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An Inspired New Year

This is the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y

So, while watching “The Voice” tonight one of the judges commented that this is a “silly, little show.” Not in a bad way, but in a “in the grand scheme of things this isn’t curing cancer kind of way”. And though the show may not showcase researchers in a medical lab, I’m going to very kindly disagree (sort of) with the notion.

The thing about talent, is that it inspires. And inspiration is an amazing thing. There is power in inspiration. Inspiration rarely happens absent of a connection. We connect with something, and suddenly things make sense. We feel what others are feeling. And that gives rise to hope.

One of the main ways many of us find inspiration is through the arts. Whether it’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, writings, readings, and music to name a few. What exists within these forms of expression are extensions of a person’s soul. We use the arts to tell others what lives inside of us. It tells others how we connect, and gives them that same chance. When we make that connection we feel alive in a way that we don’t normally feel without that inspiration. The talents that we have matter. Sharing the talents that we have matters. I love that there are now forums for people to constantly find sources of inspiration any time we want now. It’s an amazing thing. And the show, silly or not, truly does allow for those types of connections to be made. It has the capacity to inspire millions each week. That is an awesome power. It allows people to see that following our passion truly can lead us to somewhere amazing. Somewhere unthinkable. What exists within us, each of us, can truly change lives. It can give rise to inspiration, and give rise to hope. We can bring one another to higher heights by taking a chance and doing our best.

Music is my vice (one of them, writing is as well). I don’t know how to survive without it. When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. Every culture on earth has some form of music as a component in it. It’s one of the few universals out there.

When I was really little, the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on. That connection lives on. Great music touches lives forever. Even if it’s on a silly, little show. I’m sure “The Ed Sullivan Show” could be classified in a similar manner, but it had an unprecedented impact on people around the world simply because a band played a few songs on February 9, 1964. And the impact lasts to this day. So in short, Adam and I actually agree. Everything we do matters. Everything we do has the potential to change lives, including and most likely our own.

2021 Addendum:

It’s hard sometimes to consider inspiration in a pandemic. Sometimes just surviving when there’s so much uncertainty and loss is the key. But I think we all realized just how important the arts and inspired forms of entertainment can be to surviving in the spring of 2020. I think we can also see how critical it is to have scientists, nurses, and doctors, a medical industry and scientific community who are inspired because they are tasked with keeping us safe and well. That task means we need people who are able to think outside the box and push through the hard times, and they can’t do that without support and some time for themselves to feel a little relief and a little inspiration. Life is hard right now, and I hope everyone finds a way to feel a little inspired and a little bit of hope for the new year.

Up to the Mountain – When it seems the world is against your dreams

and this is a different version, but one that I love:

There is a song called “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin. She wrote it thinking of what it would have been like for Martin Luther King, Jr. to have seen what he saw – to have his dream. He had gone Up to the Mountain, and seen how wonderful everything could be. But the world had other plans. He faced opposition everywhere he turned. He had to fight and fight and fight from the moment his dream began. Nothing came easy. He got worn down, but he never gave up on seeing his dream come to pass.

We all have dreams. We all have those moments of clarity, where we are up on that mountain top looking out over and where we can see our dream come to pass. It’s like the world falls into place. We know at that moment in that time we have something worth offering. Something in us tells us that we have the capacity to achieve it. But what happens afterwards is often times not that easy. We’ve seen where we want to go, but it seems that no one else is interested in us going there.

We receive opposition from all sides. It’s confusing. It’s heartbreaking even at times. It wears us down. One of my favorite things that I’ve heard people say when it comes to religion is that “even Jesus wasn’t allowed to perform miracles in his hometown.” People in our lives know us in the way that they know us. The adults around us know us as the children we were. Our friends know us as the people we were when we met. Our family knows us as we were when we were little. And those things are very hard to break. People’s ideas of who we are tend to be quite strong. And in general, we aren’t interested in those around us changing. It’s hard to handle when the people around us become “unpredictable.” We have certain patterns that we all work in. We have roles for everyone in our lives. And we usually like for those roles to stay the same, whether they are good for us or not.

