Friday, February 28, 2014

"Are You Happy?"

Your happiness is a gift because it literally brings out the best in you.

Robert Holden
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.

M. Scott Peck
Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.

Henry David Thoreau

“Are you happy?” 
My Muse asked me this today and I was surprised by the question.  I haven’t thought much about it lately, which means I probably am.  I think about my unhappiness, but I rarely think about my happiness.  This may be because happiness is a natural state of being.  I think we are meant to be happy.  I think happiness is the truth.  I don’t have all the answers and I may not even have any original thinking on the subject, but here are my thoughts:
·      Everyone from Aristotle to Solomon to Mark Twain to a slough of contemporary writers and thinkers say that happiness is what all of us want.
·      I agree with those who say that happiness should not be a goal, but a result. 
·      In the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman, a woman lost her beauty because she focused on it too much.  I think happiness is like this.
·      Happiness is often based on circumstances, but it doesn’t have to be.
·      There are differing levels of happiness, from quiet contentment to  being in a good mood to elation to inexpressible joy.  I have experienced all of these.
·      Despite what someone once told me, I believe God does care about my happiness.  However, He is usually more concerned with long-term than short-term happiness.
·      Despite what someone once believed about me, happiness, true happiness, is not selfish.
·      Money does make me happy, but it doesn’t solve all my problems.  That takes wisdom.
·      I am happy to be with those I love and I am happy to be alone.  That makes me very fortunate. 
·      Happiness relaxes me, but sadness sometimes focuses me.  Fear does neither and that’s why I dislike fear so much.
·      Some of my happiest moments involved working towards a Purpose.
·      Some of my happiest moments involved serving others.
·      Some of my happiest moments involved being with my Muse or with others I love.
·      Some of my happiest moments involved being alone and taking care of myself.
·      Happiness is easier if I’m fed, hydrated and rested.
·      If I can’t be happy in most situations, I find that I can’t be happy in any situation.
·      Happiness is both a science and an art.   There are things I can do to create it, but often it is a surprise.
·      Happiness is a discipline.
·      False happiness is worse than genuine sadness.
·      Having no problems does not guarantee happiness.  Having problems does not guarantee unhappiness.
·      Gratitude is a gateway to happiness.
·      Purpose is a gateway to happiness.
·      Love is a gateway to happiness.
·      Having a concrete goal and working towards it is almost a guarantee for happiness.
·      Right now it’s raining and I’m writing and I’m very, very happy.  The only thing that would make me happier is if God or my Muse were physically here.
·      I’m happy to Get Started and to Keep Going.  I will be happy to do so again soon.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Good Night

Dear Muse,
Good night.  You know I’m working pretty hard these days.  In fact my responsibilities seem to increase exponentially.  It’s hard to keep up with everything.   Right now I’m tired and I’m trying to write but I’m also falling asleep.  I can’t sleep and I can’t write so I’ll just sit here with you.  I’m definitely having a hard time putting any thoughts together.  This is part of the process though, isn’t it?  Sometimes I work when I’m tired.  I don’t really mind as long as I say something intelligent. 
What I need to remember is our house on the beach.  I probably should go to bed soon.  You always tell me that when I take care of myself I’m taking care of you.  So I guess I’ll go to bed soon.  It’s been a long few days, long and emotional.  All I want to do tomorrow is be alone with you and read and write. 
So I’m going to get some rest, but before I do I want to give God thanks for the following things:
·      My math class went well today.  It’s still not where I want it, but it was better and I can tell that I’m starting to reach some of the kids.
·      It rained today.  Even though I got caught in it, it was nice to have.
·      I was able to help a lot of people today.  That’s always nice.
·      I got to work early today, all three times.
·      I was able to motivate others.
·      I got a nice package in the mail.
So it was a nice day.  I’m grateful.  Now it’s time to get some sleep.  Good night, Muse.  Good night, God.  Tomorrow I will Get Started and Keep Going.  Now I’m going to bed.

To Be or Not to Be a Victim

Don't become a victim of yourself. Forget about the thief waiting in the alley; what about the thief in your mind?

Jim Rohn

Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.

