Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Link-->"Stop Waiting for Life to Change: How to Feel at Peace Now"

I just read an article at Tiny Buddha that I found to be both helpful and straightforward. It is so easy to forget that peace, happiness, and fulfillment come from within.

I hope you enjoy and derive benefit from the article. (Click here to go there now.)


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Couldn't Sleep, and Then...

I couldn't sleep, and then out of nowhere, completely devoid of context, like a hot knife through butter, a simple statement emerged from my mouth:

"Forgive yourself."

All the angry, restless, relentlessly obsessive thoughts crashed to a halt.

"Forgive yourself," the voice repeated.

"Forgive yourself."

I fell asleep.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Revisiting NGAF

Be forewarned: if you dislike strong language (cursing), don't read this post.

It's a bad habit of mine to amplify and obsess on self-centered negative feelings such as guilt. Often, I take these feelings and blow them way out of proportion until I'm a miserable and less-than-stellar version of myself. Given that it's an emotional sore spot -- or Achilles' Heel, if you will -- I keep an eye on it.

Despite these efforts, I had been feeling in a bit of a rut recently, such that my self-directed negativity had grown in strength, automation, and persistence. That, and it was compelling; I indulged it with my attention. Not fun.

Fortunately, experience has taught me that there are a bevy of resources available to help one out of such a rut. One must often make multiple attempts with different resources before one finds the right fit -- a process I usually describe as "throwing macaroni at the wall and seeing what sticks." In my case, the macaroni that stuck recently was revisiting the Honey Badger Philosophy, i.e., How to Not Give a Fuck.

Let's break it down.

The objects of obsessive guilt (and resulting self-loathing) are usually rooted in the past, i.e., on things one has done. Given that, it's important to ask and answer a fundamental and grounding question of oneself:

Q: Is it possible to travel back in time and re-do that moment?
A: No.

Okay, then. That is a fact. That is the truth.

Here's where it gets tricky.

I would argue that it's "good" to feel guilty if you've, say, hurt someone. Guilt draws upon empathy and consideration of other people -- both of which are "good" things in and of themselves. After all, guilt is a feedback system that tells us, "I messed up when I did that. I'm going to do it differently next time. I'm going to apologize and try to make amends."

Notice, however, that nowhere in that bit of dialogue are the statements, "The fact that I did that thing means that I am completely worthless. I deserve nothing but scorn and disdain for the rest of my days. I hate myself."

Unfortunately, many of us "go" into that self-loathing inner dialogue when an emotional sore spot, such as guilt, is triggered.

{Enter NGAF Philosophy}

Not Giving a Fuck isn't license to suddenly stop feeling guilty -- no way. What it is (in this case), rather, is a reminder to "stay in" Guilty Gully and refrain from indulging the next step into Self Loathing Landing.


Not Giving a Fuck reminds me that I am mostly a good person. NGAF reminds me that I am a flawed human being, and bound to make mistakes; and that when I do make mistakes, even big ones, I am allowed to continue to love and respect myself even as I feel righteously guilty and seek to make amends with the ones I've hurt.

NGAF can be applied to so many situations. I recommend taking it out for a spin.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Unexpected Moment of Peace

Part of the after-dinner routine is to take our doggie, Willow, out for a bathroom break and a bit of exercise. There's a park behind our development with an open, grassy field, which makes for a perfect site for off-leash fun. There weren't any soccer or softball practices tonight, and so Willow and I went to that empty field so she could run unfettered -- and run she did.

Willow was tired after several sprints after a good throwing stick, chasing it up and down the field; and so we came to a pause next to the stick after she found it. Willow lay down in the cool grass and commenced an easy, contented gnawing on the stick. I stood there for a moment looking at her and, after noticing a brief but intense flicker of distracted, hurried anxiety from within -- an automatic "we have to get going!" response -- I decided to sit right down in the grass next to her.

In an instant, and all of a sudden, my world changed.

I noticed -- no, I saw -- the trees that ring the field. I saw their branches waving gently in the breeze. I saw the clear, muted blue of the evening sky above us. I felt the soft, cool grass underneath, and noticed how comfortable I felt sitting there on it. I felt it in my hands, and gently tugged on a handful of it -- not so hard as to pull it out, but rather to feel its strength and vitality. I breathed. I blinked.

I noticed I was more or less facing one particular tree across the field. I took in its green deciduous leaves. I traced the space between it and myself. A metaphor occurred to me. An affirmation arose. The tree could be a destination. It is my intention to remain awake and alive for each step of my walk across the field to that tree. Once there, I will acknowledge my journey and my arrival. I will then choose another destination and proceed; or, absent that immediate transition, I will sit at the foot of my new station and wait for a destination to occur to me.

I laughed easily and quietly.

Willow lay there, absorbed in her gnawing conquest of the throwing stick. I gave her a few pats on the back, and gently combed out some loose fur with my hands. I watched it flutter away in the breeze.

