Thanking The Hammer For The Beating

Thanking The Hammer For The Beating

It’s rather paradoxical. And perhaps can only be done from a detached sense of self awareness.

But it’s an important part of the process.

Life often uses rather unconventional teaching methods to get us to learn what we need to learn. Many of those lessons unfortunately involve a degree of pain, quite often repeated until the lesson is eventually learned.

Like heated steel is reshaped between the anvil and the force of the blacksmith’s hammer, life, too, can heat us and beat us and reshape us through its own hammering process. The people and situations which at times can confusingly hurt us will often reshape us, change us, but if we look deeper we will often see there was a purpose to the pain.

It’s not a pleasant process. Even with a detached sense of self awareness. And usually it’s not something we express gratitude for.

Perhaps we should.

It’s not easy to thank those who’ve hammered us. But that hammering is what has changed us, often against our will, but often for the better.

And for that I’ve learned to be grateful.

Maybe Groundhog Thinking Is Holding You Back?

Maybe Groundhog Thinking Is Holding You Back?

Like that 1993 movie where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over?

How much of our own life is just a repetition of our yesterdays? Where Wednesday is nothing more than another Tuesday and Thursday will be nothing more than another Wednesday?

It can feel like an infinite loop. Never ending. We just get another day older reliving days that don’t feel much like we’re living them.

And even if we tell ourselves we want a different outcome, we habitually recreate more of what we tell ourselves we don’t want.

Our own personal version of Punxsutawney, PA.

Habitual and unconscious actions, thought patterns, emotions, beliefs, expectations, energy, and intentions simply create more of what already is. Each new day becomes the exact same day just with a different date attached to it.

At many points in my life, the outcomes I told myself I wanted for my life were quite inconsistent with how I was actually living my life. Mindset is a critically important component of growth and the creation of new outcomes. Without a change in my mindset, my desired new outcomes were really just wishes marinating in hope. Nothing was ever going to change because, actually, nothing ever changed with me.

Have you ever stepped back and witnessed what your thoughts and emotions and beliefs and actions have been creating? Will those same thoughts and emotions and beliefs and actions allow you to create any new desired outcomes you tell yourself you want for you?

There are many aspects of life which may be out of our immediate control. But our thoughts and emotions and our beliefs and actions are always under our control. They can work for us or against us, but they are always working. Either moving us forward, or keeping us in place.

Life is too short to relive the yesterdays which will ultimately hold us back from our desired tomorrows.

Santa, I Never Should Have Doubted You

Santa, I Never Should Have Doubted You

It was a special week.

I met Santa.

Twice!

My kids didn’t understand my enthusiasm. They’re at the age where they’ve long outgrown the Santa-down-the-chimney narrative. This “Santa guy” was just some guy wearing a red suit and a fake beard. For me, though, that didn’t matter. I’ve gained a new understanding of the Santa story.

It’s about believing.

It’s about the magic.

I remember many a Christmas morning hearing the kids run down the stairs to see if Santa had, in fact, left lots of toys. I remember their wide-eyed enthusiasm as they ran back up the stairs and into our bedroom to tell us that Santa had indeed showed up during the night. Magic. Pure magic.

And then at some point they figure it out.

The magic was over.

I guess that’s what “growing up” does to us all. It tends to suck the magic out of almost everything.

Over the years, yup, I’d lost my sense of magic. And not just about Christmas. I’d lost the magic of life. Adulting sort of got the best of me. Life became ordinary, often repetitively mundane. That’s what I chose to accept. That’s what I chose to believe.

What if I chose to believe something else?

It’s not so much about Santa. It’s more about what we are willing to believe about life and our own self and our own experience. How much magic do we simply not allow ourselves to see or experience? How often do we let “logic” steal our joy, draining the magic out of the magical moments of each new day? Of the magic in the things we routinely take for granted?

Even the magic of a new day itself?

As a child all I needed to do was believe. I was open to the possibilities of what I didn’t fully understand. Why can’t I again choose to see the magic in the things the adult me learned to see as just ordinary, to embrace that childlike wide-eyed wonder toward life itself and the gifts that life provides each of us if we simply choose to see them as gifts?

Maybe that’s what Santa has been trying to teach us all along?

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Sunflower

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Sunflower

It was the strangest thing.

A sunflower growing in the gutter.

My gutter.

I’m not exactly sure how it got there but there it was. Growing tall, fully in bloom, oblivious to the fact that flowers simply don’t grow in the gutter.

This flower just didn’t know any better. It never questioned why it was in the gutter. It never once questioned if it would ever be able to grow there.

It just grew.

Where it was.

I don’t know much about flowers, but I do know about us humans. And for many of us we simply find ways not to grow.

We think. We analyze. We overthink. We overanalyze. So much thinking and we can actually think ourselves out of growing. We use our ability to rationalize to find ways for us to stay in a state of waiting for a better environment, a better time, a better system of support. Guilty, I’ve been, an experienced “justifier” of staying stuck and waiting for things to be “right” before moving ahead.

Meanwhile, in my gutter grows a beautiful sunflower…

Often our stagnation is simply a reflection of our belief system, of what we honestly feel is – or isn’t – possible for us. And rather than confront any limitations in our internal belief system it’s much easier to focus on external conditions and factors as reasons why we’re still where we tell ourselves we no longer wish to be.

What if we were to think like that flower in my gutter and just grew, grew into all we were created to be? Never questioning our ability, our environment, the timing, nor our inherent worthiness to simply allow ourselves to grow into who we were created to become? Right here. Right now.

