Blog Post # 38 – The Next Right Thing

From time to time, we get stuck.

Stuck when it comes to exercise.  Or food choices.  Or at work.

We dig in our heels and deny ourselves the making of a change.

We tell ourselves that this is just how things are.

That we can’t get past this.

Stuck-ness can be more subtle too.

Many times, it takes a few days or even weeks to realize we are stuck.

When stuck, the sheer scope of what we have to change may be overwhelming.

And this, of course, only makes us more stuck.

Simply being aware of our stuck-ness is the first step in taking action.

When we do become aware that we are stuck in some aspect of our life, the trick is to just do the next right thing.

Begin.

Reach.

Stretch.

A tiny step in a journey towards change.

We may not know exactly where we are headed, but we can often tell what the next right thing to do is.

Taking that first step in the general direction of where we want to end up provides a slight crack in our resistance.

And that crack may be very slight indeed.

But it offers us a momentary change in outlook, fleeting space to maneuver.

We must get our mind around the idea of change before we can actually change.

So first we become open to change, then we take our first step towards change and then we build – little by little – on the change that we have already made.

This is how we string together a series of “next right things” into a real change.

This is how we get unstuck.

This is how we become free.

Blog Post # 37 – Preemptive Living

Preemptive living.

Getting things ready today so that we increase the chances of a successful tomorrow.

Filling the gas tank so we aren’t stressed out the following morning looking for a gas station when the needle points to E.

Preparing three dinners on Sunday so that everyone has something healthy to eat before the school concert on Wednesday.

Emptying the dishwasher before going to bed so as to eliminate one task for the following morning.

Setting out our clothes for the following day before going to bed.

They say that the best defense is a strong offense.

We need to lean in to tomorrow.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring.

But if we can minimize potential stressors in the days to come, we maximize our chances for having a good day.

This is not about trying to control outcomes, but rather an attempt to reduce variables and keep our mind clear for the things that are actually important.

For if we use a bit of the present to make our future a bit easier, it allows us to be truly present when that future comes.

 

Blog Post # 36 – Awake My Soul

At the appointed hour, you took the stage.

You and your friends, with your beautiful instruments.

You shared with us.

The lyrics you crafted, the notes you arranged.

For a few hours, you took us on a journey.

A journey not based on intellect or logic.

But rather a transcendent place that your music inspired.

Amazing music, freeing music.

Music that inspires in a way that rational thought cannot.

Visceral connectedness through melodies and poetry.

Thank you for sharing your art, Marcus Mumford and the rest of the band.

Your music did what it was supposed to do.

It helped me awake my soul.

 

Blog Post # 35 – The Hardest Thing

You have overcome a lot.

Small challenges.

Personal defects.

A handicap, loss of loved ones, abuse.

They have not finished you off.

Not yet, anyway.

Think through your memories.

One obstacle stands out.

Literally, the hardest thing that you have ever had to overcome.

You lived.

You survived.

You persevered and overcame.

That horrible event may have knocked you off your game.

For a while.

But you lived through it.

You are still here.

Use that success, that victory.

To fuel you today.

You won. It lost.

Act like it.

Because today is going to be a great day.

Certainly hundreds of times better than the day that it happened.

Stand tall, glide through today and win.

Again.

Blog Post # 34 – Open Loops

Keeping track of the myriad of things that need to get done can be a challenge.

Life in 2016 is hectic and complicated.

So much to remember.

“Did I RSVP for that birthday party?”

“What was that last item that my spouse wanted me to get at the grocery store?”

“Where did I park my car?”

It is almost too much.

We try “to-do” lists, tickler systems, calendaring.  And they do help manage tasks – to varying degrees.

But sometimes things can still fall through the cracks.

This week, I began reading the updated version of Getting Things Done by David Allen.  A friend gave me the paperback version and I borrowed the audio CD at the library.

I read the original GTD around the time that I started the law firm.

In the book, David discusses “open loops.”  

Open loops are unfinished tasks, things that nag at us – basically, our mind remembering the things that we have not gotten done already.

