Month: August 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-31-13

“Contrast is what makes photography interesting.”

 
— Conrad Hall

 
 
“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately

contrast the large with the small,

and the important with the less important.

Without it we are lost in a world

where all ideas, news, and information look the same.

We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize,

and we cannot make good choices.”
 

— John Sununu

I got up this morning, and as I swiveled, sat up and my feet touched the floor, I said, “Lord, thank you for this day. I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the contrast and make choices.” You could say that this was an interesting thing to say at first awakening, and you would be right, and I was so pleased that this was my first thought.

Contrast is all around us all day every day. I love the simple and yet profound quote above by Conrad Hall that says so perfectly, “contrast is what makes photography interesting.” It is also what makes life interesting to me. Whereas in the past (seems so long ago now. . .), I saw contrast as good and evil, dark and light, good and bad, positive and negative, I now see contrast in a more subtle light.

Sure, dark and light are severe contrasts, but in and of themselves they contrast nothing. It is the more subtle contrasts that I find interesting and choose to enjoy.

On my wall in big letters is this quote from Abraham and Ester Hicks: “Today, No matter where I’m going and no matter what I am doing, it is my dominant intent to see that which I am wanting to see.” As in photography, it is a matter of what we choose to focus on that creates the image and each image is individual and unique.

Some may think that it is what it is and what comes is what comes. A fatalist view for sure, yet we have the power, and privilege, to create our own view of that which we choose to look at, or plug into, and accept. The main difference for me today, is that I am becoming so excited and enjoying contrast and looking forward to what may come. I relish in the idea that I get to make choices every second of every day, and that I create ‘my own world’ through my choice of what I focus on.

If I watched the news several times a day, I might think that the world is a series of disasters, natural and unnatural, problems, chaos, financial woes, and more. Or, I can look in my courtyard surrounded by plants and flowers and watch the birds in the birdbath, while listening to the sounds of nature. They both exist all day every day. Yet, I get to choose which I focus on. It is always my choice every second of every day.

I Can Enjoy The Contrast, And By Paying Attention To How I Feel About It, I Make Choices That Allow Me To Feel Good.

Spread Some Joy Today–Choose your way into joy. There is no doubt whatsoever in the fact that it is definitely a choice.

Daily Inspiration 8-30-13

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful

for every good thing that comes to you,

and to give thanks continuously.

And because all things have

contributed to your advancement,


you should include all things in your gratitude.”
 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not to be contradictory to the famous and wise Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I cannot help myself in my strong desire to change this message by removing just one word. That word would be ‘good’. So, here it is without the word good:

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

That’s so much better. . .

You know it is so easy, requires no effort to be thankful for the things that we see coming to us that are ‘good’. It takes courage and more open mindedness, along with more wisdom to consider including those things that we consider bad and being thankful for them. Yet, it is very often true in my own life that those things that may have seemed bad, poor decisions and such, were the very things that caused more substantial growth, new and stronger, more committed desires, as well as often changing from bad to good once I saw them more clearly.

Being Thankful For EVERY-thing Is A Huge Advantage.

Spread Some Joy Today–The more thankful you are, the more you like yourself and where you happen to be right now.

Daily Inspiration 8-29-13

“The heaviness of being successful

was replaced by the lightness of

being a beginner again,

less sure of everything.

It freed me to enter one of the most

creative periods of my life.”
 

— Steve Jobs

Many years ago, I wrote an essay about beginnings. I loved beginnings. The are so enthusiastic and exciting and there is also a lot of unknown, but for some reason, it doesn’t stop us because of the positive energy all around.

Sure there are naysayers. There always are. It is a given, but for some reason, in this energy field, we don’t really hear them. Or, maybe it is that we ignore them. Either way, they have no power or authority to slow us down or stop us from doing what we have decided to do. Some call this the entrepreneurial spirit. Others might call it infatuation.

In any respect, it is a glorious place to be and all is well in this place. Idealism prevails. Nothing and no one can stop us at the moment.

After a while, I think we begin to count the cost and project the future and analyze the past and all of that brain-work. It is then that the excitement probably wanes and the cares may overcome the anticipated rewards.

