Archive for the ‘Distractions and Barriers’ Category

I am not good at routines. I’m forgetful, easily distracted, and I would rather do something new or entertaining than follow a routine. However, I know that I owe a lot of my happiness and good fortune over the past several years to well established beneficial routines. When you have physical goals like a marathon or long hike routine training schedules are what make it possible. I’m not a neat freak, but I like to stay on top of thing around the house. And I have a lot of projects around the house that I want to do, and I really dislike leaving anything half-finished. A solid daily and weekly routine helps me keep these things on track. If these things are taken care of, it’s much easier to focus on planning fun things and doing them!

Over the past 8 years I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my daily and weekly routines. However, after I completed the Marine Corps Marathon last October, I fell off on many of my routines. It started as a conscious effort to let my body heal, my hip and both Achilles tendons were very sore and the constant training was not letting them heal. So letting up on the work outs is explainable, but a lot of my other daily and weekly routines suffered too. My blog posting dropped off and I wasn’t as much on top of chores around the house. We’ve been busy, but I have the time I need to do these things.

In addition to slacking off on good habits, some bad ones have gained ground. Too much TV, too much couch time, and my diet has taken a turn for the worse. So far there has been no big difference in my life due to these changes, but over time, if I let this trend continue, my life would change and not for the better.

There is a well-known saying that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I would like to paraphrase this proverb to state one of my strongest held beliefs, “all play and no work makes Jack a bad playmate”. In addition to the preparation required so that you can truly “enjoy play”, you have to do “the work” on yourself and your situation before you can be a good play partner. You need to be financially prepared, you have to be physically prepared, you have to be well rested, and you need a stable orderly living situation before you are really ready to put all that aside for some worry free and well deserved fun. You have to do be prepared before you can be a good playmate.

Establishing beneficial routines and sticking to them is an essential part of living a full life. Do the work to prepare yourself for life and you’ll never regret it! If you don’t have good routines life will eventually overwhelm you and then start to pass you by.

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View from Tecate Peak in Southern San Diego County

One of the most satisfying feelings in life is feeling the sense of being grounded. The dictionary definition of the word asks more questions about a person than it answers.

I’ve heard other phrases in my life that I also equate with a person who is grounded such as “knows who they are and they’re happy with it”, “comfortable in their own skin”, and “right where they want to be in life”.   The classic view of a person who is “grounded” is of a person who is that way because that is who they are and nothing can shake them. People like that might exist, but I think anyone is capable of being shaken loose from their roots occasionally. Sometimes it is better to let yourself drift for a while than to hold on to a self-image that no longer works. I believe you won’t be able to hold on to that “grounded” feeling for long if your self-image doesn’t match your situation!  Although I haven’t always felt that I was “grounded”, I can definitely think of four times in my life I felt that way.

When I was young and we lived just outside of my hometown, even though I spent a lot of time alone, I remember being very happy. I had a close family, felt I knew who I was, and where I fit in the world. Of course things have a way of changing, in fact they never stop changing. I hit puberty (never a likely time to feel grounded), my parents divorced, and we moved in to town. It is hard to feel grounded when the “ground” is shifting underneath you.

But I found my way and even though I was a rebellious teen, I felt grounded. I’m sure my Mom would feel differently about that time in my life, but I was happy with much of my life. I started working, had a more social life, a terrific best friend (who is still my best friend today), and I learned a lot about myself. But high school doesn’t last forever! After high school the ground shifted yet again. Behavior that worked when I had fewer responsibilities became a huge problem. I didn’t know where I was headed and no longer felt even a little bit grounded.

Eventually, I decided that a major change was necessary. I decided to join the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is a terrific organization and I loved every minute of my 21 years of service, but I can’t say that I felt particularly grounded during my first four years in the Marine Corps. I was constantly moving around, meeting new people, and learning even more about myself. I wasn’t particularly happy with some of the things I learned, so I decided to make some changes. At the end of my first enlistment I met a woman, got married and started a family. Responsibility and family allowed me to finally feel grounded again.

