Sunday, April 20, 2014

TD10-7 Life used to be so much simpler

Were we really meant to live like this?  Life used to be so much simpler.

The power went out last night.  As I was searching for flashlights, candles and matches I realized how dependent I am on electronic gadgets.  No TV, no internet, no lights, no microwave, no stove.  It was getting dark, I needed to make dinner, and it really got me thinking about what people did before electricity once it got dark.

The only light would have come from candles and/or lanterns.  Stoves and furnaces would need wood or coal.  Air conditioning, uh… nope.  Icebox for anything cold.  I guess at night you either went to bed or read by candlelight… maybe hung out and had a conversation.

Humans are a funny species.  As children we basically do whatever we want for a while, at least until school starts, then we start to get a regimented routine going.  This follows most of us into the workforce when we leave school and get a job, where we spend most of our lives until we retire and basically do whatever we want for a while again.

What if we shrunk everything down and didn’t need so much stuff, wouldn’t life be simpler?  I think it certainly would, but would that necessarily be better?  Maybe not.  Live in a small house, no electronics, no car, low overhead.  If we learned to live simply we might live more enriched lives.  Or is it more enriching to be a part of all the technical gadgetry that has become available to us?

I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer here.  I’ve got people inside my head voting for both sides and neither would win by a landslide.  Perhaps moderation is the key – keeping a balance between simplicity and technology.  I don’t know.

I do know that I was greatly relieved when the power came back on.  Flipping a light switch and having it turn the light on after a blackout is a great feeling.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

TD10-6 My dog is so happy

I have a small dog named Cosmo.  I’ve been told he’s an American Tunnel Terrier, but there doesn’t seem to be much information on that breed online at all so I’ve often wondered if there really is such a breed or if it’s made up, but I digress… he’s similar to a Boston Terrier I guess.

We rescued him from the Fond du Lac Humane Society after he was involved in a pet hoarding case.  Sixty animals were left for three weeks in a house with no food or water.  He almost died; he was ten pounds when they pulled him out.  His healthy weight is around twenty five pounds.

I’ve had dogs my whole life, I love them.  This is by far the mellowest dog I’ve ever had.  It took him a while to come out of his shell after the harrowing experience he went through.  We have to give him medication daily to control seizures now because of it.  We’ve had him for years, though.  Now he’s a member of the family.

Mornings are probably my favorite time of the day.  One of the things I can look forward to is that Cosmo starts every day extremely happy.  Not ever being known as a “morning person”, I should be so lucky.  No matter what ridiculous time I have to get up – 4am, 5am… he’s up, bounding with energy, happy to see me, ready to play, ready for breakfast.  Just waking up to a happy dog is good for the soul.

I start every day making him breakfast, then taking him out.  He sits by me wherever I am as I get ready for my day.  I usually watch TV before going to bed, once I hit the couch there is a dog on my lap pretty much demanding to be petted for a while.  Once he’s had enough, he’ll go to the loveseat and just lie there next to me the rest of the night.  Petting a dog every day is also good for the soul.

Dogs can teach us more about life than we could ever teach them.  They’re loyal and loving.  They’re naturally playful and happy.  If you’ve ever owned a dog and been sad, sick, or crying, where’s your dog been?  Right there with you, licking your tears away.  Unconditional love.

Our dog is a happy dog and I thank God every day for allowing our lives (and the lives of all my former dogs) to connect.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

TD10-5 First Love

April 1, 2014

10:14PM: Write ten minutes a day: go!

Love.  Remember toying with the idea?  Wondering what love was, how you’d know if and when you were “in” love with someone?  Your first love?  That initial feel of it all while it’s showroom fresh… wow.  You can remember that, right?  No one forgets their first love.

I don’t actually remember the first time I said the words “I love you” to someone, but I do remember the first woman I ever loved.  I was totally infatuated with her.