We may then even become more concerned and at the same time create a downward spiral–often it is one of our own creation–but we create it anyway.

It is at this point that things fall apart and the only thing that can save us is to let go, and begin anew, taking us back to our favorite place: the beginning. It is there we return to the excitement and enthusiasm and joy. This is the creative place.

This doesn’t just apply to businesses, entrepreneurship, etc. It applies equally to marriages and relationships.

Here’s to creating new beginnings without losing the progress that we may have made. Keep the excitement of the beginning in your heart. The way to do that is through the idea of appreciation. Find ways to appreciate yourself, your team and each other as we progress.

“Be Willing To Be A Beginner Every Single Morning.” — Meister Eckhart

Spread Some Joy Today–Notice the signs and feel how it feels and then change how it feels by thinking new thoughts.

Daily Inspiration 8-28-13

“Of all the people on the planet,

you talk to yourself more than anyone.

Make sure you are saying

the right things.”

 

— Martin Rooney

Whether we are alone or surrounded with people, we talk to ourselves more than anyone outside our body. I know with me, that talk was often about what I should have done and didn’t and what’s wrong with the current picture, who else is to blame so that I can remain blameless, various justifications for actions that I’ve taken that produced less than perfect results, and a few thousand other similar thoughts.

I like how Alan Cohen guides us about internal thoughts: “When considering whether to hearken to a voice within you, test its frequency. Is it broadcasting from fear or love? Practice picking up the phone for love calls and refuse to answer the fear calls.”

He adds some clarification with this: “Your soul’s calling also has a distinct tone. When your inner voice speaks to you it bestows a feeling of peace, ease, flow, aliveness, and a sense of coming home. By contrast, the voice of the ego, or fear, is burdensome, demanding, and disquieting.”

We have so many names for our emotions or feelings, but basically there are only two. We could call them love and fear, or more aptly described they are feeling good and feeling bad. It is good to get to know the voices inside our heads and pay far less attention to what they say, and focus in on how we are feeling about what they are saying. If we are feeling good, it is our own best nature, and love. If it is feeling bad, unsure, anxious, and such, it is not in our own best interests.

In fact, this is the best way to know about which decision to make when there are several options. Pay attention to how you feel about the decision as you think about it. If anything about it feels bad, it would probably be best to avoid that decision. If you feel good about it, then it is most likely the best way to go. If all the options are not feeling good at the moment, it is best to delay until you find an option that feels good.

Once I learned how to pay attention to how I am feeling, so many things about the talk in my head, decisions I need to make and so on are so much easier, better, and I don’t worry about them.

“Everyone Should Carefully Observe Which Way His Heart Draws Him, And Then Choose That Way With All His Strength.” — Chasidic sage

Spread Some Joy Today–Go forth and find the best feeling thoughts you can. Practice will absolutely improve the process.

Daily Inspiration 8-27-13

Daily Inspiration 8-27-13

“Opportunity looks a lot like work. . .

the sexiest thing in the entire world is

being smart, thoughtful and generous. . .

build a life, don’t live one.”
 

— (Chris) Ashton Kutcher

You YouTubers may have seen this video, and I find it worth watching several times because the message is a wonderful teaching. Those that haven’t seen it, are in for a treat.

Not Just Another, ‘Oh, Thank You,’ Speech.

Spread Some Joy Today–Be sexy.

Daily Inspiration 8-26-13

Daily Inspiration 8-26-13

“There is no greater difference between men

than between grateful and ungrateful people.”

 
— R.H. Blyth

I have found no one thing greater in my own life than to practice becoming a grateful person. I say the word practice in the literal sense in that it is not something that just comes of its own except rarely, yet when intently practiced, it is like working a muscle and it becomes stronger.

In the beginning, I would see something in nature, such as, a beautiful sky, sunset or cloud formation and I would just internally say, ‘thank you.’ Later, I would say these things aloud and more often as I would see things that I liked, or things that caught my attention.

This attention to the beautiful and pleasing is wonderful, and the more I would find them, the more they would find me. The practice was creating more and more opportunities to become grateful.

