The Discipline of Blogging and My Detour

I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been living. I’m still doing a lot of microblogging on Twitter and Facebook. It’s addictive but make no mistake it’s not the discipline of writing blog posts. I have a friend who is a disciplined writer and I envy him. I hope to get back into a discipline of blogging this weekend and into the next few weeks. I know for sure the Summer will be my return to blogging. I know this: without taking the time to live, I have nothing of value to blog about. In that way, I am being responsible. Thanks for being patient, watch this feed.

Darn Right I’m Thankful for Women and my Wife in Particular

My wife deserves to always be ahead of me. Ironically though, is behind me in the kitchen right now making my favorite food: enchiladas. My wife rocks. It should be noted to further show reason for thankfulness that she herself is not a big fan of these. This is just another day in the life of my awesome awesome wife. Now I am not a Christian thinker when it comes to the role of women. I do not believe they exist to serve me or any of that complete garbage you hear in church (I heard it all my life). I think women are probably the best thing on Earth and therefore I am writing this post explaining why.

I am thankful for my wife for so many reasons, her making me enchiladas is merely one. Women are attentive to the needs of those around them and they possess a sort of constant sadness that comes from knowing the pain of those in their community. Women can be patient or impatient but all care, it seems, more than men about most domestic issues (ie; the home). At the same time, they excel in neatness and often are better than men in the workplace.

I won’t even get into the beauty of their physical appearance because anyone with eyes can see that. If there were no women in the world, we men would be suffering let me tell you. I can’t help but think of what a gay man might say to this article. He might say exactly what I am saying. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to women to note their “way” and what it means to the world. Last, women birth the children of this world. Not only do I believe in equal rights, some days when I mess up and a woman saves me, I almost think men should be inferior for a while, we are bumbling fools sometimes. Yes indeed, I am indeed thankful for women.

Everything Looks Different When it’s the Last Time

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” -James Dean

I am a huge fan of traditional ceremonies: graduations, retirement dinners, birthdays, and other rites of passage. Life is unpredictable but tradition gives us a chance to plan and react slowly instead of abruptly. You never really know when it’s your last time to do something. For example, when we had a ceremony for the last day of AYSO soccer for my son, I didn’t know that would be the last time I would coach him. I planned to do it many more times but alas, it would never happen again. If my wife and I hadn’t held that ceremony at Nick’s Pizza and handed out trophies, we would have lost that season to scattered and chance memories. As it is, we have photos of Nick’s Pizza and the smiling kids’ faces that I recall coaching and helping to have fun that season. I was thinking today about how we don’t know when what we are doing is about to end. I think it is natural for us humans to think as if what we are doing is eternal, or at least something that will go on a long time. The truth is, people are plucked from this ethereal delusion every day. It may sound morbid but what about the guy or girl who gets killed by a drunk driver on the way to her/his wedding? Or what about the guy who teaches guitar and then loses his fingers from diabetic complications to never play or teach guitar again. These are bummer thoughts I admit so I will step away from them now. I am not really talking about death or other “unhappy endings” as motives here. Instead I am talking about transforming ones consciousness. I’m appealing to you the reader and trying to get your agreement that everything, when it’s the last time, looks different. Still, I want to drive home the reminder that we are not really in control of whether we continue or discontinue even in terms of living or dying. So, we should live in a state cognizant of that.

I would recommend that we live each event and moment as if it is our last. There is more consciousness and awareness in that place than in assuming there will be more. It also is an excellent antidote for boredom. It is impossible to be bored when you know something is almost over. As a teacher, my kids sometimes get bored when we are reading a story aloud or watching an educational video. When I tell them, “This is the end part,” I always see them pay closer attention. What if we could get into that habit in all the tasks and experiences we go through. The result would be deeper experience. We might give more time to our children if we knew we didn’t have as much time as we thought. Tonight, at my daughter’s dance class, I know we won’t be back. We may try tumbling but the experiences here have not been the best a customer could experience. As a result we are moving on. I guess that’s why I am writing to you tonight to enjoy any classes or games or recitals you may get the luck to attend as if it’s the last time. In a way, everything we do always is. You might say there is a last time for everything.

“Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture.” -Russell Baker

Make it an Excellent Workday

There are many more ways, but I was thinking this morning that a process always helps. Perhaps you can add your own to this list:

