Archive for the ‘Wild Hair’ Category

Sunset over San Diego

The cliché quote is to “Live everyday as if it is your last”. That is good advice, but as with most clichés it loses it’s oomph after a while. I stay very busy, and love my life, but I’m not perfect. I’m not good with the routine things that are necessary if you want to have a full life. I also am easily distracted and end up doing things that are “not according to plan”, unnecessary, and unfulfilling. On a recent drive home from work I was thinking about this propensity for wasting valuable time. I have dozens of unstarted projects, a blog that I’ve been ignoring too much of late, and friends and family that I don’t spend enough time with. I want to be more focused.

My son and I started watching the HBO show “True Detectives” at the beginning of last week. We don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do enjoy watching a few good shows with him. He suggested this one, which is rare, so we gave it a try. It is a very, very good show. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson both deliver great performances. Matthew McConaughey’s character is “a bit off” to put it mildly. At one point in the show he’s explaining his philosophy on life. He believes in no heaven or hell, only that we will all live our lives over again and again. We will live everyday over again. Experience every experience again, exactly as it happened the first time. This got me thinking! To some degree I was doing that already. Not reliving my life, but on a shorter cycle reliving the same experiences over and over again. Not every day, but on those routine, go to work, come home, eat dinner, etc., etc. days. Work is necessary (I owe, I owe, so off to work I go), eating is necessary, but there are so many bad habits that I had fallen into over time. So many good habits that I had let drift away recently.

So I’ve decided to live those routine days with a new philosophy. To paraphrase the cliché quote… I plan to “Live everyday as if I will live it over and over for the rest of my life”.

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Paused my run to enjoy a sunset-001
Steve always started Monday mornings by reviewing his automatic payments. One in particular continued to bug him month after month, year after year, century after century. His first marriage had ended on Earth in the state of California in the early years of the twenty-first century. He had been married for 22 years, had 3 children, and his wife had chosen not to work during the marriage. Although he had encouraged her to work, when she refused he chose to support her rather than rocking the boat for most of their marriage. Because the average global life expectancy at the time of their divorce was under 70 years, the 22 year marriage was considered to be long term and the state of California law required the courts to retain jurisdiction for long term marriages. So Steve had an automatic payment to his ex-wife twice a month to pay her the required support.

As Steve did his daily ritual in front of the sink he was thinking about it again. This morning while checking his monthly bills he noticed that his bank was kind enough to provide a total paid for this automatic payment, $3,024,000 over 7560 payments! Although it have been 365 years since Steve divorced his first wife, he had only been with this bank for the last 315 years. The $400 dollars every two weeks did not have much of an effect anymore… if the United States had not changed to the Kilowatt Standard to value its currency in 2070, setting the dollar to the cost of 2 kilowatts of electricity, inflation would have completely devalued the payment by now. Although the payment was only the cost of about 8 fast food meals, it still aggravated him to see it go out every two weeks. As Steve looked in the mirror he realized he was going to need his ears worked on again soon, it had been about 60 years since his last reduction. You would think that if they could find a cure for aging they could stop the cartilage in your nose and ears from growing too! If he just had the last 10 years of alimony payments back in his account he’d have enough money to cover a good earlobe reduction surgery.

As he and his wife walked together toward the transportation hub near their condo sipping their Monster Triple Caffeine Lattes he could not shake the thought of this annoying payment. He hadn’t seen his ex-wife for over 320 years and hadn’t even lived on the same planet as her for 250 years. He did get a message every time she changed banks so he would know were to send the money! How could anyone think he still “owed her” anything. What did she owe him? He had taken care of her throughout their marriage. So when they got divorced, he got to continue providing her support… what a deal. As he kissed his wife goodbye he noticed how cute the small downturn on the end of her beautiful nose was. Way nicer than her siblings noses… genetics were weird things, and of course the doctors had managed to keep the same shape as he remember through all 8 nose reduction surgeries.

Once in the underground Steve reached the same conclusion he always did when thoughts of the alimony came to mind. First, his ex-wife would never agree to modify the original agreement to eliminate the payment. He had tried that before leaving Earth. He had been required to leave Earth as part of the contract required to receive the age elimination treatments. Although he had been paying her longer than they had been married at the time, she had ranted and raved about how much more alimony her friends got and how he owed her more than he was paying – she deserved this money! Secondly, it would cost more than 5 years worth of alimony payments to try to modify the payments in court. Besides the current judges didn’t like to be bothered by ancient law cases. No one had been married on Earth in well over three hundred years. The decline in marriages that had started in the early 2000’s had exploded at the of the discovery of the cure for aging.  Marriage had completely stopped shortly after that. With no one getting married the states stopped modifying the marriage laws. So as always, Steve concluded that it was time to think of anything except his “Permanent Spousal Support”. As he walked up from the underground transportation he couldn’t help admiring the terrific  sunrise over the Armstrong Sea.

