Thursday, June 28, 2012
I’d been in a foul mood all week and it wasn’t getting better. Starting today our temperatures are supposed to be in the triple digits. We had planned to attend a three day blue grass festival starting this evening and now are plans are in a state of flux. That makes me angry!!!!Does that rant make me feel better; hardly? I was investing in something I had absolutely no control over – the weather. Like everyone else in my neighborhood I took every opportunity to blame the woes of the world on something so inanimate it couldn’t even defend itself.
I sat down and pulled out my frayed and dog eared legal pad to make a list of all the things I THOUGHT I could control but couldn’t. It was pretty long. It’s the proverbial flight of fancy. I asked myself how much time I devoted to things I had no control over. It was a lot more time than I had imagined. I started another list, the things in my life I could control. If I stopped stressing out over stuff like the weather maybe, just maybe, I could attack the real issues in my life, the beliefs that are barriers to my success. But, ah-ha, they have faces and names and OMG they can fight back and they require moderate to severe introspection and the dirty and nasty H word --- Honesty. There are three things I know I can control
1. I deserve to be successful.
Please note I am not entitled to be successful. My success depends on my perception of myself. Nothing about my age, my gender, my education, my race or sexual orientation has a hoot to do with my success. I can stand here all day and go toe-to-toe with you about people I know who looked at those things as being challenges to their success, not obstacles or reasons to give up. No one, parent, partners, friends or employers are going to believe in your value until you believe in it. What can I control? I can start with the perception I have of myself. No one owes me anything, except me. I owe myself the honor and dignity of believing I deserve.
2. I am worth all the effort I put into myself.
I have a nephew who runs in marathon races. He told me that just about anyone can run the first twenty three miles of a marathon if they train correctly. He went on to say that it is the last three miles or so that require maximum effort. How often do I reach the point in my development whether it’s personal or professional and pull back in fear or anxiety? How often do excuses abound? Excuses like “lack of time,” “bad weather,” not enough support.” What excuses do I use to not push those mental last three miles?
Don’t believe me? Here’s a challenge. The next time you walk into a bookstore notice how many books have been published on self-help and on dieting. Next time you clean out your spam folder notice how many “miracle weight loss” e-mails you receive. How often do we gravitate towards the quick fixes in lieu of the positive and often painful effort required to assure long lasting success?
3. You are who you hang around with.
Years ago a boss of mine gave, me a pearl of wisdom I’ve not forgotten. “There are two types of people in this world, People that make things happen and people that let things happen!”
There is nothing wrong with imitating positive, successful and healthy behavior. We are largely a “monkey see, monkey do” society. Imitating and mirroring positive behavior in another person only raises us to their level of excellence and performance. Who do you associate with and why do you associate with them? Coaching and mentoring professions are growing rapidly because we are identifying with people who practice positive behaviors that can help us reach our life goals. You can apply them to any aspect of your life. I use them with my coaching clients and now, I’ve found the magic of applying them to myself as I weed out the worries and cares I have no control over. It’s a lifelong practice, but if I eliminate worrying about the things I can’t control, I should have plenty of time.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I hung the phone up and smiled that smug little smile I have when I believe I am superior, not just to those around me, but to the entire universe. A friend had issued a challenge. He asked me to go an entire day, twenty four hours, without complaining about anything. I couldn’t whine about how hot it was outside, the neighbor’s dog, co-workers, children or friends…… Just go twenty four hours without complaining about anything. Turn all those negatives into positive possibilities!!! No problem, not for an amazing guy like me!!!I had some errands to run. I told Joan how wonderful she looked today, how great supper was last night and bounded out the door. “Gosh, I’m on fire!!! There is no stopping me now.”
I unlocked the car and saw the seat had been pulled forward. Our son Tim had used the car and he likes to sit up further than I do. I pushed the little lever to move it back and muttered something to the effect of “You think the little so and so could have put things back the way they were. I got stuff to do!!!” The little voice, which I abhor at moments like this, said “Let’s see, you lasted all of what, three minutes?” (I hate that little voice.) “That one didn’t count. I wasn’t ready.” I started the engine and moved away from the curb only to travel about twenty five yards to a stop sign. In front of me was an elderly neighbor who was taking her time before proceeding through the intersection. You can only imagine what went through my mind.
As the day unraveled I found myself complaining about things I had no control over. It was way too hot for my taste, traffic lights took too long to change from red to green, and why did people with more than twenty items in their basket get into the express lane at the grocery? I worry and complain about the things I couldn’t possibly change so I don’t have to focus on the things I do have control over. Life doesn’t mirror self-help books or fairy tales. We don’t turn on a dime when it comes to modifying behavior. Usually I read a pearl of wisdom only to file it under “The World Needs This Not Me.” I’m the coach. I’m the expert!!!
You have to start someplace and the thought struck me that right around the next corner is a person whose day may be affected by my attitude. I can greet them with hope and possibilities or I can be the proverbial downer. We all carry baggage around and sometimes we forget about a piece or two that affects our demeanor and interaction with other people. My complaints with another person have nothing to do with them. It easy to take those monkeys off of my back and put them on yours!!!
