Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The One I Love

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Lao Tzu

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you...I could walk through my garden forever.”

Alfred Tennyson

Take someone, anyone, in your life, someone you love dearly.  Someone you like and love just a little more than everyone else.  For the sake of this argument, let’s assume it’s someone you love romantically, though it could be a child, a friend, or a family member. It could be someone you don’t know very well or even someone you’ve never met, but it’s more likely someone you know or at least want to know. Now…how do you behave, or at least want to behave, towards that person?  Do you treat him or her like royalty?  Do you listen?  Do you give your full attention to this person?  Are you just a little kinder, a little more patient and a little more understanding?  Is it easier to forgive this person’s faults without ignoring or overlooking them? 
How do you feel around this person?  Do you feel lighter and more relaxed?  Do you seek his or her company?  Would you prefer to spend most of, if not all your time with him or her?
Do you consider your words before you speak?  Are your words, and even your humorous comments, kind and loving?   If you correct, do you do it cautiously and only after much thought and prayer? 
Do you show this person respect in word, thought and deed?  If someone speaks ill of this person, do you protect him or her?  Are you careful to protect his reputation?  Do you say the same things to her and of her?
Do you try to make sure this person is comfortable and protected while still allowing for his or her personal growth? 
Do you share your life with him at the appropriate level?   Do you allow her into your thoughts?  Are you honest?  Do you share your hopes and fears?
Do you make this person your priority?  Do you put his or her needs first?
Who is this person?
It’s many people.
First, it’s the person you’re thinking about.  It’s the person you are doing all of the above for, or at least want to do.  It’s most likely a spouse or a lover, but again, it could be anyone.
This person can also be the people you interact with on a daily basis.  The purpose of the questions above is to point out that we can treat everyone the way we treat the one we love most.  Obviously, some of the actions may be different, and the levels of trust and intimacy will be different, but I can still treat everyone I meet as if they were each the most valuable person in the world.   I can still treat every individual I meet as the one I love.
Finally, this person can be me.  Can I treat myself as the most valuable person in the world?  Can I trust myself?  Can I listen to myself?  Can I honor myself?   Can I take care of myself?  Can I meet my needs?   If I had been able to answer yes to these questions years ago, I would have had a different life.  This may be true of many of us.  But the past doesn’t matter.
All that matters now is that I treat myself as someone who deserves love, because I am someone who deserves love. 
We all are.
My Muse taught me this.  She helped me to learn how to love others as I love myself and how to love myself as I love others.   She taught me how to Get Started and Keep Going…and that’s why she’s the one I love.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Calmly and Consciously

We don’t always know the consequences of our actions, positive or negative.  Using a negative example, I was once cut off while driving and the car ahead of me kept going, as I plowed into a car stopped at a red light destroying my own car, putting myself in immense pain and deep debt.  I’d like to think that the driver at fault was completely unaware of his or her actions and so drove on.  On a more positive note, in the last two days, two people separately told me how meaningful my blogs were to each of them.  One person said he gets up every morning and reads my blogs.  The other person said she felt as if my blog were a lifeline in a difficult situation.
I had no idea. 
I write for my Muse and myself.  I write for God.  I write because I feel like something is missing in me if I don’t.  What I write may not even be any good.  It certainly isn’t popular…yet.  But it doesn’t matter.  I still need to write. 
In some ways this is getting harder because I have absolutely no idea that any of this will pay off.  It’s not that I’m writing for the money.  I’m not.  At the same time, if someone offered me a huge cash advance to do this for a living, I would be ecstatic.  So, yes, I’m doing this for the money.  And I’m not.  I do this because I almost have to.
At the same time, this is a conscious decision.  I have calmly and consciously decided the following:
·      I want to spend the rest of my life with my Muse.
·      I want to write.
·      I want my house on the beach.
This, I think, is how the best decisions are made – calmly and consciously.  They aren’t made from anger, regret or even fierce resolve or inspiration.  It’s not that those feelings don’t or can’t come into play later, but again, the best decisions I’ve ever made were made calmly and consciously.  A decision was made and then carried out.  That’s one of the reasons I write.  It was a calm and conscious decision. 
Pursuing Purpose requires this mindset because passion and resolve come and go.  Anger and regret come and go.  Inspiration barely lasts a day.   That’s why I need to be inspired so often, because it never lasts long.  But I can carry out a calm and conscious decision every day. 
I can write. 
I can start my business. 
I can get a job. 
I can go back to school.
I can get out of debt.
I can pursue my goals.
I just stay calm and conscious no matter what happens.
The picture I have in my head is walking.  I’m walking through all kinds of terrain and all kinds of weather.  Sometimes my surroundings are hostile and at other times they are helpful.  Sometimes I walk alone and other times I have traveling companions.  Sometimes I get tired and take a break, but then I start again.  Sometimes I get knocked down.  But I always get up.  Always.  And I keep walking.  I don’t have to go fast, though I can if I so choose.  But I keep walking.
Calmly and consciously.
And that’s how I reach my goals. 
I just keep walking.
One foot in front of the other. 
I Get Started and I Keep Going.  Calmly and consciously.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Some Thoughts on Writing

