July 23, 2014

Barriers To Emotional Intimacy… (Mental Health Awareness Week cont.)

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:01 am

All Aboard!

Let’s head on back to the Doctor’s office, Dr. Diedra Hayman for another portion of the Doc’s wisdom.  Today we look at what are some of the hindrances to us’ins relating in a more intimate way. I really enjoy’d this particular session and my allergies (wink, wink) almost started flaring up as the Doc was bringing back some of my own stuff.  But hey, I am the Ultimate MACHO MAIN and that moment passed REAL QUICK; I recognized her tricks!

Note to self, I must say, she is good at getting one to open up…

CHUCKIE: What issues can cause one to struggle in the area of intimacy with the opposite sex?
Dr.Dee: Gosh Chuckie, there are so many issues that can cause problems with intimacy in general, as well as intimacy with the opposite sex, in particular. I think you did something on that issue a few months ago, and several people, including yourself, came up with some very good reasons why people struggle in this area. If you pop that in a search engine, you will find another hundred or so reasons. But the big ones seem to be related to inability to trust, mental health issues including active addictions, failure to cultivate intimacy (which can be an issue of priority), childhood issues, cultural influences (including gender roles and stereotypes) and negative past experiences.

CHUCKIE: Is it more prevalent in one sex?
Dr.Dee: I suspect its more recognizable in men than in women. Women generally are trained from babyhood, to talk, to share their emotions, to get close. Men, in general, are taught that the macho thing to do is swat someone on the butt, suck it up, and keep your business to yourself. And if they do share, its the bare minimum, whereas women want to go into all the gory details of whatever. The other issue is that men generally are more likely to feel vulnerable, which is what intimacy requires, by the way, and men just don’t care for that feeling of vulnerability.

CHUCKIE: What types of childhood issues could cause such barriers?
Dr.Dee: Well, how a person attached or failed to attach to a parent or caregiver can set one up for intimacy problems. If you grow up in a household where you could not trust the world (ie your caregiver) to meet your needs, it becomes very difficult to trust that people “out there” will meet your needs. Since the ability to trust is one of the necessary elements to intimacy, people who never learn to trust never learn to become intimate emotionally. Also, if a person grows up in an abusive household, or being abused by people they are supposed to be able to count on, intimacy becomes very risky. Its simply too dangerous to share too much of themselves, because often that information was used against the person to perpetuate the abuse. Low self-esteem can also pose a barrier to intimacy, and this is usually something that develops during childhood. If we never learn to love ourselves, its difficult to believe someone else will.

CHUCKIE: Have you found that divorce can lend greatly to this issue?
Dr Dee: That really depends on the person. Certainly, a divorce can cause problems with intimacy, but generally its safe to say that the problems that caused teh divorce are more likely responsible than the actual divorce itself. Some people are more resilient than others. They are able to understand within themselves that whatever happened in that marriage was something unique to that marriage, and it doesnt necessarily mean that the next partner will be the same. Others simply cannot bring themselves to separate the past from the present and future, and their damaged ability to trust will give them trouble with intimacy for years to come.

CHUCKIE: Should one seek help?
Dr Dee: Certainly one should seek help if they realize that they do in fact have trouble establishing intimate relationships. Problem is, many people who do have trouble, tend to believe its the other person! In fact, in many cases, people who have problems with intimacy, tend to be drawn to people who are emotionally unavailable. In other words, they tend to be drawn to people with whom they will NOT have to actually become intimate, while at the same time claiming to be seeking intimacy from that person. If the other person were to actually become emotionally available, then the seeker would probably turn around and find a reason why they cant be in that relationship. Its just becoming too close for comfort!

