Chase the Appeal…

Have you ever considered why some memories remain in your mind out of all proportion to other memories? (I’m not talking about the things that scared you or that time you got in big trouble.) Certain smells, a song from the past, a phrase or expression, carry with them some wonder; a warmth you find difficult to describe. Similarly, particular aspects of life like an abundant flower garden or a freshly mowed lawn seem to speak to something inside of you. Or maybe it’s the feel of a hardbound book cover or the thin rim of your favorite coffee mug. Whatever it is in this world of infinite possibilities, those things are what they are and where they are for a reason. They make their appeal to an important aspect of who you are and your responsibility is to pursue it. Catch the message. Chase the appeal.

Often, it seems, we fail to recognize our individuality and instead opt for conformity. It’s like we cannot fathom our uniqueness and do our best to like what everyone else seems to like. We so desperately want to fit in to our own detriment; to the sacrificing of everything we and only we can bring to the world. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. When our bodies try to tell us something, we don’t listen. We do not follow our own hearts, but instead chase after whims and passing fancies. Ultimately, we should have the courage to choose our own paths. We should not be so afraid to upset the herd. In every situation of life there is one right way to go and we can always find it if we pay attention. Yet, the circumstances of life are so loaded with distractions and alternate courses that we miss it almost every time. And afterwards we often find painfully that we already knew. In order to be consistently happy, you are going to have to learn how to be you; how to do you; to become the best version of you. There is only one you and no-one else can bring what you alone can bring. What is appealing to you?

Emerson said, “The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.” As such, there is a distinct uniqueness to the things you experience, though they be quite similar to someone else. The words of a certain poem, the feeling you experienced seeing the woman laughing on the beach, the high view of the lush valley below, all contain within them something specific for you. Follow after them. They are God’s little clues for your greater experience; for your own abundant life. Don’t lump them all together and chalk it up as oddity. Don’t be so hurried and distracted that you miss them. The more you are willing to see, the more you will see. God is a God of specificity. Haven’t you noticed? The One that made your eye with all of its complexity, made your mind as well with all its complexity and as such knows in great detail how to appeal to you. Follow the appeals.

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.”  (RWE) There are things in your experience that brighten your mind and fill and fulfill your heart. Similarly, there are things that serve to darken your mind and numb you to life’s greater realties. Get yourself to the light. Notice the things speaking to your heart and investigate them further. They are not random and not happenstance. They lead you directly to the things that are for you. The appeal carries with it some deeper reality, some hidden truth for you, that you need. Darkness also carries with it an appeal, but that appeal will always promise to satisfy some desire and damage you in the process. It’s interesting to consider that God is not limited to church meetings or conventional settings, while absent from the grand majority of life. As the Author of life, He is in every aspect of life without limitation. Yet, many seem to think He is separate from the other aspects and as such miss the messages. Perhaps God wrote that line in the poem you can’t seem to stop reading. Why does that song make you feel warm inside? What is that vivid flower communicating to you? All around you everyday is intricate and unlimited beauty trying to tell you something, if only you remained willing to hear. Track down the appeal.

Life today is so hurried and frenzied that we miss it. There is so much at which to look. Things are confusing and distracting, overloading us with information and more things to do. But, one thing is needful. Return to the one thing. Live the day and the day only. Don’t rush through the days trying to get to another day. Live the day. Experience the moments you are in. Be fully present. In so doing, you will begin to understand (again) that you aren’t supposed to just get through life or reach some acceptable age before you die, but actually live life. There’s happiness and fulfillment out there waiting for you to come upon it. Life is to be a period of discovery, ultimately discovering the One who made it all. Hold on to the good things. Savor those memories that stand out for you and make you that much better. Pay very close attention to those aspects of life that speak to you directly, even if you cannot fully understand them yet. There is something glorious behind it looking to care for and love you. Slow down a little bit. Trim back all those activities. Turn off all the noise makers. Look around you and listen intently, for the best parts of life are right there seeking you. Chase the appeal!