The years I spent married and raising young children was a defining time in my life. I was absolutely exactly where I wanted to be. I never wanted it to end! We were married 20 years. We were happy at least 80% of the time for the first 17. Unfortunately we were only happy about 20 percent of the time the last three years. This was different for me than after high school. After high school I didn’t really know who I was.  Now I did! I was settled in my career, I was a father, and I wanted to be a family man. That included coming home from work to my family. My self-image no longer completely fit my situation. I saw my children several hours a week, not every night. I came home to an empty apartment, and I didn’t have a long list of interests to fill my life with. The interests of my youth – going to the bar, playing pool, and the rest of the things young men do, felt like a pretty hollow existence compared to what my life had been.

I didn’t all at once decide to “find myself” or to live a fuller life. In fact I did what a lot of people in my situation do, I jumped back into a relationship very quickly. I thought I could rebuild what I had lost. I thought all I needed was someone to come home to and then everything would be “good” again. It didn’t work out quite that way. I ended up married and divorced again very quickly. Although it was a 3 year relationship I was not able to regain that feeling of being grounded. After that experience I was even more “out of sorts”. I really was adrift except for one thing, my youngest son moved in with me.

I wish I could say that with my son there I had decided to just enjoy having my son there, not worry about dating, and take some time to build a life, but I didn’t know I needed to do that.  I was a single parent, dating, and dealing with the challenges that all of those things together bring. It didn’t leave a lot of time in my life for self discovery. It didn’t take long for me to see that this wasn’t the way to happiness. I pulled away from online dating, focused on doing my own thing, not for years, but for enough time to find something that I could build on.  I also started blogging. My first blog is no longer around. It was a 60 post in 60 days nonstop rant. I wasn’t ranting at the world for “what they were doing to me”. I was ranting at myself! I needed to change some things. It was too late to “Join the Marine Corps” again, and that is not the kind of change I needed anyway. I needed to accept that I wouldn’t go back to where I had been before. Besides, my kids were mostly grown and the nest was emptying out. I started to hike, and run, and sail more. I started going to plays and more concerts than I had ever gone to before. I also accepted the friendship offered by a terrific woman I was dating before my “60 posts in 60 days” rant/melt down. Again I wish I could say that I let this go slowly, that is absolutely what I needed, but I didn’t. After a few months I asked her to date again. At least it wasn’t because I needed to date, it was because I thought she was terrific and I didn’t want to lose her.  However, I did commit myself to taking the dating slowly, and to continuing to find myself. I knew I needed to fill my life with not just the company of another person, but with my own interests if I was going to ever be happy again.

Much of the rest of the story is already told in the posts I’ve written for this blog over the last 3+ years, so I’ll skip to the good part.  Last week I was rocking my grandson to sleep and my beautiful, tenacious, adventurous, wonderful wife bent over to give me a kiss and one word came to my mind – grounded!  I was grounded well before this, but I felt it more strongly than ever before at that moment.  I could not be in a better place. I cannot imagine a different life. I know exactly who I am and I’m happy with that person (well mostly). I know that there is change out there somewhere in the future. I don’t dwell on it… but it will come. Until then I will live every day to the fullest and continue to feel grounded!

I’m planning to post a series of short fiction stories. I would like to give myself a schedule, but I’ll be realistic. It’s been a long time since I wrote any fiction (college) and I only have a basic idea of what I plan to write about. I would like to post at least four short stories a year (not too ambitious am I?), but I’ll have a better idea of the time involved once I have one done.

I’ve always been a huge reader of Science Fiction so I plan to write in that genre. The basic idea goes along with my blog celebrating a full life. The premise for each of the short stories will be that a cure for “death by old age” has been discovered. What I will try to investigate in the series are the troubles that this would cause for society.

This is not the first time I’ve thought about this topic, but a return to it came with a single thought a few weeks ago. The thought… “Death, what a waste!” You have a person with 70-80 years, or more of experience, memories, and wisdom. This person is irreplaceable and full of life, and then they are just gone! There were a whole series of thoughts that led to this thought, but the thoughts I had after this thought were more interesting. Why? What if old age was cured. What would this change? It was easy to figure out some of the changes and more importantly the challenges. The easiest to predict would be the population explosion problem. The current worldwide population over 65 is less than 10% of the total world population. That would change very quickly!

