Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Habits Start With Baby Steps

Never underestimate the power of a baby step in your life.  One baby step in the right direction can change your life forever.  Consider these ideas to form a new habit:
  1. Decide what you want in life.
  2. Determine which direction you need to go to get there.
  3. Take a baby step.
  4. Repeat #3.
  5. If you fall down, do what babies do naturally and get back up on your feet.
  6. Repeat #3.
  7. After you master the baby steps, start walking.
  8. Run.
  9. Teach others how to form new habits.
  10. Go back to step #1 and repeat the process for every area of your life that could use a new habit.
One word of caution about new habits.  The more you focus your energy on one habit at a time, the better the results.  Please add to the conversation by sharing your own ideas about forming new habits.  If you are willing to try the baby-step method for forming a new habit, what area of your life will you use this for?  Thanks for leaving your comments below.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Joy of an Open Window

It doesn't feel like summer in my home.  A cold front moved in a couple of weeks ago, dropping temperatures to the 70's during the day.  We leave our windows open night to draw in the cool air.  It makes waking up to the sounds of nature pleasant and soothing, especially on a day like this morning when rain drops are tap dancing outside our home.  The aroma from the rainfall is like a fresh-baked apple pie calling out my name.

Today is the day the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Open up your windows and experience the joy of birds singing.  Would you mind sharing your favorite memory when Mother Nature knocked on your window?

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Hit the Bull's-eye

If you're struggling to learn a new skill, today's story is for you.  Here are seven pointers to help you hit the bull's-eye consistently:
  1. Visualize what your life will look like once you master the new skill.  
  2. Shoot the arrow at your target.
  3. Look at where the arrow landed.  This will give you the feedback you need to aim higher, lower, more to the left, or more to the right on your next shot.
  4. Fire another arrow.
  5. Repeat step number three.
  6. Each time you take a shot, you are getting closer to your target.  The more arrows you shoot, the more accurate you become.
  7. Don't stop shooting arrows.  If you ever feel like giving up, go back to step one.  If that isn't enough motivation for you to keep shooting, ask yourself, what will happen if I don't learn to hit the bull's-eye?  Giving up has consequences.  Don't give up.
Target practice is now a big part of my life.  These blog stories help me to improve my writing skills.  I shoot one arrow every day at my target.  1,400 arrows is a lot of practice.  Some day I will be able to hit the bull's-eye consistently.  How about you?  What target is in your sights?  Are you willing to keep aiming every day until you master your new skill?  Please share your thoughts below.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Socrates On Change

Socrates lived during a time of great change.  He started out as a master stonecutter, served in the military and became a philosopher.  During his trial, he argued "anyone on the jury who thinks I ought to retreat from philosophy must also think soldiers should retreat when it seems likely that they will be killed in battle."  He was found guilty.  His followers bribed the prison guards so he could escape, however, he chose to stay in his cell and be put to death for his beliefs.

If Socrates was guilty of anything, he was guilty of making others aware of their own stupidity.  He himself claimed to be aware of his own ignorance which made him wiser than everyone else who claimed to be wise.  The more stupid he made his adversaries appear, the more they wanted him dead.

Socrates liked to ask questions.  He challenged people to search for answers.  He lived without fear.  He viewed change as an opportunity to build on the new without fighting the old.  His quote above is timeless.  My Greek friend from high school shared it on her FB page and now I'm sharing it with you.  If you like the message, please pass it on to your friends.  Don't forget to leave your comments below.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Swiping a Blog

This may be my oddest blog ever.  My home internet is down and all the free Wifi sites in the area are moving at a snail's pace.  I'm parked at a rest stop on my way to my day job in order to get this story out by 8:08 AM.
My new cell phone has a tiny keyboard which makes blog writing tedious.  Rather than peck away, I'm swiping. I move my index finger over the letters to form words while sitting in my car at the rest stop.

The lesson for today is "find a way to win.  It's better to swipe than gripe."  Are you with me?

Please share a time in your life when you were backed into a corner and you had to improvise to make your deadline.  See you tomorrow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sand Castles in Cyberspace

The first time I built a sand castle was during summer vacation in San Diego with my cousins.  We scooped up wet sand and let it dribble from our fingers to form four-inch spikes on top of our creations, like adding frosting to a cake.  We spent hours on our designs and then waited for the tide to come in and wash everything away.

Forty years later I'm still building sand castles every day.  The landscaping has changed and the nearest beach is four states away.  I don't need sand to play in my cyber-sandbox.  My playmates extend beyond the Great Barrier Reef.  My stories are translated into all the major languages of the world.  And readers ask, "how did you learn how to build a blog or write a novel?"

It all comes down to one simple thing, setting aside time every day to play in my cyber-sandbox.  It doesn't matter to me how many people view my stories before they wash away when the tide comes in.  What matters is that I develop my own unique gifts and publish them daily.

