Monday, March 31, 2014

"Once more unto the breach..."

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;”

William Shakespeare – Henry V, Act III, 1598

This morning in my Morning Write, I was writing about how I felt resentful about all the things I “have to” do.  In looking at my feelings more closely I became aware of my introverted side, the part that wants to sit alone with his Muse and read and write.  There is nothing wrong with this; it is simply how I feel many days.  I have very few needs.  I enjoy time alone, time with my Muse, and time with my kids.  I don’t watch television and I rarely have the patience to watch a movie unless it’s something I’m writing about.  I like to walk, but I do that only to stay healthy.  A lot of my work uses my extroverted side and I enjoy that too, but when I’m not working I’m content to be alone with my Muse.  Most of all, I don’t want to do any tasks or errands that keep me from this.
I could choose to not do things that take me from my comfort zone or to not do things that are inconvenient.  For example, I could choose to not mail packages or not have my car checked.  Then, however, I would have to deal with the consequences of those decisions.  If I got them done then I could enjoy the rewards of those decisions.  Both the consequences and rewards are in my mind.  That’s not to say they aren’t real.  For example, if I don’t get my car looked at and it breaks down, that is a real consequence.  Worse, is how these things weigh on my mind until I get them done.  (Also, if my car did break down, my mind would torture me endlessly with “if-only-you-had-done this” rebukes.)   The reward of completing these inconvenient tasks is the feelings of relief and accomplishment.
When I’m avoiding obligations and commitments I have chosen, what I am really doing is giving into fear and/or laziness.  I tell myself that these tasks are too difficult or too inconvenient.  I tell myself that I don’t know how to do them or that I might do them badly.  This is me as a 7th grader again, avoiding his work.  That didn’t go too well either.  On my second day as a 7th grader Mrs. Harmelink, our Social Studies teacher, had us copy several sentences from an overhead projector.  I didn’t get mine done.  So after school I went to Kevin Danielson’s house to copy his.  But Larry Keelan was there and they were playing and having a great time.  In that moment I made a decision that affected me for the rest of the year.  I went to play instead of doing my work.  When it was time for Kevin to go in, I told him I still needed to copy the work.  He got angry and said, “What?  I thought you did it.  I have to go in!  You can’t do it now!”
So I started the year off behind by the second day of school.   And I never really recovered.  Now it sounds dramatic to say that one moment changed my whole year, but it’s more accurate to say that it was hundreds of moments like this, in which I chose not to do my work.  Granted, I was immature, lazy, afraid, and undisciplined.  I also felt overwhelmed and I needed help.  But at any time during that year, I could have made the more difficult choice to do my work, and life would have been less difficult.
So I think I will take Brian Tracy’s advice and “eat that frog.”  I will follow through on my commitments and I will attempt to do so with single-mindedness.  I will get things done as quickly and as well as possible so that I can get back to what I really want to do, which is reading, writing and being with my Muse.  When I come back, I will also enjoy the rewards of accomplishment.  They won’t be weighing on me.  I will feel a sense of relief and a sense of peace. 
In this way, fulfilling my commitments contributes to my Purpose because I teach myself discipline.  I create order and calm by going “once more unto the breach.”  I will Get Started and Keep Going and get things done.