The first two women I ever loved I lost in no small part because of my alcohol and drug addictions.  Every time a relationship went sour it closed a part of my heart that left less for the next person.  Which might be the reason why nothing feels like first love does.

10:24PM: Write ten minutes a day: stop!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

TD10-4 Major Life Changes

I’m a vegetarian mainly because I don’t like seeing animals tortured and abused, much less slaughtered.  I’ll never understand hunting, or the mindset that goes with it.  How could anyone think killing things is fun?  Seeing suffering and death hurts me so much that I base my food, clothing, and other choices around not being a part of it.  I have to, it can’t be something I knowingly contribute to.

I ate meat for twenty nine years, been a vegetarian for twenty five plus years now.  I never felt right about it.  Hunting never interested me.  Any time neighborhood kids would torture animals for “fun” – I have to believe anyone who was a kid saw some of that growing up – it hurt me.  I felt hypocritical eating meat but never really being interested in killing and/or skinning my own animals.  Even fishing, which I did a little bit of when I was young, bothered me.

I had issues with drugs and alcohol in my teens and early twenties to deal with.  Once I quit using (at age twenty nine), a month later I quit eating meat.  I had to change my moral compass.  For me, this was a huge thing.  Start living by a set of moral standards aligned with what I felt was right.

I thought it would be hard to quit as I liked the taste of meat, and I had a hard time imagining meals without it.  It really wasn’t hard at all, and as an added bonus I believe a strict vegetarian diet is much healthier as well.  I certainly felt way better physically within a couple weeks of not eating meat.

By the time you’re old enough to think about what you’re doing… the pain and anguish you’re causing by your food choices… you’re already sucked in to the “meat as a way of life” dining program.  Like anything in life, changing that can be hard.  First, you really have to want to.  In a strange way, I have a certain respect for the meat eaters that can hunt and kill their own animals… at least they know what they’re doing and have no problem killing their own meal.  I wasn’t one of those, though.  I was the “as long as someone else kills and packages this I’ll eat it” meat eaters.  Kill my own, no thanks.  And that just seemed hypocritical to me…

Then, on Nov 1, 1988 I decided to never use drugs and/or alcohol again.  And I haven’t.  I changed my life the second I made that choice and committed to it.

A month later, I quit eating meat.  Two choices made in two instants within a month of each other by a twenty nine year old that I maintain to this day and have changed the course of my life tremendously.

Are you living your life in alignment with what your inner conscience tells you is right for you?

Visualize your perfect life – what would it look like?  How would you spend your time?  With whom would you spend it?  How would you treat people?  What would you do for a living?

Now, take a long hard look at where your life is at currently… do they match?  Why not?  What is it that stands in the way of leading the life you’d like to live?

I was asked those questions twenty five years ago and drugs and alcohol were number one on my list.  Not living by any moral standards, no relationship with God was number two.  In two days I made choices that changed that forever.  Changing your thoughts can change your life, but you have to commit and stick to it, which is why so many people make big changes in life after “hitting bottom”.  You need a strong emotional motive to keep going with any major life change.

Friday, March 28, 2014

TD10-3 Focus

I have great ideas during the day for these ten minute writing sessions.  I have the whole thing planned out in my head; it’s going to be so awesome.  I can’t remember any of them from earlier today, though.  I’m getting a small pocket notebook to carry with me and jot those ideas down as they come to me.  That might help tomorrow’s post, but today I have to wing it.

Do you ever obsess about stupid things you’ve done in your life?  Like, go back through the events and remember all the times you said something stupid or embarrassing, and then berate yourself for being such an insensitive moron?  I catch myself reliving my worst moments every now and then.

What if every time you started berating yourself for past failures you could catch that thought, stop it, and think about the people whose lives you’ve impacted in a positive way, the events you succeeded in, and relive the successes instead?

