Monday, May 09, 2011
The last couple of weeks have not been my best. With my basement flooding three times and finding out that flood insurance is only good if you have to commute to and from your house by boat, my moods took a marked turn south. Things just seemed to get worse and worse. When I am stressed it has a tendency to settle in my lower back which makes me walk as if I was thirty years older than I really am. Itís not only painful but itís downright nerve wracking. It hasnít done much for my disposition either.
On my walk this morning I told myself feeling like this, all stressed and uptight, was getting really old. Thatís when it dawned on me that it all begins and ends in my mind. As long as I look at the world through soot colored glasses than I am going to attract all sorts of negative people and experiences to me. Itís like expanding the adage of ďYou are who you hang around with,Ē to ďYou are what you think you are.Ē It begins and ends in my mind. I asked myself to take a good look at me and see what I saw. (Say that ten times really fast!) What do I want to see? I ticked off a litany of things that most of the time I file under the category of ďhopes and dreams.Ē I saw things that would be nice.
ďIf ya canít see it John, how can ya feel it?Ē I said to myself. Really good point. I saw where I was at in many aspects of my life and I realized it I was exactly how I saw myself. Itís sort of like, ďWell what did you expect?Ē As I walked I started taking pieces of who I am and projecting what I wanted them to look like. Pretty soon I began to feel lighter, more peaceful and while that nagging pain in back didnít go away but it subsided. I saw a ray of hope.
As I bounced along, it struck me there was more. Once I had the image in my mind and felt how powerful it was I had to become it. Not when I reach my goal weight, run a 10K or cycle a century. I had to become that vision right now, oversized belly, sore back and all. I had to realize as the adage says, ďThe reason for all challenges is so that you can finally learn that none are larger than you.Ē I have to learn that when I believe I am healthy and whole I will be. When I believe my life is full of joy and blessings and amazingly wonderful people, it will be.
A long time ago an English teacher of mine often said ďIf itís going to be, itís up to me.Ē
When I see it I can believe it and when I believe it I can become it. Everything I do has to be in the present tense. Just ask any very happy person. I am not suggesting we hire the cast of a Broadway musical and go dancing down the streets of life under some false illusion. Life throws us curve balls. How we deal with them is determined by what we think, feel and believe.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Happiness is not elusive. Itís pretty straight forward. I think Iím the one who has had issues with happiness, not the other way around. Iíve had a hard time defining it. Itís as if Iíd walked into a store and asked for a piece of clothing that I could not define and then expected the clerk to rush to a rack and return to me with it, smiling all the while. I know Iíve wanted to be happy because everyone does. You listen to interviews of famous people and they gush from the other side of the coffee table, ďIím finally happy.Ē Sometimes, I think there is an expectation that itís to be delivered wrapped in a bow.
Happiness is very hard work. Donít let anyone fool you. You have to define it and you have to decide what you are willing to do in order to attain it. You have to prepare to suffer a bit as your perception of your world and everyone in it changes, for the better I might add. Happiness isnít like a train schedule. It doesnít have planned stops along the way so you and I can wait for it, hand over our eyes peering off into the wilderness and then signaling the brass band to start playing. It surprises you, like the oft forgotten cousin who shows up at your door step for an extended visit. You love them half to death; you just werenít ready for them.
Real happiness comes on its own terms, not mine. I cannot create conditions for it, define its parameters or hand it a list of exclusions. Like the ground water in my basement this past week it finds its own level and then challenges us to live there. Itís a long journey. Itís why so few of us reach it.
Most of us give up. We tell ourselves the battles not really worth all the effort. We tell ourselves we should be satisfied with what we have and there are people much worse off than we areÖÖÖÖ.. Yada, yada, yada. We turn our failures into excuses to sit quietly in the corner rather than as energy and focus to move forward and try once again. Itís all really the antithesis of happiness, isnít it?
I write this rambling preamble this morning because as I lie in bed reviewing what needed to be done today and in what order it needed to be completed in happiness snuck up behind me and grinned. I go through a bit of a ritual where I am grateful and thankful that both feet hit the ground again this morning. It was at that point it dawned on me that I am the happiest person I know. It has nothing to do with status, wealth or where I live. It has to do with how I feel. I expect to be happier because Iím not yet the happiest person in the world. I donít think that person exists as happiness is very subjective.
I am happy because of four things. I hang around with excellent people and have made the tough choices to let people go in my life who werenít the best influences. I have come to believe I am really worth the effort I put into myself and I deserve this new found happiness. Finally, I am what I believe I am.
Honestly, as I reviewed my blog this morning Iím not sure why I wrote it. Oh, I am lol. Someone out there needed to read this. A long time ago, in the throes of my despair, unhappiness and living with the feeling that I was all alone, my Creator, reached down and light a lamp that showed me a path towards this happy life I now live. Writing this blog will never, ever repay that, but itís a start. As the kindness and love was extended to me, so now I extend it to you.
Happiness isnít about goal s and objectives, itís about the challenge of allowing your heart to grow.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
I once told my children that if you didnít get out of bed until eight am the day was already half over. Joan would look at them through the steam of her coffee and let them know that while they should always respect their father, what I just said was a matter of opinion. I am out of bed and ready to go no later than six am. I have a to-do list and I am at my most effective for the remainder of the day when I can accomplish things early on. It gives me confidence. It makes me focused and I have a clear vision of my purpose. I track my food much better and I am more apt to exercise. Before I go to bed each evening I pretty much know the first five things I need to do when I get up in the morning. When I live this way, no one can stop me. I, you see, have a plan.
