A New Year’s Conversation

Today is the first day of 2018; it is New Year’s day, and it seems everyone is eager to ask or know, “What is your New Year’s resolution?”  I have resigned myself (happily) to the fact that I will begin another New Year without a traditional ‘resolution’ in place. Perhaps I make too much ado about nothing, but my resolution resistance results from having carelessly made too many New Year’s resolutions in years past. I just feel over-aged (sensible, experienced) to be conned into making an order for change simply because the calendar page has flipped.

I acknowledge this practice is traditional and often considered a fashionable thing to do…making resolutions. And as such it does provide fodder for water cooler exchanges during the first weeks of the new year with those of whom we are acquainted. But in reality, the ‘new’ wears off most resolutions before month’s end. Surely there is a more effective mechanism for making long-standing change in one’s life which surpasses this conventional, seasonal system.

So what is our fascination with all things NEW? Why do new things beckon such hope in our psyche, as though all things are possible for us, personally and collectively…simply because we enter a New Year? Why do we give so much prestige to the beginning of things? A new relationship; a new material acquisition; a new skill learned; a new experience acquired. A new life born. A new season begun. Why is ‘new’ so appealing?

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. Lao Tzu

Lest we forget that ‘new’ has a very limited shelf-life, perhaps we may better understand our attraction to ‘new things’ if we realize that our human nature is strongly wired to crave the rush of change and novel experiences. It is no wonder then, that we enjoy celebrating a New Year, and all new things, because in doing so we acknowledge and embrace NEW as a symbol of HOPE. And hope always expects that change will work in our behalf.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. Louis L’Amour

We see this cycle in the seasons of nature. One season gives way (dies) to usher in the new of the next season. And again, the dark of night transforms the new of day with the rising of the morning sun. Instinctively we know that ‘new’ equates to vitality and life force. The newborn infant screams this message loudly for all to hear: I am alive! I am viable! I am vital! I am ready to grow and to transform! And yet just minutes before the newborn’s birth, she was forcefully expelled from the womb of her first existence.

Now that I have finished this New Year’s conversation with you all, I feel a certain excitement creeping into my mind, my emotions and my thinking. I feel the desire to embrace this New Year, with all it’s propensity for change and uncertainty, with the lusty cry of a newborn babe! I have arrived! I am fully awakened to this new day in this new year! I am fully alive and equal to the coming challenges…fully prepared to experience this new season with eyes wide open…fully resolved to embrace hope through the months of this coming year…Happy New Year 2018! And Happy New Year to all who read this little blog post!

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

Conversation
Viable

On Fire!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
Jennifer Lee, filmmaker

What sets my soul on fire? Wow…what a question to wake up to this morning! I found the above quote in my inbox compliments of the Runner’s World daily newsletter. Honestly, I am surprised that this quote received such a reaction from my 5am, pre-caffeinated mind. Why does a soul on fire intrigue me so? Does that intrigue you?

So intrigued, I continue to wonder…what does a life (soul) set on fire look and feel like? Have I ever experienced such a thing in my life? Have I ever pursued such a condition for myself? Does a soul on fire burn slow and steady or rage flaming? Surely a fire must be continuously stoked? How does one keep or find the combustible material(s) for said soul fire? Do I fearlessly pursue anything? So many questions…not so many answers; but it is early in the morning!

I just don’t understand people not being passionate about something. Just have passion in what you do, and do it with all your heart
Jon Sutherland ~ run streaker (17,721 days straight of running)

Okay, so with a little more caffeine in my system, I begin to see that perhaps I do have a few things I pursue with some amount of energy and frequency in my life. When I consider how I gravitate towards several activities repeatedly, on purpose, for personal satisfaction or enjoyment, and that I am not easily discouraged or distracted from engaging in said activities on a daily basis (running, writing, reading, motivating others to become more active, etc.), then I realize that I may indeed be living as one who has a fire kindled at her center…maybe not a raging conflagration, but a fire burning is a flame by definition regardless of its burning intensity.

Human beings are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life. That’s why passionate leaders are so effective. A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.
John C Maxwell

Fully awake now, I feel the warmth from center ooze into the extremities of my mind and body. I am beginning to understand my initial attraction and resistance to this morning’s quote in my inbox.