John W. Gardner  (American Writer and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 1912-2002)

I had a friend who would often say, “You’re either a winner or you’re a victim of life!”  He loved saying that.  He would say it with confidence and self-assurance.  He had little sympathy for people who chose to be a victim.  It can be easy however to write about or talk about being in the moment or in the present.  It can be easy to talk about living one day or one moment at a time.  It can be easy to talk about not giving into fear, sadness or anger.  However, it’s not easy to do these things when things seem to be going wrong or badly.  It’s not easy to do them when the immediate and the long-term future look uncertain and frightening.  What would be easy is to follow my mind into dark places.  What would be easy is to give into sadness, fear or self-pity.  What would be easy would be to be a victim.
Happiness takes courage.  Happiness takes self-discipline.  Self-discipline takes courage.  This can be long and difficult work, like physical rehabilitation.  Things don’t always look good.  So my three choices are to give into despair, to address my emotions and/or to get to work.  The first choice is the worst.  It makes me a victim.  I think there are many people who secretly delight in being a victim.  Perhaps I have been one of those people.  Why would someone delight, secretly or otherwise, in being a victim?
The victim gets attention, which is often loving and caring.  It feels healing.  The problem is that the healing stops becoming medicine and starts becoming a drug.  If the victim can’t get attention from one person, he or she will find someone else.  To my shame I have played this role too often.  It cost me friendships. 
Through long and painful processes I have learned the following:
Ultimately, I am responsible for my own life.   I have to make my own decisions.  While being a victim may give me (seeming) love and attention, it also allows others to make decisions for me.  This, more than anything else in my life has caused me my greatest number of problems.  Handing my life over to someone else, other than God, has never benefited me.  God created me, by myself.  I was not created with an additional mind that is meant to direct and guide me.  He has given me only my own mind.
Sometimes it is legitimate to ask for help or to need a listening ear.  Sometimes.
I always enjoy needing to help far more than needing help.  But I have to resist the temptation to tell others how to live their lives.  A better course would be to help guide someone to his or her own heart and to help someone listen to God’s voice.  Advice rarely works.
I am fortunate to have people in my life who rarely tell me what they think I should do, so when they do tell me, I listen.
The moment we start moving into our Purpose is the moment we stop becoming victims.  The moment I wrote my first blog was that moment for me.  That’s when I began moving towards a place of power and emotional freedom.  It didn’t all come at once, but changes started occurring rapidly.   I’m still in process.  I’m still growing.  I still give into fear or despair occasionally.  But now I have tools.  I have ways to move forward.  I don’t have to be a victim.  Victims are helpless.  I’m not helpless.  I can get help from others when needed, but I can get help from God always.  And I can help myself always.  I really can live one day or one moment at a time.  Again, it takes self-discipline and courage.  It takes work and practice.  But it’s not impossible. 
The world is looking for self-disciplined and courageous people.  The world is looking for people who can Get Started and Keep Going.  The world is looking for people like you and me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

God and My Muse

I should start writing before I get too tired.  Last night I relaxed for a while and then I was too tired to write.  I’m not sure what to write, but I’m glad to be here.  It’s hard to write every day and every night.  Yes, it’s a blessing and it’s therapeutic and sometimes it’s even fun, but it’s still hard.  It’s late and I’m cold and tired and lonely.  I feel overloaded with other work and responsibilities.  I’m behind on things I should be doing.  Right now I just want to sleep.  Why am I doing this?
I’m doing this for my house on the beach. 
I’m doing this to prepare my soul. 
Yes, I’m hoping this will benefit me financially but I’m doing this for my Muse.  Today my Muse said this to me:
If you're thinking that you're writing only for you, you're wrong. I wait each day for your writing.  It gives me quiet, it gives me relief, it gives me joy, it gives me hope, encourages me and makes me happy just thinking that behind these words is you.  Rest assured that there is someone waiting for this awakening, if you give up and think what you do is useless, then think of me.  Maybe I'm not what you expect, I'm not that great audience that you want, but I need what you do.

