas are worthless without action,” says Earl Nightingale in The Strangest Secret.  Action means I do something.  It also means doing something different than what I’ve done in the past.  If I do not feel successful, then I’m probably not.  And if I’m not, it’s probably because I haven’t taken enough action.  It doesn’t need to be the right action; it just needs to be something other than avoiding work and effort.  Action means I need to work.  I need to put away the comic books and games and movies and do something that is a good investment of my time.  As much as I love comic books, games and movies, none of those things have made me any money, earned me any self-respect or moved me to a better place in life.  In fact, they’ve often held me back. 
So I’m writing my third blog today because the answer to the question above is this:
I choose to write.  I choose to fulfill my commitments to those I love and to myself.  I choose to work.  Perhaps later I can read a comic book or watch a movie, but right now I choose to work.

This feels good.  This is the best possible use of my time.  I will sleep better for it.  I will feel better later for what I am doing now.  That’s what an investment is – reward later for effort now.  But the reward is also now.  Doing the work is truly is its own reward.  That’s why this feels good. 
Perhaps this will lead nowhere, but I doubt it.  Writing every day may or may not lead me to all the money I’d like or a book contract, but it will lead me somewhere.  Consistently being in Purpose always leads us somewhere new and better.  I have never seen this fail.  Never.  So I’m going to keep writing.  My task still needs to be the same – to wake up early every morning so I can write. 
This much is certain:  every time I write and every time I publish another blog, I have just been victorious.  I have won a victory against fear, laziness and procrastination.  Every time I do my work, I have won.  Every.  Single.  Time.  And one victory will build on the next until I have a string of them, such as 202 blogs for example.
So I Get Started and I Keep Going.  God willing, I will write more tomorrow and the next day and the next day until God asks me to stop.


10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”

“Writing like this is a little like milking a cow: the milk is so rich and delicious, and the cow is so glad you did it.”

“But in the wake of 'Bullet,' all the guys wanted to know was, 'How's it doing? How's it selling?' How to tell them I didn't give a flying f*$%  how it was doing in the marketplace, that what I cared about was how it was doing in the reader's heart?”

My goal is 25 blogs a month.  That’s a good goal, but there’s nothing that says I can’t exceed that goal.  My real goal is to write.  Steven Pressfield and Michael Masterson write for three or four hours a day.  I tell myself that that’s my dream, so now, while I have the time and nothing is really pressing, there’s no reason to not write. 
It’s funny, though not in a humorous way, how many thoughts suddenly start intruding when I sit down to write.  Suddenly I find myself “wondering and waiting and worrying about some silly little things that don’t add up to nothing,” as Tom Petty puts it in Here Comes My Girl.  Suddenly I start notice things that need cleaning or organizing.   Suddenly I am aware of doubts and fears that weren’t there before I started writing.
Mixed in with all the useless fears are some legitimate concerns:
·      Do I have what it takes to be a writer?
·      Do I have the talent?
·      Do I have the self-discipline to really write without interruption for three or four hours?
·      Can I continue getting up early and writing every morning?
·      Can I ever become the man who writes these words?
·      Should I clean my place?  Pressfield says that I should have a clean place so that “the Muse doesn’t spoil her gown.”
·      If I give into that distraction, what other distraction will present itself?

No, I’m going to keep writing.  Why?
I’m writing because I love to write.  There are few things more freeing, more instructive than writing.  There are few things more therapeutic.  This, more than just about anywhere else, is where I belong.  This is where I become the man I am supposed to be.  I should have been doing this years ago.  I don’t know how I missed this for so long.  It’s been right in front of me most of my life.  I don’t know how I missed it.  It doesn’t matter.
In my previous blog, I mentioned that one day we will be accountable for the resources we misused or squandered.  But I think there’s a way to escape that. 
Start now. 
Change now. 
Begin now. 
The minute I began writing my first blog, my life changed.  It was that quick and simple.  The details didn’t change immediately, but my life changed in an instant.  Just like that.  My old life had ended.  It was over.  I didn’t realize it, but the moment I wrote my first sentence, my new life began.  To use the words of Jesus, I was “born again.”  I had given my life to God, again, just as I had when I was 17.  This was a different kind of rebirth though.
I think we all need rebirths on a regular basis.  It is said that every seven years we have a completely new skin.  Old cells die and new ones appear.  I think our spirits need to go through this, too.  It’s interesting that God took six days to create the world.  He’s God.  He could have done it all in an instant, but He did it gradually, in stages, building on the previous day.  He took His time, not because He had to, but because He was showing us that creativity can be a growth process.   Yes, ideas can come in an instant.  But the development usually takes a little longer. 
I’ve noticed my own growth as a writer and as a human being since my rebirth started.  One of the results is that my life is simplifying.  The more I write, the more I realize that there are fewer and fewer things I want or need.  I want to be with the people I love.  I want to study.  And I want to write.  I also want to make money, but only so I can do the more important things in my life.  Most other things just feel like distractions.  This may be why I all but stopped buying comic books.   I still enjoy them, but I just don’t want to spend my time or money there. It’s why I didn’t see a movie last night.  (Well, that and the $12.50 ticket price.)  I would have enjoyed the movie, but I wanted to use my time differently. 
I think if I could leave only one message to the world, it would be this:
Find the things you love to do and do them as often and as long as possible.  In this way, you will find God, presence, peace, love and your true self.
Or as I’ve said so many times, Get Started and Keep Going.