The thing is, if we are going to achieve our dreams, we are going to have to fight. And sometimes we are going to have to change our situation. We have to leave people behind who don’t understand and who aren’t supportive. Not necessarily in a way where there is no contact, though sometimes that’s the case. But in a way that allows us to feel free to go forth in our journey to accomplish the things we need to accomplish to live a life of happiness that is fulfilling. People will come in and out of our lives. Few will stay for the long haul. And even fewer will allow us to change and grow.

When that opposition comes against us, we have to be willing to fight. We have to go back up to the mountain, and remember that there is something out there worth fighting for. That our lives and our dreams are worth fighting for. We are worth fighting for. Our happiness matters. Our desires matter. And we are the only ones who can accomplish them. So keep fighting. Keep working. Keep climbing back up, no matter who tries to knock you down. You have it within you. So keep taking chances and grow!

My Book

Know Your Worth and Live It

“I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” – Terence

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, I believe it to be the single-most important thing we can do is: Know your worth and live it.

Seek out truth. Don’t believe something simply because someone says it is so. Be proactive in your quest for knowledge and growth. There will be conflicting opinions on everything, including from people you trust. Remember the importance of being an individual who has the capacity to take in what you’ve heard and discern truth from fiction.

And one of the greatest truths to remember and live by is that you are worthy. Feel free to not take me at my word and to instead look into it, explore it. Research it. We have to search into who we are and why we think and feel the way we do. What makes me believe I am not worthy? What makes me choose to believe myself undeserving of the happinesses* I seek, instead of believing that I am deserving of these things? We judge ourselves so quickly. Why are we not allowed to be a humans who are human? People who make mistakes, but are not ruined. People who fall down, but are capable of rising to the occasion, also. Not perfect, but always worthy.

Our feelings of self-worth impact just about every decision we make, even the mundane. If we look at the truth and understand that we are inherently worthy and being human doesn’t remove that, then we can rise more often and help bring others up with us along the way.

If we have self-worth we can see our dreams and believe in them.

If we have self-worth we can see our future and know we are capable of achieving it.

If we have self-worth we are able to know that we will falter, we will fall, but we can and will get back up and still be capable and someone of worth.

If we have self-worth we are able to redirect a path that didn’t work out as expected. We can change direction, but not give up or settle.

If we have self-worth we can see ourselves as who we want to be. We can see the best of what we have to offer and work towards becoming that person a little more every day.

We mostly overlook worth. We fail to realize just how important it is to each of us as individuals and to all of us in our humanity. We must take the time to stop and observe our actions and who we are. How are we contributing to our own well-being? Do we let our lack of worth lead us using fear? Or do we look to the truth and let the knowledge that we are worthy lead us to the life we want to lead? Always search for truth. Let it set you free to be who you want to be.

*Yes, I know happinesses isn’t a word, but Jack uses it that way and we do seek multiple types of happiness so it makes sense to me.

(You can start your research here if you’d like (my book)  – Barbara Walters once said, “If you care about the work that you have done, then you need to tell people about it.”)

The frusrating task of self-motivation (for the writers, dreamers and do-ers out there)

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.“  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” – Latin Proverb

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned as I have gotten older is the importance of understanding that we have to go through things alone. Now, I know I have talked about the importance of understanding that we have to have help if we are going to get to where we are going. And that still stands. But we have to do the work on our own. We are the sole decision makers in what we do each day. We are the ones who are affected by our actions, more so than anyone else. We are the ones who have picked the path we are on. And we are the ones with the ultimate responsibility of getting to where we want/need to go.

It can be frustrating at times when we can’t find anyone to help us in the way we would like to have help. We have ideas and projects that we believe in, but sometimes it feels as though no one else really cares. The people who we feel are supposed to help may not always do so. And that can be difficult when we are trying to accomplish something that we believe in. It’s the ultimate rule when it comes to accomplishing your dreams…. No one will believe in you as much as you do until you can show them why they should. And unfortunately, that usually takes a lot of work.

