A Different Slant on New Years Resolutions

This is different slant on New Year Resolutions. Instead of making a few vague rules about what you want to do different, I offer a change to a more fulfilled life. If you are happy with your life, I do not think you would be here wondering what I have to say. Welcome.

I am happy and content these days, living my life mostly in the moment, but I worked hard to achieve this state. I thought writing about my path may help you improve your life. Of all the lessons I have learned over my lifetime, there is one lesson that is bigger than the rest. That lesson is, we are more alike than different. The way I was and the who I am now is something people before me and people after have done and will do. You can do it too.

If you see yourself in what I write below, be patient. Know your life will change, and you will find happiness and contentment. If nothing I write below relates to your life, know that for many people, loneliness and despair is their normal life state. Reach out and touch them. They want you to see them.

Be part of the world, it is easier

Isolation can be overcome, you can do it.

It happened to me either one New Years Eve or possibly New Years night many years ago. Maybe it as early as Christmas. It certainly wasn’t later than the first week of January, as I would have my emotions under control [again] by then. This particular incident happened sometime after one in the morning, probably after two. My days and nights ran into one another in those days. Living life slowly and relaxing was for other people.

I was living out west, in the mountains. From a good vantage point, it was possible to see more stars than could be counted in a lifetime. I was walking home late at night, down a dark street. I didn’t have a car. The little town I called home didn’t have lighted streets.

Walking home, this night for some reason was different. Everything I looked at was overly sharp and vibrant. This time of night my world and thinking should have been cloudy and hazy with loosely construed thoughts. I looked up and saw a sky full of galaxies, millions of stars. I was alone in all of it. I was separated from everything and everyone. Family, friends, people in general lived in the same plane as me, though in a different dimension. We inhabited the same space separately, or so it seemed.

I remember looking to the sky that night and thinking, ‘if I could go to anyone of those living stars, I would still be an outsider, on the outside, looking in. I felt I didn’t have anything in common with the smallest speck of dust, or any of the people who cared about me and were my friends. I couldn’t have a heart to heart talk with them as none were close enough for me to confide in them. Most of all, I never felt happy and normal like people around me seemed to feel and act.

That period of my life happened so many chapters ago in my book of life, I can no longer feel how invisible I felt; how alone, how distant. When I think about my life back then, it feels like it was someone’s life I have memories from. It isn’t the me. These days, I am content. I am happy, almost abnormally so. Yet, I can’t think of single event in my life I would go back and change, because changing anything might change who I am now, I really like who I am now.

I also know that feeling so distant and separated from everything isn’t unusual. What was different for me, is I didn’t know other people felt the same. We are all very good actors. I did believe with certainty, and outside of rational thinking, there was a life ahead of me much better than the life I was living. I only had to go forward with my life and find it.

I held on to that belief through those years of my life. I watched a few friends and acquaintances destroy themselves and their lives, and the lives of those closest to them in the process. Drinking, drugs, loneliness, depression, most made it through, but a few gave up and selfishly cashed in their life. I was lucky, I, “Kept my eyes on the prize”, to almost quote a line from an old hymn.

I still have difficulty with too much idle chatter. I think more varied thoughts than most people around me. I wonder about other realities, the universe and everything in it. I think about the future and the past. The visible and the invisible.

However, I have lived a mostly honorable life. Though I may have been lost longer than I should have been. I now make my life fun, only now not at other people’s expense – that was a hard lesson to learn. People weren’t real to me, and their feelings didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t mean or vindictive, I just could not relate closely to people and their problems.

Of course I did some things I shouldn’t have done. I hurt people that didn’t deserve to be hurt. I intentionally hurt people I thought deserved to be hurt. I hurt them not knowing they were already damaged beyond anything I would ever do to them. In those early years, I lived with one way relationships, my way or no way.

I lived each day one step from letting the worst of myself lead the way. Preferring to having the best of myself shine through and lead the way. Now, “Life is good!”. I hope I don’t get sued for that comment, I hear the phrase is copyrighted, but it is the best and simplest way to say it.

