May 19, 2014
All Aboard!!! MERRY MONDAY!!!
KICK IT!!! (Music to read by..)
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
I’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!
May 4, 2014
“If pleasures are greatest in anticipation, just remember that this is also true of troubles.” ~Elbert Hubbard
Kick it! (The music to set the mood)
But first, “MERRY MONDAY!!!”
Over the last three weeks I’ve been very ill due to a spider bite. I’m glad to report that it is truly indeed a Merry Monday here on the LifeTrain as I am back at about 95%. I had a couple of operations, all outpatient, and a biopsy showed up as a severely infected situation. Since the wound was on the back of my neck, I laid on my stomach while the doctor numbed the areas with lidocaine; five shots in all.
He repeatedly asked me, “Are you okay?” And I repeatedly said, “Just fine!”
Since it didn’t really hurt that much, it surprised me when he said, “Wow. You’re strong!”
I do believe I’m strong, but I’ve always been squeamish around needles—going back to my first childhood finger prick, which I resisted with blood curdling wails.
Still, this time the needle prodding didn’t even faze me.
So what was different this time? One thing: I couldn’t see it. And because I couldn’t see it, I responded only to the physical sensation, not the expectation of pain and discomfort.
How much of life’s toughest challenges would be far less painful if we didn’t anticipate the sting?
How many difficulties would seem more bearable if we didn’t ruminate over them, stress about them, expect the worst of them, and then create a state of panic that compels us to resist and fight?
Most things aren’t nearly as bad as we imagine they’ll be when they happen. In fact, sometimes they’re pleasantly surprising.
Sometimes you get laid off and feel a sense of freedom, possibility, and vitality that you haven’t felt in years.
Sometimes you end a relationship and come into your own in a way you never imagined possible. I can very clearly remember that and thus the LifeTrain was born, I became a conductor!
And sometimes when your whole world falls apart you feel grateful for the opportunity to put it back together in a way that feels more authentic.
I realize this isn’t universally applicable. Some things hurt even when we consciously decide not to expect the worst.
But most things burn far less when we approach them from a place of clarity instead of overwhelming ourselves with fears about the fires we’ll have to put out.
When I originally had the biopsy, I told a couple of family members, one of whom asked me, “Do you think it could be poison?”
I responded, “I don’t think anything because I don’t yet know.”
As a lifelong worrier I felt proud of that moment. It was a choice not to freak out about what might be coming.
We can’t always be certain where the paths we fear may lead us—but we can choose not to hurt ourselves as we walk toward what will be.
Remember this as you move down the tracks this week passengers.
All Aboard!!! The LifeTrain!!!