I plan to develop this thought with a series of short stories. The situations and choices that could be made are unlimited. By just changing the world situation at the time of “the cure” and the choice made to deal with the resulting population change I think I can find the premise for several interesting stories. The challenge for me will be to write the type of story that I love to read. A story that “tells the story” through the characters. I have not done that before, and I will not be satisfied with a story that simply reads like a new article, setting up the situation and then laying out the plot… I want to explore the impact on the people in the stories. This means I will have to develop the characters.

I have a couple stories already in the works. Well one is actually very short… and ready to post. I have always found Science Fiction to be very liberating. It is also a way, through exaggeration, to point out those things that given the right circumstances don’t pass the “giggle test”.

iGoogle

iGoogle has been my homepage since 2005! It’s been a terrific 8 years together. I don’t even remember what my homepage was before iGoogle… probably the minimal Google search page (how boring). I’ve grown used to the never-ending distraction of news, email, calendar, and other reminders (like what deals I have to use before they expire), and frankly I have not found a replacement yet. This morning the reminder that Google was “killing” my old friend iGoogle in 13 days popped up and I felt a little sad, a little panicked, and a bit ticked off!

I’ve read Google’s help topic, What’s happening to iGoogle?, more than once and I still don’t get it. Maybe that’s because I’m thinking of this more from what I want as a user of Google’s products than from their grand strategic point of view as a company that makes lots of money. Of course software companies that lose sight of “what the customer wants” have paid a price in the past. Think of RIM and the Blackberry, Microsoft and… well you can “take your pick” of several failures. Do I expect Google to lose customers or money based on this decision? Not really, they have the best search engine in the world and as far as I have seen no one else is close. That is their “bread and butter” product like Windows is for Microsoft. You can afford to be wrong about a lot of things when you have money pouring in from a cash cow like that. Google’s suggestion is to use Chrome, you’ll love it! This is a good strategic move for them. This could lead to a bigger share of the browser market for them, resulting in increased interest in creating 3rd party apps for Chrome, which also run on their Chrome operating system, and more recently on your Windows desktop.

So what does Google really want? Of course they want to take Microsoft’s cash cow from them. Microsoft has been trying to take the search cash cow from Google for years, so this is only fair right? But as a very satisfied iGoogle user I really don’t care! I just want my iGoogle. So Microsoft, please create iBing, if you could also create an iBing Chrome app, and an iBing Android app I would appreciate it. If you put Bing search on it I might even use it – occasionally! But if you put Google search on it… I’ll be telling all my friends – “iGoogle is dead. Long live iBing”!

Honestly, the one iGoogle alternative I haven’t looked at yet are other portals like Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN. Yahoo offers a configurable home page – myYahoo and so does Microsoft at myMSN but they revolve around Yahoos and MSN’s offerings and I’ve grown attached to my Google things. However, these sites are options and if you want something like iGoogle from a company you trust, they are better options than Google is offer at this point. I have looked at some of the alternatives put forth by other companies including a Chrome app called iChrome – it is not even close.

NetVibes

There are some sites like ProtoPage and igHome that really try to be just like iGoogle. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll say that one issue I would have with them is trusting them with all my choices and my personal info. That may seem funny when I trust Google with the same info, but it is an issue for me. I guess it is because, besides the news the only things I had on iGoogle were Google widgets and Google already had that info. I’ve been using NetVibes for a couple of months, just to have a place to “see multiple news feeds” and it works but it is not the same as iGoogle. NetVibes does have Google search though.

I will likely search for options with Chrome and try to get used to Google’s icons to a single page interface for a bit. If that works Google gets what it wants! If it doesn’t work, I will try to get used to myMSN or myYahoo and I’ll just set the browsers search engine to Google. In that case Google still doesn’t lose… the cash cow keeps mooing and that at least has to be reassuring to them.

Update 22 Oct 2013: I’m trying out My Yahoo. It actually has instructions to help you export your iGoogle settings and import them into My Yahoo. I was able to do it, but the calendar events are showing up on the wrong day. I’m sure this is due to a time zone preference setting, but I’ve corrected it everywhere I can find it and the issue is persisting. My Yahoo can be set up to show gmail and Google Calendar events though. So far it is very similar!