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.

Time to think
This has always been my favorite leadership principle (see USMC 11 leadership principles). The full principle is “Know yourself and seek self improvement”. It has always seemed to me that the hardest part is what gets left off… knowing yourself. With our busy schedules, and with 4 kids my schedule has been full for a long time, finding the time for introspection is not easy. But I’ve always managed to find at least some time for it, even in a busy schedule.  When things seemed to be going the wrong way, and the problems started building up, the first thing I would do is look inward to see how I could improve myself to make things better.

I’m not saying that I’ve never blamed others for my problems, that would be a lie. I will say that I’ve never solved my problems that way. Blaming others may feel better, but it is not going to lead to self-improvement, and it is unlikely to make a positive difference in your life. It is a distraction and a barrier to finding a way to change, to finding a solution.

Thinking About itKnowing yourself is hard because it is difficult to really look at yourself objectively. You have to look at yourself through the eyes of others… think back to criticism you have received. Open your mind to the possibility that the criticism was valid. Of course if they say “your nose is not pug enough for me”, don’t run out for plastic surgery. Maybe that is something they should work on! But if they dug a little deeper than that, even if the way they told you was indirect or unkind, think about what they said, think about it from their perspective. Why did they say it, was it valid. Think about your reaction to their criticism. Were you defensive? Let go of defensiveness and take responsibility. You have to own it before you can fix it.

I’ve met a lot of people who seem to think they are perfect, or at least give off that vibe… but I’ve got news for them – NO ONE IS PERFECT. There is not enough time in single lifetime to even come close. But that is no reason not to improve, just be sure you prioritize. I love the fact that no one is perfect. Knowing that no one is perfect makes it easier to admit to myself that I am not perfect. It is easier to know yourself if you accept your imperfection.

The rest is much easier. See the knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to improve, an opportunity to change your life – one improvement at a time. Build on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. The change may not be a 180 degree change in the direction of your life, but if you apply yourself, it will be worth the effort.

Sunset View from the house

You hear it all the time… just live in the moment!  That’s the key to happiness, lower stress, getting over past relationships, letting go of failure, etc.  It’s great advice for anyone enjoying a full life. For some this comes as easy as breathing. Unfortunately for me, and I think for a lot of people, it is a tough thing to do. This can be especially true when you are doing things you have done before. Other people may not think of running on the beach at sunset as an ordinary thing, but if you’ve done it dozens of times, it can take an effort to live even in that moment. However, it is an extraordinary thing and I want to make the effort to acknowledge it. What I’ve found is that it is hard to hold that feeling for the whole run, but I can absolutely take a brief pause, and really live in that moment.

The difference between living in the moment and living in a moment is the time you hold the sensation of now. To live in the moment means to let go of your cares, worries, and to take in the experience you are having right now. I’ve been there… it’s great! When I’ve been in the moment it is usually because the moment is so unusual, so engaging that it consumes all your attention. It takes no effort in these cases it just happens. Living in a moment tries to recreate that feeling for a brief moment rather than an extended time.

One of the great benefits of having lived in the moment is that you end up with strong, detailed memories of the experience. I love the feeling and the ability to recall all the details of an event or encounter. But I can’t just turn the feeling on at will. I can’t take myself there it just happens. However I’ve found that I can get to that place for there for a brief period of time – a moment!

Paused my run to enjoy a sunset

So, what does it take for me to get to that place? The first thing I do is get rid of the distractions. Stop planning, don’t think about the next thing you need to do, focus on what you’re doing right now. Let go of past failures, those lessons have been learned, what you need to know will come to you when you need it. I’ve found it helpful to think of this process as taking a mental vacation, because that’s what it is. Thinking, planning, worrying, experiencing regret are all work… there is a time to do that work but sometimes it is good to take a vacation from the mental grind!

Next, heighten your senses. Really experience the world around you, listen for things you normally just filter, birds, traffic, surf, wind in the trees… Do the same with your other senses, smell, touch, taste. Let in an innocent sense of wonder so you can appreciate all of these things as if you were experiencing them for the first time. Then hold on to that place as long as long as you can.

Enjoying a moment before heading up Bright Angel Trail Grand Canyon 2010

Not only is it possible to create a more lasting memory by living in a moment, it refreshes your soul, relaxes your body, dumps stress, and improves your mood. When you get back to what you were doing you continue to enjoy being more connected to the moment at least for a while. But eventually the thoughts and worries will return, but not quite as heavily as before.