I am here now, and I am better than I have ever been before. I have left most of my bad habits behind me. The few bad habits I have left, I will have forever. I made through to the other side of life, and you can too.

If you see yourself in what I have written. If you feel you have reached a point where you can’t go on anymore; If you feel so distant, alone and forgotten that you will never be found, take this on trust, life will get better and you will come to love yours.

Isolation happens on the inside and radiates outward. We isolate ourselves without realizing it we have shut everyone out. After a time, we forget we had human connections. Family, friends, people in our life, people we meet all care about is, and give us exactly what we project out.

People will sense our isolation and project it right back to us, because isolation is what we are putting out there. We humans have a polished expertise. With laser focus, we reflect back to the people what we see in them. If you doubt this think of the homeless. How do you think of them?

If you feel isolated and alone, people in your daily life will help you feel more isolated and alone. If you feel like you aren’t understood, (this is normal sometime), you think people do not understand you and your life, be patient. Live life your way, and don’t expect or need anyone to understand you. This is your life, be selfish with yourself. This is something you have to work out on your own time frame. Give other people the same leeway and respect, they have their own problems they are dealing with.

If you are like me, and like to think about serious things, do not expect people to want to talk about them with you. We are all trying to pursue a state happiness. Lighten up and talk to people on their level. Practice makes perfect. You may find you enjoy it and are good at it.

If your dress is unusual or unique, how many people do you see each day like you? How many parents with their children do you see looking like you? How many financially successful people look like you? Zero? If this is you, there are two real choices for you. Change your dress and try to fit in, or find somewhere to live where everyone else is more like you.

If you are looking for a friend or partner, it really helps to ask yourself, who are you trying to attract? Do you want a flakey fly by night friend or partner because they can relate to you in the moment, or do you want someone who will make you life better for years to come, to make you proud, and be a good parent to your future children. Life is not a movie fantasy.

What feels better to you, being alone and refusing to change, or starting to build a life you will be happy with and proud of? I am thinking you want most of what you see going on with people around you. You want real relationships, and you want to be happy too.

I started my journey with a few words written on a piece of paper pinned to the wall, placed where I would see it most of the time. Those letters were: IGTDSBIGTBSF. Quite a handful, and I would always get a questions about it: “What does that mean?” I would say, “I’m going to die someday, but I’m going to be somebody first”. Obviously by my choice of wording, I didn’t feel like someone back then.

I refused to keep the same behaviors I was comfortable with, because they hadn’t done much for me over the years. I thought any change in my behavior was an improvement over my old behaviors. Change came slowly, good change, healthy change. Life got better. Life became great!

The world is far from perfect, but the world of all is a lot better than living life in a world of one. Your life will get better, if you only let it. Let people in, listen to them, and be empathetic when they tell you their problems. Be their friend, and let them be yours.

Get out there and talk with people and find common ground with them. They need you, and you will find you need them just as much. Just don’t expect any one person to be your everything, be happy for the part of your life they fill, more people are on the way, as long as you are willing to let them in.

You will find the hollowness you now feel will slowly retreat until one day you realize, a new kid lives on the block. The old you is a vague memory. And you will wonder if that was someone else who inhabited you body and lived your life all those years.

Improving the New Year You

I am taking a different slant on my New Years resolutions this year. After all these years, I finally realize I am who I am. All the resolutions and changes over the years have not changed Me. I have my faults, many of them. I also have my talents, many of them.

It has become obvious over the time, no matter what I do, my faults are still here. So are my many talents. If you take a good look at yourself, you will find the same thing. You can change your looks to some extent. You can pretend to be someone different, and try to act like them.

In the end you are who you are. The real you comes through each and every day. Instead of trying to be something we are not, the time has come to be more of who we are. Instead of working on some boring changes which never last, it is time to work on improvements of things about us we can do even better.