I find that with writing it takes even more work. You can’t force people to read something. You can’t force someone to pay attention. When you sing people can hear you even if they don’t want to. When you act people can see you, even if they don’t want to. When you paint your work is visible, what you have to say and share is visible, even if people don’t want it to be. But when you write, your ideas are hidden between under the covers. The book covers to be exact. You can’t force people to understand that what you have to say is worthwhile enough to give up a few hours of their lives to read it. That’s significant time. A song is three minutes, and can be turned off. A show is 30 minutes or an hour, and can be turned off. A piece of artwork is available to take in over the course of a few moments. But books, books require an investment. And you have to do work. You’re not just observing, you are actively engaging in reading. And as a writer, I think it’s very important not to waste anyone’s time.

So I made it a point to write something that I believe is worthwhile. And after writing it, it felt great. But now I have to get people to read it. Which is less great. Because even though I want to share it, and even though I believe in it, I have to convince other people that they should as well. And though that makes me uncomfortable, what I have found is that thing that I started learning when I started college – no one else is going to do it for me. I’m the one who has to do the work. The ultimate responsibility is mine.

We all have things we want to do. Things we need to do. And we all have to start somewhere. Is there somewhere you are planning to go or something you are wanting to do? Find the time, find a way, and make it a point to do it. And along the way:

  • Don’t be afraid of what you write. Let it flow, even if it makes no sense.
  • Understand that even though people may be supportive, they may not be supportive in the way we’d like.
  • Remember that even though it’s going to get hard, it’s something worth doing.
  • Remember the journey is yours to take, and some of the people will have to come and go. (as will some characters)
  • Remember there are plenty of people who have made it through, so there’s no reason that you can’t, too.
  • Stay motivated. You have what it takes. YOU!
  • Smile. This is just good sense. It has the natural ability to lift your spirit, even when things are hard.

 

One day (an homage to the Olympics and the Olympic spirit)

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I love the Olympics. In general, I enjoy sports, and I appreciate the competitive nature, even if it’s simply competing with yourself to become better. But the Olympics are different. Everyone who walked into that stadium tonight is an Olympian. For the rest of their lives, no matter what, they were Olympians at the 2012 Olympics in London. It’s truly an amazing accomplishment.

The Olympics provide a very unique opportunity for everyone who competes. At that moment when the games open every single Olympian in that stadium has a chance. They have the chance to be considered the greatest competitor in their sport at this moment in time. Every single person there has hope, even if the odds are against them. Underdogs will win gold medals. Upsets will take place. Someone who was never supposed to win will, in fact, stand atop a podium with their anthem playing at some point in time in the next few weeks. And it’s all because they took a chance, and they kept on working.

One day someone decided they liked soccer. One day someone decided they were going to try to run as fast as they could. One day someone decided they could probably balance on a 4” beam. And then they made that choice again, and again, and again, until they came to the point where they were in a class of their own. They stood at the top of their game. They put forth the work, years of work in most cases, to see their dream through. They had successes and failures. They had promotions and setbacks. They had points where they felt like giving up. Points where life was overwhelming. But each day, they made the choice to carry on. They made the choice to try again. And to try again after that. And with every choice and every effort, they made their dream a reality.

Nothing great comes easily. You don’t get to a point where you produce your best work until you put in the effort to learn, to grow, to push yourself through, to fail, to rise, to persevere.  One day we choose to try. It is our starting block. But we must follow that start with a strong step forward. And we must repeat those steps again and again and again if we want to cross the finish line in front. We cannot get to the top of the mountain unless we are willing to climb. And unless one day we choose to try, we will remain stranded with the crowd, never even making it to the starting line. So what better time to choose to try, even if it’s just a crazy dream? The greatest competitors in every field started off the same way.

 

When the heat is on

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I took Jack walking today, and we ended up out during an extremely hot point in the day. Originally there were lots of clouds around, but when we arrived they had all disappeared. We walked a little bit, and took even more breaks. He had a wonderful time, and I watched all the runners and cyclists as they rode around.

From all I could see the heat was pretty stifling. I remember when I was younger how much more energy it took to play games in the afternoon instead of in the evening. It didn’t stop us from playing, but I would dare to say that most of us held our stamina longer and made better decisions when we weren’t trying to win games in the oppressive heat. And this is true of many situations.

