How Did I End Up Here?


bus-lane2_636250051617305266Have you ever, in a sudden flash of insight, wondered how in the hell did I end up here? All of us had our youthful fantasies where we were playing professional baseball or were the star actor in a hit movie. However choppy or obscure, all of us entertained some vague notions of how life would be for us in the future. Then, the future got here and it wasn’t exactly what we expected. For many folks it turned into a nightmare from which they are now seeking an escape. How did it happen? How did we end up here?

The short answer is, you were the one driving the bus! The longer answer is a little more tricky. The life that you are living today is a composite sketch you first outlined and then refined through days, months and years of thinking certain thoughts. Yes, my friend, you were driving the bus. Oh, I know it didn’t seem like you were always driving the bus. If anything it seemed like you were sometimes navigating the bus through difficult and confusing circumstances. Many days perhaps you were anxiously driving the bus with a death grip on the wheel, fearful of how things were going to turn out. At other times, for a myriad of reasons, you let someone else drive your bus trusting them to get you to a good destination. For years maybe you were not even aware that you are supposed to drive your own bus and just hoped with the rest of the world that God would somehow drive your bus for you if you were good to people and weren’t too much of a dick or something… But no matter the reasons, even the compelling good reasons, you are responsible to drive your own bus and choose your own destinations!

I believe that we all, on occasions, find ourselves scratching our heads at how we turned out to be exactly like our fathers or suffer from the same issues as our mothers, though we swore we never would. We didn’t realize that the same crap that got to them would eventually get to us as well. In our youthful wisdom, we didn’t see it coming, just like they didn’t see it coming. In reality it wasn’t our propensity to fall for the same mistakes that defeated us or even inherited weaknesses in the gene pool that got us. What got us; what defeated us; what we failed to see was “it,” manipulating behind the scenes and causing us to drive our buses in the wrong damn direction! All that precious time we spent focusing on things we didn’t want, left us driving on a road we didn’t choose, leading to a destination we do not like. You want to know how you got here? This is how you got here! The sooner you decide to take your keys back the better.

Aside from the incessant and persistent manipulation and every other force that drives us away from our best lives, there is another far more subtle power at work, also based on fear but far less obvious. This perennial ¬†flat tire to our happiness is the overworked and overused, insane, dishonest, “I have to please everyone else” mentality that seems noble but in reality is a cruelty afflicting both who you are and who you could ever hope to be! This slippery wrench in the works convinces you to make choices that aren’t really your choices in favor of playing it safe or protecting your family or whatever other bullshit you have been confessing to yourself to rationalize bad decisions and miserable circumstances. Your age, your income, your bad knees, your upbringing, your momma, your spouse all have nothing to do with your capacity; even your necessity to change your thoughts and slowly but surely change your life. You are no more stuck than the energy it takes to say so. None of us are ever truly mired in life’s circumstances, no matter how they present themselves. What we become stuck in is a wrong belief playing itself out over a thousand iterations. Change the flat tire!

How your life has played out thus far is a product of your own making and once you are finally able to own that, you can climb confidently back into the driver’s seat and chart a new course; one that you sought after on purpose. Refusing to own your part in this grand drama leaves you as the victim, pitifully wasting away your one short go-round, waiting for someone or something to change your scenario; change your course for you. No matter how bad things may have gotten for you, you still know what you enjoy, right? You still know what good looks and feels like, right? It may surprise you to know that God Himself, with all of His limitless power and ability, can only take you as far as you are willing to go. His job isn’t to drive you to your future destination. He made you the bus driver. Instead He can only encourage you through crazy blog-writers who have the audacity to repeat what His Word says, hopefully in ways that you can understand!

You think countless thoughts within the space of a day. Why not take a breath and find out what some of those thoughts are and then challenge them if they don’t fit the image of what you want for your life. Just because you thought a thought doesn’t make it true. Good bus drivers have to wrestle all of those unruly thoughts into submission and in doing so take over the wheel of their own ride.

However you got here to this moment in time only proves your history thus far. Your future is something you are planning for today by the thoughts you entertain the most. Recognize how big of a deal those little thoughts really are and work with the system people!

By the way, I’m glad you got here… ūüėČ

Just some good thoughts.

 

 

Flashes of Light…


unnamedThere is no such thing as an ordinary life. Each one of us, uniquely made and different, have something to contribute to the world. We have the opportunity to offer what we alone do best and from whence we have no rival. In order to escape the mundane, the mediocrity, the humdrum that plagues the world, we have to find those flashes of light that lead us to our true purpose. And, while our purpose is inside of us, we need the light from the outside to guide our paths.

We all know that the sunshine does something positive to us. How many difficulties are immediately resolved in our minds just because the sun is shining? Gloomy days, also a part of life, remind us to seek the sunlight. Similarly, gloomy thoughts remind us to look for the light that warms and comforts us. Days, weeks and years spent in gloomy thoughts lead us unwillingly to the pain that is a life with no purpose, no point. Yet behind each dark cloud is the light that is always present, waiting for us to recognize it and embrace it. Our job is not to produce the light, but rather to seek it until we find it. The light that guides us is found in flashes of insight and understanding.

