April 30, 2013

Tuesday’s Tip: “Getting in…and out of…Hard times”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:46 am

“How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember, form the most personal map of our individuality.” ~Christina Baldwin

All Aboard!  Kick the mood music for this post and then…

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Look in the mirror. Who returns your gaze?

Is the face looking back at you a fulfilled being, or a mere shell of longing for something better?t1

If you would’ve asked me these questions a year and half ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.

During the serious illness of my mother and her subsequent death, and some other very traumatic events; I began down a path that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would teach me more about myself than I’d ever committed to learning before.

It taught me who I am.

As I suffered through the recovery from that period of a wild emotional roller-coaster,  and the straining of interpersonal relationships, my ego assumed the form of a beaten and battered soldier, pushed to the brink of surrender.

And that’s when the magic happened.

Three things occurred in this process. If you’re going through a hard time, these may help you come out the other side better and stronger.

1. Understand your limitations.

Before hearing of my mother’s diagnosis of cancer and the ensuing melee between my thoughts and the reality of the outside world, I had never really needed to push myself t2that much emotionally. Emotional control always came easily.

Sure, I worked hard, but nothing like the excruciating mental work and rapid maturation of emotional intelligence required to successfully trudge through to the other side of those trying years.

I had no need to test my limits before I was actually challenged.

But amidst the storm, I learned that I’d just begun to push. There was still a lot of room to grow—and nothing to be afraid of. 

At times the impossible became possible. Or it was just outside my reach. But I saw it.

It was as if the mere act of doing opened my eyes to an invisible line that I could not cross, but I could push back—further and further until eventually I was in new, uncharted territory.

We all have a line like that—our limit. It awaits acknowledgement, and it becomes an opportunity.

2. Understand your value.

Before pushing my limits, I never had a grasp on how much value I bring to the table.

For example, I’ve always been good at technology—so I allowed myself to be grouped into a certain categorization, one that I wasn’t particularly content with.t3

Because I’m also an writer.  And I love business, innovation, and technology. And writing about issues as seemingly mundane (to some) as relationships and psychology I began to more passionately pull subjects out of my heart, Temple of Doom style.

I didn’t understand my value before because I had never taken the time to give it away. You cannot give that which you don’t have.

Taking the time to push boundaries and dive headfirst into things that scared the heck out of me—voluntarily or involuntarily—forced me to reassess just how valuable I actually am.

I can do a lot of things! And I’m sure you can too.

Many people fall into the trap of not knowing what their gifts are, or what value they can bring to others.

And they never actually take any action in terms of seeing just how much they have to give.

Sitting in a room thinking about what gifts you may have will not help anyone. Going out into the world and succeeding or failing at something will. A gift is meant to be given. How can you know your gifts until you try to give something, anything, to someone else? 

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your worth.

It is far better to overestimate yourself and fail, to take that learning experience and recalibrate your direction, than to underestimate your potential and miss out on opportunities in the process.

When I finally accepted my gifts and embraced the idea that I could use them to not only make a living, but also to create a meaningful life—a congruent existence that mattered—I was instantly free to explore.

Free to pursue. To create. To add value.

Will I continue to overreach? Fall flat on my face? Fail sometime?

Of course; only a fool would expect not to. But at least I can rest easy knowing that I’ll never again under-reach. I’ll never regret a chance untaken.

Because heck, I’m going for it, and you should too!

3. Surrender yourself.

Life is a journey.

And when, after climbing mountains and enduring valleys, you’ve come to that point in the trail where you’re weathered and beaten, your feet pulse from the incessant pounding, and your mind screams to please stop, you realize that you’ll never reach the end of this journey alone.

That alone, you’re too insignificant to go on.

That’s when you surrender yourself.

t4

For the race is not given to the swift…but, to those who endure till the end.

So when I fully absorbed the fact that I am here to serve others, to use my gifts selflessly, and in turn reap the goodwill I sow, well, I gained a purpose.

For the first time ever, life became so overwhelming that I realized I couldn’t go through it alone, like I had been. Growing up, I barely talked to anyone about anything personal, including my parents. I began reaching back to my remaining parent, finally opening up, and a much strong bond has resulted.

I also always focused on my gifts as something to be cherished and cultivated for my own purposes—so I could be outstanding or excellent at something. But this was leaving out a key ingredient to true success: context.  Without someone else to receive it, a gift is nothing more than a selfish toy. Something we use to amuse ourselves.

To truly find your relation to other things, you must first surrender your self. Start relying on other people for help and support. Start giving freely of your gifts. Define a Christian purpose. Self-discovery is a long, arduous process, but the alternative, complacency, is fatal.

We already have far too many ill-defined shells of individuals floating through life, not making a difference, not making an impact, and, quite frankly, not even living.

Ghosts.

What we need is more warm bodies.

More passionately congruent, ambitiously purposeful individuals—people who know that what they do matters.

People who understand their value and limitations, and have not only brushed up against their dreams, but embraced them.