What sand castles are you building in your life?  How do you make time to develop your talents?  How do you stay motivated?  Thanks for leaving your comments below.  Please join me on the cyber-beach daily at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  You can subscribe by email if you would like my sand castles to be sent directly to your mailbox.  See you tomorrow.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Turning Point

A good friend once told me, "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."  The truth is, I've made a lot of people laugh at various stages of my life's journey when I shared my plans.  A few even cried.  I believe there is one specific turning point in my life that dramatically changed everything.  It's the moment I told God I was ready for His plans.  It came in two stages.  The first stage was easy.  The second stage was the most difficult, probably because of my trust issues and my own stubbornness.  I really didn't want to let go of the money.  It was frightening.  Here's what happened:
  1. I looked at every area of my life and discovered that the only area that was a mess was the part of my life I was in charge of.  
  2. I asked God to forgive me for holding on so tightly to my finances.
  3. I told God He was in charge and that everything belonged to Him including my possessions.
  4. I stopped fighting my mortgage company.
  5. I quit worrying about how I was going to provide for my family.
  6. I prayed more consistently.
  7. I got over my trust issues.
  8. New opportunities appeared out of thin air.
  9. I found peace.
  10. My liabilities began to vaporize.
I'm thankful for the turning point in my life.  All the credit goes to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The best advice I can share today is let God be in charge of everything.  Don't hold back.  Give it a try.  And don't forget to share about your turning point.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vitality Check

Vitality refers to ones life, life force, health, youth, or ability to live or exist. 

We all go through a certain amount of pruning in our lives.  When a plant is badly pruned, it loses its vitality.  The same thing can happen with people.  Some pruning is self-inflicted -- we cut ourselves off from the world or retreat from the adventures awaiting us.  Other types of pruning come from circumstances beyond our control.  Regardless of the source, some people have something inside of themselves that allow them to bounce back.

Earlier this year, a young man I know from my hometown in California was shot down while flying a helicopter over Thailand.  His body was covered in burns.  He lost a limb.  His wife started an online journal about her husband's recovery.  Every day, she posts progress reports.  Bryan Forney is the ultimate example of vitality.  He refuses to complain about the pruning.  His life force is stronger than ever.  Yesterday, he walked 120 ft. with his walker.  "Amazing!"  his wife cheers.  He is headed home this week once he is discharged.  

If you're assessing your own vitality and you're not satisfied, here are three ideas that may help you raise the bar:
  1. Stop complaining about your situation.  Complaining focuses on the problem.  You need to concentrate on what you have, not on what you are missing.
  2. Surround yourself with loved ones.  Show them what you're made of.
  3. Put one foot in front of the other.  You have one choice: forward.  Keep going.
 It's a good idea to do a vitality check every morning when you wake up.  On a one to ten scale, how do you rate your vitality?  Do you believe you can change that number?  What are you going to do today to increase your vitality?  Email me and let me know or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Do You Like Solving Puzzles?

Jigsaw puzzles, mysteries, chess games and every day challenges in life all have one thing in common -- there is something to solve, something to discover that you can't see when everything is in pieces.  Try this one:  what is the meaning of your life?

It's fun for me to observe others who are in the middle of a puzzle.  Everyone has their own strategy.  Some start with the outside borders and work their way to the center.  Others group common colors together in batches.  That works great for jigsaw puzzles.  How do you handle more difficult subjects, like discovering the meaning of your life?  Here are some ideas to consider:
  1. Every mystery has a source.  Dig deep and locate the center of your own enigma.
  2. Consider all things invisible.  You may not have all the pieces of your puzzle in front of you.
  3. Look for patterns.  These are areas of your life where you feel like you fit in.  These are your passions, your hopes and your dreams.  The more you develop these parts of your puzzle, the more clear the big picture becomes.
I don't have the answer to your own personal conundrum.  You are uniquely qualified to complete your own puzzle as long as you search for the missing pieces.  It may take a lifetime.  Don't stop.  And make sure you enjoy the journey.  What strategy are you using to answer today's question?  Do you already have the answer?  Please share in the comments section below.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who Unlocked the Door to the Looney Bin?

A bunch of crazy people reside in the secret crevices of my mind.  I'm not really sure who found the key to the Pandora's box they were confined to but they're out now.  That's what happens when a writer gets too close to his fictional characters.  They invade the outside world and leave behind a spattering of exclamation marks.  My only hope for sanity is to scribble their ramblings on napkins during lunch breaks when I'm separated from my Macbook Pro.  This is my reality.  Is my life one big paradox?  Richard Feynman defined it this way... "A paradox is not a conflict within reality. It is a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality should be like.'' 

