Monday, June 12, 2017

Connect


How do you communicate?

Communication often comes up when organizations perform analysis of weakness within their group. I have seems this over and over at work, in volunteer groups, with friends and within families. Human communicate to others every second of every day they are near other folks. Whether by verbal or body language you are talking loud and clear. While I do not claim to have the answer to great communication, I do know you will be more successful if you connect.

"Go beyond merely communicating, to connecting with people." Jerry Bruckner 

This is a pretty solid point. Are you just talking, or are you connecting with your audience? Often I have to work on listening, really listening. Sometimes I have the direction I want to head in a conversation in mind, and that blocks me from listening to what my audience is trying to get a cross. When you listen, you open a two way door, that allows both parties to participate in the discussion.

Focus on the person, focus on listening, think before you speak, think about what you say. Get your point across, but make sure you know and believe the other person is requires for connection. Without connecting, you are really not communicating.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Sanguine


Make me sanguine.

The Avett Brothers have a song called Sanguine. I must admit I had to look the word up the first time I heard the song. There is a poignant excerpt from the beginning of the tune, that resonates with change in your life, and deciding to be the best version of yourself.


Make me sanguine

Help me genuinely
Kill the doubt that strangles myself worth
Paint the picture that I swore I heard

Spiritless and mean
Ghost that comes between
I will keep my wits about myself
Disregard directions sent from hell

When you make changes to yourself, and all that entails, you will have a fight. A fight against doubt, a fight against past experiences, a fight against time, a fight against outside influences, a fight against the unknown. I have had several major changes to myself over the last five years, some of which are documented in this very blog. Recently I have struggled to have the same fire and motivation I mined to chisel out a new self. The daily grind can overwhelm you if you are not looking out for signs of stagnation. I was in one of these river eddies. I hadn't realized that I wasn't looking at the flow of The River, but looking only down in the eddy.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is a big part of keeping fresh and sharp. I really enjoy running, I love the solitude, and thinking time. Running is a time when I can space out, or think through challenges. Over the last several months, I logged a lot of junk miles. Not taking the mental space I needed during the runs, not focusing on pace, tempo, breathing, thinking or anything really, just logging mile for the sake of logging miles. My pace degraded, and I began to have old injuries nag here and there. I knew I needed to shake things up. I just needed the fortitude to pick something new, and move forward. I needed to Go Big, stop worrying about my running, and do something that would re-engage me, put me over the top, fast track my brain and body to improvements and better wellness. After all the mind and body are meant to work together, even if one can fight the other. I made my change this weekend, and am excited about my new experience. 

If you are struggling with yourself on wellness, make a change, challenge yourself, take a first step in a new direction. Take a hike in a new park, ride your bike again, go to a climbing wall, do some yoga, learn orienteering, sign up for martial arts...just do something that you think isn't you. You may not like it, but you may love it. Either way, you will learn a little more about yourself, and a little more about being sanguine.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Susannah


Song of Susannah
Dark Tower Book VI by Stephen King

"In the land of memory the time is always Now.
In the Kingdom of Ago, the clocks tick...but their hands never move.
There is an Unfound Door (oh lost) and memory is the key which opens it."


Reading this book, and loved this quote, just wanted to share it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Change


I have watched a bunch of interesting documentaries lately. Some were discussed in my last blog post. Two docs on health that really made an impact on me were Fed Up and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (FSND). I have made very big health improvements over the last four years, but the work is ongoing. In 2016 I ran more miles than I have run in any year of my entire life, but I experienced the least amount of healthy change in the last 4 years. I knew the whole year that my diet was the issue. People often commented that since I was now working so hard to be healthy, that eating well must be easy. No so.

The first FSND doc had a really inspiring tale of a guy named Phil. He really was inspirational in the changes he made in his life. Recently, I watched the FSND part 2, and I saw that Phil did well for a few years, but really fell back into old ways. This was hard to see. He worked to determine the reasons he fell back into bad habits. He determined that he had no support network, to help him along the way. I tend to agree.

With running and working out, I have a bunch of folks that I talk with, look up to and challenge me. Not so much on the food side. I would be even worse off if my wife were not working so hard for the family to eat well. If you are looking to make any change, cleaning the house, eating better, walking more, drinking less coffee...find a partner or a source of support. Change can be great, just do not try to do it alone. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wealth



What is wealth?