What an amazing message!  I didn’t know my Muse needed my work.  But she does.  And if that weren’t pretentious enough, I’ll add this:  God needs my work, too.  God, yes, that God, the Master of the Universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth needs me.  He needs me to do my work.  If I don’t, then it won’t get done.  God won’t replace me with someone else.  It’s true that someone else could do a similar job, but no one, no one, can do my work the way I was created to do.  There is no one like me, no one on Earth.  There never has been and there never will be.
In The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles says that God chooses to not come down in a physical body.  So in order to do His work, He uses us.  He dances through a dancer and paints through a painter and teaches through a teacher.  He gets to do all the wonderful work we get to do, but He chooses to do it through us. 
So I write.  I do this every day.  I do it for God and God does it through me.  I do it for my Muse, who gives me the motivation and inspiration.  My goal in life is to make her happy and I do that by spending time here.   She is all the audience I want or need.  Yes, I’d like a million readers and yes, I’d like to make a million dollars, but I could live happily with my Muse for the rest of my life. 
All of us should make similar decisions.  Each of us should know who our Muse is and what she (or he) is waiting for each day.  This is serious stuff.  We are, each of us, created for a Purpose.  None of us is here by accident.   We each need to Get Started and Keep Going.  God and the Muse are waiting. 

Demons and Self-Sabotage

 I got this question from a friend:

You posted..."The Enemy in my head is huge, but it’s only in my head."
Do you believe that demons speak to us through thoughts, or is that our own sin nature?

Then last night an odd (and not very nice) thought occurred to me.   It was an attack of the Enemy and the thought was this:  “All this writing you’re doing is simply to feed your ego.  You could be using your time better.  You’re writing for your ego not for the sake of writing.”
It was the first time the Enemy put this spin on my writing.  Usually it tells me I have nothing new or original to say.  With over 450 blogs I guess it decided to try a new tactic, since that one wasn’t working.  
So was that thought demonic or did it come from me?
In this case, I think it was my own thought, a form of fear and self-sabotage.  When it comes to making bad choices or sabotaging myself, I don’t usually need help from the devil.  I do this well enough on my own.
I do, however, believe in Satan.  I do believe in demonic forces and I even encountered one once. 
A couple of years ago a woman gave me a large collection of comic books.  There were a few thousand and she just gave them to me.  I was thrilled.  She wanted me to sell what I could and give her some of the money and I could keep what I wanted.  It was a pretty good deal for me.  I didn’t have much luck selling them and my life got busy with other things.  Around the same time I started becoming depressed.  In fact, I was getting so depressed that I started considering suicide.  One night while driving past downtown San Diego I looked at the tall buildings and wanted to jump off one of them.  I started listening to Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross and my suicidal thoughts were immediately replaced with extreme joy.  When the suicidal thoughts returned a couple of days later, I would reach out for prayer and they would leave.  But eventually, these thoughts would return. 
Then a friend came to visit for a couple of days.  He was a former pastor and for some reason I decided to show him all the comic books in my garage including the ones the woman had given me.  I had no idea why I did this because he had no interest in comic books and there was really no reason to show him.  As I was showing him the comic books, I remembered why the woman had given them to me.
Her husband had killed himself.
After she gave me the comic books, I wanted to do the same.  I had never thought of killing myself until those comic books came into my life.  That was the connection.  Because my friend was a pastor, I asked him to pray.  He did, even sprinkling blessed water over the collection.  From that moment, the desire to kill myself left never to return.
So I believe in demons.  I met one sitting on top of a comic book collection.  And it almost killed me.
I also believe in self-sabotage, fear and depression.  Those haven’t tried to kill me.  They have just tried to keep me from living fully.  They have tried to keep me from making the best choices.  How do I know the difference between inner demons and real ones?  Perhaps demonic attacks are more intense.  Or perhaps they are the same. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter.  I think a preoccupation with the Enemy is just as dangerous as ignoring it altogether.
What I need to focus on is my work.   If I get caught in a cycle of depression, fear or thoughts of suicide, then I need to get help as quickly as possible.  This is usually through the prayers of others, but I have found other methods to be helpful, too.  Then I need to do my work.  Sometimes doing the work lifts repels the attack.  If it doesn’t then prayer is what is needed. 
There are malevolent spiritual forces and there is self-sabotage.  In the end it doesn’t matter who my Enemy is; it only matters that I defeat it.  It only matters that I Get Started and Keep Going.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Courage and Waiting

