Friday, September 3, 2010

Mailbox Misery

Isn’t it torturous to receive a letter in the mail regarding something you disagree with but by the time you read it you realize there is nothing you can do until the next day or sometimes until Monday? Throughout my life I have received many letters and or phone calls like this. I always seemed to get them late Friday afternoon (just before the weekend) and whatever the issue was, it could not be addressed until Monday morning. I would torture myself the entire weekend. I’d run through why it was wrong and what I was going to say, reliving the moment throughout the entire weekend. Needless to say, I completely ruined my weekend and affected those around me. Now as I sit here writing this, I can only tell you that the letters usually came from the mortgage company , community management, school, utilities, insurance companies, or some lawyer letter (those were always scary). For the most part, I cant give you the details of what the letters were about and I definitely can’t tell you when I got them or how many. Whatever they were about and however life impacting they felt at the time, they all got resolved and are nothing but a faded memory now. Unfortunately what I can’t have back, are those weekends I wasted in anger or the examples I showed others on how to cope with such issues. So what was it that drove me so crazy that I felt the need to resolve the problem right then and what has changed now? The answer is, was and will always be, fear. Fear can drive us to do some really crazy things. We will act out in desperation just to bring closure and eliminate the fear. When we are forced to wait, it gives us a feeling of loss of control. The fear that they will take your house, assess you with penalties, turn off your power, raise your premium or prosecute you, can be paralyzing. Now after many years, I have reached a point where I can let go of those fears. I understand that all these things are directly controlled by my actions. I realize that they will all be resolved in time and if that time is not now, to let it go and enjoy my weekend. I take responsibility for the issues I have created for myself and reflect on how I can do things differently so as not to find myself in the same situation again. I stop blaming others and focus on what part I might have played in what's happening. Lastly, and most importantly, I focus on today and ask myself what I am so afraid of that I am willing to give up my happiness for? What is so important that living my life must wait for?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Barks Like a Dog

“If it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, it’s a dog.”
 As we go through our lives, there have been times where what we see doesn’t match with what our minds or instincts tell us. We go through an internal struggle questioning ourselves and wondering whether or not it could be possible that our instincts are just flat out wrong.

Two simple examples that we can all relate to are the following: We see people buying expensive cars, beautiful homes, going out to fancy dinners, wearing designer clothes and traveling the world vacationing. We question ourselves as to what we might be doing wrong that does not allow us the same opportunities. We ask ourselves, “Should I be working harder?" or "Am I not smart enough?" "Did I pick the wrong profession?" We wonder, "What did the others do to make them so much money?" and "How is it that they make it look so effortless?"  They seem to have the perfect life. It just doesn’t make sense. I am not saying that there are not those who have worked extremely hard and sacrificed other areas of their lives to obtain wealth, but everyone in Miami? As life unfolds, so too the truth oftern unfolds. Credit card debt, bankruptcy, foreclosures and many other financial secrets unfold and our instincts are proven to be right.

My daughter Elle spent her first semester at the University, struggling to balance her academic life with her social life. She would struggle wondering how it was possible that her friends were going to parties every night and able to make the grades. She, herself, would ask if there was something she was doing wrong. She questioned her own decisions and abilities. I would tell her, “If it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, it’s a dog. Wait until the end of the semester before you beat yourself up. Just keep doing what you know to be right.” As life unfolds so too the truth will unfold. Many of those very same girls were forced to drop their classes while others failed.

We all question ourselves but we need to go with our instincts using our internal compass to guide us. Our entire life is filled with examples like the two above. If we allow what we perceive others to be doing to guide us, we will spend everyday at the end of a social leash being yanked around in the direction that others choose to go. Remove yourself from the leash and be free to roam the park as you see fit. When you see something that doesn’t make sense remember, “If it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, it’s a dog.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Devil's Tool

                                "Idle time is the Devil's tool."
When I was growing up, one of my best friend’s mom would always say this to us. Of course at thirteen, I just felt she was telling us we were being lazy. Now as a 43yr old man, I realize the wisdom in her words. When we are busy doing something we are forced to become fully present in the moment. While fully present in that moment all of our other thoughts cease to exist and time is lost. The result is usually a sense of fulfillment; happiness if you will. On the other hand, what happens when we become idle? We sit and think. We think about the future and what might be, sometimes creating fear and anxiety. We sit and think about the past, creating a sense of longing, sadness and sometimes despair. When my friend’s mom said idle time was the devils tool, I think she was also implying that if we had nothing to do, we might find something negative to do and get into trouble. She was right. As a result of thinking about the future and or past, one might decide that they need to do something to try to correct the past and or what they believe to be the inevitable future. That decision can involve, and many times will involve, making a bad decision.

When it comes to raising my kids this has absolutely been the case. When we have kept them constantly busy with schooling, sports and personal activities, they have stayed positive and happy. On the other hand when there has been the least bit of inactivity, they complain about being tired more, they lack motivation, they seem almost bored with life and at times just lay around waiting for something to happen to them. This is no different for me. When I am constantly moving and busy, I am fulfilled and happy. I sometimes hear a voice that tries to tell me I need a break or that I wish I could just lie around and do nothing for a day. I’ve come to learn that that is the voice of death (figuratively speaking). That it is the devil in, “Idle time is the devil’s tool.” If I feed that idea, it will grow out of control and I will find myself wanting more and more time to rest. It has an insatiable appetite. On the other hand if I push forward and ignore it, I become present in what I am doing and a natural flow or tempo is created. The rest and down time, is self dictated and when it arrives, I am present in that moment as well.

It took me 30 years to get it. Idle time truly is the Devil's tool and therefore Work and activity can only be God’s gift.