Recently I have read (listened) to a book about tidying up; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The book was a free offering on Audible, and I need to get rid of some stuff, so I gave it a listen. Oddly enough, my wife bought this book a year ago, and I apparently dismissed the notion of a book on cleaning up. I have also been on a Netflix documentary binge, with docs varying from health, religion, wire walking, internet freedom, addiction, the 13th amendment, disappearing glaciers, and...a random selection called Minimalism: .

The documentary Minimalism paired quite well with some of the concepts of the tidying up book. These two experiences have really pushed the question of what is wealth? Is it my income, the things I own, the things I want, great kids, a solid fun marriage, or all these things. What is an identity? The things you own or the achievements in life. What is enough?

I do not have these answers, and won't be moving into a "tiny house" in the near future, but I will take a look about what the important things are to me. I can also make certain that I am being a bit more deliberate in how I spend my resources, financial, spacial, spiritual, human and temporal on the important things. Making an impact on people, being genuine, investing in our society and being a great loving family should be where I make an impact. I don't need hundreds of books I will never re-read, 100 t-shirts, nick-knacks from my life or and other superfluous stuff to be wealthy. This will take some time, but I am on a path.

Take a few minutes to look around your space today, how much of what you see brings you joy and makes you wealthy?






Friday, January 13, 2017

Poetry Book

You never know when someone is going to surprise you with a touching comment, a kind remark or a simple hello when you need one. As my daughter grows up, she's five now, I am continually amazed how fast she is learning, understanding how to be kind and in particular remembering things. OK, she's not always kind to baby brother, but she tries. This is something almost every parent enjoys seeing as their kids grow. I was really stunned the other day at my daughter, she blew me away.

Earlier in the week we were talking about her homework and her school. The conversation was very typical, how was your day, what did you learn, did you have music or art today, etc. Then she tells me about a book she is working on in class, she called it her poetry book.  I think it's more of an art journal, but that is not the critical element here. My daughter told me she had a page with a spot for all six of our family members. Our house has two kids and two parents. If she said five, I would have immediately assumed she added our dog, a true member of the family. I asked her why six?

This is when my daughter told me she had a spot for Mom, Dad, herself, Brother, the dog, and "Baby Joe who didn't make it." She wanted a spot for him so he wasn't alone, and he would know she loves him. Joe was our first child who did not survive his birth. We have prayed at bedtime for "baby Joe" from time to time with the kids, but they never really inquired much. My daughter said it would be cool to have a big brother, and wishes he would have made it. This entire conversation I am holding back my tears, and hugging my daughter. What a sweet sentiment from a child. Who knew the baby Joe prayers were making such an impression on her. Any time a moment like this has happened in the last six years, I feel like it is a little hello from Joe. So nice to hear it from his sister.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Family

My Mom on (L) with 3 of her 4 siblings and parents.

Recently I went through a case of my Dad's slides, some of which I think were given to him from my Mom's family. I can't help at feeling how little things change from generation to generation. While the world moves on, things change, the family function doesn't. I look through these old pics, all from before my parents married, and it all looks so familiar. Folks sharing meals, laughing, celebrating, playing with new babies and so on. The faces even look so similar it is like we have relived out ancestors lives to a certain extent. I have some of the same pictures of me playing with the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the people in the photos, decades later, heck half a century for some the pictures.

Nalley breakfast in Mill Creek Park

I would have loved to know my Dad's Dad, and known my Mom's Dad as an adult or even as a young man. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for some of the family gatherings. I never knew my Mom's family had a regular breakfast in Mill Creek Park. I can just imagine what was going on in these pics, the smiles, eyes, smirks, straight faces really tell a tale of personalities.

Mom & Dad's first apartment, I think.

 What keeps the family together? People do. Being a close family is the responsibility of all the members. My Mom was the gravitational center of ours, always making sure the family was the center of everything we did. The long term result is the my generation stays as close as we can even though we live all over the country. I am tankful for a close family, I have one Brother, but feel as if I have dozens of Brothers and Sisters across the country, we see each other that way.

Grandma & Grandpa McD

If you are lucky enough to have a family, make sure you call one of them today, not tomorrow. You never know how long you will have with your family members. Don'y text or email them, call them. Talk to them even if for a couple minutes. You will impact their day and strengthen your family. I will be making some calls today.