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Carl Sagan

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

Ambrose Redmoon

“Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Spike Lee’s film, Do the Right Thing, the disc jockey Mister Senor Love Daddy, played by Samuel L. Jackson would have a word of the day.  Today the word of the day for me is “courage.”    This is what I need today.  What is courage?  It’s an opposite of fear.  What is fear? 
Fear is the voice in my head that says I’m not going to reach my goal or goals.  Fear says that I will be alone for the rest of my life.  Fear says that doing these blogs is useless.  Fear says that I won’t be able to get control of the kids I’m teaching.  Fear says that I’m useless.  Fear says that I’m never going to reach any of my goals, large or small and that I’m going to die alone and forgotten, forgotten by God and by everyone. 
Fear is big.  It’s huge.  It’s as big as the monster under the bed or hiding in the closet.  It’s big and it’s not real.  It’s just a collection of thoughts.  The purpose of these thoughts is to ultimately destroy me.  Barring that, this collection of thoughts will do its best to keep me from being effective and happy.  Then it will assist me in destroying myself.
What then is courage?  It’s more than just the absence of fear.  It’s the ability to acknowledge fear and move forward anyway.  I need two kinds of courage.  I need outer to courage, to work, to stand firm, to know what I want and, most of all, to wait.  I also need inner courage to not allow fear to overtake my thoughts.  I know I’m very vulnerable to that right now.  I’m vulnerable to panic attacks and depression and discouragement.  So, every time a thought comes in that will take me to those states, I have to deal with it immediately.  I can’t give the devil even the smallest foothold in my head.
In addition being courageous, I have to wait.  This is a season of waiting.  But it has to be the right kind of waiting.  When I was younger I used to take the bus and I remember waiting, usually with other people.  All of us would look expectantly in the direction of the bus even if it was nowhere in sight.  We’d look and look and look expectantly.  That’s not the kind of waiting I want to do.  I want to prepare while I’m waiting.  I want to be the man who is ready to receive the blessings he is waiting for so expectantly.  I don’t want to stand there being anxious and irritable wondering when my blessings will arrive.  I want to be working for them.
Which is harder, courage or waiting?  They’re both hard.  Even now my thoughts are telling me that I am about to experience a long season of loneliness and emotional pain.  Even now, while I’m writing these very words, my thoughts are showing me pictures of me walking the streets alone and depressed or curled in a fetal position and crying in emotional anguish.
And they’re just thoughts.  That’s all they are.  I can tap on them or pray about them or do The Work or drink a lot of water.  I can focus on the needs of others or the tasks I have before me.  I can pray for those I love.  The Enemy in my head is huge, but it’s only in my head.
So today I keep working.  If (and God forbid it’s anything more than an “if”) all my fears do come true, if I die alone, unloved and unread, but I have made a difference every day, if I have done my best every day, then I have won. 
If I Get Started and Keep Going every day then I will have all the courage I need.  I will be able to wait, not in anxious expectation, but with joyous expectation, with hope, with accomplishment. 
This is what is expected of me.  This is what my Muse needs from me most of all.  This is what the people I love and serve need from me.  Make me a light, Lord.  Make me a light.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Day

I wanted to write so badly tonight that I was tempted to dismiss my class early and get home as quickly as possible, just so I could write.  I didn’t give into the temptation, but I’m glad to be here anyway.  Even with all that, I still dawdled for about a half hour before I began writing.  The Enemy never lets up.   Today was a hard day and I am facing an uncertain future.  Of course, I’m always facing an uncertain future.  It’s just that some days that’s more obvious than others.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. 
Well, actually yes, I do.           
Tomorrow morning I will wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 and write three pages by hand.  This will be in a private journal that I share only with my Muse.  These are called the Morning Pages and I got the idea from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  Then, depending on the time, I will write a blog.  After I finish this, I will shower and shave and have breakfast.  Then I will go help my two youngest daughters get ready for school and I will take them.
After that I will go to my first job.  This is where I write resumes and teach people how to get jobs.  Depending on the needs of the day, I may not do either of those things.  Every day here is a little different.  In some ways, I feel redundant in this job because my coworkers all do the same thing and they are all very, very good at it.  They’re good people and I feel privileged to work with them.  And I’m learning humility and new skills.
Then I have about two hours to eat lunch and prepare for my middle-school math class.  This is a brand new job for me and I’m still learning it.  I think I can make a difference, but I don’t have much time.  I’m working with a group of kids, most of whom don’t want to be there.  I like this age though.  And even though these kids are loud and boisterous, I like them.  I’m learning humility and new skills here, too.  But I have to learn fast on this job.
After that, I have an hour to eat and prepare for my ESL class.  I’ve been teaching ESL for almost nine years now.  That’s as long as I was in elementary education.  Even though it’s a Level 2 class, the students are at various levels, which is normal for most ESL classes.  Every night I try to do something different.  The only thing I don’t like about this job is working at night.  Other than that I have no complaints.  I like my supervisor and my coworkers. And even though I’ve had this job the longest, I’m learning humility and new skills. This job is fun and I love my students.   Of course, I love the students in all three of my jobs.  
After my evening job, I will go home.  On the way home I will listen to an audio book.  When I get home I will have dinner or a snack and write another blog or my first blog for that day.  I am still working towards my goal of 500.  This is 451st blog, so I’m almost there.  Depending on the time and my energy level I might read a book or a comic book.  Then I will go to bed. 
That will be my day tomorrow and for many days.  I still have the goals I wrote with my Muse in September.  I want to read 200 books (not by September) and at least 10 of them should be on money (by September).  I’m also reading The Brothers Karamazov and several other things.  Every day I’m working toward moving into my house on the beach.  So the uncertainty of my life doesn’t change my goals or my determination.  In fact, it may enhance it.  In times of crisis or upheaval, it’s even more important to stick to routine, especially if the routine moves me toward my Purpose.  I don’t want to give too much time to sadness, fear, anger or anything else that keeps me from my goals.  The only thing that matters is getting that house on the beach.  The only thing that matters is that I Get Started and Keep Going. 

