Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten of My Favorite Comic Book Covers

And now for something completely different.  Nothing about Purpose. I'm not going to remind you to Get Started or to Keep Going. (Oops!)  I'm just having some fun with a life-long hobby.   These are ten of my favorite comic book covers.   Enjoy.

10.  At the time, nothing like this had ever been done before.    This short-lived series, four issues, was Gil Kane’s finest work.

9.  This is the first use of a solid black background with one of the most striking images I've ever seen in comic books.

8.  Another solid black background by John Buscema, this time with even the heroes in black.  This is one of the reasons why the Avengers, the very concept of the Avengers, was and still is my favorite.

Avengers 49 - Mine Is The Power - Marvel Comics Group - 49 - February - The Flash - John Buscema

7.  Daredevil.  Gene Colan.  What else need be said?  I could have chosen any of them, but I'm a sucker for city lights.

Daredevil 44 - The Man Without Fear - I Murderer - Marvel - Buildings - In Air - Gene Colan

6.  I don't know why I like this cover so much.  It might be because I like Captain America, the Scorpion and Gene Colan artwork.


5. I just loved the Creeper, before they made him demonic and crazy.

Beware the Creeper v1 #4 dc comic book cover art by Steve Ditko

4.  Take a nominal character with an okay costume, and make a great cover.

  All-Star Squadron #41

3.  A very bad guy on a very good cover.  And all the planets in the background make it even better.

Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (v1)

2.  Exploding characters and flying superheroes...

Champions, Vol. 1 (Marvel) #8
1. Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) flying silently in space...  My all-time favorite cover...

Captain Marvel 37

This was fun and I'm sure I'll have another ten in the very near future...

A List of Things to Remember

I really, really want to produce. That's the top of my to-do list.

Lauren Conrad

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own 'to do' list.

Michelle Obama

Here is a list of things I need to remember on a regular basis:
  1. Life is hard, but it’s good, too.
  2. I’ve had a lot of blessings in my life.
  3. I’m very blessed to be able to write.
  4. I’m thrilled that every time I write, I have something new to say.
  5. I’m thrilled that there are so many different ways to get my message across to the world.
  6. I’m grateful for my health.
  7. Marcus Aurelius was right when he said that it’s not the thing that’s good or bad, but our perception of the thing that makes it good or bad.
  8. Every time I write or do a radio show or do anything that aligns with my purpose, I feel like I’m getting a free therapy session.
  9. Every time I study, I feel like a giant.
  10. In less than one year, God willing, I will have written 500 blogs.
  11. In fewer than two years, I will have my cottage on the beach.
  12. Sometimes when I’m writing I mix up the words “write” and “right.”  Maybe that’s because it feels right to write.
  13. There really is no substitute for action.
  14. I’m doing things in my life I never thought I could do.
  15. The five most precious gifts I have ever been given are
    • My children
    • My health
    • Life
    • Time
    • This moment

  1. The intellect God gave me does not make me feel superior.  Rather, it humbles me, because I know I am responsible to use it wisely and well.
  2. A cup of coffee at night, after dinner, is a real treat.
  3. When I save money, I feel powerful.
  4. I am so grateful that I have the choice to take action and feel better than to take no action and feel bad.
  5. I’m really grateful for my hearing.
  6. I’m grateful for my ability to read.  That has changed my life.
  7. I’m grateful that not only every day, but also every moment, is a chance to start over, to create a new life.
  8. “A real writer doesn’t just want to write; a real writer has to write.”  Unknown
  9. The gifts I have been giving are the most amazing gifts in the world.  So are everyone else’s gifts.
  10. There are people who have hurt me or left me when they shouldn’t have.  There are far more many people who have loved me and stuck with me when they shouldn’t have.
  11. Tomorrow I’m going to work on getting one of my books published.
  12. If I stop expecting to be perfect, I’m going to be a lot better.
  13. Nothing makes me more tired than hard work, except avoiding hard work.
  14. I just want to make a positive difference in this world.
  15. I want to live for a long time so I can do a lot of good, but in case I go sooner than I hope, I’d better Get Started now.
  16. The best way to redeem the past is to change the present.
  17. I love flowers, but the lily is my favorite.
  18. I love seasons, but summer is my favorite, especially the summer nights after a hot day.
  19. I love my blogs, but this one is my favorite…or one of them anyway.
  20. I’m grateful for this time of healing.
  21. I’m grateful for all the times God rescued me by sending me an unexpected phone call or message from a friend at just the right moment.
  22. I’m grateful to you for reading this.
  23. It’s time to Get Started and Keep Going.  It always is.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Every Blessing..."

“Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.”

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”

Well, I’ve reached my monthly goal, so I don’t need to write today or tomorrow.   That’s the small picture.  The big picture is I got some unexpected free time today and while there are many ways I can use it, I am choosing to write.  Why?
·      It’s part of my purpose.
·      I need the practice.
·      It’s fun.
·      It makes me feel peaceful.
·      It’s a privilege to do so.
·      I like watching what happens.  Even I don’t know what the results will be. 
·      It’s nice to do more than is expected of me.
·      I just like doing it.

So maybe I won’t even publish this blog.  Or maybe I will.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m just going to write until I’m done.  This really is fun.  By the end of the calendar year, if all goes according to plan, I will have written 300 blogs.  I’m not saying that to brag.  I’m saying that because it’s true.  I’m also saying it because I’m amazed.  I’ve never produced this much work in my life, with the exception perhaps of the 600 or so resumes I’ve written.  But this is different because I was doing the resumes as part of my job or because I was being paid.  Neither is the case here. 
The reason I write is love. 
·      I love the writing.   Sometimes when I read one of my blogs, I feel happy and amazed that I did that.  I also feel encouraged because my work is encouraging.
·      I love how it is changing me.  Writing gives me courage I didn’t know I had.  This sounds silly, but I was afraid to be courageous.  I knew being courageous would change me.  Now, I’m afraid not to be, because I don’t want to be the same person I was.
·      I love the feeling that I’m using my time constructively.  I know there are other things I could be doing, but when I look back, I will be glad I did this.  I like the idea of being able to look back on this time and feel good about myself.

So, although the day is warm and beautiful, I’m happy to sit alone inside and do this work. My ultimate goal is to do this every day and make a good living at it.  But I can’t just talk about “someday.”   Today is that “someday.”  Today may be the only day, the only chance, I get.  So I have to use today wisely.  If I don’t I delay the blessings that are meant for me by doing my work.  If I delay my blessings for too long, I might become like the crystal merchant in The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, who talks and dreams about going to Mecca, but knows that he will never actually go.  Talking to the shepherd boy, the merchant says,
You’ve been a real blessing to me.  Today I understand something I didn’t see before:  every blessing ignored becomes a curse.  I don’t want anything else in life, but you are forcing me to look at wealth and the horizons I have never known.  Now that I have seen them, and now that I have seen how immense my possibilities are, I’m going to feel worse than I did before you arrived.  Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish and I don’t want to do so.”

“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”  What a powerful and frightening insight.  I cannot ignore the blessings of my gifts and of all I’ve been given.  I have to write.  I have to study.  Otherwise, my mind will become a curse to me.  It will constantly remind me that I am not reaching my potential and it will not forgive me.  I think this is the reason I have often felt bad about my lack of self-discipline in school.  My studies became a curse and my grades often showed it.  Worse than my grades was the knowledge that I could have done better. 
What other blessings am I ignoring? 
Am taking care of my body? 
Am I being loving to those around me? 
Am I reading the books I have? 
Am I doing my best at my job? 
Is my environment clean and organized? 
Am I being cautious with my money?
Am I doing my best at each moment?
Am I being grateful for all the blessings I’ve been given?

“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”  What a powerful insight.  And I wouldn’t have even seen it if I hadn’t taken this time to write.  What could have been a curse became a blessing, because I got in my Purpose, because I decided to Get Started and to Keep Going. 
What, dear reader, is your blessing?  Please.  Don’t ignore it.  Get Started and Keep Going.  Make the world a better place.  Make your world a better place.  Go.

