Refuse to Entertain Your Old Pain

Reading is a favorite pastime and over the last fifteen years I have lost the majority of my interest in fiction; largely abandoned for non-fiction.  My preference has become reading about what actually happened, what others make of things or else simply reading to learn.

With this focus on fact, not fiction, occasionally I stumble across just the right words at a moment when they’re particularly meaningful to me. Such was the case with the following by Mary Manin Morrissey that grabbed my attention last night:

Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?

One foot on the brakes… Refuse to entertain your old pain… Those phrases rang loudly with insight for me the first, second, third and more times I read that paragraph over and over. My reaction is a good example of how a guilty man knows what’s true much more so than an innocent one. I do hold on to the past too tightly and dance with the pain back there far too often.

Today I make a renewed commitment to slacken the pressure of my foot on the ‘brake pedal’. Anew I promise to loosen my hold on the past. To the best of my ability I will “refuse to entertain” my old hurts and endeavor to increase my proficiency in doing that. I am grateful for the breath of fresh air just thinking these thoughts brings at the start of this new day.

You will find that it is necessary to let things go;
simply for the reason that they are heavy.
So let them go, let go of them.
I tie no weights to my ankles.
C. JoyBell C.

Feet in Your Shoes

Life is beautiful and meant to be enjoyed by all, but does it sometimes feel like no matter what you do, your best is never good enough, and you’re not sure which direction your life is headed? Well, don’t worry because you’re not alone. The bombardment of stress in modern-day society as we know it can be overwhelming, but you’ll be amazed at how wonderful it feels to live a life that’s calm, peaceful, and full of happiness. You too can achieve this by making just a few simple day-to-day life changes.

A sunrise represents the beginning of a new day, and that day can be the day you choose to take charge, take control, and start truly enjoying your life. Come with me and start the journey. Tomorrow is on its way, so if you’re ready for change and want to experience the best life has to offer…let’s get started! (from “Life at Sunrise: A new day to take charge, take control, and enjoy your life!” by Tracey L. McCormick)

Today is your day!
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
From “Oh, The Places You Will Go” by Dr. Seuss

Sometimes I write here to match a very positive mood I woke up with. On other days you’ll find words intended to pick me up a bit and add to my day. Today is the latter and what is found just about is borrowed. Waking up groggy after 10 hours of sleep (yes, the long weekend wore me out) I needed a little nudge to be reminded of the great gift this new day is. I’m grateful for the ‘push”.

Live every day as if it were your last…
some day you’ll be right.
H.H. “Breaker” Morant

Inexplicably Wondrous

Here we are on a Tuesday that will feel like a Monday all day long due to the holiday weekend. We’ll be a little confused as a society often wondering what day it is all week. To help me focus and keep my path clear to myself, here’s an affirmation I have adopted as my own:

I can not control
what you think of me.
Better yet, I do not
need to, for how you
see me tells more
about you than it does me.

I am who I am
regardless of what
others think or say
about me.

I accept full responsibility
for who I am and how I
live my life. I do not seek
to please others, to conform,
to be anything other than
exactly how my Creator made me.

I am grateful for the three-day weekend and am thankful to have a job to go back to on this Tuesday after Memorial day. It was a delicious morsel of life to have three days off in a row. Four would have been near perfection! I must remember that for the 4th Of July…

Even though life is not easy,
it is inexplicably wondrous!
James Browning

If You Are Able

Flags are flapping in an Oklahoma breeze out front of many houses in my neighborhood today. As I drove by a cemetery this morning small versions of the Stars and Stripes seemed to cover the landscape. 

It’s Memorial Day when we remember and honor all soldiers and their service, especially those who lost their lives defending our country. As I sat here in front of my computer browsing, reading and being emotionally touched, I was moved to offer a sense of my reverence and gratitude here.

What hit me most was when I began to read about particular individuals.  Many of those stories touched my heart.   I picked one to share about a man who died in the war my generation fought: Vietnam.

“If You Are Able” by Captain/Major O’Donnell
(written before his death in battle).

Save for them a place
Inside of you,
And save one backward glance
When you are leaving,
For the places they can no longer go,
Be not ashamed to say
You loved them,
Though you may or
May not always have,
Take what they have left
And what they have taught you
With their dying
And keep it with your own,
And in that time
When men decide, and feel safe,
To call the war insane,
Take one moment to embrace
Those gentle heroes
You left behind.

Michael Davis O’Donnel Captain, Pilot, whose last known activity was March 24, 1970 was from Springfield, Illinois. He was promoted to Major once considered MIA. A reconnaissance team engaged an enemy force in Cambodia for three days and asked for extraction. Captain O’Donnel and his crew flew to the rescue. The pilot, ignoring his own safety, was attempting a rescue when his helicopter was hit by enemy fire then crashed and burned.