Then, I began to branch out to things that weren’t initially beautiful or pleasing. I began to look at things that I didn’t really want to look at, but since I was seeing them, I would try to find something in them to be grateful for. Consequently, the more this was practiced, the more positive and interesting they became and I started to find good in so many things that previously I would have called bad. That was fascinating at first, but such a blessing as it was practiced.

The quote from R.H. Blyth is so perfect because as I see people and their differences, especially in their actions and words, I see only grateful or not grateful. Yet, even in my practice, I see through their ungratefulness, because they have just practiced the opposite.

Practice. It Is Worth The Small Effort. Become More Of The Real Self By Becoming More Grateful.

Spread Some Joy Today–Joy is a natural and fulfilling result of gratitude.

Daily Inspiration 8-25-13

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.”
 

— Pablo Picasso

This quote caused me to immediately relate to what it is saying and the first person I thought of was my late wife, Nancy and her becoming at age 43, in 1996, a children’s leader at church, later becoming an official pastor and Children’s Director.

It began long after several other job paths. When we met in 1987, she was a sales manager at a car dealership. Prior to that she was a salesperson at a car dealership, went to college, was a stay at home mom. She also trained as a registered dental assistant and did that for a time as well as being the office manager.

She struggled with the male-dominated auto business. She was sharp and smart and most capable, but the male ego is so threatened, so she encountered a lot of what would now be called blatant sexual harassment. So she switched to the dental assistant and office manager work. This was like rolling off a log for her and presented little in the way of challenge, and it paid poorly.

1998

But, it 1996, we went to a church that was just two years young and the needs were obvious, and within just a couple of months was working with the children and creating a children’s church with specific curriculum for teaching rather than just watching and keeping the children entertained.

Early 1999. Since Nancy has been on a couple of TV game shows,
she did a teaching set up like one of them. How fun.

She found her gift, and then she began immediately giving it away. At the beginning, that meant literally since there was no money to pay her. Later, she earned $300 a month, and at the end, 15 years later, still less than $25,000 a year. So money was not the least motivation. It was a calling for her, which is one way to say finding your gift.

At nearly the same time, I became actively involved in the sound department and worship music so we were in the same building but in separate places most of the time, yet there were many opportunities that I could observe Nancy at work in children’s church.

Superheroes in more way than one

VBS, or vacation bible school, was the biggest event of the year. Each year it seemed to grow. She took over the entire church for a week every year, using almost every room. There might be between 40 and 110 kids depending on the year, and she got as many adults involved as she could and often encouraged them to dress in ridiculous costumes for skits, including the senior pastor and his wife. Many things were built by volunteers and it was a very involved process that Nancy controlled extremely well.

One of many VBS events. Nancy on right with hat.
 

Senior pastor and his wife as Flintstone characters

She used to fret over it many weeks in advance. There were times when she would say, ‘no more VBS!’ It wore her out, but next year, she would be right back at it and even more elaborately.

KidsGames Event

Beyond other events like Christmas and Easter, and a few others, she would focus on teaching the children every week and in the last many years worked at the church full time all week long. She took it all personally and always insisted on a strong portion of the church focus be on the children.

Early KidsGames event

She gave her gift away and all were beneficiaries of that love and passion. She found her gift and gave it away. It took her 43 years to find it, but find it she did.

I ask myself if I have found mine. I think I have. I am and have been giving it away for many years now. I find joy in it. Now looking back on Nancy’s life, I see that she was a shining example of finding your gift and then giving it away.

Have You Found Your Gift? Are You Giving It Away?

Spread Some Joy Today–Allow your passion to flow through you today.

Daily Inspiration 8-24-13

“Don’t just count the cost,

but also count the loss.”

 
— Albert K Strong

I’ve heard, ‘count the cost!’ as an admonition to consider or reconsider making a decision. This is especially true in making a bold and/or new decision. We are supposed to picture the consequences in all its glory; albeit, glory is not the best word here. It’s all about what could go wrong and the ramification of that. And, well meaning people have all sorts of reasons for reminding us to count the cost, most probably are about them and not really about us at all.

Counting the cost is a good thing to do, yet counting the loss–that which will be missed by delay, or a protective stance–is, in my mind and experience, far more important. It is so easy to find what could go wrong, but that is just as much a fantasy or true unknown as what the positive benefits and pleasures can be. Naysayers is a good word to use for the ‘count-the-costers.’