Take a few moments and write down what you perceive are some of your obvious faults. This list is pretty easy. Now, on a separate piece of paper, or open a new document. Take a longer time and write down those things you do better than anyone else you know. Stop when you have identified three to five items. Your list may take seconds or it may take longer. Time is not important, this is not a timed event.

Throw away or delete the list of your faults. Your list of perceived faults is going to be with you the rest of your life. That is the way life is. A leopard can not change its spots, and we can not permanently change who we are. Nor should we want to.

Now you should only be looking at your list of items you are good at. These are what you and I will be working on over the next year. Decide which of the items on this list you enjoy the most. This is our first priority of the New Year.

Do some creative thinking about how you can do this one thing better. How can you change or modify what you do well and do it even better? It should be fairly easy to come up with a short list of ways to improve what you do well.

Once you have a list of how to do your number one choice even better, do the same with your remaining items. Draw up a short list of how you can do these things even better.

Make what you do well better instead of trying to change into someone else.

Do what you do well better instead of failing to change yourself into someone else.

This idea make me excited! I hope it makes you excited too? Instead of trying to fix something that I think is wrong with me, or wrong in my life, I am going to work on making what I enjoy about me even better!

Is it making sense? I have found, every New Years, I have made some resolutions. Maybe go to the gym more. Do a better job at my work. Clean out my closet, and keep it clean. We both know these resolutions turn out to be boring and they do not work. I quit trying to do boring things! I am going to work on doing things I enjoy, learning how to do them better!

Now, for your part. Work on your list of things you do well, and your ideas on how to do them better. Doing this is a lot more fun than starting another year with another list of resolutions you give up on in a month or so, because they are boring. You will not spend the rest of the year thinking about how you failed at something you really did not want to do to start with.

You did not fail to complete last years resolutions. You did what is natural. They were boring and they were not about you. They were about someone you thought you should change yourself into. You are not that person. You are you! Stop now and reread this post. Start making your list of things you do well. Write down your thoughts on how to do those things better.

Without even trying, you will find yourself getting excited about your list. You will find you are excited about the changes you want to make. This is about you and who you are. Not some silly idea of changing into who you think you should be. That person will never exist, no matter how hard you try.

Keep notes on your progress, and let me know how you are doing. I want to hear about you becoming better at being you! Happy New Year! Happy You!

On Earth, as it is in Heaven

If you have watched the movie, “Heaven is for real”, you can relate to this post. Or maybe if you have watched this movie recently. Myself, I think I have watched it four or so times this month. The movie may have really reached out and grabbed me. Or maybe there was nothing else I wanted to watch in the moment. Maybe it was planned that way just for me.

Not so much the little boy and his visit to heaven, but some of the ideas in the movie reached out and caught my attention. One of these ideas I find fascinating. The part where the Dad comes back to the church to preach again.

He has a few words written on a sheet of paper. He doesn’t seem to have any real idea what he is going to say to fill in the rest of his talk. I won’t do any quoting as I probably have it out of context, but two ideas from this scene really made an impression on me.

The first thought is, if we were all in heaven, would we be doing anything differently than we are right now? This is something many people (I think) have not given any serious thought to, other than perhaps when we say our prayers, if that is something we do, or we go to church services.

What would we be doing different if we were in heaven? I really do not see many of us competing with the angels in the singing department. Nor do I see many of us in a church setting for most of our waking day, every day.

SwingingSomething that really stuck out for me was the phrase, ‘On earth as it is in heaven’. This, I thought, is something I never really gave any thought to. If we are average people trying to do the right thing, is what we do and how we manage our day akin to what we would be doing in heaven?

Would we have a family we love to be with, work of some type we want to do. Places to go and people to see? What would we be doing if we were in heaven right now? Would we be friendlier, more caring, more responsible? Better yet, what are people we think are in heaven doing right now if that is where they are?

Does technology exist in heaven? Computers, telephones, Internet, cars, television, radio? Are the musicians out of work in heaven? What about those of us who may barely squeezed past the gates? Are we better people in heaven, having insight not available to us on earth? Would we have sex, love, and rock and roll, an expensive car to drive, gourmet meals every day if we choose them?