CHUCKIE: Doc, I came up with a Chuckism as I am so apt to do. I call it emotional impotency. For example, can a person be hurt by a spouse, lover, or church to the point of becoming emotionally impotent? One may want to love and be loved, or be active in the church, but due to catastrophic experiences, have trouble connecting?
Dr Dee: Absolutely. That really gets us into how people sometimes respond to traumatic events. If someone we trust hurts us deeply, damaging our ability to trust, sometimes, people are traumatized by that event. One of the behaviors associated with post trauma response is emotional numbing. We just don’t feel anymore. Another behavior associated with post trauma response is avoidance of anything that reminds us of the traumatic event…so we avoid relationships. We avoid connecting with others. We pretend to get involved, but we hold ourselves back emotionally. We become, as you say, emotionally impotent. Now another thing that can happen after deep hurt, is, you guessed it, depression and grief. If you remember, one of the symptoms of depression is lack of interest in things you used to enjoy…such as sex and close relationships…and also social withdrawal. You simply don’t want to be around folks. Or if you have no choice, or you are keeping up the front, you simply don’t get too close. You keep it all on the surface.

CHUCKIE: Well, we need to wrap this one up. Is there anything you want to add?
Dr Dee: Yes, emotional intimacy rests on emotional health. That means taking time to discover and address your own emotional needs, even if it means getting in to a therapist or pastor. Emotional intimacy also requires a good bit of courage and a positive attitude. It takes courage to allow yourself to become vulnerable to another human being, especially since we have all been hurt by someone at some time somewhere. And we do tend to draw the energy we send out. If we expect betrayal, we tend to draw people who give us what we are looking for. If we expect emotional distance, we tend to draw people who are emotionally unavailable.

CHUCKIE: Well Doc, this session is in the can. Thanks for stopping by the Train [again]. Is there anything you’d like to close with, is there anything else you’d like to leave us with today?
Dr.Dee: Well, yes there is as a matter of fact. Given that my practice is founded in Christianity,  I’d like to leave our passengers with a few scriptures from the Bible:

…and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it…Gen.2:2-3
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord…Ex. 20:11
…the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. Luke 6:5, Mark 2:28
And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4

Go fellow passengers…and rest in God’s Peace!

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

July 22, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week (Cont.)

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:43 am

All Aboard!

Hey passengers, in support of  mental awareness week (with an emphasis on anxiety) I decided we should visit the good Doc (Doctor Diedra Hayman Ph.D) again to make sure we have a firm understanding of the A word:

ANXIETY

Regular passengers here on the LifeTrain know that we often visit with one of my Psych Doctor friends to discuss issues of the mind,  back in the medical car of the LifeTrain.   I sat down awhile back with Doctor Diedra Hayman to discuss anxiety disorders.  With all the stresses of today’s world I thought it might be helpful to periodically look at how we could manage this type of condition or perhaps offer help to a friend or family member who might be…a tad worried over things.  So without further a due, lets knock on the good doc’s door and see what we can find out.  But first, let’s set the music for the background read:

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Chuckie: Hey Doc Doc!  Before we get started with today’s topic, tell us, whats going on in your world…how are you?
Dr.Dee: Well, life is moving quickly. I am just about to send the puppy I’m fostering to her forever home, so hopefully my life will get back to normal soon. I am SO glad my kids are past the diapers and 2am feedings, stage. Nursing puppies takes you right back to those days!

Chuckie: Doc, today let’s talk about Anxiety.   Just what is Anxiety disorder?x1
Dr.Dee: Well, an anxiety disorder is really when we take worrying, and raise it to the level of art!   lol! Everyone experiences anxiety. Its that feeling of nervousness, or worrying a bit about something that is new, something that is old and bothersome, something that is out of the ordinary for our lives. But when we worry and stress to the point where it interferes with our daily lives…we cant sleep, we cant eat normally, we are having bad dreams or nightmares, we are worrying about any and everything, we dont want to go outside our homes, we panic…then it becomes disorder.

Chuckie: Is this your area of expertise?
Dr.Dee: As  a generalist, I do have some experience working with anxiety. After major depression, it is probably one of the  most common mental disorders.