So from here I breathe my challenge to you: Will you realize that you matter?

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

April 25, 2013

Therapy Thursday W/Dr. Emily Hath Ph.D. – “Listen with your Heart”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:03 am

All Aboard!  All aboard for “Therapy Thursday”.  This week we enjoy the return of Dr. E (Emily Hath).  This week the good Doctor and I discuss the art and benefit of “Good Listening”.

Everyone wants to talk, everybody wants the microphone these days but few want to listen…C. Prince Daniel

The Mood, the music:

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Chuckie:  Dr. E.! Dr. E! …We’ve missed you!
Dr.E:  Chuckie!  Missed you to dude..

Chuckie:  I really missed ya Doc, maybe we should talk about co-dependent behavior for one of our talks.
[mutual laughter]
Dr.E:  Well that one might cost you sweet man…

Chuckie:  Ok Doc, let’s stick with the freebies!  [more laughter]

Chuckie:  Doc, I notice during most of my observations of conversations these days that everyone wants to talk, get their point across, dominate conversations but, few folks know the value of listening to hear.   Rather they opt to respond.
Dr.E:  Good point Chuckie.  God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen more and speak less.  On the road to conflict resolution, listening is the superhighway.

Chuckie:  And…Not surprisingly, listening is nearly absent in conflicted relationships.
Dr.E:  Well Chuckie, On the road to conflict resolution, listening is the superhighway. When we don’t feel heard, “discussions” soon cycle out of control, meaning no resolution occurs. In this climate, couples remain terminally ticked off. The next time that hot topic resurfaces we are even more likely to blast our mates. But when we come at our partners with both barrels, they want to put up their dukes rather than prick up their ears. The louder we get, the less our partners want to listen. Instead, they resort to Defending, Justifying and Counterblaming. In no time, you have a major vicious cycle on your hands.

Chuckie:  So , Doc what do we do?
Dr.E:  The things we need to do are many but, for starters, we need to identify and eliminate the three behaviors that are polar opposites of good listening. They are: Defending, Justifying and Counter-blaming (turning the tables back on your partner).

Chuckie:  Why do so many friends, co-workers and couples resort to Defending, Justifying and Counter-blaming instead of listening.l1
Dr.E:  The answer is simple. In distressed relationships, listening has been lacking for so long that both partners feel starved to be heard. Not trusting that the other will listen, they both jump in at the same time, shoving their points down each other’s throats.

Dr. E:  Here’s the bottom line: Listening is the cement of any happy relationship.  To avoid break-ups and divorce, you must vow to move heaven and earth to do a better job of truly hearing each other.

Chuckie:  So, how do we do it, …become better listeners?
Dr. E:  One way to become a good listener is for you and your friend/partner/spouse  to take turns being both the speaker and the listener. For starters, practice with a topic that hasn’t reached subatomic proportions. Let the partner who is presenting the “gripe” have what I call the Emotional Right of Way to speak first. Don’t worry; the listener will get his or her turn to be heard, too. When the speaker feels completely heard and understood, it’s time to switch roles.

Dr. E:  Since you’re perfecting your listening skills, it’s important to know that being a good listener is more than passing a hearing test. If a listener merely sits quietly and says nothing in response, the speaker will think that he or she is talking to a gerbil. Good listeners are masters at conveying, in various ways, that they have heard and understood what has been said.

Dr. E:  Since we agreed to break these [interviews] up into smaller chunks in 2013 for the passengers to digest, let’s end here.  Next week we’ll talk about the “roadblocks” to listening and some tools to improve.

Chuckie:  Sounds good Doc, I look forward to it!

Dr. E:  Oh, and Chuckie one last thing….de
Chuckie:  Yes, Doc?

Dr.E:  I missed you too!
[LAUGHTER!!!]

Well Passengers, another session with Dr. E..  Be sure to hop aboard next Thursday for the conclusion of this session.  Remember you can always submit a question to the doc…Just email me or leave a comment

Roll Credits
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April 22, 2013

Merry Monday! Walk, Run or Slide…(Part 1 of 3 – series)

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 10:26 am

…To see “42!”

Merry Monday, All Aboard!  But first. the musical accompaniment…(glass of wine with the meal)

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Passengers, take your kid(s), grand-kid(s), mothers, daughters, neighbors, anyone to see the movie 42!  I’ll probably say this several times throughout this three part series but, even if you have no earthly interest in baseball today, after seeing this movie…I guarantee you will put it on your bucket list:

See a MLB (Major League Baseball) game!

I have to admit, I was skeptical and reluctant at first.  I have admired Jackie Robinson, since I was a young kid playing the game.  I’ve seen several documentaries and read enough material to tell his story.  Wrong!  Also, I figured42 1 it would be just another remake of the aforementioned thoughts…WRONG!