Is it our responsibility to bring heaven down to earth? If it is, we could do better. We have our moments, some of us have our days, months, years, and decades, but they are isolated pockets in our day to day world.

Maybe that is why the idea is brought up in the movie about there being no time in heaven. Maybe we are bringing heaven to earth, but it is a very, very slow process?

Our lives and health are better than they have ever been. Maybe as we live longer, we grow wiser, make better decisions, and do better at making our life here as it is in heaven. I would like to think so. If we are living healthier, longer lives, and all we are doing is existing, living day to day, focused on ourselves, is that enough?

What do you think about us here on earth, and heaven being some place else? What is the earth, heaven relationship?

Except Your Life Can Be Better

When I was a small child I thought I would do something big. I would change the world all by myself. Give the world a gift that would make the world a better place. I was going to do big things.

I decided instead, actually it was decided for me, the world was not ready for what I was going to do. I decided that I would not do that thing I was going to do to improve the world.

That decision left me with nothing to do. I had no real goals. I had no urge to accomplish a certain thing. I had no interest in making world size changes. This was confirmed by my two doctors, speaking to my parents while I was in the room with them. ‘He will be OK at many things, but he will not be really good at any one thing.’ It was decreed in that moment, or so I believed, that I should be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

I went through some years trying to do just OK at everything. Never trying to excel at any of them. What was the point. I already turned my back on what I could have done. Those mighty men in their white coats decreed my future. My parents believed it, so who was I to think differently.

As a child, I noticed some people lived their lives emotionally stunted. They matured to a certain point and then stopped growing. People were very good at this, but not that. Some people knew how to manipulate others, but did not have it in them to use that manipulation to help others.

Other people were strong spiritually. They could have moved mountains if they weren’t scared to try. I think they never had the thought to try. They could move mountains if they wanted to, but something was in the way.

That something is the word ‘except’. I would be a rocket scientist, except I’m not smart enough. I would play in the NBA, except I joined a gang instead. I would go to college,  except I am thinking about dropping out of high school.

Except is a powerful word. We all could create the life we want, and surpass all our dreams, except. Except something got in the way. Except, we went this way, instead of sticking it out. Except, the other was was easier.

When I thought I was old enough to make a difference, I had forgotten what I was capable of. I forgot that I had the ability to change the world. I might have remembered, except for whatever reason I chose not to listen to myself tell me I could have a different life. Except for those rare moments when I remembered what I thought I would do, and think, “Yeh, I could do that, but this is easier. Everyone expects this of me.”

We have the power in us to change our world. Except we keep forgetting we can change the world. Except it is easier to treat every day as the day before. Except we now accept that ho hum and boredom is good enough, except when we remember we do not have to live this way.

We have something in common with cats. You can not make a cat go anywhere when standing behind it. At least not without the cat wanting move. The old saying is, “Like herding cats.” Neither can you push a limp spaghetti noodle.

It’s sort of funny on some level. I have known this all my life, but I thought if I said the right thing, wrote the write words, I could, through sheer willpower change the world into a better place. Except, like a stubborn two year old, I refused to see that there were few exceptions to how the world worked, and herding cats or pushing limp noodles takes a lot of energy.

Except for when I forget, I am giving up on changing the world by pushing. I am one person, and I can not by my words or sentences change you or anything. Except I am sure I will forget this thought, and say more, and write more.

Instead, I will continue to grow myself. I am as long as I am alive, I am a work in progress. I try this, and I do that. As I fail often, success seems to be more frequent. I like to think I am figuring it all out, except I spend time trying the same things over and expect different results.

It is okay to be different. Except when I forget. Except when I forget I am not here to change the world by myself.

I now accept new ideas as possible and correct, except when I forget. Once I remember, I give a new idea a try, except it doesn’t always work for me the way it did for another. Stuff happens, or not.