The light switch just flipped on when I realized that I resisted the idea of passionate pursuit because it just sounds like so much hard work and effort. A fearless pursuit of anything requires dedication, determination, drive and singularity of purpose. Considered from this perspective, it sounds like another job…ugh…who needs more work? Not I!

BUT WAIT, when I go about my day engaged in those things which I’m passionate about, these things are not like work to me. HELLO! My PASSIONS = My FUN and fun is not hard! Fun is easy! I love to do my fun things! Isn’t that true for all of you too? Oh my, but I am finally, fully alert. Now I see why this morning’s quote caught my attention. Now I understand how and why I must fearlessly pursue those things which kindle my soul to fire.

Coffee anyone?

Focus…First Things First

I’ll be the first to admit…it’s easier to talk or think about my priorities rather than actually pursuing my priorities in the order of their value and supremacy. What makes prioritizing so problematic is that my life is lived in many venues, and all of these venues have built-in priorities from which I must choose (decide) their order of primacy.

We have relationships and roles to fulfill (work, family, social, community, etc.); we have stuff which obligates our time or material resources (houses, cars, hobbies, etc); we have bodies which need to be nourished (mental, physical, emotional, social, etc). Our to-do lists are endless. So how do we determine what gets priority? How do we order and rank our most precious resource…time…in any given day?

You always have time for the things you put (do) first. ~Anonymous

Instant messaging, fast food and next day shipping has become standard operating procedure for those of us living and working in industrialized economies. Our inboxes, virtual or otherwise, are overflowing and all the messages are marked ‘urgent’ or ‘important’. We say we value our relationships, our physical health, our freedom, our faith…but how much of what we do everyday actually supports, nourishes or advances our values; our priority(s)? How do we focus our attention when the minutes of the day are full of diversion and distraction?

 Starve Your Distractions ~ Feed Your Focus…That Which You Seek, Finds You!

Our attention and focus is pulled out of whack and into disorder by every thing we allow to come into our awareness. If we are honest with ourselves and truly desire to accomplish those things we say we value, then we must decide (choose), again and again to do only those things which we have identified as ‘priority’. Two questions help us rank our values:  #1. What do I truly desire? #2. What is standing in my way? If you’re not sure of the answer to question number one, then consider what you spend your time thinking about. What you spend time thinking about is a strong indication of where the desires of your heart lay.

Focus like a laser, not a flashlight…

Do you get the sense that accomplishing something of import for yourself will require your relentless determination and focus? If this sounds like hard work, that’s because it is hard work! Prioritizing your life, sharpening your focus, ignoring those things which would divert and distract your attention, all these things and more will be required from you when you set out to craft your most meaningful life.

But do not despair of this worthwhile work of yours. Your desire, determination and dedication will provide you strength and stamina to pursue the object of your focus. It’s no harder than doing the ‘number one’ item on your priority list FIRST. Do not move on to item number two or item number three if doing so will remove the urgency and primacy of your focus.

prioritize.jpg

Picture This…Best Training Practice

A picture is worth a thousand words. It is cliché, over-used and perhaps under-appreciated but this tired quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte is still powerfully, resolutely true regardless of the realm or genre in which it is employed. 

Why is this so? While the answer lies within the science of brain neurology and biochemistry, which is greatly beyond my own knowledge and training, I nonetheless have experienced the truth of positive mental imagery within the realm of my physical fitness training.

Whether pictures are generated mentally or viewed through the lens of our physical eyes, imagery excites our being at a subconscious level. Whether it is a symbol, a photograph of our beloved one(s), an artistic rendering or creation, or landscapes and portraits discovered in nature, imagery impacts us profoundly. Positively or negatively, imagery triggers changes in our thoughts, feelings and biochemistry.

Our brains translate our words and thoughts into images. Images ignite our mirror neurons. These mirror neurons are located next to our motor neurons. The excitement in mirror neurons resonates in the motor neurons and vice versa. This is why athletes can improve their athletic performance with visualization. Jennifer Morse MS PhD

When we invoke this positive biochemical cascade frequently enough, especially with the use of personally meaningful images or imagery, we create a neurological super-highway within the structures of our brain. These mental super-highways construct bridges from our mind, to our brain, then into our body so as to build memory maps into our muscles. Continued, regular activation of our imagination via our mind/body super-highways, create predictable physical responses in our body which thereafter translates or replicates into habitual, memorized re-actions.