Chuckie: As I understand it there are types of anxiety disorder, correct?
Dr.Dee: Yes, there is an anxiety disorder for every day of the week! Not really, but there are several anxiety-based disorders. Interested readers can do a google search for the details, but briefly, there is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia, Phobias, Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Tic Disorder, and Dissociative Disorders, Somato form Disorders, Anxiety Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. I may have missed a couple others, but those are the most common.

anxietyChuckie: How do you treat anxiety disorders?
Dr.Dee: There are a variety of techniques for treating anxiety disorder. Systematic Desensitization is where a person is taught relaxation techniques, and then gradually exposed to the thing that causes them stress, while being asked to practice the relaxation. This can be done either through images created in the mind, or else, “in vitro”, or live, with an actual example of the anxiety provoking situation. Many cognitive-behavioral approaches are effective as well, and they tend to vary according to the type of anxiety. But essentially they teach the client to become aware of their thoughts, and then rather than accepting their thinking about an issue face value, they learn to question the validity of their thinking, and to replace faulty thoughts with more reasonable and helpful ones. I mentioned relaxation techniques as part of Systematic Desensitization, but those techniques alone can be taught as an effective means of coping with anxiety. Biofeedback is another means of treating anxiety. Here, the person is taught, through the use of a machine that monitors heart rate and blood pressure, to reduce the physical response to anxiety by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. Lifestyle changes are very important. Often we are living in such a way, and at such a pace, that we may be unwittingly contributing to our own anxiety. And of course, there is medication management. There are a variety of medications available for the treatment of various anxiety disorders.

Chuckie: How do I know if the medication is working?
Dr.Dee: If there is significant reduction in anxiety symptoms, and the side effects are not intolerable, then you can assume the medication is having some impact. Its important to be alert to the medications, though. In the case of anxiety, some of the medications are actually addictive, such as the benzodiazepines (Klonipin, Xanax). If you dont want to risk addiction and withdrawal, request something other than a benzo, if at all possible. Some antidepressants are effective against anxiety symptoms, at different doses.

Chuckie: Any parting thoughts to leave us with on this subject?
Dr.Dee: Yes, anxiety can be a crippling disorder. It can make it difficult to impossible to get a job, keep a job, or even leave the house, for some people. Often, people become anxious because they attribute all kinds of faulty meanings to events that occur in their lives. One of the most effective treatments I know of for anxiety is trust in God. Knowing that ultimately, God is in control, makes it possible to manage even the most distressing anxiety, and even reducing it to zero. I encourage all who desire, to seek a knowledge of God, and to rely on Him for the solution to our deepest worries. God says “casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.”

Chuckie: Do you think we’ll ever get our own syndicated show?
Dr. Dee: Uhhh…no, Chuckie, I work on the “brief therapy” model. You are almost out of sessions for this treatment episode!

July 21, 2014

This week…Be anxious for nothing…

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:55 am

Merry Monday, All ABoard for another ride on the train!  Passengers, we all know that everyone worries sometimes. Everyone gets scared, except me…(LOL!)…well maybe every once in awhile.  But, I’m working on it.  And you should as well.  Kick it (Today’s wine with the meal…the song):

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I’m not saying that worry is an illness, it’s normal, even healthy, responses to threatening situations. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, consider seeking medical advice. Anxiety takes many forms.  It can make you so uneasy around people that you isolate yourself, skirting social gatherings and passing up potential friendships.  It can fill you with such obsessive thoughts or w1inexplicable dread of ordinary activities that you cannot work. Anxiety disorders can be mild, moderate, or severe, but overcoming anxiety generally takes more than just “facing your fears.” Many people need help in dealing with these problems.

But getting help has always been easier said than done. As with many mental health issues, there has long been a stigma surrounding anxiety. People are ashamed to admit to phobias and persistent worries, which seem like signs of weakness. The shame, combined with the tendency of people with anxiety to avoid others, is perhaps the biggest obstacle to relief and recovery. Without treatment, many individuals become more fearful and isolated. In extreme cases, they are so imprisoned by their anxiety that they are unable to leave home.