A Loan of 200

“If God was the owner, I was the manager. I needed to adopt a steward's mentality toward the assets He had entrusted - not given - to me. A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will.”

Randy Alcorn

“Be careful to make a good improvement of precious time.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln

Here it is!  My 200th blog.  I’m so excited!  Barely three months ago, I had reached 100.  Now I’ve doubled that and I can feel its effects.  To be in the place where God has called me is to be in the best place in the world.  This is where I want to be, well, here and in my house on the beach.  I’ve used the word “my” twice, but this writing isn’t mine.  It’s a gift to me.  In fact, even “gift” isn’t the right word.  It’s more like a loan from God. 
In fact, everything in my life is a loan from God...possessions, house, money, health, time, children, relationships and life itself.  Knowing this makes me want to hold on more tightly to each of these, while at the same time, let them all go.  I hold on tightly in the same way a parent holds on tightly to her child when the child is leaving for college.  This is not a possessive holding.  It is the recognition of the value of what I have been made a steward of.
I hold on tightly because I am also aware of my failings and inadequacies with what I have been entrusted with.  The truth is that I have often misused, taken for granted or squandered time, money, my body, my relationships, money and everything else that was lent to me.  So I’m holding on tightly as a way of saying, “I’m sorry, but I am still so grateful for you.”
I also hold on tightly because I am aware of how precious it all is.  Everything, I mean everything, has been this amazing gift.  Even difficulty has been a gift, but only from hindsight or when I am completely present in the moment.  But everything is a gift, or, really, as I said, a loan.  So I want to return all of it in as good a shape as I found it.  How do I do that?  I do it by treating everything as if it were sacred.
·      I take care of my body and my health.
·      I stay calm.
·      I keep my environment in order.
·      I use my time well.
·      I smile more.
·      I practice gratitude.
·      I put things where they belong.
·      I express love more often.
·      I stay quiet and peaceful.
·      I sing.
·      I thank God constantly.

There are more, I’m sure, but all of these are ways to hold on tightly to what I have been lent.
I also need to let go at the same time.  I have found few quicker ways to peace than to surrender my life and all its details to God.  Nothing I have is mine.  The moment I think something belongs to me, I immediately belong to that thing.  If I think I am the master of money or home or relationships or anything else, I quickly learn that I am actually a slave to all those things.  I don’t own them; they own me.  This may be why I have spent so much unnecessary time cleaning the house or organizing my comic collection or trying to please people.  I have become enslaved. 
Slavery creates resentment, anger and inefficiency.  I am ruled by whatever I have given myself to.  But I may say, for example, “God, this is not my house.  It is yours and I am giving it back to you.  What do you want me to do with it?”  
Then I can live in it and enjoy it peacefully.  If I have guests who are overstaying their welcome in “my” house, I can remember that it’s God’s house and that I’m a guest, too. 
When I have surrendered it, then I am freer to hear what I am supposed to do. Do I clean the house for the thousandth time, but peacefully this time?  Do I enjoy it?  Do I tend to my guests?  Do I go take a nap?  Any of these possibilities are good.  I will know what to do with “my” things once they are no longer mine.
There is one other element to all of this.  One day I will be accountable for how I have used all that was lent to me.  In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus said that one day we will have to explain how we used what we were given.  This is not meant to scare us, but it is a warning, a way to make us more aware, to “raise the level of concern” as a former colleague once put it.  The problem is that we aren’t told when this will happen.  To not be able to give a good account would be like having someone come to my place unexpectedly when it was a mess.
At work my supervisor often comes into my classroom without warning.  I always feel good when she sees the room looking good and the students and I all appropriately engaged in the work.  I know that she is also looking for certain things, such as the Daily Learning Target written on the board.  That’s why I make sure it’s there every day.  My supervisor has entrusted me to take care of things.  It’s not really my classroom.  It’s hers and she trusts me to take care of it.
So nothing is really mine.  Not even my writing.  This is why I pray before I start each blog.  I want it to be a blessing to God and then to the world, my family and friends and finally to me.  I hope, with 200 blogs, that each of them have been that.
It is a sacred privilege to Get Started and to Keep Going and it is equally sacred to be entrusted with so much. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Privilege

