Monthly Archives: May 2009

Say Exactly What You Think

Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself. – James Stephens

Saying what you think can be both fearful and freeing at the same time. Not many people I know say exactly what they think, but I’ve found over the years that it is a refreshing change of pace when someone does. You always know where they stand. There is no doubt at all what they mean. Most importantly, they tend to say what everyone else is thinking, but are too afraid to say it out loud.

When we don’t say what we think, on any subject, we are not being true to ourselves. When we hold back for any reason, we stunt our own growth and ability to be as happy as we are meant to be. I think a lot of time it is due to the fact that we don’t have the self confidence. Or we don’t like to stir the pot. Or we don’t like to be involved in confrontations.  Or we feel exposed when we speak our mind.

It’s really critical to speak up and say what we are thinking for two important reasons. 1) We must not ever compromise ourselves and be less than who we really are. 2) What we have to say may be just the right thing at the right moment to help a person, a situation, solve a problem or settle an issue.

Next time you are holding back, think about what you may be doing to yourself. Take a chance and speak your mind. Whether it is judged right or wrong is not important. But, I guarantee you will learn something from doing this and you will benefit in the long term.

Michael

Don't Listen to Others

The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. – Walter Bageho

We are all capable of so much more than we realize. Many times, we allow the narrow mindedness of others to persuade us into believing that we can’t do certain things. Some people cannot seem to see or believe that others can do things that they cannot do. They want their limitations to expand to others. I think it makes these people feel better in a strange, dysfunctional sort of way.

I used to be swayed very easily by the opinions of others. I would change what I wanted to do based on their beliefs. It made for many a frustrating year. I don’t do that anymore. I make my own way, my own path and I do what makes me feel good regardless of the opinions of the masses.

I know better than anyone which direction I should go and how I should run my life. So, now when people want to tell me what to do, I just nod my head as if I’m agreeing and merrily go about my own way.

If you don’t follow your own heart, you’ll end up feeling like you missed out on life. So, listen to yourself and not others.

Michael

Last Day

Ahhhhhh. Today was the last day at a contract I’ve been working on since February 2009. I enjoyed the contract and met several new friends. The work wasn’t typically what I do, but it was interesting and my output was beneficial to the people I was working for.

One of the things I love about the work I do is that it has a definite beginning and ending. Then, I move on to the next job. I like that as it never gets boring and my interest level stays high.

I really love the ending part and the start of the new job. It is very satisfying to complete something and very exciting to start something new. It’s funny. Normally I would want to take a few days off before starting a new job, but this time is different. I feel completely relaxed and not burned out. I think that comes from working at what you love to do. It makes a huge difference and I love the freedom of working for myself.

June 1st is the start of the next adventure. I’m looking forward to it.

Michael

Music as Meditation

I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens to me when I play my guitar. It’s very similar to meditation in the sense that I’m focused on the present moment, my thinking process has slowed or stopped and I get a complete sense of relaxation.

Music, whether playing, singing or listening, has an incredibly powerful effect on most of us. It’s like we are all wired so that music jumps right down into our core being. We associate personal memories to songs. We relate a host of emotions to a variety of music.

Music forms the thread that connects our lives to others and to our own past. It is so ingrained in all cultures that I can’t imagine a society without music.

All I know is that when I’m playing music, listening to music, or singing (alone mostly!), I seem to transcend time. I experience a level of joy that only a few other things can compare. Photography being one of them.

Incorporating music into your daily life can be one way to help lift your mood, help you to reduce your stress levels and put you squarely into the present moment. Try all varieties and see which ones have positive effects.

Have a great day!

Michael

Getting Over a Music Hump

Playing scales is like a boxer skipping rope or punching a bag. It’s not the thing in itself; it’s preparatory to the activity – Barney Kessel – Jazz Guitar

Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside of us. – Unknown

When you strum a guitar you have everything – rhythm, bass, lead and melody. – David Gilmore / Pink Floyd

I started taking guitar lessons again with a different person. I think this guy will be able to help me in my goals. He’s already very different than my previous guitar teacher.

He started off by telling me that the place I’m at is common for many musicians. I’m trying to break through old habit patterns and learn new ways of expression. He said it’s just a hump and that he can help me get over it.

Most of the lesson today was about music theory with some application on the actual guitar. The difference with this teacher is that he doesn’t want me to write anything down. So, I must remember everything; both the theory and the new scales. He’s focusing me on hearing more than remembering. It’s definitely a different approach, but in one short lesson, I’m already approaching my music in new ways.

I love to play and would like to expand my musical vocabulary, so this guy might be my ticket. I’m going to give myself a couple of months worth of lessons before deciding if this new teacher can help me reach my musical goals.

It’s exciting and a lot of fun. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Michael

The Seed

To see things in the seed – that is genius. – Lao Tzu

Most of us would find this easier when looking at the gifts and unique talents of another person. But, when turned inward, we seem to become less objective. Our perspective is filled with fog. The end result is that we live our lives less than what exists as potential. A seed is nothing more than potential and what a huge potential it is.

No matter what family we have, what career we pursue, what hobbies we play at, what age we are, where we live or what race we were born, we all have a unique combination of talents and skills. I don’t mean that some of us have this. We all do. It means we have to look at ourselves like we would look at someone else. It means that we have to leave all judgments behind. We tend to view talents and skills in a very limited way like how much money we can make, the relationships we form and other forms of external success. We don’t notice, recognize or see the other soft talents; making people laugh, teaching children, raising a family, art, music, ability to help others and etc. You don’t have to be a celebrity to be successful, fulfilled or help others.