Sigmund Freud regarded anxiety as the result of inner emotional conflict or external danger. While these factors often contribute to anxiety, scientists now know that anxiety disorders are biologically based illnesses. Indeed, the last 30 years have transformed our understanding of anxiety. Sophisticated brain imaging equipment has made it possible to trace the neural pathways of fear and anxiety. In the process, scientists have discovered certain abnormalities in the brains of anxiety sufferers. Research also suggests that genes may contribute to these abnormalities. While there are still more questions than answers, the growing knowledge about anxiety has already led to safer, more effective treatments.

w2Anxiety disorders, which include panic attacks and phobias, are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting about 19 million American adults and millions of children. For every individual with an anxiety disorder, many more are affected by it, including spouses, children, other relatives, friends, and employers.

On the other hand, never before have there been so many therapies to help control anxiety and preserve the relationships that can be undone by it. Medications can, in many cases, reduce or eliminate anxiety symptoms. Several types of therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy, also help control anxiety by teaching people to adopt more positive thought and behavior patterns.  Some medications now being developed may even help prevent anxiety disorders in people who are genetically predisposed to them.

So this week…be anxious for noting…help is at hand!  Hop aboard the LifeTrain all this week as I share help and information on dealing with Anxiety.

Philippians 4:6
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

All Aboard, The LifeTrain!

July 14, 2014

Just Play…

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:49 am

All Aboard!  Merry Monday!

As you board the LifeTrain I give you your weekly business card, it reads:

“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” ~Chuang Tzu

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Back when one of my many nieces (Porche) was three years old (now 25) she was the most pleasant person I have ever hung out with. What I loved most about her was that she didn’t care how I looked, what I was driving, etc. she just loved her Uncle Chuckie.   If you have children or are around children, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Anyway, her mother was frequently on-call (as a doctor).  Sometimes when she was called into work (all hours of the night),  in a pinch she would call me to baby-sit her daughter.  She was a single mom.

Question:  As I spent time with Porche I often wondered, could it be that instead of only teaching our children the lessons of life perhaps we should let them teach us the lessons of happiness?

Since I didn’t have kids and it didn’t seem to be in the cards for me… time with her was very important.  Most of our time was spent with my observing and playing.  It got me thinking about her abundant joy and how I should take these lessons to heart.

Here is what Porche taught me about the secrets to happiness:

Don’t think about playing; just play.

My niece didn’t think about playing or how to play, she just played. Just like a blade of grass doesn’t intend to grow, it just grows. But we get so caught up in thinking about doing something that we think that contemplation is action, but it couldn’t be farther from it.

Are you practicing making a change to your life so much that you forgot to make the change happen?  One of my mottoes is, “Ready, fire, aim,” because if I think about it too long, I will talk myself out of taking action.

Don’t think about playing, just play.

 

Stop and listen to the birds.

One of my niece’s favorite things was to listen to the birds in the morning. When was the last time you listened to the birds at dawn?  When was the last time you smelled a blooming flower?  When was the last time you took over an hour to eat a meal, savoring each bite?

This is mindfulness and it is so good for creating happiness. Part of mindfulness is practicing gratitude. It’s hard to be grateful if you don’t stop and notice all the good things in your day. Stop and listen to the birds.

Explore above, below, and everything underneath.

Like most children, my niece was incredibly curious.  Everything was new to her, so naturally it had to be explored. She had to explore every aspect of something new, no matter if it was chalk, the sound a bell made, or what ice cream tasted like. Her entire day was one big exploration of life.

As an adult I get set in my ways; don’t you?  We are so content in our ways we forget about new ideas, new perspectives, and new ways of doing things.

