Monthly Archives: January 2009

Corner Cafe in Newport

Lately, Saturday mornings are reserved for Nat and I to write on our book. Every other Saturday we meet in Newport, RI and start our writing session off with a hardy breakfast at the Corner Cafe on Broadway St. I love breakfast better than any other meal. I could eat breakfast at dinner which I do many times. The service at the Corner Cafe is great. The food is wonderful. It’s a nice place to get your day off to a great start.

I’m glad we start our big writing sessions here, since I like breakfast so much. It really puts me in a good mood and I’m ready to write, brainstorm or do just about anything else.

For me, it’s also a treat. I think those are important to give yourself on a regular basis. It’s a small way to show appreciation for yourself. We tend to forget about ourselves in this regard. So, pick some things that you can do to give back to yourself. Do this on a regular basis. The short term effects will help you have a happier life. The long term effects will be staggering.

Have a great day!

Michael

Five and a Half Months

Babies don’t need a vacation but I still see them at the beach. I’ll go over to them and say, ‘What are you doing here, you’ve never worked a day in your life!’. – Stephen Wright

I can’t think of anything that excites a great sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. – Bill Bryson

Well, my 5 1/2 month vacation ends today. It’s been a fantastic time but I start a new consulting gig on Monday. I was able to travel to Yosemite, Mexico, Oregon, Northern California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York City and Chicago. I loved the travel. Those were great trips.

I also took time to recover from an 8 year long stressful job. I got back to my roots; enjoying things I haven’t had the time to do but had the desire. I hiked, took a lot more photographs, found geocaches, watched movies, slept in late, started back meditating and basically did what I wanted every day. I learned a lot. Even though I am started to work again, my plan is to not loose again those things that define me. When we let that happen, we don’t feel fulfilled. Life is a drudgery and not very fun. It’s been a good lesson for me and will probably become my new mantra.

I’m rested, feel great and ready for the next adventure.

Michael

Take Some Risks

If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything. – Win Borden

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. – William Shedd

We don’t need everything to be right to get a new thing going in our lives. Sometimes just taking a step in the direction we want to go is enough to get things going. Keeping that forward motion going is difficult because we have a tendency to over think things, fear of the unknown pops up and we have become comfortable where we sit in our lives.

Taking risks can be quite scary for many people while others seem to thrive on it. I was one of those people that took the fear route. I stayed in a comfortable life. Nothing too bad happened but nothing too good either. It was the middle ground of life where everything goes along at the same pace. Feelings of “missing out” on life permeated my being but that wasn’t enough to get me to change.

When I did take that big risk, which for me was a dramatic change in careers, my life took off like a rocket. I couldn’t believe it. That one, seemingly small decision, changed my entire life. It was a transformation that I couldn’t have imagined at the time. Since then, my capacity for imagination has increased. :-)

The point is simple. Take some risks, however small. You’ll stop the stagnation and possibly change your life to match your desires.

Have a great day!

Michael

Giving to Others

A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half-empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half-full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty. – G. Donald Gale

I think we sometimes view giving as some huge affair, some massive undertaking. In fact, giving can be smaller but no less an impact. Maybe it’s taking a few minutes and really giving your attention to someone; really listening to them. It could be a smile to a stranger while you pass on the street. It could be the dollar you give to a homeless person.

Giving is not necessarily about money. Of course, that can be very helpful to many. But, the giving of your time is just as important. I don’t think we realize how positive the giving of our time can be. It makes a huge difference in the life of a child. The time you give them can go a long way to developing self-esteem and value in themselves. That’s big!

As you go through your day, think of ways you can give to others. Do small things. A little bit of giving every day will have a greater effect than a onetime event. If we all just did one small act of giving a day, the world would change in powerful ways.

What are you going to give today?

Michael

The Best of Humanity

Nobody can contribute to the best of humanity who does not make the best out of himself. – Johann Gottfried von Herde

This quote is why I believe that a certain level of selfishness is critical to our well-being and hence the well-being of everyone in general. When we take care of ourselves we have more to give. When we put ourselves first by keeping our own cup full, we become an example for others to bring themselves to a better place.

It’s the old adage for saving money: Pay yourself first and somehow all the other bills get paid. It’s funny and sometimes seems counter intuitive but I believe it is a fundamental truth. When we sacrifice ourselves for others while not sustaining ourselves, we grow weaker. We feel emotionally malnourished and probably don’t even know why, especially if it has been going on for many years.

I believe in giving to others but giving to ourselves first sets us up for success in a variety of ways:

  • We feel more fulfilled
  • We feel emotionally satisfied
  • Our creativity is enhanced
  • Our overall life attitude improves
  • We are happier
  • We become an example to others on how to live
  • We have more to give

So, take care of yourself. Do things that make you and you alone happy. Practice that hobby. Do fun things. Make sure you are giving to yourself on a daily basis. Use the rest of the day to help others. You won’t regret it.

Michael

Writing Struggles

Sometimes I go through periods where writing is very difficult. In fact, it’s can be quite a struggle at times. The last week or two have been like that. It seems like every time I sit down to write, whether it’s the blog, the book or anything else, it’s just hard to get anything out.

I talked to Nat about this tonight and he made the analogy about training for sports. The best training is when you show up. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day or a good day. Showing up is the key.

Deep down I know that I’m improving by writing regularly, but during times like this it is hard to be objective. But, I don’t stop. Little by little it works itself out and then I move on to another level. It’s a strange feeling sometimes, but friends can help you stay objective and on track.

I think Nat’s advice can apply to life in general. Show up every day regardless of what is going on internally. Don’t shut the world out. Be involved. Be present. Observe. Listen.