Those insights; the subtle beckoning of a change in direction or a suggested change in our thinking are all around us if we start paying attention. They show up in those moments of repose or when we admire the lifestyle of another person. It’s found in the gentle appeals to something better inside of us; some more sublime, sweet way to exist. The reason men and women fail to see the light is because they get trapped in some mindset, some hard, fast , habitual way of thinking that falsely presumes what life is and all that can be accomplished or enjoyed. The problem is that we but half live our days functioning by rote instead of seeking the new and profound in each day. Each day offers us the opportunity to live anew with fresh experiences and learning, but we’ve become so accustomed to our routines that we cannot discern it. And while the routines are necessary, they also serve to cut us off from a full life.

It seems many people as they age settle into certain patterns of existence. The days blur together because they are lived without inquisitive thought, without new learning, but instead with mindless repetition. Young people, still consumed with the idea of life, actively seek new experiences with a mind still bent on gaining a better view. Aging is not the issue, but rather the amount of time that has transpired to inculcate certain habits of thought. The light has not become less available, it’s just harder to see with a fixed mindset. The light becomes diminished with our insistence on thinking we already know, thus closing us off from all that we do not know. It’s not easy to break certain habits of thought, but break them we must if we wish to fulfill our experience of life.

The true joy of living is not often found in hallmark events, but in the mechanics of every day life. The proposed destination is not the only part of the process. Learning to enjoy the journey is the paramount experience. The life that God has given us is infused with rich variety and opportunities for discovery and each day is pregnant with the possibility of new learning. For this reason, we have to unchain ourselves from our habitual behaviors. Get up at a different time. Choose a different route to work. Instead of arriving home from work to occupy the couch and the television for the evening, go for a walk in the park or meet friends on a weeknight instead.

One great hold back to a fulfilled life, offering your best “you” to the world is that tyrannical insistence on being whom everyone already thinks you are. People, in their attempts to classify and categorize us, assign us to some place in life usually described by a word or two. Instead of becoming more and more a rich cumulation of experiences, we allow ourselves to be assigned as, “the comedian” or the “drinker” or the “hard worker” when those aspects simply point to one portion of our existence. My wife exhorted me to stop posting pictures on Facebook of me drinking wine as over time I became defined as, “the wine guy” falsely assuming wine to be the point of my existence. And while I definitely have an affinity for fine wine, my greater affinity is for a passionate, experienced filled life.

At the end of the day, each of us have the privilege to be exactly whom we choose to be, not held in by the group’s assessment. The magnificent uniqueness of who you are is encouraged and fanned by your experiences of life. Be the person you desire to be spurred on by those flashes of insight and refuse to be locked into to some minimalist viewpoint of who you are. Choose to walk a path designed for you and for you alone. Break free from the stumbling herd and live the days of your existence exactly as you desire to live them. Listen to music that inspires you though no-one you know enjoys it. Make plans and goals too lofty for your present mindset and enjoy your incredible journey of becoming.

Your life is way too short to be anything less than exactly what you want. It is your one shot my friends, and the determining factor always was and always will be you.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

Are You Getting Fat?


5094d6cced1e1fc4a99337a616fcbff0Remember when you were 18 and ate everything that passed your way and never gained an ounce? Yeah, me too, but those days are long gone. Like you maybe, I recognize that the struggle is real. So I started thinking, besides the cruelty of a snail’s pace metabolism, what else is different? In complete honesty I have to admit, I’m doing some things that contribute to the problem. I sit at a desk all day long (almost). I have the resources to eat whatever I choose to eat and it’s been said that I occasionally overindulge in the wine (smile). When it comes to eating and drinking and other enjoyable activities, my natural tendency is to let loose as I suspect many of you do as well. It’s so easy to just let go and seems so hard to control yourself. But control is where the good stuff lives and this blog has nothing to do with your physical body!

Your mind is equally capable of getting fat.¬†And much like your body, the fat doesn’t show up from too many nutrients, but rather from too much junk. It comes from complacency and inactivity. It shows up in the form of uncontrolled thoughts and unchallenged ideas. It comes from letting go and just accepting whatever comes along. This may surprise you but your mind can get lazy. It was never designed to be that way. It was intended to be alive and vital, dynamic and energetic. It was pre-loaded to have a sincere love of learning; learning that never stops throughout a lifetime.

The popular notion of living an intentional life is the antidote to a chubby mind. Intentional means on purpose. An on purpose life is a life lived by decision rather than reaction. The world is entirely circumstance controlled. People decide they’re having¬†a good day by a few positive¬†events and a bad day¬†is born from a couple of¬†negative ones. A problem at work morphs into a potential lost job¬†and a snow prediction for the morning commute spells disaster. Sunny days equal happiness and gloomy Mondays are the worst thing ever. A pain in your side signals cancer even though¬†you forgot you moved furniture yesterday. This is no great surprise because we have been trained to think that way. Negativity is all around us. The news is negative. Facebook is negative. The people you interact with are negative. And sadly, negativity is considered the norm. If you are positive you are called¬†naive. You just don’t get it. But, I submit that no matter how much negativity you experience, it’s not the way of truth. It’s a grand deception on a monumental scale. It gets to you when you give in to it, like a bacon double cheeseburger at midnight. Intentional living chooses to “just say no” to negativity.