Purpose and the RIght Path

One of my teachers once said that the way you know you're on the right path is that it works. Now, that doesn't mean you don't run into blocks and brick walls, but it does mean that you can find a way around them or find a way to change yourself or your project in order to find the flow again and have it work.

James Redfield

I'm very aware and very conscious of the path I chose in life, and very aware of the path I didn't choose.

Taylor Swift

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

Bill Bradley

This is it.   My monthly goal has been reached. I really don’t need to write today in order to reach my goal (I could write tomorrow), but I do need to write because, well, I just need to write.  I’m feeling gratitude.   Yesterday was a nice day and I’m extremely grateful.  I’m also grateful that when I’m done here, I will have written 25 blogs this month and over 225 since I started this.
One of the best things about this work is reading some of my previous blogs and sincerely enjoying them.  I am reminded that this is what I want to do with my time and life.  This is how I can best spend my time and my life, right here with my keyboard or with pen and paper.  I’m so grateful that I’ve been given this task, this gift.  I pray that I will be more faithful and more diligent with it.  This really is my dream, to do this as much as possible.
Is it a realistic dream?   Yes.  Do I know for sure I would be happy writing all the time?  I think so.  I’m always a little cautious when pursuing dreams because there was one I pursued for almost 15 years and when I finally attained it, it turned out to be disastrous.  I dreamed of being an elementary school teacher, but the fantasy far exceeded the reality. I’m not the first person to pursue the wrong career and I won’t be the last. Could I have avoided all the pain and unhappiness and wasted years?  Were there signs that I missed?
I think there are a few questions that tell us if we’re on the right path or not, whether regarding a career, a relationship or other major decisions. 
·      Is it fun?
·      Am I enjoying the process of getting there as much as the thought of being there?
·      Am I putting in the necessary amount of time and preparation?
·      When I’m engaged in the activity, do I feel successful?
·      When I’m engaged in the activity, do I feel peaceful?
·      When I’m engaged in the activity, do I lose all track of time?
·      When I’m engaged in the activity, am I improving naturally?
·      What are others saying about my work?  Am I being affirmed in my choices?
·      If this were my only choice, would I be happy about that?

Not all of these questions may necessarily be answered affirmatively and none of them all the time.  However, if the majority of my experiences with my endeavor and the majority of my feelings are positive, then I’m probably on the right track. 
(The beauty of writing on the computer is that I can erase and start over.  When I was writing this blog, I was writing about all the negative experiences I had before, during and after getting my teaching credential.  But it was painful and unnecessary to relive that episode.  So instead, I’d like to look at those questions with regard to eventually pursuing writing full time.)   
Looking at each of the questions above, I can easily and without reservation answer yes to all of them.  This doesn’t mean I don’t have my difficulties or bad days or setbacks, but they are always the exception and never the rule.  When I made other choices, good days were the exception.   When I'm on the right path, the only bad days I have are when I feel deterred in reaching my goals by others or by me.  I also have bad days when I feel like the prospect of reaching my goals is doubtful.  Then I get scared.  When, however, I’m fully engaged in my goal, I’m happy, excited and there is little or no doubt that I’m on the right path.  I’ve also learned that the more focused and diligent I am with my goals, the sooner my doubts fade.
Here’s a question I haven’t asked in a long time:  What does all this have to do with Purpose?  The answer is, “Everything, obviously.”
Whether I’m talking about buying a house on the beach, going to college, planning a vacation, being in a ministry, starting a business or pursuing a new career, I should find joy, power and peace in what I’m doing, because it aligns with my Purpose.  It is part of the reason I was created.  It is the reason and the motivation to Get Started and to Keep Going…on the right path.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Because I Said I Would