When was the last time you took a new route to work, tried a different restaurant, jumped in a pool, or danced?  Happiness is in the joy of the moment, and there is no greater way to create joyful moments than to explore new things.  Explore above, below, and under everything.

Bath time is a cause for major celebration.

For my niece there was no greater activity than taking a bath. Total happiness ensued as she got placed in her tub. Everything about the bath was full of joy—the water, the splashing, making bubbles, and time with her uncle.

When was the last time you reveled in something like a bath or even a hot shower?  Instead, we get in to get clean and spend the whole time rushing through to-do lists in our heads.  Use your bath or shower to cleanse your thoughts and enjoy the experience. Bath time is cause for celebration.

If it’s funny, silly, or exciting, then laugh.

I read that a child laughs an average of forty times per day. An adult laughs an average of fifteen times per day. If something is funny, silly, or exciting, then my niece was laughing. and thus we were laughing.  Some are small giggles and some are deep belly laughs. Both are full of present happiness and joy.

There is so much to laugh about.  Don’t worry about looking silly or being the one with the loud laugh. Laughter is contagious and immediately changes your mood.  If it’s funny, silly, or exciting, then laugh.

A side note, trust me…if you ever hang with your conductor…”you gonna laugh”.  Ask some of your fellow passenger who often call me:  STU-PID!  My goal is to make soda shoot from your nose.

Above all else what my niece taught me about happiness was to be present and enjoy the beauty of life.  There is much to be grateful for and enjoy.

Instead, like many, I can easily get wrapped up in deadlines, feeling bad about my body, relationship drama, or fear of failure. All of these are self-created.

If I really stop and just notice the world around me in that moment, I see trees and hear birds. I enjoy the sunrise and sitting with friends. There is no anxiety without anticipation. And you cannot anticipate the present moment; you can only be in it.

Have a great week…

ALL ABOARD!!!  The LifeTrain!!!

June 16, 2014

Which Wolf Will You Feed?

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 1:00 am

Merry Monday fellow passengers!  All Aboard!!!  Kick the music, enjoy the ride!

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As you board the train I give you your daily business card.  It simply reads:

THE TWO WOLVES…WHICH ONE WILL YOU FEED THIS WEEK?

One evening a grand-father sat talking to his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.   “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  “The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The Grand-father simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Passengers, as you roll down the tracks this week…remember, feed the right wolf…

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All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

June 9, 2014

In and Out…Of Love. Here’s Some of What I’ve learned…

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:01 am

All Aboard!  As you board the train I hand you a black and white business card which reads:

“Our interactions with one another reflect a dance between love and fear.” ~Ram Dass

In my personal experience, I’ve learned that it is sometimes easier to dance this journey of life solo rather than in partnership.  Many of us have experienced life both in relationships and outside of them.

Both are just as sweet…  Yes, it’s true…

And thus we begin this week’s journey down the [Life] tracks…KICK IT! (When I say kick it, I mean the music that I felt appropriate for this post – All ABOARD!)

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I’d like to offer up some lessons I have learned in my dance in and out of relationships:

1. They are not meant to last forever.

Our society seems to put a lot of pressure on the idea that things will last forever.  But the truth is, everything is impermanent.

After a recent break-up, I found myself feeling as though I had failed the relationship. Then I stepped outside of my conditioned thinking and discovered that love and failure do not reside together.

For when you have loved, you have succeeded—every time.

It was Wayne Dyer that introduced me to the rather practical concept that “not every relationship is meant to last forever.” What a big burden off my back!  Of all the souls hanging out on this planet, it seems to make sense that we might have more than one soul mate floating around.

Relationships can be our greatest teachers; it is often through them that we discover the most about ourselves. In relationships, we are provided with an opportunity to look into a mirror, revealing what we need to work on as individuals, in order to be the best version of ourselves.

Each relationship will run its course, some a few weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. This is the unknown that we all leap into.

2. Attachment is often the cause of suffering.

We sometimes cling to people in an attempt to hold them closer, but this often pushes them further away.