In part one of this series I give you just a straight forward vanilla review.  In parts 2 and 3, once I settle in my soul what must be said…yes I’m a bit reluctant…but, I will then delve into what I got out of this movie on SO MANY LEVELS…this movie, for me, was just that profound and deep.  And yes, I must admit…I actually shed a tear, cheered, clapped and said a few amens.  The movie, for me….was just that touching.

Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. “42” tells the story of two men-the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey-whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.  In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line. But the deal also put both Robinson and Rickey on the firing line of the public, the press and even other players.  Facing unabashed racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey’s hopes. Instead, Number 42 let his talent on the field do the talking-ultimately winning over fans and his teammates, silencing his critics, and paving the way for others to follow.

“42” is an amazing tribute to the great baseball legend, Jackie Robinson. And, have I told you yet [yes] I smiled, I laughed, and I cried the whole time!  Harrison Ford was excellent in the role of  Branch Rickey.

It [movie] chronicles the events that lead up to his signing, his first season with the Dodgers, and the formidable challenges everyone (black & white) had to endure throughout. 42 is not a slow documentary. The scenes advance quickly with a focus on watching Jackie do amazing things on the baseball diamond.  Newcomer Chadwick Boseman gives a credible performance alongside a very impressive Harrison Ford. Nicole Beharie’s acting is as beautiful as she is. Every actor captures the emotion of the game and the shifting social climate. Some of the scenes are tough to watch, but 42 does an excellent job of accounting for the racial aspect of the story in a straightforward manner that highlights the progress the U.S. has made. See 42 and be inspired! There are bios of several characters during the beginning of the credits (stay for them). There is nothing after the credits.

This movie is more than just attractive and absorbing, it’s also a textbook case of how social groups evolve and values change.  A true story about decency and morality that every American, and especially young people, should see and think about.  But a moving love story, as well, and very engrossing entertainment.

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All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

April 19, 2013

Experience…”The perfect love songs”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 10:14 am

Dear passengers…welcome aboard.  Today I offer a date night here on the LifeTrain.  Disclaimer:  Some will get it, some won’t…but, that’s ok.

To gain a full appreciation of this experience, …to the best of your ability do the following:

1.  Keep an open mind.

2.  Delay the experience until tonight…the experience is best left for the night and candles.

3.  Light a candle(s)

4.  Plug earphones into your computer.  Note: tissue optional.

5.  Experience the following (these may well be the perfect love songs):

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These may well be the perfect love song…try it again with your eyes close and reflect…

Check here:  www.kimberlyandalbertorivera.com

April 16, 2013

Peace on earth? Not before Jesus…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 1:14 am

Last night when I wrote this blog I thought about yet another tragedy here on earth, the Boston Marathon.  And as if on que I got a text from a friend in North Carolina…it said, “The violence won’t end until Jesus returns”.  It [text] served to strengthen my resolve to keep on with the following blog post…thanks to my fellow passenger, Denise in NC.

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As hard as it may be take our anger out toward those that committed this atrocity I realize that instead we must have compassion for what has happened and in turn use our energy for the good and send these victims all the love we can possibly muster!  They, and the people who witnessed this incident, have to move on after the unthinkable. These people need our love and support. We must have compassion and help to move forward in love.

We must be the peacefulness we seek and we must shed this peace upon all those affected by this tragedy!

help us father

We need the Lord…

While searching for peace on Earth a new light has been shed.  We aren’t going to find it walking around our planet.  If asked, “if you could make one wish” you will often hear peace on Earth. Is it possible?  Maybe.  In all likelihood though the reason our planet will not be a peaceful one in our lifetime is very simple. We live in a world where our minds have the freedom of perception.  You might think that perception isn’t freedom. Most of us are conditioned in life and therefore perceive things due to our experiences.  Perception is free though.  If you have a thought or way of thinking that is not in alignment with what you wish all you have to do is change it. You can look at a picture one day and a year later it will look so very different, but it is also possible to look deep within that picture and recapture how you used to perceive it.  Perception is free will.  Free will is a great power. Free will is the greatest of responsibilities.  So if we have the power of choosing how we perceive life and the world every person will always look at it differently. How is it possible to have a peaceful planet when each person has the power to look at it and therefore react to it in the way they choose? We know that one day this planet will all be one consciousness, one perception.  It has been said there are tribes who all share one consciousness, a collective consciousness. Is that what it will take for us to have peace on Earth? The answer is yes, refuge in our lord and savoir Jesus. Is it likely? …No, until the Son of man returns.

We live in a reality where there is darkness and light. The darkness represents evil, the devil, or demons and the light represents our God the father, the divine, Jesus, so  when we have peace on Earth we will

lghtdarkhave reached the end.  Once there is only light you will not see light because you have no darkness to define it.  You can not have one without the other.  This is why we will not have peace on Earth. We need the darkness to show us the light.  We have evil which makes us want good.  We have lessons to learn that we will only learn by seeing the darkness.  This is where the true meaning of compassion comes into play.  Compassion means to have the deep awareness of the suffering of another without the need to relieve it, feeling total appreciation for its value; a state of non-judgement.  We have to allow things to unfold as they do.  We see the suffering and feel the pain. No one said compassion was easy. People think compassion is feeling the pain of others and needing to relieve it. That is not it at all. We do not need to feel the pain of others and we do not need to feel the pains of the Earth.  If we are peaceful we can create peace in and all around us but we can not force it upon others because they have free will too and they have their own lessons to learn. We can only be the change we wish to see in the world.