Good writing is marinated in rich layers of conflict.  Great writing is limited to those who take risks and free themselves from the prison cells of a mundane life.  They don't follow the recipe.  They experiment.  What kind of writer am I?  The jury is still out.  I don't have time to wait for the verdict.  I'm too busy getting to know the inmates.  They won't leave me alone, especially when I'm trying to sleep.  Visiting hours are 8:08 AM, Pacific Time, seven days a week.  For those who want more, visit my writer's blog, Caveman Reflections every Friday, also at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  Don't forget to leave your comments below.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Keep It Simple

Too much clutter in your life?  Are you overwhelmed?  Maybe you're finding yourself being pulled in multiple directions today.  If so, this may help...

Keep it simple.  Remember who you are and who created you.  Forget about all the other distractions in your life.  Get to know the One who made you.  Ask Him for the directions.  Everything you need today is available.  All you have to do is ask.  Go ahead.  Give it a try.  You may be surprised how simple it is.  Do this every day.  See you tomorrow.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why We Have 7 Jobs In Our Family

What a difference a year makes.  My family arrived in our new home state last Spring jobless and homeless.  The only thing we held onto was a prayer.  We prayed for jobs and a home.  The odds were against us.  Our bank account was depleted.  There was no turning back.  God whispered.  We heard His voice.  It sounded like a tiny stream.  My wife found a job at a retail mall.  Her first paycheck allowed us to put food on the table.  A large company moved in to the area and offered me full-time employment.  The stream became a river, gushing new opportunities.  My wife landed a dream job with the county and decided to retain her retail job as well.  Our daughter came home from college and landed two retail jobs.  Our oldest son relocated to be close to us and added two more jobs to the household in addition to attending college full time.  We are now white-water rafting through stage IV rapids while grasping seven jobs in our household.  God's whispers now roar like thunder.  Here is what we're doing with the answered prayers:
  1. We dammed up our credit card usage.  This excessive use of debt to finance our appetites is what got us into hot water in the first place.  We now pay cash for everything.
  2. We made a decision not to buy any cars unless we have the cash first.  The biggest challenge was convincing our children that paying cash is the best option.  They are saving for their dream cars while driving automobiles free of car loans.
  3. We are working at becoming debt free.  It will take 7.5 years to pay off the house we purchased as long as we stick to our plan.  We have some catching up to do on our retirement and we plan to ramp up our contributions once our remaining debts are paid off.
I don't count writing or blogging as a job because it's much more than that -- it's a way for me to share my life with you.  This is something I will never retire from.  My prayer today is for you.  May you hear God's voice today.  He is watching over you.  He wants to hear from you.  Give prayer a try.  And don't be surprised when God over-delivers.  What are you praying for?  Please add your comments below.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Everyone Needs a Little Luck

My dad gave away green key chains in the shape of a shamrock with the words inscribed, "Everyone needs a little luck."  He was a clever marketer who never ran out of ideas to bring in more patrons at Mulligans Bar.  Most lucky people I know share common traits.  Here are some examples:
  1. They expect to win.
  2. They work hard.
  3. They don't give up when the chips are down.
  4. They believe there are lessons in their losses that will teach them how to win in the future.
  5. They are champions at finding creative solutions to any challenges they face.
  6. They "feel" lucky.  
  7. They attract others.
  8. They have high hopes.
  9. They dream big.
  10. They see losses as a temporary condition that will improve soon.
Dad gave away a lot of key chains in his day.  He encouraged others to take risks.  You can't be lucky at anything unless you enter the arena.  That's what life is... one giant arena.  You have a choice today -- be a spectator watching others try their luck, or get out there and join all the lucky people who are living their lives to their fullest.  You don't need a lucky key chain to win at the game of life.  Just maintain a positive outlook and don't ever give up.

Does luck play a role in your life?  Please share in the comments section below.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Find Your Childhood Dreams

Remember what is was like to dream when you were young?  What got in the way?  Was it a loved one who was trying to spare you some heart ache down the road?  Maybe it was someone so afraid of their own dreams that they persuaded you to lock yours up and forget about them.  Guess what!  You're not a kid anymore and those dream robbers are probably long gone now.

Close your eyes for five minutes and go back to the day when your dreams gave you goose bumps.  You were so excited that you couldn't wait to get up in the morning and chase those dreams fluttering around like butterflies.  It's not too late to grab your butterfly net and go outside.

