A New Beginning

I discovered my method of doing things has not been working out too well.

I procrastinate when I don’t want to do something. And I stubbornly forge ahead when I do. This only leaves me dissatisfied. And what do grumpy dissatisfied people naturally do? They complain and blame. “Well if it wasn’t for …” “If I had more time I could have …”

I started listening to my complaints – trying to find out where I felt the most disadvantaged, or unable to accomplish what I wanted to do.

And in my pondering, I recalled reading something about a Greek God, referred as the Wounded Healer. He had the ability to heal others, but was unable to heal his own broken leg. This left him both physically damaged and spiritually broken. He lost faith in his own abilities.

But his story didn’t end there. He, in his brokenness, had decided to heal others. He had a tremendous amount of compassion for others who were suffering similar physical and spiritual injuries and this drove him to help where ever he could. And in helping others, he helped to heal himself.

I can’t tell you if this story of the Wounded Healer is a myth, but I find the lesson it offers life-changing.

If you need a job and can’t seem to find one, try helping someone else find one. If you are unable to write your novel, try helping someone else get started on theirs. Whatever it is that you are struggling with, help someone else who is experiencing the same.

The results are always the same; when we take the focus off our own pain and suffering and we reach out to help someone else, our attitude changes from negative to positive, our thoughts turn to helping someone get out of their misery rather than re-living our own misery, and lastly, going to someone else’s aide gives us a sense of purpose.

~ I hope this inspires you

Exploring the Superhero’s Story

Recently, while working on a comic-book, I completely zoned out while drawing and found my mind drifting toward the ‘average’ person in a story, and began relating them to ‘everyday people’ of today.

Their identity was my main focus. Prior to becoming a Superhero most of these super-heroes-to-be have an identity that is flawed and not very appealing.

The best stories make us root for the ‘reluctant hero’ – the main character who is forced into a situation where they are obviously uncomfortable. The audience is on the edge of their seat hoping they will succeed – but they can’t – not quite yet – it can’t happen until they change their identity. They have to become the Superhero. This is their journey – their ultimate quest – to discover what they are capable of, and to find out who they really are.

That’s when I had one of those eureka moments. I was considering anyone out there who is struggling, feeling like an underdog, feeling frustrated and under-appreciated. Can the outline of a typical superhero story inspire them to discover themselves and become their own superhero?

We all have an identity; a mom, a dad, a sibling, a student, a clerk, a taxi driver, etc. And with this identity [label] are habitual routines – we get up at a certain hour, we repeat our day [for the most part] and go to bed knowing the next day will be more of the same. This, although can be boring, it is also familiar. Anything that is familiar brings a sense of comfort and security because we know what to expect.

But a routine is how we get caught up in a robotic and dissatisfying style of life. It’s not living. It’s getting by, or in some cases it’s merely existing. In many situations, we aren’t even trying to become more – we’re just hoping more will come to us.

To add to the dreariness of hum-drum, our days are often layered with a hidden, or rather, a not fully acknowledged, frustration. This frustration stirs a deep-seated irritation or a secret desire for more – but we feel stuck, trapped, unable to move out of, or overcome our current situation.

Believe it or not, it’s our identity that can be our own worst enemy, or nemesis. It keeps us stuck. We are attached to it. The more we come to resent our circumstance, the more we search for a reason or another person to blame. “They won’t let me, he won’t help me, she took that from me …” We feel helpless and alone which makes us cling more to the one thing we have that we think we can rely on – our identity.

This is the spot where almost every superhero movie begins. It’s the point of frustration – where the hero-to-be just can’t take any more bad news. They have had such a stream of bad luck and we seem to meet them for the first time when they are most vulnerable or at their worst. Their situations vary, maybe they discover they are being sued, or they are suddenly jobless, or homeless. These unexpected situations forces them to act, to do something. As much as they may feel inadequate or incapable, their desire for more is stronger than their willingness to surrender.

But you and I don’t have to wait for that ‘unexpected situation’ to happen, we can begin to make improvements now. We can start re-directing our own movie now.

Moving into a new situation can be scary. We are not familiar with anyone or anything. We know we’re going to stumble. We will make a few mistakes – that is the natural process of learning. But once we learn the ropes, and get a grip on our new situation, we will slowly start to feel a bit more comfortable and a lot more confident. But this is usually the time when our identity can sneak up on us and get in our way.

