At year’s end

As the year comes to a close…

It’s that time of year for reflection and action as we learn from the days behind us, and look forward to the days ahead. The here and now is a good place to be. There is much joy, and much to be thankful for during the holidays; as well as a chance to dig deep. Amidst all of this, there is a dance between joy; and at times, an unexplainable sadness.

Goodness, kindness, and community are highlighted during the Christmas season. It is embedded in the movies we watch and the songs we sing; a hope for a better world, and a hope for change. We cheer for Scrooge, who finally sees that people are the most precious commodity. We shed tears of joy as George Bailey discovers that the wonderful life he has been searching for has been right in front of him the whole time.

Now the sadness, well there must be a reason and a place for it too right?

The holidays are also a time for togetherness, which can potentially make time alone feel well… lonely. I believe that this idea of togetherness highlights those who are no longer with us, and still hold a part of our hearts. All of us have lost someone to some extent; whether it be death to the body,  the heart that has lost hope, or a relationship faded. All things that have passed need to be mourned.

This aloneness does not have to equate to loneliness; it may be necessary.

 These times may be a call to reflect, remember, accept, or take action.

Who we are and what we do matters in this life. 

We live in the space between joy and sadness, so we must seek the purpose that is within that space.

Starting Somewhere

“Well, you gotta start somewhere,” I said to myself the other morning.

I woke up with a mind full of ideas, and about an hour until I had to leave for work. There was so much that I wanted to do, and it was a little overwhelming. I was thinking about projects at work, an upcoming Christmas party, playing guitar, writing a blog, New Year’s Eve plans, writing a story, reading Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (part of the Stormlight Archive, fun read), hitting the trails, doing some push ups, and the list went on… and on. All this at 5:15am, and I had only been awake for a few minutes.

“Just breathe,” I said to myself. “Start there, and lay a foundation for success.”

So I decided to close me eyes and breathe. It was an exercise in meditation, and it was hard to get started. It takes a lot of effort to calm a mind, to de-clutter thoughts; but once you get started, it begins to make more sense. After about 5-7 minutes, the feeling of anxiety had left; and instead, a sense of peace came over me. The need to do everything was replaced with do something, which is right where we need to be.

The rest of my time that morning was spent reading, and it was good.

I felt focused and ready to take on the day at my workplace, and I was very effective.

It was a good day, all the way into the night; and throughout the day I reflected on the idea of starting somewhere. All the good we bring to this world comes from intention, and success does not come without doing the work.

So what started as a breath, is actually a foundation for success.

Tales from the Trails

I was running some trails last night up on Observatory Mesa here in Flagstaff AZ, and I found myself drifting into some deep reflection. These trails in particular are behind the neighborhood we lived in for 12 years, and I hadn’t run up there much since we moved two years ago.

The sun was setting, and dusk was here. The wind was blowing, and a slight mist began to fall. A dusky mist is a magical experience.

I have spent many hours on that Mesa on solo runs, pack runs, and family hikes. There are lots of memories, and lots of dreams. This latest solo run, in particular, spawned the idea for this blog. A series of reflections from trail runs.

Trail running has been part of my life for the past 6 years or so. I have experienced community and brotherhood, pain and suffering, adventures, fear, extreme heat, and extreme cold. I have found myself laughing out loud, talking to myself, and even singing out loud. I have also had runs full of tears, not from physical pain, but from deep emotions that were unlocked through the experience.

My goal is to write something after each run that speaks to me, and I hope this connects to anyone who enjoys experiencing life or digging deep.

Now…I think I’m going to hit the trails.

 

 

 

 

Bitter Sweet

It’s a bitter-sweet symphony, this life.

I feel this way at times during the holiday season.

Joy and sadness mingled together to make a melody that speaks deep into my core. It’s a time to embrace friends and family that are here, and lament those that are not.

The true beauty of this song, is the mental and emotional plain you can find yourself on. If you allow yourself the time to dive deep into both the joy and the sadness, we may find ourselves at a place of clarity. Personally, both aspects of this bring me to a place of action.