Sometimes we have to push through the heat. Sometimes there are no other options. But there are more times when if we would just wait it out and let the heat die down, even just a degree or two, it makes all the difference. Having the patience to not try to fight the fire is hard. We don’t know how long it’s going to last or what it might burn up in the process. When we are standing back and just watching from the sidelines, that urge to do more tends to kick in. We feel like we just have to do something. We have to fight through it, and make things happen right now. We have to stop it. We have to fix it. We can’t just sit there.

But patience is a virtue. (at least that’s what they say). And in reality, in a large number of cases if we decide to take on the heat, to run into the fire, we end up only feeding the fire. It billows up. The problems grow. Now everyone is at risk, when before we were in a position to do something once the heat died down. We have to be willing to wait it out. To have patience. To remain calm. To remain in control. We have to make sure that we only fight when necessary and that we are equipped to do so. Whether you’re shouting or quiet, whether you are explaining it away or searching fervently for the answer, if you are standing in a fire you are no match for the fire. Without the right gear, without a spare supply of oxygen, without other people helping you to work to put out the fire, you’re simply standing in the fire. And that heat, those flames will quickly consume you. You won’t know which was is up, much less out. No one will understand what you are saying. But if you stand outside, you wait it out and let the heat pass, suddenly the path has been cleared for you. So don’t buy into the fury. Don’t listen to the hate. Don’t participate in storms that will only get you clobbered. Stand your ground. Know your goal. And wait for the path to clear.

Walking on the wire

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Many people watched a few weeks ago when Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Not long after that a man walked across the Beau Rivage, a casino on the coast here on a tightrope, as well. I went with my brother, my son and my nephew to watch the event. You don’t realize just how high up it really is until there is someone walking across it on a rope!

As we watched him I thought about how difficult it must be to keep so many things in balance all at once. I’ve talked a lot about focus this week, and in this case it truly does take an immense amount of focus. You are standing up higher than anyone around, out over the edge (one of the only people crazy enough to try this) and you have to keep looking forward while remembering what you need to do to keep yourself in check. You have to stay calm, make sure your steps are on track, change them accordingly to ensure the rope you are walking on doesn’t get too loose, and make sure not to look down.

When we are up high and walking across the rope looking down can be hard to avoid. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls we make. When we start looking at just how high up we are and how far we’ve come, it’s easy to get disoriented. Looking down and losing focus is confusing. We become inundated immediately with thoughts that take us off track. We stop paying attention to our walk, we stop paying attention to our goal, we aren’t sure anymore what our next step should be, and it’s all because we looked down.

There are lots of people down there waiting on us to fall. There are lots of reasons that we might actually fall. But we are just as capable of standing on the wire and walking our way across. The choice in the matter is ours. Do we give in and look down? Do we go ahead and give up and take the easy way? It’s a whole lot faster getting to the ground that way, but the ground isn’t really where we want to be. And falling almost always results in injury. It may be fast, and there may be lots of people at the bottom who will be happy we’ve joined them, but is it really worth it? Fighting the urge to look down is hard. We have to know the steps we are taking. And remember that the hard road, (or the tight rope) is the only way to get there. So why not take the time to stay in check while walking on the wire.

Freedom (from the pressure)

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Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I didn’t write anything at all. I didn’t write anything, I didn’t make a list, I didn’t go through and try to figure anything out – well, I stopped myself when I started doing that. And I made it a point to take the time to enjoy freedom. Just for a bit. For one day. I let myself be free from everything and simply enjoy the day.

It gets overwhelming sometimes when we need something to happen. And we need it to happen soon. We are working and working and trying to figure out what our next move will be, and that can interfere with actually being productive. It’s important to remind ourselves that we have to take a break sometimes. We have to stop. We have put too much in the way, and we can no longer find where our focus is at. We lose track of what’s going on, and we lose track of the fact that lots of things in our life need attention. We need attention. The people around us need attention. Life needs attention. Sometimes in order to actually focus, we have to allow ourselves to breathe for just a minute without feeling so much pressure. We have to let our minds recharge. We have to let them regroup so that we are better able to move forward in the days ahead.