Serene view of Half Dome from our raft on the Merced River
There are events in life that will challenge your serenity. These usually turn out to be things that are “Beyond Your Control“. I try to keep a large reservoir of serenity stored up for just this type of event.  I’ve faced situations in my life where all my serenity was used up.  Where one bad event after another happened! When you find yourself in this situation you start to question everything, especially yourself!  So these days I keep a very large store of serenity inside of me just in case.

You ask, “How can you store up serenity?”

Funny you should ask…

I think we store up serenity when we make good decisions, let go of things when we have no control of them, fight for what is right, work hard, and love completely.  I was first exposed to the Serenity Prayer when I was a young boy.  It hung from a wall on my Grandma’s kitchen.  Even though my Grandma’s house is no longer there, the memories are.  I can walk through that kitchen in my memories and see the framed prayer hanging right by the stove.  I just wish I could also have some of that terrific potato soup I’m smelling…  The Serenity Prayer doesn’t provide all the answers, but it does point out three important things related to serenity:  acceptance, courage, and wisdom.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

This week I was faced with an event that challenged my serenity.  I had been living with something for the last couple years that I was certain I could change as long as I had the courage to take action.  When the time came to take action I approached my task with caution, asking all the right questions of all the right people.  I did my own research and was certain, in fact I still am, that I was fighting for what was right.  Unfortunately, the control I felt was an illusion.  Whether the change I sought was right or wrong did not matter; only the decision of someone I could not control mattered.  They approached the decision in a way that I would not have and in a way I could not have foreseen.   They seemed unsure of their decision and talked about how they felt that it could go either way, but they decided against me.  Finally they wavered one more time in their decision, made it temporary, giving me one more chance to influence their decision.  While this sounds like a situation that still holds some hope, and maybe it does, there is nothing worse for serenity than a situation like this!  Initially I thought I had the wisdom to know the difference between something I could change and something I could not.  I demonstrated the courage to seek the change.  Then circumstances made me question my original wisdom, and to top it off I was back to step one, decide whether this was something I could change or not!

Sound familiar?  This cycle repeats itself over and over again in our lives.   What I decided to do in this one case doesn’t really matter.  I didn’t give details of the situation intentionally.  What matters is that I realized that I had a choice to make.  When you don’t realize that you’ve been given a choice, you don’t think about your next action, and you miss a chance to at least try to make a good choice.   Even when you do realize you have a choice, approaching this choice with an open mind will be tough.  It is likely that you still feel like the change was something you controlled.  It’s just that the other person has made a mistake.  You may also feel that it’s up to you to correct that mistake.  What you may not be willing to face is that maybe you made the mistake, even if the only mistake you made was thinking you had some measure of control over this situation.   This is exactly the time to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Read it.  Think about it.  Do you have control?  What level of control?  At this point you must have major doubts about having any control at all!  Be courageous, don’t let your doubts overwhelm your wisdom.   Finally dig into that reservoir of serenity.  It will help clear your mind.  It will allow you to consider the possibility that you may not be able to change this thing, that acceptance may be the best course of action.  You may still make the wrong decision, we are all imperfect after all, but at least you are in the right state of mind to make an open-minded decision.

When things go right, be sure to tuck the serenity that brings away. That little feeling of “everything is right in the world” may come in handy sooner than you think! When things go wrong, remember all the things that are right in the world before taking action. It won’t guarantee anything, but it might improve your chances of making good choices.

The “Little White Lie” can be a kindness when it is truly a little white lie, but many time a person is telling themselves that a lie is a white lie, but it really isn’t.

When I look up the term “white lie” in online dictionaries even their definition is broader than I would go. I don’t consider “a little lie” to be the same as a white lie. I don’t even consider a “harmless lie” to be a white lie. To be a white lie I believe the lie has to be small and harmless, but it also has to have good intentions. A white lie is told to spare someone harm, embarrassment, or pain.

A white lie also has to be in the other person’s best interest and harmless in the long-term. A lie about cheating on your significant other will spare them pain, but it is really in the best interest of the person telling the lie, not the person told the lie. It is not in harmless in the long run, and it’s not a small or inconsequential thing.

Any lie or series of lies, no matter how small the lies, that are in the interest of the lie teller and not in the interest of the other person should never be thought of as a white lie. People justify telling lies like this as a means to justice, or when on a path to a “new start”, but these kinds of lies are absolutely not white lies.