Had the drawing for draft numbers come up differently I could easily been one in the 70’s who served but did not come home to see family and friends again. Never will I think war is a good thing, but always I will greatly appreciate, respect and honor our warriors. With humble gratitude to Capt. O’Donnel and all who have severed (and the families who endure loss and all the grief of war) I say “thank you”: small words but expressed with deep conviction and gratitude.

We come,
not to mourn our dead soldiers,
but to praise them.
Francis A. Walker

I would appreciate it if you could help me honor our soldiers
by forwarding today’s blog to others. Thank you! 

Building Blocks of Merit and Significance.

Outside of a few occasions of ‘beginner’s luck” I can’t think of a single time I got it right quickly when setting out to master something meaningful.  The endeavors where “beginner’s luck” showed up seemed hallow because not much effort went into the achievement.  Even more telling; frequently I could not replicant the initial success.  An outstanding start does pump a person up, but that’s not necessarily a positive. After healthy esteem any excess pride can easily turn into blinding conceit which does no one any good.

The accomplishments valued highest are the ones I labored most for, usually over a long period of time.  Time has taught me consistent, dedicated efforts are the building blocks of merit and significance.  Few things have been commented on more consistently than what adversity and challenge can bring. 

Disraeli said, There is no education like adversity. A similar view, All misfortune is but a stepping stone to the future, was held by ThoreauHis friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said the same thing using different words, Fractures well-cured make us more strongAncients of two thousand years ago, such as Horace and Ovid, held parallel views.  The latter commented, Misfortunes often sharpen genius and his contemporary, Horace, wrote Adversity is wont to reveal genius, prosperity to hide it.   Carl, a friend of mine, said it with six simple words, Fall down, get up, try again.

Try Try Again by T. H. Palmer

Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;

If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

About the closest thing to perfection of logic I know is how imperfect effort is the surest way to accomplishment, achievement and even changing one’s self. Much gratitude resides within to know and accept the simple parable “try, try again” that’s been proven over and over through time.   

Do the one thing you think you cannot do.
Fail at it.
Try again.
Do better the second time.
The only people who never tumble
are those who never mount the high wire.
This is your moment.
Own it.
Oprah Winfrey

More Like Myself

Love… love… love. There are few people on Earth who do not yearn for a remarkable love like those found in the movies. While the “with all my heart, happily ever after variety” of romance often portrayed in film usually ranges somewhere between partial fact to dream-like fantasy, many still desire what they see. At least to a degree, I am among them and below are three movie quotes that have special meaning to me (with a 4th bonus line at the bottom)

“Look, I guarantee there’ll be tough times. I guarantee that at some time, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me.” (from “Runaway Bride”)

“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love – well, you haven’t lived a life at all.” (from “Meet Joe Black”)

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home. .. only to no home I’d ever known … I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like … magic.” (From “Sleepless in Seattle”)

A many-times-broken heart within still loves and desires to be loved, maybe more so than ever. In appropriate measure the lesson to cherish the gift of being loved was taught to me the most difficult way. There is much gratefulness for the love I once had in my arms and let slip way; not once but several times. Through those losses I came to know great teachers such as grief, heartache and misery who brought some of the wisdom I possess today.  

“I am someone else when I’m with you, someone more like myself”.
(from “Original Sin” starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jollie)

A Thousand Reasons to Smile

Living in a modern country in an era filled with ample time to think, a myriad of choices and substantial leisure time it is easy to forget things have not always been. Delving into that line of thinking is something I do occasionally to get myself pointed into a more optimistic and appreciative direction.

I begin by taking stock of my perceived problems:  Economics cause my work to be the most challenging of my life. My age is a subject of some consternation. My health is good overall, but a back injury ails me. Being single is my choice, but loneliness is a factor more than I want. A relationship with someone special in my life has been challenging and has an uncertain future. While a long way into recovery, I still have issues from childhood that mess me up emotionally here and there.

In my life are: a lovely home and handsome furnishings, a good job, love of dear friends, someone special in my life, a choice of more than one vehicle to drive, much better than average income and resources, very good health overall, caring friends, a close relationship with my son, coworkers I enjoy a lot, a spiritual path that lights my way and so much more.

When I simply slow down and take stock for a short while of the perceived challenges, conditions, benefits and assets of my life, I become humbled. That humility comes from awakening more strongly an awareness of how easy, blessed and rich my life is.

Had my time been a hundred years ago I’d likely not even still be here since the average life expectancy for men was 47 years (I’m 58). There would have been a 20% chance reading and writing would have exceeded my ability. If I had a good job my pay would probably not have exceeded $1,000 per year with a work week of at least sixty hours or more.

Any doctor I might have gone to would not have had a college education at a time when pneumonia and tuberculosis were the most feared diseases. The toilet at my home would probably not have been indoors and my transportation would have been by horse or a trolley. And just for a reference point, in 1912 there was no canned beer, iced tea and almost no one had a home telephone.

