I’m not posting today to celebrate my Birthday. Have a great Monday!!
Until next time…
This is a shout out to all of the folks who followed my blog this week. Thanks a lot!
Since you’re new, here is my blogging schedule:
Ted Talk Tuesday
Series Sunday/Thank you day!
I really appreciate all of my new followers and hope you enjoy my blog. If you have any critique, any suggestions, anything at all, feel free to reach out in the comments on any of my posts.
Have a great Sunday!!
Until next time…
“Begin with the love you have. Love gratefully. This love expands your heart into a greater vessel which can hold yet more love.”—Harold Klemp The Language of Soul
All of us are probably the worst self-critics. I know I am. Did you ever have a conversation with yourself that involve the statements “you should”, “you missed”, or you “screwed up”? The conversations about not being good enough, not looking right, or some other self-inflicted attack?
Give yourself a break. Embrace the failure. The more we realize how mistakes are a part of success and getting things done, the more we will be apt to tackle projects that are big, hairy, and scary. Get yourself out there, write down the things you want to do before you leave this Earth (Bucket List), and start doing them. I think you’ll be amazed by your results.
The more you can accept and love yourself, the more you’ll be able to accept and love others. It all starts and ends with you.
When you wake up tomorrow, start your day by saying something nice to yourself. Start your day counting your blessings. Try this for the upcoming week. I think you, like me, will be surprised by the results, the change in your demeanor, the change in your mood.
Seriously, give this a shot.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Until next time…
“But what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now.” —C.S. Lewis, writing about journaling after his wife died in A Grief Observed
I was looking through my blog this morning and discovered that I forgot to wrap up my Journaling series. If there was one piece of advice I could pass on to others, it would be this: Start journaling. Journaling allows us to communicate with ourselves. It allows us to air out our problems and be totally open without having to pretend or act a different way. You get to talk to yourself as yourself.
As I mentioned in my Journaling series, there are plenty of journals, even ones that I did not address. I only wanted to address the journaling that I do, not cover types of journals that I do not have experience with.
As promised, I also wanted to provide you with the ritual I associate with my personal journaling. My ritual for journaling involves two time periods. The morning is for my dream journal and gratitude journal. I enjoy recording my dreams. I have found that the more time I put into my dream journal the more memorable my dreams are. They are not like this all the time, but the detail and my recall have improved over time. My gratitude journal is used just for that—to record all the things I am grateful for.
I use the evening to reflect on my day. I call this my daily reflection. My daily reflection is more like a diary. I record the events of the day. I also have conversations with myself about things that are troubling me, things that I’m thinking about, and even the problems I’m trying to work through.
I also log my food into an app called My Fitness Pal and my exercises into another app called Body Space. The app I use for my gratitude, dream, and daily reflection journals is called Diaro (www.diaro.com).
Look around the web and for “benefits of journaling” and you’ll find an endless list of good things that come to those of us that journal. The benefits that I derive from journaling is the ability to get things out of my head. Sometimes when I’m writing in my journals I get impressions or ideas. These ideas help me solve a problem or provide an answer to a question. Sometimes these impressions point me in a direction to learn something or give me a nudge to act in some way.
One question I’ve wondered about. Should a journal be handwritten or typed? I’ve been torn between the two but settled on typed. I cannot read my own handwriting. This is the reason. I like to go back through my journaling and dreams and read them. It is amazing how much transpires in our lives that we forget about a few months later. It is also a great way to remember great things that happened during the day. I always discuss things that have happened as a sort of record of my life. I think it would be nice to pass down to my relatives once I’m gone.
A journal is your own biography. It tells a story about your feelings, your dreams, the people you’ve loved, your fears, and your happy times. It is your history.
Journaling has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and committed to. Honestly, there are some days I just don’t want to have anything to do with journaling and those days the entries are pretty short, but there are other days when I have a lot to talk about and fill a few pages.
In some respects, even this blog is a journal. The content I contribute to this community is from me. It is mine, but it is tempered. There are things I would never put on my blog. Those things are reserved for my journal.
I used C.S Lewis’ quote because he used his journal to get through the death of his wife. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. A journal can be that “ear” when you need one. It can be a very healing process. I have used my journal during some tough times and it helps—it really does.
Well, this is the end of my journaling series. I hope you had a chance to read through my other entries. I also hope that this series influences you to begin your own journaling practice. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time…
“Be who you are, not who the world wants you to be.”
This week’s edition of Wisdom Wednesday addresses a few items related to the most important person in your life—YOU. I’m a bit of a hermit, spending a lot of time in my study reading, writing, and interacting on social media.