Last night I was watching the news on the Boston marathon.  I was disturbed by this.  I felt the pain for those involved,  I felt it deep.  But I understand at a deeper level that it is all part of the divine plan. We have the freedom to perceive it as evil and horrible to do that to a defenseless people, but because the people who did it had the responsibility of free will, as we all do, they chose to use it in darkness. We saw this darkness and now we must pray for light. We must turn to the light, our Father in heaven. Everyone who has now heard about this horrible incident will have their own perception of it.  Some will choose to change, others will choose to do the same.  It is inevitable. In the state of consciousness our planet is in free will allows us to have the personal choice of peacefulness or not therefore peace on Earth can not happen until we are one collective consciousness and our world shifts to a level unfathomable by our current mind.  That would be the return of the son of man.  Jesus…the one true messiah.

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain…

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April 15, 2013

Merry Monday! This week – “Life Reset!”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:03 am

All Aboard!  Merry Monday and welcome aboard!

Kick it!

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“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Hey passengers, I cannot tell you how happy I am to share my epiphany with you!  Here’s what happened.  As I looked into the mirror before writing this post I had an enlightenment that I’d like to share.  Some things have happened of late that have led me to realize that like a computer, sometimes we need a reset [reboot/restart] of our lives.   We all need second chances.  This isn’t a perfect world.  We’re not perfect people.  I’m probably on my 1000th second chance right now and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Because even though I’ve failed a lot, it means I’ve tried a lot too.  We rarely get things right the first time.  Almost every major accomplishment in a person’s life starts with the decision to try again and again – to get up after every failed attempt and give it another shot.

Pregnant pause…Thank you father for second chances…

The only difference between an opportunity and an obstacle is attitude. Getting a second chance in life is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures.  It’s about positively adjusting your attitude toward future possibilities.

Here’s how I plan to reset this week:

m2

The past is just that, the past…move on.

What’s done is done.  When life throws us nasty curveballs it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs. But how does this help our dilemma?  Obviously, it doesn’t   The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be more tempered in our reactions.  To want to scream obscenities, but we should  be wiser and more disciplined than that.  To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse.  And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.

Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity. But in order to attain this growth and creativity, we must first learn to let go of the past. We must recognize that difficulties pass like everything else in life; and once they pass, all we’re left with are our unique experiences and the lessons required to make a better attempt next time.

2. Identify the lesson.

Everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’  Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.

 3. Lose the negative attitude.

Negative thinking creates negative results. Positive thinking creates positive results. Period.  Everyone of the other suggestions in this LifeTrain post are irrelevant if your mind is stuck in the gutter. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it.

4. Accept accountability for your current situation.

m3Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.  You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them. You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is giving up.

5. Focus on the things you can change.

Some forces are out of your control. The best thing you can do is do the best with what’s in front of you with the resources you do have access to.  Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can change.

6. Figure out what you really want.

You’ll be running on a hamster wheel forever if you never decide where you want to go. Figure out what’s meaningful to you so you can be who you were born to be.  Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar. Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose. Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish. And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.  Don’t quit just because you didn’t get it right on your first shot. And don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires. You must follow your intuition and make a decision to never give up on who you are capable of becoming.

7. Eliminate the non-essential.

First, identify the essential – the things in your life that matter most to you. Then eliminate the fluff.  This drastically simplifies things and leaves you with a clean slate – a fresh, solid foundation to build upon without needless interference.    This process works with any aspect of your life – work projects, relationships, general to-do lists, etc. Remember, we can’t accomplish anything if we’re trying to accomplish everything. Concentrate on the essential. Get rid of the rest.

8. Be very specific.

When you set new goals for yourself, try to be as specific as possible. “I want to lose twenty pounds” is a goal you can aim to achieve. “I want to lose weight” is not. Knowing the specific measurements of what you want tom4 achieve is the only way you will ever get to the end result you desire.  Also, be specific with your actions too. “I will exercise” is not actionable. It’s far too vague. “I will take a 30 minute jog every weekday at 6PM” is something you can actually do – something you can build a routine around – something you can measure.

9. Concentrate on DOING instead of NOT DOING.

“Don’t think about eating that HOT AND NOW KRISPY KREME!” What are you thinking about now? Eating that HOT AND NOW KRISPY KREME, right? When you concentrate on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it.  The same philosophy holds true when it comes to breaking our bad habits. By relentlessly trying not to do something, we end up thinking about it so much that we subconsciously provoke ourselves to cheat – to do the exact thing we are trying not to do.  Instead of concentrating on eliminating bad habits, concentrate on creating good habits (that just happen to replace the bad ones). For instance, if you’re trying to eliminate snacking on junk food, you might create a new mental habit like this: “At 3PM each day, about the time I’m usually ready for a snack, I will eat five whole wheat crackers.” After a few weeks or months of concentrating on this good habit it will become part of your routine. You’ll start doing the right thing without even thinking about it.