I have to start someplace, so I’ll begin with ten minute increments. I have found that when I focus really hard on solving issues rather than complaining about them the load I carry seems lighter and I appear to smile more often. Least that’s what I’m told
Namaste my friends.
Monday, June 25, 2012
We spent the weekend helping our son and daughter-in-law prepare their new home; scrubbing walls and appliances, landscaping and a bit of painting. When we left yesterday afternoon it was all starting to come together. But our tale this morning concerns the notion of karma and how it occurred rather vividly Saturday afternoon. Now, you may call it other names, it is the notion that how you behave returns to you either in a positive or negative manner. I try really hard to make sure it comes back to me positively.
My daughter-in-law asked me to run to Subway to pick up lunch. She handed me her credit card and a list. This is where it starts to get interesting. Her dad, who can charitably be described as over bearing and irritating, decided he was coming with me and that he was driving.
We walked into Subway with some specific instructions: Get five foot long turkey subs on whole wheat, one foot long ham on whole wheat. Have them put the cheese and veggies on the side so people could dress their own sandwiches. I’m not sure what we walked out with because her dad decided we could do all this much cheaper. As I told Joan later, the only choice I had was to stand there mute while he took over unless I called him a few select names in a store full of people. I carried the bags to his car and went to sit the tray of veggies on the back seat. His Bible was lying there. Some folks don’t want you touching their Bible unless they know about it. I am not sure if they think some sort of evil is going to seep through the pages but I always ask before I touch someone else’s Bible. So I told him I was moving it so the tray wouldn’t spill.
When I got in the car he turned to me and said “I’m surprised YOU people know what a Bible is.”( I’ve always wondered who YOU people are but when our kids started getting married Joan pulled me aside and told me it was imperative I behaved at all times when we were around in-laws. I try really hard to listen to Joan all the time. )
I looked at him and smiled, “Yeah I know what a Bible is.”
‘Well it only took you people three hundred years to catch up, didn’t it?”
If this conversation hadn’t been so inane I’d have been offended. I am Roman Catholic by birth but my belief system is……. Well we could blog about that for a year, lol. I just sat back in the seat and kept telling myself we only had a five minute car ride home.
We started to leave the parking lot when a person coming into the parking lot proceeded to hit us head on. If we hadn’t been at a stop sign it could have been worse. The man who hit us was elderly and said he didn’t see us. I was shook up a bit, still a little sore but no worse for the wear. Her dad? He was okay too but his brand new car looked like an accordion on the front end. As I stood there the thought ran through my head “Karma can indeed be a b***h.”
Later that evening Joan said that if the bad karma was meant for him, why I was involved. I grinned at her and said:
“You are who you hang around with!!!”
A cautionary tale my friends, LOL.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Yesterday was the first Father’s Day I’d celebrated without my dad. He left us a little over three months ago and just about the time I was eking out a bit of a normal routine it dawned on me I was facing another hurdle in learning to live without him. We were separated by four hundred miles of geography but we talked on the phone once or twice a week. Our discussions centered on sports; mostly golf, baseball and football. While his body failed him over the past few years his mind remained sharp and focused. He listened to television and while our opinions weren’t always the same it made for good discussion. Any time something unique or quirky happened in the world of sports I could always pick up the phone and get my dad’s take on the situation. That defined our relationship. A child of the Depression he wasn’t much into sharing emotions and thoughts. He always had some good advice for me hidden in the news of the day.
Yesterday as I sat down to watch the U.S. Open Golf Tournament I felt this void inside of me. It’s always on Father’s Day and I would always call him at least three times during the course of the day. Before he lost his vision he was an avid golfer and could always draw some parallel to “now and then.” Two of my sons were with me and we talked and chided each other on who would win and stuff like that but I had this feeling inside of me, as if someone left the back door open on a cold winter day and a wind was blowing through my soul. I went to bed last night and stared at the ceiling, shedding more than one tear. Somewhere in the midst of my sorrow a glimpse of reason appeared. Like most events in life that challenge us this was just another hurdle. It wouldn’t be the first and I’m quite sure it wont be the last. In laypersons terms it sucked. It wasn’t how I planned to spend this day but I lay there last night with a choice. I could drown in my sorrow or I could accept it for what it was, acknowledge the loss and move on. The longer I laid there the more I began to draw comparisons to my health journey. Don’t you and I face a series of hurdles each and every day? Don’t some of those hurdles present us with facing some realities in our lives we might normally brush away? Hurdles, challenges, call them what you will, they present us with a choice on how we approach our lives. We can sit in our own swill and point the finger of blame at everyone else or we can sigh, put a band aid on our wounds and move forward.
There is no magic here, just often the dreary resignation to putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. I will grieve my father for some time and I will have really bad days. They are part of the race we all run. I did walk away with the knowledge that I can control how these hurdles affect me. I’d like to tell you I feel a lot better after writing this but I don’t. There is still a dull ache that will subside in time I’m told.
Every day of my existence is full of hurdles and choices. What to eat, whether I walk or go to the gym, how much rest I get, etc. It’s up to me, and you, to jump those hurdles and take some measure of satisfaction that we survived yet another day. I realize this isn’t my usual cheery “go get em’ guys,” sort of post. But life is like that, full of twists and turns and the knowledge that you and I and so many others aren’t alone.
Take consolation in that feeling. I do.
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