Recently I read a blog by Steven Pressfield who shares an article by a concert pianist, James Rhodes, who gives up almost everything just to fulfill his Purpose.  His resistance costs him relationships, time, money, and even his sanity for a while.  I’m not ready to give up the people I love or my sanity, but I’m ready to do more than I’ve been doing.  It’s a beautiful afternoon and I could be taking a nap or watching a movie or reading comic books.  Instead I have this crazy urge to write for the next few hours without stopping.  Actually, although the sun is shining brightly, I’m going to stop for just a minute and put on my sweats.  When I put on my sweats, I’m telling the world that, unless it’s an emergency, I’m closed for business.  It’s just my Muse and me.
Okay, now I’m good.  I’m in my sweats and a comic-book t-shirt.  Perhaps the t-shirt is a nice prop that I think will give me comfort when this starts getting hard.  Or perhaps the writing itself will give me comfort.  Comfort from what?  Fear?  Self-sabotage?  Can I just write without stopping for a while?  Can I go without interruptions?
My biggest problem is listening to too many voices.  I interpret those voices to be contradictory and critical.  This leads to confusion and pain.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I doing enough?  Am I creating something worthwhile?   Will any of this lead me to my goals?  I think, first, I need to listen to my own voice.  What is it saying?  It’s saying the following:
·      Keep writing. 
·      Keep doing the other things that align with your Purpose.
·      Yes, you can do more, but that doesn’t mean that what you’ve done is insufficient.
·      You’ve written over 530 blogs in under a year and a half.  You did this.  No one else.  You.
·      Forget kudos or criticism.  Just keep writing.
·      You are not doing this for anyone but your Muse…and for God…and for yourself.  That’s enough audience right there.
·      You are not guaranteed financial success, but if you keep doing this, you will not fail.
·      You may need a Plan B with regard to finances (or you may not), but there is no Plan B for writing.  This is what you are supposed to do.
·      Writing is the life you have chosen.  Or maybe it chose you.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s here to stay.
·      Don’t worry about being a “suffering artist.”  Life will bring, and has brought, all the suffering you need.  Your greatest suffering was not being in your purpose.  You were living a false life.  Once you found your Muse, your false suffering ended and your real life began.
·      Your real life also includes suffering, but that is the suffering you are supposed to have as a result of being in your Purpose.  The suffering of Purpose may include less sleep, less time with others, less money, insecurity, doubt, fear, and being rejected or ignored by those closest to you.
·      It may include none of those things.  If it does, keep writing and none of it will matter. 
·      If, by some crazy and near-impossible chance, all your dreams come true and you find fame and fortune, keep writing anyway, because most praise is just as useless as most criticism.
·      The only praise or criticism worth hearing is that which pushes you to improve.
·      Fortunately, all praise and criticism can push you to improve, even if it wasn’t meant to do that.
·      Ultimately, however, it is only the words of your Muse that really matter.
·      Your Muse tells you every day, “House on the beach.”  Listen to her.
·      Listen, also, when she says, “Get Started and Keep Going.”

