It’s Only In My Mind

A bad habit of mine is to wonder if I should be doing something else, have a different job or a different profession, be somewhere else other than where I am or mentally wander off into similar such thinking. In some circles it’s called “future tripping” when what is ahead has a greater focus that what is present. Intellectually I know living happens only in the present; that life is found only in the now; that living in the present well leads to one’s future. But I have human frailties and figurative ‘time travel’ into the future is something mentally I do far too much.

Well I want something to do, to create, to achieve, to whatever…. Something I can’t get enough of. You know something that I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do something I can’t get enough of, something that brings me joy and makes my heart sing. It could be anything, could be more than one thing but something that grabs me. Even a job, if it grabs me so that I could hardly wait to get there. Something that makes me feel good, allows me to be me, gives me freedom to grow and expand, something that grasps my heart, my joy, my excitement and leads me down the path to more joyful things, exciting challenges and challenging things. Klaus Joehle

Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself….His task was to discover his own destiny – not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness. Hermann Hessee

You must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin. And the other is, you must not be ashamed of your work, and think it would be more honorable to you to be doing something else. You must have a pride in your own work and in learning to do it well, and not be always saying, There’s this and there’s that—if I had this or that to do, I might make something of it. George Eliot

When you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream,
assigned to you when that dream was born,
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth
with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness
and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion
with a breath of your own spirit.
Work is love made visible.
From “the Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

All those borrowed words don’t put me any closer to putting an end to my “future tripping”. However, they do help me to know my quandaries are not unique; that wondering about where I am going, what I should be doing; and what livelihood I should be immersed in is simply a human condition. Today I will simply try my best at the work I apply myself to knowing a step at a time today is a certain path forward. I am grateful to realize my direction can be changed at any moment. Even if I feel stuck, I am not stuck. It’s only in my mind.

The highest form of human intelligence
is to observe yourself without judgment.
Jiddy Hrishnamurti

Ready For What Is Ahead

Running out of weekend I ventured out for a Sunday evening jaunt to the Wally World amusement park known to some as Wal-Mart. What a madhouse! Most people whether alone, in a couple or a family group were in a big hurry with few smiles evident. Lots of grumpy people barking at each other, especially parents to children. The saddest faces I saw were on the kids. That bothered me.

Then there was the father who was talking to and amusing his little boy about a year old as he rode in the shopping cart. Slowing my speed intentionally to follow I enjoying listening to Dad trying to get the little guy to say “Da Da”. It didn’t happen while I was snooping, but with the concerted effort going into the prompting it’s just a matter of days before the kid starts and never stops making syllables. Listening to a toddler laugh is a special kind of music.

The there was a young couple pushing two carts. Dad had a little boy about three riding in his and Mom was carrying a baby about eight months old and pushing a cart. It was easy to tell from the woman’s baby bump another little one was on the way. Even with their hands full with two little kids while grocery shopping it was readily apparent Mother and Father loved each other and their children. It was on their faces and how they looked at one another. I saw their happiness  and was a little jealous for a moment. Even though I was a pretty good father to my son, given the chance today I would be far better.

The lines were long and not enough registers were open which happens often at the big box stores. I suppose they know once you have a cart of stuff most will wait their turn so they don’t have to do the gathering of stuff again at some other store. I stood in line for at least 10 minutes reading the latest issue of People which had a feature story on Tom Cruise. Three marriages, multiple relationships, two adopted children and one birth child have come into his life but none have stayed long-term. Seems sad to me to have so much and yet so little. Did you know his full name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV? I didn’t until tonight.

My weekend has been good. The cooler temps, mostly cloudy skies and occasional rain made the time all the more special to me. Several hours were spent writing at my own pace and a good amount time was spent with friends, new and old. Reflecting now on the last two days it’s easy to comprehend how rich my life is. It’s not exactly what I wish and hope for in all ways, but it is good… damn good. I am thankful for what is and grateful for what will yet be. Each and everything I have experienced, good and bad, has made me more complete and ready for what is ahead; even my trip to Wally World!

Tonight I close my eyes and see
A strange procession passing me —
The years before I saw your face
Go by me with a wistful grace;
They pass, the sensitive, shy years,
As one who strives to dance, half blind with tears.
The years went by and never knew
That each one brought me nearer you;
Their path was narrow and apart
And yet it led me to your heart —
Oh, sensitive, shy years, oh, lonely years,
That strove to sing with voices drowned in tears.
Sara Teasdale

Accomplishment Is Empowering

Over the last two years intentionally my wake up time has become earlier. I decided to take the most rested part of each day and keep it for myself. That has allowed me to write, workout, meditate and do other things I never seemed to be able to get to as consistently as I wanted. Going to bed a couple of hours of hours before what was my habit and getting up two hours earlier took some getting used to. The first six weeks it was very difficult and temporarily I gave up several times.

