Monthly Archives: December 2007

Don't Look Back

I was so in the present moment the past was no longer part of me. – Laurel Hoodwrit

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment.  And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new.  Right now. – Author Unknown

Many people constantly look back at their past and think or fret about “mistakes” they have made. If you have done this, I’m sure you have not felt very good. Most of us don’t enjoy looking at bad decisions we have made. We constantly think after the fact about how we could have done better.

At this time of year, more people reflect back over the negative events of the previous year before looking ahead to the future. My advice is too not look back at all. Don’t look back last year and don’t look back at any prior years.

All of the so called bad decisions, mistakes, mishandlings and etc. have created who you are in this very moment in time. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The reason we don’t need to nor should we review the past is simple. At any moment in time, in other words right now, we can choose to go in another direction or be something else. We always and I can’t stress this enough, always have the power to change what we are thinking right now. No one can take that away. Only us. Once we change what we are thinking then we can change who we are and where we are going.

So as this year winds down, take the time to concentrate on how you are feeling in this very moment. Ask yourself, “How can I feel a little bit better? Can I change or tweak my thoughts to get just a little bit more satisfaction?” Don’t look back and judge all of your decisions. They really are irrelevant. Focus on the now, the present moment, while keeping an eye towards where you want to go.

You can change your life now. You can’t change the past. So don’t focus on it.

Have a great day and a coming New Year!

Michael

Day Of Relaxation or Not

We arrived back in Rhode Island very early this morning (i.e. after midnight). Something about flying is exhausting. So, I only got a little over six hours of sleep before getting up to start a variety of tasks that I wanted to complete today.

It became very obvious, very quickly that I was not working at an efficient rate today. Mentally and physically I was slow. But, I plodded on, attempting to get my to-do list completed. Why was I continuing when it was blatantly clear that I should be doing something else, like relaxing or resting? The answer was guilt.

I was feeling guilty about not completely these tasks. Were these actions so important that they all had to be completed today? Not really, but in my mind all of them needed to be done now. So, I continued to slowly work through my to-do list with a sense of guilt as I didn’t really understand until late in the evening that I had been feeling guilty.

Moral of the story

  1. If you are feeling tired, determine if it is physical or emotional.
  2. If you are physically tired, how about just resting and relaxing for the day or even half a day?
  3. If you are tired due to emotions, start questioning yourself. Am I doing something I don’t really want to do? Is there an issue I might not be facing consciously? Is there a friend I could talk to about my feelings? Try to figure out what is draining your energy.
  4. Watch a light hearted movie.
  5. Take it easy and pamper yourself. It’s okay to do that.

I’ll be following my own advice next time. :-)
Michael

Magazine Street

Erica and I traveled to New Orleans this morning to spend a little time there before our flight back to Rhode Island. Since I grew up in Louisiana and had visited New Orleans many times, I was anxious to see how things were 2 ½ years after Hurricane Katrina.

My initial impression or vibe as we drove down S. Carrollton Ave. towards Magazine Street was one of less vitality and energy. I had spent many weeks over the years in the uptown section of New Orleans around Audubon Park. There just seemed to be less happening than I remember. There were many buildings still boarded up while others seemed to have recently opened up for business. I was happy to see The Camellia Grill open again.

We finally reached Magazine Street and saw new businesses and some vitality returning. After finding a parking spot we walked up and down the street browsing in the many antique and retail shops. The people were quite friendly. We ate lunch at Byblos, a Mediterranean restaurant.

What struck me after our several hour tour of this area of New Orleans was a similarity between this disaster and the devastation and subsequent return of life after the Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington. In 1996, I visited the devastated area caused by the volcanic explosion. Scientists and I believe everyone who visits here, are surprised by how life is returning to an area that initially seemed completely and utterly destroyed. Biology textbooks are being re-written based on the knowledge we have gained from St. Helens over the last 20 years.

I saw something similar on Magazine Street. I found pockets of vitality and life returning. I found extremely nice people. New and old retail shops have opened. Hope is returning. The rich culture is re-emerging. All of this is happening due to the tremendous persistence and hard work of caring people. Where the government utterly failed, people were the key and the reason New Orleans is coming back.

As I drove to the airport, it was a refreshing feeling to see vitality returning. I’m always amazed at the resilience of people. It gives me hope for the future.

Michael

Coming Off the Holiday High

Erica and I have been in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my family for a week now. My sister and her family left today. One aunt and uncle left on Tuesday. Another holiday season is winding down.

This time of year always seems to go by really fast. A lot of preparation goes into the few days we spend together. The anticipation builds for several weeks prior to seeing everyone. And then, all of a sudden we’re all together and then it’s over. It can feel very surreal at times.

I do enjoy catching up and reconnecting with all my family as I only get to see everybody once or twice a year. We have a special group and there is never a moment where any of us feel alone. Everyone helps when needed; no exceptions. It’s a rare gift and one of the things I’m thankful for.

We travel back to the Northeast tomorrow after a brief visit to New Orleans in the morning. I’m already feeling the shift back to a somewhat normal routine, though I don’t let that go for long anymore these days. :)

One thing I’ve noticed about coming down off the holiday high is that I don’t have withdrawal symptoms. I had fun. I shared special moments with my family. My cup is filled and that’s a good thing.

Hope you had a good day!

Michael

Being Thankful

During this time of the year, I like to reflect on all of the things I’m thankful for. Instead of listing the things I’m thankful for on my post today, I would rather talk about the importance of this exercise and practicing it regularly.