So far I’ve been able to live in a moment fairly well when I’m alone, but not as well when I’m with other people.  I can focus completely on the people or I can zone out and take in my surroundings, but I have a hard time doing both.  This may be a “multitasking” issue, and humans in general don’t multitask well.  My time with others is very important to me, so I plan to at least try.   I imagine adding a strong focus on the people around me will be a key, focusing on them and the place at the same time.   However, this may be more difficult than it sounds.  A more likely way for this to happen may be to experience a comfortable silence with the people around me as we all take in the world around us, and share in the wonder of it.  Of course that can’t be done on demand… everyone has to get there at the same time on their own.

It would be great to be able to get into the now more on demand.  I will keep thinking about how to do this and try to make it more a part of my daily life.  I’m sure it will definitely be worth the effort.

Snorkeling Hanauma Bay

When people and businesses do me wrong to a level that they have ensured that I will never go there again, I put them on my list. It’s not forever, because I won’t live forever, but it’s for as long as I live or as long as they do. There are just too many choices in the world to ever go near these people or companies again. The people list is short and has no meaning for the blog, so I will keep that one private.

For businesses the list is not that long either and I hope it doesn’t get longer as it takes a pretty bad experience to “make the list”.

Midas. I have no trust in auto repair companies that give their mechanics commissions for pushing work and parts. That leads to bad advice, unnecessary repairs, and even criminal behavior. My experience… I went in to the local Midas to have brake work done on my family car in Hawaii. I was a Marine Staff Sergeant with 4 kids, on a tight budget. I needed to keep the car working, but did not need to be cheated. They recommended replacing some of the brake parts and I agreed to that work, it caused the repair to be much more expensive that I originally expected. Based on the final outcome and my loss of trust in this mechanic, I believe some of that work was unnecessary. After they completed the brake work and the care passed the driving test, they called me to pick it up. When I got there the car it was on a lift and the mechanic wanted to show me something. There was a small hole in the front wheel drive boot, barely visible, and there was some more visible splatter of the grease on the cowling around the tire. The problem I had with what he was showing me was there were only about a dozen or so very fresh splatters of grease on the cowling. It was obvious that the only splattering happened when the mechanic put a small hole in the boot and did the test drive. I’ll never know if it was accidental or intentional. I told the mechanic what I thought and that I was not going to pay for the work, but that they could fix the obviously new damage. They refused to fix it for free. The next day I got under the car and noticed that the entire boot was split open. I replaced it myself and have never, and will never go to Midas again. I also ask repair shops if they pay their mechanics a commission on parts and will not use any shop that does.

Minolta. I had a terrific Minolta SLR camera with auto-focus, the X-700. It took fantastic family pictures for years. When we got orders to Hawaii in 1989 I knew I would be snorkeling and would want a good underwater camera. I looked at several options before we left Minnesota, and got a Minolta 35MM camera (Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35 DL AF 35mm Waterproof Underwater Camera which is still available used on E-Bay) that was rated for up to 5 meters of water depth. I figured this was fine as I would only be snorkeling. I used it soon after getting to Hawaii at Hunauma Bay. I loaded the batteries and the film before I left home. I made sure it was closed tightly. The camera failed with a “flash failure” after the first time I took the camera into the water. The next week I took the camera to an Authorized Minolta repair shop. They said that the flash needed to be replaced and that it was not covered by the warranty. I asked how that could be. They said they put it in a chamber and sprayed a mist at it and it did not leak, so it was not covered. I asked if they had put it under 5 meters of water as the camera documentation claimed it was fine to that depth. Then they blamed the camera failure on human error. I had to have done something wrong, got sand in the gasket, or something. To make a long story short, they would not budge and said they had to follow the manufacturers guidelines. I wrote to Minolta and the reply was not good. I put Minolta on my list, but they went out of business before before I bought another camera. I have noticed an increasing number of digital cameras making claims to be OK underwater lately. Not going to take that chance again. I no longer believe these claims and won’t spend a bunch of money on these cameras. I use disposable cameras underwater and the pictures turn out good enough. Here’s a picture of me holding my daughter with the camera over my shoulder… not sure about that expression, more grimace than smile… maybe I knew what was coming.

Hanauma Bay

There are a few more, but they are more obscure and not such horror stories. I had a tune up place in North Carolina smear grease and pepper bugs onto my air filter to get an extra $20 out of me. I drove out of there with no air filter and never went back. I also bad mouthed the place as much as you could before Yelp (1985)! And there are a couple places that I won’t buy blue jeans from anymore – Burlington Coat Factory and Old Navy. Every pair of jeans I’ve bought from there has torn out in the seat… right below the pocket seam. I do (very jokingly) warn my wife not to hurt her hand on my “rock hard” rear (when she gives me a pat) but come on, jeans were designed for hard working dudes to do heavy work in. When did stores start selling wimpy jeans?