 10. Create a daily routine.

It’s so simple, but creating a daily routine for yourself can change your life. The most productive routines, I’ve found, come at the start and end of the day – both your workday and your day in general. That means, develop a routine for when you wake up, for when you first start working, for when you finish your work, and for the hour or two before you go to sleep.  Doing so will help you start each day on point, and end each day in a way that prepares you for tomorrow. It will help you focus on the important stuff, instead of the distractions that keep popping up. And most importantly, it will help you make steady progress – which is what second chances are all about.

11. Maintain self-control and work on it for real.

m7The harder you work the luckier you will become. Stop waiting around for things to work out. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By “working on it,” I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result. The rest of us never act on our decision. Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-hearted effort.  If you want a real second chance, you’ve got to be willing to give it all you’ve got. No slacking off! This means you have to strengthen and maintain your self-control. The best way I’ve found to do this is to take one small bite of the elephant at a time. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. And that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.  Remember, life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Achieving your dreams can be a lot of work, even the second time around. Be ready for it.

12. Forget about impressing people.

So many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know. Or some variation thereof… Don’t be one of these people. It’s a waste of time. And it’s probably one of the reasons you need a second chance in the first place. Just keep doing what you know is right. And if it doesn’t work, adjust your approach and try again. We’ll get there eventually.

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!!!

Roll credits…

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April 12, 2013

Angry Birds…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:04 am

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” ~ Chinese proverb

Kick it…

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As the LifeTrain grows larger, I find there are a lot more people emailing me with requests for updates, articles and other things I do on the side like website and blog production.  The people pleaser in me wants to say yes to everyone, but the reality is that there is only so much time in the day—and we all have a right to allocate our time as best supports our intentions, needs, and goals.

Disclaimer:  THERE ARE FEW THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPIER THAN TO RECEIVE COMMENTS AND REQUESTS HERE ON THE TRAIN …SO KEEP’EM COMING…BUT HAVE a little GRACE FOR A BRUTHA…LOL!

Recently someone contacted me with a request that I was unable to honor.  After I communicated that, she made a sweeping judgment about my intentions and character, ending her email with “a true friend would be f2appalled.”

As ironic as this may sound given the context of this site, I felt angry.

I felt angry because I have always struggled with saying no, and this was exactly the type of uncomfortable encounter I generally aim to avoid.

I felt angry because I felt misunderstood and judged, and I wanted her to realize that she was wrong about me.

I felt angry because I assumed she intended to be hurtful, and I didn’t feel like I deserved that.

I ended up responding to her email fairly quickly with a little bit of defensiveness, albeit with restraint. After I pressed send, I felt a little angry with myself for letting this bother me. Then I realized that this was a wonderful exercise in learning to deal with anger.

It’s inevitable that I’ll feel that way again—and many times, with people I know well and love. We all will. We’ll all have lots of misunderstandings and annoyances, and lots of opportunities to practice responding to anger calmly and productively.

If we’re mindful, we can use these situations to better ourselves and our relationships.

Note:  In this case I have probably lost a life long friend.  But, we learn and we move on.  I realize the following things I’ve decided to employ to keep the Lion in me at bay.

With this in mind, I put together these thoughts on dealing with anger:

 Sit with Your Anger

1. Allow yourself to feel angry.

a2You may think you need to cover “negative feelings” with positive ones. You don’t. You’re entitled to feel whatever you need to feel. We all are.

2. Make a conscious choice to sit with the feeling.

Oftentimes when I’m angry I feel the need to act on it, but later I generally wish I’d waited. Decide that you’re not going to do anything until the feeling has less of a grip on you.

3. Feel the anger in your body.

Is your neck tense? Is your chest burning? Is your throat tightening? Are your legs twitching? Recognize the sensations in your body and breathe into those areas to clear the blockages that are keeping you feeling stuck.

4. See this as an exercise in self-soothing.

You can get yourself all revved-up, stewing in righteousness and mentally rehashing all the ways you were wronged. Or you can talk yourself down from bitter rage into a place of inner calm. In the end, we’re the only ones responsible for our mental states, so this is a great opportunity to practice regulating yours.

5. Commit to acting without seeking retribution.

Decide that you’re not looking to get even or regain a sense of power. You’re looking to address the situation and communicate your thoughts about it clearly.

Explore Your Anger

6. Check in with your mood before the incident.a22

Were you having a bad day already? Were you already feeling annoyed or irritated? It could be that someone’s actions were the straw that broke the camel’s back, but not fully responsible for creating these feelings.