Reading and Purpose

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx

I enjoy reading and I always have.  One of my earliest memories, and one of my best, was sitting on my mother’s lap, at the age of 5 or 6, reading, “Ann ate an apple.”  To this day, Ann is one of my favorite names.  The book was pink and white and light orange.  The day was sunny and warm.  Reading started out as a good experience for me.  As I grew older, I spent most of my time reading comic books, rather than books.  Fortunately, the comic books I read, mostly Marvel Comics, were fairly sophisticated in both plot and vocabulary.  I learned a lot of cultural references and vocabulary from reading Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four.  By the time I was in 4th grade, I had a 7th grade vocabulary. 
Of course, I read books too, perhaps not as much as comic books, but I read a lot.  When my family moved from Maryland to Japan, my mom gave me two coloring books about U.S. Presidents.  From these I developed a fondness for U.S. History.  By the time I was 10, I could name all the U.S. Presidents and I knew all the wars the U.S. had been involved in from the Revolution to the Viet Nam Conflict.   I may have been unusual in this respect. 
One day, on the last day of 4th grade, after school had ended and everyone had gone home to start summer vacation, I was still at the school for some reason.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t for love of school.  My laziness, fear, and hyperactivity made most school years a nightmare for me.  Still, I was there for some reason.  Perhaps I’d left something and had gone back to retrieve it.  My teacher, Mrs. Baker, was cleaning the room and things were a mess.   When I walked in, she was in the far corner of the room organizing and packing.  She handed me a book and said, “Here, Robert.”
The book was 40 American Biographies by Helen Miller Bailey.  It was a library discard from 1964, thus making it about six years old at the time.  I don’t know if she handed me that particular book because she knew of my love for history, or if she was just trying to get rid of one more thing.    I like to think it was the former.  I was not the easiest kid in the class.  In fact, my poor study habits and my hyperactivity almost caused me to repeat the 4th grade.  But I like to think that Mrs. Baker was a good teacher who knew what each of her students needed as individuals.  I like to think that Mrs. Baker knew I needed that book.  I read that book. I still have it over 40 years later.  
As a result, I read more biographies and more books about Presidents.  I read encyclopedias when we visited other people’s homes.  I read whatever I could find.  Interestingly, I didn’t read much fiction, with one exception.  I had a fondness for Big Little Books, which were fictional stories of cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck.  The pages alternated between pictures and text.  Most of them were mystery stories.  I still have a large collection of these.  Around the same time, when I was about 10, I discovered Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.  I’m not sure why this book intrigued me, because, as I said, I didn’t read much fiction, but I persuaded my mom to buy it and I read it almost immediately.  I soon realized it was a series and I read several other books in the series. 
However I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood reading comic books.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like reading other things; I just liked comic books more.   If I could have gotten away with it, (and at times I did) I wouldn’t have read anything else but comic books, except perhaps books about comic books.  Things are different now.
Today I read with a mission:  I use what I read to bless others.  This perspective creates the following guidelines:
·      Reading, especially in the last ten years, has changed my life.
·      Reading is part of my Purpose.
·      I count listening to audio books as reading, because I’m learning or reinforcing learning.
·      Almost anything I read or listen to can be used to instruct.
·      Therefore, I can read anything I want to read.  I don’t have to stick to one genre or subject.  In fact, I shouldn’t.
·      The more I read, the more ideas I have.
·      The more ideas I have, the more I can offer to the world.

So I read.  I’m usually in the middle of several books at once.  The Enemy attacks me here as in every other area that is connected with my Purpose, but I read anyway.  I Get Started and I Keep Going and I keep reading.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

FIghting Fear with Purpose

“Where fear is, happiness is not.”


“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”