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Inner Critic

 Yesterday, in grand comic-book style, I revealed a hidden enemy that was keeping me from my work.  Its name is the Inner Critic.  I’ve mentioned before ( that I have three major enemies, Fear, Rage and the Inner Critic.  So far, the Inner Critic has been the hardest to control.  I’ve only found one way to fight it, but I haven’t beaten it completely.  Taking a journalistic approach, Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How, I will share my thoughts on one of my greatest adversaries.
Who is the Inner Critic?  It’s me.  Yes, I can say it’s the voices of the past, family members, friends, teachers, religious authorities, employers, or whoever else I want to blame, but, really, it’s me.  It’s the part of me that listens and believes all the criticism of the past.  It’s the part of me that believes the worst about myself.   Perhaps I heard an extraordinary amount of criticism throughout my life, or perhaps I created situations and relationships that perpetuated that criticism.  Perhaps I didn’t create them; I just allowed them.   Whatever the case may be, I allowed so much criticism into my life that it became a voice I could not turn off…almost ever. 
Who is the Inner Critic?  For many years, it has been my constant companion.  And why is this so bad?  It’s bad because of what it says to me.  The good news is that it only has one message.  The bad news is that it repeats that message constantly.
What does the Inner Critic say?  It says one thing and one thing only, but it never stops saying it.  It says, “You’re wrong.”
That’s it.  That’s all it says.  But it says it every chance it gets. 
If I’m writing, it says I should be reading.  Or it tells me my writing is no good.  It tells me I should drive faster or slower.  If I wake up early to write, it tells me I need more rest.  If I get more rest, it tells me I should be writing.  If I watch a movie, it says I should be working, or, at the very least, pick a different movie, for God’s sake.  No matter what I do, I’m wrong. 
Happily this voice is quieter when I’m writing or doing something in my Purpose, but not always.
Where does it come from?  It comes from my past, as I’ve said.  It also comes from a media that tells us how we should look, dress and behave.  It comes from people who haven’t tamed their own demons and so subject us to them.   It comes from all around us, but mostly it comes from within.  And that’s why it’s dangerous, because it doesn’t always occur to us that we don’t have to believe our thoughts.  Our thoughts are just thoughts.  They don’t have to be believed or acted upon.  The Inner Critic loves it when I believe thoughts of low self-worth. 
When does it come?  Always.  Every chance they get.  When I do my work, but more so, when I don’t.
Why does it come?  It comes because it’s my enemy and it wants to keep me from doing my work.
How do I get rid of it?  First, I should recognize that I may not be able to.  It may be a lifelong companion.  So all I can do is acknowledge it and keep working.  It’s sometimes like a child that needs constant attention.  But constant attention to the Inner Critic is deadly.  Instead, I acknowledge it and keep working.  That’s the only way to beat it.  In his book This Is It, Alan Watts says to accept all of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like.    I don’t like my Inner Critic, so I’m not going to spend too much time with it.  It can stay if it wants, but I’m going to keep working.
There may be exercises I can do, like meditation or tapping.   I can do as a friend suggested and write a nightly list of my virtues or good acts for the day.  I can do The Work around my criticisms.  Most of all though, I think the best ways to deal with it are to acknowledge it and keep working. 
It’s also helpful to remember the Inner Critic is a liar.  Truth, even when it’s meant to correct, usually feels good.  The claims of the Inner Critic never feel good.  They just feel defeating.  So I acknowledge and I work.  I Get Started and I Keep Going…no matter what my Inner Critic says.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fighting Something