I enjoy interacting with people in public, like the gym where I workout or the coffee shops I frequent from time-to-time. I like people, but my focus is on my writing, reading, exercise, learning, and spiritual pursuits. I have learned over the last few years, since my retirement, that so many people are controlled by the society that surrounds us. In the U.S. we work harder and longer than most in other countries, we spend more money on stress-reducing drugs than any other country, and our population is less happy than other countries. This is a bleak outlook, right?
We Americans are the largest consumers on the planet. We chase after the glowing bobbles in the malls, we strive for bigger homes, newer cars, boats, new clothes, plastic surgery and all the rest. Why do we do this? Well, part of it is related to the advertising and marketing practices present every day in our lives. Wherever Americans go, we are bombarded with an advertisement. Advertisement on the web, social media, the radio, television, even our mobile phones. We buy things we don’t need, eat the wrong foods, use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs (prescribed and unprescribed). We take vacations and do so much that we return home more exhausted than before we left. All this purchasing causes us to borrow money in the form of credit cards, signature loans, shopping cards, and the like. This, in turn, drives us to work harder and continue to work to pay off all of these “nice” things, and before we know it we become slaves to the very things we thought we wanted. In the end, we’re still unhappy, we’re exhausted, we’re addicted to things we don’t want to be and we are overweight.
How do we turn this around?
It’s awesome to be connected to the world. It’s fun to have access to our books, music, friends, movies, and the rest on our phones. It’s terrific to be able to watch movies on our computers and interact with our friends on social media.
I’m not proposing that we shut all this down forever but taking some time away from our devices and our technology can be a much-needed relief and put us in a position to just relax and enjoy the moment.
If you haven’t looked at Minimalism, you might want to take a look. Minimalists propose only owning what they need and owning only the bare minimum required for survival. The claim is that the less you own, the less you have to take care of, the less money you’ll spend for just more “stuff”.
You can start with your closet. Really look. If you own clothes that you haven’t worn in the last year, donate them. The same applies to the other things you possess. I’ve done this myself and it is quite liberating.
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
Taking the time to live in the moment is a relaxing and joyous act. Mindfulness is nothing more than paying attention. Enjoying your meals, enjoying the quiet, enjoying the experiences you have, enjoying the people you are with, are just some aspects. Really savor everything. You’ll be amazed how relaxing, centering, and fulfilling the act of mindfulness is.
If you have trouble with this mindset, you should try meditation. Meditation in its simplest form is nothing more than paying attention to your breath. Focus on breathing in and breathing out. This one act performed for just 10 minutes a day will garner some amazing benefits, along with training your mind to be more focused on the task at hand.
Realizing that what you have is all you need is liberating and calming. It also provides a sense of contentment that you may have not felt in a long time. Purposely express your gratitude each morning for a few minutes. You can say what you are grateful for or write these things down in a journal. By putting your attention on being grateful for the blessings in your life, you’ll be less likely to continue chasing after that next “thing”.
There are numerous benefits to exercise. Whether you lift weights, do Yoga, run, swim, or just take a walk, the benefits of exercise are huge. You can start by doing something as simple as stretching out in the morning and knocking out a few push-ups or taking a walk in the morning or evening.
Nutrition is the cornerstone of health. Take some time to learn about nutrition. Try focusing on eating whole foods (not in boxes or packaging) and cooking your own meals. You’ll find that you’ll spend less, the food tastes better, and your body will thank you for it.
Go to bed on time and avoid the electronics too close to bedtime. They will disrupt your sleep. Come up with a ritual composed of hygiene (hot shower), a little reading, meditation, or a nice cup of herbal tea. Your sleep is critical to your performance and health.
Reading and Learning
Too many of us read too little and stop learning after leaving school. Reading opens us up to new horizons, new ways of thinking, and it allows us to explore the thoughts of authors in different times and nationalities.
Learning should be life-long. There is always something we can learn to improve our lives, our performance at work, and even pick up new skills that will contribute to our well-being far into the future.
Become Your Best Friend
So many of us depend on others for our happiness. So many people need someone else in their lives to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, we are social beings. We need contact with other people. It is wired into the human psyche to interact with our fellow beings. The real question, however, is this: Are you happy with you? Can you be happy without that guy or gal in your life? I would argue that the answer to this question is yes. You can be happy with you and enjoy the solitude that being alone delivers. I’m not proposing that you dump all your friends. I am proposing that you take some time to get to know yourself. Enjoy you.
All these tools are easy to implement but are not a panacea. Only you can determine what you need, what will work in your personal situation, and what acts you can take (even others not mentioned) that will improve your outlook and happiness.
If you are happy with your current situation, leave it alone. If not, take some time to look around a bit to find some suggestions offered online, in books, or even ideas you could get from one of your friends or confidants. You’ll be glad you did.