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The Path To Healing

In love there is nothing to grasp; it is so expansive that trying to capture it is like trying to capture water with a net. When we attempt to control where a relationship is going, we become disconnected with the sweetness of the moment.

Ram Dass shared one of the most exquisite paradoxes: “As soon as you can give it all up, you can have it all.”

It is silly to think that we can own someone’s love, but many of us have tried to do it.

I often find myself fantasizing about how my future will unfold with a new partner, but it is in that moment when I fall out of the present.

We have the opportunity to surrender to the natural flow of relationships, letting go of our proposed outcomes and taking ourselves out of the driver seat.

This means being fully present in moments of intense love, conflict, uncertainty, vulnerability, and joy.

3. Being vs. doing.

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“CLICK” the image for the message…

In the beginning of relationships, we strive to show up as our best selves, hoping to impress the other person and to receive their love in return. In most cases, we are focused on doing simply because we want to make an outstanding impression on the person we fancy.

But if you’re anything like me, being and doing are extremely hard to keep up at the same time.

In relationships there is work, but there isn’t much we have to actively do. In fact, doing can often be associated with attempting to control a situation.

The place where we should hang out is in the being. Being allows us to show up as our authentic selves. When we show up as humans “being”, something magical happens. Being is our natural state. Love thrives in this space.

4. Allow for change.

Don’t be attached to any particular way your partner is showing up each day. Change is inevitable. As “humans being”, we are constantly growing and discovering new passions and experiences.

For example, next week your partner might wake up with the realization that they want to leave their job as a lawyer and become a yoga instructor. How will you respond?

Love is the GREATEST dance in life...

Love is the GREATEST dance in life…

The news might be shocking and somewhat unusual, but change happens. The question is, can you allow space for that?  I learned this lesson the hard way.  I’m confessing in hopes that you won’t (make the same mistake).

Oftentimes it is harder to embrace change within others than it is to accept within ourselves. If you are anything like me, consistency is super important; however, completely unrealistic. Someone once told me “you are consistent with your inconsistency.” I initially took this as an insult, but now I see it as a practical strength. It shows movement and willingness to change.

I’m not saying my post today is a panacea or right for everyone but, I do know this… Love is the greatest dance in life. Surrender to each step, hold your partner close to your heart, but don’t grasp. If we can allow ourselves to enter into partnerships with this awareness, it may dramatically shift the way we see and experience relationships and love…

And remember everything is impermanent except the Love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Son of God.  Enjoy the ride Passengers…

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

 

June 6, 2014

This weekend, Let’s Be Awe – full!

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:03 am

ALL ABOARD!!!

KICK IT!

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This weekend I plan to look out on life with amazement, not shock.  I hope you will join me.  Let’s celebrate the variety, the diversity, the manner of every person, the beauty amidst the drudgery,of last week.   The contrasts, the opportunities, the heroism in the lives of ordinary people, our gifts, our talents, our friends – even just one friend – is all awesome.  Let us live in awe, and entertain wonder, and we will be knocking on the door of true love. Don’t kill it (that love) with cynicism or criticism, don’t sabotage our lives with moaning and complaining.  This week, let’s open the eyes in our heads and the eye in our intellect and choose to see the stunning, awesome, diverse beauty of life happening around us right now.  Let’s meet it with our hearts and we will enrich and be enriched in one single moment.

A friend told me recently,  about the importance of properly watering plants and people we love in our lives to realize growth.  Join me in applying that water this weekend and watch things grow into AWESOME!

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

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June 2, 2014

Merry Monday! A Few Thoughts to start the week…

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:01 am

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou

All Aboard!  Kick it! (The mood music for this piece…)

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I have realized recently that every small thought, every decision, every step we take has a huge impact on us, and the world around us.