Some of you reading this may be more concerned about the butterflies in your stomach.  They're there for two reasons.  Either you're afraid of what others will say when they see you running around barefoot with a butterfly net or you don't know what to do if you actually catch a butterfly.  Stop worrying and stop thinking.  Just do.  Dream.  Don't you think it's been long enough since you visited those distant dreams from your youth?  They're waiting for you to seek them out.  Go ahead.  Get your butterfly net.  Please send me an email or leave a comment when you catch one and tell me what you're going to do next.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Break the Late Habit

How many times in the last year have you been late for work?  Have you ever missed a flight because you were late getting to the airport?  Did you ever miss an important deadline?  If you don't like your answers, read on.  Here are three simple tips for breaking the late habit:
  1. Reprogram your brain.  Every time you tell others, "I'm always late," your brain listens in on the conversation.  It responds to everything you say.  Replace these comments with something like this, "Every day I'm getting better at arriving on time."
  2. Plan to arrive fifteen minutes early for every appointment.  Tell yourself, if I'm not fifteen minutes early, I'm late.
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Your brain needs rest.  If you're short-changing your brain at night, it will short-change you during the day and you will lose your alertness.  Your sense of time will be distorted.  Make sure you give yourself a fifteen minute break every two hours to keep your mind fresh throughout the day.
Like any other habit you're changing, remember it takes thirty days of daily effort to make the new habit permanent.  Team up with an accountability partner and report your progress for thirty consecutive days.  It helps to set up start and stop times for each activity.  Let me know if these pointers are helping you.  Please add your own ideas for breaking the late habit in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Best Cars You Can Own

My children may all be adults now, however, that doesn't end my role as a mentor.  They each have their own ideas about the ideal car.  I have one simple rule about the best car you can own... the one you pay cash for.  The three vehicles we share as a family have been on the road for 580,000 miles.  We own them free and clear.  Sure, there are nicer looking vehicles around and they are tempting, especially for my children.  I believe the price tag is too high. 

If you're struggling to curb your appetite when it comes to fancy cars with extended car payments, consider this: pay cash for a reliable commuter car that gets great mileage.  Keep driving it until it drops.  Deposit the money you would have spent on monthly payments into an account that earns interest.  Take a picture of your favorite new car on the market today and post it where you can see it every day.  Don't buy it until you have enough money to pay cash for it.  The longer you wait to purchase it, the more it will depreciate, making it an extraordinary deal by the time you pay cash for it.

Are car payments a way of life for you?  I challenge you to change the way you look at transportation.  Be an example for the next generation.  The best way to maximize the "farfegnügen" in your life is to kiss your car payments good-bye.  What's your opinion?  Please add your comments below.

Monday, July 15, 2013

3 Ideas to Make Your Marriage Happier

My wife and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary today.  What an amazing journey we are on together.  We are both healthy and we have never been happier.  This doesn't mean our marriage has been without its challenges.  The challenges are what keep our marriage exciting.  Here are three ideas to make your marriage happier:
  1. Be happy in all circumstances.  Your partner will appreciate your pleasant demeanor you display when you're in hot water.
  2. Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  If you're going to bed mad at each other, you're not forgiving.  You are missing out on opportunities to live your lives together to their fullest.
  3. Be supportive of your spouse's dreams.  There is no greater feeling than being married to a person who is living their dream every day.  Become your spouse's number one fan.  Encourage one another.
I have but one wish today -- to play an active role in helping all my love's dreams come true.  How about you?  What are your thoughts about how to make your marriage happier?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why I Believe in the Power of Prayer

It started with my Grandmother on my mother's side.  She told me when I was a young boy that she prayed for me and my siblings every day.  She never complained.  Not once.  Not even the time she went through cancer treatments and the doctors removed 2/3 of her stomach and part of her esophagus.  My grandmother's focus was always on others.  She racked up thousands of hours volunteering in her retirement years.  She gave enough blood to fill a blood bank and no one knew until we found the records of her donations after her passing.  The best gift my grandma ever gave me was the year we celebrated our first Christmas as parents.  The pocket-sized book, My Daily Bread, is a summary of the spiritual life.   My wife "adopted" this little jewel and reads from it every morning.

I'm blessed to be part of three generations of prayer warriors.  I do believe my grandmother's prayers played a major role in my spiritual life.  This gift was passed from my grandmother to all her children.  My mother, like her mother, is one of the most special people on this planet.  Mom believes in the power of prayer.  She believes God wins, even when so many turn away from the One God sent to die for our sins.

Perhaps my grandmother and my mother played a role when God dealt my cards.  My wife is the Ace of Hearts.  When I look into her eyes, I see that same gleam I saw in my grandmother's eyes every time I visited her.  I see it in my mother's eyes when she talks about Jesus.  And tomorrow morning when I wake up, my wife will be beside me.  She will begin her day like every day, reading from her collection of books, including My Daily Bread. When I look into her eyes and say, "Happy 24th anniversary,"  I will be thanking God for sending me a triumvirate of woman from three generations who believe in the power of prayer.  There were many times in my life when I behaved like a joker, however, when my card is with the three aces, my wife, my mother and my grandmother, there is no doubt in my mind what God sees.  With a hand like that, there is no reason for me to doubt the power of prayer.  Happy 24th anniversary to my Ace of Hearts!