How many people do you know who have lost that spark in their eye? How long has it been since you felt alive and that life was worth living? I’m not talking about choosing life over death, I’m talking about overflowing and abundant life. Yet, we acquiesce and think that’s just how life is… We traded in our value for something cheap. We’ve been riding the bike with the crooked handle bars for so long that we think they’re straight. We fail to see that we adjusted to the wrong instead of fighting for the right. Even more spurious is the lack of thought employed in our choices, most evident during an election season. The media propaganda makes our choices and social media directs our minds. We believe the last thing we read and accept as true whatever someone shouts the loudest. You know why? Because our minds have fallen into decay from fast food logic¬†and pre-processed understanding. We don’t think anymore because we got fat!

So, how can you shed the pounds from your organ of mental perception? The simple answer is to learn again to think. The more arduous answer is to practice living in the moment and controlling yourself. Recognize what is going on in your head. What emotions are you experiencing? Which emotions do you no longer acknowledge? Have you worked around that broken door handle for so long that you fail to see it is broken? What aint right? Where have you settled for less than you deserve? Which illness or sickness are you living with because a doctor said you have to when God has no limitation on what He can heal? What words have you stopped voicing in your relationship that you used to speak without hesitation? What? This is your one life, my friends, and you owe yourself the custom package!

Sometimes you fail to see what you need to see because you are living in the darkness. Turn on the light. Find out what God (who actually invented life) says. Unearth that dust-covered Bible and discover something you can depend on. If you don’t know what to read, ask God for some help. That person will show up faster than a Jimmy John’s sandwich! Get your mind back. Get your vitality¬†back. Get your life back!

Being fat only lasts as long as you let it last. And again, I aint talking about your body. Embrace your chubbiness and love yourself, but most of all take care of your heart, for from it proceeds all the issues of your life! (hcG for the soul!)

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Cleaning Out Your Closet…


messyclosetYou know how it feels when you finally invest the time to clean up a room or the garage or organize your closet? You usually don’t feel like doing it and unless you’re my wife, you typically wait too long to do it. But after you get the job done, no matter how much internal bitching you did in the process, you feel sublime… And,¬†like any place you store things, that thought storage shed, called your mind, needs some regular cleaning out as well.

People, as a whole, drag around a lot of crap in their minds. They remember and retain every wrong word and deed they ever did. They hold onto their hurts like honor badges. Yet, they cast away accolades and approbation like used tissues. They cleave to what harsh thing daddy said when they were eleven, and tune out the good words from every other adult since that day! People walk through life in a perpetual state of discontent. Through their minds flash important things to handle, that are left unsaid. They clearly see the decisions to make, yet fail to make them. They post themselves in long-term limbo neither going backwards, nor moving ahead. Their mental closet is chock full, unable to appropriately address the most important issues of that precious time called today. Why, oh why?

The infamous “why” is obviously complicated, but no more complicated than understanding mankind’s obsession with what’s wrong over and above what is right. Add to the confusion a lack of willingness to actually solve the issues and you have a recipe for long-term limbo and perpetual discontent. Or in other words, a closet full of garbage and like any apparently huge, foreboding ¬†project, you don’t take on the task, though you desperately need to, because the job appears too hard. It’s sort of funny because if you were to measure the amount of energy you spent tripping over your mental clutter, it would vastly exceed the energy needed to figure a couple of things out. I say a couple of things because generally you have one large issue to resolve which secretly influences all of the smaller decisions.

So, where do you begin? Easy…what is on your mind the most? What difficulty; what issue; what dilemma hits your mind every day? That background thought that haunts you is the problem! You have to take it on! Brushing it aside might work for the day, but there it is still, like an infected sore poisoning all that follows after. Solve that; deal with that; work on that!

Recently I cleaned out my walk-in closet. As I toiled though the racks, I found item after item that no longer had any relevance in my life. There were suits that were 100% wool, but no longer in style or relevant. Old shoes that were still new looking, but never worn. There were dress shirts and Polos that I haven’t touched for years, but held because they still looked good though they never made it to my body. How many things in your life are now outdated? What things are you cleaving to that once held significance but no longer do? Life, like a wardrobe, changes. In order to be successful, you have to change. It’s not optional or a luxury, it’s a requirement. How many of you are stubbornly clinging to life as¬†it once was? Like you, I have fond, oh so fond memories of sweet past times, but you can’t go back. You can certainly dream for and enjoy something better in the future, but you cannot go back. Longing and pining for a sweeter, former time in your life is an exercise in futility as it goes against all of the laws of life. Time marches on and you have too as well…

Can’t you see that your issues are generally centered around some event that happened in the past? Or, you are harboring some dreaded potential event that might happen in the future. Past, future, both acting as mental clutter that serves no real purpose other than to fill your mental closet. Your mind, as incredible as it seems, was designed to handle the issues of today. Imagine what your life would be like without all of that dredge from the past. Think of life absent a multitude of groundless fears of the future.