A truly “white lie” may be in the interest of the teller, but it must also be in the interest of the person being told the lie. For example, if your girlfriend asks you, “Do these pants make my but look big”, it is absolutely in your interest to lie! But it will also spare their feelings. Someone could argue that they will then buy the pants and be walking around in less than flattering pants. This would not be in their long-term interest, or yours. That is the problem with a lie or any kind, it can put you in a spot that makes you feel you need to tell another lie… like, “…but I don’t really like that style of pants.” or “I enjoy shopping with you. Are you going to try on some more pants?” Hoping that once they have tried on 2-3 pairs of pants you can direct them to the ones they look best in.

Lying to overcome the injustice of another lie, is also not a white lie. Yes, you believe you are lying for a good cause, but that is usually “from your perspective”. Especially when you are going to personally benefit from the lie, it is not a white lie.

Lies are also sometimes justified as white lies by what I like to call the lie triangle argument. In this case there are 3 parties involved in the lie. An example would be, you don’t take your child to school because of a mistake you made because you slept in or you didn’t feel well. To ensure your child is not penalized you lie to the school and tell them that the child was sick. Although you are telling the lie to benefit your child, you are also telling the lie for convenience or to avoid embarrassment. I don’t believe that the short term benefit to your child qualifies this as a white lie. This would be especially true if it happens quite often. You would really be lying to avoid responsibility and the child would be hurt in the long run.

White lies are considered a reasonable thing to do in our society, but people use this acceptability to justify lies to themselves that are not really “white lies”. I recommend that if you unsure of what to do, you should follow a tried and true method to avoid a lie that is not really a white lie, tell the truth!

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen


I’m thankful that no one is perfect. If everyone was perfect life would be perfectly boring. We all have faults, but I believe that each person is more aware and more focused on their own imperfections than anyone else. That’s why I’ve yet to find anyone without insecurities. You may think you know people who not only seem perfect, but they seem completely secure in themselves and all they do. Don’t believe that for a minute. In fact I believe that the people who are best at covering up their insecurities may be the people with the strongest insecurities. As part of my efforts to seek self-improvement I’ve tried to face my insecurities and deal with them head on. This is not always easy. It is easier to fall back on the normal coping strategies like hiding or ignoring your imperfections rather than working on them; walking away from a situation that makes you feel insecure, seeking approval from others rather than accepting your imperfection or overcoming them; being defensive even when you know the other person is right; joking about it, so they laugh with you not at you; or a tried and true one… focus on the imperfections of others so you can put aside thoughts about yours.

So what am I insecure about? Number one answer – my weight or level of fitness. I enjoy staying fit, but sometimes I slack off, either because other things take priority, or I’m injured, or I’m just not feeling it at the moment. My weight and fitness level yo-yo and so does my insecurity about it. This hasn’t always been a problem for me, I was very thin as a kid and young man. I really didn’t have to think about it very often until my late 30’s. I was in the Marine Corps which kept me fit, and I could eat just about anything I wanted to without worrying about it too much. But those days are long gone. I have to consider my old “normal eating” level to be “excessive eating” and if I miss a few workouts or have an injury my fitness level drops very quickly and the weight starts to climb.

When this first changed I really got out of shape and I gained about 40 pounds in all the wrong places. I joked about it, worked on it in fits and starts, but didn’t really make any major changes until I got divorced. Divorce is horrible, but it is definitely a great catalyst for change. I got in great shape, got remarried, slowly slid back into old habits, and climbed about halfway back toward my peak weight. I didn’t get as bad, mainly because I continued to go to the gym and to run. But I definitely was in a few more “before” pictures during my second marriage that I keep around so I “never go there again”. I met Jenny over three years ago, and I’m not as svelte as I’d like to be, but definitely have not let myself go. We just passed our one year anniversary last month and I’m currently about 15 pounds heavier than when we met, but I’m also training for a marathon! I have no intention of ever adding 15 more pounds, in fact I’m working hard to take the 15 pounds, and maybe a few more off permanently.