James Womack

It’s ironic that one of my radio show episodes is called, “Good Morning,” because this morning wasn’t as good as I would have liked.  It could have been worse, but I woke up with the worst case of vertigo I’ve had in a long time.  Fortunately I got prayer and support.   Part of the reason for my vertigo may have been stress.  I was very worried about a meeting I had today.  In fact, I was so worried that before the meeting started I thought I was going to be sick in the waiting area.  Then suddenly a call came and it was the right person at the right time and within minutes I was feeling better and able to be productive in the meeting.
Part of the reason I write is so that I can see, on a regular basis, the man I want to be.   The man I am is not a bad guy, but he gets stressed a little too much.  So, every day, I write so I can remind myself of who I am and who I want to be.
In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson discusses relationships and says, “A holy relationship starts with a different premise.  Each one has looked within and seen no lack.  Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself.” 
Writing makes me feel whole.
Another reason I write is because I find it therapeutic.  I can express whatever thoughts and feelings I want and people can read them or not.  It doesn’t matter though, because I’m writing for me.  Writing has been healing.  I’ve made more forward movement in the last five months than I have in the last five years.  I think a big part of the reason for this is because I took control of one area of my life and that created control in other areas.
This is why Purpose is so important to me.  As I’ve said before, the Purpose of Purpose is love.  But where does this love come from and where does it go?  It comes from us and it goes out to our immediate world or to the world at large.  But it also comes from God.  It’s not only God’s gift in us, it’s God’s gift for us.
So I write.  And I realize that I have to write almost every day.  Without it, I don’t do as well.  I don’t necessarily have to write a blog every day; I can write in my journal.  But I do need to write every day.  I’m also convinced of this:  Writing is a part of my purpose, so the more I do it, the more connected to God I feel. 
I also do this because I said I would.  Even at this moment when I feel like I don’t have a lot to say, it feels good to write.  It feels good to produce something.  In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says he writes for about four hours every day.  Then he says,
“How many pages have I produced?  I don’t care.  Are they any good?  I don’t even think about it.  All that matter is that I’ve put it in my time and hit with all I’ve got.  All that counts is that for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.”

So that’s what I have to do.  I have to put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got.  I can’t allow myself to be distracted.  I just need to write.  I’ll be honest here:  It’s easy to get distracted when I’m writing.  I have no one to answer to but me.  I can do this at my own pace.  I can go as quickly or as slowly as I want.  The challenge, and here’s where the real growth comes, is in giving it all I’ve got.  Specifically for me, that means not looking at Facebook or playing a game during my writing time.  This is a point of growth for me.  Recognizing it is also a point of growth.  Changing it is the truest point of growth.
Really, I feel like I don’t have much to say tonight.  I’m writing because I said I would.  Maybe this will be my worst blog ever, but I don’t care. At least I’ve done my work.  At least I’ve hit it with all I’ve got.  Even though I’m tired and started the day off being sick, I’m glad I did this.  I’m glad I wrote one more time.  I’m glad I remembered to Get Started and Keep Going.  I hope it encourages you to be in your Purpose.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Worse Than Failure

“Rule of thumb:  The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Steven Pressfield – The War of Art

No matter what, I’m going to sit here and finish this blog tonight.  I’m going to start it and finish it.  The quote above by Pressfield accurately describes my state of being.  I have put up a lot of resistance to doing my work today.  I’m not sure why.  I suppose the Enemy is just doing its job.  Now it’s time to do mine.  So I’m going to sit here and write.  Then I’m going to read and study.  These things are my calling.  Here are some other things in my agenda.  Within the next two years I’m going to do the following:
·     Buy my cottage on the beach.
·     Publish at least three books.
·     Have 500 blogs written.
·     Write 300 pages of study notes on whatever I’m reading at the time.
·     Have at least $50,000 in savings.

I have a lot to do and I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish these things.  Perhaps it is even foolish and shortsighted to declare them publicly.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I could fail.  Spectacularly.  But there’s something worse than failure.  It’s not attempting.  I’ve “not attempted” far more many times than I’ve failed.  In fact, I don’t even have a good list of failures.  Mostly, I’ve just not attempted.  Here’s the thing.  I rarely fail.  Honestly.   I rarely fail.  I’ve been successful in most things to which I’ve given my best efforts.  But I have not attempted, not done my best, so many times.  I can’t even call those failures, because the word “fail” implies some sort of attempt.   When I was in elementary school, I almost failed the 1st, 4th and 7th grades.  I got F’s all three of those years.  But the problem wasn’t that I didn’t understand the work; the problem was that I wasn’t doing the work.
I have visited this theme repeatedly.  That might be because it affected my life repeatedly. 
Really, and this is not an original thought, there is no failure if there is an honest, full-hearted attempt.  If I don’t get the desired results, I have two choices:
1.     Try harder or differently, but try again and again and again.
2.     Let it go.