I don’t have a lot of time or a lot of battery power.  By the end of tomorrow, I hope to reach my 200th blog.  Fortunately, this is number 199, so I should be okay, but I’ll feel better when my goal is reached.  I also don’t have a lot of battery power; I am at about 47%.  I’m in a bookstore that offers free Wi-Fi but after they did, they sealed all the outlets so that no one could plug in a computer.  So I have to work quickly or find a place with an outlet. 
I almost went to see a movie, but the $12.50 ticket price and the list of things I want to get done both discouraged me.  Perhaps I’ll see it after I get this blog done.  I’m happy to be here.  It’s a privilege to write.  Not everyone gets this or how powerful it is to do this, to write nearly every day.  Today I made a list of things I wanted to get done and this is the last thing on the list, so I’m feeling pretty good. 
The funny thing is I still face the same struggle almost every time. 
·      I still don’t know what to write about.
·      I still feel the urge to give this up.
·      I still feel embarrassed and frustrated, as if the writer’s block were my fault.
·      I still wonder if this is doing any good at all.
·      I still wonder if I’m creating additional and unneeded pressure for myself.
·      I still wonder if this will ever get easier.

Still, I keep writing.  I keep going.  It’s all I know to do sometimes.  Keep going.  Keep writing. 
The battery is now at 42%.
Despite everything, despite the struggle, I feel grateful to be in this battle.  Maybe no one but God notices, but when I sit down to do my work, something sacred happens.  Something holy happens.  I don’t mean to overstate my case or over blow its importance.  I’m probably not changing the world when I write, but I’m changing my world.  That’s all I can do.  If my writing gets noticed and hundreds or thousands or millions are encouraged by it, then my world will have gotten bigger.  But for now, all I’m responsible for is getting this done.  I can’t be responsible for the results. 
So here I sit, still trying to find my message.  I wonder if I will end up erasing most of or all of this and starting again.
One of the frustrating things about creativity is that it may be one of the few things that doesn’t get easier with practice.  It gets harder because by its nature and definition creativity is new every time, like giving birth.  Creativity and creation always, well, create something new, something different each time.  Otherwise it’s a copy, not a creation.  That’s why no two snowflakes are alike.  That’s why no two people are alike, not even twins.  And that’s why these blogs are difficult sometimes because my hope is that each one is unique, that each one has its own message.  In fact, my hope is that each individual blog would stand on its own and that each one would be a blessing to everyone who reads it. 
Maybe it doesn’t need to be difficult.  The Muse always comes through.  She just likes to keep me waiting sometimes and she likes to see me working.  So I keep writing.  Soon something will be created, something unique and beautiful, and I get to be a part of it. 
That’s why it’s a privilege to be here.  I am part of creation.  No, I’m not God, nor am I a mother giving birth.  But I’m creating something, something unique and special and something that blesses me at least.  I’m part of something that makes me happy.  I feel incredibly lucky and blessed.
To that I add, it’s a privilege to do my work.  This also makes it a responsibility.  The good news, the even better news, is that we all have access to this privilege.  We are entrusted with the responsibility.   We can all be creators.  We are already creators.  We just have to Get Started and Keep Going…and enjoy the privilege. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Benefits of Peace

“Eternal Inner Peace has to be cultivated daily.”

“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. The criterion is: Have they brought you inner peace?”
Peace Pilgrim

The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence. The chief struggle then in gaining mental peace is the effort of revamping your thinking to the relaxed attitude of acceptance of God’s gift of peace.