How about you?  Do you believe in the power of prayer?  Who are your role models?  Please add to the conversation by clicking the comment button below.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Drill Deep

Are you finding yourself running out of gas before the day is over?  Perhaps you're not drilling deep enough to reach the energy reserves within you.  Here are three reasons why your well may be dry:
  1. You're not pacing yourself.  Your body needs time to recover when you're pushing too hard.  
  2. You don't find meaning in your activities.  Boredom is creeping into your life.
  3. You're afraid of what you will discover if you drill deeper into your reserves.
There is a price to pay to drill deep.  It takes time.  There is no guarantee you will find what you're looking for.  I believe the risk of not drilling deep is even greater.  The pursuit of your dreams is worthwhile no matter how high the price.  Those who are willing to explore find rich reserves that reward them for a lifetime.  They discover a purpose for their lives.  Energy gushes from inside and they appear tireless.  They rest before they get tired so they never burn out.

Once you tap into your passions, there is no stopping you.  Keep digging.  The world is waiting for you to share your discovery.  All you have to do is keep drilling.  Are you willing to pay the price?  How deep are you willing to drill to uncover your hidden talent?  Please share your answers below.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dance To The Beat Of Your Own Music

Do you remember watching those old black and white Japanese monster movies that were dubbed in English?  The words never matched the lips.  Everything was out of sync.  The same thing happens sometimes in life when you lose your rhythm.  It may be a job loss or an injury.  Your script was memorized perfectly and then the producer changed your lines.  Now what? 

I know this feeling well.  It's like being on the dance floor when the music changes.  You are having a great time dancing to all your favorite songs and then the DJ throws in an unfamiliar tune.  The dance floor clears and you are out there all alone.  These are the moments when you seek out your own music and you discover your own beat.  Don't stop dancing.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you lost your beat?  What steps did you take to get back on the dance floor?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Change Your Life In One Minute

One minute is all it takes.  No matter where you live, what you've been taught, or what your present circumstances are, you have the power to completely change your life right now in the next sixty seconds.  My own life is an example of what happens when you decide to take action.  Are you ready?  Repeat after me...

"Hello, Jesus.  I know you've been standing outside my door knocking for a long time.  I'm sorry I never let you in.  I was busy.  Please forgive me.  I'm giving you this minute right now.  I'm opening the door and inviting you in.  Never again will I ignore you.  I want you to live in my house -- forever.  You have my permission to redecorate as necessary.  Thank you for believing in me.  Now, it's my turn to believe in you.  From this minute on, I'm following you.  My heart belongs to you.  I accept you as my Lord and Savior.  Amen."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Season Your Persona With Gravitas

Slumped shoulders.  Long-windedness.  Poor eye contact.  Lack of confidence.  These are all related to someone who needs to spice up their persona with gravitas.  The right amount of seasoning produces a strong, confident individual who displays grace under fire without being overbearing.  They know how to win in an interview.  They are masters at persuading their bosses to try their ideas.  They remain cool when the sky is falling.  Most importantly, they know when to shut up and let silence to the talking.  Here are some tips for making your persona sizzle the next time you enter a room:
  1. Pay attention to others who turn heads.  Observe their body language.  Notice the pauses in their voices.  Copy their brevity.  Mimic their eye contact.
  2. Use positive self-talk before you enter a room filled with people.  Tell yourself, "I'm confident.  I have a firm handshake.  I have something to offer the next person I meet.  I'm fun to be around.  I'm a great listener."
  3. Be authentic.  Tell the truth.  Share your passion.  Be present.  Connect with the person in front of you.  Show them with your body language that you care about them.  When the spotlight is on you, make sure you turn it around and shine it on your audience.  Remember to ask questions.
I remember a job interview I had with a high level manager.  When the interview was over, he told another manager it was the best interview he ever conducted.  Even though I was the person being interviewed, I asked questions and learned as much as I could about the manager and about how he led his team.  I kept my answers short and made sure the spotlight was on the person interviewing me.  The three steps I followed above led to a successful outcome and I got the job.

How would you rate your gravitas?  Do you have any ideas to add to the conversation?  Please share in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Living With Adult ADHD

The light bulb went off for me yesterday.  My loved ones were already in the light.  They knew long ago there was a name for my strange ways.  Was I the only one in the dark?  Now I know why I get bored easily.  There was a reason I worked three jobs while playing on the tennis team my first year in college.  I thought that was normal.  It helps me understand my drive to write everyday.  I must write.  It's a part of me.  So is my hyper-focus, a form of ADHD.

Last night I watched The Book of Eli for the second time.  It's an awesome movie.  If you're planning on renting it, stop reading today's story and come back later after you see it.  Spoiler alert!  I'm giving away the ending in today's blog.  The ending was a shocker, wasn't it?  Who would have known Denzel Washington was blind?  All the signs were there, however, no one knew until the end.  Eli was laser focused on one thing... go west and deliver the book.  He refused to let anything distract him.  He made no excuses for his shortcomings.  In fact, he used his blindness as a way to sharpen all his other senses.  If you substitute hyper-focus with Eli's blindness, and point him east instead of west to deliver the book at all costs, then you have my story.  That's what I noticed for the first time last night when I saw the movie for a second time.  Once and for all, my eyes are wide open and I see all the puzzle pieces coming together.

