Monthly Archives: December 2008

Year End Review of 2008

As I look back over 2008, I see a year filled with exciting travel, tremendous personal changes, lots of photographic opportunities, meeting new people and a career change/ending.

Some things I expected, others were a bit of a surprise. But I embraced all of them, because they are part of my life. I want to experience the richness and diversity that living on planet Earth can bring. I don’t want to miss one thing that is coming my way. I think I did fairly well in that category.

Writing this blog every day was at times very easy while other days were quite a struggle. I didn’t like everything I wrote and I definitely thought some of the posts were really good. But, the point was about being consistent; good days and bad days, lots to say, days that felt like a verbal desert, struggles, happy moments and thoughtful times.

It was a great year overall and I look forward to what 2009 will bring. Each year seems to be better than the last.

Excellent!

Have a Happy New Year’s Eve.

Michael

Adapting

The ability to adapt is everything! – Denis Waitley

I believe adapting is more about attitude than skill, though, of course, continually practicing the art of adapting is very important. When our minds are in the “right” place we are able to quickly maneuver through life’s situations, our minds are more active creatively and solutions seem to present themselves quickly.

By learning to adapt to changing situations, we are able to continue moving forward; i.e. growing emotionally and mentally. Contrarily, when we don’t adapt, our lives stagnate and our level of happiness drops.

Life is in constant motion. Nothing ever stays exactly the same. Most of that is due to the fact that our desires and needs are constantly changing also. That’s why life is compared to a flowing river so many much; constantly moving, every changing, never quite the same, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. As the river flows, obstacles appear. If we learn to adapt we can sometimes avoid the obstacle all together. While other times, we are able to shorten the length of time that and obstacle affects our lives.

You can learn to adapt by:

  1. Keeping an open mind.
  2. Practicing being as happy as possible in every moment.
  3. Learning to not take things personally.
  4. Remembering that life is in constant motion.
  5. Learning to “go with the flow.”
  6. Remembering that you can’t really get it wrong and you don’t really make mistakes.
  7. Remembering that we can change directions at any moment.
  8. Remembering that we are more in control than we might believe.
  9. Remembering that the present moment is where we have all the “power.” The past is done and the future hasn’t happened yet.
  10. Doing things that make you happy.

Have a great day!

Michael

Avoiding Problems

Avoiding a problem doesn’t solve it. – Bonnie Jean Thornley

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. – Theodore Rubin

Life sometimes brings us challenges. Many times we call them problems. A lot of us think having a problem is a bad thing. Something that should be shunned, repressed and hidden from others. We think our problems make us an embarrassment and a failure.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Not one person on this planet is without challenges or problems. Not one. Our problems are different than the next person’s but they are still our problems.

Problems are really an indication that you need to look at something more consciously. It’s time to stop running, avoiding, repressing or whatever technique you have used to ignore the clear message coming your way. If you are feeling negative emotion about something, it’s an indicator that you need to look at what and how you are thinking. Because whatever those thoughts are, they are in conflict with your true nature. Hence the bad feelings you are experiencing.

Many times you can start to “tweak” your thoughts to feel slightly better. This technique can work on many occasions. Other times, you may need a jumpstart which could require some professional help. Take whatever step is necessary to get some help.

Whether or not you believe it now, the fact is that you deserve better and are worth more. Life is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be a struggle. Yes, it’s true. I know because I’ve tried both ways.

Make a New Year’s promise to yourself to either start working on feeling better in every moment or get some help if it is too overwhelming. Either way, you will be on your way to a better feeling life. That’s really what it is all about.

Michael

A Travel Story and a Day of Rest

I was quite sick last night. It seemed to get worse as the evening progressed, but I worked diligently and packed for my flight home today. This morning while I was driving to the New Orleans airport, I couldn’t remember packing numerous items, so I realized how “out of it” I must have been.

So, I arrive at the airport, drop off my rental car and take the shuttle to the terminal. I walk up to the ticket agent who proceeds to start processing my boarding pass. “Hmmmm, I can’t find your flight” he says. I gave him my itinerary. He looked at it and said, “Your flight is not until tomorrow.”

