One thing a day he’s proud of

I want to do one thing a day that I’m proud of.

                                                  — Dave Beck

Dave told me that he’d been having these thoughts nagging him to do something more meaningful . . . when he alit upon the above idea, to do something he’s proud of every day.

It could be building a Beck Box (Dave’s a woodworker and produces these small boxes of wonder). Could be preparing a healthy meal. Could be something with his daughter.

So he now flows through his day with this in mind. How’s that for making sure you build meaning into your day?

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I send you a quiet thought

I send you quiet love.

Sometimes I beam love like a firehose.

Not today.

Sometimes it is just a whisper, a nod in your direction, like a soft
hey . . .

Since our light speaks, I know the communication is received. At what level, I cannot say.

This
is what I am training my quiet self to do more of. To send forth
thought from the highest sphere. In moments of interaction, in moments
of passing.

We live in a thought-verse, a universe of entangled thought,
ours, others, everyone’s. We know thought
influences life forms (read Lynn McTaggert for a delicious romp through
the science that tells us so).

I am asking myself to be conscious
of the thought web I spin . . .

To impart a seed of goodness, who knows how it grows, where it lands, whither it goes, what awesomeness may come of it?

The world we want to inhabit may be just a thought away.

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Stealth goals: Tracking is awareness

I’m tracking a couple things about which I have no immediate goals. Here’s the reason why: tracking is awareness.

I believe in Jim Collin’s maxim, that if you have more than three strategic goals you don’t have any.


So I have two strategic goals and a couple of stealth goals.
Stealth goals are something new for me. The idea is simply to track behavior I wish to modify, without setting an actual goal of behavior modification. I think tracking creates awareness creates change, without having to get too constipated about it.

I track in my weekly planner, which keeps it simple. And truthful. And easily verifiable.


I’ve noticed the simple act of tracking my exercise creates a greater awareness of the heady benefits from that exercise. And a desire for more. (Makes you want to track funner things, doesn’t it, things that are heart healthy too, things like frolic.)

One of my stealth goals revolves around sugar/carbs. I eat well generally, by the standards of many Americans, very well. By this I mean in a mostly healthy way, fairly consistently. I’m not much on deserts or candy or other sugary/fatty confections . . .

. . . Yet these two areas would concern Dr. Oz, and do concern my very cool doctor

Area of Interest Number One: Mountain Dew
(Hence my nickname Dew, bestowed by one Russell Harris)

Area of Interest Number Two: Bagels with cream cheese.

That’s it. Number Two comes and goes [a pause to let you insert joke here if you must]. Number One is constant, like a happy puppy at my side begging, begging, begging, play with meeee, pah-leeze.

I’m not quitting these two habits, I’m not even talking trash to them (yet) — I’m just monitoring intake accurately.

I’ll keep you posted (wink wink).

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A lesson in solidarity from an eight-year old

Last week on the heels of an operation my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, in two locations, just days before she came over for Christmas. She arrived chipper as usual, like it was nothing but a head cold. Even my friend Gil who spent the weekend with us commented on how MomJo was her naturally energetic, overly inquisitive self.

The only thing she was changing immediately was her diet — no more sugar, and as little gluten as possible. Even when I was a kid she was the original body conscious diet Mom. When everyone else had Ho Hos, we had wheat germ sprinkled on top of something else that tasted like wheat germ too.
The day after she arrived we went out as a family to The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, to celebrate Ann’s birthday. Yep, it’s only days from Christmas, so you’ve got to do a little something extra so it doesn’t all blend together and become Merry Birthmas . . . . Even my Dad was going — they’re a long divorced couple in the best new American tradition, that of friendly exes.
Since we really go to The Melting Pot for the melted milk chocolate dessert classed up as fondue, the rest is preamble. On the way there, I casually mentioned to MomJo that in solidarity with her I was going to skip the dessert . . . which disappointed her only because she seemed to have been hoping we’d forgotten about this little going without sugar thing.
When the time rolled around for the milk chocolate fantasy finale, we switched Dad over next to Ann so she, Dad and Zane would be in front of the pot.
When he asked why, I explained. 
“More for us!” Dad crowed, rubbing his hands.
Just as the array of treats to be skewered into the melted chocolate arrived, Zane scooted over to MomJo. He looked up at her and said: “MomJo, I’m in solidarity with you too.”
And that was that. He abstained from the chocolate — an eight year old. That kid loves his MomJo.
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Three steps to a transformational year

If you have more than three strategic priorities, you don’t have any.”                                                    — Jim Collins


The following process is from Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, riffing off of Jim Collins’ formulation. Here are his three steps for a transformational year:
  1. What three goals, if accomplished, would have the biggest impact on your life?
  2. What is the one key behavior essential to accomplishing each goal?
  3. Track those three behaviors.

