Saturday, February 28, 2015
His 83 year mission on earth has ended. Our beloved Spock has moved on to the final frontier. Before he departed, he left one last poem that summarizes a long and prosperous life. Good-bye, Leonard Nimoy. Thank you for all your amazing contributions. There may be a void in the galaxy today but your message of love lives on in our hearts forever. RIP.
Friday, February 27, 2015
The finish line is now 18 days away. My final approach is simple... look straight ahead, stay hydrated, remember to eat at regular intervals, rest before I get tired, and stay focused on the finish line. I found my writing rhythm. What helps is thinking about the relationship between writing and running. There's the starting line, the middle and the finish line. Before the gun goes off, there are training exercises to prepare yourself. My training started when I wrote over 2,500 love letters to my wife. Then I started this blog. Daily blogging is like running up and down stairs. It helps get you in shape for bigger projects. The next step for me was to write a memoir. I joined a writers critique group and got some formal training to help me through the process. It was similar to a 10k race. I really enjoyed the experience but I also felt something inside me nudging me to pen a novel. There were so many times during this marathon experience that I wondered if I would ever cross the finish line. Something happens at about mile 20. Fatigue sets in. Muscles cramp. You question why you are out on the track.
I know why I'm here. I was born to do this. When I feel like giving up I think of Jesus dragging that Cross to Golgotha. He did that for you and me. He stumbled. He fell. He needed help. He finished the race. And when he came back from the dead, he told his followers, "now it's your turn."
I'll share a little secret with you about the finish line. I found help by turning to the Bible for inspiration. The greatest Marathoner of all times left behind all sorts of clues to help us find our finish line. I may be writing fiction but if you read between the lines you will find the source of my inspiration. You will find my Mentor. Don't forget to come back on March 17 for the rest of the story. Have a great day.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Pointing fingers is a distraction. It's designed to divert attention from the person responsible. You know who it is, right? The one who's pointing the finger. I'm doing my best to stop playing the blame game. It helps to look in the mirror and own up.
I'm planning to do less finger pointing and more of these:
- "I was wrong."
- "I dropped the ball."
- "I'm responsible for this."
- "I'm sorry."
- "My ego got in the way."
- "Please forgive me."
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Fine wine improves with age. I believe that's also the secret for sharpening your five senses. All you need is time and a common sense approach. Pardon the pun. Let's see if these pointers pass the smell test:
- Taste. This is an easy one. I found everything tastes better when you are in good company. Seek out friends to share your meals with. Commit to regular date nights with your loved one. Every time you take a bite, think about how hard the chef worked to prepare your meal or about the food server who is taking such great care of you. Skip dessert and use it to be more generous with your tip. Yes, generosity and appreciation make everything you eat taste better.
- Touch. This is an important one. This is my love language. Cuddle often. Hold hands. Smooch. Don't worry what others think about your public displays of affection. Simply savor how good it feels to be in close proximity to the one you love.
- Smell. This is heightened when your eyes are closed. Try it. Close your eyes and think about one of your favorite memories. Who were you with? What were you doing? I have a memory from over forty years ago of a down-hill race I was running on Mulligan mountain in Prescott, Arizona. The faster runner who shall remain anonymous kicked dust in my face as he out-paced me on the steep decline. I can still smell the antiseptic he used to clean up my wound after I lunged unsuccessfully to pass him at the finish line and stumbled. The same is true when I close my eyes and think about my high school days. Mom always had a crock pot filled with pinto beans in the kitchen. The aroma of pinto beans reminds me how hard my mother worked to keep six kids fed. For me, that fragrance is like a fine perfume.
- Sight. I'm cheating on this one. I got my eyes checked at the end of the year and discovered I need to wear glasses full-time. Thanks to Dr. Amber Aria, I can see much better now. It's a good idea to get your eyes examined annually.
- Hearing. I'm not talking about the ear drums. I'm referring to the part of your brain that many people turn off so they don't actively listen. Listening is a skill you can improve upon over time. The best way to do this is to care about the person who is speaking. They have something important to share with you. Don't tune them out. Avoid selective hearing. Pay attention.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
This is a test. There are seven questions. Use your answers to determine if you found your passion:
- Does time ever stop when you're working on a task?
- What activities make your heart skip a beat?
- If you were given twenty-fours to do whatever you wanted to do, what would you do?
- What is your greatest fear?
- How would your life be if you eliminated that fear in question #4?
- Who are your top three people who inspire you?