I firmly believe that no matter what situation you are in; poor, hungry, wealthy, happy, sad, depressed, joyous, out of work, have a great job, barely getting by or have the ability to purchase anything, we can always think of something we don’t like about our lives. In fact, it seems easier than thinking of positive things. I’m not sure why, except that we are taught at an early age, mostly by example, to complain, be envious, and look at the negative side of our situation. We are told many times by all of our family and friends how we can’t do something or can’t be a certain way.

I also believe that in all situations, and I do mean all, that there is always something to be thankful for. It may be small compared to some, but don’t compare. The important thing is to find what you are thankful for in your own life. Everything you are thankful for is important. The more you focus on those positive views, the more you will open your eyes to other things you are thankful for that may have been hidden because of your negative conditioning.

Start small. Find something to be thankful for. Write it down or tell someone close. Once you find the first one, continue to do this on a regular basis. I suggest doing this exercise every morning in the mirror while in the bathroom and also make this the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night.

Regular practice will definitely increase the amount of things you can be thankful for, increase your happiness, stabilize your mood and probably a number of other effects personal to yourself.

Have a great day!

Michael

Gumbo Traditions

Another tradition of our family during the Christmas holiday is making gumbo. This has been my charge for many years now. I take what’s left over from the turkey carcass on Christmas and make a turkey gumbo. The recipe I use comes from a 5-star restaurant in New Orleans.

The recipe is not difficult but it is involved and usually takes me over 6 – 8 hours every time. I don’t think it’s because I’m slow and/or methodical. :)

I really love and completely enjoy making this dish. I like all of the preparation from picking the ingredients to cutting and prepping them before throwing into the large pot. I’ve you never tried gumbo, I highly recommend it. It is a staple down in Cajun country (southern Louisiana).

My gumbos are usually thicker than a soup and thinner than a stew. The key ingredient is the roux (one part flour and one part oil) and pronounced rue. I make a medium dark chocolate brown colored roux for this gumbo. There are many flavors that make a gumbo. I love the richness and complex blend of aromas.

I believe that one of the reasons my gumbo or other food I prepare comes out good is that I really enjoy making the recipes. If you love what you are doing, it translates to a positive experience for everyone involved. Food is no exception.

The other part I love about our holiday gumbo tradition is that is usually the last big meal we all have together before everyone starts to travel back home. It’s a lot of fun to share laughter over good food. Maybe I won’t wait another year to make gumbo.

Happy Boxing Day in the U.K. and Canada!

Michael

Happy Holidays

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday.

My day was full of:

Great food.

Nephews, nieces, sister, parents, grandmother, aunts, uncles and girlfriend.

Games, laughter, movies, laughter, star gazing, laughter, more games, laughter, more food, laughter and dessert.

I’m exhausted with a big smile on my face.

I send my daughter a big hug. She may not be here physically this time, but she is always in my heart.

Hope your day was fantastic!

Michael

Family Traditions

Christmas Eve is always a special time for my family. We come from all corners of the country for a few days of celebration, bonding, sharing and gift giving. For many years, we have typically met in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Multiple generations interact in a seemingly chaotic way, but we’re all accustomed to the craziness. :) Fourteen of us participated in tonight’s festivities, but it is usually around 23 – 25.

I really like our family traditions, especially this one. We open our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve night after a big dinner. The adults draw names and the kids get at least one present from each of the adults. It can take a little while to get through all of the gifts, but it is a lot of fun and everyone enjoys it. Christmas Day is usually a big dinner, lots of games, possibly a new movie and of course playing with the toys and gifts we received the day before plus whatever the kids got on Christmas morning.

Family traditions are great bonding events. They help pass down core family values, beliefs and create a special sense of belonging. Over time, our family group agrees to change certain aspects, which keeps the traditions growing and adapting. I always look forward to the times when our traditions occur.

I’m very thankful for my family, both immediate and extended.

I hope you and your family have as wonderful holiday as I’m having with mine.

Michael

3:00 A.M.

I was awakened this morning by a soft “Are you awake?” My body was saying no, but my mouth said yes. Erica was awake and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was important to give my support in her moment of insomnia.

She had fallen asleep around 8:30 p.m. and I had fallen asleep at 11:30 p.m. Given that, I would have expected myself to be quite tired and groggy. Surprisingly I was wide awake in moments. I think she was surprised also.

Normally, Erica watches television or reads a little to help her return to unconsciousness. But, tonight we were away from her house and staying at my parents. Her normal methods were not available. Knowing that, I chatted (quite coherently I might add) for over 30 minutes until she was sleepy again.

I enjoy these moments of intimate conversation. They are important for growth in relationships and help to increase the bonds of intimacy. Plus I was able to be the first to tell her Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Erica! I hope this day was as special as you.

Michael

Make Mistakes

Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come. – Og Mandino

Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it. – William Durant

Do you cringe when you make a mistake? Do you feel like the world is judging your every move? Do you feel like you have to be perfect all the time? Do you accept mistakes in others but not yourself? Do you still remember the mistakes you made years ago? Do you have trouble forgiving yourself?

Guess what? There isn’t one person on this planet that doesn’t make mistakes, regularly and consistently. It’s one of the ways we learn. It’s how we gain experience and wisdom. Its how we figure out what we truly desire and what we feel passionate about.

If you aren’t making mistakes then you’re not living, or growing or learning. If you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t taking risks. If you aren’t making mistakes then you’re not growing.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that “you can’t get it wrong.” It’s about being. It’s about doing. It’s about living. If you can learn to like and love yourself now, whoever and whatever you are, and then all of the mistakes you have made in the past are irrelevant.

In fact, I suggest that you go out and make some good mistakes. The lessons you’ll learn will be invaluable. As you learn those lessons, you’ll be guided to make more mistakes which will increase your experience even more. Some of your lessons will help others to make different mistakes than those you have made.

Michael