I just finished a book called Keep Going – The Art of Perseverance.  Obviously I liked the title, since I use those words, Keep Going, in most of my blogs.  The author, Joseph M. Marshall III, wrote a lot about troubles and storms, about defeats and setbacks, and I felt like quitting at times.  I don’t like to think about problems. In one passage, the wisdom giver tells his adult grandson, “I would be lost without your grandmother.”  I fear the same.  I fear that I would be lost without my Muse.  That is my greatest fear.
Yet, what I fear more than that is that I would feel the fear and the sadness for the rest of my life.   Reality has shown me otherwise.  First, I’m not going to lose my Muse.  She will always be here for me as long as I am always here for her.  This is why I write so much – to keep my Muse close.  The other issue, that I will leave with fear and sadness for the rest of my life, is also not reality. 
Like everyone, I have faced loss, disappointment, failure and tragedy.  I live with these, but they are not part of my daily life.  I have either let them go or I have used them as lessons for others and for myself.  Yes, I have grieved, even bitterly, over losses and pain, but eventually, sometimes slowly but always eventually, I recover. 
I don’t like the idea that life is hard.  I would prefer to ignore that truth.  What I’ve told myself is that once certain things happen, whether personally, professionally, spiritually or financially, then all my troubles will end and that I’ll never have another problem.  In addition, I will never be sad or afraid again.  My life will be perfect. 
This misguided optimism is really another form of fear.  If I tell myself everything will be perfect one day, I’m not only hiding from the truth, but I’m hiding from inevitable difficulties.  People hide because they are afraid.  Hiding usually means that one can’t move forward in life.   Occasionally a news story tells of someone who had committed a crime decades previously and tried to then live a “normal” life.  When they were finally caught, they no longer were able to hide and were forced to move forward, many back to prison.  At least, however, they no longer had to hide.  They could now move forward.
Fear can keep us from moving forward, even if it’s fear about fear.  Sometimes we are paralyzed, like a rabbit seen by a snake.  Action and movement are needed to fight fear.  That’s not to say that the fear goes away immediately, but I’ve found that action does seem to take it away eventually.   Even if I’m still in a place of fear, I Keep Going.  I also do what I can to fight the fear.  More than anything I want the fear, the sadness, or the anger to go away.  I’ve mentioned the power of prayer before.  That has helped me through many troubling times.  So has wise counsel. 
As the song Happy by Pharrell Williams goes, “Happiness is the truth.”  So are love, joy, and peace.   These feelings tell us how life should be lived and how we should think and believe.  Fear is almost always a lie.  For example, ending a conversation with a friend is often the hardest part.  I become afraid that I won’t be able to talk to him or her again for a long time.  Then I am afraid that I will be miserable and lonely or miss my friend too much to want to do anything else.  The truth becomes something different.  I find something to do, some work or task or diversion, and I’m fine.  Fear was a lie.
Incidentally, I’m not talking about common sense or instinct.  Not putting my hand on a hot stove is not fear; it is common sense.  I don’t need to invite pain needlessly.   In addition, sometimes I have instincts about doing or not doing something.  This is also not fear, but a message meant to guide me on a correct course.  When I have trusted and obeyed these instincts I have not regretted it. When I haven’t, I have always regretted it.
So what does all this have to do with Purpose?  If fear takes over, it interferes with my Purpose.  It’s that simple.  So when I become afraid, I need to do whatever I can to get out of that fear.  Fear, like many emotions, is a choice, but in the midst of it, it seems like we have no choice at all.  It feels like an inescapable prison.  It isn’t.  We can be free.  We can get back into Purpose.  We just have to Get Started and Keep Going.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Did I Forget How to Write?

“Go forth, and play joyfully in the garden of life.”

Jonathan Lockwood Huie

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What's a sundial in the shade?”

Benjamin Franklin

“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste”

Henry Ford

Do I still have it?  Can I still write?  After this week, I’m not so sure.  This week I have done very little writing.  Between a new job, a different schedule and a lot of traveling, I simply chose not to do it.  There was also fatigue.  The truth is I chose to do other things.  That’s really the best way to put it.  This takes away blame and self-criticism.  I simply chose to do other things.  Am I happy with my choices?  There are two answers to that question:  Yes and It doesn’t matter. 
Yes, I’m happy with the choices I made.  I spent time learning a new job and dealing with all the details of that new job than I did writing.  I’m glad I made that choice.  I want to do my job well.  I don’t want to be careless or thoughtless.  People are blessed when I do my job well.    It blesses the people I work with and the people I work for.  I need to enhance my work and make it as good as it can be.
The way I can enhance my work is by reading as much as possible so that I can add to the materials I’ve been given.  The nice thing about reading is that I can read almost anything and apply it to my teaching.  I can also study techniques to help improve my performance.  On my way to deliver a presentation the other day, I listened to two podcasts about how to present more effectively.   It fascinates me that though I have natural skills in certain things, such as writing or speaking, there is always room for growth and there are always new things to learn. 
What I still struggle with, however, is the Enemy.  I’ve wasted a lot of time tonight.  I did what I wanted to do today, but when it was time to write, I found myself procrastinating and delaying even more than usual.  Or maybe it was the usual amount and I’ve forgotten, in just a few days, how much I struggle to do my work.  The irony is that it’s not that hard to do this.  At this very moment, the words are flowing from my fingers to the page, almost effortlessly.  It’s as if my Muse were giving me extra energy, but it took me a long time to get to this point. 
Speaking of my Muse, how is she doing?  I mentioned in a recent blog that she told me to not write the other day and focus on my new job.  I don’t think she wanted me to skip this much time though.   This is only my fourth blog this week.  Usually by this time, I’ve written at least three times as many.  So how do I feel about this?  As I said, it doesn’t matter.
The best way to redeem the past is to change my present.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time in regret.  Yes, I know that writers are supposed to right every day.   Yes, I probably could have scheduled my time differently or not done other things.  Yes, I know that it’s easy to give in to the Enemy.  And it doesn’t matter.  I’m here now.  I’m writing now.  Tonight I may write again.  Or perhaps I’ll write two blogs tomorrow.  What I’m not going to do is spend time in regret.  I can’t change or undo one second of the past.  I can’t change or undo one thing I have done or anyone else has done.  All I can do is stay focused now.  That battle is large enough. 
Honestly, I’m feeling inspired again.  When I sat down to write, I feared that I might have forgotten everything or that I might have lost my passion for my Purpose.  I haven’t done either.  I still remember how to write and I still have passion for what I’m doing.  However, I also have passion for serving in other ways.  I’m passionate about reading, about encouraging others, about speaking well and about bringing hope.  I’m passionate about being a better father.  I’m passionate about reaching my goals.  In addition, I think I am, like most people, good at several things.  I don’t get to use all my gifts every day, so it was good to do my work in other ways.
So, although I didn’t write much this week, I used my time well and I was in Purpose constantly.  I did the things I was supposed to do.  I worked.  I encouraged.  I learned.  And I spent time with my Muse.  I love writing, but it doesn’t matter that I wrote less this week, because I served more (or at least the same amount).  I remembered to Get Started and Keep Going.  I just did them in a different way.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Change and Unfairness