7. Ask yourself: Why is this bothering you so much?

Is it really what someone else did, or are you feeling angry because of what you’re interpreting their actions to mean? (For example, you may think that your boyfriend not showing up means that he doesn’t respect you, when he may have a valid explanation).

8. Take a projection inventory.

If you’re angry with someone for doing something that you’ve done many times before, your feelings may be magnified by seeing a behavior of your own that you’re not proud of. Look for all areas where you may be projecting your own traits onto someone else to get closer to root of your feelings.

9. Journal about it.

Grab your pen and walk yourself through it step by step. What did the other person do? Are you assuming negative intentions on their part? Have they done this before? How do you feel besides angry—do you feel insecure, frustrated, or confused? Get it all out.

10. Put it in a letter.

Now that you know more clearly what part the other person played in your anger and which part is more about you, write a letter to him or her. You may send this letter, or you might end up just burning it. This is to help you clarify what exactly you’d like that person to know, understand, or change.

Respond without Anger

11. Now that you’re clear about the role you played in your anger, initiate a verbal conversation about what bothered you.a27

You could also send the letter you wrote, but it will be easier to clarify parts the other person doesn’t understand if you’re having a direct back-and-forth exchange.

12. Use “I feel” language.

So instead of saying, “You didn’t show up so you obviously don’t care about me,” say, “When you forget about the things that are important to me, I feel hurt.” In this way, you’re not assuming the other person meant to make you feel bad—you’re just explaining how it makes you feel so they can understand how their actions impact you.

13. Resist the urge to unload all your unspoken grievances.

Sometimes one annoyance can open the floodgates to a laundry list of complaints—but no one responds well to a barrage of criticism. Stick to the issue at hand, and address the other things at some other time.

14. Stay open to the other person’s perspective.

It’s possible that they feel angry, too, and think that you’re the one in the wrong. It’s also possible that there isn’t a right or wrong, but rather two people who see things differently and need to see each other’s point of view.

15. Focus on creating a solution.

If your goal is to get the other person to admit that they’re wrong, you’ll probably end up in a power struggle. Focus instead on what you’d like to change in the future—for example, you’d appreciate it if she would come straight to you next time instead of complaining about you behind your back. You can help facilitate this by owning some responsibility—that you will listen if  she comes to you instead of getting emotional.

Learn from Your Anger

a616. Learn what you value.

This situation taught you something useful about what you value in the people you choose to be friends with—maybe directness, humility, or loyalty. This will help you decide which people you might want to spend more or less time with going forward.

17. Learn what you need.

It might be something you need to improve in your relationship, or it might be that you need to end a relationship because you know it doesn’t serve you. Learn it, own it, act on it.

18. Learn how to communicate clearly.

This experience was an exercise in expressing yourself in the best way to be heard and understood. There will definitely be more situations like this in the future, so this is good practice for misunderstandings and struggles to come.

19. Learn how you can improve your response to anger going forward.

Maybe you reacted too quickly, so now you’ve learned to put more space between your feelings and your response. Maybe you got defensive, and the other person shut down, so you’ve learned to be less accusatory in the future.

20. Learn what you’ll do differently in the future.

You probably realized somewhere along this journey that you played some role in the situation. Very rarely is it black and white. Once you own your part, now you can use that knowledge to create morepeaceful relationships going forward.

And lastly, forgive. As I wrote in my post about forgiveness, very few of us get to the ends of our lives and say, “I wish I stayed angry longer.” We generally say one of the following:

I love you. I forgive you. I’m sorry.

If that’s likely what you’ll feel when you realize time is running out, why not express it now, while you can still enjoy the peace it will give you?

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain…

Roll credits…

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April 11, 2013

“FRIENDSHIP!”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:02 am

All Aboard passengers, all aboard….Kick it!

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More and more I reflect on the different levels of friendships I have lately.  Some close, some very close and some simply familiar.   I have been blessed with so many close friends.  I often marvel over that, mainly out of appreciation of the fact that I have been able to cultivate such an eclectic mix of friends, over the years in all parts of the country.fs1

As part of this reflection I look back at what worked and what did not in terms of the level of friends past, present and long since gone.  So, this week’s station stop is a place called “Friendship”.  Let us start by looking at:

“What is a “friend”?

Webster’s Third Dictionary even appears confused on the subject. The dictionary offers multiple definitions for friend, some of which are contradictory. To me, a friend is someone you hold in high regard, and with whom you share a mutual trust. A friend will be there for you, both in the best and the worst of times.

fsmiddI’ve come up with the “Garden” approach to my true friendships, that is those I really want in my life on a close and intimate level.  Everyone understands that growing a healthy garden doesn’t happen without proper soil, sunlight, fertilizing and weeding. The same principles apply to friendships. In order to thrive, they require care and maintenance. Aristotle said it simply and eloquently: “We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave to us.”