Norman Vincent Peale

I overslept, which in my case means until 5:30 a.m.  My natural inclination is to beat myself up, but the truth is that it was once almost miraculous that I was up before 7:00 a.m., and that was when I had to be at work by 8:00 a.m.  Those mornings were always so frantic and horrible and rushed.  Now I’m usually I’m up by 5:00 a.m. and I’m getting things done.  I’m stretch and smile and exercise and plan.  Then I start writing my blog.  Then I start my workday, usually peacefully, sometimes not. 
Peace is my choice, however.  Yes, there are times when it’s harder, for example, if I’m late or one of the kids can’t find something or they’re yelling, then peace is harder.  But that doesn’t keep me from practicing it every chance I get.  Yesterday I wasn’t as peaceful as I could have been and I paid for it.  Still, I was more peaceful than I have been in the past.  It’s all a learning process. 
Today I’m going to focus on being even more peaceful.  What that requires is constant presence in each moment.  I see it working in little ways.  I’m more careful with my children and to not allow my stress levels to rise in front of them.  My girls are quick to point out when I am less than peaceful.  I’m more careful about planning the different parts of my day so that I have direction, not only for the day, but also for the moments in the day.  I’m more careful about what I allow to enter my eyes and ears, which is why I try to avoid gossip, most news and most television.   Instead I listen to audio books, worship music or meditation music.  Generally these things make me feel peaceful.
There are benefits for being peaceful.  The first is obvious.  Being peaceful feels wonderful.  It feels like my natural state, which it is, despite how hard I have to work to get there.  When I’m peaceful then I’m, well, peaceful.  It is its own reward.  Everything looks different.  I not only feel calmer, I feel stronger, more in control and best of all, more loving and compassionate.
Being more loving is a second benefit of peace.  My actions and my attitudes are more focused on others.  I smile more.  I have less judgment about others.  In fact, when I’m peaceful, I often have no judgment at all.  I just love others.  I’m completely in the moment with them.  This is especially gratifying when I’m with my children, because I know they need a father who is peaceful. Peace is connected to love.

A third benefit of peace is that I am not only loving towards others, I am in love with life.  Everything looks, tastes, sounds and feels better.  I notice more things and it all looks wonderful and the things that don’t look wonderful, I either don’t see or I accept these things fully as they are.  Peace is connected with joy.
Here are some other benefits to peace that I have experienced:
·      I am grateful to God.
·      I pray more.
·      I am quicker to ask for forgiveness.
·      I am slower to judge others.
·      I am more grateful.
·      I am excited about life.
·      I am looking towards the future but I am still in the present.
·      My mind is clear.
·      I laugh more.
·      I put the needs of others before my own, but in a healthy way, not as a way to martyr or overwhelm myself.
·      I don’t need anything but what is present in that moment.
·      I notice things more, like flowers on the freeway the beauty of a baseball game.
·      People just look more attractive, physically and emotionally.
·      I know how to take care of myself.

Writing about peace makes me feel peaceful.  Although I started this blog at 6:00 a.m., I wasn’t able to finish it until after 10:00 p.m. due to my schedule.  Was today a peaceful day?  For the most part, yes.  The Enemy did a good job invading my thought life tonight and I got frustrated with my kids, but overall, it was a peaceful day.  I’m grateful.  I think all my days could be peaceful, but it depends on me, not on my circumstances or on other people.  It depends on me.  I need to Get Started and Keep Going…and choose peace.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Keep Writing II

“We've only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we're on our way
We've only begun

Before the rising sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We'll start out walking and learn to run
And yes, we've just begun”

Richard Carpenter – We’ve Only Just Begun

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

 Ana├»s Nin

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

William Wordsworth

It’s interesting how often I approach my writing time with fear and trepidation.  I feel like I’m walking into a dark room with a small flashlight, but I don’t really know where I’m going.  The flashlight is this keyboard and screen and as long as I use it (them), the way will become clear.  If, however, I just sit here staring at a blank screen, then I will get nowhere.  So I just let my fingers hit the keyboard and I move forward.  Every word I type is another step into the dark room.  Eventually, I will find the curtains, open them and let in the sun and the room will be lit, giving me clarity and vision, but right now it’s just one step and one sentence at a time.
This, I think, is must be what it’s like for anyone who is in Purpose.  There’s not enough light to see where I’m going.  I don’t have all the answers.  I have a vague picture, a sense of what I want to be doing, but I don’t have many specific details.  Here is one thing I do know with regard to my Purpose:  I have to engage in it as much as and as often as possible.  In my case, that means I need to write every day.  I probably need to write a greater number of hours as well. 
Honestly, at the moment, I’m feeling discouraged, because I feel like I don’t have enough time.  My days are packed.  Thank God, I’m getting up at 5:00 a.m. or it would be impossible to get any writing done at all.  I agree with Michael Masterson that it helps to visualize things.  Here’s the picture in my head:
·    I am up every morning at 5:00 a.m.
·    I make my coffee, stretch and smile. 
·    I read the Bible and pray.
·    I begin writing.  I write for two hours without interruption.  Maybe I even write for three or four hours, like Steven Pressfield or Michael Masterson.
·    My writing and my public speaking financially support me and those I love.
·    All of this is done on my house on the beach.