As I said, my list isn’t really all that long. Have any horror stories? Anyone I should add to my list based on your experiences?

Update 12/31/2013: This post gives an example of how a company can get added to My List: Designed to Fail?

I’ve witnessed a few people in the midst of a midlife crisis but have not suffered from a full blown one, or at least not that I know of, so my perspective is one of a person who has observed this from the outside. At 52 I may be a little beyond “midlife”, but I don’t feel that I’m out of the woods yet. In fact I watch for signs, not in my actions, but in my thoughts.

I guess I should talk about what I think causes a midlife crisis first. Alright, maybe not “the cause”, but at least one serious contributing factor. Nothing makes a person question their life more than when they begin to face their mortality head on. When you reach a point where there is more life behind you than ahead of you death starts to seem much more real. At the same time you are likely to be experiencing loss of grandparents, parents, or other friends and relatives from earlier generations. Dealing with the death of others you are close to can definitely force you to face your own mortality. This can go beyond a shallow acknowledgement that “we are all headed to the same final destination”, to wondering when it will come and almost more importantly… how will I handle it? Will I become angry, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, or lose all zest for living? What will be important to me at that point, my memories, the people around me, my children, or will all the things I care most about now become meaningless once my death is eminent. Will it really matter that I hiked across the Grand Canyon. A couple hundred years from now who will even know I was here? Even if they know I was here they won’t really know me, the people who know me will all be long gone too. Once you start thinking about it to that level be very careful because the next thought will be “what’s it all for”, “why am I here”, or more importantly why don’t I buy a convertible sports car, chuck my marriage, and live a life of debauchery!

Me loving the Volvo in Big Sur

If you start down a path of obsessing about death, even occasionally, you are on a slippery slope that can lead to a full blown midlife crisis. I’ve had hints of the types of feelings that come with such a crisis. Every want or desire becomes a source of dissatisfaction instead of a goal. Every dissatisfaction takes away from the happiness of all the terrific things in your life. The focus shifts to what you don’t have, what you haven’t accomplished, what you need to be happy. Patience goes out the window. You want a plan – right now. Once you have a plan, you want the reward, right now! If you can’t have what you want with the person you’re with, you want out. It doesn’t matter whether you can afford something or not… “you only live once – right?”. When you do achieve one of your goals, there that nagging feeling… what was the point!

But if you really think about it, death is harder for the living. Those who are left behind have to deal with death, not the person who died. The experience of dying can range from peaceful, to horrible, and it’s not something we should be happy about, but it does end. Death is the end of life, but also the end of dying. Regardless of what you think is next… heaven, hell, reincarnation, or nothing you will no longer be dealing with death! If you can look at death in that way, then you can focus on the cure, the inoculation for a midlife crisis… life! Life, even though it is fleeting, even though it will end, is an absolute miracle. Just walk to a window and look out, look in any direction and be amazed at what you see. The world is an amazing place to live. Check it out, take a walk, take a drive, go for a run, a swim, a paddle, a sail, a hike and look around you. Pause to watch a sunset, walk up to the edge of the ocean and take a deep, deep breath. Bask in the world around you, take it ALL in, because this is what it’s all about!

First Part of Na' Pali Coast

First Part of Na’ Pali Coast

If you focus on living more than on the end of living you should be able to avoid or pull out of a midlife crisis. Live your life, share it with the people you love. Happiness is not a gift from others, it is a gift to yourself. No mater how much you love someone, no matter what you are doing, you can choose happiness or you can choose to be unhappy and dissatisfied. It is your choice, choose life, love, and happiness, or let fear, uncertainty, and dissatisfaction rule your life. I know what I’ve chosen up until now and I don’t plan to change a thing!

On the Mist Trail Yosemite

Gun control is a hot topic these days. I’m going to skip past the majority of the debate and avoid the topic of the 2nd amendment. I want to talk about the laws against possession of a weapon by violent felons. I voted for undoing the three stikes rule in California when the 3rd offense is a non-violent offense. If it is a violent offense, then by all means put the person away for as long as possible. In one particular case I think it would be fine to not wait for a violent offense, or even a third strike. If a person has a violent felon conviction on their record and they are arrested for possession of a gun of any kind, it is time to lock them up for a very long time. Of course once I had this thought, I decided to see if it was already the law here in California, or any other state. Unfortunately what I found (see table 3) was the opposite. California, which had a three stikes law for non-violent criminals until the last election, has fine or a 16 month to 3 year penalty or both (for past violent felony offenders the law requires at least 6 months in jail). This is hard to believe from a state that until the last election was willing to send someone to prison for life for shoplifting. There are some other states with stricter laws, but I was surprised at how low the penalties were.