If you have never looked at yourself in this objective way, then start now. Pretend you are a friend looking at yourself. What do you see? What talents are lurking behind fears, anxiety, responsibilities and etc.? What potential are you not meeting? What are you good at but are doing?

One of my favorite quotes is: “Life is supposed to be fun.” If you can view the seed of what you are and then follow it, life will be fun.

Michael

First Live Music Gig

Tonight marked the first live gig for our two person band named “Take 2”. It was for a small private party of seven women. LOL

We played about 14 songs; a mixture of slow and up beat. The crowd seemed to get more and more enthusiastic as the evening wore on. I think it was the wine and beer but I also believe they were enjoying the music.

I was initially a little nervous. But, once we got through the first two or three songs, we settled in to the session and the nervousness never came back. At the end we got a lot (7 total) of compliments on our acoustic sound and how well we  blend and play together. We got a lot of positive comments about one of our originals. That was nice.

This was an important milestone and I think the next time we are playing in front of people, it will be easier. The most important part is that we are having fun playing together. Over the next month, we will work on adding about 10 more songs to our growing playlist. After that we will work on playing for small parties during the summer months.

It’s a good feeling.

Michael

Hello, my name is Flo Holt…

A recent journal writing prompt, “What I let myself yearn for”  lead me in several directions.  What I wondered is “do I really let myself “yearn”?  How would I define it? A longing in my heart?  Any sort of longing, so it could include even clothes I see in catalogs? “Yearn” sounds like something that creates an ache because of its absence, maybe an ache so deep it’s unrecognized as being there at all.

Last week in a class, I told my adoption search story.  It wasn’t a time where everyone was sharing, but I offered to talk of it.  It became personal and not really classroom –focused.  What I mean is, I didn’t try to talk about it and tie it to the information we had just been presented on searching for adoptive parents.  I just sort of laid my story out there, with some of the time-line I’d experienced.  I told how it’s not a “search and reunion story”. It’s just the search.

My birth father lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Since 2000, when I turned 40 and did life-cycle-change things like participate in a triathlon, I’ve been trying to contact him.  In my head, I’ve always, honestly always, known I was adopted by my father, Don Barner.  Following his death in 1998 and my brother’s soon after, I was propelled in so many directions due to my emotional upheaval.  One of those was this “search”.  The thing is, after all this time, my birth father doesn’t reply.  I have decided my next step is family members.

Last week in  class it became very clear to me why the serach weighs heavy on me (1) the sense of rejection that is perpetuated because he has never responded (2) the feeling I carry that I’m the “dirty little family secret” (3) the disconnected feelings of attachment that I carry because of the adoption.  It’s engraved in my small child self – the one who at 3 years of age went excitedly to court when she became a ”Barner”.  There  are so many times I wonder “why” about my feelings about things and honestly, I don’t want to ‘wonder why’ any more.  Instead of analyzing I’d just rather do something – analyzing makes me feel stuck; paralyzed and in the “freeze” part of freeze•fight•flight.

“Buck it up – figure it out – take some action – make a decision”.  Can’t say that’s my higher self talking there, but some very determined part of me.

The plan – write a letter to the family:

“Hello, my name is Flo Holt…”

!

Flo

94 Years Old

My grandmother had her 94th birthday today. We call her Dee Dee. Her nickname was my idea as I couldn’t say grandmother when I was very young. Dee Dee worked well in my limited vocabulary at the time. The name stuck and everyone since has called her by that nickname.

Dee Dee is still as spunky and bright as she was 40 years ago. I was thinking about what has changed in the world in 94 years and it is staggering; technological advances that would be science fiction for people in 1915; multiple wars but more importantly thousands of incidents where people helped others out of every crisis imaginable. The world is more connected now than ever before.

In my grandmother is the seed of what we should all be following. It’s simple. She takes each day as it comes and makes the most of it. She works on keeping her attitude high and doesn’t hold on to negative things for very long. She seems to enjoy her life and doesn’t appear to have any regrets. Finally, she is appreciative of the life she has now and has lived.

I find her attitude inspirational and it has been a major input to my own life philosophy.

Dee Dee, Happy Birthday! I look forward to sharing many more with you.

Michael

No Set Path

There is no set path. Just follow your heart. – Unknown

I’m still working on making this a daily practice in my own life. The rewards are tremendous, but for me and I suspect for many others, this is a difficult thing to do. We tend to listen to everyone else about what we “should” and “shouldn’t do”; which way is the best way to go; what direction society is forcing into compliance.

Bottom line, it’s really only about us. Our path must be where we are drawn to go, what we are compelled to do and what makes us passionately happy. It’s not about anyone else at all. This is not the definition of selfishness in case you were wondering. This is the definition of how to live a fulfilled and meaningful life.

When we are following our path or going where our heart wants us to go, then we become relaxed, happy, content and our cups are filled to the top. This allows us to help others in a big way. We have more to give and more to share. But the biggest thing we can give others is the example of how we are living.

Following our heart is exactly what children do. If we can show children that adults can follow their hearts, then maybe, just maybe, that won’t have to relearn that when they get older.

Have a great day!

Michael