I can also be insecure about being a “nice guy”. I rarely yell or get angry and I try to work through conflict quickly and without ruffling too many feathers. There have been times when I have let this go too far, when my avoidance of conflict has cost me. This has been especially true in relationships. You can actually be too nice of a guy. I let things that bothered me go too long, to the point where it was too late to fix them. In the end being a nice guy has paid off in the relationship department, but it took meeting the right woman. But being too “nice” doesn’t only affect relationships, it affects you at work, when dealing with a contractor working on your house, when buying a new car, and when dealing with friends and family. Although I don’t want to become a “horrible guy”, I have worked over the last few years on speaking my mind more directly, standing my ground more firmly, and treating people the way they want to be treated – the same way they treat me (Golden Rule and all). That doesn’t mean I’ve started yelling at people or getting angry to get what I want. After all the Golden Rule goes both ways. But I work to not let being a nice guy be interpreted as being a push over.

I won’t bore you will all my smaller insecurities… oh there are more! I think the point of the post is that you should recognize and face your insecurities. If you can do that your life will be fuller, your relationships stronger, and you’ll feel much better about yourself.

Only our footprints on Barking Sands Beach for milesI was running by the beach the other day. It was a pretty busy Friday night at the beach. Folks playing beach volleyball, skateboarding, riding bikes. I really prefer there to be some activity. I enjoy dodging a little traffic while I run. But the thing that caught my attention was two guys tossing small bean bags at a slanted board. I looked this up on the internet and found two names for the game: bean bag toss and cornhole. I prefer to say “two guys were playing bean bag toss on the beach” to “two guys were playing cornhole on the beach”. The point and what made this stick with me, is that this is a very simple thing to plan and do, but it’s fun. I’ve played this before in Iowa with family and had a ton of fun.
In our busy lives we make sure to make time for big things… big adventures, big events, and vacations, but we forget to make time for the simple things. A full life should have plenty of time for the simple things!

Some favorite simple things:

  • Throwing a Frisbee
  • Going for a walk or a hike
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing fetch
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • Boggie boarding
  • Playing cards
  • Playing games
  • Watching a movie
  • Reading a book
  • A Picnic
  • BBQ
  • Watching a sunset
  • Playing catch
  • Playing board games
  • Talking with family and friends
  • Happy Hour

I’m sure I’m missing lots of great simple things… any ideas?

Its not about the Post Views

It’s hard not to get excited about POST VIEWS! Especially when you wake up to see you have 100+ views from someone in Australia. If you happen to hit a milestone of 19,000 all-time views on the same day, you start to think about milestones. That that leads you to wonder what kind of milestone would deserve a party. I decided that a milestone truly worth a party would be a million views. Being a planner I wanted to be sure I had the date marked on my calendar for the big party. Might need to make reservations or something. I quickly calculated the highly anticipated day using the simple calculator on my computer, my average daily post views for 2013, and a Google search to find the Julian Calendar for 2013 and 2084. So what is so special about 13 Feb 2084? It is the day that I estimate my blog will have racked up 1 million post views. Of course, I’ll be 123 years old, so we may not party ALL night long!

For some the long wait could be a big disappointment, but I’ don’t blog for the post views. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from obsessing about them sometimes…

You can tell if you’re obsessing about your post views if:

  • You pick up your phone and instead of going to Facebook you click the WordPress App on the Android to see how your daily stats are going
  • The first thing you do in the morning is check your Blog Stats
  • The last thing you do before you go to sleep is check your Blog Stats
  • You get concerned if you are under your daily average
  • You’ve read the WordPress post How to get more traffic more than twice.
  • You’ve written a post about POST VIEWS

But really if the post views stopped tomorrow… I would continue blogging. Most of the 19,000 post views have likely been by my mother anyway! I’m not blogging for fame or fortune (that’s why I dance). I blog to motivate myself to get out there and live. I do it because I love to write, about whatever. This blog has made my life better. Not because I have written 140+ posts, although I enjoyed writing (almost) every one of them. Not because the blog has been viewed by others, although I’m happy if someone finds it entertaining, interesting, or helpful. The blog has made my life better by helping me take life by the horns instead of the tail, by motivating me to live a full life. Anything I’m inspired to do goes into my Bucket List, then I post a plan, once these things are “out there” it is a lot easier to make them happen!

Now I got to wrap this up so I can see if this is my all-time best post view day!