If you're dealing with anything outside the norm of society, such as adult ADHD, OCD or any other  idiosyncrasy, I make this promise to you:  I will be here every day to encourage you.  Let's journey together.  There are no excuses here.  I do believe some adjustments are necessary in order to keep the peace with my loved ones.  Here's my strategy for dealing with my hyper-focus disorder:
  1. Tell my family I have adult ADHD.
  2. Maintain boundaries in my life to prevent me from ignoring the world around me when I'm in the "writing zone" and I lose track of time.  This means setting alarms clocks and designating writing times.
  3. Set up schedules so I don't miss any meals when my mind drifts.
  4. Organize every area of my life.
  5. Slow down.  My life is not a sprint, it's a marathon.  I need to behave more like a long-distance runner.
Eli crossed the finished line.  He ended up at Alcatraz, a place I once escaped from, thanks to my ability to hyper-focus on physical fitness training for one year of my life, and thanks to a special cousin who was willing to help me train.  He yelled out during a training swim in La Jolla when we saw fins (they were dolphin fins but I didn't know it at the time),  "don't freak out."  Those words are useful today on mile 14 of my marathon.  I will use my hyper-focus as a gift and I will publish books that inspire others to stay on course and finish their race. 

What unique gifts do you have that you are willing to share with others?  Please add your comments below.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hyper-focus: Gift or Curse?

Hello, my name is Michael, and I just discovered this morning that I have ADHD.  I always thought I knew what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is all about.  Don't we all have a friend or two who is always late or who appears disorganized?  When I write, I find myself losing all sense of the world around me.  Time stops.  This intense form of mental concentration or visualization that focuses the consciousness on a narrow subject has a label.  It's called hyperfocus.  It's a form of ADHD.  The experts call it a disorder.  For me, I consider it the necessary part of my DNA my Creator endowed me with to complete my purpose in life.  My hyperfocus is a gift.  Like any gift, if it's misused, it can be a curse.  

My discovery this morning was an accident.  Someone close to me shared he was diagnosed with adult ADHD.  When I read about it to gain a better understanding, I came across a paragraph describing the symptoms of hyperfocus -- they fit me like a glove.  The more I understand myself, the better I can use my gifts.  If you, or anyone you know is dealing with ADHD, please be on the lookout for more stories about this topic.  I'm no expert, however, I plan to share more about my personal experiences in future blog stories.  Please answer today's question in the comments section below:  What is your opinion about hyper-focus -- is it a gift or curse?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How To Obliterate An Enemy

Got enemies?  Want them out of your life forever?  Today's story is for you.  These ideas may be unconventional, however, if you're willing to put them in your arsenal, you can say good-bye to your enemies forever.  Here you go:
  1. Understand your enemy.  That bully everyone else fears is a bully for a reason.  Find out why he behaves the way he does and you may be the one who transforms him into a new person.  Maybe he was abused as a child.  Perhaps his learning disability makes school difficult so he lashes out.  He attacks you to feel better about himself.  Allow him to feel better about himself without needing to hurt others.  Take the time to get to know the person hiding inside the bully who needs a friend.  Don't do this in public.  Crowds add to the problem.  Invite the bully to talk in private.
  2. Forgive your enemy.  You are the only person who knows how much power your enemy has over you.  Those sleepless nights.  Those grudges you hold onto with a death grip.  All that anger festering inside you.  Your enemy has no clue how much grief he or she causes you because you won't let go of the hurt.  You won't find a truce until you raise the white flag and say, "I surrender."  You are paying a high price for your pride, your stubbornness and self-righteousness.  You are giving your enemy power over you.  If you really want to obliterate your enemy forever, forgive him or her and the pain will be gone.  You will find peace for the first time in your life.
  3. Love your enemy.  This is not for your enemies' benefit.  This is for your benefit.  Love is the most powerful weapon I know.  If you need some help from above, try praying for your enemy to be abundantly blessed.  The more powerful your adversary is, the more prayers you will need to offer.  This may take years.  Be patient.  Don't give up.  Remember the last words Jesus spoke when His enemies were crucifying him, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."
My enemies are all gone now.  Obliterated.  I'm living a peaceful life.  No more anger.  No more pain.  No more enemies.  Once in a blue moon, a new opponent wanders into my life.  When this happens, I don't get mad.  I don't allow this invader to get under my skin.  Instead, I load up my canon with understanding, forgiveness and love.  Poof! Those canon balls work every time.  Comments?  Please share your ideas below by clicking the comment button.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How To Use Triggers To Inspire Action