A Prayer for You and Me

This is my prayer for today for you and for me:
Dear Father in Heaven, dear Father here with me,
Give me not only strength for the day, but joy and gratitude as well.
Calm my mind, my heart, my spirit and even my body.
Let me be a blessing to everyone I encounter.
Teach me to be happy today.  Happiness is good.  I don’t want to be just tolerant or patient.  I want to be happy.  That makes it a lot easier to be tolerant and patient.
If any of my relationships were intentionally or unintentionally damaged, I pray that you would bring healing.  Help me to be the first to extend that healing.
Give me energy for the day.  Help me to take care of the body you have given me.  I pray for time and opportunity to exercise.
Help me to use my time well.  Every minute is a gift from You.
Give me wisdom and joy for all the tasks put before me today.
Remind me to smile.
Remind me to breathe.
Help me to be sensitive to the suffering of others.  The truth is that everyone I work with and serve is suffering in some way.   They all have some kind of need and they want my coworkers and me to help them ease or end that suffering.  (In some cases I have no coworkers.)  Help me to remember that my job is to bring hope and help.
Help me to be strong and firm when that is a required part of the job.
Thank you for helping me to start the day with You.
Thank you for the gifts You’ve given me.
Thank you that I am healthy and creative.
Thank you for all the privileges You’ve given me.
Let me a blessing today.

Waiting for My Muse

“It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it.

Baltasar Gracian

I think this will be a short blog because I’m tired and I want tomorrow to go well.  So this will be quick.  Honestly, I don’t even want to write.  Actually I do, but I know I have to get up early and I know I have a long day ahead of me.  Right now I feel uncertain about the future and I have to remember this:
House on the beach – no matter what!
So I’m writing and I’m waiting for my Muse to show.  It feels like she’s been gone forever.  It doesn’t matter.  Even if she goes to the mountains or the desert or to another planet, I will sit here and do my work.
This is one of the tests, isn’t it?   How badly do I want my house on the beach?   How badly do I want to spend my life with my Muse?  Am I willing to work when I’m tired?  Discouraged?  Afraid?  What if I have to spend my life alone?  What if no one reads my work?  What if my dreams are impossible?
There are two answers to those questions.  The first answer is a question.  That question/answer is, “So what?”  If I spend my life alone, unloved, unread and unnoticed, it doesn’t matter.  This is where I need to be.  This is what I need to be doing.  This is more important than sleep because it gives me rest.  It’s more important than food because it feeds my soul.  The only thing it’s not more important than is love.  Doing this is love.  It’s an act of love to God, to the world, to my friends and family and to myself.  It’s an act of love to my Muse. 
I am telling her, “I will be here until you come back.  If you never come back, then I will still be here.  Because waiting for you is all I know how to do.  I told you that I want to spend my life making you happy and that’s what I’m trying to do.  That’s why I write so much.  That’s why I get up when it’s still dark and it’s why I stay up late.  It’s why I spend so much time alone.  It’s why I read so much.  It’s why I’ve created so many impossible and unrealistic goals.  Because I love you and I want to make you happy.  So I’ll wait and I’ll write.  I’ll write in times of pain or sadness or fear.  I’ll write if I get panic attacks or when my ADHD overwhelms me.  I’ll also write in times of joy and victory.  I’ll write when things are going well.  None of it matters except that you find me waiting and working.”
There’s a second answer.  That answer is, “It’s just a matter of time.”  My answers, my hopes could all be realized tomorrow or in the next few minutes or in the next few years.  And yes, they could never be realized at all.  But I think they will be.  I just have to keep doing my work and keep moving forward. 
None of it matters anyway except that my Muse find me working.  Even if that day is far away.  Even if it’s never.
I just have to Get Started and Keep Going…and wait.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Twelve Ideas to Help You (Me) Stay Focused