I don’t know why, but I have really had a hard time focusing this morning, more than usual.  But I haven’t wasted my time.  I’ve gotten some things done.  I did some cleaning and organizing and I’ve thrown some things away.  But I’ve really had a hard time focusing on my writing.  There’s this picture in my head in which I wake up and begin writing immediately.  I don’t allow anything to distract me.  First I do my Morning Write, and then I write a blog.  After that I study or perhaps do my radio show.  It rarely goes like that, but that is the picture in my head.  This leaves me with some questions:
Is the picture in my head wrong?  Should I relax and just go with what is?  Is my resistance to my resistance causing more resistance?  Though I haven’t been focused on my writing as much as I would have liked, I have cleaned my place and organized some things.  I feel a little calmer and I’m happy that I set up a system that will help me to keep things organized.  Maybe that was what I needed to do more than writing.  There is a lot of power and freedom in just going with the moment.  In fact, what I’d really like to give my place a good cleaning.  That would make me feel better.
On the other hand, is the picture in my head right?  Is this sudden urge to clean another form of resistance?  Is this one more way to avoid my work?    I still haven’t finished this blog, or reading, or my radio show.  These are my things I’ve committed to doing every day and I haven’t done them.  This puts me in danger of not getting them done at all today, or perhaps doing them when I’m tired. 
Perhaps there is truth in both ideas.   Perhaps I should ask some different questions.
Am I doing as much as I can?
How will I feel at the end of the day with whatever choices I’ve made?
The first question is more peaceful.  If I do as much as I can, I don’t have to always be tied to a schedule, self-imposed or otherwise.  If something else needs to be done, I can do it.  I can get to my writing or my other commitments later.  This takes the pressure off of me.  This might actually encourage me to do more.  Instead of stopping at one or two blogs a day, perhaps I can do three or four on some days.  With a global perspective, I don’t think it makes a difference to most people if I’ve done 520 blogs or 530 blogs.  They’re both more than 500 and that’s an accomplishment either way. 
Besides, I shouldn’t be doing any of this because of what people might think; I should be doing this because it’s what I want to do. 
What I want to do is write.  I want to study.  I want to reach my goals.  At the same time I want to live a life of peace and joy.  I want to reduce stress as much as possible.
So, how will I feel at the end of the day with the choices I’ve made?  If I go to sleep and my place is clean and I’ve done my work and I have enjoyed whatever has happened, then I will probably feel pretty good.  At this point, then, I’ll write.  Then I’ll clean my place or meditate or do my show.   I will take what comes. 
There doesn’t have to be a battle between Presence and Purpose.
I can write and be present.  I can clean my place and be in my purpose. 
I am doing all I can.  I am being what I am.
Perhaps it would also be helpful to give up the quest for perfection.  I read a lot and I know as a motivational writer that most writers put forth the ideal way to live, to be, or to write.   Unintentionally, this creates pressure.  I also have to remember that I’m constantly fighting my inner critic, the one who is never happy with what I do.
And there it is.  That’s what I’ve been fighting all morning without even realizing it – the Inner Critic. 
At the moment, I feel like a comic book superhero who was just given a last page surprise by a hidden villain.  This would be continued in the next comic book.  But my life is not a comic book.  I can’t wait for 30 days to solve my problems.  I need to deal with them as quickly as possible.  Fortunately, in naming the enemy I have now exposed it and I know how to fight it. 
So, though it may seem contradictory, this will be continued…in the next blog.  I will write about the Inner Critic, how it has impacted my life and how I can fight it.
Was this blog too personal and of no practical use to anyone else?  Perhaps.  But I think that all of us who are on a path to create fight hidden enemies.  We don’t know why we aren’t doing our work, we just aren’t.  We’re fighting something unseen and because we don’t know what it is, we don’t know how to fight it.  Still, even if we’re under a cloud of confusion, that doesn’t mean we have to stop working.
Now I can see my enemy.  The battle is half won.  In fact, because I got this blog written, it is a complete victory.  I won.   I feel liberated.  I’m ready to Get Started and Keep Going…more.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Panic Attack