The reason you stay stuck, mummified in the past, is because you choose to do it. You choose to hold onto the memory. The event, no matter what it was or how dreadful it was, exists only in your memory. The future terror you rehearse day after day exists only in your mind and will cease the moment you choose to make it cease! Clean your closet; make room in your closet; free up your closet to store the things of today.

In order to be successful in this mind cleansing business, you have to be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in being a human. The shame lies in forfeiting your precious life that you are living right now for a life founded upon the past or the future. Live today, do today, overcome today!

As odd as it sounds, you have a right to be happy today. You have a right to live a full life today. You have a right to breathe free air, no longer shackled by the past nor afraid of the future. You’ve got one shot at this thing and the time is so short. Make up your mind to free yourself from the mental clutter the world is drowning in and live free now!

The demands of living successfully today are great and require the use of your entire closet. Empty that thing out and live. You deserve that, don’t you think?

Just some good thoughts…

 

Do You Approve…of Yourself?


226ASP6179944780The world we live in is an approval machine! From birth forward we were all taught suggested behaviors, traits, personality types to help us gain the approval of others. As we matured, we started getting additional messages from the ‘system of things’ on how to continue garnering approval. I suppose¬†it makes sense, in some respects, that if you are going to live in a society¬†then¬†you have to abide by certain societal expectations to be accepted. You generally have to wear clothes and you’re not allowed to pick your nose in public, for example.¬†On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with wanting to be accepted. I mean who doesn’t like receiving approval from others? But, there’s something infinitely more important that being approved by others and that is being approved of yourself. Do you approve of yourself? That’s a question worth answering!

You being the only you, you have; begs the question, do you like yourself? I’m not talking about publicly where we’ve all been taught to develop a cheery public persona. I’m talking about you, home alone, staring in that mirror. Do you love and accept how that guy or gal acts? Or are¬†you pissed at that image for its apparent failure to live up to…wait for it…what everyone else thinks he or she should do?

You may not realize it, but all of us were conditioned very early on to seek the approval of our parents. It wasn’t such a bad idea because we were children and didn’t have the wherewithal to make good choices yet. Some parents gave you¬†unconditional approval. Some parents provided you¬†with conditional approval or said another way, “If you obey what I say, you are good. If you disobey what I say, you are bad!” Some parents gave you¬†very little or no approval no matter what you did. And finally, some parents were just not there! If you were unfortunate enough not to get the unconditional love parents, as many¬†people were, then you learned very early on in life that you needed other people’s approval to be okay. Then your life mission became, what do I need to do to be approved by others?

So, here’s the rub. Assuming you are an adult now, you have to learn to get approval from that person staring back from the glass:

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He‚Äôs the fellow to please ‚Äď never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

~ Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.

You see, us humans are a peculiar breed. We all have our own weirdness, quirks and undesirable characteristics. We all make mistakes. We’ve all zigged when we should have zagged! We are all imperfect and have all been broken in some respect. The trouble is we don’t want anyone to know it. So we parade around in our masks literally hating the person we are or have become. Our love and acceptance of ourselves is conditional and we don’t meet the conditions. It may have worked to shape your behavior when you were five, but it doesn’t work now!

You have to get to the place where you approve of you, no matter what. “He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest, for he’s with you, clear to the end. And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test, if the man in the glass is your friend.” Make your mind, your friend!

Now track with me here for a minute… Let’s say you’ve done some pretty gnarly deeds. Let’s imagine you’ve hurt people in catastrophic ways. Or maybe you just haven’t lived up to what you know in your heart you should be. In any case and in every case, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever doing better or being better or getting better if you don’t love that person in the mirror. No one beats themselves into becoming something admirable. Instead, self loathing and self hate only issue in more awful¬†results. The past is passed and cannot exist in the present unless you make it so (including your upbringing). What is in the present is you, with all of your faults and failings and human frailties. Love that guy anyway! Love that gal anyway! Approve of yourself anyway!

You just make the decision that you are worth¬†something. You matter. You do have value. You’re not of value because you do everything right. You have value because you are a living, breathing human being, formed and made by God Himself.

Step out of the ‘wheel of things’ and finally recognize that you don’t need other people’s approval to be okay. Stop masquerading, it’s exhausting. Cease changing colors to match the whims and fancies of every person you meet. Do you, be you in all of the glorious you, you can possibly be. The world doesn’t need another me, one is enough ;-). What the world needs is you; the real you; the true you; and nothing but the YOU!

Just some good thoughts…

The Death Spiral of the Negative Mind…


shutterstock_80347894A great man once said, “Negatives are like mosquitos on a blood hunt!” The world in which you and I live is ruled by negativity. The media is negative. Facebook is negative. The news is negative. Living¬†in the world, we almost cannot help but become negative. So you have to ask yourself, is all this negativity the natural way¬†to be? Does being negative simply mean you are being realistic? Is it better to be negative and thus avoid getting your expectations dashed? Does negativity actually motivate you to become something good?¬†Have you, my friend, become negative yourself?