Update (6/13/2013): This post has tags and a topic that seem to be magnets for likes, comments, and follows from folks that have blogs that “show the way to make money from your blog”. Before you check these great deals out check out this post: http://upstartblogger.com/10-easy-ways-to-spot-a-blogging-scam/. As for me, I think I said it above, but to be clear… I’m not in this for money, I get too much from this to change a thing about my blog for “more traffic”. Anyway, be careful out there if you want to find out “how to make money from your blog”. Is it possible? I’m sure it is, but I don’t think there is a formulaic method. Want to know how to get more traffic, write more, write well, write about interesting things, be helpful to others, etc. Happy Blogging All!

Crossing the George Mason Memorial Bridge into DC May 2012
I believe the yearning for love, meaning, engagement, and contact with others is there from the beginning of our lives. It is part instinct – a part of our genetic makeup… but it is shaped by our environment. Consistent loving parents from an early age can make this “hole in our soul” a positive manageable thing. Inconsistent, absent, or ever changing situations at a young age can create an internal beast that can never be satisfied. Sometimes the size and intensity of a person’s hole in their soul can not be explained. Regardless of how perfect your childhood or your adult life, the hole is there! Sometimes the happiest people you know can become the most yearning, lost, confused people you know when those things they have filled the hole in their soul with are lost. Just look at how people act after a divorce, or when they lose a job, or have a crisis of faith.

What do we fill the hole in our soul with. If we are very lucky, we fill it with a full life, fit/healthy living, a strong sense of the meaning of life, a wonderful loving companion, close friends, a terrific family, and a rewarding job. Unfortunately, the reality is that most people are missing some or all of these things. If we are very unlucky or make bad choices we fill this hole in our soul with “less uplifting things”… alcohol, drugs, obsessive behavior, sex, get rich quick schemes, compulsive spending, irresponsible debt, selfish… self serving behavior, and other self destructive habits. But for most of us we end up somewhere between very lucky and very unlucky. We have a partial fill for the hole in our soul, and we alternate between feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Sometimes the unbalance is minor, but sometimes it can overwhelm a person’s life. A person can have a wonderful partner and family and become a homebody… these people are susceptible if they lose this to becoming needy, smothering those they love. A person focused on fitness can set very challenging fitness goals, but still maintain some balance, but if they experience problems in the other parts of their lives, the fitness can evolve into their only focus… leading to excessive exercise. Any health issue or injury can seriously upset their lives.

I started thinking about these things about seven years ago when I went through a divorce after a long marriage. We had been mostly happy up until the last few years… but I had let my life become almost completely about family and work. As things went bad I focused even more on it. After it was over, I rushed back into a new relationship. I wanted to fill the void that I was now feeling with an intensity I had never experienced before. Before my marriage I had felt driven to be more successful, to start a family, but I had other things in my life too. Over time the family relationship filled more and more of the hole in my soul. I did almost everything with them. I don’t regret any of the time spent with my family… I do regret not having other interests. After my second divorce I found myself in a familiar situation, but this time I wanted to do things differently. But I didn’t really know how. I found myself drawn to people who had taken a different path in life. People who had other interests, a more rounded existence, and in a few cases women who had lived exactly the opposite of me. Women who had no children and had not been married. I wanted to understand how they looked at life. Was it different? How did they find meaning in life. The meaning in life for me had always been my family and friends. I found for many of them it was definitely their friends and for some their work. The ones who seemed happiest also were living very full lives. So I decided to give more of my focus to living a full life and less to recapturing what I had lost. I decided not to fill the hole in my soul with a replacement for what I had lost.

The more you put “all your eggs in one basket” the more susceptible you are to the hole in your soul becoming a beast if things go wrong. The key is to recognize areas of your life that are out of balance, and to not give up on things that have disappointed you in the past. Don’t let those things become unimportant to you just because you have not had success before. If you find yourself in a situation where your life is not only out of balance, but a loss has left you confused, unable to live a normal life… be sure to focus as much on the other parts of your life as on finding that new thing to replace the fill you lost! Get divorced… breakup with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) don’t just jump into a new relationship… focus on the rest of your life. If you don’t have a “rest of your life”, get one! Fill that hole in your soul with a full life and you’ll be able to regain your clarity, get back to a normal life, and you’ll be able to approach a new relationship with a much healthier attitude.