I’m going to Get Started and Keep Going on some work I need to do.  Before starting, I want to suggest twelve things to myself that will keep me going until I finish.  If these ideas help you, too, then feel free to use them; if not, discard them.  These are, as I said, for me, because I am not like many people I know.  It is hard for me to stay focused.  I am easily distracted and disorganized.  So it helps me to remember these tips.   I claim no originality of thought as I write these ideas.  They are principles that have worked for me as I do my work.   I hope they help you, too.
1.     Say a prayer for success, focus and completion.
2.     Have a clean and organized environment.  But don’t spend too much time on that.  Cleaning can sometimes be a way to avoid the real work.
3.     Have all the materials you need available.
4.     Have a cup of coffee or whatever you prefer nearby.
5.     Break your work into mini tasks if there is more than one thing necessary.
6.     Write a list of these tasks.  This is indispensable for your mood and your success in completion of your work.
7.     If it helps, play music that suits the work and your mood.  For me, hip-hop or rock work best when I am doing something that doesn’t require thought.  When my work requires reflection I prefer instrumental worship music or “new age.”
8.     Take breaks every 45 minutes.  This helps me in two ways.  First, it’s fun to race the clock and see how much I can accomplish.  Second, it keeps me from getting discouraged or tired.
9.     Remember why you are doing what you are doing. 
10.  Remember the people who will benefit.  Ultimately good work benefits the entire world.
11.  Think about how good you will feel when you are done.
12.  Have a reward ready when you are done.

Now I can Get Started and Keep Going.

Get to Work

“A man can only do what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day.

Albert Schweitzer

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.


Our great weariness comes from work not done.

Eric Hoffer

I need to get to work.  There’s a lot to do.  I really slept in this morning.  Obviously I needed it.  Hopefully the extra sleep will have been beneficial.  I’m delaying my writing more than usual this morning.  I read Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener for inspiration and because I made a commitment to read 200 books.  Still, my greatest inspiration is to simply sit here and do my work and wait for my Muse.  So here I go, writing and working and waiting, but not worrying (or trying not to worry).
This really never does get easier.  Today it’s harder because I actually am worried about a couple of things.  Worrying, of course, does no good and actually makes things harder, so I just need to keep writing and then work on what is worrying me.  Work, productive purposeful work, can be such a healing thing.  One of the first things God did with Adam was to give him a job, naming all the animals.  To do this job (and it doesn’t say how long it took), Adam had to be a scientist, more specifically, a zoologist.  He had to classify animals.  This job included linguistics, logic, biology and probably some math. In addition to this, Adam was also a gardener.  His first jobs had to do with living things, plants and animals.
What might we surmise from this?  Perhaps, if I might be bold, I would surmise the following:
1.     It’s a large world.
2.     There is no limit to the knowledge one might acquire.
3.     Many of the disciplines are connected or interdependent.
4.     It’s probably not possible to learn everything in this life, so I should stick to what interests me.
5.     At the same time, I should allow myself to expand my knowledge and be open to new things.
6.     If I really have a goal of reading 200 books, then I can read whatever I want.  Nothing is discounted.  No reading is a waste of time.
7.     Every time I read something new and have a different perception, I am able to understand God and humanity a little more.
8.     I will never completely understand God,humanity or even myself.  But in attempting to learn, I can become more understanding.