What does it even mean to be negative? In math terms a negative is a number less than zero. To answer in the negative means to say no! A negative attitude is characterized as disagreeable. It closely ties to criticism and refusal. In photography it means to have the light and the darkness inverted. Now just stop right there for a moment. Deciding to be negative means less than nothing. You choose to say no rather than yes. You tend towards being disagreeable rather than promoting harmony. (Facebook anyone) It enjoys criticism and refuses rather than accepts. It means you’ve got your light and darkness mixed up. Indeed, your light and darkness are mixed up.

Remember when you were a youngster? How long did your negativity last? 10 minutes, when Mom said no? Then you got back to your pursuit of happiness as quickly as you could. You somehow chose, with your innocent processor, to let disagreeable stuff go and change your focus back to the good. Then the world starting mixing you up. It convinced you that you were less than zero. It taught you to say no to everything and be suspicious of anything good that showed up. People tried to tell you but you disagreed because you knew better. You got real critical of everything and everyone and mostly with yourself. Finally, you started to confuse the darkness with the light and even preferred it. You refused the goodness as fanciful and believed the darkness is¬†what is real. Thus you entered the death spiral of negativity with no hope on the horizon. Is this not true? How many people just expect things not to work out? How many folks are afraid of good things happening because they won’t last or something is going to take them away? How many good people spend their lives looking over their shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop? How many kind hearts live in perpetual fear of what might happen, hasn’t happened yet, but is surely going to happen one day? The Death Spiral…

Once you allow yourself to become negative, your focus shifts to the negative. You start looking for the negatives. You’re just looking for trouble and almost always find it. Then, one negative event leads to another negative event and the cycle is in full effect. The problem isn’t life and the reality that bad things happen. The problem is that you got talked into shifting away your focus from what you want to what you don’t want! Your dreams and your prayers went from, “I want” and “I need” to “Please don’t let” and “Please take this away from me.” Instead of being thankful; so extremely thankful, you dwelled on what you don’t have and why you don’t have it. Negative…less than zero, can you see it? Here’s a newsflash that you might find unsettling. Your life will continue on the death spiral until YOU decide to change your thoughts. YOU have to get YOUR head out of the garbage can and look up. Look to where you want to go and go there! Stop looking back and rehearsing the hurts of the past. Stop dwelling on the things that didn’t go right. Stop blaming, criticizing, refusing and ruminating, and just move your mind to a positive place. Until you do, this old world will just eat you alive….every day…until you die.

The opposite of negativity is being positive. Now, because people have their light and dark messed up, they want to chastise you for being positive. You stick out like a healed thumb! You’re not being realistic. You’re not thinking maturely. You’re being all Pollyanna and foolish. LOL! As if expecting the worst of everything makes any sense. As if the reality of life is suffering and never¬†blessings. As if grown ups are supposed to be miserable. As if being lighthearted and jolly is worse¬†than feeling melancholy and depressed. As if…

People that say those things don’t yet understand life. Life isn’t some predestined ride ending in a destination you don’t get to choose. God does not have the dice loaded against you. If anything is loaded against you it is your misunderstanding of the control you have in your life. It is you, not clearly recognizing that your tendency toward negativity actually produces bad results as your tendency toward positivity actually produces good results. It is YOUR life and YOU are producing something. Seems only reasonable that you would want to produce something good.

Why not separate yourself from the herd and start expecting good things? Look, do the math! If you expect something good 75% of the time and the good only happens 50% of the time, I’d say that beats the hell out of below zero! I’ll bet many of you would pay good money for something positive happening 10% of the time. And, while you are separating yourself from the herd, start separating yourself from the negativity. Stop watching the stupid news. Stop getting caught up in racial, political and economical debates on Facebook. Stop letting people and friends and relatives convince you of things that aren’t true. ¬†Choose the light. Choose the things that encourage you and help you. Choose to believe that there is another way; God’s way and He is the one who dreamed this whole thing up…

Once you start smacking at the mosquitos they start to overwhelm you. Just go inside, it’s easier…

Just some good thoughts…

Untangling the Spaghetti Bowl of Your Mind…


5030637-Boiled-spaghetti-on-white-background--Stock-Photo-spaghettiA good bowl of spaghetti gets there one noodle at a time. No matter the size of the bowl, each noodle is a single entity that only gets tangled when it’s added¬†together with the other noodles, one noodle at a time! Remember that intently because you will never untangle the mess in your mind until you do.

If you are like most people, you tend to put off unpleasant tasks until you are forced to deal with them. It can wait, right? But, sadly, all the little things you¬†put off slither into the bowl unnoticed. Imagine how many random thoughts you think in a day. How many of those thoughts are hurtful feelings¬†of inadequacy? How many seethe with self-criticism and condemnation? What tired notions repeat themselves over and over begging for resolution? The worries, the doubts, the fear? What “what-if” dramas clamor for your attention? Oodles and oodles of noodles…

It’s been said¬†that your¬†outer world is an indicator of your inner world. Have you ever¬†visited someone with a messy house? Or (ha ha) is it your house? Well, how did it get so messy? It became a mess one messy, misplaced thing at a time. All of us are confronted with the mess, but not all of us choose to clean it up. The best time to vacuum up the popcorn on the carpet is right after the popcorn hits the carpet. That’s not being anal, that’s cleaning up. Conversely, how do you feel when you visit the clean house? You feel relaxed, don’t you? You see, someone invested their effort in making the environment peaceful and you got the benefit of it. I dare say none of us really enjoy the cleaning up process, but we probably treasure the cleaned up feeling!