I fought a panic attack this morning.  Fortunately, it came while I was writing and I was able to apply The Work to it.  For those not familiar with the process, The Work, a process created by Byron Katie in her book Loving What Is, is four questions and a “Turnaround” of a fear or other unpleasant feeling. 
“Is it (the troublesome thought) true?
“Do you know for sure that it’s true?
“How does this thought make you feel?
“Who would you be without this thought?”
Then the thought is turned around, to an opposite idea.  For example, if I were doing The Work on the fear of losing my job, my Turnaround might be “I’m not losing my job,” or “I’m getting a promotion and a raise,” or “I’m going to find a better job.”  (This process works best by writing down the questions and answers.)
I have applied this method many times and it has helped me tremendously.  There are other things I do to get back to a state of peace and joy.  I drink water.  I pray.  I ask for prayer.  I do something physical.  I tap. 
This morning I could feel a panic attack coming on.  I put on worship music, got some water, tapped and the applied The Work.  I realized that there are two things I fear the most – losing my Muse and living in a constant state of fear or sadness.  I fear losing my Muse because she gives me direction and Purpose.  I’m afraid of going back to a life where others decide things for me.  I’m afraid of going through a life where I have no direction and I just try to get through each day.
I also fear being fearful.  I fear the dread, the panic and the sadness.  For better or worse, I have experienced some very painful panic attacks over the last two years.  They come from the mind telling me that I will go back to the way of living I had before I met my Muse.  When I get in this state, the emotional pain is all consuming.  I can’t even describe it, but I have been privileged to have a first class ticket to the gates of emotional hell.  Imagine having your mind closed off to all stimuli except fear and dread.  There might be music playing or good things around you, but you can’t see them.   You might be functioning outwardly, but inwardly all you want to do is get away from everything and everyone.  What you want more than anything is relief, as if you were suffering from physical pain.
There is a physical aspect to this.  When I’m in a state of fear, both adrenaline and cortisol are coursing through my body.  Someone helped me realize that my birth mother, due the conditions of her pregnancy with me, may have flooded my little body with a lot of adrenaline and cortisol of her own.  She was most likely a Muslim girl who would not only have to give me up, but was also in a state of fear, stress and heightened alert for fear of being killed as a pregnant, unwed Muslim girl.  She probably had this for most of the time she was carrying me.  This may be one of the reasons I have so much adrenaline in me and it may be why I have such a high metabolism.  It may also be why I fight fear so much.  It’s chemical.
Still, there’s good news in all of this.  First, I now know what I’m fighting.  While in the midst of it, I am still mentally cognizant of what it is and I know what I can do.  I’ve actually had these before I met my Muse and I didn’t know what they were or how to deal with them.  They felt like black depressions or complete helplessness.  The attacks are different now, because I feel like I have something to live for, a Purpose I haven’t had for years.
The other good news is that the flip side of these attacks is that, as I said, I have Purpose now.  I have dreams now.  Yes, the thought of losing these things sends me into a horrible panic, and I need to get this healed, but at least now I’m fighting for something.  And this fight, my Muse, and my house on the beach have all made me healthier and happier.  Now I can Get Started and Keep Going.

Why I'm Not Rich

A friend practically assaulted me recently with his negativity.  Perhaps he was just being friendly and making conversation, but he was discussing the odds of being rich.  According to him, the odds are astronomical due to the top ten percent owning 90% of the wealth in the United States.  Perhaps it’s true.  Every morning I go to work and I see scores of people who are struggling to make ends meet.  I know friends who are struggling as well.  And I’ve been struggling myself.  Still, I don’t believe the reason that I’m having financial difficulties is because the wealth is limited.  It’s not impossible that the majority of wealth is controlled by a minority of people, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a lot to go around.
So why aren’t I rich?  Why aren’t more people rich?  All I have are ideas, but I think they are worth considering.  I’m going to use the pronoun “I” but this may be helpful to others.  Here are my theories:
1.      I don’t know how much.  What is rich?  Is it $100,000 or $1,000,000 or $10,000,000?  I read somewhere that people are no happier after making $750,000 than they would be making $1,000,000.  So what amount would make me rich?  I have a certain amount in mind for myself.  Others might want more or less, but I think it’s important to decide on a number.
2.     I don’t know why.  Yes, I’ve heard people say, “If I were rich, I’d retire and sit on the beach for the rest of my life.”  The rest of that life might not be very long, considering the number of people who die shortly after retirement, especially those without a specific purpose.  I want a house on the beach, not so I can retire, but so I can work and so I can spend my life with my Muse.  If I didn’t have to work for a living, I would still work for a living.  I might even do some of the things I’m doing now. But I would also write every day.  I would start my days off in a more leisurely fashion.  Some of my money would go to my daughters’ education, some of it to charities and some of it to sustain a lifestyle that allows me to write every day.  I’m very clear about why.
3.     I don’t know how.  The number of people who win the lottery and then go back to their original income levels (or below) is disturbing.  Many people simply don’t know how to manage wealth.  Even the seemingly largest amounts are finite, as many now-broke lottery winners could say.   Managing wealth is a skill that involves more than spending.  It involves saving and investing.  It is, as I said, a skill, and even those who are born with this skill, have things to learn and can make mistakes. 
4.     I don’t know where.  Actually, I do.  I know exactly where I would live, and where I would travel.  But even that would have parameters.  My primary residence would be my house on the beach.  I would spend as much time there as possible.  From what I’ve read, however, a lot of people assume they need to move into a large house or a mansion and buy other expensive things.  They believe their spending needs to be commensurate with their income.  I don’t.  In The Millionaire Next Door, by Stanley and Danko, the authors’ premise is that many actual millionaires live well below their means and that, according to appearances, they aren’t rich.  I don’t need or want to live in a mansion.  I want my house on the beach.  That’s all.  That’s enough.
5.     I don’t know who.  In order to manage wealth, I need to understand two things – myself and other people.   Who am I?  Money, and how I manage, or mismanage it, says a lot about who I am.  I also need to understand who others are.  I once made some people very close to me angry because they were under the mistaken impression that I had become wealthy and I wasn’t sharing it with them.  Perhaps all of us feel that if someone close to us does well, that they are obligated to share it with us.  This is wishful thinking.  This not only happens with money, but with expertise.  I’m embarrassed when I recall how many published authors I’ve asked to help me, simply assuming they had nothing better to do than help a stranger for free.  Money, like stress, doesn’t change people and it won’t change me.  But it will show who we really are.