Conventional wisdom bantered about says it takes about a month to break a habit or instill a new one. Research indicates it takes longer. According to research about three years ago by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from the United Kingdom Cancer Research Health Behavior Research Centre it takes an average 66 days to form a new habit. Below Phillippa explains the key factors in creating and breaking habits and how we can help set up for ourselves new patterns of behavior.

What exactly takes 66 days?
In our study, we looked at how long it took people to reach a limit of self-reported automaticity for performing an initially new behavior (that is, performing an action automatically), and the average time (among those for whom our model was a good fit) was 66 days.

How do you define a habit?
Habits are behaviors which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behavior) which means that when the cue is encountered the behavior is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.

What are the key factors in breaking or gaining habits?
To create a habit you need to repeat the behavior in the same situation. It is important that something about the setting where you perform the behavior is consistent so that it can cue the behavior. If you choose a context cue, for example after lunch, we don’t think that it matters if you eat lunch at different times in the day. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are ambivalent about breaking it then you will be less likely to succeed.

What happens if we miss an opportunity to perform an action that will help us build a habit?
In our study we showed that missing one opportunity did not significantly impact the habit formation process, but people who were very inconsistent in performing the behavior did not succeed in making habits. We don’t have any evidence to suggest that men and women or young and old people acquire habits differently.

I am thankful for my new schedule and its benefits. I’m consistent at writing (have written this blog now daily for over 520 days in a row). From working out several days a week I’ve lost 12 pounds and about an inch and a half around my waist. The sense of personal pride and accomplishment is empowering.

We would accomplish many more things
if we did not think of them as impossible.
Vince Lombardi

A Gift Above All Others

The trouble is, you think you have time.

I ran across that Buddhism quote and it stopped me completely still in though for a few moments. Silently, the thought rang inside “I always thought I had plenty of time… lots and lots of it”. That’s not intended to be a morbid comment in any way. My doctor says I am healthy and as far as I can now there are many years of life yet ahead of me. Nor do I think I have wasted my time in a regretful way, although that thought has to be shooed away once in a while.

Coming to the realization of how many years are behind me and the smaller number in front causes today, this moment, to be very valuable. Time alive is a gift above all others on this Earth. I am grateful every minute of every day I have had and will live.

When younger I did not listen to those older with life experiences I could have learned from. I don’t suspect someone a lot youngerto see that as anything except a tired comment bantered around all the time.  Today or one day, it becomes truth to all of us.

Here’s the skinny: I wish I had listened to more of the advice of my elders when I was younger. Then I would not have had their words ring so loudly true later when life taught they spoke the truth.

So I step up on my soapbox state to three simple things:

1. Time is precious.
2. Those you love are your true riches: nothing else matters much.
3. Show as much kindness and understanding as you possibly can to those you love.
4. We are never gentle and tender enough to those we care about.
5. Forgive even when others won’t.

From experience I know those things can change your world. They did mine. I am very grateful.

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases
and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
Wayne Dyer

Photo: Anamaya Yoga Resort, Montezuma, Costa Rica

Selfish or Unselfish?

If you know for certain you’d die in just one week and could have three wishes come true what would they be? Would they be selfish or unselfish? Here’s some random answers found at various places on line:

1. To erase everything I hate
2. To have a trip to the places I want to go
3. To die a peaceful death (like fall asleep never to wake.)

1. To slow down time
2 .Travel the world with my closet friends
3. Find true love

1. To have my daughter and grandkids here.
2. Make sure that my family has everything they need
3. Have a big farewell party with my friends and family

1. Leave a good impression a memory of me
2. Make sure I do my main goal in life
3. When I leave I do not want to leave anything unaccomplished

1. To make everyone happy who is in my life
2. Have not regrets when I die
3. Laugh as much as possible

1. 10 more years of a healthy life
2. To be surrounded by the ones I love most during those 10 years
3. 1000 more wishes

1. Unlimited wealth
2. Excellent health for me and those I love
3. Peace on earth

The Three Final Wishes of Alexander the Great.