I have also realized that every interaction is the opportunity to do good and receive good. Whether it is a phone call, a shopping trip that I was asked to participate in (I hate shopping), or even considering your fellow travelers when playing music on the shuttle that I had to drive to Washington DC last week..

Today I also realized that I have, almost without realizing it, become a slightly better person. I feel like I am more mindful of the world around me, more humble about my place in it. That makes me feel happy and fulfilled.

And all it took was a year of Bible Study, an in-depth study.  Join us sometime, each Thursday at 7:PM.  Call-in to join; (605) 475-4000 /  PIN 101176.

So, this week make the effort to make your every interaction a positive one. To face the world with a smile and a kind word. If you throw kindness out in the world, it will bounce right back, only multiplied several times over.

Last Thought to start your week:

Rediscover the Beauty of Life

I’ll be completely honest with you: this is not something that just happened to me overnight. I’m still working toward my new career path and finding what I really want out of life. I still get frustrated or upset sometimes, and I still have a lot of work to do.

But something changed the day I decided to take life into my own hands and seek out the beauty of life.cut

I became more aware.

I started attracting more happy moments and wonderful people to me because I actively sought them out, and what I put out came back to me tenfold.

I seek out the good stuff instead of dwelling on the not-so-good.

And, through this, I’ve learned that the more we search for the beauty of life, the more we invite it in. As kids we noticed it with ease, exploring to our heart’s content but, as adults, we sometimes forget to pay attention.

We get caught up with the mundane, we focus on the negatives and we love joining in on a mutual whine-fest with others. But imagine how much we could gain from our day if we took a moment to soak in the bliss of being alive.

Lying in the grass, laughing with a loved one, being recognized at work for doing a great job, swapping out things we don’t like with things we love, acknowledging someone else and seeing their joy, and just embracing the moments that make up our day-to-day lives is the key to finding the extraordinary in each day.

It may not always seem that simple but, I promise, if you’re willing to give it a shot, try it out, and be intentional when seeking out wondrous moments, it will make a significant difference to your life. And, the more you practice, the easier it will be to see.

This week, I invite you to be aware of what you might need to change and seek out possibilities for joy in the coming week.

Find ways to bring the fun in and keep your eyes wide open for special moments or people that can make your life even more beautiful. Or, even better, take time to be grateful for what you’ve already got.

Try it out, see how you go, and then leave me a comment and tell me how it went!

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!!!

May 19, 2014

CLAY BALLS…

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 12:16 am

All Aboard!!!  MERRY MONDAY!!!

KICK IT!!!  (Music to read by..)

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As you board the Train I give you a business card which reads simply:

“THIS WEEK REMEMBER THE CLAY BALLS”

As I reflect on the curse of divorce, broken friendships and even estranged family members, the story of the clay balls seems most appropriate to share. What amazes me the most as I do my research for the things that I write I am especially saddened that amongst us Christians, who should be the shinning example of successful marriages, we are the largest growing numbers of divorcees.

Perhaps if we keep the following story in mind going forward in 2014, we can circumvent throwing away…the clay balls.

Clay Balls:

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A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.

They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him.

He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.

We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

I am so blessed by the gems of friendship I have with each of you here on the Life Train. The list grows everyday. While I am not most gifted blogger (writer) I want to Thank you all for looking beyond my clay vessel and taking the time to visit my blog.

The Bible says:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for hath not another to help him up.

I write from the heart…I make no excuses…

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

May 13, 2014

What matters most? All Aboard!

Category: Thoughts from Chuckie — chuckie @ 5:21 am

ALL ABOARD!!!

Welcome fellow passengers.  I’m so glad you hopped aboard today!  And speaking of today:

“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown

KICK IT (The mood the music)

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When my marriage ended in 2004, I found myself suddenly questioning what my goals honestly meant to me. I had focused my 12 years steadily chasing a very specific dream with this woman (creating a model christian marriage. At least that’s what we thought we were chasing.