You are bombarded with triggers every day that lead you to action.  The best triggers are the ones you aren't aware of because they're practically invisible.  You're probably reading this blog story right now because the headline got your attention and you decided to click on it for more.  Here are five triggers I use to attract readers:
  1. Creative Headlines.  Think of yourself as a fisherman on a big lake with a bunch of other fishermen.  The one catching all the fish is putting creative headlines on his hook before casting his rod.  Take a look at the bait you're using.  If your headlines aren't getting you any nibbles, it's time to change the bait.
  2. Captivating Images.  Like creative headlines, a powerful image attached to your hook will attract more fish.  Remember the last time you visited a shopping mall and you stopped in because you liked what you saw in the storefront window?  Maybe you picked up a book because you were attracted by the image on the front cover.   The fish won't bite if they don't see your bait.  Every story you write needs a powerful image that draws your readers in.
  3. Time Triggers.  This is one of my favorites.  My core readers notice 8:08 on their clocks and they say, "Michael posted another story just now.  I'm going online to read his blog."  My biggest surge of readers is always at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time.  And if I'm late with a story because of a technical glitch, I get an email or a text message asking, "is everything okay?  I didn't see your story this morning."
  4. Supernatural Triggers.  You don't control these, they're gifts.  Every once in a while, I hear Jesus asking me, "did you catch any fish today?"  He is the One who inspired me to fish in the first place and all the fish belong to Him.  When I tell Him it's a slow day on the water, He says, "why not try fishing over there on the other side of the boat?"  For those of you who follow my stories, you know Jesus pointed to a place 1,800 miles to the northeast and said, "try fishing over there."  Many of the fish I reel in say the same thing, "I found you because I was searching for the meaning of 808."  Those bites are the result of Supernatural triggers.  They can't resist Divine bait.  If you want Supernatural triggers, all you have to do is ask and you shall receive.
  5. Creative Follow Buttons.  Does this one get your attention?...
    Click here and see what happens
    If you clicked to see what happens, you pulled the trigger and took action.  The "follow me" image is compliments of Vista Print.  I really like it because it's a simple trigger that helped me get almost 1,000 twitter followers without really trying.
Here's a bonus trigger -- it's how I close my daily stories and it's simple:  Just ask your readers a question.  They can respond by email or they can comment at the end of your story.  Here's mine...  

Did today's story help you understand how to inspire others to take action?  How will you use this information?  Please email me or respond in the comments section below.  And thank you for taking an extra minute to click here and follow me on Twitter.  I promise to return the favor and follow you.  Happy fishing. Hope to see you tomorrow at 8:08.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Got Community?

Writing is like riding a roller coaster.  There are times when I'm all alone, typing away on my keyboard as I make the long, slow climb to the top of the ride.  I don't hear the screams of the other passengers until I hit the publish button and the roller coaster accelerates on the downhill portion of the ride.  Over the years, writing modes transformed from the rickety coasters from yesteryear made out of lumber to cyber-space thrillers.  The reader demands more or they drop out of the community.  That's the fear of a writer -- that there's no community.  No screams.  Nothing but a lone writer at the end of the ride.  If you are looking for some ideas to expand your community, try these pointers:
  1. Be a contributor.  Find something of value you have to offer others and give it to them.  You have unique experiences to share that can inspire others.  The more you give, the more your community will appreciate you.
  2. Let the other members of your group know what they can expect from you.  I'm a little bit over the top, blogging seven days a week at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time and sharing a new chapter every Friday at the Cyber-bistro I created to publish my e-serial novel.  That's because this is my passion and I can't imagine leaving the roller coaster, even for one day.  You don't have to be like that.  Just make sure your community knows what you're going to do and when you're going to do it.
  3. Do something you love.  Ask yourself, how will I feel if I stop?  Will anyone from the community miss me?  Remember, if you're not having fun on the roller coaster ride, how do you expect anyone else to join you?
  4. Experiment.  You are unique.  No one on the planet has the same gifts you possess.  Here's what Pablo Picasso shared about his upbringing...“When I was a child my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk, you'll be the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”  What will you become when you concentrate on being yourself instead of an imitation of someone else?
  5. Don't worry about how many people are on the ride.  It's never about how many twitter followers you have or how many people read your blog -- it's all about you giving your best every day without throwing in the towel.  If I can inspire one person to do something special with his or her life, that is enough for me and I'm willing to invest my time every day to make my roller coaster ride better than it was the day before.
Thank you for sharing the ride with me today.  I hope you come back tomorrow.  Please take a moment and subscribe to this blog by email, join this site or add your thoughts below in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My 4th of July Birthday Pledge

The Statue of Liberty is the first welcome sign immigrants see when they are entering the United States.  She was a gift from the French.  Although our European friends paid for her, it was our responsibility to foot the bill for the pedestal.  Times were tough and a young future president stepped up to make it happen.  Theodore Roosevelt was only nineteen, however, he had a dream to raise enough funds to complete the joint effort.  Many who donated contributed less than a dollar.  Every dollar counted.  The visionaries never stopped believing.