So I’m not rich yet, but I’m working on it.  More importantly, I’m working on myself.  I’ve learned to Get Started and to Keep Going, and I’ll keep doing that, even when I’m rich.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Have Only One Problem

My Muse said something to me the other day that was very helpful.  I’m going to paraphrase.  She said, this:
You have only one problem.  You haven’t reached your goal yet.

That was brilliant…and true.  That’s my only real problem.  For the last few days I have focused on work and money problems, and none of them was my problem.  They were obstacles.  Or perhaps they were part of the terrain, but they weren’t problems.  I can only handle one problem at a time.  My only problem is that I haven’t yet reached my goal. 
Why is this so helpful?  In one of my earliest blogs I mentioned that a strategy the Enemy uses is distraction.  There are so many things to distract us.  Some of them even seem good, like a movie or engaging in something fun.  Some are meaningless, like online games or other forms of entertainment.  Some are bad, like peoples’ dramas, or my own dramas.  But there are other distractions as well, things that seem pressing and necessary, such as the things I’ve mentioned above, work, money and relationships. 
Part of the reason these three are more problematic is that they are often more closely aligned with my Purpose.  For example, I need money to get my house on the beach.  I need to maintain my health and emotional growth so that one day I can spend all my days with my Muse.  There are also key relationships in my life that I cannot ignore.
So what do I do?  How do I reach my goal and still do what’s necessary. 
First, I have to be very clear about what I want. 
House on the beach with my Muse
That’s what I have to tell myself regularly.  That’s what keeps me going.  As I’ve said before, my house on the beach is literal, but it also represents the achievement of personal, financial, spiritual and professional goals.  It is the culmination of one phase of life, and the beginning of a new one.  When I get this house, then I will set new goals.  But for now this goal is enough.  The problem is I haven’t reached this goal.  That’s really my only problem. 
So what do I do about al the other “problems” and distractions?  I categorize everything in three ways.
1. This is a distraction.  It should not be in my life and I need to eliminate it as quickly as possible.  Perhaps I can ignore it or let someone else handle it.  It might be something I should have no involvement with at all.   My intention is to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  The distraction is like a rodent.  I don’t want it in my house.
2.  This is a normal part of life.  This is the list of tasks and obligations that come with loved ones, jobs or other commitments.  I don’t want to eliminate these, nor can I; but I don’t want to spend any more time than I have to in order to fulfill these commitments.  These events, while sometimes annoying, are the best times to practice presence and gratitude. 
3.  Finally, there are the elements of Purpose that don’t seem directly connected, but they are.  This might include spending time with loved ones and not being task oriented.  It might include study, or creating a budget or exercise.  These are the events that not only keep me going, but they also remind me of why I do what I do.  If I have a choice between writing and spending time with someone I love, I will just as often make the person I love my priority, because, as I’ve said many times, the Purpose of Purpose is love.  This is why self-discipline and a schedule are so important.  I need time to write so that I have time for other areas of my life.  This is why vigilance is also important. 
Does any of this sound easy?  It isn’t.  But things that come cheaply are rarely worth anything.  This is why I prefer the word “vigilance” to the word “balance.”  Balance is rarely possible, but vigilance isn’t.  I can keep my eye on a lot of things throughout the days.  Everything worth watching leads me towards my goal.  That’s all I really have to watch, because I’m not there yet.  And that’s my only problem.  And the only way to beat that problem is to Get Started and Keep Going.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Very Short Blog