By letting it go, I am not saying give up in abject defeat.  Rather, make the decision that there are other and more productive ways to spend time.  Deciding that I am pursuing the wrong course is retreat, but it is not surrender.  Retreat means I go back and decide on a more effective way to fight.  Surrender means I quit.  In my career, for example, I retreated from elementary education and came back fighting as an adult education teacher and then a career coach. 
Right now I want to surrender to sleep.  If I do, then this blog may not get finished. So I’m blasting music to keep me going.  I just don’t want to surrender.  I don’t want to give the Enemy any more foothold in my work. 
I don’t know why, but what I’m doing is important. 
Maybe no one is even reading it. 
Maybe what I’m writing is pointless or maybe it’s junk. 
Maybe it’s only important to me, though I don’t think so. 
I don’t care.  
I have to finish. 
I have to write. 
This is that important to my soul’s evolution. 
I don’t even know why. 
I just have to do this. 
Maybe this is what each of us goes through when we answer our calling.  Maybe everyone suddenly gets tired or distracted or starts feeling guilty over other things we “should” be doing.  Maybe the shelves suddenly need rearranging or the dog urgently needs to be washed, though those weren’t problems before I sat down to write or study.
Besides all that, I deal with fear every single time I sit down to write.  I worry that my message isn’t fresh or that I’m not saying anything new or different.  Fortunately, I have two answers to that:
1.     Someone needs to be reminded of purpose every day, even if that someone is only me.
2.     I don’t care.  I’m here to write, not make friends or even gain an audience.  If I get an audience, great.  If not, I don’t care.  I only care about the writing.  I only care about making the attempt.
My fatigue is starting to go away.  Not coincidentally, I’m almost done with this blog.  I remember to Get Started and to Keep Going.  I feel stronger and cleaner and clearer.  I made the attempt.  My battle is over...until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Simplicity and Purpose

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”   

Thoreau, Henry David

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

The simplest things are often the truest.

Richard Bach

I’m going to try again.  I tried writing a blog, but I didn’t like where it was going.  Maybe I’ll go back to it or maybe I’ll delete it.  It’s been an emotionally trying day, but at the end of it I made a good decision to go home early and not go out.  I’m glad I did.  I think it’s important to take care of oneself, especially when going through difficulties.  And when aren’t we going through difficulties?
The problem often is we go through difficulties without taking care of ourselves.  Or the way we take care of ourselves is not appropriate.  We eat the wrong foods, watch too much television, don’t get enough sleep and smoke or drink too much.
For me there are several ways of taking care of myself.
·      Meditation
·      Studying
·      Prayer
·      Exercise
·      Spending time with people I love
·      Writing
·      Reading

And, yes, I take in the occasional movie, TV show or a stack of comic books with a big bowl of popcorn.  I laugh with my daughters or I think about my house on the beach.  I play an online game.  And I try to do at least one of these things every day, because life can be stressful every day.
For a country that spends so much time and money on leisure, most people I know don’t seem very relaxed.  Tonight I had a chance to go to a meeting and see some friends, but I knew the meeting would be intense because that is the nature of these get-togethers.  I didn’t want intense.  And I didn’t want to make the long drive.  So I went home.  I took care of myself.  I started writing.  I meditated.  I put on some restful music.  I worked on this blog.  All of these things are far more relaxing than my original plans. 
“Simplify.  Simplify. Simplify,” said Thoreau. 
I see nothing wrong with this.  There is a whole cottage industry based on the idea of simplification, including books and magazines.  I think it’s important to not only simplify one’s physical environment, but also one’s emotional environment.  I have trouble with the physical environment sometimes.  My car is usually a mess and I know I have way too many things.  I am, however, getting better at simplifying my emotional environment.  Here’s how I’m doing it or have done it:
·      I don’t hold on too tightly to possessions.  I have a lot of things, but I could easily get rid of or give away most things I own without a second thought. 
·      I try to keep my commitments.  Commitments create clarity and clarity creates simplicity.
·      I try not to make too many commitments by saying “no” more often.  I did this the other day and it felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.  More accurately, it felt like the weight had never been put on my shoulders in the first place.
·      I write down my goals and keep them in front of me (literally).
·      I work on self-improvement because my shortcomings complicate my life.
·      I forgive.
·      I practice gratitude.
·      I do what I love.
·      I enjoy what I have without needing to buy more.