- What can you do right now to get in touch with at least one person you listed in your answer to question #6?
Monday, February 23, 2015
I never heard of atelophobia until this morning when I searched "fear of not being good enough." It comes from the Greek word, atelés which means "imperfect" or "incomplete" and phobós which means "fear."
I have one thing to say about this if you feel this describes you. Shame on the people around you from your past (or your present) who criticized you so much or who constantly humiliated you every time you goofed. These are the same people who are so full of their own hangups that they use you to cover up their own shortfalls. If you buy their criticisms, you are forgetting who you really are – a child of God. You cannot be separated by his love for you. Here you go:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord ~ Romans 8:31-39
Here's something else to consider about being imperfect or incomplete. You're right. You're not perfect and you are incomplete. That's the joy of being human. It's nothing to be afraid of. You are the sum of all your experiences. A baby doesn't give up learning to walk because he or she has a fall. No. Falling is part of the process. Giving up isn't human. Getting up is. Experiencing butterflies in your stomach before a major event is normal. Teaching those butterflies to fly in formation so that you can be your best and achieve your goals is healthy and it works.
Have a great day. Enjoy your mistakes. Take as many mulligans as you need to help you be your best.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Last night was date night with the Mrs. I didn't expect to relive childhood memories when we saw McFarland, USA during opening weekend. This movie got to my heart. I don't want to give anything away here in case you might decide to check it out. Here are three reasons why you should see McFarland, USA:
- You will feel good. There's a reason why we connect with the underdogs, like our beloved heroes from the 1980 miracle on ice team. We feel their pain. We know what is feels like to come up short. Then it happens. A coach or a mentor comes in and gives us hope. This movie is about hope. It's based on a real life story. You will leave the movie theater feeling uplifted.
- You will appreciate the hills in your life. After you see this movie, you will have a better understanding of why you need mountains in your life. Mountains are opportunities disguised as adversity. This movie will inspire you to climb your mountains.
- You will change. This is what happens when your heart is moved. This movie will inspire you to say to yourself, "one person can make a difference. Why not me? Yes, me. I can make a difference. I want to make a difference. I'm going to change the world, no matter what I've done wrong in the past, no matter what my circumstances are, and no matter where I live. I'm going to make a difference."
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Is hope in your equation today? I believe it makes a difference. The above quote says it all. You can throw in the towel and walk away or you can choose to rebuild. I've faced this question many times in my life. Yes. Hope makes all the difference. Even a glimmer of hope can change the outcome.
Think of hope as a tiny seed you plant. You have an expectation that something good will happen. Be patient. Water the seed. Nurture it. Don't worry about what others say when the seed doesn't sprout right away. When that seed sprouts, celebrate. Plant another seed. Expand your garden. Each seed is a dream. It will grow roots if you take care of it. Don't ever give up. The difference is hope. Have a great day.
Friday, February 20, 2015
If my debt monster had a name, the best fit would be Ivan Drago, the antagonist from Rocky IV who killed Apollo and then turned to Rocky and told him, "I must break you."
Rocky knew what needed to be done. He needed to let go of his old life, give up his title, and move to a remote farm area in the arctic cold where he could train uninterrupted. Cue the Rocky music. I'm ready to bring down the Siberian Express. It's only fitting that my story will be released on Independence Day, the same day I was born. The Phoenix bird is ready to rise from the ashes and deliver the knockout punch to my debt monster. He's going down. Sorry, Ivan, I refuse to be broken. My face may be bloody and my body may be pummeled, but my spirit is stronger than ever. I'm completing my first novel for release on March 17, followed by Break the Chains of Debt Bondage on the 4th of July. It's a one-two punch combination I've been working on from my basement in a secluded area not much warmer than Siberia. Have a great day.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Do you like competition? If the answer is yes, I have a challenge for you. It's a race against yourself. It goes like this:
- Every day you challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday. This applies to every area of your life. It includes patience, generosity, maintaining a positive attitude, eating healthy, exercising, getting a full night of sleep, living within your means, etc.
- Keep track of your daily performance.
- Give yourself a +1 if you beat yesterday's record.
- Give yourself a -1 if you slipped.
- If there was no noticeable change, give yourself a zero.
- The competition ends on April 19.