Everything we know about the world we live in is probably only partially true. Maybe we get two thoughts right, and one thought wrong. Maybe we play games with ourselves so we can pretend this is how is is, except when we choose not to pretend.

From here on out, except when I forget, I will lead by example. I will no longer try to herd cats, and push limp spaghetti noodles. I will continue to make my life what is best for me.

Except I hope you to come to feel this way too, and join me. Except I hope you decide to add excitement into your life. Except I hope you fail once or twice before making your life the best life possible.
When I was a small child I thought I would do something big. I would change the world all by myself. Give the world a gift that would make the world a better place. I was going to do big things.

I decided instead, actually it was decided for me, the world was not ready for what I was going to do. I decided that I would not do that thing I was going to do to improve the world.

That decision left me with nothing to do. I had no real goals. I had no urge to accomplish a certain thing. I had no interest in making world size changes. This was confirmed by my two doctors, speaking to my parents while I was in the room with them. ‘He will be OK at many things, but he will not be really good at any one thing.’ It was decreed in that moment, or so I believed, that I should be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

I went through some years trying to do just OK at everything. Never trying to excel at any of them. What was the point. I already turned my back on what I could have done. Those mighty men in their white coats decreed my future. My parents believed it, so who was I to think differently.

As a child, I noticed some people lived their lives emotionally stunted. They matured to a certain point and then stopped growing. People were very good at this, but not that. Some people knew how to manipulate others, but did not have it in them to use that manipulation to help others.

Other people were strong spiritually. They could have moved mountains if they weren’t scared to try. I think they never had the thought to try. They could move mountains if they wanted to, but something was in the way.

That something is the word ‘except’. I would be a rocket scientist, except I’m not smart enough. I would play in the NBA, except I joined a gang instead. I would go to college,  except I am thinking about dropping out of high school.

Except is a powerful word. We all could create the life we want, and surpass all our dreams, except. Except something got in the way. Except, we went this way, instead of sticking it out. Except, the other was was easier.

When I thought I was old enough to make a difference, I had forgotten what I was capable of. I forgot that I had the ability to change the world. I might have remembered, except for whatever reason I chose not to listen to myself tell me I could have a different life. Except for those rare moments when I remembered what I thought I would do, and think, “Yeh, I could do that, but this is easier. Everyone expects this of me.”

We have the power in us to change our world. Except we keep forgetting we can change the world. Except it is easier to treat every day as the day before. Except we now accept that ho hum and boredom is good enough, except when we remember we do not have to live this way.

We have something in common with cats. You can not make a cat go anywhere when standing behind it. At least not without the cat wanting move. The old saying is, “Like herding cats.” Neither can you push a limp spaghetti noodle.

It’s sort of funny on some level. I have known this all my life, but I thought if I said the right thing, wrote the write words, I could, through sheer willpower change the world into a better place. Except, like a stubborn two year old, I refused to see that there were few exceptions to how the world worked, and herding cats or pushing limp noodles takes a lot of energy.

Except for when I forget, I am giving up on changing the world by pushing. I am one person, and I can not by my words or sentences change you or anything. Except I am sure I will forget this thought, and say more, and write more.

Instead, I will continue to grow myself. I am as long as I am alive, I am a work in progress. I try this, and I do that. As I fail often, success seems to be more frequent. I like to think I am figuring it all out, except I spend time trying the same things over and expect different results.

It is okay to be different. Except when I forget. Except when I forget I am not here to change the world by myself.

I now accept new ideas as possible and correct, except when I forget. Once I remember, I give a new idea a try, except it doesn’t always work for me the way it did for another. Stuff happens, or not.

Everything we know about the world we live in is probably only partially true. Maybe we get two thoughts right, and one thought wrong. Maybe we play games with ourselves so we can pretend this is how is is, except when we choose not to pretend.

From here on out, except when I forget, I will lead by example. I will no longer try to herd cats, and push limp spaghetti noodles. I will continue to make my life what is best for me.