Until next time…
“Sometimes it’s important to just stop and be grateful for the blessings that you already have.” —Harold Klemp The Language of Soul
From time to time I reflect on my life. I have had a great many successes and some pretty dismal failures. One of the greatest changes I have made is the movement from not having enough and begin grateful for what I have.
For the longest time, I concentrated on the bad things—a divorce, a bankruptcy, or even my lack of the income I wanted to be making. This thinking captured my attention for the longest time. Then, I began thinking that my thinking was the problem. Why did things go wrong for me while others were achieving the success they desired?
My thinking changed, and I began to see success, but there was a problem. With the success, I was achieving came the worry about losing it all again. That’s exactly what happened. After what seemed to be an indefinite occupation in a pit I could not pull myself from, I began to realize that despite my failures and defeats, I still had it pretty good. I began to rethink my life.
I began a Gratitude Journal. I began reading positive materials. I began looking for the good things in life.
To this day, I consider myself a lucky man, with all I need. Am I rich? No. The riches I do have are inner ones. I realized that I will always have the ability to take care of myself. I also realized that despite how bad things can get, I would always be grateful for what I had, even if it was very little.
I cannot tell you how wonderful this change of attitude is. I am not always happy, but I am content. There will always be something that gets under my skin or causes me to worry a little. The key to this new attitude is to truly be thankful for this life. This life is truly a precious thing. I have traveled the world, I have loved and have been loved. I have laughed until I cried and wake each day with a good sense of humor. I am just happy to be alive and content with whatever comes.
Part of this newfound gratitude is also a detachment, which takes on a new shape each time I evolve. I used to think detachment was related to material things, but it is so much more. Detachment, in its purest sense, is really being adaptable to change. Change in location, change in attitude, change in health, change in age, change in relationships, change, change, change. Detachment is being able to alter our opinions, alter our attitudes, alter our way of thinking, even our core philosophy. When there is no expectation of anything, coupled with a deep gratitude for the existence we have, happiness is inevitable. How can you be unhappy when everything is acceptable, and we are grateful for our situation, regardless of what that situation is?
Another aspect of this change in thinking is the ability to be charitable. I’m not talking just about volunteer work or giving money. I’m talking about the willingness to serve another person. Something simple like a smile at a complete stranger, holding a door open for someone, posting a nice note to someone on social media, anything that allows us to extend goodwill to others, even complete strangers.
I hope each of you is having a terrific weekend. Take a few moments today to take stock of what you have. Be grateful for what you have, really embrace that. When you make the decision that you have all you need and are content with what you have, you’ll feel a deep sense of peace and fulfillment. You’ll realize that the race to get more is nothing more than a distraction. A distraction that keeps us from realizing that we have all we need and that this life is a pretty good one.
Until next time…
“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” – William Arthur Ward
What obstacles are in your way? What challenges are you experiencing? Are they really challenges/obstacles?
This quote deals with our attitude. Everything we deal with in our reality and the way we react to these things render our lives happy and content or unhappy and discontent. It is interesting when you can really take account of what is going on in your life and simply say “It’s all good.”
I think the biggest challenge we face is accepting reality for what it is. There are certain things that are just out of our control. You can be angry about them, sad about them, or happy and content. It really is a choice.
It took me a very long time to figure this out. Like many, if I wasn’t making the money I wanted, had the gal I wanted, lived in the place I wanted, etc. life sucked. Then I began to realize that the endless pursuit of “things” was fruitless. That certain part of me that had a hunger for this nonsense would never be satisfied. It would always want more. It would always be demanding and unsatisfied.
Then, one day I came to the realization that we have all we need. I began minimalizing my life. Why did I need a computer, laptop, tablet, and phone, when I only needed one computer and a phone? Why did I need all the clothes I had, when I could only wear one outfit a day? Slowly, but surely, I donated, sold, and got rid of a lot of stuff. Now, I could literally move at a moment’s notice without too much fuss. I don’t have a lot of things to take care of, because I don’t own a lot of things. Life became simpler. Life became easier. I was happier. I was calmer.
I think much of our wants, our needs, our goals, are driven by society and our social relationships. We compete silently to get the same car or nicer one, the same house or bigger one, the same computer or a faster one, not realizing that the companies selling these products influenced us into this never-ending race of purchasing and needing and desiring.
When I decided to “make my own rules”. I began to realize how simple life is and how happy we can be with very little. I have a roof over my head. I have enough food. I have a place to sleep. My health is good. I also realized that the goals I was pursuing were not mine, but society’s.