Just like the heroes in the movies, we too arrive at a new location or situation with our Old Identity. These old habits, attitudes, and preferences can be our downfall. They can do more damage than any villain out there. We can’t be the hero to our own movie if we are out all night getting plastered, or gossip all day about our co-workers, or spend all our money on foolish things rather than be responsible and pay the rent.

Reflection period; like in the movies when the hero finds themselves still struggling with old issues, they go off on their own; to drink; or to go back to their childhood home; or visit a grave site to reconnect with their past before deciding how they want to move forward.

We also need to examine our identities. We need to see what is working for us and what no longer helps us. We need to be clear about what we want to do and where we want to go. What matters to us? What is our deepest desire? That desire is the key to our happiness – it’s the cape – it’s the superhero’s secret identity. We need to figuratively don our invisible superhero cape and become the person we want to be.

But wait. We can’t simply buy a new wardrobe and show up at our new job trying to be someone we don’t identify with. The disconnection between our real identity and the wanted identity will prevent us from gaining any ground. We can’t become what we want to be until we explore who we truly are, and take responsibility for our current situation.

Half way through the movie the real journey begins when the hero decides to overcome their current situation. They confront their ‘demons’ and they use all the lessons they learned from their mistakes and mis-steps to their advantage. They make a conscious effort to move forward and they willingly accept the task / the mission, knowing there will be a few risks involved.

The old identity never disappears completely, there are benefits to every experience the hero has lived through – but the new identity has new attitudes, new experiences and new perspectives that serves the superhero’s new situation much better and the chances for success are much greater.

You don’t need a new wardrobe, a new car or a new home to become a superhero – all you need is a good attitude and the willingness to become more than your old identity.

~ I hope this inspires you

Stirring the Pot

Sometimes it’s hard to be joyful when our thoughts are constantly focused on worrying. I learned an interesting approach to negative emotions years ago that is very helpful. When sad, make someone else feel happy. When hungry, feed someone else. It’s amazing how doing for others lifts you up and makes you feel better inside.

But in this era of social distancing it may be a good time to focus on You. Remember when we were kids, and we knew we were going somewhere exciting. Before we were out the door we allowed the experience to begin. We didn’t need to be in the pool, or at the beach, we were excited by the mere thought of going. That’s what we need to do; mimic that child-like-on-the-edge-of-our-seat-excitement!

This is what I call, stirring the pot. Allowing a thought to raise our enthusiasm. We can do this sitting at home. We can raise our energy to a high level of excitement simply by thinking of an exhilarating experience we are about to partake in.

Worrisome thoughts do the opposite. They deplete our energy. They pull us down and make us feel heavy with dread. It’s hard to shake these feelings off.

Imagine a hallway with several doors. Every door opens into a messy pile of dreaded thoughts. One door is family, another is work, another is … you get the picture. You could go in and out of these doors all day long spending too much time in each of these dark rooms – OR – you could look ahead to the end of the hallway where a well lit stairwell leads you upward to a massive sunny room where opportunity awaits you! Fill that room with your most hopeful dream. Wood working tools? Drafting tables? Computers? A theatre stage? Medical equipment? Musical instruments? Fabrics? Sheet metal? Car parts? Whatever interests you and brings you joy.

Want to take it a step further? Consider this; Mind, Body and Soul are the building blocks to creativity. The Mind thinks it, the Body builds it, and the Soul experiences it. The problem is, when the Mind heads this project, little gets done. The Body has a hard time performing when the Mind drifts into doubtful thoughts. If Worry steps in, the project gets delayed and the Soul never gets the opportunity to enjoy it. And the rest of the world never gets a chance to appreciate or be inspired by your creativity.

So let’s change the process. Let’s put our Soul in the lead! Let’s allow the Spirit of Creativity to take charge so the excitable anticipation will stay alive inside us.

Get excited, think big, let your imagination fly! Then let the mind plan it and the body build it. And any time your mind starts to take over the project with negative thoughts, go back to your original soulful desire. Your desire is your cornerstone. Write it down on a piece of paper and post it somewhere to remind you that a wonderful experience is about to happen. And enjoy every minute of the process.

Yoda, once told Luke Skywalker, “The Force is with you.”

I tell you, “The SOURCE is within you.”

Be well, stay positive, and stir your pot often!

