It’s a time to reflect and renew your passions

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Well it’s January 1st 2015 and I’m thinking about how 2014 went.  2014 was a great year.  I was reminded this morning of how I’ve done a lot of great things and I HAVE been successful!

Today I’m out hiking with my friend Susan in the area of Ocean Beach and the Presidio.  The views were amazing.  It’s also a good reminder that I live in one of the most amazing cities in THE WORLD.  People travel to San Francisco from all over the world.  We have views that are breathtaking and even more are the views of the Pacific ocean.
This last year I had my contract extended twice.  So I’ve been successful with work.  The first extension was when the project I was working on hit a snag and it was going to take longer. The second extension came when I was finishing the first project and another manager wanted to bring me in to work on another project.  I mean if they didn’t like me they wouldn’t keep me around, right?
I met a wonderful person and we’ve been dating now for 5 months.  That’s a HUGE deal for me.  I’ve not been very successful in dating and this relationship is based on truths and honesty.  No one is claiming to be perfect and we own up to our shortcomings.  Everything is open for discussion which has made for a great relationship.
Over the past year I’ve kept my weight in check which has been a concern.  I’ve watched what I was eating but not as diligent as I had been.  I have been going to the gym over the past year so that’s helped.  I’m by no means a gym bunny.  Nor do I have a strict routine that I just HAVE to follow.  I would still far rather sit on my ass and watch television but I’m working to balance that with doing something physically exerting.
I’ve become far more connected with myself.  I know more regarding who I am, what I want  and where I want to go with my life.  I worked on being more positive.  I knew that being negative wasn’t going to attract a healthy friendship or relationship.  I’ve always thought I knew what I wanted.  What you want needs to be specific.  I had always had a bigger/larger/broad picture and that’s helpful to get you started but it’s like looking at the planet and saying “I want to live there.”  As for where I want to go it’s about a forward motion.  I want to be something more and do something more.
So what do I want to do in 2015 to move forward and make a better life?
Lets run it down ..
  1. I want to make an exercise routine for me.
  2. I want to blog on a regular basis.
  3. I want on developing my positive attitude.
Making an exercise routine specifically for myself shouldn’t be horribly difficult, right?  The great thing about the information age is that you can Google any subject.  You’ll have several options and you can cherry pick what exactly what you want.  An Exercise routine is nothing something I have ever thought I would need or use.
Blogging is something that I think will help me in many ways.  I need to improve my writing.  I think most to all people need to improve their writing skills.  It’s something we learn in grade school but most of us never really work to improve the skill.  For me it also it helps me build a better world.  There are some people that blog some dribble but I’ve been thinking that i want to ask people to think beyond the dribble of our daily lives.
Having a positive attitude is not even nearly as easy as it sounds.  I’ve been getting motivational emails daily.  I’ve also been reading a book regarding building a “Buddha Brain.”  So I want to do this more and really focus on reading the book.  This will also require some additional research but I don’t believe that’s going to be that painful.  Maybe I’ll become a Buddhist.  That my friends would send my family over the deep end. People in Ohio don’t really believe in Buddhism.  Buddhism to them is ‘hippy dippy’ and not ‘the christian way.’  Funny right because it’s NOT CHRISTIAN!
So this is my focus for 2015.  This is what I’m going to work on in 2015.  This is my list of New Years resolutions.
I welcome your feedback.  Ask me your questions and point out my faults.  I see this as a way to grow for this most part.

Happy New Years to all that read this!

Taking in the positive

Buddha QuoteSo I’m still reading ‘Just one thing’ by Rick Hanson and I’m working on integrating his practices into daily life.  You know I just read the second practice and there were some extremely important take aways.  For example if you’re going to try to do any personal development you need to fully invest yourself.  It’s funny how it makes complete sense when you think about it.  It’s no different than if you were going to learn to play an instrument or learn to program for computers.  If you’re going to do any anything involving learning you have to engage fully.  If you don’t invest you won’t fully learn or development the skills you’re working to achieve.

So the second practice is to ‘take in the good’ or focusing on the positive.  No big deal right?  Oy! I don’t think this is easy at all.  In reading this section in the book I find solace in the fact that this book is written from a scientific point of view.  Scientifically they have noted that we respond better to the negative influences in our life.  If you look at the development of humans we’ve learned to survive by avoiding the whatever it is that going to hurt us.  So by reading this you find that it’s not something to beat yourself up about.  It’s centuries of human development.

Take in the positive!  Every little positive thing that happens your day should be noted and you should praise yourself.  EVERY LITTLE THING!  Don’t let the negative voice pull you down and talk poorly about your achievements.  I read all my email today.  I responded to all my email today.  I wrote a blog post today.  Someone may say well that’s no big deal.  You can dismiss this kind of negative response. This is negative and NOT something to affect you.

