Monday, July 25, 2016

Inman!! Don't Stick Your Head In There!!

There’s a wonderful family living behind me. The young couple has two small boys. The older is Inman.

The other day I heard the mother’s voice coming from the backyard., “Inman!!” She yelled, “Don’t stick your head in there!”

Since I didn’t immediately hear screams I figured that wherever Inman was trying to stick his head couldn’t be that bad. I also remembered all the times my brother and I stuck our heads and limbs in places we probably shouldn’t have.

When we’re young we’re fearless. We don’t understand the consequences and pain that can come from some of our actions. We’re curious and thinking only of the…What happens if?

What if I stick my finger in a pencil sharpener? What if I try to swim to the other side of the pool? What if I ride my bicycle by the rope that holds a LARGE fan to the roof of a tobacco warehouse and  grab the rope and swing off like I’ve seen in the movies? (I can tell you what happens. If the rope is tied in a slip knot it comes loose, the fan falls, hits the bicycle and crushes the handlebars, dings and breaks your foot, and you end up on the warehouse floor about 20 minutes away from a visit to the ER.)

As we get older the fear of embarrassment, consequences and pain tend to overwhelm the YEAH! feeling we get when we take a chance and it works as well or better than we expected.

We also get so slogged into the repetitive nature of life that any exploration or chance we could take is a change. And…we…don’t…want…to…change.

Whether it’s work, relationships, health, food, or spirituality, sometimes it’s a good thing to stick your head in there and see what happens. You might learn something, you might have a YEAH! experience…you might even call a friend over (or your little brother as was my case in a lot of situations) and say…

…“Hey, Joe, stick your head in there.”

Where will you stick your head today?

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Friday, July 22, 2016


Ha! Gotcha to read! This is a little longer than usual, but hang with it....

Considering some of the challenges I’m running into in life right now I’ve been thinking about this quote: 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” 

The quote is often attributed to Plato. (no, kids, not the planet…that would be Pluto…well, it used to be a planet and then a bunch of pointy-headed scientists said, “Noooooo…”….it’s really a…mmm…sorry, I digressed)

Anyway, Plato was a Greek philosopher.

Others credit Philo of Alexandria with…(Dang! Will you kids at the back of class calm the hell down!! No! That’s not Philo Bedow, the character Clint Eastwood played in Any Which Way But Loose…and yes, Sondra Locke was pretty hot in that, and the orangutan knocked out the bad guy and…whew! sorry! go off on a tangent again.)

Sooooo, the quote was probably created in the 19th Century by Ian McLaren, the pen name of Reverend John Watson, a noted clergyman.

But, here’s the interesting thing (and yes, if you’ll hang with me I’m going to make a point)….here’s Watson’s whole explanation…read it through TWICE and then I’m going to give you two very different ways to think about the quote:

“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.”

Here’s the first point: What if we looked at each other at work and remembered the quote? 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” 

You know that person who gets on your last nerve at work? What if they are having health issues, personal/family problems? Financial worries? Spiritual issues? 

Would you cut’em some slack if you knew that? Would you—and me—understand, “I’m running into issues just like they are?” Wouldn’t that bring you a little closer to each other?

And, yes, I get the automatic reaction of, “I don’t want to be closer to them?!!” I get ya, but the farther away we get from each other the worse life gets for all.

Which brings me to the second point. What if we remembered the quote:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

And we remembered it during the election season/process? You know those folks who are adamantly for Trump and opposed/loathe Hillary, or are sure it’s Hillary and stunned/disgusted by Trump? What are their lives like? What experiences are pushing them to make the decisions/statements they do?

The farther away we are, the worse life gets for all. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a couple of things in life that seem to keep me constantly girded for battle. Increasingly, I’m trying to remember the quote;

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Maybe They'll Get Hit By a Truck!!! Yeah!!!

Yesterday, I said I’d offer a practical way to move away from worry. 

And no, this doesn't involve miracle cures, the offending person being hit by a truck, winning the lottery, or not having to vote and make a choice in November. 

The best way to get worry out of your head is one of those, “I knew that,” solutions. It’s…


Whether you’re trying to get a squawling 2-year old to stop crying or an 82-year old Alzheimer’s sufferer to stop wandering, the solution is the same…redirection.

We all know our minds can only hold one thought at a time. We think we can multi-task, but we can’t. We simply switch from one thought to another so fast that it seems that we are getting more than one thing done, or thought about, at a time.

So, if you want to move away from worry, you’ve got to find something else to focus on. You can read, watch a movie, do something physical (walking doesn’t do it for me, I can walk and worry at the same time), do something spiritual, engage in an activity with others….there are tons of things you can do or think about other than the worry issue. 

This method is especially effective if you choose an activity that is new to you. Your mind locks in on how to work through an activity you are unfamiliar with.

Will the worry thoughts return? Absolutely. And, when they do, you have to redirect your thoughts to what is going on in the moment, right in front of you.

If nothing else, move your body. If you are sitting and worrying, get up and walk around. If you are standing and worrying, do something in which you move your arms. Movement takes brainpower and your thoughts get pulled away from the worry issue.

This takes us full circle, back to yesterday. At some point you are probably going to have to confront the worry issue. Some people go their entire lives dodging issues, but the challenges almost always come back to bite them sooner or later. 

Go back to the blog yesterday and check the only two questions that address worry: Is this something you can do nothing about? Or, is this an issue you can do something about? 

If it’s the first one and you can’t do anything about it, get moving!!! Redirect with action of some type to get your mind off the topic.