Except I hope you to come to feel this way too, and join me. Except I hope you decide to add excitement into your life. Except I hope you fail once or twice before making your life the best life possible.

Truly Blessed and Grateful

I was getting ready to step into the shower this morning and I started thinking about how wonderful life is, and how grateful I am for everything in my life. I get up in the morning and use the toilet. I flush the toilet. I step over to the sink and turn on the water to a temperature I prefer. I wash my hands with soap. I turn off the water and dry my hands on a soft clean towel. I walk out of the bathroom.

Later I go back into the bathroom and turn on the water to take a shower. When the water is warm enough, I step in to the shower and I am washing with soap I prefer to use. I rinse off with warm clean water. I turn off the water and dry off with another bigger clean soft towel. So on and so forth.

A few generations ago and even today, for much of the world these things were and are not present. There was no finished bathroom, no running water, no soap, no clean dry towels. People when they did wash-up, usually only had enough water for their hands and face. There wasn’t enough water to wash any more and they preferred not to anyway in Europe at least.

They must have stank. Think about the simple fact of using the bathroom to blow your nose. If you do not have tissues in your bathroom, at least you have toilet paper. Toilet paper is a recent addition for the bathroom. I do not know what people used before, but it was not toilet paper, and there were no daily showers. There was no deodorant, toothpaste, and other items of cleanliness we take for granted. If people wanted a shower, they stood under water that was falling via gravity.

I had the fortune of touring a castle in England one summer. The bedrooms were upstairs, and one had a toilet. The toilet which I am sure was a relief over what the rest of the people used – a bucket – was simply an addition built into the castle wall. There was a seating area of stone which I am sure had wood over it back in the day. The bowl was simply a foot wide hole that dropped perhaps twenty feet before it ended.

After the hole ended it was just the wall of the castle. I could see in my mind the collection of human waste covering the wall below the ‘toilet’. I remember my first thoughts as I looked at a medieval toilet. It must have really stank in that room when the air came up the toilet from below. Modern plumbing is something we never think about. We never think about the journey water takes to get from the source to the tap or the shower head all heated and ready to use as is. We never think of the planning that goes into making a working sewer system for a neighborhood, district, whole city.

The towels we take for granted are of a quality never imagined a few generations ago unless money was no object. Soap was a rare commodity unless it was lye and ash soap,  or another harsh mixture that damaged ones skin as much as it cleaned it. Underwear was stiff and smelled awful I am sure. Who knows how many accidents it’s owner carried around on his or her underwear, or whatever passed for underwear.

I thought when I see someone out in public, and they do not look very clean, or their hair is a little oily, I will try to imagine what they would have looked like in an earlier time when people shaved their heads to evade lice. How their clothes must have stank because there were no clean clothes to change into. How the only part of their body washed in the last days was maybe their face and hands. How heir breath must stank from lack of toothpaste, toothbrush, and the basics of preventive dental care.

City streets doubled as sewage systems. Every bit of trash and bodily waste was thrown into the street to be washed away by the next rain. The streams and rivers next to towns and running through cities were sewage lines. The water would not be fit to drink. Disease would be rampant, as there were only the simplest medicines available.

People would have swollen jaws from abbesses under their teeth, running sores that would not heal for whatever reason. They would literally stink because they would not or could not clean themselves. They would be bald, and they would be unkempt, because there were no mirrors for the common people to see themselves.

Animals would be butchered in the streets, their offal would be everywhere. Rotten food would be thrown in the street as there was no way to keep food fresh. Diarrhea from contaminated food would be more the norm than not. Everyone drank alcohol because the water would kill you. There were no sweets, or soda to eat and drink. Bread had particles of stone in it left over from the grinding. People ate off of wooden platters called trenches. They had horrible mouth infections called, (did you guess) Trench Mouth.

All that came from a few minutes while taking a nice warm shower and enjoying the feeling of the warm water on my skin. It is not hard to be grateful about my life when I think what life could have been like under different circumstances. I am truly blessed and grateful.