So my task for this week is to focus on the positive in my life.  I can see how I don’t give myself credit for all those small things that I do/get done in a day.  You know it’s the whole “day in a life of” thing.  So no matter how small of an accomplishment it is I need to recognize it the accomplishment and celebrate it.  For example, yesterday I went on a 3 hour walking tour of restaurants, stopped to visit my fiends at Eye a, went to the grocery story, prepared some pasta sauce, went to dinner with Susan, did a load of laundry and relaxed for an hour at the end of the day.  That’s a lot going on in a single day.  I have to remember that I do as much or more than most people.

If you like mental imagery the way I’m going to start thinking about this is to picture myself with a kind of bubble around myself.  This bubble helps filter out garbage (negative thoughts).  While the bubble lets the positive through like water or air.  The positive thoughts should refresh you and make you feel warm.  I’ll close my eyes and feel the positive accomplishments warming my body.

This is going to be a great week.  I will focus on the positive.  I will let the positive warm my insides.  This feeling will not leave room for negative garbage.  The negative will just slide off like a fried egg from Teflon.  I will work to make this my truth.

If you had something you want to share or add please leave a comment below.  I am interested in hearing what others think.  I’m sure many people have been through something similar.

I’m grateful for:

  1. I’m grateful for the fun opportunities that I’m afforded here in San Francisco like the Mission restaurant tour that I took yesterday.
  2. I’m grateful for my boss who is a great person.
  3. I’m grateful that I am a good cook.

I’m curious about:

  1. The extinction of honey bees.
  2. What my friend Bob is doing today.
  3. Why people don’t try to change their lives like I have.

I’m surprised by:

  1. The science that I’m reading the book, Just One Thing.
  2. How many NPR stories deal with California.
  3. How I miss the steamy hot weather of New Orleans.

How can I keep focus?

So in life we have so many distractions every day it seems.  If you’re someone like me I sometimes go find distractions to keep myself busy.  I find that I’m sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to this lack of focus.  So now I’m asking myself more and more about why I’m doing this to myself and how to break out of the cycle.

Lets tear apart my day to see how I’m spending my time.

Time

Task

Duration

6:30 AM Get up, get shower, get dressed 30 minutes
7:00 AM Pack up lunch and get ready to leave 15 minutes
7:15: AM Get on bus to head to work 1.5 hours
8:50 AM Work 8 hours
5:00 PM Head to gym (walk, train, walk, change) 45 minutes
6:00 PM Work out 1.5 hours
7:15 PM Commute home 1 hour
8:30 – 9:00 PM The time I get home

That is how my schedule looks on the days I go to the gym or exercise.  So that would be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Tonight I’m also going to an orchestra rehearsal which run till 9:30.  After that I’ll drive home which should get me in around 10:30 PM.

OK so that leaves between 9 and 11 PM on the weeknights that I go to the gym.  Friday’s I’ve been working from home and my evenings aren’t structured.  When I say my evenings aren’t structured what I’m really saying is that it’s free time and I go out.  Saturday and Sunday are free and I schedule them as I find things to do.  So I really only have 2 days that I don’t have about 11 to 12 hours of the day committed.

So I find myself getting emotional over this because I feel like life somewhat out of control.  I have to remember it’s not out of control.  I’m doing more than most people.  I’ve had people say ‘You’re always on the move doing something.’  Of course they say that based on what they see on my Facebook account.  Looking at the schedule above though I am pretty busy.

So I think the lesson I need to take away after writing this down is I need to treat myself with as much positive encouragement and praise for the work I am doing.  So I’m doing a good job.  Next something I should do is work on posting my accomplishments to my blog.  Writing blog post about what I’m accomplishing and doing helps make all the things I do more tangible.  I think we can all agree that having tangible accomplishments is a good thing.  While writing my blog post I need to narrow down some what of what I’m looking to do in the future.  There are so many great ideas and things I want to do.  Now I need to go through that list and narrow it down.  Prioritize the list and see if there are any multiples.

Let’s review my next steps:

  1. Praise and encourage myself!
  2. Write my blog post!
  3. List out these things that I want to do.
  4. Prioritize my list

It may seem silly but I feel better already.  This reminds me of two things.  First is the Kiss principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Don’t let it overwhelm me.  Write it down and really see what you’re dealing with before jumping to conclusions.  Second is to set up SMART goals (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely).  So if I keep it simple and great SMART goals for myself then I’ll be successful.

What’s my next step?

First I’m going to write my next post.  I find it amazing and fulfilling to write these post.  I’m able to process so many feelings and thoughts.  It’s not import if anyone else reads it.  Most import is that it’s helping me get my own feelings and thoughts together and allow me to move forward.

Second I am going to make a list of the things I am telling myself I want to do.  I am guessing that there will be some very common themes.  From that I think I can categorize them and then start to put a priority to them.  This isn’t about the future.  It is about today.  What can I do today.  What would have the biggest impact today.  I need to focus on the present day and what I can do or what is important to me.

Third is something I almost forget to acknowledge.  I need to continue my focus on the positive by stating the things I’m grateful for in my life.  Seeing the positive people and events in my life are extremely important.

I’m grateful for:

  1. My friends who are there to support me.
  2. My workout partner who keeps me focused on exercising.
  3. Music and the fact that I am able to play my tuba.