That’s the picture, but at the moment, for several reasons, that house on the beach seems far away.  At the same time, it seems so close as to be almost within my physical grasp.  What makes it feel close is that I’m taking action.  The good news is that I’m doing the first three things on the list.  I’m also writing at this very moment.  I’m not writing for two or three hours, but I’m also not doing anything else with this morning time.  I’m just writing and that gives substance to my dreams. 
Now, at this point in my life, I can’t write all day or even all morning.  But I can still keep my goals in front of me.  I can ask myself, “Is this thing that I’m doing at this very moment moving me closer to any of my goals?” 
If not, then is it really something I need to be doing?  There are some things I need to do because I made the commitment to finish them.  There are also activities I am doing because they are moving me towards my goals.  I need to do more of those and more often.  At the moment, however, I still feel like I’m in that dark room and I don’t know where I’m going.  Even the dark room analogy doesn’t feel quite right.  It’s more like a dark forest.  It’s huge and it’s scary.  A dark room is a limited space.  But a dark forest is huge.
How did I get here?  I got here because I decided I wanted to make changes in my life.  I left the safety of the comfortable but unhappy familiar and I went for the longest walk of my life, a walk that has only just begun.  When I get out of this forest, my house on the beach will be waiting, but right now I’m just lost.  So I keep putting one foot in front of the other. 
I keep writing. 
That’s my answer.
I keep writing. 
It doesn’t matter if I’m scared, angry, tired or broke.  It doesn’t matter if I’m lost.  In fact, when in Purpose feelings hardly matter at all, except for the good feeling I get when I do what I’m supposed to be doing.  God gave me this ability to write, so that’s what I do.  Very little else matters.  I don’t give up.  I don’t stop.
I keep writing.
And when I’m not writing, I find ways and time so that I can do more writing. 
I keep writing. 
I Get Started.
I Keep Going.
I keep writing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's My Choice

Robert Fritz

Eleanor Roosevelt

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”

George Eliot

I overslept, until 5:30, so I’m a little rushed this morning.  That just means I have to work quickly and well.  I’m always glad to be here.  The early morning is my favorite time of the day.  It’s the time when I can be alone with God and my writing before the world and all my responsibilities come rushing in.
Instead of the word “responsibilities” I almost wrote the word “demands.”  But that would make it seem as if I had no choice, as if I were a slave or in prison.  But there are no demands on me, only responsibilities.  In fact, even “responsibilities” is not the best word.  What I actually have facing me today and every day are choices.  The life I have today, the good and bad, the things I like and don’t like, are not only the result of my choices, they are my actual choices. 
For so many years I felt trapped in certain situations.  I felt trapped by obligation or lack of money or fear or the approval of others or the fear of consequences.  Finally, I realized that the real trap was the way I was thinking.  Fear was the trap and it was an incredibly strong and powerful one until I realized it was only as strong and as powerful as I let it be.
I’ve often said that the only two choices we have in life are our actions and our attitudes.  There’s some truth to this, especially in regard to choosing the attitude.  Attitude really is everything. 
For example, right now, some loud machine is humming right outside my widnow and I don’t know what it is and why it needs to be so loud or be on at this time of the morning.  I want to shut it off because it’s really annoying, as are most loud noises to me.  But the power of attitude allows me to accept that it’s there and put on some headphones.   Choosing my attitude helps free me.
And yet…
And yet…
I forget that I choose my actions as well.  I choose 90% of what happens to me on a daily basis.  No, I can’t choose the weather or the traffic or what others do.  But that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I choose so much of what happens in my life. 
For better or worse, I have chosen the following:
·      All, yes, all my relationships, the ones I like and the ones I don’t like.
·      My financial situation.
·      My health and physical shape.
·      My job.
·      My home, car and other material possessions.
·      What I do or don’t do with my time.