If we can think of ways to hold ourselves stagnant, why can’t we change that thinking to support our divine evolution?

Could it be that simple?

Just something to not overthink about.

The Inconvenient Nature Of Sunrises

The Inconvenient Nature Of Sunrises

More people would enjoy sunrises if they simply scheduled them later in the day.

It just doesn’t work that way.

The alarm on my phone reminded me it’s 4:30 AM. It’s unseasonably cold, it’s dark, and I’m very tired. But I told myself I wanted to see the sunrise and the sun tends to get up early. 

My trek to meet the sun isn’t very convenient. The best view is over the bay, and that’s about a 30 minute drive from home. But that’s the price I must pay if I want to experience an ideal sunrise. Because the sun isn’t going to wait for me to rise.

On this particular morning, the cloud cover on the horizon did not produce the spectacular sunrise I had hoped for. But none the less, I showed up for it, and if you don’t show up in life you’re guaranteed to miss far more than spectacular sunrises.

Experiencing things out of the ordinary requires me to do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. The blast of frigid air on my face as I walked to the car reminded me that quite often the road to accomplishment is seldom comfortable. Comfort, actually, is often the greatest obstacle to accomplishment.

So much of the personal growth I’ve experienced in my life started with me doing something uncomfortable. Inconvenient. Out of my ordinary. Even deciding to do something new can be met with a wave of discomfort. Change is never easy. It complicates things and who needs more complications in their life?

It’s only when the reward is greater than the discomfort are we willing to create the new habits and rituals needed to claim our reward. Be it witnessing a sunrise or anything else we hope to experience or accomplish in life.

So what’s your reward? What are you striving for? Is it greater than the level of comfort you already enjoy? Because if it isn’t, at some point you’ll simply choose comfort over accomplishment, what is over what could be.

Goals and dreams require us to work with them under their terms and conditions, not ours. Often inconvenient. Often worth it.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are

You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are

We did it.

We got through the year we never could have expected to have happened.

So much loss on so many different levels.

But we made it through. We are still here.

If this past year has taught us anything it’s that we are far more resilient than we probably expected we were. If we were told last January what we’d be facing in the coming year I’d suggest many of us would have questioned our ability to get through it.

But we did.

Resiliency is a painful life lesson only life gets to teach us. When going through the wall isn’t ideal but it’s the only option you have. This past year has been quite a wall.

There are still walls in front of us, some pandemic related and others not. A new year doesn’t simply reset the challenges of life. Perhaps, though, we’d serve ourselves well in reflecting upon exactly what we’ve been through and see that yes, we are far more resilient than we may have given ourselves credit for.

Perhaps a small victory, but a rather important one.

The Inheritance of Limitation

The Inheritance of Limitation

“So much for going for a small role, huh Dad?”

Her face was fully aglow from the brightness of the iPhone as she read the email. And in an instant the size of her eyes doubled.

She got the part.

My daughter auditioned for a rather important part in her school’s drama club performance of “Willy Wonka”. This being her first year in this new school, she would be competing with seasoned students, more well-known to those who make the ultimate decision as to who gets selected for the roles. And since she has never been in a school play before, I had actually tried to convince her to try out for a smaller, less visible role.

Something safer.

She didn’t quite see it that way.

One of the countless joys of being around my daughter is her blissful enthusiasm. Continue reading “The Inheritance of Limitation”

What Happens When The Plastic Horse Is No Longer Good Enough?

What Happens When The Plastic Horse Is No Longer Good Enough?

She didn’t even care. And I’m certain she never even thought about it. It looked like fun, especially the ones which moved up and down.

Behold the world through the eyes of a six year old.

Going through some old photos, I found a picture of my daughter at an amusement park from a few years back. There she was, with a smile from ear to ear, her eyes as wide open as they could possibly be. She was holding on tightly to the brass-colored pole which connected the plastic horse to the mechanism which allowed it to go up and down.

When it comes to exciting amusement park rides, the carousel pales in comparison to the more modern gravity-defying, vomit-inducing rides. But there she was. In the moment. Fully present. Simply enjoying the ride. Never comparing the Continue reading “What Happens When The Plastic Horse Is No Longer Good Enough?”

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Tree

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Tree

When I grow up I want to be a tree.

Why?

Trees, simply, grow.

Trees live up to their potential. Everyday. They fully expand and become all they were created to be. Because trees never work against themselves. The don’t fill themselves with doubt or question their worthiness. They don’t complain about the quality of the soil they’re planted in. They don’t stress wondering what will happen if there isn’t as much rain as last year. Trees never look at other trees with jealousy or envy, the short trees never wishing they were taller, the wide-trunked trees never wishing they were thinner.

Trees never work against themselves.

Continue reading “The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Tree”

Embracing the Radical Idea of Unconditional Happiness

Embracing the Radical Idea of Unconditional Happiness

What if you just decided to be happy, right now, for no particular reason?

Certain things make us happy. That usually happens when the outside world meets or exceeds our expectations. Then we allow ourselves to be happy. Happiness becomes the result when our terms and conditions are met.

But what happens when the world around us lets us down?

Think about how a rainy day off from work makes you feel. We establish our expectations for what a “perfect” day off should be, and then the rain ruins everything. Our expectations are not met and our disappointment undermines our ability to be happy.

Why do we place so much of our capacity for happiness into the hands of the outside world of which we have zero control over?

Continue reading “Embracing the Radical Idea of Unconditional Happiness”