When it comes to your thoughts, sometimes you have to take the time to clean up. I mean you have so much to do in a day, right? You’re busy, busy, busy and there are many demands clamoring for your time. Well, that’s nothing compared to the time you spend sifting through the madness to find your¬†car keys. In this live in the moment life, generally the best time to do something is now. You feel yourself getting a toothache. You don’t like the dentist (who does…they kill lions) or you don’t have dental insurance or you don’t have time to go. So you decide to wait. Maybe it will go away. Maybe it will resolve on its own. Maybe? In reality it will probably get worse until it hurts so badly that you cannot do anything else until you get it fixed; not to mention the two¬†months you put up with the agonizing¬†dull ache in your jaw. Can’t you see it? We have been lulled into a complacent state where we don’t handle what we need to handle. We foolishly think we can wait, but really cannot afford to wait. Each moment we spend unresolved is a moment we don’t get to really live!

If you are honest, what you really want is clarity of thought. You want that noise to quiet down. You need your mind to slow down and take a breath. You need some peace. But, peace normally comes at the end of the fight. You have to win¬†the fight. Unfortunately you don’t get to choose not to be in the fight. The fight is there every single day. God never promised you wouldn’t have to fight, He said He would help you to win it. You win the contest by winning the battle in your mind. When a nation wins a war or a football team wins a game, they have to do it one battle or one play at a time. You can’t skip plays nor can you overlook key battles. The contest starts every single morning. You decide what you will think and challenge any opposition to those thoughts. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, what matters is your willingness to fight!

One day, when it finally dawns on you that your mind has become a hot slithering menagerie of pasta, and your persistent sense of fatigue and depression begins to overtake you, remember you can clean up any mountain of mess if you take it on one small mess at a time. You can’t spend time thinking of the outcome, instead just think of the next play. What thought or series of thoughts are causing you the most stress? Start there! Challenge those inane thoughts. Just because you think something does not make it true. Where did we ever get that idea? Probably from the same source as the thought.

This life we are blessed to live is best lived in the moment called “now!” You have 24 hours in a day, maybe 16 waking, perhaps 8 after work, 5 after meals and maybe 30 minutes after the television. But no matter what is clamoring for our time, whether work or sleep or mealtimes or electronic mediums, we can only work with the time called “now!” The time to deal with the troubling thought is now. The time to vacuum the carpet is now. The time to repair the broken appliance is now. The time to do the task that’s eating at you is now. The time to get things sorted out in your mind is now! Now, now, now!

That peace of mind you are ardently seeking is seeking you as well. It’s there for you, always right there for you, waiting for you to stand up and get into the fight, then win it… WIN THE FIGHT! You are worth that much.

Everyone loves a tasty bowl of spaghetti, right? But a peaceful mind trumps a bowl of spaghetti every single time.

Just some good thoughts…

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends Upon It (Because it really does…)


istock_loveyourselfIn the words of Jen Sincero, “Love yourself like your life depends upon it, because it really does!” In our media-driven world, self-hate and self loathing seemed to have reached epidemic proportions. No one likes themselves anymore. If it isn’t obsession with being skinny it’s a compulsion with your hair or your skin. You are angry with yourself for doing this and not having done that. You think you aren’t successful enough, smart enough or the deadliest of all, good enough. In the end you are just real hateful of that person staring back from the mirror!

As an individual living your one shot at life, imagine how devious and dastardly it is to not love yourself; you being the only self you’ve got! It’s not natural as even an animal knows to care for itself instinctively. Yet somehow in some way, humans can be talked into actually hating themselves. If you’re honest, something must have gotten to you! I’m sure when you were 8 years old you didn’t think that way, despite perhaps receiving perpetual correction from the people who loved you. Yet here you are today contemplating mean and hurtful things about yourself without even giving it a second thought. If you spoke to others like you spoke to yourself you wouldn’t have any friends. But, because you are speaking to yourself it is somehow okay.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand and neither can individual for that matter. The divided, beat up you is not the real you. It is a shadow of your real essence. But, that essence cannot be seen by the world because you have already long since lost the fight in your own mind! Maybe if you knew you were in a fight you would have fought back and that is the reason for this blog.

Life is spiritual my friend and contrary to popular belief there is a spiritual force ever at work to defeat you. The battleground is your mind. The weapons are your thoughts. Ironically, you are always in control of your own thoughts. So, somewhere along the line that force got you to say and confess those horrible things about yourself directly to yourself in the solemn chambers of your own mind. “I can’t help it!” you say… “It’s just how I am!” you report. But nay my man, my woman it is not how you are and you certainly can help it!