A good friend once said, “Life is not complicated.” 
Yesterday my oldest daughter said the same thing. 
I think most of us choose to make life complicated.  I’m trying to simplify it so I can stay in my Purpose.  It’s also interesting how the ideas to Get Started and to Keep Going are incredibly simple.  They can’t be any simpler or clearer than that.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Power of the Right Way

Anatole France

Warren G. Bennis


I like studying.  I really do.  I don’t just mean reading.  I mean reading and taking notes, reflecting on what I have written, rereading what I have written and then acting upon it.  I’ve heard it said that true knowledge changes our behavior.  Everything else is just information.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with information.   I used to be a bit of pop music trivia expert.  I was pretty impressive actually.  Sometimes I could name songs, singers, dates and albums.  People would tell me to go on the now-defunct game show, Name That Tune. 
None of my knowledge changed my life though.  It was fun and I could entertain others with it, but it didn’t do much beyond that.  Having information about music trivia, politics, spiritual matters, relationships, comic books or U.S. Presidents didn’t make me kinder or better or harder working.  It made me vain.  It also caused me to seek attention for the wrong reasons.  Instead of trying to make an impression on my friends there are three others I should have been trying to make an impression on.
First, I should have been trying to make an impression on my professors.  With some rare exceptions, I did the very least amount of work possible in school.  Sadly, my grades showed this.  I had what one friend referred to as “gentlemen’s grades.” They were passable, but not impressive. I got what I deserved almost every time.  There was one exception.  I took a class in which I got a grade that I felt was very unfair.  I shared my frustration with another professor and he said, “I wouldn’t worry about it.  I’m sure you got some higher grades that you didn’t deserve either.”
In my perfect world, I work in a way that is not meant to impress others, but to bless others.  That should be my real motivation.  Could I have worked in such a way that my professors enjoyed my work and were glad they were teachers?  Could I have done work that was interesting and challenging and not just enough to get by?  I remember doing a paper once and not really doing my best.  This resulted in two painful lessons.
1.              A friend was doing the same paper and when I read his, I felt embarrassed by my lack of thought and effort, compared to his.
2.              My professor let me know that this was not my best work even though it was the first assignment I had turned in to him.

Sadly, it took a long time for me to really learn these lessons.
I should have also been trying to make an impression on God, or more accurately, to please God.  Now, I know that God loves me no matter what, just as I love my children, no matter what.  But, I feel a little happier with them when they are kind or helpful, or do their homework or do things without arguing.  I love them either way, but I enjoy them more when I don’t have to struggle with them. 
When my children exhibit good manners or when other parents tell me good things about them I have a sense of pride.  When the opposite is true, I feel sad.  I worry about them.  I might get angry, but beneath the anger is fear.  I am afraid that they will damage their lives or themselves in some way. I’m afraid they won’t reach their full potential or won’t have friends or won’t be happy.  I’m afraid they will waste a lot of years making the same mistakes I made.
Life is what it is and I can’t get any time back.  All I can do is do my best now.  I just don’t want my children taking as long as I took to learn the power of self-discipline.  This not only hinders their own lives, it hinders their self-esteem and peace and thus their relationship with God.  God loves them no matter what, but He will not let them move forward until they are ready.  I know this as a fact.  And when one can’t feel love for oneself, it’s hard to feel God’s love.
Finally, I should have been trying to make an impression on myself.  More accurately, I should have been taking better care of myself.  Had I studied more, I would have enjoyed school more.  I would have enjoyed life more.  In everything I did, not just school, had I put in the greatest amount of effort, I would have it enjoyed it more.  I know this also to be a fact because the times I give my best efforts are my best times.  When I didn’t, I did fairly or poorly and, as I said, my grades reflected this.  They were passable.
Now maybe I’m too hard on myself, but passable is the same as failing to me.  No, I didn’t fail my classes, but I failed the purpose of education.  The purpose of education is not to pass classes.  It is to make me a stronger, more self-sufficient, more capable, more contributing human being.  I missed the deliciousness of rich thinking, much like a man who refuses to eat a good meal because it’s too much trouble to wash up and come to the table.  This is why Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements, “Always do your best.”
Perhaps all of this seems like regret.  It is and it isn’t.  Yes, I wish I could do things differently.  Most people probably do.  I also know, however, that I have used the last several months much better.  Yes, I have room for growth.  I always will.   But I’m having more fun and being more present than I have been in a long time.  I’m experiencing the power of the right way because I finally used my time to Get Started and to Keep Going.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vacations and Purpose