- You don't have to share your score with anyone else.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
There's nothing like a little heat and some pressure to help you move your projects along. The secret for me is making sure I have a deadline. No pressure and no heat = no completion. I'm super busy in the kitchen right now. There's hot air everywhere. This is good old-fashioned pressure cooker writing. the timer is set for March 17th. I need to hurry because there's another project ready to go into the oven as soon as there's more room in the kitchen. With all the heat inside my home, one would never know the windshield factor today is -28º. Have a great day.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Okay. I admit it. That thirty day deadline is coming at me at full speed and I feel like a deer in the headlights. The key? Stay on the balance beam. Remember to eat right, exercise, meditate and let your loved ones know how special they are. I may even catch a few minutes of sleep while I'm grasping that four inch bar. Come back in thirty days to see how it all comes together. Stay balanced. And have a great day.
Monday, February 16, 2015
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." ~ Aristotle
I love to celebrate significant milestones in my life. My writing journey began by penning love letters to my wife. Every morning we picked a topic and wrote about our feelings. Those spiral notebooks filled with over 5,000 pages of love letters are one of our most cherished possessions. We wrote daily for nearly seven years. I entered phase two when I set up this blog. Today is day 2,000. Although it took almost five and half years to reach mile marker 2,000, I feel like I'm just now finding my running legs. This is the challenging part of the trail. I'm on the final stages of my first novel, scheduled for release next month on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. There will be no rest. I'm pushing through to publish a book about my struggles to break free from the debt monster who has been shadowing me every mile of my writing journey. He will be vanquished from the race course forever when I make my very last credit card payment three days before "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage" is released on the 4th of July, 2015.
I have a confession to make. It's a tale from the dark side. There was a time in my life when I shunned writing. I couldn't understand why my dad spent so much time writing stories about fictional people who only existed in his mind or why he was willing to withdraw money from his 401k to self-publish. I did everything in my power to be different from him. Life was about making money not about writing fairy tales. I convinced my dad to sell real estate because I felt he needed a real job. The sad thing is I never experienced his passion for writing until he was gone. The void in my life made me feel empty. I needed to fix something but I didn't know how to do it. The answer came at a marriage encounter three-day weekend. Surprise! They told my wife and me we would be writing love letters to each other during our three days together. The experience made me sick to my stomach. Literally. I didn't think I could finish the course. I was in my room puking while my wife was attending one of the sessions. The other couples prayed for me to get better. I stayed. And when I walked out I was forever changed. I discovered how blessed I am to have a wife who loves me unconditionally. I discovered my passion for writing. I know what it feels like to write fairy tales. More importantly, I know how it feels to live one. It's as if I found who I am when I discovered my connection to the Creator. I can best be summarized by this verse, from Isaiah 40:28-31...
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
|Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.|
|~ 1 Corinthians 13:7|
We received our fifth letter from our youngest son yesterday. He just completed the first phase of boot camp, the most challenging and demanding of the three phases of training. Red phase is where boys become men, where comfort zones are stretched beyond one's own imagination and where endurance becomes a way of life. I never saw a connection between army and love until I read the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:7 this morning. Our son is living this verse in his daily training sessions. Anyone who is a follower of Jesus is called to live this verse. Anyone who ever committed to a wedding vow has a template to use in their marriage. It's so much more than giving your spouse flowers and chocolates on Valentine's Day. It's about loving every day, every time, without fail, no exceptions.
I'm adding this verse to my vision board. I want to carry it with me through all the phases of my training on this earth. Happy Valentine's Day. Thanks for visiting today.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Everything changed when I invoked the Holy Spirit. It was my special prayer for inspiration. The response was like a floodgate opening, spilling out an endless supply of ideas and creativity. I did not recognize my writing abilities until after the bolt of lightning struck me. It truly is life-changing. Anyone can experience this. No training is required. No religious upbringing is necessary. It's a gift from Jesus. Don't ask me how it works. I don't know. It's beyond my understanding. All I can tell you is my life will never be the same. All of the stories you read here are a direct result of this connection to the Holy Spirit. My books, too. I'm a better husband, a better father and a better member of my community. All the credit goes to the Holy Spirit, my Divine Inspiration.