As a military commander, he was undefeated and the most successful throughout history. On his way home from conquering many countries, he came down with an illness.

At that moment, his captured territories, powerful army, sharp swords, and wealth all had no meaning to him. He realized that death would soon arrive and he would be unable to return to his homeland. He told his officers: “I will soon leave this world. I have three final wishes. You need to carry out what I tell you.” His generals, in tears, agreed.

“My first wish is to have my physician bring my coffin home alone.

After a gasping for air, Alexander continued: “My second wish is scatter the gold, silver, and gems from my treasure-house along the path to the tomb when you ship my coffin to the grave.”

After wrapping in a woolen blanket and resting for a while, he said: “My final wish it to put my hands outside the coffin.”

People surrounding him all were very curious, but no one dare to ask the reason. Alexander’s most favored general kissed his hand and asked: “My Majesty, We will follow your instruction. But can you tell us why you want us to do it this way?” After taking a deep breath, Alexander said: “I want everyone to understand the three lessons I have learned.

To let my physician carry my coffin alone is to let people realize that a physician cannot really cure people’s illness. I hope people will learn to treasure their lives. My second wish is to tell people not to be like me in pursuing wealth. I spent my whole life pursuing wealth, but I was wasting my time most of the time. My third wish to let people understand that I came to this world in empty hands and I will leave this world also in empty hands.” he closed his eyes after finished talking and stopped breathing.

I am grateful for the path of quandary this line of thinking has put me on. After spending the next 24 hours pondering, tomorrow I’ll share what three selfish wishes and three unselfish wishes I personally settle on. I hope you give the topic some thought also.

May you have love that never ends,
lots of money and lots of friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do
and may God send many blessings to you.
Traditional Irish Blessing

How It’s Meant To Be

Where this day takes me I do not know.

The odds are I will be alive when the sun goes down, but there is no certainty of it.

Whether the day will be mundane or painted by some major life happening I can’t foresee.

Will my awareness be sharp or dull?

Will I be as kind as I intend to be?

Will I be as unselfish as my heart wants?

Will I be able to love without reservation?

Will I be giving or stingy?

Will I see perfection in spite of imperfection?

What mistakes will I make?

What will I do right? Wrong?

Will I be good enough or fall short?


The day will be as the day unfolds.

No amount of worry, predisposed thought or crystal ball gazing will make the day any other that what it will turn out to be.

Loosen my grip.

Take a deep breath.

Look up and see.

Hear life. Sense it. Feel it.

Allow everything to be as it is and let the day arrive as it will.

I am grateful for the over-flowing spring of thoughts this mental exercise sprang from.  Within I found guidance and clear direction for my day.

Sometimes you have to stop worrying,
wondering, & doubting.
Have faith that things will work out,
maybe not how you planned,
but just how it’s meant to be.

It’s Doing that Matters

Conditioning for hundreds of years has left modern western culture with a vile neurosis: the belief that happiness must be “earned” and can be obtained only through enduring unpleasantness such as drudgery,grief, misery, pain and discomfort. If a person chooses that route to “happy” how is it possible to know when one has suffered enough and deserves happiness? 

There is a second rule believed deep down by many, but never spoken: responsible adults never endure enough unpleasantness to truly be worthy of happiness.

Then there’s a third rule spoken constantly by advertising: spending money will make you happy. That’s akin to candy coating a rotten apple, then trying to enjoy eating it.

Like a hamster on a wheel it is the way of the majority of Americans to never stop working, never stop spending money and to never be really happy.

One of the definitions of “slave” is completely subservient to a dominating influence.   

NEWS FLASH: It is impossible to suffer your way to happiness. Being a slave won’t get it done!


1 – Remember, happiness comes from being grateful for what “is” and living in the current moment.

2 – Happiness is not attained. It never comes from grabbing at what I do not have. It comes from finding contentment with what I DO have.

3 – The future will look at lot like today does. If I can’t find a way to allow happiness to come to me now, not much of it will find me in the future either.

4 – Being happy is NOT about the absence of difficulty and heartache. It’s about feeling the full scope of what lies beyond and outside of my troubles.

This morning I am grateful this line of thinking came to me on the first full day of this new birth year. More than ever it is my intention to live well. Achieving that is not just about knowing what to do. That is only a small part of accomplishing the life I need and want. Thinking, talking and knowing what to do is hallow compared to actually practicing it. It’s DOING that matters!

