Acting On Your Impulses

2001 and 2002 were big years for me.  I’ll never forget when in early 2001 a good friend of mine told me he was feeling down about school, didn’t feel like he was going in the right direction in life and asked for a suggestion where he could study audio engineering.  I had audio myself at a small school in East Detroit.  In the time I was in school and audio engineering jobs I had I had heard about a school in Florida that was the best place in the country to study audio.  So I gave my friend some advice and he immediately booked a flight and scheduled a tour of the school.

I had made it known that my intention was to get my Associates Degree and then find a school to study film at.  Upon returning from Florida (I was living in Michigan where I grew up), my friend said, “This school is exactly what I’m looking for.  They have a film program, if I move there, would you be interested in moving with me?”  There was a feeling that came over me as if I had suddenly been handed a map that showed where I was supposed to go.  I immediately said yes without hardly thinking about it.

It took nearly a year.  We flew down to Orlando on September 1, 2001 and found a place to live and on January 7, 2002, we headed south to embark on a journey that changed the course of both of our lives.

To make a long story short, I now work for a sports network that is on in 74 countries world wide and my friend is a two time Emmy winner.

The point of my story is that him and I both made life changing decisions in mere seconds.  It took me less than five seconds to decide to change my life.  My friend walking in to his winter semester class and decided he couldn’t do this anymore.  It was all about what felt right to us.  He asked, I felt a feeling like a mental nudge and I jumped.

If there is something that doesn’t feel right in your life, make a change.  Ask yourself what the right direction would be.  When you think about what’s right, do you feel like life is giving you a little push in that direction?  If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to act on it.

Be well. Be positive.

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Lightening My Mental Load Online

My computer was in for service again and that’s why I haven’t posted in a while.  Over the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of bad luck with computers.  Hopefully, with the replacement of pretty much everything inside of this one, my troubles are behind me.

I’ve been trying to evaluate what causes me stress and anxiety.  A lot of it is things that shouldn’t bother me, things that most people do on a daily basis like talking on the phone or grocery shopping.  One thing that I get a little too emotionally involved in is politics.  For me, politics is a lot like college football for other people.  I wave my little flag and cheer for my favorite players.  For some, however, it’s a great source of anger.

This past year, and even going back to the last presidential election, I’ve lost a few friends who took many of the things I said personally.  If I supported a conservative who wasn’t in favor of, say, minimum wage increases, then they “can’t even begin to understand” why I would support him.  Even if I tried to explain it was related to something else.

My friends are very important to me.  Maybe I hang on to them too hard.  I get very sad when I find that a close friend is avoiding me.  Whether it be in person or on Facebook, it really affects me.  I’ve had friends for 20 years who suddenly unfriend me on Facebook and wont speak to me in real life because of some politician.  I decided it wasn’t worth it anymore.

It wasn’t an easy task but I have gotten rid of all politics on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google plus…).  I’ve also unsubscribed to all politics related emails.  I went a step further.  Facebook has a neat feature where, if your friend posts something, instead of hiding all of their posts, you can hide things from where they linked it from.  I’ve hid all the major cable news sources from my Facebook feed so when my friends post links from these sites, I wont see it.

Then I got to thinking about Facebook’s algorithm.  Facebook doesn’t show you everything your friends post.  It tries to decide what you want to see.  In the past I would “like” or comment on news articles and it seemed my whole feel was nothing but links to stories about politics.  And there’s nothing positive that comes out of any of those stories.  On a side note, there’s a local TV station that posts everyday asking “What’s bugging you today?” but they never ask what good is happening.  I digress…

I started to seek out posts when my friends were simply talking about what they were doing or pictures that they had taken themselves.  I started to like or comment on them.  After about 6 hours of this, a lot more “text only” posts were popping up.  I would like and comment them as well and by day two I had gotten rid of all the negative news links!

I’ve also stopped commenting on anything news or politics related that my friends post.  I’ve stopped watching cable news on my lunch breaks at work and I’ve stopped following local news other than weather.  This has definitely lightened my mental load and I honestly don’t think I could have handled it.

It has been about two weeks now and I honestly feel like I’m starting to see more positive in the world.  Only time will tell how much more positive I’ll see it.

Be well.  Be positive.

Waking Up To A World That Was Always There

A few years ago I was riding my motorcycle.  As I was approaching another road that I would be turning left on to an SUV, without signalling, started changing lanes in to mine.  I hit my brakes and horn and luckily avoided an accident.  As a motorcyclist this is, unfortunately, something that I deal with often.

As I pulled up to the red light, behind the lady who cut me off, I see her throwing her hands up in the air and suddenly rolls down the window.  She started yelling at me, “how am I supposed to know to look out for motorcycles?!”  Baffled, I opened my shield and called back, “the same way you know to look for children and cars.”  She rolled up her window and that was the end of it.

Her reaction shocked me more than anything but I wonder if it really should have.  All too often I also find myself mindlessly going through life reacting and following my routine without thought.

After reading “Wisdom of Insecurity” and currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” has opened my eyes.  I’ve become more mindful and aware of the world around me.  It is a beautiful place.  Even today, it’s 50 degrees (F), a little rainy and there’s no sunshine.  The world doesn’t stop for that.  Nature happens, trees still spread their branches and lift to the sky, the animals go about their daily lives, birds make noises in the trees, the wind rustles leaves and the clouds float quietly past.

There is an amazing world happening all around you right this moment.  You may be in your living room or office or maybe even in a tiny bathroom but it is still there.  Sit quietly for a moment and close your eyes.  Start to hear the room.  Listen for sounds and if there are no sounds then listen to the quiet.  Listen to your breathing for a minute, what does it sound like? Maybe you hear a passing car, a cooling fan from a computer or cable box, maybe you hear your heating/cooling system.