This week I was doing corporate training.  I’m glad not only for the work, but that I am doing work I love.  I feel privileged.  The topic of the trainings is change.  Here are some of the things I am telling or will tell my audience:
·      Change is normal.
·      Change is often healthy.
·      Change is inevitable.
·      Change is actually desirable, though we may not realize it.
·      Whether change is good or bad depends on the view of the person going through it.
·      Undergoing change is rarely easy, but it can often be good. 
·      If there were no change in our lives, we would most likely seek it out. 
·      Bill Murray demonstrated many of the above ideas in the movie Groundhog Day.  When things didn’t change, first he took advantage of it to meet all his baser desires. Then it caused him to be suicidal.  Then he created a new life and completely changed himself for the better.
·      Almost every major change I experienced, and even some traumatic events, resulted in something better.
·      The few that did not seem to do so, such as the death of my best friend at 18, may have a purpose beyond my understanding.  Or it may not.  It may just be a tragedy with no reason or purpose.  But it did provide me with some valuable lessons, such as to always wear a seatbelt and be careful when giving advice.
·      Life is not fair.  Nor would we really want it to be.  If it were always fair, there would be no struggle and thus no growth. 
·      Unfairness can be a horrible concept.  Unfairness leads to racism, sexism, ageism and the oppression of the helpless or the less powerful.  This is maddening and cannot be discussed blithely while sitting in the comfort of one’s warm, safe home.  It must be really looked at and not tolerated.  At the same time, blind rage over unfairness can lead to the inability to form constructive solutions.  Thoughtful action is required.  If the unfairness is in the past, then thoughtful healing may be required.
·      Sometimes people say to accept everything that happens.  I think it’s better to acknowledge them and then decide if you want accept them or change them.
·      Nobody likes the unfair things or the injustices of life.  Nor should they.  It is from the point of acknowledgement, however, that we can begin to affect change.
·      When I add up all the events in my life, I think there has been more good than bad.
·      Much of the “bad” stayed bad longer than it needed to, because I didn’t move on from it.
·      It’s okay to get help when trauma or bad events overwhelm us.
·      It’s may be necessary to get help if the trauma or bad events occurred years ago.
·      I think a lot of pain from the past has to do with how we think, speak and act in the present.
·      I don’t have all the answers.  That’s one of the reasons I need other people.
·      Other people don’t have all the answers either.  That’s one of the reasons they need me.
·      One of the answers I may give others, especially those dealing with change or unfairness is to Get Started and to Keep Going.  Doing those two things has helped me immensely.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Didn't Write Yesterday

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.