What we focus on expands.  One of my favorite quotes is Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right”.  I’m going to really try to not relive past failures and focus on the good times instead.  That’s what I want my mind focused on: happiness, good times and success.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

TD10-2 No Time for That

I came up with the idea to write a minimum ten minutes a day on March 23rd… I missed March 24th.  I did write on March 25th, for – for ten minutes exactly.  I missed the 26th.  Today is the 27th.  Sometimes that’s how it goes when you’re trying something new I guess, it’s hard to break old habits – even habits of non action.

No one seems to have any time any more – everyone I know (myself included) is always “busy”.  Busy doing what?  I often wonder if I have my priorities straight.  I’ve written before about the most important thing in life being increasing my conscious contact with God, which is what I think but not how I live my life.  My life revolves around making money.  Making money to keep my current lifestyle, to pay my bills, to save.  When you get right down to it, that’s how most of us spend our adult lives. 

Did you ever think about selling it all, simplifying, and totally transforming out of the “money as a way of life” mindset?  I think about it.  I’ve seen people do it.  Sell everything, buy a camper, travel the country for a while, connect with life, remember your passions, maybe FIND your passions.  It’s a thought that we all might feel but seldom do we ever act on it.  Way too scary to actually act on it.  So we hang with the routine because there are so many rational reasons not to try anything out of the norm…

After all, who’s got time for THAT?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TD10-1 Thoughts

There are thoughts within us we’ll never share. They seem to come from nowhere, pop into our head and we wonder how and why that ever showed up.  Thoughts we feel uncomfortable with, we never talk about, we wish we had never experienced. 

Ever have a thought like that?  Just a flash… a quick burst that’s gone as fast as it came, that is so foreign to our normal thought process it shakes our emotions a bit.

Yeah, I never had one of those, either.

Ten Minutes a Day

Last year I was able to do some amazing things.  I went to a Wayne Dyer seminar in Maui, complete with a whale watching tour.  At that seminar he mentioned a writer’s workshop to be held later in the year in Denver that I also attended.  I started, for a brief while, to see and feel myself as a writer.  I had 16 chapter “preview” copies of my book made up.  I started to believe I could get it done, and I felt that my writing was improving.

The Denver workshop was in April.  The last time I wrote anything was September 15th… over six months ago.  Six months without writing anything.  I have many excuses, #1 being the NFL Football season.  It takes time to run four fantasy football teams, you know!  But it runs deeper than that.  My confidence level is pretty low when it comes to writing, which leads to procrastination.  Any time you do anything artistic and share it with the public you open yourself up to scrutiny and become vulnerable.  Making music, painting, taking photos, writing… once you throw it out there it opens you up for critique.  And I can be my own worst critic.  Sometimes doing nothing just seems easier and a body at rest tends to stay there.

I recently read an article called “The Seinfeld Strategy” by James Clear.  Mainly it caught my eye because of the Seinfeld reference, but I loved the advice held within.  Write every day, don’t be attached to the results.  Make an X on your calendar every day you write and don’t break the chain.

Right after reading that article, I read the book “I was blind but now I see” by James Altucher.  In it, he talks about setting small daily goals in four categories: emotional, mental, physical & spiritual.  He mentions the website to track it daily, very similar to “The Seinfeld Strategy”.

“Writing a book” can seem like an insurmountable task.  “Write ten minutes a day” doesn’t seem that hard.  The trick is to make your goals doable.  “Work out two hours every day” might scare you into inaction & burnout, whereas “do twenty pushups a day” wouldn’t.  And once you get started you’ll often do more.  Set tasks that you feel you can realistically accomplish.

So I’m starting a new chain today – the “write ten minutes a day” chain.  I’m planning on posting whatever I write every day as well, good or bad.  The more I write, the better I’ll get.  I learned music and finance by studying, practicing, meeting with others and keeping with it over a period of years because I felt called to do it.  Now I feel pretty confident in both those areas, but there were certainly moments of self doubt at first.  The same thing will happen here.  Eventually, writing will become a habit. 

I welcome your thoughts…