A law locking up people who possess guns after a violent crime conviction isn’t going to stop violent crime. It isn’t going to prevent the type of senseless tragedies that brought about the current debate. I wish I had a solution to that problem. I don’t and I haven’t seen any other solutions either. The laws that President Obama proposes will not prevent the mass murder of innocents by crazy, angry or otherwise determined people. There are other types of guns/weapons, and other ways to kill people. I’m also certain that putting armed guards, even if they have automatic weapons, in every school won’t either. What about every mall, theater, grocery store, daycare, McDonalds, Walmart, Target… the list goes on and I think you get the point. The futility of finding a fail safe solution didn’t stop me from trying to think of a way to do something. This is the “something” I came up with. I can’t imagine anyone being against this. One of the NRA’s arguments for fighting to ensure we can all carry assault weapons is that criminals don’t follow the law. This is a law that they would either follow or they would no longer be on the streets.

While we are focus on gun violence, let’s try to do something that will really make a difference. Let’s do something that will help protect innocent armed, or unarmed people. Raise the penalty for possession of a firearm for people with a conviction for a violent felony. That will get my vote!

Time to make some orange juice

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar

These four words are my mantra for a more focused fuller life. They work both ways. If there are thoughts or actions that are not productive, don’t bring positive results, or are just unnecessary distractions I will stop them from interrupting my day by holding an image of them in my mind and meditating on the phrase: Don’t think, don’t wonder, don’t plan, and don’t care. It is usually very effective at least in the short term. More effective in the long term is to decide what is important to me either right at that moment, or in the long run and to hold an image of that, say family and friends, in my mind and meditate on the phrase: Think, wonder, plan, and care. If these were just words to me they would not be effective, but these four words have a very specific meaning for me.

Think – My mind and I’m sure most people’s minds, moves constantly, sometimes in directions that we don’t expect. Sometimes an outside stimulus brings on a thought, sometimes another line of thought takes a twist, or a tangent, and other times a thought comes to mind that seems to come from nowhere. While I don’t think we can control the generation of these thoughts from moment to moment, I do believe that the attention that we give them when they come to mind will slowly affect the frequency of a certain thought or type of thought.

Wonder – If there is something, a thought, an activity, or even a skill that we want to indulge we should explore it more fully. That exploration should begin with wondering. We should wonder about the why, how, when, and where of the thing that has come to mind. If it is an adventure we want to have, figure out why people do it and why we want to do it. How is it done? Is significant planning required? Do we need to prepare physically, mentally, or financially? When is the best time to do it? How long will it take to prepare for it? Where is it done? Once we have fully explored the subject, if we are still committed, it is time to go beyond wondering.

Plan – A lot of the leg work for planning is done by wondering, but there are still other “personal” consideration to actually planning. If you are exploring an adventure the planning phase is pretty straight forward, but what type of planning is required for a thought that could change your life? Well, what good is that kind of thought if you don’t figure out what to do with it? How will it change you? How can you apply the thought to your life? How can you share the thought with others? If this is going to change your life, how do you explain the thought to important people in your life. It was worth thinking and wondering about be sure to take the time to come up with an effective plan!

Care – Once you have a plan, the only thing that will change that plan into reality is to care. This thing was important enough to think about, wonder about, plan for, now it is time to take action. Caring is not something that can be just “turned on” once the plan is place, it is something that will build up slowly as you go through the other steps. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have gotten this far. However, thinking, wondering, and planning doesn’t automatically lead to doing. There are lots of unrealized dreams that are unrealized because the person never acted to make it happen.  They cared enough to dream, but not enough to act.  The level of caring that I visualize leads to action.  Follow the plan, adjust where needed, and make it happen.

My wife looked over my shoulder while I was working on this post, and gave me a terrific compliment.  She said that since she met me no other phrase would describe me better than “Think, Wonder, Plan, and Care”.  I don’t usually react in the same way as most to compliments… I’m my own toughest critic.  However, in this case, and for this period of my life I totally agree with her.  I use this blog to motivate myself to continue living a full life, but at this point I know if I never wrote another post, there is no way I would lose my zest for life and my drive to live life to the fullest. I approach life’s possibilities with the mantra “think, wonder, plan, and care”.

Me standing out near the Devil's diving board on top of Half Dome.