Are you ready for a bolt of lightning in your life? Here goes. All you have to do is ask. Call on the Holy Spirit right now take up permanent residence inside your heart. Don't worry about how your life is or what remodeling is necessary. The Holy Spirit will do all the renovations from the inside. You may not notice any changes right away. Be patient. Be willing to let go of your old life and your old way of thinking. Be open to the new ideas that will begin to emerge. Go where the wind blows. You will find peace. Have a great day.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
I found a great way to manage my stress levels. It's as simple as living in the moment. This day can never be repeated. There is so much to experience. All I have to do is concentrate on this moment and enjoy it. It works. Try it. Let go of the past. Don't worry about future events that may or may not happen. Soak up the moment. Savor it. You will find yourself asking, "what stress?" Have a great day.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I believe there is really only one obstacle that can stop you from living your dreams – you. You have the power within you to stick to a goal all the way to the finish line. And you also have the choice to abandon the race track and go home early. All you need is a dream, some courage and a passion to keep going no matter what is going on in your personal life.
Do you have the will to become unstoppable? If you're not sure, just start with today. Can you stay focused on your goals until you go to bed tonight? If the answer is yes, you're on your way. All you have to do is wake up tomorrow and repeat what you do today. That's it. One day at a time. You can do it. Have a great day.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I don't have time to be unorganized. I discovered this when I reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly from 2014. Organization stood out as an area of my life that needed help. I spent too much time hunting for things that were never properly filed. I realized there were too many nooks and crannies filled with useless junk. Here are five things you can do to get organized. Give these ideas a try and discover how getting organized saves you time and money.
- Make your bed every morning. This helps me in two ways. I'm not tempted to crawl back in bed after it's made so I'm more productive. Also, when I look at my bed all made up it makes me feel like I'm more organized and this feeling spreads to other areas of my life.
- Dump or donate everything you don't need. This is huge. Too much stuff leads to trouble. It's impossible to be organized when your drawers are overstuffed with things you don't even use. Take an inventory of every room in your house. If you don't use it and it's worthless, throw it out. If it can help someone else, donate it.
- Make a vision board and post it where you can see it daily. This is a poster board showing all the things you are working on in your life. This gives your brain a target to shoot for. Make sure cut the clutter is on your board so your brain will be reminded on a daily basis.
- Attack "the room." It's the place where you put everything so everything else looks organized. It's the "default room" where you hide your junk. Turn that room into something special. You will never really be organized until "the room" is conquered.
- Make sure everything has its own place. You will save time and money. Think about all the time you spend looking for lost items or how much money you spend replacing things you can't find. This will no longer be a problem when everything is stored properly.
Monday, February 9, 2015
I needed this quote this morning. My body is dealing with that icky runny nose/sore throat feeling. My wife told me it's a great day to stay in bed and recover. Although I rarely take advantage of it, I'm using a nasal decongestant to help me breathe and get going this morning. It's time to get up, dress up, show up and never give up. Have a great day.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Have you been there? I'm referring to that place your voice inside your head challenges you to go. It's not comfortable. It may be a little muddy and scary looking. It's that in-between zone that separates you from your destiny. You will get dirty trying to navigate through it. I know something about this place. If you decide not to accept the challenge, something else will remain with you for the rest of your life. Many people know the name well. Regret lags behind long after all your other room-mates move out to pursue their destiny. Regret says, "stay with me. I'm safe. Just settle. Compromise. Stop chasing those silly little dreams."
I kicked Regret out of my home long ago. I got muddy. Regret was right about one thing. Leaving my comfort zone did change me. It made me stronger. I gained confidence. I learned how fun obstacles can be when you journey out into the unknown. If you haven't been there, book a trip today. Just open the door and go outside. One day you can tell your children and grandchildren, "I've been there, done that and it's worth it." Have a great day.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
I believe in the power of the pen. Something happens when you write out your goals. It's as if your brain is a spectator observing everything you commit to paper. It's like pushing the reset button on your computer. Your brain wakes up. It's a jolt. You feel the surge as your neurons fire up to carry out whatever dreams you pursue.
I'm feeling this now. I have a visual picture for the next three years to follow. I'm feeling organized. Try the power of the pen. If you haven't written your goals for the year, do it today. Have a great day.
Friday, February 6, 2015
I shared my vision board with my wife this morning. She liked the extra sheets with time targets for 2016 and 2017. Now that my goals are all charted, I'm noticing something – I have a lot of work to do. The good news is I have focus. I know what I need to do every day to make my dreams come true. There's no room for slacking. My wife and I will need to work as a team.
I learned an important lesson about big projects, like writing a novel. The job is more manageable when it's broken down to the molecular level, similar to making smoothies. I really don't like eating spinach or carrots. But I love making smoothies. When I add spinach, carrots and celery to my morning fruits and blend everything together at a super high speed, it's not so difficult to swallow. Just do the work, a little bit at a time. Have a great day.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
It's finally up. I completed my 2015 Vision board this morning and posted it on my bedroom wall so I can look at it every morning when I wake up. The Bible verse at the top of the vision board is my reminder to put God first in everything I do. Check out Jeremiah 29:11-13 for the full verse.