~ I hope this inspires you

Nostalgia

Introducing my very young children to Eddie Murphy’s comedy no doubt would have labelled me ‘a bad influence’ to many parents and scholars, so I never openly admitted I showed them clips from his stand-up routines. [Their favourite was “The Ice-cream Man Is Coming!”] Many would say I “polluted” their virgin ears. Which would have put me on the defence because I was very protective of what I allowed my children to watch, but I guess the magic of Eddie overpowered my parental judgement.

When SNL announced Eddie was hosting, we all looked forward to it hoping to see Gumby, Buckwheat, and of course, Mr. Robinson’s Neighbourhood.

The anticipation and joy that twinkled in my eyes was also present in theirs. Had I not introduced my kids to Eddie’s comedy, they would not have appreciated Eddie’s SNL return like the rest of us 50+ year old fans did.

Thank you Eddie Murphy for bringing a shared nostalgic moment into our home.

As I write this, commentary from Cosby is circulating in the news. I will just say this, remarks and judgements thrown at Eddie in the 80’s were precisely the reason I felt guilty introducing my children to his material. I admired and respected Crosby back then. He didn’t like Eddie’s swearing. He felt it wasn’t necessary. But we can’t deny what we feel. And I felt entertained listening and watching Eddie on-stage. If anything, Eddie was being his RAW self, unlike Cosby, who was only playing the good guy.

The brilliance of Eddie Murphy is being able to wrap a 35 year old joke up with a quick one-liner “whose the American dad now?” said it all.

~ Let’s try to judge less and enjoy more

Living In and Loving The Moment

Flipping through channels the other night I came across Garth Brooks wiping tears from his eyes. Being curious I had to tune in. His story captivated me. We assume successful people get lucky breaks. But no one arrives at the top of their game without first pursuing their dream. And Garth had a wonderful dream.

Titles, trophies and awards validate some successful people. But Garth achieved the greatest success – true happiness. I often start my day hoping to achieve the same, but I forget to activate something within me – passion.

Success begins when we feel satisfaction. And satisfaction is felt when we enjoy what we are doing. And we enjoy what we are doing if we allow ourselves to be passionate. If we ignore our passions by placing our hope for success in the future, then ‘if tomorrow never comes,’ we lose the opportunity to feel happiness.

Watching Garth perform is not simply seeing a man strumming a guitar and singing a song – it’s watching a man celebrate his love for life! It’s watching him thoroughly enjoying what he is doing. And as we watch and listen and ‘dance’ we genuinely feel his infectious love for Living in, and Loving, [and singing in] the Moment.

Thanks for ‘The Dance’ Garth.

~ I hope this inspires you

The Perfect Role

Seeing the trailer for Tom Hank’s new movie where he portrays Mr. Rogers, was truly nostalgic. To say, “I am looking forward to seeing it,” is an understatement. He is the perfect actor for this role.

It made me wonder, if there was a movie about my life, who would play me? Perhaps the more important question to ask is, would the movie be worth watching?

From day to day as I go about my routines, running errands and performing tasks, I may overcome minor obstacles, but ultimately my days are governed around my own needs. What would our world be like if everyone spent their working hours purposely trying to be effective in the world. That’s what Mr. Rogers did.

When the market crashed in 1929 everyone was desperate. Workers needed money and businesses needed buyers. Everyone went that extra mile hoping to be of value to others. Manufacturers made products meant to last and workers proudly put all their energy into their work. As the economy gained some footing, peoples’ future grew more secure. Has ease and comfort robbed us from our need to make a valuable effort?

Mr. Rogers focused on his neighbours. I recently learned the word neighbour in ancient Jewish text meant ‘the person close to you’. The stranger behind us at the check out, the cashier ringing in our groceries and the person climbing in the car parked next to ours. These are the neighbours Mr. Rogers cared about; the people who crossed his path. I am going to try to make it a habit to acknowledge my neighbours as I go about my day, and I will begin by acknowledging you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

~ I hope this inspires you neighbour

What Is Truth?

Motive, intention, reason, excuse(s) are all wrapped up in what each of us calls Truth. The truth is; it is what it is. No excuse can justify it, and no tears can erase it. Cold I know, but cold hard truth always shows itself while our emotions try to avoid it.