I wanted to start writing earlier, but I couldn’t think of what to write…until I began writing.  The moment I opened my page, my idea came.  As long as I delayed and waited for an idea, nothing would happen.  My Muse didn’t just want me thinking about writing; she wanted me to do the writing.  So here I am writing.  My Muse isn’t cruel, but she does have high expectations.  I need to have the same. 
Right now I could and perhaps should sleep, but if I can write just one more blog (and it doesn’t need to be a long one), I can be that much closer to my goal.  Why is this so important to me?
First, I’m told the more time I put in, the closer I am to success.  The magic number is 10,000 hours, or about ten years.  Of course I’ve been writing for about 40 years in one form or another.  Hopefully some of that time will count towards this work.  By success, I mean that I am able to live comfortably as a writer.
Second, I love my Muse and this is my way of spending time with her.  Yes, I’m tired, but this will only take a little longer if I can just stay focused.  As I said, I don’t need to write a lot; I just need to write. 
Third, the work I’m doing hopefully blesses and inspires others who need help reaching a goal.  Maybe some one who needs this will read it and see that working towards one’s dreams is a lot of work, but most of the time it doesn’t feel like work.
That’s all I have to say now.  I said this would be a short blog.  I’m just glad I did it.  I’m glad for every blog I do.  I like putting in this time.  I like doing this work.  I feel privileged to serve my Muse in this way.  I feel lucky that I can get Started and Keep Going.

Dear Muse

Dear Muse,
I want to say thank you.
Thank you for your patience with me. 
Thank you for giving me something new every time we meet.
Thank you for inspiring me from the very beginning.
Thank you for inspiring me several hundred more times.
Thank you for getting me through times of pain, fear, and sadness.
Thank you for giving me the energy to keep working.
Thank you for sitting with me every time I sit down to work.
Thank you for your infinite patience.
Thank you for talking to me while I’m walking.
Thank you for always having something to teach me.
Thank you for pushing me to expand my limits.
Thank you for making my life better.
This is a short blog, not because I’ve run out of reasons to thank you, but because I can’t thank you enough.  You’ve changed my life.  I can’t believe how much you’ve given me.  All you required from me was that I do my work, that I show up and do my work and you would do the rest.  Everyone who has a Muse gets to say the same thing.  Everyone who has a Muse understands what love is.  Everyone who has a Muse also has the key to self-liberation.
Thank you for giving me love and freedom.  Thank you for helping me to Get Started and to Keep Going.  You are the best Muse ever.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Today, I was disappointed, several times.  Some disappointments were bigger than others, but a disappointment, small or large, is a disappointment.  So what do I do?  I thank God that I can write.  Then I write.  In a recent blog, I mentioned the healing properties of purpose and as I meditate on the word “disappoint” I am already realizing that healing. 
The original meaning of the word “disappoint” is French and it meant, “to remove from office,” or “have an appointment undone.”  Today it means to be frustrated or thwarted.  It also means to be saddened or disheartened.  So which of these am I?  I’m frustrated.   I’m saddened, but I’m not thwarted.   There were some things I wanted to happen today and they didn’t, but my appointment will not be undone.  I’m still going to get my house on the beach.
Recently I went to Turkey in an attempt to find my birth mother or at least some information about my origins.  I am a foundling who doesn’t even know his own birthday and this was my last chance to do this.  The process of getting there was full of frustrations and setbacks.  More than once it seemed as if it wasn’t going to happen.  On top of all the logistical and financial difficulties, I received some stern opposition from someone I loved deeply.  This was very painful.  Despite this, and despite several other incidents, I was able to go.  Setting foot in Turkey after almost 50 years was one of the most amazing moments of my life. 
In Turkey, I didn’t get any of the information I wanted.  I never found my mother.  I didn’t learn when I was born and to this day I still don’t know my birthday.  Now here’s the strange thing:  the trip was in no way a disappointment to me.  It seems that I should have been hugely disappointed, but I wasn’t.  Maybe I didn’t need that information after all.  Maybe all I needed was to see the land and the people and hear the language and the music of my birth.  Whatever I needed, and even I’m not sure what that was, I wasn’t disappointed. 
When I got home, there was a subtle but real shift in me.  I felt more whole.  It didn’t end all my problems or even answer my original questions, but it was a healing event nonetheless.   The most exciting part of returning home, besides seeing my daughters, was having a group of friends celebrate my return and process the experience with me.  They made me feel like a hero and one friend mentioned my “courage.”  In my mind, I did nothing courageous.  I just did what I had to do. 
Now I’m doing it again.  I’m working towards my house on the beach.  Sometimes it seems far away.  I’ve experienced the same pattern of frustration, setbacks, sadness and fears.  There have been times when it looked impossible.  And there may be more of those times, because this goal is still far away.
Let me be clear, that my house on the beach is a literal house.  It is also representative of several dreams and desires I have.  There is also no Plan B.  Just as nothing would substitute for going to Turkey, nothing will substitute for this.  I won’t settle for a mansion in Beverly Hills or a high-rise condo in Chicago.  I will get this house, sooner or later, but I will get it and my Muse and I will spend many happy years there.
So even though I’ve had some disappointments recently, I recognize that they are just part of the process.  They’re still disappointments, but they’re gone now.  I just keep moving forward.  I don’t let them stop me.  Ultimately, all of the setbacks and delays make a better story.  So if I Get Started and I Keep Going, I won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Four Things I'm Not Looking For