We are bombarded daily by things we should and need to do. There is so much going on around us that we have to make sure we aren’t ignoring things that need to be priorities. We have to pay attention to the things that don’t get the attention they should, including ourselves. We have to give ourselves the freedom to appreciate and prioritize all of the areas in our lives that have been glossed over. The freedom to recharge. And the freedom to move forward feeling more comfortable and more focused in who we are and where we are going.

(This does not negate the last post… It’s simply a reminder that sometimes we have to take a short break to allow our focus time to return, and often times to return stronger than before. The focus does not disappear, it’s just that we remove the pressure, which has a tendency to build when we get stuck. And the break is not intended to ignore everything, simply to remind yourself to focus on other areas as well, while you feel the freedom of removing the pressure.)

(The book is still on sale for two more days for .99 on Amazon. (and barnes and noble) It’s a good source of freedom, and definitely lets you return more focused and ready for the challenges that come your way! 🙂 )

Finding focus in the silence – seeing your ideas become reality

Most of the time when we have an idea or a goal, at the beginning there is this wave of excitement and focus. We are able to make the ideas flow, we are able to put a pen to paper, and we’re off. We start on our way. Then all of a sudden it stops. The wave has landed ashore, and we’re stuck out of water. This is one of the most pivotal times when it comes to accomplishing what we’ve set out to accomplish.

It seems like when we look at others, they are on their way and their journey has been nothing but smooth sailing. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely that a tremendous amount of time, frustration and unreturned effort wasn’t put in. We don’t get to most places worth going in life simply by showing up. We have to work to get to where we want to go. If you have something to say, and something worth saying, finding an audience is the most important and most difficult thing you can do. Unfortunately, in life we can only control ourselves. We have no power over others unless they consent. Unless they are willing to show up and say, “Hey, tell me more.” And people aren’t willing to do that until you’ve put in the effort.

Maintaining focus when things are starting to fall, when you realize that the road in front of you is full of hill after hill, mountain after mountain that you have to climb over – when you realize that you are fighting uphill, and there will be times when you feel like you are only losing ground – maintaining focus here is what separates those who achieve their goals from those who let them go. It separates those who become from those who settle. It’s hard. It’s long. It doesn’t go the way we expect it to go or feel that it should go. But it IS the road to success, as long as we choose to stay focused. To find ways when there seem to be none, and to keep working when it feels like nothing is happening. Finding focus when we are hearing nothing at all, when there is only silence is the key to seeing your ideas become a reality.

A bit of good news I hope!!

The kindle version of my book is now just $.99! (it started at midnight, I am excessively uncomfortable with self-promotion!) Which is very exciting!! One of the reasons I opted to make a kindle version was to keep prices low. I think that we all have to pay attention to how and what we spend our money on, so I’m really excited that I get the chance to do this!

So, if you are interested in changing your life, following your dreams, understanding your relationships, sharing the difficulties of parenting, feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged, and understanding why you really are worthy of all of the wonderful things life has to offer and learning how to achieve them, it truly is a dollar extremely well spent. It’s a short read (it is 260 pages, but it feels so much faster, honestly!) It’s written in the same format as my blog. It’s like we sat down in my living room to have a conversation about everything worthwhile that I’ve learned in my years studying psychology and in my personal life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (except those of you who are manly enough to hold it in, but you’ll want to), It’s a chance worth taking, and it costs next to nothing. Give it to someone as a gift. You don’t need a kindle to read it. So please share it with everyone you know. It’s time and a tiny bit of money well spent.

Between Fear and Love – Kindle

And I want to thank all of you for creating such a wonderful and supportive community here. It really is impressive, this blogging community. Thanks for letting me in, encouraging me, and helping me accomplish my dreams. I hope I help you all do the same!

I also want to thank the following people for nominating me for awards this past week. I appreciate the thought. It means a lot, because I really want people to enjoy this blog and to feel inspired when they read it. So thank you. Check them out:

http://smilesalot1969.wordpress.com/

http://voluntaryfiber.wordpress.com/

http://panichold.wordpress.com/

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