“Whattttttt!!!!”, I exclaimed.

Sure enough, my flight was for Monday. So, you must be thinking that my head cold is affecting more than my sinuses. But, when I called the airline on Friday to change my ticket, the agent clearly stated to me that there were almost no available flights for Monday, but she could easily get me on a flight for Sunday. I was disappointed and asked her to look again for a Monday departure. She scanned and found only a handful of seats left. They were all over $800. I told her to just book the Sunday flight.

Obviously, I was quite surprised this morning and had to call my parents to come pick me up from the airport so I wouldn’t have to rent a car for another day. I called Erica and she told me that when she was getting her boarding pass yesterday, the exact same scenario I have described here had happened to a gentlemen standing in line. He also had been told he couldn’t get a flight on a certain day and then they booked him on that day anyway but told him it was for the day before. He argued with the ticket agent for 20 minutes about this. So, I felt a little better after hearing that. :-)

It was clear to me that I needed some more rest before flying. That’s what I did. I read, napped, read, ate, drank liquids and rested in a prone position as much as possible. I’m feeling better tonight and I think I’ll be better able to fly tomorrow.

Michael

Meditating While Feeling Sick

I have not been feeling very well the past two days dealing basic cold symptoms; sore throat, stopped up head, runny nose, slight cough. Nothing major, but I’ve been feeling really run down.

I made a decision to continue to meditate twice a day even though I was feeling yucky. It was surprisingly easy to get into a meditative state though I was having a difficult time breathing through my nose.

While meditating and for a period of time afterwards, I felt my energy increase and my physical body relax a little bit from the cold symptoms. That felt good.

It’s been a good lesson for me. There are really no excuses for not taking 15 minutes to meditate; sick or not. In fact, I am doing myself a favor by continuing the practice no matter what state my physical body is in.

That’s my lesson for the day. I believe that a good night’s rest will do wonders for me now.

Have a great day!

Michael

Getting Grandmother Connected

My sister had a great Christmas present idea for our grandmother who is 93 1/2 years old. Presto makes a device that allows people who don’t have a computer to receive emails, photos and etc. through a special printer that connects through a regular phone line.

We went over to my grandmother’s apartment tonight and set up the device and connected it to the phone line. Within 30 minutes the setup had been configured and my grandmother received her first two printouts. One was from me and it was a simple photo of my daughter eating oatmeal today. The other was a written email with a photo of my sister’s family.

Wow! Our grandmother was overwhelmed (in a good way), felt joy at getting some photos and then shed some tears because she understands how she will be more connected now to the entire family.

You know, we all have the same desire and that’s to know that someone, somewhere is thinking about us and cares. Our family is spread all over the country which makes it hard to get together all at once. So, now, my grandmother’s world just expanded exponentially and she can more easily stay connected to the rest of the family who takes technology for granted.

It was a wonderful evening. :-)

Thanks sis for the great idea!

Michael

Musicians

Elivis Costello hosts a new show on the Sundance Channel called Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…. Each episode features another musician (Elton John, Lou Reed, James Taylor), with whom Costello performs and discusses that musician’s musical tastes and process.

I’ve just watched the James Taylor episode. I loved James Taylor starting in high school, when a friend of mine introduced me to his music. Every quality that I loved is on display in this televised hour: thoughtfulness, humor, insight, confession, and musicianship.

The show is great fun to watch because Costello, a talented musician with extremely varied musical taste, happily focuses on his guest’s likes and dislikes and shares his admiration with the studio audience.

It’s always a treat for me to listen to successful artists discuss how they create and, in this case, how they perform. Taylor talks about the profound shock of being a singer-songwriter emerging from the introspection of writing into the spotlight of a pop star’s fame. It is what you work for, he says, and then when it gets there, you realize that the product is not so much the music as the self, and you can get a little lost. He says, specifically, “Hang onto your hat.”

He also says that he understands the cult of celebrity as an effort by ordinary people to use celebrities to represent them in the wider world. Fascinating.