I use the following steps as measuring sticks, both how I am treated by those in my life and how I need to treat my friends who I want to continue in my life.  They are not easy because as with any garden it takes time to fully cultivate.  If deployed properly though (over time) they’ve made my friendships into fulfilling summer gardens:

  • Find fertile soil. A friend should be someone you choose to have in your life because he or she enriches your experience. I frequently speak with women whom, out of a sense of obligation, hang onto friendships that are “barren” — where they get little in return for their efforts.

Rethink your friendships. Are you expending your energy in all the wrong places? Consider focusing your attention on a few sturdy friendships — those with strong roots and the potential for healthy, beautiful blooms!

  • Add sunlight. Make your friend a priority in your life. Even with hectic schedules you can get together to exercise or meet for a quick cup of coffee. Keep in touch by phone and e-mail.

Be positive and enthusiastic. No matter how good a friend he or she is, he or she will tire of constant negativity and complaints. Make your times together enjoyable and don’t forget to bring along a sense of humor.

  • Plant seeds. Establish a strong foundation by indicating in word and deed that you will be there for your friend, through thick and thin. Most important, make it safe for your friend to share innermost thoughts with you by always keeping confidences.
  • Fertilize. Don’t take the individual or your friendship for granted. Friendship is something you must earn each day — it is not an unconditional arrangement. Don’t push the limits of friendship by asking for unreasonable favors, or by taking advantage of the person’s good will. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.”
  • Water. Always be generous with praise and cautious with criticism. Applaud successes, and do your best to be a good listener.
  • Weed. When you have a disagreement, try to see things from your friend’s point of view. Choose your words carefully, as it is hard to take back things said in anger. If you are wrong, swallow your pride and apologize.

When to Let Go of a Friendship

I mentioned earlier that some friends are long since gone.  I meant this:  There is a false notion that a friend is a friend forever, no matter what, has caused much heartache.

I never forget the old saying, reason, season, lifetime…

All relationships experience ups and downs, and it is important to overlook occasional misunderstandings and differences of opinion. However, if a relationship brings you more pain than pleasure, it is time to reconsider whether or not it is a true friendship, and one that should endure.

The most important thing to remember is to treat your friends as you would like to be treated. If you do this, your friendships will remain strong and hearty despite pests, drought, wind and weather.

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All Aboard, The LifeTrain!

April 9, 2013

Tuesday’s tip comes from Shawshank redemption ~ Get busy living…or get busy dying

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:03 am

“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” ~Jean Kerr

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All Aboard!  Welcome back aboard passengers.  Today (Tip Tuesday) we continue the theme laid yesterday concerning Palav’s Dog and dealing with bad situations.  Hummm…seems to be the subject this week, handling adversity.

Kick it!

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For most of my life, I purposely learned to become a fugitive from my feelings during times of trouble.  Even when my mother passed recently, I called myself manning up by refusing to cry [breakdown] opting to immerse myself in the handling of her [mother] affairs during her last days and post passage on to heaven.  Note to you passengers, don’t do that.  Grieve, purge and let it go.

NOTE: Yesterday and today’s post are meant for all my many fellow passengers that have shared with me over the last several weeks stories of divorce, illness (personal or a loved one) and ultimately death.

Psychologists suggest that we are driven by two connected motivations: to feel pleasure and avoid pain. Most of us devote more energy to the latter than the former.

Instead of being proactive and making choices for our happiness, we react to things that happen in our lives, and fight or flee to minimize our pain.

Instead of deciding to end an unhealthy relationship and open up to a better one, we may stay and either avoid confrontation or initiate one to feel a sense of control. Instead of leaving a horrible job to find one we love, we may stay and complain about it all the time, trying to minimize the pain of accepting the situation as real—and enduring until we change it.

Learn to Sit with Negative Feelings

Even if you reframe a situation to see things differently, there will be times when you still feel something that seems negative. While not every situation requires panic, sometimes our feelings are appropriate for the events going on in our lives.t1

We are allowed to feel whatever we need to feel. If we lose someone, we’re allowed to hurt. If we hurt someone, we’re allowed to feel guilty. If we make a mistake, we’re allowed to feel regretful. Positive thinking can be a powerful tool for happiness, but it’s more detrimental than helpful if we use it to avoid dealing with life.

Pain is part of life, and we can’t avoid it by resisting it. We can only minimize it by accepting it and dealing with it well.

That means feeling the pain and knowing it will pass. No feeling lasts forever. It means sitting in the discomfort and waiting before acting. There will come a time when you feel healed and empowered.

I don’t regret much in life, but in retrospect, some of the most damaging decisions I have made have resulted from me feeling the need to do something with my emotions. I’d feel angry and want to hurt someone. Or I’d feel ashamed and want to hurt myself.

Our power comes from realizing we don’t need to act on pain; and if we need to diffuse it, we can channel it into something healthy and productive, like writing, painting, or doing something physical.

Pain is sometimes an indication we need to set boundaries, learn to say no more often, or take better care of ourselves; but sometimes it just means that it’s human to hurt, and we need to let ourselves go through it.