Douglas Pagels

“It takes time to live. Like any work of art, life needs to be thought about.”
Albert Camus

I didn’t write yesterday because my Muse told me to take the day off.  This surprised me.  I thought I was supposed to write every day.  Steven Pressfield and Stephen King write every day, without fail.  So isn’t that what I should be doing?  Isn’t that the law for writers?  This wasn’t the Enemy telling me to not write; it was my Muse.  Why would she say something like this?
My Muse told me to take the day off for the following reasons:
·      I had a very impacted work schedule yesterday and she knew I would be stressed and tired.
·      Writing a blog would have created more stress.
·      Writing a blog would have lessened my sense of responsibility to do my job as well as I could.
·      Writing a blog would have lessened my ability to enjoy the present.
·      My life is not about writing.  My life is about living and living well.  This means taking care of myself.   This means loving myself.
·      Although life is made up of many small choices made over time, one small choice made one time probably won’t make a difference.
·      It turned out I was too busy and too tired to write yesterday anyway.

All of this brought up questions.  Am I a quitter?   Is writing not important to me?  Am I being inconsistent?  No, no, and no. I am simply living life.  I have standards.  One of them is to write as much as possible.  This is not, however, a rule.  This is a guideline.  It is, as I said, a standard.  In the big picture, I have still written nearly 500 blogs in a year and a half.  Perhaps I will write two blogs a day for the next year without fail.   Or maybe I won’t.  There are many purposes for writing these blogs.  Exhausting myself isn’t one of them.  Enjoying life is.  So is encouraging others.  And if someone wants to be encouraged, there are still 490 other blogs to read.
So I took the day off from writing yesterday, but I didn’t take the day off from Purpose.  The Purpose of Purpose is love and I was able to love others, my Muse and myself by doing my job well, by getting some sleep and by reducing my stress. According to one website,,  stress related health issues cost $300 billion. I prefer not to be part of that.  It was a more responsible and loving decision to not write.  Today writing is the more responsible and loving decision.  In fact, I might even write two blogs.
Can one be responsible and consistent and still take time off?  Yes, because, again, life is not about rules, but about living and living well.  When my health or morale are affected I don’t live well.  This leaves the door open for not only damaging my health and morale, but it allows for the possibility of preventing me from writing at all.  So, at the advice of my Muse, I backed off.  Retreating is not surrender.  It’s just retreating…for a while.
It also helps to remind myself that yesterday was an exception.  I still plan to write every day.  I still plan on writing three pages every morning and doing at least one blog a day and preferably two.  I still plan on doing my radio shows.  I still plan on saving money.  I still plan on getting my house on the beach.
Nothing changed yesterday.
I still plan to Get Started and Keep Going…for a long, long time.  That’s why I didn’t write yesterday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Mind and Purpose

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”

John Milton – Paradise Lost

“A good mind is a lord of a kingdom.”

Seneca – Thyestes

“The monsters of the mind are far worse than those that actually exist. Fear, doubt, and hate have hamstrung more people than beasts ever have.”
Christopher Paolini - Brisingr