I’m curious about:

  1. How difficult would it be to moving to a foreign country?
  2. Why haven’t I felts like I have roots in a city?
  3. What is my friend Bob up to?

I’m surprised by:

  1. People’s instability, never fails to surprise me.
  2. How involved people are in soccer.
  3. How busy I am on weekdays.

I’m grateful, are you?

So I’ve been thinking more about how to be positive in my daily life.  I’ve heard of different things but the one thing that seems to strike a cord is a gratitude journal.  Simply acknowledging the good things in your life in which you’re grateful. Simple enough, right?

What am I grateful for?

  1. I’m grateful for my cousin Scott, a wonderful friend.
  2. I’m grateful for Karen, a great boss.
  3. I’m grateful for my workout partner Rick, without whom I wouldn’t be going to the gym.
  4. I’m grateful for an empty BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) car on the trip home.
  5. I’m grateful for my very good friend Susan who’s always there for me.

Today I ask my boss if she grew up in a home where she was encouraged as a child.  I don’t really remember that about my childhood.  I remember the majority of my childhood being humiliated and bullied.  It was hard growing up different in a small backwater area of central Ohio.  I think that was the first time that I really ever spoke about my childhood and what it was like unemotionally.  Normally it’s a conversation filled with sadness or anger.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I found my people you might say.

When I went to college at Otterbein University (College) it was the first time that I met other people like me.  Funny thing is some of you might be thinking I’m talking about gay people.  That’s not it at all.  This was the first time I met other people my age who sought to further themselves with education.  Men and women from small towns around Ohio who came to college to better themselves.

As a member of the marching band we arrived at Otterbein a week before school started for band camp.  My first day I walked into my room and there sat my roommate, a football player.  I was a little shocked but made the best of it.  His name was Mike and come to find out his sister was a violinist with the Dayton Jr Philharmonic.  So he was OK with the band geek thing.  To this day I still have friends from Otterbein that I met in the band program 20+ years ago.

In today’s discussion I was able to say and feel that I’ve really accomplished something in my life.  In terms of education I went to Otterbein University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.  I went to Ohio State University for the better part of a year and did their Masters of Education program.  Last but not least I went to DeVry University and received a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.  Which may I add I maintained a 4.0 GPA while working a full-time job.

Image That’s pretty freaking impressive for a kid who came from a family who doesn’t value education, grew up in a house where you could see the wind blow the curtains (the window was not open), where the blanket I slept with froze to the outside wall one winter, and a whole list of other stuff if I really thought about it.  Yes we lived in poverty and we were poor.  I never really thought about it though because my parents made the best of it.

So today I say I’m grateful that I’ve had enough ambition to move forward and do what some may call impossible in my life.  I’ve received education.  I’ve traveled domestically and internationally.  I’ve worked for major companies.  I started a company.  I’ve bought a home.  I’ve lived in New Orleans and San Francisco. I’ve made friends from so many countries I couldn’t even begin to count.  Man, that’s something!

Today I posted on Facebook the following message. “I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”  Well my stumbling has allowed me to do far more than I’ve ever acknowledged.  In my stumbling I’ve met so many WONDERFUL people.  I’ve played tuba in places that are amazing and beautiful.  I’ve sang songs that have made people cry (not because it was painful).

“I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”

For a kid from Knox County Ohio I’ve done pretty darn good!  That’s the truth, my truth!  I’ve come a long way baby and I’ve still got further to go!  So I’m grateful for somehow, someway finding my way to where I am today.

Turning the page and continuing my journey

ImageOver the last year I’ve been working on self improvement.  First I was working on getting my weight under control.  I had been gaining weight slowly for decades now and it was time for it to stop.  So I’ve dropped about 45 pounds.  Then came the fact that I need to start going to the gym.  I was doing lots of walking but I still have this beer gut that I need to work on loosing.

Also there’s been work to do on my general outlook on life.  That sounds far easier than it actually is for some reason.  I have a lot going on for me and there’s a lot of things going right.  Lets take a look a couple thing…

  1. I had a stroke 3 years ago 
  2. I picked up and moved across country
  3. Oh did I mention when I moved I didn’t have a job

So life could be far more difficult than it is for me.  I could be physically impaired due to the stroke.  I could be mentally impaired by the stroke.  I could be without a job still. Even worse I could be living back with my parents because I don’t have money to live on my own.

So this week I’m dedicating lots of time to getting my attitude adjusted.  I’m going to work on getting a positive outlook on life.  I’m going to leave those negative thoughts that creep into my brain on the side of the road.  I’m going to be grateful if it kills me gosh darn it!

So as part of my life I’m going to work on posting here.  Sometimes it won’t be much but it will be something.  Maybe I’ll take my word a day that I do and start posting it here.  Making the sentence I create using the word a positive thought for the day.  I’m not sure how it’s going to work but I’m going to work on making it work.

So thanks for all the support and I really appreciate any feedback you may have about my post. Sometimes people laugh at this but I wasn’t an English major so I’m sure my writing could use some help.