  1. Wake up on time (alarm clock with a mellow station).
  2. Make some good coffee.
  3. Have your outfit all picked out the night before (not always possible I know).
  4. Train your school-age son(daughter) to make the lunches (LOL).
  5. Have a CD picked out with music that inspires you, make sure it is in your car.
  6. As you are getting your coffee made and last minute stuff, start your car and turn the heat on full-blast (winter only).
  7. As you drive to work, think about the possibilities of the day. Look at struggles and worries as merely opportunities to see life a new way and improve yourself.
  8. Think about positive things as you listen to your music on the way. Admire the beauty of the desert all around you.
  9. Consciously remember to smile at people today, you affect others more than you know.
  10. Be ready, for anything and when anything comes your way, accept it as either a positive or an opportunity.
  11. Commit yourself to be 100% in the moment. This means not worrying about the future or the past. I have found they both take care of themselves.
  12. Create a relevant greeting to use so you don’t get tongue tied in those stressful moments. When you see someone at work, say: ___________. (examples: Hi, 3 day weekend. Happy Thursday. Hang in there, etc.)
  13. Have pictures of your kids on your desk and focus on the reasons you work.
  14. Make another CD of your favorite songs and play it in your office area or MP3 player if this is possible in your workspace. For me, its in my classroom before the kids come in.
  15. If you have friends at work that won’t mind, send them a short email letting them know you are thinking of them and that you hope they have a great day. The replies throughout the day are great to remind you of the same thing.
  16. Take time to breathe and do nothing for a few mintes before work. Meditate, pray, think, be still … etc.
  17. If a bunch of stuff has been cluttering somewhere for a while, its probably not crucial. Put it all out of sight temporarily (a cabinet, a bin, a box etc.). This will create a clear place in your work area that can help you see possibilities.
  18. Structure your day with an agenda by hour and check it off as you go.
  19. Say this statement three times out loud when you are alone: “I am fortunate.”
  20. Accept that there is something larger than yourself and surrender that you are small in the big scheme of things. Even if you wanted to be in control of everything, it wouldn’t be possible so be faithful in the small things on your agenda and make it an excellent day.

What do you do to have a good workday?

Salesman at my Door: Kirby Alert!

This post was originally posted 12/15/07
This afternoon about 3:45pm I got a knock on my door by a twenty-something male claiming to be from a new carpet cleaning place in Hesperia (a local city) and that to show what his company can do he wanted to clean our carpet for free.

Immediately I felt the urge to decline because frankly, I didn’t want to move my butt off my couch: I’m on Christmas break! Still, I conferred with my wife since I know she always enjoys having the carpets cleaned. She gave me the thumbs up so we arranged for him to come back in between 5 and 6. We scurried to move the sofas out of the room until he arrived, at 6:05!

What followed gave me that sinking feeling where you go: “Ahhhhhhhh I get this now … it’s a sales pitch.” Now instead of one guy, there were three and we realized we’d been suckered into having three fast talking, fast moving Kirby vacuum salesmen in our family room … What a drag!

I watched him do his little routine showing us the dirt that his device collected and then stopped him abruptly. Having a background in sales, I know that every house is just a lead and the more time you spend on a dead lead … well, I told him we weren’t gonna buy. He persisted stating that all he wanted to do was clean my carpet. My wife asked me to back off, so I did. I went and got pizza while he “did his job” of cleaning my carpet. Later I clarified to my all-too-trusting wife that his job clearly was not to “clean our carpet” but rather to sell vacuums.

About three awkward hours since they first darkened my doorway, we have clean, but cold and wet carpet. The salesman earned nothing for his efforts and all I regret is not stopping it all before it started. After all, we just bought a brand new steam cleaner and vacuum for our home. My wife says: “Live and learn.” What she doesn’t know is that I’ve already lived and learned this lesson through experience in sales. My live and learn takeaway was: “Tell your wife what’s up when salesman come a callin’! And when you do, stand your ground.”

Trivia: The average price of a Kirby vacuum is $1500.

Slow Down and Think: One Day, One Thing

The possibility thinker often has to “self discipline” ones thought boundaries. This can be difficult, especially when there are SO many things that need attention.

Life bombards you with stuff. At any given moment the average person has a barrage of tasks and events hanging over ones head. It is very true with teaching and certainly true in leading a family. I have had days at work where I’ve been so overwhelmed by my schedule that I had to sit and collect my dizzy thoughts. Not many mind you, but I have had them. Most of the time I seem perched on the edge of these moments.

With so many forces vying for our attention, what should we focus on?

This is a personal question that each person must answer for her/himself. I have found that when it is really “thick” with tasks, events, and demands on your wit, candor, and time it is best to try and focus on JUST ONE THING each day. Think about it, no matter how beaten down you may be by stress, fatigue or even sickness you can usually handle doing ONE FOCUSED thing. I think a lot of people would say to this: “One thing? I WISH! Are you crazy? I’d get fired!” I would respond to that objection by stating that one thing is better than nothing, and when you are overwhelmed, nothing is usually the one thing that you do get done.

I would rather have ONE thing done well than get ten done in a shotty way.

The reality is that limiting yourself to just the one goal will take a lot of stress off you and make you mentally stronger. At the same time, you know while you are going through your “low” that you are getting at least one quality thing doen every day, and that’s a lot more than most people can say who THINK they are being productive. It shouldn’t last though because your pride in that daily goal you achieve will feed your personality and make you mentally stronger.