When we she left I realized that our lives together had become static, that we lacked engaging dynamics, and that we only rarely brought out true joy in each other, our roads abruptly veered and I found myself sans lover, best friend, and collaborator. I also was given a huge opportunity to view my life with fresh eyes.

I saw that by limiting my vision and chasing only making her happy (of which I failed miserably) my un-shared dream, was effectively shutting ourselves off from exactly those varied personal experiences that it would take to build our joy, inspire our art, and create that dynamic life I so desired.run

I allowed myself to be held back from a meaningful life by chasing the goals I thought it would take to get us  there. We had gotten stuck in chasing the wrong things for a right reason.

I began examining what I had been busy chasing in all the aspects of my life. Chasing in my career, chasing in my suddenly newly blossomed singles life, and in the personal identity of who I was now that I wasn’t defined by this or any other external relationship.

I realized that it was time to shake things up and experience the unexpected.

Here are some steps to discover what you are truly chasing in life. Try to answer in less than 20 seconds, with the first thing that comes to mind. You might be surprised.

1. What makes you lose track of time?

I’ve always liked fixing things and working with my hands. Broken pieces fascinate me as my mind wraps around how they tick. I know there’s a reason if I could only find it. It’s a great puzzle, but sometimes the minuets crawl by. By chasing the outcome (to make it work) I stopped being in the present.

I discovered that I never feel rushed drawing or painting. No matter how long it takes me to choose a color, from the instant I pick up the brush to the second I put, it down feels like one fluid moment.

2. What makes you happy?

It might be sunshine, dogs, laughter, passion, collaboration, or music. I chased my career goals in the internet industry by working in a studio without windows or sunlight for hours a day, and while it was rewarding to help people realize their dreams and create their art, I realized I was chasing the wrong thing.

What made me happy wasn’t just designing websites; it was helping people discover and release their brands. When I realized that I was made happy by sharing, by making art, then my goals shifted to be more people and connection focused and left me feeling more fulfilled.

3. If you didn’t have any bills to pay, what would you do?

You might sit on a private island by the beach, or maybe start a free service for the less fortunate. I personally realized that I have to create.

The idea of “free-time” scared me silly, and everything I focused on in life stems back to this deep-seated need to be creating something. Even sitting quietly was creating peace. Once I realized what my driving force was, it became much easier to make choices based on what I knew my true desire to be.

4. When you are old, what will matter the most?

You might be chasing things, people, rewards, or achievements that seem huge and important now. You’ve given your all to reach this point, so why give up now? Ask yourself how deeply will it touch people in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years. If I get a gold record, it’s a huge achievement, but I don’t want to be remembered for a plaque on a wall.

ovaI’d like to be remembered as a warm, living, loving, heartfelt person full of optimism and enthusiasm. A gold sales award doesn’t commemorate that.

5. What are you really after?

Honestly ask yourself, what are you getting when you reach the end of this chase? I was chasing goals that I thought would help build the future for my love life, or would help advance my career—there was my “reason”—but having a more advanced career didn’t help me to connect deeply with this person. It wasn’t in tune with my true desires.

Our relationship appeared to be chasing similar goals, but in the end our chase was actually blocking us from reaching our true selves. Ask yourself if you are chasing out of habit or just for the sake of the chase; be sure you are genuinely working towards your true goals.

I’ve realized that a lot of what we focus on in life isn’t what’s in line with our true desire. Since then, I’ve cut my time commitment in some areas in half, and I now use that time to create art and build connections with people who also value the creative life I want to live. It has breathed new life into my actions and helped me understand the deeper reasons for my choices.

Without walking the long and often painful road, we rarely discover the true reasons why we’re chasing our dreams, even if we have those dreams well defined.

The only constant is that it never goes according to plan. Let your heart be open to the unexpected and stay flexible and free. Like a dog running after a ball when a squirrel suddenly appears, gleefully embrace the opportunity for a fresh chase and leap onto your new road with joy.

 

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!