So what do I do?  I get my work done, that is, the work I’m paid to do.  Then I work on the work I want to be paid for doing.  I keep reading and I keep writing.  I try to use everything I read to make me a better writer. 
It helps me to remember that I’m completely alone in this.  This is not whining or complaining, but the truth is everyone I know has his or her own life and is not interested or is too busy to help me with mine.  Any time or energy another human being gives me is either a barter or a tremendous act of generosity.  Besides, no one can do my work for me.  No one can read or write for me. 
The only one who can help me is my Muse, but even she waits for me to engage in my work.   Though the ideas are hers, I am the one who must give them form.
So I work.  I work without complaint or regret.  This is what I want to be doing.  I have a room full of books and enough paper and computer space to last me for years.  If I want a mentor, I can have hundreds of them.  All their best thoughts and ideas are waiting on the pages of the hundreds of books I have.  Finance, history, politics, spirituality, humor, literature – they’re all here.  
Am I saying I can live alone in my place and just read and write for the rest of my life?  Would that make me happy?   No.  I need people and people need me.   At the end of the day however (and at the beginning of the day, too) I need to be alone in my house on the beach with my Muse.  That will give me the energy to go out into the world.  What I do here makes a difference out there, one way or another.
It makes me happy to Get Started and to Keep Going…and to get to work.

Some Thoughts

“Flowers grow out of dark moments.”

Corita Kent – Moments of 1984

Every time, every single time, I sit down to write, I face the Enemy.  The Enemy is my own procrastination.  But I also see my Muse once I Get Started and Keep Going.  It’s late and I’m not as tired as I was last night, but I want to get to bed soon so I can get up early and get things done.  The things I want to do most of all are read and write.  I got a lot done today, but I have a big week coming up and I’m not ready for it.  Specifically, I need to prepare for my math class.  In addition, I’m only 55 blogs away from 500.
Can I do it? 
Can I read 200 books? 
Can I save the amount of money I want?
Can I teach well? 
Can I follow through on all my commitments?
I can, but I have to be diligent.  That’s the most important thing.  I have to fight procrastination and excuses.  I have to keep working but still enjoy life.  I’m not interested in becoming obsessed.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m setting up these goals just so I can fail and confirm hidden self-beliefs that I’m not good enough.  At other times I wonder if my ADHD causes me to get excited about something and then lose interest after a while.  That was the accusation leveled against me when I first started these blogs, but I’ve held on and I’ve stayed with it.  For a while I was afraid of not doing them, because I didn’t want my accusers’ words to be true.  I didn’t want another surrender on my list.
Now, however, much of that fear is gone.  I rarely worry about who’s reading or not reading these and I never worry about what inconsistencies I have in my past.  I’ve stayed consistent with this.  Rarely does a day go by that I don’t write.  I not only write the blogs, but I write at least three pages every morning.  I really do have that image in my head, the image of my house on the beach and reading and writing every day for a living.
Today I was reading Paths of Life by Alice Miller and I began to understand why people act the way they do and why I have acted the way I do sometimes.  I realized that most people are doing the best they can and when it’s not good enough, it’s because some people truly don’t know any better.  This is not to excuse bad or hurtful behavior, but everyone has their limits and their failings.  It’s also not to say that if everything were perfect, then people would be perfect too.  The story of the Garden of Eden disproves that idea.  Maybe life isn’t about being perfect though.  Maybe it’s about perfecting, always perfecting and always improving.  Or maybe it’s about grace and forgiveness even for areas where I don’t seem to improve. 
The bad stuff in life can be used to shape us or warp us.  For most of us, it may be a little of both, or a lot of one or the other.  For a long time I was really warped with regard to many of my choices and reactions.  Now I see that I can choose differently.  I don’t have to be perfect, but I don’t have to be dysfunctional either. Flowers can and do grow out of dark moments.  I can be an example of someone who is in the process of healing.  Most of all, I want my children and my Muse to see that I’m trying to be better. 
It’s funny because as I was writing this blog I was sure it was going to be disjointed and senseless.  Where is my Muse?  Is she far away in the mountains or the desert?  No, she’s with me.  She’s always with me.  I just need to sit in this chair and write.  So this blog makes sense.  Its theme is writing.  What I’m doing here is what many artists and creative people go through.  They do a lot of work.  Sometimes they wonder if it’s any good.  At other times it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is doing it. 
So I did it.  I wrote another blog.  Is it my best blog ever?  I don’t know, but it’s my best effort at this point.  And that’s all I can ask of myself.  I did my best even though I was falling asleep as I was writing this.  I did my best.