I don’t need a lot of money. I don’t need a snappy new car or a lot of clothes. I only need the basics to survive and thrive. Now, I wake up each day fresh and ready to go. I reflect on what I am grateful for—and I am grateful for everything. But you know, I could live with even less if I needed to and still be happy. I am happy because I choose to be.
When you wake up and come at life with happiness and gratitude in your heart, nothing can throw you off course. The rocks in your path really do become the tools you use to build the road with.
You have a choice.
Until next time…
I hope each of you had a terrific holiday season and are all ramped up and ready to go for 2018. This year presents so many possibilities. Starting tomorrow I’ll begin posting my daily quotes and workout diary.
Thank you for following my blog!
See you again tomorrow!!
Well, folks, we have come to the end of Christmas 2017. Merry Christmas to all of my friends and family who wished me a great Christmas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and LinkedIn. It was a great Christmas for the Gardner Family and one I will remember for some time. I hope all of you had as great a day as I did. The above picture is my family (- my sister who was taking the picture) right before digging into a homemade feast of Goose, Mashed Potatoes, Squash, Cranberry Sauce, and Dressing!
I had a great time with my family, had some great food (courtesy my Mom), and just relaxed, enjoying the time we had together over the last few days. Tomorrow everyone will be back to work and the day-to-day buzz will drown out the solitude some of you may have experienced. For the remained of this month you’ll be getting prepared for New Year’s celebrations, tidy up last-minute details at work, coordinate your plans and get ready for the big “ball drop” day.
For the remainder of the year, I’ll be continuing my battery re-charge, coupled with a lot of reading and contemplating the goals I have for 2018. Some I am working on currently, others are yet to be discovered. My days will be filled with dreaming, contemplating, and planning. They’ll also be filled with watching the DVDs my Dad and I got, reading some of the books I got, spending time with Mom and Dad working on one of the two jigsaw puzzles we received, and maybe, just maybe, playing a little of the Xbox game my niece sent me. It’ll be a great time!
Recently, I reconnected with a friend. This guy served with me in the Berlin Brigade (West Germany before unification). He reached out to me on Facebook “out of the blue” and it’s like we were never apart. Obviously, we both have a little grayer in the temples and beards than we did “way back when”, but he’s the same guy that used to kick my butt in chess on a daily basis. That was a special “Christmas” present that was totally unexpected. I’ll be spending some time with him over the next week as well.
Wherever you are, a new year brings hope for better times, working on new habits and getting rid of some bad ones. The new year brings new experiences, new jobs, getting married, having babies, making new friends, graduating from college, and so many more wonderful things. It’s doctor, dentist, and optometrist appointments, it’s grocery shopping, it’s a new promotion, it’s moving on to a new job. Perhaps your new year will bring moving to a new place and start over or donate time to your favorite charity. The new year presents endless possibilities, waiting to be discovered.
Enjoy the last few days of 2017.
Prepare for 2018.
Love one another. Cherish your friends. Appreciate the place you call home, your family, your pets, and all of the wonderful things in your life. Be grateful for the blessings that this life brings. Be grateful for the laughter, even the tears. Be grateful for the God-given talents you have and the ones that are waiting for you to uncover. Be grateful.
As we wind down 2017, I am grateful to you, my readers. I wish all of you the very best over the last few years of 2017. I hope you attain even greater heights of love and happiness in 2018.
For those of you that are having a tough time right now, remember to cherish even the smallest things. Life will get better for you. Life always does. During these times of trouble, be patient. Trouble will pass and good times will return. Make an extra effort to give of yourself during these troubled times. You’ll find that your giving will be returned in one way or another.
I’ll post again on New Year’s Day. I’ll see you then.
Until next time…
All, I’ve decided to move my Ted Talks and Funny Quotes to Sunday. It’s a good day to have a giggle and enjoy a nice video that I’ve hand-picked over a nice cup of coffee or tea, with some of your favorite music playing in the background.
Here’s today’s funny quote:
“Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.” – Johnny Carson
I’m old enough to remember the late Johnny Carson, one of America’s iconic late night talk show hosts. Johnny was a nightly companion when I was growing up because Mom and Dad loved watching him. His humor was always terrific and he had some of the most interesting people as guests.
Today’s talk show hosts just don’t hold a light to this guy. I wish all of you, regardless of your faith, a terrific holiday season, filled with joy, love, and companionship. This time of year is truly my favorite because I missed so many of these while I served in the US Army. Now, I really take the time to enjoy myself, my family and friends and relish every moment.
I can only hope that you find peace, companionship, and have some time to really enjoy your holiday season. I use this time to reflect, recharge, and prepare for another great year.
If you are one of my followers, Thank you so much for taking the time to follow my blog. I just started it this year and have learned a great deal from your blogs and find new and exciting content here every day.
Happy Holidays to all of you!