Amazingly simple how just taking myself through that train of thought improves my outlook on life. It was not bad to begin with as I am a generally grateful and appreciative person. However, when I focus on ‘was is’ instead of ‘what isn’t’, that ‘glass half full’ attitude brings me to the great comfort and gratitude found in seeing how wonderful my life is.

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry,
show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood

Frequently it’s a simple thing that wakes or heightens my gratitude. A cloud in the sky, a stunning flower, a memory, a dream, a hope, watching a small child or even a feeling that arrives from a source unknown. This morning I came across the children’s poem below that talks about a whimsical carefree life a make-believe trout might have. While complete fantasy, the spirit of it put a smiling feeling inside me at the start of my day.

“The Wishing Fish” by Thomas Vorce

What if you could be a trout
And splash and flip
And flop about.

Amidst the river’s ripples you
Would catch sun shimmers
And renew the summer wind.

You’d stop to chat
With ‘trouty’ friends
And make amends.

Or discourse on the willow’s bend.
The gala of the water’s course,
Like laughter of a child,
Would run along your gullet
With the mystery of the wild.

And every wish you ever heard
Would be in chorus with the birds.
As palettes made of rainbows play,
You’d flap your fins
To greet the day.

Along the banks you’d rest at night
And fire flies like lamps would light
The glowing of the August Moon,
Where fish make wishes of their own
And all the best remains unknown.

In childhood I found nursery rhymes and fairy tales caused great mystery and fantasy to unfold in my mind. Then I could imagine such things might happen and could even see them in my child’s theatre of the mind. While mostly dormant for a long time, I am grateful the child within is awakened.  Being able to feel the wonder of make-believe again is a wonderful gift that I appreciate more at this age than I ever did as a child.  I am grateful the sad child of youth has found some measure contentment and gladness for living.  I have found it is never too late to have a happy childhood.

Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality;
they are also dress rehearsals, plans.
All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.
Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

Your’s Is the Earth and Everything In It

John Keats wrote, Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.  So it is for me with the poem below.  Many years have passed since encountering the Kipling poem below.  Last time reading it I was still a young man. The meaning falls upon me with greater weight and deeper meaning now being near the end of my 5th decade and have a son dear to me. For my boy, who is now a man near thirty, I hope all of Kipling’s thoughts will ring true.  This entry is dedicated to my son.  

“If” by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

One of the most difficult yet wonderful gifts of my growth in recent years is the ability to feel deeply and openly. It seems every ounce of emotion and sentiment lies just a millimeter below my skin waiting to be brushed up against and set free. While weighty to bear sometimes, I am so very grateful for this heightened ability to feel that makes me more alive than ever before.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
Robert Frost

 At the link below you can hear Kipling’s poem above read in a distinctive “British accent” as is appropriate since the poet was English.


The Source from Which Self-Respect Springs

 A relationship without basic trust has no security. Lack of trust creates anxiety. When we can’t tolerate anxiety, we resort to blame. And blame kills relationships. Anxiety is at the core of blame. When we’re upset, disappointed or angry because of another person’s behavior, we often use blame to discharge our feelings. To say it bluntly, we dump our negative emotions onto another person. Carl Alasko, Ph.D., the author of the book”Beyond Blame”.

John is rushing through breakfast. There’s no milk. He’s upset and says to Mary, “Darn it, Mary, why can’t you at least keep some milk in the house?”

In essence, John is criticizing Mary of being too domestically incompetent to even keep track of the household’s supply of milk.

Instantly she gets angry. “You know, John, I work too.” Frequently an accusation follows: “Since when are you so important that you can’t buy some milk yourself?”

Mary’s accusation angers him even more. “I almost got laid off at work and you expect me to stop and buy milk?!” Clearly, this argument is only going to get worse.

The antidote to blame is simple: state your complaint without criticizing or accusing. Admittedly not an easy thing to do.

But here’s how it works. John says: “Oh, darn, there’s no milk.” Not a word more.

Since Mary is devoted to John and committed to their success as a couple, she takes on the responsibility. “Really? I’m sorry. I forgot.” Nothing more needs to be said. Mary already feels bad. Carrying on about it won’t add anything to either the discussion or the reliability of the household milk supply.

To ensure trust, avoid blame. It’s a simple formula that helps keep relationships together.

A decade ago I might have been able to grasp the concept that Dr. Alasko writes about, but I would not have been able to practice it consistently. My anger about the past and fear about the future would have prevented it. How very grateful I am today that storm has dissipated though acceptance, hard word and growth. Today ‘I get it’, thankfully!

The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life
is the source from which self-respect springs.
Joan Didion

The majority of what is above comes from an article by Carl Alasko, Ph.D.