And our mind doesn’t always remember at the right time.  We remember that we need a new light bulb for the kitchen as we lay down to bed, not when we drive by the hardware store.

David believes these open loops take up a lot of our brain’s processing power and I think he’s right.  David encourages us to develop an airtight system of getting these unfinished, nagging tasks out of our brain and into a format that we won’t lose or misplace them.

I have started tinkering with it and it has been helpful so far.  I will keep you posted.

Blog Post # 33 – The Spot

That’s the spot.

Over there in the corner.

Where the fear lies.

Where things hurt.

The dark spot that involves real risk.

Taking a chance.

Facing what must be faced.

In order to move on, that’s where you need to go.

We are here for you.

We’ve got your back.

The people that love you.

Who want you to win.

To see you fly.

We are here.

Whenever you are ready.

Let’s roll.

Blog Post # 32 – Opening Day

Every year, a new baseball season begins.

Grizzled veterans and hopeful rookies converge on Florida and Arizona to begin the process of preparing for the 162-game season. After 6 weeks of drills, scrimmages and spring training games, the teams head to the major league parks for Opening Day.

At that point, all the teams are tied. A clean slate for all 30 teams.

Hope springs eternal for each of the franchises – both the ones who played for the championship last year and those who haven’t been to the World Series in decades.

This is the beauty of baseball.

The rhythm and flow to it. The cycles and seasons. The fresh start.

And across the country, boys and girls begin their own baseball and softball seasons. The fields are prepared, the players hit the batting cages and the volunteer coaches run the drills.

Just like in baseball, our lives have cycles, seasons.

Periods of dormancy and periods of activity.

Practice, training, incremental improvements.

Strikeouts (a fail), singles & doubles (small victories) and even a walk-off homer from time-to-time.

The highs of playing in our own championship, the lows of our defeats.

But unlike baseball, we can have a fresh start any time of the year.

We can make today our Opening Day.

Let’s play two!

Blog Post # 31 – Every Thing Matters

Every kiss matters.

Every breath matters.

Every minute we spend alive matters.

Every act, every decision, every goal matters.

Our society keeps us distracted.

Convinced striving doesn’t amount to much.

Am I going to make the most of today’s moments?

Today’s hugs.

Today’s whispers.

Today’s clues.

The splendor of life awakening every morning.

The way the stars fill the air on a clear, crisp night.

We decide every day where to put our focus.

Let’s remember today that it all matters.

We all matter.

Blog Post # 30 – Eyes on the Horizon

Some times, our eyes are up in the sky.

Dreaming of our big future.

Looking past the clouds.

Thinking of blue skies, sunny days and crisp, clear nights.

Where are we headed?

How will we get there?

Dreaming big dreams.

Other times, our eyes are on the ground.

Trudging along.

Focused on the dirt.

Turning back to see where we’ve been.

Downtrodden, denied, dejected.

Someone or something nagging at our consciousness.

Thinking small, fearing failure.

At our best, however, we have our eyes on the horizon.

Aware of the work that needs to be done here on the ground.

But also aware of the blue skies in the distance.

A gentle match of earth and sky.

Not too down, not too up.

Balance, harmony, peace.

Seeking, striving and striding towards that place in the not too distant future.

We may not ever reach the horizon.

But it invites us forward nonetheless.

Blog Post # 29 – For the Sake of Art

All across the world today, someone is creating art.

A painting.

A mosaic.

A new jazz piece.

The artist creates because she has to.

Not because she feels like it.

Not because she has nothing else to do.

Because she has to.

Artists create art for the sake of art itself.

We each have the power to make beautiful art.

In every aspect of our life.

A few exercise that power, most do not.

Sharing our art with the rest of the world is a risk.

What if the world hates it?

What if the world laughs?

Certainly a risk, no doubt.

But the bigger risk is denying our art to those who need it.

Hiding the beauty that we can create.

For if our art connects with just one other human being,

It is so, so worth the effort.