The calendar part flips up and shows time targets for 2016 and 2017 on the back page. I like to call them time targets because it gives my goals a deadline. Goals are great as long as you make sure and complete them. My goals are like stairs. I need to climb one step in order to be able to reach the second step. January was my month to eliminate clutter and get organized. It was also a time for me to improve my eating habits. I can't wait to set up our garden in the backyard in the Spring.
My wife is planning her own vision board. It helps that our goals compliment one another and that we can work as a team to stay on track. Good luck setting up your vision board. Don't forget to email me a picture when you're done. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
You have several choices when you find a hurdle in your path: turn around and go home, bust through it, or learn how to fly over it. As I approach the finish line for my second book, some new hurdles are appearing on the last lap. Just when I was feeling comfortable with my progress, a new obstacle showed up on the race track yesterday. I bought Turbo Tax and installed it on my MacBook Pro. That's when I discovered my system software was too old to support the tax program and I needed an upgrade. Surprise! MS Word is no longer supported on OS X Yosemite. Suddenly I felt like a pole vaulter who got his pole stolen. My hurdle was laughing at me. I scratched my head and stood there staring at my conundrum. I knew going home wasn't an option. It never is. How was I going to write without a word program? Ah, conflict. There's no story without conflict. But there's no book without the proper writing tools.
I found an awesome solution. The writing pros use a program called Scrivener. It retails for $45.00. That's another hurdle for me because I'm on a super strict budget I set up to make sure my credit cards are all at zero balances by the time I launch my third book on Independence Day, five months from today. I scoured the internet for a better deal and found a coupon code for Scrivener 2. The $9.00 discount made the hurdle small enough to leap over without using a credit card. I turned around and looked at my hurdle. It appeared so much smaller from the other side. My legs feel like they're ready for even bigger challenges ahead. I have a long way to go. Good-bye MS Word. It was nice knowing you. I'm sticking with "Scriv" for the rest of the race. Bring on the hurdles. I love 'em. Have a great day.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Imagine your mind, body and spirit are like parts of an automobile. When one part is out of alignment, everything is negatively affected. Peak performance can only be reached when you find balance. Here are three points to help you stay on the road:
- Put God first, your family second and your work third. Your boss will appreciate you because you will be less stressed and happier to be around when your priorities are right. Your family will feel good knowing you have a compass to follow. And you will be happier with yourself because you know in your heart you are moving in the right direction.
- Find the right RPM's. Listen to your body. If you're moving too fast or too slow, your body will let you know. Don't worry who is ahead of you or behind you. Adjust your speed when you're going uphill or downhill. Don't forget to recharge at the rest stops before you get tired.
- Take the scenic drive. It's easy to become so focused on your goals that you forget to look out the window and enjoy the beauty all around you.
Monday, February 2, 2015
It must have been a difficult time for the followers of Jesus after he was put to death. I imagine them locked up in the upper room thinking about what was. They were afraid to move forward. They questioned what was to become of themselves without Jesus. It would have been so easy to get stuck in the past. But something happened. They became bold. They stopped dwelling on the past and moved on. They opened the door and walked outside. They let go of their fear.
I'm looking outside my window as I'm penning this story. The view is breathtaking. There's eleven inches of fresh snow on the ground. There's not a cloud in the sky and the trees glisten with white powder frozen on their branches. My backyard looks like a Hallmark greeting card. I never would have experienced a day like today if I had allowed my past to hold me captive. There comes a time in your life when you have to open the door and go outside, even if it happens to be -1º outside. When your past calls and tries to divert your attention from all the plans God has for you, don't answer. Be bold. There is something new waiting outside for you. It's a new day. Live your dreams. Move forward. Let go of your fear. Have a great day.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Mother Nature heaped nearly a dozen inches of snow on us throughout the night, creating this Winter wonderland in our backyard. I shot this picture before sunrise this morning. There is a stillness in the air. I appreciate moments like these. It's a time of reflection. It's a time of serenity. I'm working on full-time serenity. Sure, it's easy to feel serenity on days like today when the world seems to slow to a crawl. The challenge is to keep serenity in our hearts and minds when chaos arrives unannounced, like a blizzard. Have a great day. May you find serenity in your backyard or any place where you happen to be today.