Don’t talk… do.
Don’t complain… do.
Don’t make excuses… do.
Craig Jarrow

Just Past the Self-Imposed Starting Line

“See It Through” by Edgar Guest

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

Today getting in shape and losing weight began in earnest with an evaluation session with my fitness trainer. I am just past the self-imposed starting line one day before my 59th year kicks in. I am excited and a little fearful.

Excitement comes from the thought of being in better shape, losing my belly and being able to enjoy wearing clothes again. A touch of fear comes from borrowing trouble by worrying about the discomfort that’s ahead for a few weeks as I wake up old pains, past injuries and out of shape muscles. I will be OK! The hardest part is over: the beginning.

Like pushing a car is hardest the first six inches, beginning a fitness program is most difficult during the early days. I am grateful to be past the starting line. It took me years to get here.

What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mac and The Banger

While not a first-hand personal experience, I have had friends who knew they were in the last few months of their life and had them share some of the wisdom facing death brought them. To a person the near end of days brought a kinder and a gentler nature.

My friends who were faced with a soon to come reality of dying seemed to love more deeply and express how they felt more openly. Things mattered little and people were about all they cared about. Their primary regrets I recall them sharing were not doing things they had wanted to do, working/chasing money too much and not spending more time with people they loved.

No one close to me wrote down their thoughts as death drew near, but what is just below I believe expresses what they left behind in their own way.

Give yourself permission to take a moment to really look at yourself & where you are.

Create some room for those voices in your head to speak their mind, & then try to hear them.

Be fearless with change – it might be the best thing you ever did.

Let go those things that aren’t a reflection of who you want to be & who you really are.

Be what you were meant to be in all its crazy shapes and guises – why wait?

Love who you have been, who you are now & who you are going to be – it’s all you.

Move in a direction that enhances, empowers and deepens your life.

It turns out that no one can imagine what’s really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can’t expect our plans to work out. Some of them might, while most probably won’t. Inventions and ideas will appear, and events will occur, that we could never foresee. That’s neither bad nor good, but it is real.

From a last post by Derek K Miller of Vancouver, Canada on May 4, 2011, shortly before his death from cancer.

Two friends now gone taught me a great deal about living by how they acted facing death. Tears well up as I think about Mac and Bill (better know as “The Banger”) and how much I love them still, even in their absence, and how grateful I am my life was blessed with their presence.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying.
Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.
Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now!
There are only so many tomorrows.”
Pope Paul VI

Musing to Discovery

This morning poking around for inspiration Icame across the following dictionary definitions for “gratitude”:

– a feeling of thankfulness, appreciation, admiration, approval or gratefulness

– warm and friendly acknowledgment of a benefit one has received or will receive

– kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness

– sensitive awareness and recognition of aesthetic values

Then my surfing to be inspired brought me to the root of the English word ‘gratitude’. Its origin is in the Latin word ‘gratis’ or ‘gratus’. 

As I read further something very interesting came my way. ‘Gratis/gratus’ is also the origin of the French word ‘gracier’  which was adapted to become the English word ‘grace’. Literal definitions of ‘grace’ are:  kindliness, love, mercy and elegance; beauty of form, manner, motion, or action; pleasing quality or favor.  Sounds exactly like a sense of gratefulness!

I found it surprisingly meaningful that the words gratitude and grace have the same origin and are essentially parts of the same emotion. That makes perfect sense! As I have focused on gratefulness and my awareness has grown for all I have to be thankful for, a sense of “grace” arrived with it.

My discovery can be stated simply: a life filled with grace comes from a foundation of gratefulness. Religion frequently connects the two words together, but I had never considered how in a secular sense gratitude and grace are interwoven.

Focusing on what I am grateful for and spending time writing about it daily for fifteen months has been a life changer; more so than I could have ever imagined when I began this blog. Previously I perceived my life as probably about a “6” on a “10” scale and today can tell you without hesitation I’d rate living around at an “8.0” or better. There are moments from time to time I’d rate at a 10 plus!

My life is far from perfect. While my work in recovery from dysfunctions like codependence, depression and compulsion has brought me to a generally happy state of being, there are still challenges and difficult times. What has changed is my ability to deal with those moments and how long they last. I believe that capacity comes directly from the state of ‘grace’ that sprouted purely from growing gratefulness within.

Grace is the central invitation to life and the final word.
It’s the beckoning nudge and the overwhelming,
undeserved mercy that urges us to change and grow,
and then gives us the power to pull it off.
Tim Hansel