The mind is amazing.  It is also dangerous.  It is incredibly powerful and it is often underused or used incorrectly.  When we speak of the mind taking over we are not talking about something good.  The untrained mind or the uncontrolled mind can be deadly, literally.  People create anger, depression, hatred, and fear all because of what’s in the mind.  People get sick and even kill others or themselves because of what’s in their minds.  This isn’t to say that all illness is illegitimate, but in my own experience I know that stress caused me great physical pain.  As Elizabeth Scott says in 8 Keys to Stress Management, the body often reacts to what is in the mind because the body doesn’t know the difference between a genuinely stressful situation and one created by the mind. 
When people behave irrationally or dangerously, they are said to be out of their minds.  When people are distracted or thoughtless, they are said to be mindless.  When people’s minds are controlled, they are said to be hypnotized, and caused to do someone else’s will.  So to be in our own minds or to be mindful is a good thing.  Too much mind, however, may cause problems.  The problems come when we believe or accept everything that comes into our mind as truth or as something to be acted upon without further reflection.
For example, I had a thought recently that almost triggered a panic attack.  It came unexpectedly and mostly out of nowhere.  I could feel the panic and the fear starting to rise.  That created more fear.  I was driving at the time, so I found a safe place and pulled over and read my two most recent blogs.  The one about being patient was especially helpful.  Then the panic receded.  What the mind brought to me, the mind also took away.  I replaced the harmful thoughts with more productive thoughts.  I then got busy with some tasks and it wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I realized my panic had disappeared completely.
Yesterday I noticed something else that was disturbing about my mind.  I noticed how quick it was to go to the negative in almost every situation.  For example, if I got a green light, instead of being grateful, my mind went to the time I got a ticket.  My mind also likes to relive past hurts, injustices, and inconveniences.   Worse, it likes to create problems where there actually are none.  It likes to go into the negative, the angry and the fearful.  Sometimes the mind is like a spoiled child, always clamoring to have its own way.  The more I cater to its bad behavior, the worse it will get.   Like a child, it needs training and discipline.   Left to its own devices, it will often cause problems. 
I cannot spoil my mind.  I cannot let it have its way.  The mind is meant to serve a purpose.  It is meant to help solve problems, not create them.   It is meant to bring me curiosity, exploration and learning.  It is meant to make me think and enjoy.  It’s fun when I can reminisce or solve a puzzle.  I even enjoy how it lets me solve a problem that I’ve been working on for a while by giving me the answer unexpectedly after I’ve let the problem go. 
The mind must be my, servant not my master, because, like money, it is not a good or kind master, but it is a great servant.  My mind can tell me to quit or it can tell me to Get Started and Keep Going.  Ultimately, I must be in control.  All products of the mind, fears, angers, discouragements, and even bad dreams must be examined and reined in.  They are just thoughts, not reality.
Reality is when I take action.  It is my mind that can get me to my Purpose or it is my mind that can distract me from it.  I know which one I choose.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reminders for a Busy Day

Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.

Hans Selye

Sometimes when people are under stress, they hate to think, and it's the time when they most need to think.

William J. Clinton

To be a champion, you have to learn to handle stress and pressure. But if you've prepared mentally and physically, you don't have to worry.

Harvey Mackay

Reminders for a busy day:
1.     Stress is a result of what’s going on in my mind, not in my calendar.
2.     Breathe.  Literally.  Breathe.  As you breathe in and out, slowly, you will allow tension to leave your body as oxygen gets into your blood cells.  You will release the tension in your muscles.  Really.  Breathe.
3.     Smile.  This is another way of allowing oxygen into your body.  It also tells your mind that things are not as bad as you are imagining.
4.     Tell yourself that if there were an actual emergency and someone needed you, you would be able to do what you needed to do calmly and in the right order.  Today’s to-do list is not an emergency.  It’s just long.
5.     Tell yourself that you’re not really worried about getting the tasks done.  What is worrying you is the awful future you are imagining if you don’t get the tasks done.  Remind yourself that all futures are imaginary until and unless they happen.  Then, of course, they aren’t the future anymore, but the present and you can handle the present.
6.     Eat.
7.     Make a list of everything you have to do.  Write it down.  This is half the battle right here.  The other half is when you get to cross off each item as you complete it.
8.     Be patient. With others and with yourself. 
9.     Be aware at every moment what your body and mind are doing.  If you are feeling tension or anger, acknowledge it and breathe.
10.  Don’t worry if the breathing doesn’t get immediate results.  Just keep doing it.  You’ll feel the difference soon enough.
11.  Pray about your day.  Offer your day to God and ask Him to guide each step.
12.  Ask for prayer. 
13.  Ask for help.
14.  Take a few moments to practice tapping if you know how to do this. 
15.  Drink a lot of water.  A lot.
16.  Promise yourself a treat or a few treats as you get things done.
17.  Be aware when you are allowing distractions to keep you from your tasks.
18.  Enjoy the things you “have to” do.  If you were in prison or in a hospital, you would wish for a “normal” life in which you’d be able to do these things. 
19.  Remember that there are really very few things in life you “have to” do.  Everything you are doing is your choice.  In fact, your present life, good and bad, is largely the result of your choices, good and bad.  If you don’t like things as they are, make different choices.  Then accept the rewards and consequences of your choices without fanfare or complaints.
20.  If you really feel that you have no choice and that you can’t change things, then change your view of things. 
21.  Practice gratitude.  If you can read this, then you aren’t blind.  That alone is something to be grateful for.  It also means you know how to use a computer.  That is something else to be grateful for.  It also means you are intelligent.  That is something else to be grateful for.  It also means you can use your mind and your physical abilities to change things.  That is something else to be grateful for.  Get it?  I could do this all day.
22.  Have fun.  Make it a game.  How quickly and well can you get things done?  Give yourself 10 points for each task done.  Deduct points for impatience, irritability, or negativity.
23.  Get Started and Keep Going.  Action is one of the best remedies for stress relief.
24.  If the day is good or bad is largely up to you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Patience and Purpose