You will start to desire more challenges.

Eventually you will have more motivation than time in the day. I am of course speaking in metaphor when I write “one thing.” The point is this: When the heat turns up in the kitchen, scale down the meal. Your time to cook the feast will come, but only if you care for the chef!!! I wrote an elaborate tale a while back about the resting lumberjack that relates well to this post, if you have the time.

Your Turn:

How do YOU deal with feelings of being overwhelmed? Do you use any strategies to simplify your life? This is a very interesting topic to me, what’s your take on it?

Remember Those People Who Inspired You? Be Them.

Do you ever take the time to think back on your life and remember the people who have either inspired or helped you along the way It’s those people that have made your personality and success what it is today. I can remember in junior college wayyy back in 1993 I had a drawing instructor who really helped me out in my college experience. At the time I was in a band and playing clubs and parties on my off time. I would draw pictures of our equipment and stage as well as guitars. He gave me several good words that were nothing short of charitable! Nonetheless, he took the time to let me know I had something special to offer the world.

I have another memory of someone I work with standing up at a meeting and telling the room how grateful he was that I ran a talent show for the kids. That was a much needed encouragement and I will never forget it as long as I live.

If you run through your past, I am sure you can come up with a few if not dozens of memories like these. Let’s ask ourselves this question . . . is there anyone in our lives we could bring up these days You never know when the thing you say to someone will be like a landmark on their road of life and give them an eternal assurance that they have something important to offer that only they can give. My thoughts this morning . . .

(Written Jan 9, 2007)

Prioritizing Rest

This is more of a philosophical, stream-of-consciousness post than I usual write so bear with me. I think the message is a good one. It is such a privilege to be a human in 2011. I treasure every moment I have in this existence. I have learned about so many things up to now and I am hungry to learn more. I want to experience what I can in this life and listen to others’ experiences through art like reading and cinema. Of course, the good old fashioned listening to people that I come in contact with is a great approach to life as I see it. I am a human having a mortal experience. I am dedicated to valuing people as a priority. All these things I have mentioned are so important to my life mission. It is important to note they happen best when I practice relaxation and get rest.

Rest and relaxation keep my mind clear and focused. When I am rested I am more efficient at loving. It benefits my wife, my kids and my career. Everyone I come in contact with benefits to some degree when I have taken the time to find peace in rest and relaxation. So, how do I get to that place? By looking for it. I can think of many places in my life when I would make material pursuits my motivation. I failed to stop and smell the roses. Those times were damaging to my peace and I think I am less now because of those times. If I would have been like the wise man, taking his mental and physical health seriously, I would be more rested and effective today. It is never too late to start.

These days I worry less about eternal sepulchers and more about the privilege of being down here in the dirt. There is lots to do while we are here. If we take the time to restore or minds and bodies through rest, we can have more clarity and presence of mind. To me the most important thing these days is to treasure every moment as if it was holy, because every moment we have here as a mortal is indeed holy.

The Grouch

This post is from a series I wrote hear a few years ago here called Coffee Vocab

This morning I forgot my coffee right in the machine as I sneaked my way out the door to escape my forlorn 2 year-old as she unknowingly ate her cereal. I realized halfway down my street I had forgotten something (ohhh THAT feeling) and when I figured out it was my COFFEE! Fuhhget about it, as they say in New York, I had to get a Starbucks. Even though the watery $1.10 truck stop coffee is OKAY and surprisingly leaded, they never make it thick as mud as I do at home. Mine is so thick in fact my wife, a slightly more tender coffee drinker, uses my grinds the second pour through for her mild “Sarah” blend, you might call it (along with a truckload of Splenda). SO . . . for these reasons, I stopped along the side of the highway at a Starbucks, opting in for the $1.65 cup model, right off the line! I entered the place and it smelled amazing. Immediately I got my bank card out and got in what looked like a short line. Oh how looks can be deceiving.

The 50 something in front of me had that grouchy, haggard look about him. I could see he had a “Circuit City” nametag. I thought about asking him for some credit to buy a big screen but I am glad I didn’t. He ordered his stuff in the following manner (I am paraphrasing):

Hi. I want a bagel toasted but not too much. Don’t burn it okay? Can you do that? Are you sure, because I’m not gonna pay for it if it’s burned.

He ordered his drink and asked for extra caffeine (? is that annoying as hell or is it the ex-baristo in me?) Then as it turned out, he was a dime short. He proceeded to ask everyone, including me, for a dime. When they didn’t have it he yelled:

Well shit! I will go get the f-ing dime in my car as my bagel gets cold.

Oh life . . . isn’t it fun among these caffeine deprived people down here on Earth?

This guy was a grouch. Note to self: deal with caffeine withdrawals before you order in public. Not that I would ever be this much of a grouch, but ya never know how you look before the big “C” on those special special mornings (like I was thankfully NOT having this a.m.)