It's not the millionaires in this country who make this country great -- it's the guy who digs into his pocket and gives his hard-earned dollar to someone in need when he can barely afford to pay his own bills.  It's the woman who volunteers her time at a soup kitchen to feed the unemployed worker who struggles to find work.  It's the immigrant who arrives in our country for the first time with nothing but a dream and says, "wow, look at all the opportunity around me.  I can work two or three jobs here.  I can save my money and raise a family.  One day I can own my own business."

I'm celebrating my birthday today on the 4th of July; I find myself a blessed man.  I have everything I need.  Rather than ask for anything today, I would like to make this pledge to you:  I pledge to share my stories here every day until the day I die.  My blogs, my memoirs, and my novels will always be available on the internet for free.  Like the dollar each of our forefathers donated to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, these stories are given to you from my heart.  As long as there are others who believe their "dollar" can make a difference, there will be hope.  I will never stop believing.  And I will never stop giving.  What do you have to give the world today?  What is is your pledge?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Small Goals Are Your Kindling For Big Dreams

Big dreams need kindling to fuel the fire.  If you're looking for a way to ignite your passions, don't overlook the power of a few twigs.  Here are some examples:
  1. Happy Marriages.  You know these people -- they're celebrating fifty years or more of marital bliss.  Ask them to recall how it all started.  Most married couples I know came into the relationship with nothing.  They gathered a few twigs together and set some goals.  Those small goals became the foundation.  Now, they're living big dreams.  They're surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
  2. Debt-free Living.  It starts with a tiny decision.  It doesn't take much.  For me, it's the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I eat every day.  It's the loose change I put in my coffee can for my vacation fund.  It's the choice to pay cash instead of charging.  You can't join the ranks of homeowners who paid off their homes if you fail to start a small fire.
  3. Physical fitness.  Take a walk around the block.  Go on a nature hike.  Do a few stomach crunches.  Physical fitness doesn't have to be impossible when you start small.  Let the endorphins add fuel to the fire.  Once you begin to exercise, you will feel better and you will want to do more. 
As your flames get bigger, others will be attracted to the fire.  Teach them how easy it is when you start with the kindling.  You will have all the fire you need to live your dreams if you start small and add some fuel, a little bit at a time.  The trick is to never let the fire burn out.  What area of your life are you going improve by using these ideas?  Let me know how you are doing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Not The Critic Who Counts

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."  ~ Theodore Roosevelt

You don't belong on the sidelines.  You were created with a purpose.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Theodore Roosevelt said it best in the quote above.  I live by these words.  As far as the critics go, I believe there are two kinds:  the critic who fears you will succeed because he or she will be left behind and the critic who can't bear to see you get hurt because he or she loves you.  Your destiny is waiting for you.  Getting hurt is part of the process.  The dust, the sweat and the blood on your face is your war paint that tells the critic you belong in the arena.  You are not afraid.  Tell your loved ones not to worry;  it's not the critic who counts, it's you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Are You a Master of Learning?

“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
~ Pablo Picasso

There is a joke told around the world that goes like this:  What do you call someone who speaks one language?  Answer:  An American.  One of my new team-mates at my day job taught Latin and Greek to grade school students before relocating to Iowa.  He observed me speaking Spanish and was able to understand most of the conversation.  I don't have a large vocabulary yet, however, I do my best to learn a few new words every day in order to one day become bi-lingual.

I like what Picasso says about learning; his quote above summarizes how I live my life.  Most of the time I'm attempting to do things which I can not do (yet), in order that I may learn how to do it.   There are all kinds of people around me who are much smarter and have much more talent.  They seem to be experts at one thing... criticizing those who are doing things the Pablo Picasso way.

I don't have time for the critics.  I'm too busy learning how to be a better blogger, a better writer, and a better communicator.  I'm writing a novel in my "spare time" and sharing it with the world literally as I'm typing it, one chapter at a time -- for freeClick here to check it out.  I may only be proficient in one language, however, I found a way to translate my stories into all the major languages spoken outside the United States.  I did this without any formal training.  My stories have been viewed over 125,000 times and more than half of the people reading my novel reside outside the United States.  On average, someone is reading my blog every five minutes, 24/7.  This inspires me to learn more languages so I can say "thank you" in my readers' native language.

Are you a master of learning?  Do you prefer the traditional process or do you prefer the "Picasso way"?  And if you are reading this in a foreign language, I'm working on something just for you.  Once I figure it out, I will set up some kind of translator button in the comments section so you can join the conversation in your native tongue.  I just need to learn how to do it.