God gave us this world and it is a special place.  We just need to open our eyes and be aware of what’s happening around us.  When you’re in your car driving, don’t just pay attention to the tail lights of the car in front of you, notice the trees you pass, the grass on the side of the road, the sky above you and all that it does.

Have you ever stopped to think about that for a moment?  What does the sky do?  Does it just sit there? No, it changes from day to night and we can see the whole universe laid out before us, there are clouds that pass by, the sun and the moon move throughout the day and night.  Everything is constantly in motion because if it didn’t then life would be dull.  Even take notice of the space between objects.

See beyond yourself.

Be well, be positive

Accepting Good Things In My Life

Wednesday meaning meeting day at work. I am weird in the fact that I enjoy meeting. They’re a time when I can get away from my work and all I have to do is talk. After our meeting wrapped up my boss, who is a truly a pleasure to work for and with was telling us that she finally fulfilled her goal of running the Disney half marathon and marathon in one weekend. She got a total of three medals for completing these races. We got to talking about running and how I’m starting to run again and she told me I should run in a race. She looked up a schedule of upcoming races and there is one coming up in march that is a 2 mile race. I’ll be read for two miles by then. The next race is at the end of March and is a 5k (3.1 miles).

My first inclination was to say maybe and then forget about it. I mean, what if I can’t find a place to park and what if I am not sure where I’m supposed to go or oversleep or show up the wrong day… Then I decided to stop acting irrational and told her I would look it up. I’ve got a couple of months to put money aside (my budget is a bit tight). So I made up my mind. I’m going to run a couple of races with my boss. Short races with a marathon runner and triathlete.

I’ve noticed that there are good and bad things that are trying to happen at all times. The question is, do I want to accept the good things or allow the bad things to win? Quite frankly, in theory, we would all like to accept the good things. In practice, however, it has felt very different in my life. A friend offers to pick up the tab and I say “no, no. I can’t let you do that.” I’ve come to understand that allowing people to do nice things benefits not only me but them as well.

I think back to times when I have done something nice for someone. It gives me great joy and satisfaction. It gives them great joy and satisfaction. It strengthens bonds and deepens friendships. It puts a smile on the face of people who are watching.

I was in a Starbucks a couple of weeks ago. The man who was two people ahead of me was ordering several drinks and paying for them individually. I was in a good frame of mind so I didn’t let it bother me. A woman walked up to the woman who was in front of me and started chatting. The two women were together but one had already gotten her drink. No one seemed irritated but the man who was ordering so many drinks asked the woman in front of me what she was ordering. She told him and the man responded by saying “I have one right here! You can have it!” The woman was so thankful, the woman who got a free coffee was smiling and her friend as well. Not only that but it made me and the barista smile as well. Five people were impacted by that gesture that seemed to be such a small gesture to this man. He finished quite quickly and I was on my way with a great cup of black decaf.

By turning offers down, I feel like I’m choosing to focus on the negative. I’m turning down someone’s offer to share some happiness with me. In return I feel I should joyfully do nice things for other people. God has a way of giving back to us what we put out. Is that karma? I plan to allow good things to happen to me. To run a race with my boss, to smile and wave to the driver who leaves me room to pull out, to go through a door that someone stops to hold. And in return, I’ll focus on the positive and feel the joy of doing those things as well.

Be well, be positive.

What’s Your Hurry? Discontent

I was driving home a few days ago and watched as a car traveling in another lane but behind me sped through a yellow light that turned red as it entered the intersection. I thought to myself, “what makes someone put their safety and the safety of others in jeopardy simply to shave 30 seconds off of their drive?” While I cannot speak for everyone, my own experience tells me that the driver probably wasn’t thinking of safety, they weren’t thinking of anything regarding that particular moment. Most likely they were thinking of a future event such as arriving home or the lunch that they may have been hungry for. Instead of enjoying the beautiful sunshine, 75 degree weather and palm trees, they were concerned with a future matter that, if they continued to drive in such a manner, may never come.

There have been so many times in my life that I didn’t truly appreciate because I was waiting for what was next. And when that time came, I was most likely looking forward to something else.

When I got married I not only got a wife but also a step daughter. It was a wonderful, and trying year for so many reasons. The first 10 months were particularly difficult financially. By the time we got stable, it was almost time for my first daughter to be born. I remember thinking about a month before she was born that things would be changing. I welcomed the change but it would never just be my wife, step daughter and me anymore. I decided at that point to stop and enjoy the time we had at that stage. It was a wonderful time indeed. Not because of anything in particular but because I stopped to notice and enjoy it one moment at a time.

Looking back, I now realize that the first 10 months that I thought were so difficult, really we’re full of good times. We never knew where our next meal would come from at times, the house fell in to foreclosure (which we were able to get out of) and I ended up going out on the road driving a truck. With the exception of the three months I was on the road, my wife and I were together nearly every moment. We had an equally as poor neighbor who we had endless fun hanging out with.

There is good and bad in every situation. All I have to do is set my focus on the good things. I think life has a funny way of showing you things in the past that you didn’t see when it was happening. Maybe it is your mind’s way of saying, “hey, wake up and smell the roses.”

I haven’t written in a couple of days. Until I can get a computer, I’m at the mercy of my iPad and with five people in my family, not only are we busy on the weekends but my kids also want to use the iPad. Weekdays should be free, however. My wife started school this week so I have a lot of me time. Also, when I get a computer I’ll be able to spell check and proof read better. It is very difficult to edit text once it is written on the iPad. Since I’m getting more viewers every day I thought I would throw that out there. The good news is that my wife should be getting a computer soon and I’ll be able to use it at times.

Be well, friends and be positive.