A note: Darren Hardy credits this process to all his progress and success — and believes if you only do this process alone, you will gain remarkable ground in one year.
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I had achieved by sixty-four what most people accomplish by twenty-four: A Starbucks story

Michael Gates Gill lost it all, his top echelon career in one of the top advertising agencies in the world, his home, his wife, his money, his everything that he was . . . until one day he found himself sitting in a Starbucks in his Brooks Brothers suit, confounded by the turns his life had taken — he was supposed to be on top, he’d been groomed for it! — when almost jokingly a young black woman named Crystal, less than half his age, asked if he wanted a job, there, at Starbucks.

He said yes.

Here he is, Christmas approaching, bereft of family and friends, leaving the upper Manhattan Starbucks store he now works at, a one-and-a-half hour commute one way from his tiny apartment:

Going out the door of my store after another successful Coffee Tasting, I was met with a gust of cold December air. The weather had changed dramatically in the last few days. I pulled down my wool hat and pulled on my wool gloves.

As I walked toward the subway, the lights seemed brighter in the city. Maybe it was a trick of the dropping temperature. They seemed to twinkle magically in the arctic air.  

I started walking, then literally stopped with a shock of revelation: “I am happier than I have ever been,” I said out loud.  

Fortunately, in New York City, many people speak loudly to themselves, and nobody notices. 

I took off a glove I had just put on. 

I put my hand on my heart. 

I could feel a kind of gentle, inner happiness I had never felt before. 

What was going on? 

I was almost scared; still afraid to admit to myself how happy I was now . . .  with a  job as a barista at Starbucks. This was not the high-status job or affluent life my parents, my family, and my friends had expected of me.  

Did this mean that my whole former life — all sixty-four years of it — had been a joke? 

No. I shook my head, still planted in the spot, arguing with myself. I had loved many things. I still loved my children. But I had to admit, for the first time and with a brutal honesty, that I had hated large swatches of my former, high-status life, full of so much meaningless activity. 

I took a turn around the corner, and back up Broadway. I wanted to walk for a while. I had to think. I didn’t want to go underground too fast tonight. The lights were too bright. 

What was I thinking? 

I hated to think that my whole life had been a lie. 

But I had to admit that I felt great relief in the different life I had now . . . even my little apartment. I felt proud of being able to live and support myself . . . . Still . . . it did not make sense. I had achieved at sixty-four what most people accomplished by twenty-four. Why was I so happy? 

I felt my heart again.  

The gentle love and peace and happiness I felt now I had never experienced before. 

Maybe the mistakes I had made — causing so much damage — had also helped me to break out of my comfortable cocoon . . . to get out to a world so much more full of life and light. 

I didn’t know. I couldn’t really think it through. 

But I knew what I felt in my heart. 

Crystal had said: “Follow your heart.” 

My heart was full of a happiness I had never known before.

From How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else, by Michael Gates Gill.

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In the beyond beyond

In the beyond beyond, when we revisit the best parts of our lives, it won’t be the sex in Manhattan, it will be all those special playful chit-chat snuggle giggles putting my son to bed I’ll want to relive.

Not that what happened in Manhattan needs to stay in Manhattan. It would be fine and fun to relive those experiences too . . . I’m being very careful to note there is nothing wrong with that variety and intensity, that there is oh so much right about it.

What I’m getting at is this: what I’ll want to re-experience most from this life are the momentously meaningful connections.

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Silence leads to the invisible indivisible

Silence leads to the invisible indivisible.

Be careful not to think only silence leads there. The monk may think so, but the contemplative in motion can get there too, as I discovered once on a walk late at night. As can dance, song, ritual, fasting, a mission, even hurtling your body through space and time in finely focused athleticism. Sexual union can get you there too, perhaps you’ve blissed your way to the heart of experience in just such a way.