Just some good thoughts…


I Hope You Dance…

I came across these beautiful lyrics today and was tenderly reminded that no matter where your life may be heading with its twists and turns there is always hope for a wonderful future. And, much of what has happened to you in the past exists now only in your memory and even that is often undistinguished and unreliable. Certain setbacks and hardships color your past experiences with unfair brushstrokes overly shaded on the difficulties. While childhood wishes and dreams were formed in the heart of a child and not within the ripened experience of an adult. So, no matter where you are today and whatever you are going through, I hope you find your life and your happiness again. I hope you dance…

“I Hope You Dance”

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’

Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

Dance, I hope you dance…
                                                               ~ By Lee Ann Womack

All of us begin our lives in the same way. In front of us lies an enormous ocean of possibilities, we have only to find them and live them. Our hearts, not yet distracted by the worries and concerns of life, are unshackled and free to experience. Our focus is singular and clear, unashamed and in harmony with our highest good. We seek in earnest the things that make us happy and shun those things which do not. We believe unreservedly for the good in life unaware of the alternatives. In childhood, life is simple and full of wonder. Yet something happens to people as the years go by and what was once simple and free is no longer free nor simple. The challenges of life when combined over a lifetime can take away your zest for living and dim your gleaming shine. You can lose sight of the very essence of life and become encumbered in what might have been or what you could have done. The world is often a cruel teacher leading you to forget life’s sweetest lessons and instead instruct your failures in the hopes of their continuance. But, the wonder of life, the passion, the opportunity, the promise hasn’t gone away, it has just been obstructed from your view. What you felt once you can feel again when you become clear that life hasn’t changed, you have. I hope you dance.

Of all of the frightful things that could happen to a man or a woman, nothing is more destructive and painful as giving up on life. Living your life a shadow of your former self, banished to the sidelines, without God and without hope is the most miserable way to live. Yet, people live this way day in and day out. They have sacrificed the joy of life for a paycheck or for approval or to make someone else’s life a pleasure. They willingly cash in their hopes and dreams for someone else’s dream. They think they cannot so they do not. They become so accustomed to disappointment that they expect it and in expecting, live it. They rely on other people’s judgments and no longer trust their own. Seeing a good thing that they love, that they could do, they refuse waiting for permission. And in so doing, they cease living. Your life is your’s alone and what makes its appeal to you, to you alone it appeals. You’ve lost your energy for life because you no longer seek what energizes you, but trade it in for another’s life force. Finding your way back depends not so much on locating the path, but finding your path again. There is a way that exists only for you. To think yourself a part of the masses and conforming with those masses spells the end of you, the you, you seek to rediscover. No matter what complexities have enveloped your life, you will find yourself with simplicity in those things most appealing to you. Pursue them with vigor! I hope you dance…

Every day you have a choice in how you are going to live. To say you have no choice is never true. Life is full of new things to learn; things that take your breath away; things that bring tears to your eyes. The wonder of life cannot be over-worked or completed. There is infinitely more life to live than you have the capacity to experience. All of this God created for you. It remains there waiting for you to once again discover it. Walk away from all of your disappointments and hurts. Let go of all the fears and insecurities. Take a chance that your life is worth the living. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your memories, be they sublime or distressing, are just memories and do not hold the power to write your future. You do. And when you choose I hope you dance!

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance. And in doing so, I know you will dance. I hope you dance…

Just some good thoughts…

What I Know for Sure… (Birthday Blog)

As I reflect on another trip around the sun, there are, in the words of Oprah, some things I know for sure. For one, life is short. One day you are 30, then suddenly you’re 50 and before you know it, you’re 80. You live the day and the days keep on moving forward. Days turn into months, months turn into years and years become a lifetime. Early on you’re figuring out children and finances, struggling to find your place in the world. Then, your kids are grown and you are no longer so focused on your money or your place. Now you are someone’s grandpa and the grey haired manager at work. You’ve got more money and more time and you find yourself contented with less. Words like retirement start popping up and although you aren’t as old as your dad was at the same age, you have to give it some thought. Curiously, you find yourself considering your legacy; what you would want your children or other people thinking about when they remembered you. Did you ever answer the question of who you were?