Joan, on the other hand, gets out of bed when she is done sleeping. Her first order of business is coffee followed by Matt Lauer. If she doesnít have to work in the morning she and Matt have multiple cups of coffee followed by the newspaper. A shower comes, when it comes, unless she has to work. We have a kitchen table that seats eight. The kids are grown and gone but it still seats eight. Joan and I eat on about a quarter of the table. The rest if it is piled with her ďstuff.Ē The only time she has ever threatened to leave me is if I mess with her ďstuff.Ē
We have two totally separate ways of approaching life and we both are very successful people. We have different ways of communicating and we are both extremely effective in getting our message across. There isnít anything either one of us wont tackle, we choose to wrap our arms around it a different way.
There is not only one way to do things. I could probably have put that a bit more eloquently but the simpler the better. There is no one way to lose weight and maintain a healthy life style. I am a flexetarian. Joan has never met a piece of beef she doesnít like. I exercise daily, she exercises three or four times a week. We are fortunate that we have learned two things over thirty seven years of marriage. The first is to respect each otherís views and choices and the second is not to get taken in by every fad and idea that comes around the corner.
It took me awhile to realize those things. I would always look at other people and how they did things and measure myself against their achievements. I always came up lacking. That was their life style it wasnít mine. The first thing I did was totally embrace John, warts and all. I realized that I wasnít hurting anyone getting out of bed at five am to start my day. I get seven hours sleep and I do fine with it.
Go your own way. Find the things that truly convince you that this journey is worth all the effort and above and beyond everything else ---------------- be the extremely unique you that you were created to be.
That is why I love you so very much. Now------------------ Go celebrate who you are.
Shoot, the dayís half over. I gotta go.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
The suns out, the basement has no water in it and the work has just begun. We were fortunate. We ended up with water about a third of the way up the baseboard in three rooms. Itís drained, it smelled and we are cleaning up. We are happy.
Apparently the rest of the world isnít, or at least my part of it. I went to K-Mart to buy a utility knife to cut out a bit more carpet and the lady in front of me at the register was complaining it was cold. She was happy the sun was out, that it wasnít raining but did it have to be so cold. Cold as she defined it is about 56F. There is a bit of a breeze. Trust me, Iíll take it over what we had the past two weeks. Apparently she wouldnít. It wasnít enough the sun was shining and the sky was that really pretty blue. It needed to be warmer. She went on and on.
My friend Archie is 86. Every morning he gets up at 3:00 AM and mops the floors, dusts the counters, and folds towels at our local YMCA. He told me one morning that ďAny day above ground is a good day.Ē
I wished it hadnít rained, but it did. I wish it wasnít cold but is. I wish my basement was the way it was two weeks ago but it isnít. Og Mandino wrote a book called The Greatest Miracle in the World. That miracle is you and I. That miracle is our innate ability as human beings to rise above, to persevere, and to ultimately triumph. It starts with how we feel. My feel hit the ground today. I have all my faculties and now Iím going back to work in a warm house that has electricity and people who love me.
Howís about you?
Monday, May 02, 2011
Thereís a part of my life I always look back at with fascination. I was twenty two and given the responsibility of supervising sixty five people. It took me a few months but I realized why they hired ten people at a time. A year later only three of us were left standing. Thirty seven years later Iíd like to tell you it was because of my agile mind and superior intelligence. I survived because of something a boss told me during my first week as a supervisor.
ďTake care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.Ē
I embraced it, I lived by it and then having become a success I forgot about it!!! It came home to me this week as we cleaned up our basement after it flooded twice in three days. As we sorted through what we could keep and what needed to be tossed Joan and I had more than few conversations that started with ďYou know if we hadÖ..Ē Most of those conversations turned into ďWhat we are going to need to do in the future is ÖĒ The little things. The very small, day to day things we donít give a second thought to are the things that become our salvation when a crisis hits. When the little things in my life are mostly in order Iím ready to handle the big stuff. I can clear my schedule, pool my resources and deal with the situation. The big things, as my boss said, take care of themselves.
The big thing for me is the scale. No matter how good I feel I approach it with trepidation. I donít recall the veggie at every meal as I stand on it with eyes closed waiting for results; I recall the bite of cake I took off my granddaughterís plate. The little things are what get me there. The little things are making sure I log ALL my food and realize a calorie isnít always a calorie! The little things are following my exercise plan and oh yeah making sure I take a day off once per week. The little things are creating that balance between diet and exercise and getting enough rest during my day to make sure my body functions well. Yes, there are variables. There is water retention, weather, and lack of sleepÖÖ.. I could go on and on. When I monitor the small things in my life, Iím ready for whatever comes next.
The little things require an investment. It may be time, it may be money. I donít have a lot of trouble dropping twenty bucks on a large pizza and garlic bread or eating at Olive Garden but I get all worked up over spending the same amount of money on an exercise video. The little things are really dull and boring most days. There is no magic in the little things. They are often like a six month old child, screaming, whining and fussing until we pay attention to them.
I am always looking for the eternal placebo, the quick fix, the magic bullet that will turn me sleek and svelte. It does not exist. What remains is my ability to manage myself, my health and the day to day things that make John a successful and mostly healthy human being.
The little things are the things that get me there so that when that fifteen foot walk from the bedroom to the bathroom happens once a week, Iím ready for it.
ďTake care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.Ē Thank you Ray.
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