Real love is much more than an emotion, it is a decision. You decide to love and that love must include yourself. Jay-Z said, “I cannot help the poor if I’m one of them. Well, you cannot really love anyone until you first love yourself. All of that constant chastisement you level upon yourself doesn’t make you a better person. There’s nothing humble about loathing yourself. All it does is weaken you and make you part of the problem instead of part of the solution. You walk around criticizing (in your mind) everyone you see and everything they do, never once stopping to realize that you are projecting out onto others the way you feel about yourself! You don’t love them or forgive them because you don’t love or forgive yourself! That’s just how it works and there aint no getting around it…

What if God made you wonderful just the way you are? What if all of those imperfections you’re obsessing over are actually a natural part of the human experience? I often muse that if you could get inside someone else’s head you would find all the same insanity you find inside your own head. At least then you would take solace in knowing you’re just like everyone else! But this ol’ world has done a number on you. Instead of being left to your own devices (and thoughts) there’s a giant media machine that is glad to share with you exactly how you “should” look and how successful you “should” be and precisely how bad you really are for thinking and doing the things you do. Just stop buying it because it’s a lie.

To escape this dilemma you have to first become willing to admit that you’re doing it to yourself, then take yourself by your thoughts and start loving that person again. Accept your limitations and weaknesses for being just what they are; limitations and weaknesses. How absurd to think you should be above weaknesses! Instead change your focus to all that is glorious about you. If my gift to the world was being the greatest quarterback of all time, how nuts would you think I was if all I talked about was my lack of skill at soccer? Well, the same holds true for your gift to the world. Just do you man, the good and the bad. Focus on what’s awesome about you and stay there. No-one overcomes weakness by focusing on it, but only by focusing on strength. Focus on your strengths!

Perhaps the worst in the sliding scale of bad thoughts is to think you aren’t good enough. Newsflash! None of us are good enough, we came from the factory that way. Our great God has never loved anyone because they are good enough. He loves people because He is good enough. Most, if not all, self-loathing comes from the vague idea of not being good enough. And you got those ideas from some whackadoo parked outside an abortion clinic pretending to speak for God. God is love only and that should settle every argument to the contrary!

When I listened to that statement that is the title of this blog, I actually shed tears. You know why? Because I, just like you, need to love myself. You are no different from me and I’m no different from you. We’re all on this trip together and we may as well learn to love that dude or gal we see staring back at us from the mirror every morning! It just doesn’t make any sense to do otherwise!

Love yourself like you life depends upon it, because it really does!

Just some good, loving thoughts…

Stuck in Your Story?


134170985_istockphoto_thinkstockYou are presently starring in a melodrama whereby you are the leading actor. You own all creative rights to the story because you are the playwright. You are also the director demanding that every infinitesimal part of your story be portrayed in detailed accuracy. So the grand question is, does your story suck or is it awesome?

Whether we ever realize it or not, all of us are living out our lives in a story of our own making. That bears repeating! The life we presently live is the out-working of the story we have told ourselves with enough regularity that it has become real. Life isn’t something that happens to us, life is something we make happen. If your current life really sucks or is not what you expected or is not fulfilling or is not successful or has even become a hideous torture chamber, maybe you have gotten stuck in a bad story; a story you wrote, nonetheless.

Everyone has a story. Your story is the one that you tell yourself. It is your badge of identity. No matter what happens in your life, it all funnels back to your story; who you “think” you are. If you were fortunate enough to have developed a marvelous story, God bless you. But, I’m guessing, many people if not most people have a story that aint so good. For clarity’s sake, let’s say your story is one of a victim. I’ll use this example because it’s a story I used to tell myself. In the victim story you always hold the position of a saint. You do the best you can; you work hard; you’re kind and considerate; you give to others unreservedly, but somehow others don’t appreciate it and take advantage of you. No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, it goes unnoticed and those in positions¬†of authority try to take from you all the good you have earned! It’s just not fair to you because you deserve those things you do not get. So, life story firmly in hand, you trod through life waiting for people to take away the good things you have coming. Oh you may eventually win in the end, but you have to fight damn hard for what is rightfully yours.

Surprisingly, in the victim story, you have failed to acknowledge something significant. Namely, that you only get exactly what you expect to get in life with breathtaking accuracy and a precision that rivals even the finest Swiss watchmaker. But, you are loathe to recognize that unsteady linchpin because to do so would force you to admit a portion of the blame. You are a saint after all. Alas, but tis all true my friend. The reason you have held on to the story for so long is because you get something from it; most likely freedom from responsibility for your own life. And so it goes with every story you told that ever held you back.

Stories like this are often developed in childhood or following some traumatic event and for a while probably served to protect you from some difficult situation. But, there comes a time when that story no longer fits the adult version of you and therefore needs to be discarded. You may well have been a victim when you were younger or even in adulthood, but that story does not define who you are. It simply defines something that happened to you.