With the passing of time comes wisdom. You’ve lived long enough and screwed it up often enough to finally consider your ways. Yet, you recognize all that time you spent judging yourself was wasted time. You see things for what they are and understand that life always has choices and though you chose wrong a thousand times, you can always choose right. And, it dawns on you that you also chose right a thousand times and maybe didn’t recognize it at all. Instead of measuring and evaluating yourself by your mistakes, you can put those mistakes in perspective and see how little a part they played in the grand scheme of your life. Once you finally stop judging yourself, you find you stop judging other people as well. You understand that they, like you, are also learning and developing and you are viewing them at only one place along their journey.

Instead of seeing life as a whole, you see it in all of its parts. There are good parts and bad parts, exciting parts and boring parts. There are times of rejoicing and there are times of sorrow. You succeed and you fail. You fall down and you get back up. You get your ass kicked for a time, then you kick some ass yourself. You long to live your life in perpetual comfort, but learn that much of life is uncomfortable, at least for a little while. You wish for life without challenges, but acknowledge that the challenges help you grow. You know you have an opponent in life and obstacles, but you figure out how to make sure the enemy isn’t you. Simple things become the best things. Complexity belongs to error. You can finally admit you have some weak spots and in so knowing can finally build yourself up. It also dawns on you that you have some gloriously strong parts and you can figure out how to tap into them as often as possible. Don’t discount the value of being able to make someone smile or lift them up and out of their misery. You see the power of your words and how you wield them, and thus use them to bring light and not darkness. You can appreciate the pain you have endured, not for having it, but for how it forced you to find the way out of it.

Life is full of change and nothing stays the same, except for God. No matter how low you have descended, or how far down the rabbit hole you may have ventured, He will give you the same love when you return. One thing is faithful and it is Him. He loves you when you do not love yourself. He provides help when you aren’t asking for help. He is the one great constant in life. He doesn’t change His nature. He does not do people harm. He is the polar opposite of the world’s portrayal of Him. He is not following you around pointing out your moral deficiencies. He is not judging you. You experience those things at the hands of His opponent, who is ever portraying himself as something he is not. God doesn’t make you feel bad ever. He makes you feel good. He is the goodness you have always dreamed of and He always will be. My life today would not be the life it is without Him. The times He has answered me, rescued me and picked me up out of life’s gutters, I cannot count. The insights, the inklings, the tips and clues are without number. He loved me into loving myself and did it again and again and again. One thing I know for sure is that God is only good always…

Life, this life always has the promise of good things. Pretty soon you find yourself more clear on how to access those good things. You discern your own cooperation with the madness and stop cooperating. You at last see the part you play and make better plays. Sure, you still fumble at times, but you don’t let your head stay there. You stay clear on all of your touchdowns and let the missteps go. In short, you love yourself and continue to love yourself, bulges, sore knees and all. You become adamant not to be against yourself any longer. You know God loves you and you walk out with that love. And, you get busy healing and helping and lifting and loving. You see humanity surging with pain and grief, disappointment and loss, and you get in there and offer them something different; something wonderful instead. This, my friends, is a life well lived.

I’m not done yet of course and have a lot left to learn and to do. No regrets at all… Looking forward to another trip around the sun and more time to love and to bless.

Life is good.

Just some good thoughts…

What Do You Think?

It’s interesting during these times of increased uncertainty and fear that there would also be an increase in depression. Depression by its very nature refers to the act of lowering something or pressing something down. You don’t start with despondency, you arrive there. If you have ever been depressed, you know how terrible it is robbing your life of all enthusiasm and energy. And despite where you end up, chemical imbalance acknowledged, much of what happened to you happened because of what you were thinking. What do you think?