If you can do something about it, THEN GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

One last thought: What if? What if you were not the one worrying? What if the worrier was one of your best friends and you knew what they were worried about, and they asked, “What should I do?” What honest, focused, loving advice would you give them?

Now, give that advice to yourself…and take it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Stop Worryin'! Right.....

My devotion this morning opened with a great quote from George Washington: Worry is interest paid by those who borrow trouble.

I’ve spent a ton of time the last few months worrying about an issue. Has it done me any good? Not…a…damn…bit.

Here’s the deal: Whatever it is you’re worried about, the only two issues to consider are can you do something about it, or can’t you?

If you can do something about it, then do whatever you can do. Even if it’s only a little effort that gets you a tiny bit farther down the road it’s something. And, I can tell you that one something leads to another and another, and the next thing you know you’ve got a handle on that thing you were worried about. You feel more in control and the worrying tends to stop or, at least, lessen.

If you can’t do anything about it worrying won’t help. Hmmm…you didn’t seem to be paying attention to that last line because you were thinking, “Everyone knows that.” Right.

So, here it is again, “If you can’t do anything about it worrying won’t help.” 

Does worrying make you feel better? No. Does it make you feel like you’re doing something? Sometimes. I discovered that all my worrying at least kept the issue in my mind. I realized that I wanted to think about the issue so much that, even if it was hurtful/worrisome/depressing, worrying was better than just getting it out of my mind and forgetting it.

I’m over that now. The situation is what it is (I hate that phrase…it’s almost as idiotic as “Six of one, half-dozen of the other") and I’m rollin’.

Whatever you're worried about, either do something or understand that there’s nothing you can do and move on. In the next blog I’ll offer a really practical way to move on. 

Here’s a hint, redirect yourself.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Do You Have to Be In Prison to Get Something Done?

In Los Angeles for a week with friends. The 5-hour flight to San Francisco (90-minute connection to LA) once again taught me the that I need to be trapped, literally, in order to get some things done. The same thing happens for me if I’m in a hotel room.

Am finishing a book and needed to do revisions…I HATE doing revisions! But, as someone once said, “Writing is writing; good writing is about rewriting (revisions).”

So, I’ve found that if I can put myself in a situation in which I’m literally trapped, imprisoned, with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do…I can do revisions. 

Some people are disciplined enough to be able to do this with time. “I”m going to do spend an hour doing revisions/cleaning up/finishing that report.” I can’t do that. To a great degree, I find that my prison almost needs to a literal place from which I can’t escape.

In the past I’d bust myself for not being mature enough to just get the work done...and I STILL wouldn't get it done. I’m over that now. I’m going with what works and not fighting my natural inclinations.

I’m betting that if you’re a productive person you have a strategy/gimmick like mine. You do what works. If you are struggling with getting a project done or putting finishing touches on work you should start thinking about when you’re most productive and put yourself there, even if it’s in your mind.

I’ve made the decision that from now on, when it’s revision time for a book, I’m taking a flight somewhere or going out and getting a hotel room. Getting the job done is worth the money. Getting the job done is worth whatever it takes.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Never Knew a Pig That Could Sing...

Have you ever had a number of experiences that all seem to spin around the same issue? When you recognize the connection you have that “Aha!” moment?

One of my friends says that’s God/Spirit talking to you and showing you something you need to learn.

Recently, a woman told me she was “54-years old and I’m not going to change.” At about the same time I saw a quote that said, “A person who is satisfied with where they are is difficult to change.” During the time I had the previous two experiences I was in the middle of reading research showing that the mindsets of most people can be divided into Fixed and Growth. (search online “Fixed versus Growth Mindsets)

Fixed mindset people believe, “I’m either good at it, or I’m not. When I’m frustrated, I give up. I don’t like to be challenged. When I fail, I’m no good. Tell me I’m smart. If you succeed, I feel threatened.

Growth mindset people believe, “I can learn anything I want to. When I’m frustrated, I persevere. I want to challenge myself. When I fail, I learn. Tell me I try hard. When you succeed, I’m inspired.”

Which mindset fits you? It’s easy to congratulate ourselves for having growth mindsets, but a better measure is to ask people around you for a verdict. Tell’em, “You won’t hurt my feelings. I need to know the truth,” and then stand back. You may be…mmm…unpleasantly surprised.

Trying to get a Fixed mindset person to understand the importance of change can be maddening. It’s like you’re speaking a different language.

In fact, I recently saw a quote that perfectly describes the effort. It’s attributed to both science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, and  Mark Twain: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

What lessons is life trying to teach you? What are the signs you're seeing/hearing/experiencing? You can believe that life will continue to show you the lesson until you finally learn it. And that takes a Growth mindset.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Riding the Bull

Bullriders strive to stay on their raging, twisting, dangerous mounts for 8 seconds. 

Microsoft and some Canadian researchers recently discovered that the average American has an attention span of…you got it, 8 seconds. And, that’s down from 12 seconds five years ago.

Think about that. The average American can’t concentrate on one thing for much more than 8 seconds before…SOMETHING SHINY!!!…and their attention jumps elsewhere.

You probably think you’re different. I know I think I can concentrate longer than that, but I just realized that, with the TV on in the background my mind jumps back and forth from writing this to listening and looking up to catch what’s on.

For most of us, information coming at us in so many different ways is the bull we are all trying to ride. We’re so afraid we’ll miss something!

Here’s an interesting thought: So many of the most successful people I read about and contact don’t watch news broadcasts on a regular basis. Increasingly, I think they’re on to something. 

Maybe our attention jumps around because we are looking for something positive.

Think about it…8 seconds.