The stories you tell yourself, though long accepted by you as true, are not true at all. They were never true if they characterized you as lacking in some capacity. You just got lulled into accepting them and allowing them to run your show from that point forward. And like any good melodrama, the more you rehearsed those stories, the better you got at acting out the part. Then everything around you began to mold to fit that story, further convincing you of its veracity. The trouble is that you forgot it is your story that you are acting in and at any moment, you as the director you could change the direction of the scenes.

A simple way to recognize your story is to think what it is you tell people as the¬†reason you don’t get something that you desperately need or want. What is that grand limiting factor that you were apparently “born” with that gives you an unfair disadvantage in life. Is it that “nice” guys finish last? Or that money is “hard” to come by? Or is it that all the “good” guys are taken? Or is life “unfair?” If you are honest with yourself, you must know deep down that those things aren’t true; they are just an excuse for failure in a play that you are writing. Owning all rights to the story means you can simply take out your pen¬†and write a new script! Stop rehearsing that nonsense and for goodness sakes take responsibility.

“The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors, which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.” ~ James Allen

Your limited number of days on terra¬†firm ought to be sufficient evidence to realize you only have so much time to accomplish your hopes and dreams. Don’t waste another moment wrapped up in some old,¬†tired story you have been telling yourself, but instead make use of your thoughts to live in a world you have heretofore only imagined. Your life can only be as good as the story you are telling yourself, so make your story amazing!

Just some good thoughts…

The Elusive Moments of Clarity…


ClarityRecently my sister in-law suffered through¬†the¬†untimely death of her brother. He had an aggressive form of cancer and despite having lived longer than projected, he ultimately died. The whole experience, besides¬†the unfathomable¬†grief, produced in her moments of clarity she hadn’t really expected. It seems in situations when our own mortality is forced into our awareness, the most important things in life rush to the forefront of our minds. So, that got me thinking… Is the clarity we all desire, contingent upon dire circumstances? Do we have to face life threatening situations¬†firsthand in order to finally see what is most important?

Clarity can be defined as those seemingly rare times in life when we finally “get it” or are able to see the things that formerly eluded us. Clarity seems to follow focus and nothing demands more focus than facing the possibility of actually dying or the death of someone you love. And amazingly, in the face of death we contemplate life. Suddenly the important things take on a huge significance. No one speaks of their beautiful home or their possessions, but instead consider the people in their lives and those significant relationships that mean the most. Near death experiences and the perils of war awaken the survivors to a world they previously took for granted.

This life; this precious life is alarmingly short. And despite the brevity of life, we all march on entranced in our routines virtually asleep to what matters most. We stop looking; really looking at our spouses and our children. We desensitize to our surroundings. The good we enjoy we grow accustomed to and even make time for complaint. We dream and yearn for the day when we finally have “such and such” and when we arrive, we pause then quickly begin our ascent to the next plateau.

It shouldn’t take the threat of losing it all to alert our souls to the¬†perfection we have already. We move too fast. We think too fast. We expect results too fast. We want more and more and need less. We look for happiness in transient things while ignoring what endures. People endure. Relationships endure. Love endures. In those rare moments when I imagine my last days, my children gathered around me, I think what I might say to them. And for the life of me, all I want to communicate to them is how much I love them; how proud I am of them and who they have become and that i did my best to be my best for them.

Clarity isn’t elusive. Clarity is all around you. Clarity is found in the eyes of your¬†child, the smile from¬†your mother, the understanding glance from¬†your best friend. Clarity is found in your relationships with other people and most profoundly with¬†our God that made us. Clarity comes when we finally step out of the rat race of endless distraction and focus on the things that matter most. It is not reserved only for times of pending tragedy and the threat of death, but more for times of reflection at a speed that allows for it. The clarity we ardently seek is seeking us.

If we are honest, our perpetual striving for things that matter less, is based on fear; the fear of what we think we are supposed to be. We’ve bought into the story that says we must have the money, the stuff, the acclaim and lost track of the reason we do it all. We forgot that the excitement of the new car is lost if we don’t have someone to share it with. No one enjoys the vacation in the exotic place, alone. It’s people and our connection to them that makes this life worthwhile.

The¬†maximized, glorious¬†life is a life that makes time for what is most important. To say there isn’t enough time is to admit a loss of control. The rush, the busy-ness, the constraint isn’t from the demands of life but rather from the fictitious demand of what is not. It’s a distraction of unparalleled proportions. It’s a bait and switch game that purports activity equals productivity and urges getting things done over taking care of people; our people. It emphasizes appearance over people’s hearts and facades above¬†humanity. It’s not clear it’s fuzzy and the finish line is out of view.

Clarity is there for us every single day. Clarity doesn’t elude us, we elude it. We miss it a lifetime from being swept away on a current; a rushing river of activities that steal our time; our focus, our life. Clarity comes from focus; focus on what is most sweet and enduring. Our life comes into focus in direct proportion to our willingness to adjust the¬†lens. We adjust the lens on a¬†subject we¬†choose and not on a subject chosen for us.

Thank God for those moments when life suddenly comes into focus and the false; the illusory fades away. Thank God for the glimpses of light that clear the path ahead and captivate our attention in order to make the necessary change. Thank God for the privilege to see and at last understand. Thank God!

Just some good thoughts…