All thoughts are not equal. Some thoughts bring life and joy and peace. While other thoughts work to shatter your entire nervous system. What you think does matter! Certain trains of thought, if persisted in, will bring about great detriment to your life. Entertaining thoughts of fear and worry work to steal away your life force. They literally suck the life right out of you. If you continue in them and do not thwart them, they will bring you down into the great valleys of life. And, once you find yourself down there, it is damn hard to find your way back! Fear thoughts make you sick. Fear thoughts fill your mind and body with anxiety. Fear thoughts are the ultimate destruction and they have no logical end point. Fear thoughts are always a lie threatening some future day. And since you cannot live in the future, they will continue to work you over until you fold! Fear thoughts are not overcome with logic and more and more understanding. While it is true that ignorance leads to fear, at the end of the day, fear thoughts must be starved out. Each day spent in fear is a day lost. What you think and what you refuse to think does matter. It matters more than almost anything you can do in this life. 

That thought would have such a powerful and lasting effect in people’s lives, yet remain so misunderstood is one of the great mysteries of life. Your life, my life, literally hinges upon the thoughts we allow and encourage and those we refuse and reject. Your thoughts are one of the few things you can control in this life. And, aside from some rather vague generalities concerning being positive, we have been largely uninstructed in this regard. It is a common belief that people live their lives while thinking along the way, rather than what people think actually forms the basis of their lives. Good thoughts, right thoughts, true thoughts bring abounding peace to their possessor. Right thought introduces energy into your existence. Proper thinking leads to warm and sunny circumstances. Good thoughts open your heart to the goodness that is in the world and allows you to see it. True thoughts bring clarity and genuine understanding, shining a bright light on all that is false and harmful. Thoughts of guilt and condemnation, while appearing noble, actually rob your life of all vigor and grace. Hateful, judgmental thoughts bring harshness and cruelty to yourself first then to all others you come into contact with. While thoughts of love and kindness serve to soften and warm, bringing healing and every good possible. All of the various and unlimited, possible outcomes are wrapped up in the thoughts you entertain most frequently. 

The time to focus on and correct your thinking is today. You are only responsible for the thoughts you think right now. What are you thinking about? What thoughts race across your mind? What thoughts seem to settle in the background like dark specters, offering all the reasons why you cannot be happy or why you cannot finally relax? We all want to be happy, but we don’t all think the thoughts that are happy. Instead we sort of let our minds run like a motorboat, then act surprised when we end up at destinations we neither chose nor encouraged. We seem to wish that life would just work out no matter what we thought. We think failure, fear failure, expect failure, then get pissed off that we failed. How could we not? If you live your life being deathly afraid of some negative variable, get ready to face that variable! God didn’t do it to you, you did it to you! You have a solemn responsibility to control your thinking. You decide what you are going to think about or at minimum what you are going to keep thinking about. When you find yourself struck by some sudden negative element in your thinking or for that matter in your life, you have a decision to make. What are you going to think about? Are you going to cooperate with evil by spending your days contemplating some awful variable or are you going to think something else? They’re your thoughts! They have always been your thoughts…

It is never too late to turn your life around. You change your trajectory by changing your thinking. You don’t have to control and manage every thought, just your next thought. You decide. If you are feeling depressed, lacking energy and vitality, chances are you have been thinking about the wrong stuff, a lot! If you feel miserable and defeated, you are not thinking soundly. Your emotions follow your thoughts and not the other way around. If you feel agitated and distressed, fearful and anxious, ask yourself what you have been feeding your mind. What are you thinking? Believe it or not, you are responsible for the things you put into your mind. Oh sure, sometimes weird stuff pops in, but you don’t have to let it stay. I’m not talking about drowning yourself in positivity, despite whatever is going on. I’m talking about stop drowning yourself in negativity. Stop encouraging those thoughts. Stop feeding them. Stop giving them space in your mind. You aren’t just being human, you are squandering your resources. Every happy person you have ever met has had the same mental challenges you are having, they just refused to let them win! What do you think? 