And we all know how easy and how difficult it is to overcome an acquired pattern of moving or behaving. Habits are naturally preferred by mind and body because they using the neural super-highways. These super-pathways require reduced thinking resources from our conscious mind. Hence, once we birth a new way of thinking or being, these new pathways become preferred patterns for our doing and/or behaving.

Failure is an inside job. So is success.
If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first.
You can’t let the failure outside you get inside you.
You certainly can’t control the length of your life—but you can control its width and depth.
You can’t control the contour of your face—but you can control its expression.
You can’t control the weather—but you can control the atmosphere of your mind.
Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?
The Maxwell Daily Reader

Perhaps you now realize where I am leading you in this discussion. If the idiom we have considered is true, and we know by experience that it is, then you may avail yourself of its power when you use and think upon those images which create positive attraction or emotion within you. Your attention to this detail (image attraction/repulsion) is keenly important.

During your playful imagery research, take notice also of the quality of feeling excited within you when viewing a particular image or symbol. Once you discover and identify the imagery which pings you or sparks your imagination or creates hope to stir excitedly in your center, refer to and call upon those imagines whenever your thinking needs inspiration or refreshment.

Have fun stocking your mental image vault. Keep only those images which propel you positively toward your desired goals. Cycle through them as needed, whenever you need a lift or motivation or you require a change of direction.

Just picture this…You reaching your goal…reach for it! Climb, go on…climb higher still! Scramble, hike, run! Chase it down, don’t stop, don’t stop ever…only wait until you are done!

Everyday a Champion! Begin, Again.

Who trains the body for days, weeks, and months, for the privilege of toeing a start line?  A finisher, that’s who! Whether or not you’ve ever paid the entry fee to run a foot-race, don’t assume you are not competing in a race. Beacause if you are reading these words right now, then you are indeed a competitor, in the Game of Life!

Understand that the what must come before the how. First choose what you would do. The how usually falls into place of itself. Julia Cameron

Does that statement fill you with happy expectation or dread? How will you fill your waking hours? What brings meaning to your minutes? Don’t you know that you are a living, breathing, being full of unlimited potential and possibility?

You have everything you need to create your very best life, today! You are the Creator of Your Living-Life! With the dawning of every new day you are given the Gift of Beginning! Breathing is proof of your championship potential. Breathing is proof you hold the gift, the gift of your beginning…again.

A champion, by definition, is one who competes so as to win a prize or best her competition.  Crossing a finish line is the goal of every champion. Even though every striving entrant knows that only one participant will cross the finish line first, this fact does not minimize the drive of a champion’s will to cross that line.

The need to win, now, is the need to win approval from others. As an antidote, we must learn to approve of ourselves. Showing up for the work is the win that matters. Julia Cameron

To train is to join the game. To join the game is the delight of living! A champion’s  heart beats to the cadence of willful, intented steps towards her goal. A champion thinks and believes in her training because every day she trains is proof to herself that she is besting herself. The mindset of a champion-at-heart is determined to overcome her can’t-do’s with her can-do’s.

The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew. Julia Cameron

The heart of an authentic competitor-champion steels her will, hones her drive, attends her focus and casts off distractions to squash the lure of indifference. A true competitior evolves as champion with every choice she makes to actively train her body and mind with each new day. Championship is born in the process of one’s training. You are a Champion when you take the risk to begin your training, again and again. 

DECIDE…TO…MOVE

Living in a healthy, strong body does not happen by chance, but rather by choice. This is most honestly true if the body you are living in has celebrated at least 50 birthdays. If your current body is one of the 50+ year old models, do you regularly choose to move yourself in a way which might be construed as exercise? Do you walk, jog, lift weights, bike, dance, swim, go to a gym or fitness class at least once a day? If not, how about these activities: sweeping or vacuuming floors, washing dishes by hand; cleaning windows; gardening. Do not discount your household activities, they require bodily movement and as such, may be considered purposeful exercise for your body.