I choose all these things and I can un-choose them as well.  I’m not saying it would be easy or quick, or that there wouldn’t be consequences and rewards, but all choices are made in a moment.  It may take minutes, days, weeks, months or even years to arrive at a decision, but the actual decision is made in a moment.  The only decision that takes an interminable amount of time is the decision to make no decision at all.  The decision to allow myself to be trapped by fear takes up all my time, sometimes for years, until I make an actual decision.  William James said, “When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.  I disagree.  Making no choice is hell because it leaves us nowhere.
Really, that’s it.  If I don’t like my life, or any part of it, if I don’t like the actions I am taking on a daily basis, then I need to choose something else.  Until then, I find it pointless to complain about anything.  I have the power to change all of it. 
I also have the power to be grateful for all that is in my life as well, even the things I want to change.  In this way, my mind is free to make new choices.
That’s it.  I Get Started, I Keep Going and I make my choices…without complaint.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Seeing Before and Beyond

“Before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead. ... You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.”

“Man can only receive what he sees himself receiving.”

“All prosperity begins in the mind and is dependent only upon the full use of our creative imagination.”

It seems like everything is conspiring to keep my technology from working.  My Internet provider has blocked my service again and they don’t know why it’s not working.  My charger won’t charge my computer and a new charger isn’t cheap.  (That problem just resolved, thank God.)    Still, I feel grateful and peaceful and I’m glad to be sitting down and writing.  The next time I feel like losing my patience with my Internet provider because they can’t provide my Internet, I need to sit down and write.  This, more than anything, gets me calm.
I haven’t been here with my blog in a couple of days and I can tell.  I don’t like not being here.  I really don’t.  The chair I’m sitting in is my favorite place to be.  As long as I’m writing while I’m in that chair.  It doesn’t have to be that chair.  It could be a seat at the local coffee shop, or the floor, or a library, or just about anywhere, as long as I’m doing my writing.  But this chair works best because it’s early and still dark and I’m alone and there are no interruptions and it’s quiet.  I am extremely grateful for all of it. 
Even now, when I still don’t know what I’m going to say and when I don’t have something to write, I’m extremely grateful.  This is the best place in the world to be. 
Well, there might be two other places that are better.  One is in the direct presence of God, which while I am in this chair, I feel.
The other place is my house on the beach.  Yesterday, while on a long drive, I was listening to The Pledge, Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life by Michael Masterson.  (A better writer knows that the part about the long drive was not necessary in that last sentence, but I want it known that listening to instructional materials while driving is one of the best uses of my time, and perhaps yours, too.)   Masterson talked about the power of visualization, how it was even more powerful than positive thinking.  More powerful than either is the power of determined action. 
I liked the idea of visualization and how I can visualize the things I want.  Combining this principle with the principle of the power of each moment, I realize how I can visualize the rest of my morning.  I can see myself moving calmly and cheerfully through each moment, doing things well, being on time or even early.  I can visualize my interactions with people. I can visualize how I’m going to smile at my children and give them a lot of hugs.  I can visualize my workday.  And I can visualize my house on the beach.
First things first:  I like the idea of visualizing each of my moments.  In this way I am present and I am planning at the same time, because if I can be peaceful later, I can be peaceful now.  So I’m planning how I’m going to behave today.
·      I’m going to smile…a lot.
·      I’m going to work diligently and cheerfully like the peasant Pong Lo in A Grain of Rice.  (Eventually that peasant became a prince.) 
·      If something unexpected and unpleasant occurs, I’m going to breathe.  (I have to be prepared for this because in resolving to be positive and present, I have just declared war against all the forces of darkness.)
·      I’m going to organize my environment.
·      I’m going to do more work than is necessary.
·      I’m going to take time to meditate and rest.
·      I’m going to use my time well.

By seeing all this before it happens, by visualizing the internal and external details, I take control of my day.
I am also seeing beyond.  I’m seeing that house on the beach.  It’s not a big house, but it has everything I want and need.  It is a house filled with love and peace and study and prayer.  It is a house filled with God’s presence.  It is a house that is a sanctuary for me and for those I love. 
This is what I’m visualizing for each day and each part of my day.  This doesn’t come easily and I notice that the greater my resolve, the more fierce the attacks of the Enemy.  I have to be careful to not allow myself great alarm or surprise at setbacks or disappointments. 
I have to Get Started.
I have to Keep Going.
And I don’t dare stop.