Tonight, the intimacy of the music and the connection between the two aging musicians represented for me both my aspirations as an artist (which I have to admit may come to nothing) and my thirst for collaborators.

Watch the show if you are a music lover of a certain age.

Having Fun

The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. – G K Chesterton

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. – Katherine Hepburn

It is a happy talent to know how to play. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our family had some fun today!!!! The kids opened a few more presents this morning. We all worked hard to prepare the traditional Christmas lunch/dinner. We played a few games, mainly Rockband 2 for the Wii. The movie, Yes Man, was our pick for a holiday movie. It was light, fun and nothing too heavy.

After a small dinner we started a tournament with the Wii. There were eight of us and six competitions; 1 from Rockband 2 and the rest from Wii Fit. The competition was fun but the main point was to do something together. We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like over the year, so we make sure we do a lot at Christmas time.

Lots of laughter, fun, more laughter, conversation, more laughter, competing in the events, more laughter. Did I mention that we laughed a lot?

We played. It’s that simple. No worries. No drama. No work. Just play. Adults don’t play enough. We need to re-learn that lesson from our children. It’s so important to psychological health. It’s vital for our growth and mental stability to just let go and be silly sometimes. No one will care.

Break out of your routine. Stop following your rules and routines for short periods of time. It will keep you fresh, happier, open and most importantly, increase your periods of fun. You’ll start living more and therefore have more to give others.

Why not start right now?

Michael

Merry Christmas

There is probably a word for what I experienced last night. It is similar to an epiphany, the word that James Joyce revived to describe a transformational moment, in which you suddenly experience a profound insight about yourself and your life. It can hit you unexpectedly and without warning.

Last night, after my wife cooked a delicious dinner for a small group at her parents’ house, we came home to wrap presents. The three of us each took a room, Nina in her bedroom, Sarah in her study, and I in the living room with the Christmas tree. I turned on a CD of Diana Krall singing Christmas carols, plugged in the lights on the tree, and sat on the floor to wrap stocking gifts.

When I had finished wrapping, I put away the paper, ribbons, and tape in the attic and returned to the living room to sit in a chair and listen to the music. We live on a quiet street without street lights, and the neighbors at the back were away, so outside was silent except for the steady rain.

I sat right in front of the tree and gazed from one ornament to another, lingering mostly on the hand-painted, ceramic figures that my stepdaughter’s great-grandmother sent to her, every year at Christmas, and also at the hand-made ornaments that Nina herself brought home from school as a small child.

Christmas tree ornaments have a special, evocative power over me. They appear every year for a week or two and recall other Christmas Eves and Christmas mornings, first in your own childhood and then in your children’s. They are celebratory and colorful, and the best of them are simple. These favorites of mine are tiny reminders of our family’s joy and love.

The word I am looking for describes a brief, personal experience that allows you a sweet, simple appreciation that you are who you are, that there is nothing you would change.

You might call it a blessing.

Thinking About Family

Tonight was the night where we sat and opened presents from each other. I have always loved this tradition. There is a lot of laughter and many special moments. It’s fun to watch someone get what they were wanting and seeing the joy in their eyes.

I was thinking a lot about family tonight. We are all so unique but we share a very strong common bond. We all have our peculiarities, eccentricities and quirks but the focus is on the positive aspects of each other. Accepting someone means accepting everything about them, both positive and “negative”. The differences can be celebrated just as much as the similarities.

These lessons in unconditional love can easily translate to other things in our world. Instead of focusing on what we don’t like about someone or what we disagree with, why don’t we find what we do like instead? For example, maybe their political views are divergent from ours, but they have a great sense of humor and do a lot of charitable work. Or maybe someone has religious views that we don’t subscribe to, but they exhibit fantastic family values.

Look for the good things, the positive things and the things that make us happy in people. If we spent our time focused here instead of complaining, disagreeing or disregarding then the world would dramatically change. We can start right now making a difference by being just a little bit more tolerant.

Have a great day!

Michael