Whatever activities you do to move your body for well-being, the best fitness outcome will occur when you actively, mindfully move yourself every day. If not everyday, how about every other day? If you cannot or choose not to move yourself on purpose most days of the week, then prepare yourself, and your body for some disturbing news: if you do not change what you are doing today to become more active, by this time next year you will have gained weight and lost strength!

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John C Maxwell

Now for the good news! Every day presents you with opportunities; perhaps that is part of the problem, too many choices. Regardless, every day provides you with at least 10 minutes from which you may engage yourself physically so as to build strength, stamina and flexibility. All you have to do is make a decision to move and then…MOVE IT!

“Do something today which your body will thank you for 10 years from now.”

Here’s what I do for myself to make it easy. This might work for you too. Just move for 10 minutes! If you don’t feel better after moving about for 10 minutes, then return to your former activity and try again a few hours down the road. This is how an inactive person becomes a more active person, 10 minutes at a time.

In case you find yourself in front of the television or computer screen for more than 10 minutes today, you can move it (your body) in between your sit time with some of these Move It moves:

  1. 10 squat touchdowns
  2. 10 high knee steps
  3. 10 wall or floor pushups
  4. 10 pogo hops
  5. 10 inchworms

To stave the decline of passing years upon your body, DECIDE TODAY to make physical fitness a PRIORITY in your life. I know this sounds like work to you, but I promise you this: If you will choose activities which seem like fun to you, then moving your body more minutes each day will seem less like work and more like a gift for yourself. Just move more and NEVER GIVE UP TRYING. 

 

 

Our Best Self…Inside Out

Seconds…minutes…hours…days…years…

All of life is lived in tempo to the silent tick, tick, ticking of each minute’s passing. This muted drummer is forever playing its ghostly background beat, but always just out of range from our waking perception. Yet nature’s seasons clearly inform our senses of the forward cadence…onward it idles…time maneuvers itself with alarming regularity.

Often as we are being transformed, we cannot tell what is happening. For while in the midst of staying afloat, it is next to impossible to see the ocean we are being carried into. Mark Nepo

This commodity, measured as units are consumed, allows for no replacements; once spent, it is forever gone. Like a spendthrift, time drones on shamelessly; always unfolding forward, devouring itself before it has a chance to live or give. With an unrelenting, never-sated appetite, time marches; time may lull; but time never misses a beat. If only it would hold still or stop altogether, just long enough for us to rest a while in its growing shadow…to catch our breath…breathe in, breathe out…

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring waysStephen Vincent Benet

Yet as we measure time, it is clearly the great equalizer unto all humanity. Without partiality, time as currency, is meted out in equal portions to every living being. Whether young or old; rich or poor; strong or weak; time stands still for no one; each one is granted the same allotment of minutes per day from which to make life meaningful for living.

How does one become a wise manager and investor of this precious commodity? What activities enlarge the quality of our minutes? What activities decrease their value? As physical beings who are relegated to the constraints and boundaries of a 24-hour day cycle, we must remind ourselves that we are not without recourse. We may recompense time before it spills and spends itself before us.  How do we master the illusive, forward, ceaseless minutes of our life? We make time our captive when we engage our center… our core…our hidden life…our spirit-life.

We are spiritual beings living a human existence. Stephen Covey

By spending quality minutes in relationship with ourselves and the Divine, we enter eternity’s realm; in this timeless place we may invest ourselves in care-full pursuit of our divine life. In this hidden place, we may expend and exalt our being to a higher plain; above the fray of seconds and mintues. We may transcend to the higher calling of our inner life whever we settle into the cocoon of our center.

It is at the core of being where we may realize and learn how best to live our life on the outside.  When we spend time with the Eternal One, we invest in our long-term well-being. Time spent in quiet devotion, meditation and contemplation will always build into our life (hidden and otherwise) the tri-fold dividends of purpose, peace, and passion…from the inside, out.

TIME WITH ME cannot be rushed. When you are in a hurry, your mind flitters back and forth between Me and the tasks ahead of you. Push back the demands pressing in on you; create a safe space around you, a haven in which you can rest with Me. I also desire this time of focused attention and I use it to bless you, strengthening and equipping you for the day ahead. Thus, spending time with Me is a wise investment. Bring Me the sacrifice of your precious time. This creates sacred space around you. Sarah Young ~ Jesus Calling