“Here's to a vacation of no regrets!”

Joan Rylen

My work is like my vacation, so in a way every day is like Saturday.


When I go on vacation, I take very few clothes and a whole lot of books. It's the most soothing thing in the world.”

Nile Rodgers

There is a danger to leisure.  Today is the first day of my vacation and I have almost no obligations at the moment.  I have objectives I want to reach and I have ways I think I can enrich my life and be more productive, but at the moment there is absolutely nothing I have to do.  This is good because I rarely get “down time.”  There is almost always something that needs to be done.  At the moment though there is nothing.  I’ve done some reading this morning and now I’m writing my blog, but other than that, I’ve done very little. 
This may be okay for my first day of vacation, but I want to be careful that I don’t relive a painful event from the past.  When I was in college, I was taking Spanish and not doing well.  When Easter Break arrived, I promised myself I would spend at least one hour a day studying.  I had nine days off and I figured just an hour a day would give me nine hours of study and I would be caught up.
I studied for exactly zero hours. 
Perhaps, if I had written my goal down or gotten a study partner or managed my time better, I would have studied.  But I did none of those things and I ended the vacation feeling defeated.  Upon returning to school, a classmate asked how my vacation was and I replied, “Terrible!  I didn’t study at all.” 
She replied, “Mine was great because I didn’t study at all either.”
Different perspectives, I suppose.  I know this much:  I don’t want to go back to work in two weeks looking back with frustration and regret.  On the other hand, I don’t want to go back to work feeling exhausted either, so here’s the plan:
·      I’m going to write a list of things I want to accomplish in the next two weeks.
·      My list will include activities that are intellectual, financial, physical spiritual, emotional and recreational. 
·      I will take a broader two-week perspective as opposed to a day-to-day perspective.  In this way I can enjoy and be present in each day rather than feeling stressed and distracted because I’m not “working.”
·      I will write specific measurable goals.
·      I will keep these goals in front of me so I don’t forget. 
·      I will remember to have fun.

It helps to do this.  I think I will have a better vacation this way.
The word “vacation” comes from the Latin vacatio, which means “freedom from something.”  That’s what I want at the end of two weeks.  I want freedom.  I want to feel free and happy and content at the end of two weeks.  I want to feel the freedom of having done my best.  I want freedom in all areas of my life.   I don’t just want freedom away from things; I want freedom to do things. Specifically, I want freedom to
·      Have a productive and positive thought life;
·      Have all the money I need to provide for myself, for the people I love and for the world.
·      Create as much work as I can.
·      Spend time with people I love.
·      Have fun.

“Freedom isn’t free,” as the expression goes.  Freedom is a right, but it is also a privilege.  Like all privileges it must be used with respect.  Yes, I am free to waste my time, as long as I see it as my time.  If, however, I see it as time lent to me by God, then I have a responsibility to use it differently.  If I see it as a precious gift, then I want to use it well.  This doesn’t mean working every moment or not having fun.  It means living in the present moment in gratitude and knowing the appropriate thing to do at each moment.
I look forward to the next two weeks.  I look forward to creating my list and seeing how I feel when this vacation ends.  I look forward to the ability to Get Started and to Keep Going…and to have a nice vacation.