Create Situations for Positive Feelings

This is the last part of the puzzle. As I mentioned before, we tend to be more reactive than active, but that’s a decision to let the outside world dictate how we feel.

t2We don’t need to sit around waiting for other people to evoke our feelings. Instead, we can take responsibility to create our own inner world.

We can identify what we want to say yes to in life and choose that before struggling with whether or not to say no to someone else. If you love dancing, take a class. If your greatest passion is writing, start a blog. If you daydream about being a musician, start recording.

As for Blogging, feel free to submit writings here as an associate co-conductor.  Get your feet wet, and then I’ll show you how to roll down your own tracks.

Don’t worry about where it’s leading. Do it just because you love it. For me, this is blogging and eventually publishing.

Life on this earth is so short; the clock is ticking.  We need to do the things we love.  Create that bucket list and…

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Concluding Thoughts

Negative feelings are only negative if they’re excessive and enduring. We won’t hurt ourselves into eternal misery if we let ourselves feel what we need to.

Still, we don’t have to feel bad nearly as often as we think.

If we choose to foster a sense of inner peace, challenge our perceptions and interpretations when our emotions could use some schooling, and learn to take responsibility for our joy, we can not only minimize pain—we can choose to be a source of pleasure, for ourselves and the people around us.

All Aboard, The LifeTrain…

Roll Credits…

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April 8, 2013

Merry Monday! This week, Pavlov’s dog experiment…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 4:45 am

All Aboard!  Merry Monday!

Kick it!  The mood…the musical accompaniment:

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Passengers let’s try an experiment this week.  Let’s see if we can leverage the positives of the Pavlov’s dog experiment

But first, what is the theory behind the Pavlov’s dog experiment?

Well, it is an experiment in behavioral psychology. The idea is that if we associate one thing with another (in this case, associate a bell with food), that eventually the same things will happen when the associated thing happensm2 as when the original impetus happens. The dogs would start salivating when they saw their food… so they would ring a bell when the food came, and eventually, the dogs would start salivating when the bell rang… even when it was not accompanied by food.

The same thing happens in everyday life to a certain extent. For instance, someone who hates their job will get grumpy whenever they are at work… but they could also start to associate it with other things, like the whole company, the whole city, the whole state. Eventually “I hate California” would express that person’s hatred of doing a particular thing or interacting with a particular person, because they have associated other things with whatever they detest. Whether it is worth addressing all of our associations and working through them or just moving to another state depends on the circumstances.

With that in mind let’s try employing the following thoughts/suggestions to any and ALL adversity this week.  read on:

Good and bad situations are part of everyone’s life. We tend to notice the bad ones more, because of their negative impact on our progress. They sometimes seem to flood our lives without letting up, and we wonder if they will ever stop. We’ve all seen it at some time. Bad situations often lead to frustration, and frustration leads to failure—and failure leads to a pattern of failure.

None of us is immune to bad luck, or adversity. And the truth is, it’s impossible to prevent. However, we always have “opportunity” which arises from bad situations, if we are willing to learn from adversity, and deal with it properly. With wisdom and a positive attitude we can turn bad situations to our favor.

m4Turning Bad Situations Into Good Ones

Because we cannot prevent bad situations from coming into life, it is imperative that we learn how to transform them into positive situations—turn life’s lemons into lemonade. By employing the strategies of success at all times, we capitalize on good luck and transform bad luck into something we can work with. There are a few essential keys which help in transforming bad situations into good ones. Some of the most important are:

Never Lose Control – This is true no matter what type of situation you face. You must always maintain control over the situation (and over your thinking and actions) as much as possible, especially during bad timings. Failing in this, bad situations can devolve quickly into catastrophes. Maintaining control aids in making good decisions aimed to overcome the problems caused by bad situations.

Learn From Bad Situations – Bad situations have important lessons hidden within them. Intelligent people try to find out the root causes, and how they could have been avoided—valuable information for your future success. In most cases you will discover that bad situations result from wrong decisions you made in the past.

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Remember passengers, the glass is always half full!

Positive Attitude – A positive attitude is among the most important factors that help turn a bad situation around. Those with a positive attitude don’t panic during crises. They focus their time and energy into planning and management to overcome adversity.

Stay Cool and Let Things Happen – During those few times in life when things happen that are truly beyond our control, and it is clear that there is nothing that we can do to reverse the resultant damage, we must remain calm and sometimes just let things take their natural course. When a flood comes and you eventually run out of sandbags to hold it at bay, there comes a time when you must evacuate, and return later to clean up and rebuild. Don’t become depressed and don’t give up. Turn your attention to other productive endeavors as you wait out the storm, then roar back to action when the coast is clear.

These methods of facing adversity are very helpful if employed correctly. By following these key principles you can turn their bad times into good ones and emerge as a more successful person in life.

So passengers, keeping our [Palov’s] experiment in mind, let’s give the experiment a shot this week.

Adversity comes, hear bell, employ the above…

And above all don’t worry, be happy!

All Aboard!  The LifeTrain!

Roll Credits!

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