Just some good thoughts…

Life Moves in One Direction Only…

“Life moves in one direction only – and each day we are faced with an actual set of circumstances, not with what might have been, not with what we might have done, but with what is, and with where we are now- and from this point we must proceed; not from where we were, not from where we wish we were – but from where we are…” ~ Richard L. Evans

I came across this quote today and found myself immediately filled with inspiration regarding its great reality. Your life, my life is always an ever present ‘now.’ There is no such thing as what might have been because what might have been hasn’t happened yet. Similarly, what we might have done is equally deceptive in that we have not yet done it yet. Instead in full ownership and without excuse, with full accountability, our life is what it is today. We are where we are today and where we are is the only place from which we can move forward. We cannot move from where we were nor can we move from where we wish we were. Life only moves in one direction and it can only move forward and progress when we accept what is for what it is and resolve ourselves to change the things we need to change.

As human beings, there will always be things in our lives we know we need to change. Some things will come easy for us and fade away like fog when the sun comes out. Other things will not come out without a great and arduous struggle, sometimes demanding years to overcome. But, make no mistake, nothing can ever change for the better until we come to full terms with what is. Our flaws, our foibles, our errors call aloud for resolution and we are loathe to admit them for what they are. We excuse them, we justify them, we explain them away, secretly hoping we can someday gain a magical grasp on them and be that much better for it. But, at the end of the day, they are our problems and no matter how they gained control over us, they call aloud for remedy.

It’s not easy to admit our issues as like a disagreeable friend they have become a part of us. However unwelcome, they are a part of who we are today. But, they are not our friends and the effects of their influence over us only leads to suffering and misery. They are our great hold-back and hinderance. They stymie our joy and blessings. They lead us down paths we never sought to traverse. They are bumps in the otherwise smooth road. They are ditches and well-worn ruts sent to defeat us. And we will never master them, though master them we must, until we allow ourselves to see them for what they really are – lies… There are enjoyments and pleasures in life to bless us, but when overdone and not controlled, bring pain instead. But, you cannot control what you refuse to acknowledge. Nothing good starts as excess, but in excess becomes nothing good. What you fail to control eventually controls you. What you choose to ignore gradually gains ascendancy like a rock in your shoe ignored over many miles. The lesson required you to make a change the first time it hurt you.

There’s a great freedom in accepting your life for what it is both the good and the bad. No man is all good and no woman is all bad. We are all shades and mixtures of both with everything in-between. We may possess great strength and great weakness. We are all subject to like passions. We all feel and perceive deeply at times and other times are numb and without perception. We are both sensitive and have callouses over parts of our hearts. We have all been harmed at one time or another and we are all in need of healing. But, in order to be healed we have to once again recognize where we are hurting. We have to acknowledge what is…without judgment and self chastisement. No man goes astray on his own without first being led. No-one in their right mind would purposefully choose suffering and pain. But, we do suffer at times and need someone to deliver us. We need love, not a lecture. We need forgiveness and often first from ourselves. We need God!

In short, we need to be honest with ourselves and honest with God. Our  relationship with God is not politics whereby we seek to present all of our actions in a favorable light. Instead it is a relationship based on trust. It is a willingness for us to see ourselves right we are no matter how dirty, confused or deceived we have become. It is having the humility to admit we have gone astray and an earnest desire for God to help us get back on track. He is not here to judge us or condemn us for where we have ended up, but instead like a loving Father welcomes us back into His arms with solutions we haven’t been able to fathom before. Discipline doesn’t get the job done, love does! We need Him to love us back into loving ourselves again, not because we have only done right, but because He only does right and He is love.

You’re not going to travel very far in life before you find yourself totally screwed up over something. No matter what it is, that is not the end of the road. Be grateful it finally got clear enough for you to see it. You can’t sink so low but that underneath you aren’t the loving arms of God. Acknowledge it. Admit it! It is what it is, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Life truly moves in one direction only and the only way you can move ahead is for you to accept where you are at this very moment and move up from there. Get back up! God loves you and so do I…

Just some good thoughts…