It is best to put things into perspective and this helps to count the cost and the loss. The perspective, however, will be tainted by personal experience, attitude and outlook. At the very least, counting the loss will give a more enlightened perspective of the cost.

If All We Did Was Count The Cost, Nothing Would Ever Be Accomplished.

Spread Some Joy Today–Follow your bliss today. . . and tomorrow. . . and the next day. . . and the next day. . .

Daily Inspiration 8-23-13

“Conflict cannot survive

without your participation.”

 
— Dr. Wayne Dyer

Tugging on the rope, resisting is one way to visualize conflict. It’s tug o’ war, me against them or us against them. In this game there are winners and losers. But if we decide to just let go of the rope, no one goes in the puddle and everyone survives. In addition, the real benefactor is the one who dropped the rope and let go. Stress is gone. Resistance is gone. Conflict is over.

That’s all pretty easy to picture, but what about internal conflict. There is you and you, you and your ego, and there is a lot of conflict going on in many of us over a wide variety of issues.

I was thinking about this aspect of internal conflict, and I began thinking about some conversation I’m having in my head with someone. I was justifying something or other to make sure that I am right and all that. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes we can go on for a bunch of time going from one scenario to the other, one conflict to another.

Anyway, as I was thinking about this conversation in my head, watching it unfold, participating in it as if it were real, and I became aware of my stomach. It didn’t feel good, it was tense. My stomach muscles were tightened and I could feel the tension all over my body with the highlight in my stomach area.

Then, immediately, I let go of the rope. I quit. My stomach muscles loosened and I was relaxing into a pleasant space, perhaps not even thinking of anything in particular, but just noticing the improvement in my mental attitude and my physical being.

How many times each day might we go through this conflict. And each time it requires our participation in order to continue. As soon as we let go and relax, whether it is someone we are having issue with, or our own internal struggle, peace comes in to fill that space and health and well being are returned.

Paying Attention To What You Are Thinking Is Okay, But Paying Attention To Exactly How You Are Feeling Is Your Guiding Light!

Spread Some Joy Today–Praising someone, something, or some act is a perfect way to express appreciation and at the same time, cause personal joy.

Daily Inspiration 8-22-13

Daily Inspiration 8-22-13

“Don’t judge each day

by the harvest you reap

but by the seeds

that you plant.”

 

— Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this quote. Aren’t we all looking for the harvest? Don’t we want the reward? Maybe we’ve worked for years and now it’s time to collect. Harvest can be a great time.

I was looking at this idea with a bit of a twist. Harvest reminds me of what is. It reminds me of manifestation. There it is. And, true enough in farm language and every other, harvest can be great and it can be lousy. Maybe we ignored some important points on the way to harvestland. Maybe we cut some corners, skipped a step here and there. Maybe it turned out differently than we planned on it back in the day, which now seems ages ago, that we began with a glorious end in sight.

Another way to look at it that is a bit different is that it is already done–sort of like arriving at the destination. Then what? Enjoy the harvest, of course. It will be short-lived most likely.

Sometimes we may be so focused on the reward, the destination, the end result, that we have lost touch with the fact that the harvest is simply a portion.

I like harvest too, and yet I find that I have become a more committed planter. I want the best seeds I can create or find. I want to begin very well. I want to focus on what seeds I can plant today and every day. Seeds are easily shared and can provide additional and even far-reaching benefits to those around me. I may never see their harvest, but I know the seeds well. I want to judge my day by the seeds that I plant. The harvest will take care of itself.

There will be no harvest without the seeds. In addition, the what is harvested has everything to do with what seeds are planted. So true in life that what seeds we plant on a daily basis will absolutely reap a harvest. Will it be the harvest we want? We will only know by the type of seeds we plant.

Plant Corn, Get Corn. Plant Fear. Reap Fear. Plant Discord. Receive Discord. Plant Love, Get Love. Plant Peace, Get Peace. Plant Understanding. Get Understanding.

Spread Some Joy Today–Plant the best seeds and enjoy the process.

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