I’m a day dreamer, many of those dreams attainable if I put myself out there. Most require me start laying a foundation to build on. Any relationship that we want to maintain, grow, or establish; require us to do something. It can be as simple as making a phone call, or grabbing a cup of coffee (or tea if that’s your…well…cup of tea I guess).

I just watched It’s a wonderful Life last night with my youngest daughter, which in itself was great experience (I’ll take any snuggle time I can get with my kids nowadays). It was a good reminder that true wealth and fulfillment is not found through monetary means; but rather, in the relationships we have. I love the quote at the end (which I reference a lot) “No man is failure who has friends.”

So let us embrace both the song of praise, and the song of lament this season; as we remember that which has passed, and that which lies ahead.

Peace.

Take a moment

Breathe.

That’s what I tell myself as I wake up in a restless state this morning.

Just breathe.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds, because my mind is already indexing projects that should be completed; and planning out the day ahead. The only problem is that it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, I got no work today, and the plan was to enjoy a day off with the family.

Chill.

Do I have the power of mind to just chill for a while this morning? Sit back, drink some coffee, and go with the flow as the family wakes up. Perhaps see what they  would like to do today, and until they do wake up; dig until I find peace.

Just Chill.

I’m a morning person in the sense that I don’t sleep in much past 7:00 on the weekends, and I’m up at the butt crack o’ dawn during the work week. I’ve been working hard this year on utilizing my morning mind, which is the time during our fist waking hour when our mind is most free and creative. I’ve read a lot of articles this past year about the significance of our morning routines, and the power of our minds.

Create.

Well, it’s blog time again. This has helped me in so many ways this past year. Even now, as I type away; I find my heart slowing, and my mind calming. As the sun continues to rise, I have managed to stay on the couch with a cup of coffee and my computer; finding a simple joy in this moment.

Learn.

I will take away a lesson from this morning. Perhaps an initial restlessness does not signify unbalance, but rather, a signal to dig deep until a purpose is uncovered. It does not matter whether this purpose, or it’s impact, is small or large; because if it’s there, it must be brought to light.

Breathe. Chill. Create. Learn.

One Thing

What is one thing I can give up today?

Furthermore, what is one thing that I can focus on today?

What would life look like if I asked myself these two questions each day?

This could be a revolutionary idea for growth, and realization of purpose.

If a life of impact and fulfillment is what I long for, then I must ask of myself that which desires intentionality.

“Two roads diverged in the wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by; and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

 

What am I to you?

I have been thinking a lot about less lately.

Maybe this is natural as I get older, maybe it’s an overall shift in our culture (which would be a good thing); but I have been moving towards less stuff in my life, longing for more focus.

I have realized that there is direct connection (for me at least) between clutter and unrest. I am a simple man, yet I have slowly moved toward complex living in a sense. At the center,  I know that which is truly treasure: My wife, my children, my family, my friends, and my faith; these are of the utmost value to me, my top-tier treasure if you will.  Other things that bring me fulfillment are a job well done, playing guitar, writing songs, writing blogs (presently partaking in this one),  and hiking/running among other things; these would be my next tier of treasure in my life.  interesting thing is the lack of things in these lists.

If that which I value most is free of charge, and available constantly; why have I spent so much time shopping for, and accumulating stuff? I believe that this has very deep roots for me, which go back to my childhood. I have grown up telling myself that I am a “collector”. I have saved and taken care of comic books, sports cards, toys, Lord of the Rings memorabilia (nerd alert), amongst many other items. I have spent money on these, and I have wrapped a part of my identity in these. Some of the reasons for this may lie deeply rooted in my psyche, and may need professional help to diagnose; but I won’t drag you all down that rabbit hole in this blog.

I truly believe that starting as young as a child, I began to be drawn by the thrill of “the purchase.” I have accustomed myself to shopping, holding high value on that which I purchase; and worked hard to earn money to spend and these things that I would keep undamaged in their packages, holding on to some sort of hope some day that I would pass along a fortune to my kids. Well, that is not reality anymore folks! Through eBay, I realized that thousands of other people have held on to those same items I have, and are all trying to sell them. That means a flooded market, and that drives down the value of those items.