We all have a project to finish, or something we have set aside for later; a room to clean up or paperwork to fill out. We can find someone or something to blame, but the truth is; nothing will change until we accept what is. This involves changing the way we look at it. Emotions keep us stuck, but facts can help us see the bigger picture. It’s not finished – period. It doesn’t matter who, when, where, what or how ~ all that matters is a simple equation; the effort we put in will equal the result. No effort, no result. If we have a ‘that’s good enough’ attitude, then the result will be just that ~ not good enough. If we take shortcuts, it’s almost a guarantee it will fall short. If we try to put the burden on someone else then we won’t be able to feel the satisfaction of achieving our goal. [And we know they won’t do it the way we want!]

The cold winter months can be debilitating for some, making it hard to get motivated. But there is an advantage in being trapped in doors – it gives us time to work on those projects. I am going to take a few minutes every day to work on my project – I’m going to make it a habit – turn it into a regiment always remembering that I am doing this for me – it is something I have always wanted – because if I don’t start now – when will I start? Let’s hope we can all set aside our excuses and face the simple truth ~ it is what it is. [But each day I can make it just a little bit better!]

I hope this inspires you

Real Generosity

After gathering my recyclables I headed out the door for the depot. In a split second my feet hit the ground and my back slammed the slippery-when-wet stairs. Yes I cried out in pain. Probably cursed too. It took awhile to walk it off and I know I will be feeling the bruises for days, but something wonderful happened. In telling my friend she immediately offered to take me to the hospital to get checked out. Generous offer? Absolutely. But this was more than generous. She hates driving – she only does it when she has to. And she avoids the highway at all costs. The fact that she offered to drive me was beyond generous. She ignored her own fear. Her desire to help me was greater than her own need to protect herself from the discomfort of driving on the highway.

There’s a line in the Bible, “there will always be poor”, that I found odd, kind of dismissive and thoughtless. But I think I get it now. Giving our old clothes to the poor, offering left-overs to soup kitchens, or throwing a bit of loose change in donation can is not real generosity. In these situations we give without loss. It may even be an advantage for us to give these unwanted items away. “There will always be poor,” there will always be a place we can discard our unwanted items. But I think real generosity involves a sacrifice of sort. Like giving a homeless person the shoes off your feet. Travelling a great distance to visit a sick relative. Or, ignoring your fear of driving in order to help a friend.

I may be a little battered and bruised today – but I learned a valuable lesson in life that broadened my perspective; I was the recipient of the gift of real generosity.

Shooting Stars

After fumbling and stumbling and running behind every hour of the day I came to the conclusion that no progress of any sort, on any front, in any way was made yesterday. However, there was an interesting light at the end of my day. I looked up at the stars. There he was, the constellation Orion, demanding my attention. It was a site to be held. Then a shooting star crossed between us. I had to blink. “Was that a … ?” Then a second shot by verifying the first. And then to my amazement a third!!! I don’t know if there was a meteor shower last night, but I am definitely taking it as a sign from above. Like Scarlet, holding up her carrot vowing to the universe that she would rise again, I decided to cease my tomorrow. And so today, I will rise up and shoot for the stars. But I will be sure to tuck a few bandages in my pocket in case I bump into anything [again].

~ I hope this inspires you

Turning Dread to Wonder

While scraping my windshield this morning the dread of winter crept in my mind. Like falling dominoes more like-minded thoughts popped in my head to add more weight to the dreadfulness of the cold dark months ahead. Thoughts like; the clocks going back; and the diminishing daylight hours. As I continued to scrape my mind drifted in dread like a raft floating down a river. Then I stopped to take the time to notice the amazing pattern on my frosty windshield. The glistening sun created colourful prisms in the jagged ice. I suddenly became aware of my altered state, or rather, the change in my attitude. By simply noticing the beauty of the sparkling frost, a youthful thought stirred within me. I remember getting so excited for that first winter snow when I was a child. I used to wish for the snow. I couldn’t wait to put my snow suit on so I could go out to build a fort. Where did that enjoyment of winter go? Adulthood tends to steel our wonderment and replace it with a cynical knowledge. We know what’s in store. We know what to prepare for. We know what tasks are required. We know how hard and frustrating it can be. The dread of it all prevents us from noticing the beauty winter offers. This knowingness limits our experiences. We believe we can’t do this or that because of the snow. Oh the innocence of childhood. To see the frost and get excited for that first snowfall. Kids don’t know how to dread winter [yet]. They only know how to live in wonderment – they notice the beauty in front of them and anticipate the fun they will have playing in the snow. I hope you can take a moment today to toss any dreadfulness you may be feeling and instead seek wonderment in all your tasks ahead.

~ I hope this inspires you