My friend Tony Amrhein operated in that cosmic flow state for three days, conversing, taking action, doing the things the days required, only to know he’d been in it once he left it . . .

Many ways can get you to soul communion, yes, but silence is the surest.

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I was better until I talked about it

You live, you do something, you notice its effect.
 
A few weeks back I damaged my abdominal muscles. It started with dozens of heavy bags of organic dirt for my wife’s raised bed gardens; it ended after a mad dash of 40 laps through a cold pool. From that point on I was in immobilizing pain.
 
A couple of days later my very cool doctor told me not to lift or do anything strenuous for 6 weeks (I was careful not to ask about lovemaking . . . why make a stressful situation more stressful through abstinence?). Oh, and to see an acupuncturist often. Didn’t I tell you he’s too cool for old school?
 
So for the next couple of weeks I did everything wrong. I did not see the acupuncturist. I helped friends move. Even though I only handled “light stuff” the pain leapt in magnitude. Then we had to move our storage unit for the gallery . . . . Again, I only handled “light stuff” . . . apparently not light enough.
 
Then an interesting thing: The next day Carolyn Cohen, an energy healer, happened to be over with her husband. When in passing I mentioned the pain (the agony! the agony!) she stopped me right there and performed a simple, no-more-than-several-minutes healing on me, right where we stood.
 

I believe in these possibilities — the possibility for healing through other than conventional means — and yet I still have a difficult time allowing the reality to be true.
 
Here are the facts:
 
Carolyn healed me. The pain vanished — it just went away, gone. I don’t know if you’re this way also, but I even probed for it, disbelieving that such pain could . . . just go. Even an hour-long bike ride pulling Zane on the tag-along over shell-rock paths through a preserve didn’t bring it back.
 
The pain stayed away — until I talked about it! Late in the next day I was relating to someone how awful the pain had been — I got into the details, I got into the feeling of it, and now I ask myself why? The pain came back, right then, as if summoned by my intensity.
 

What’s that about?
 
Do you suspect the same thing I do? That our mental-spiritual effect is incalculable, quirky, powerful . . . . and yes, that I have the kind of control over it that a rider has on a bucking bull . . . and double yes, that next time I should just shut up?

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Shower yoga?

Sure why not.
 
Yoga has become the catchphrase of the day for thoughtfulness. Yoga implies loving attentiveness. You say yoga and beyond the thoughts of limber lovelies (and Rodney Yee) helming classes, you think ahhhhh, you think ohhhhhhhm. You think mindful engagement.
 

Yoga has usurped Zen. Think back a couple of decades — if you’re young, I’ll think back for you — there was Zen in the Art of Archery, you had the hipster guide to philosophy and life Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, there could have been a Zen for the Overzealous, Zits and Zen or a Zensibilities for all I know . . . We were Zenning out, man.
 
Now you’d have to update those books by translating them into today-ese. For example: The Yoga of [insert playful or workful activity here].
 
I am a Yogi of Luv, by the way . . . and more transparently, a Yogi of Inanity. But I digress.
 

So, shower yoga?
Yes, I say. In recent years I’ve become a spot yoga aficionado. A small retail business, parenthood, all manner of conspiracies make it near impossible to get the two and a half hours necessary to go to a yoga class.
 
It’s true, most yoga classes are an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Factor in the time to get ready, to transport yourself there, to bask in the awesomeness of the other yogurts afterward, to return, to shower and dress — two and a half hours. Yeesh. For something meant to be an activity embodying simplicity . . . .
 
So spot yoga works well for me now.
 

And now I’ve added shower yoga. The shower is always a good place to move thoughtfully anyway. To add slow stretching movements, to add deep bends, to unkink with the warm pummeling of water upon you — we have a hardy showerhead — ohhh, there’s no better way to slough off the night or rid yourself of the errant thoughts of the day. It’s a happy confluence: getting the dirt off while you get your zen on.
 
Try it sometime. You will go ahhhhh, you will go ohhhhm.
If you go slowly enough, deliberately enough, you will connect. You
will connect what’s been disconnected, you will connect your past
participles with future physics principles . . . yeah . . . you will
connect you and You.

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