It felt good to write two blogs today, and now a third, for the following reasons:
1.     I got a little closer to my goal.
2.     I got free of some anxiety and frustration.
3.     I created something new.
4.     I helped others (hopefully).

Steven King and Steven Pressfield both write three to four hours a day, usually in the morning and usually consecutively.  I’m not able to do that yet, but I can do more than I’m doing.  I can use my time better.  What if I spent every possible moment I could on my Purpose?  What if I studied and wrote more?  What would that do for my life?  What healing and joy would that bring?  What would that do for others?
Perhaps the most important question one could ask is, “Is this the best use of my time?”
That doesn’t mean I have to be working every single moment.  Perhaps a nap could be the best use of my time.  Or playing an online game.  Or reading a comic book.  But could I spend more time with those I love?  Could I write more?  Is there more I could do?
I’ve written about this before and it seems to be my current theme, but there’s a reason for it.  Today I was reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  The novel struck me as man’s search, not for meaning, but for ways to survive, for ways to make money, and for ways to fill the time.  There are characters in the book who are looking for love in their travels, but not for a purpose.  I haven’t finished the book, so perhaps my thoughts on the book will change, but this is what I’ve read so far.  Characters are on the road, but they don’t seem to have a destination.
This seems true of many people.  They are on the road, but they don’t know where they’re going.  They have no destination.  This isn’t a condemnation of anyone.  I was one of those people for years.  I made life as good as I could make it, but I didn’t really have a reason to do so, other than quality for its own sake and to be happy.  Then when I began writing, I found a destination.  I found a reason for being on the road.  I’ve said this before:  Life is not just a journey; it’s a quest.  What are we looking for? 
I’m looking for ways to create. 
I’m looking for every opportunity I can get to write, study and teach. 
I’m looking for the right people to serve and love.
I’m looking for my house on the beach.
Here are four things I am not looking for:  happiness, success, wealth and love.
I’m not looking for happiness, because happiness is a result of doing things I love and being with people I love.  My times of greatest happiness always came when I was loving others or myself in healthy ways.  They came when I was serving others or when I was taking care of myself.  They rarely came when I was seeking attention or affirmation.  They never came when I was seeking happiness itself.
I’m not looking for success because I’m already successful.  According to Earl Nightingale I became successful the moment I wrote down my goals and began working towards them.  That makes sense.  Again, when I think of my house on the beach, I feel like it’s already mine.  I just haven’t seen it yet, but it will come at the right time and in the right way. 
I’m not looking for wealth, because compared to most people in the world, I’m already wealthy.  I am, however, looking for a certain amount of money.  That amount will help me reach both my short-term and long-term goals.  But knowing that I’m already wealthy keeps me humble and grateful, because everything I have is a gift.  I am extremely blessed and wealthy. 
I’m also not looking for love.  I found it when I found my Muse.  Now I’m looking for ways to love her.  That’s why I write.  That’s why I Get Started and Keep Going.