I would like to believe though, that it is more than just a market flooded by collectibles that has driven down the market. I believe that all of us are experiencing a shift in our world. Our eyes are being opened to the impact of consumerism, and the rippling effects that it has on our environment. The more we consume, the more waste there is. The more we continue to spend, the more we will be marketed to. We are hopefully realizing that it is the quality of what we have and do more than the quantity.

There is a great scene near the end of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (Spoiler alert!) takes place between Captan Barbosa and Carina Smyth. As the story unfolds to the audience, we find that Carina is actually Barbosa’s long lost daughter. The moment at which she realizes that this Pirate is willing to sacrifice himself for her she asks:

“Tell me, what am I to you?”

Barbosa replies, “Treasure.”

Barbosa was a pirate, a life full of taking more and more, gathering and spending his “plunder”. At the end of all things, he sees what is truly valuable, and makes the greatest decision in his life based on that which he found to be true “treasure”.

Well now I’m all teary eyed, but I hope you get the point.

Let us seek that which is truly valuable in our life; and may our actions, time, and purchases reflect our true passion.

Doin’ Something

Doin’ Something, not just the title of a grooving jazz/funk album by Soulive (which I highly recommend), but a reminder that we need to be doing something, intentionally.

Think big.

Open my mind to see opportunities, both big and small.

Broaden my focus.

I want to see beyond my needs, and see what is needed from me.

Do not begrudge the task to get to the completion, rather, enjoy the project. See the work to create as valuable as the creation itself.

“Life is a journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend gave me a book of short prayers that I read with my youngest daughter some nights, here is one of the prayers that she and I have memorized:

May I see each day (and the work that comes with it) as a gift.

This is good, because there is a lot of work to be done in this world. Work goes beyond making money, work is the process of creating something. Life is happening, and opportunity abounds!

Instead of saying to myself, “I should start writing again.”

I should write

this blog

right

now.

Come Alive

What do I expect from life?

This is a question that we ask, even if we don’t realize we are asking it. We have expectations, and we desire some definition of success in our lives.

What does life expect from me?

This is a question that brings perspective. It drives us to look beyond ourselves. It’s a question that sends us down the path of meaning, as it helps us see a reason to continue on.

But where these two questions meet, I believe that is where we find purpose and fulfillment.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

We are dreamers and idealists, full of creative potential and passion; Yet we let our dreams fade, or we don’t even take the time to dream. We don’t set goals because it feels overwhelming, or we label our dreams as too grand or better suited for a better person.

Driven solely by the question what do I expect from life?, we set our goals too low. We set our vision too small. If you ask yourself What does life expect from me?  You must be ready and willing to answer the call; because you will find that life expects a lot from you. There is a purpose for you to fulfill, and a plethora of people who need you to ask that question.

I speak from a man who is starting to tap into this. I in no way have this figured out, but I am trying; and I share this be cause I care. There is a balance between these two questions, and it is full of opportunity. Let us seize the day, and live life to the full.

 

Rantings of a madman

Contentment.

To be or not to be, that is the choice.

What is it to be content? I feel like I haven’t truly lived in contentment for a while. I have practiced thankfulness, but have not truly engraved it in my soul yet.

As we have added more stuff and more responsibility to our life, I have felt more weighed down than content.

I truly desire simplicity because I believe that in simplicity there is clarity, and in clarity there is contentment. I believe that a simple path can be blazed through complexity; because a complex life can also be beautiful if it is trekked with focus and gratefulness.

I don’t desire a life void of responsibility, neither do I want a life void of stuff; but I do want to learn how to live inspired and focused.

I long to enter each day in patience not tolerance, focus rather than anxiety.

I do need to learn to laugh at myself, instead of clinging to each failure as if it defines who I am. Move forward.

Establish goals, define what’s important now to achieve those goals. 

Life is huge right now. There is a lot in the air, a lot in the mix, and a lot to be done. It’s a privilege to have so much opportunity in life.

How will I treat my wife and kids with kindness? Perhaps it starts with searching for the opportunities. In a moment of failure or mistake, seize that opportunity to uplift and encourage. In a moment of success or personal victory, join in that celebration; no matter how small.

There is so much room in my life and character to grow, so I must accept and embrace that.

Steadfastness. Contentment. Love and kindness.