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

St. Paul Galatians 5:22-23

When St. Paul lists the virtues above, he does not list them separately; he lists them as one.  They are all connected, all part of each other.  The virtues come as a single virtue, as a unit, as part of the whole package.  They are each facets of the same diamond.  The facet that interests me the most now is patience.  Love is patience.  I am not always a patient man and therefore I am not always a loving man.  When I am impatient I also lack peace.  Obviously, I lack all of the virtues, but I notice what the lack of patience creates in me and I want to create a better way.
When I am impatient, I am not fun to be around.  My impatience most often manifests itself when I am under a time constraint.  It comes out when I am dealing with too many things at the same time.  Sometimes people who seem excessively needy are difficult for me.  I don’t do well with institutionalized rules that seem to make no sense.   I’m not proud of this characteristic, but until today I never equated it with a lack of love, or a lack of any of the other virtues.  For me, it was a singular weakness that I had not examined very closely.
Then my Muse asked to write about it.  More specifically I encountered a situation that made me feel impatient.   This wasn’t just the kind of impatience one feels at a traffic light.  It was larger and more insidious.  It was the impatience of wanting something that I have to wait for.   I want my house on the beach.  I want to write professionally.  I want people to buy my book.  I want all my hard work to pay off.   I want my financial life in order.  Sometimes all of it seems very far away.
Here’s what my impatient self wants to do:
·      Complain.
·      Think and speak negatively.
·      Be afraid.
·      Give up.

I rarely give up, but I have done more than my share of complaining and being negative and afraid.  I’ve fought these for a long time.  Impatience has even caused me to be rude and I’ve had to apologize more often than I’d like to admit.  Because I lack patience, I also lack peace.  When I lack peace, I struggle with fear.  Fear is one of my greatest enemies and I’ve been its grip too often and for too long.  What I may need to conquer my fears then is not courage, but patience. 
“I will wait for you.”
That is what I need to say when I feel fearful.  I will wait for my house on the beach, for my writing to be noticed, for my goals to be realized.  If I am patient, then I can withstand fear because I know that delays are only that – delays.  They are not the end if I don’t allow them to be.  I have made up my mind on this.  There is no Plan B.
Patience is another form of determination.  I am determined to get my house on the beach no matter what.  If I have to wait, so be it, but I’m going to reach my goals eventually. 
Patience is also a form of persistence, which is a form of faith.  In The Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale says, “If you didn’t have faith, you would never persist.” 
So I persist.  I write every day.  I keep my eyes on my goals and I do something every single day that moves me closer. 
All these years I’ve been doing all I can to fight my fears.  Perhaps the fight has been so persistent because I took the wrong approach.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been fighting, but waiting.  Perhaps my attitude should have been one of waiting rather than warring. 
So here’s what I know.  I will wait patiently for my house on the beach and for all my other goals.  If something looks like a delay or even a denial, I will keep waiting patiently.  I will keep writing.  Even if my Muse goes far away, and I don’t know what to write, I’ll Get Started and I’ll Keep Going.  I will wait patiently for her to return to me.  I will trust her to return and not worry.  I don’t need to worry; I only need to be patient.  While I am patient I will be working.  Patience and progress will lead me to my Purpose.  Patience overcomes fear, because it doesn’t consider an unwanted outcome as something permanent or as the end of the story.  My story isn’t over until my life is and maybe not even then.  I will find out as long as I remain patient.