I’m feeling better already.

Michael

Hope in the Present

The present is the ever-moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope. – Frank Lloyd Wright

Hope is a powerful emotion that can help to breakdown or eliminate negative emotions. I see hope as a bridge between negative emotions and more positive ones. It’s the fulcrum or pivot point for change.

One of the advantages of hope is that it is a present moment activity. Hope is something you actively generate now. It’s never looking at the past. It does look at the future in a positive vein, but the emotions are felt now.

A technique called the “What If Game” is a great way to generate hope and excitement. It’s quite simple and can be played in your mind or written down, which I think is slightly better.

  1. Pick any topic that you feel less than hopeful about or not that good.
  2. Ask yourself the question “What if ……..? For example, you may be feeling less than hopeful when paying your bills; i.e. your cash flow is low. You may ask yourself, “What if I had all the money I desire?” [Note: Don’t ask this question in the negative like “What if I had enough money to pay my bills, because I can’t pay all of them now?” Keep it positive.]
  3. Using your imagination, answer your own question. Be specific as you can without viewing things from a negative place or in the context of not having something. Be sure to think or write down the positive emotions you would feel. What would your world be like in your What If scenario?
  4. Typically you will start to feel better. When you start to feel better, options that may have eluded you before now become visible.

Use this technique at anytime or anywhere to generate hope.

Have a great day!

Michael

Jump

As you go the way of life you will see a great chasm.
Jump. It is not as wide as you think.
Native American Proverb

It’s not as wide or as deep as you think. But, when you are looking out and over the edge, it can seem like forever. It requires a level of faith to get across, but it is far from impossible. In fact, once you jump, you look back and realize how truly easy it was.

For me the fear of taking the jump (i.e. making seemingly difficult and challenging changes in my life) was the primary reason for not taking the pivotal step. In fact, I can think of a number of times in my life when I got to the edge, then turned around and walked away. I felt guilt for years. That’s history and doesn’t really matter anymore as I can choose something different now.

The last big chasm I jumped was leaving my relatively safe and comfortable job with a large international company. I made good money, had great benefits and numerous other perks that came with the position. But, it had become less of what I wanted to do with my life. So, with every cell in my body agreeing, I made the choice to leave. I had no doubt that it was the right thing to do.

Where the faith came in was that I didn’t have, at the time, any idea what I would be doing to make money. That last time I did that was a disaster and the memory of that was still fresh in my mind. But the difference is that while the previous adventure was wrought with fear, anxiety and trepidation, this time was a highly relaxing and calm event. I figured that I was on the right track.

Five and 1/2 months later, I’m a different person. I did things that I had always wanted to do, which was anything that struck my fancy at the moment. Everything has worked out. I start a new consulting gig in one week. No money worries.

I do believe that I’ve been preparing for years for a jump of this kind. I started with smaller things just to get the hang of it. When it feels right, then it feels right. Last time felt like I had to leave, this time felt like it was the next logical step in the evolution of Michael. Big difference.

Michael

Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski in his latest movie Gran Torino. Walt is a racist, grumpy, angry conservative who has a hardened heart. The movie starts with his wife’s recent death. Walt lives in a run-down area of town that is overrun with gangs and other “bad” influences. His relationship with his two sons and their families is terrible.

A family of Hmong (Mong) people move in next door and the racial slurs come fast and furious from Walt. The problems begin when a local Mong gang starts terrorizing the family next door to Walt. Walt takes matters into his own hands and begins to cause problems for the gang while protecting the family members. The Hmong people look at Walt as a hero and start to treat him that way. He initially cannot stand the attention but slowly begins to soften. Ultimately, he befriends two of the older children and becomes a father figure to one.

The story really is about the emerging of a good man from a hardened exterior. The good was always there, but until the events with the Hmong family transpire, there was no way for the good to come out.

Clint Eastwood does an amazing job at portraying the gradual change from grumpy bastard to someone who can express their emotions truthfully. I’m surprised that he didn’t get any nominations for either the movie or his character interpretation.

There is some violence portrayed but it’s not overdone at all. I highly recommend the movie.

Michael

Come Alive

I was reading one of my favorite photography blogs last night and one of the guest bloggers (Chris Orwig) had a great piece about reaching new levels with your photography. He had an interesting discussion about how who you are affects your photography. Interesting people take interesting photographs. In other words, get out and experience the world. Do things you haven’t done. Explore places you haven’t been. Try things you haven’t tried.

And then I came across the following quote in his article:

Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go and do that. For what the world needs, is people who have come fully alive. – Gil Baile

It really struck me as I visualized a world  where everyone performed only the status quo and then I envisioned a world where everyone or many people were doing what makes them feel alive. The later was a much better vision.

Too many of us have excuses on why we shouldn’t being doing things that make us feel good. We have responsibilities to our family, our children, our jobs, our friends and the community. We don’t have enough time mainly due to our other responsibilities. We may not be that good at it; i.e. we compare ourselves to others.

I say that if you take care of yourself first, you’ll have a whole lot more to give to everyone else. We must feed our soul if we want to have anything other than a mediocre life.

My youngest nephew is a great inspiration. Not only does he have an intense curiosity and craving for learning, but he also immerses himself completely in whatever experience he is undertaking. He seems to extract as much enjoyment as possible out of everything he gets involved in. I suspect that he will be one of the few that don’t lose his childlike view of the world. Kudos to him because that will give him a life that many only think about.

The good news is that it’s not too late to return to a life that makes you feel alive. All you have to do is make that decision and then go do it. There is nothing holding you back except your own beliefs.

Michael