For those moments, I was there. I was real, and the world was real.

We stood up. I gathered the stick, and clipped her leash back onto her collar. We started our walk back home across the field. I found another stick. Willow convinced me to throw it to her a few times. I stashed the sticks in a place where we could easily find them again. For next time. We came home.

Goodnight, and thank you for reading.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grateful Today For...

It's amazing to me how easy it is to slip into a "blah" mindset. All too often, I get wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of day to day life until they're all I see, i.e., until my struggles of the moment are the only thing I really notice in my life.

Perspective is so important, and it's always refreshing for me to -- proverbially speaking -- wade back into that pond. It's comforting to remember the fact that my problems are temporary; and it's humbling to remember that we all have our own problems -- and that many folks' problems are far more dire than my own.

That line of thinking is not intended to be self-effacing. My life is the only one I have, and my problems necessarily affect me. Still, the statement above is a great reminder that I have much in my life for which to be grateful, even if these things aren't readily apparent.

I have a mind, after all, and can think. So here goes nothing: here's what I'm grateful for today.

-My job. I have a fascinating, challenging job that often puts me in contact with all sorts of interesting people.
-My job (again). I earn a steady income, which enables me to take care of my basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, as well as a number of additional needs/wants.
-This Chromebook, and the Internet. It is only during the past 20 or so years that human beings, en masse, have had means to instantly broadcast their thoughts, ideas, and opinions for all the world to see. I find that exercise deeply satisfying, and I do not wish to take it for granted; thus, I am grateful.
-My tattoos. They remind me that there is more to me than meets the eye, which is a reminder I need to give myself periodically.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Today, I am grateful for:

-Indoor plumbing
-Shelter from the elements
-My car
-A livelihood
-Having access to this technology, i.e., the ability to share my thoughts with the world (easily, and for free!)
-This t-shirt (my friend gave it to me)
-Being awake to see the early morning sunshine

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What I'm Working on Today

Today, my intention is to stay present. I notice that my attention often follows my thoughts, and that I otherwise retreat inward. And so today, I am revisiting mindfulness; I am revisiting the experience of consciously occupying the present moment.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fear About New Things

Over the past week or two, I've found myself grappling with a question. Actually, it's a few questions (are you surprised?). I can't really state them concisely, because they're existential. Suffice to say they concern my career, and my beliefs about myself and the part I am meant to play in this lifetime.

These are big questions. And yet, their answer symbolically hinges on a series of comparatively minor decisions I will soon make about taking a few classes. 

So what's the big deal? Well, I'm afraid. Irrational though it may be, I'm afraid that pursuing a new education could take me away from myself. I'm afraid that it's incompatible with my self-concept, my strengths, and even my old senses of right/wrong, good/bad, selfless/selfish, etc.

I may be right: the new education may be incompatible with those things. The problem is, I can't help but feel an interest in this new pursuit. It's intriguing to me. 

So maybe this is another step, you know? The processes of growth, change, and exploration quite necessarily require one to venture into previously unexplored territory. I suppose that's what this is.

What a fascinating and humble lesson this is. I think I fancy myself an old pro at being able to handle change, and to accept new challenges, ideas, and realities; and yet now, presented with a new endeavor, I quake. 

Fear is a powerful force! For my part, in this situation, I think the thing to do is acknowledge it, account for it and its effect on me, and, ultimately, ignore it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Link: "3 Keys to Being Happy, No Matter What Happens"

Click here for an uplifting, concise article by MW de Jesus at de Jesus outlines three straightforward, do-able steps to fostering real well-being. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Waiting on Pet Peeves

I think most of us probably have at least a few "pet peeves." You know, those things and drive you up a wall.

One of my pet peeves is when I have to wait because of technology. It drives me nuts. For example, I get really annoyed when a computer I'm working on suddenly freezes up, even if it's only for five or ten seconds. Or, if my phone crashes, or is simply unresponsive for a few seconds. Or, if the batteries run out of my cordless mouse at work.

Those things might seem petty. Actually, they ARE petty -- none of those things is a Big Deal, but they annoy the crap out of me nonetheless.

On one hand, the fact that I get annoyed about certain inconsequential things is not a big deal. As I mentioned, I think most of us probably have our list of otherwise silly little things that tick us off. On the other hand, I feel like it's a pretty big waste of my energy to get all upset over these things. Aside from that, I don't do anything good for myself by letting those annoyances get the best of me: I'm pretty sure my blood pressure goes up, cortisol is released into my bloodstream, and my bad habit of getting angry gets reinforced. And to top it all off, it's really unpleasant for those around me.

Thus, I've decided it's something I can pay some attention to -- I can work to change my response to these annoyances.

My back is bothering me, and so I'm working from home today on my laptop, which is a few years old. It hadn't been booted up in a week or so, and it took some time to finish configuring, because oh yeah, I forgot it had to install those Windows updates, and then it did this weird loop back into reconfiguring itself, and then...I could feel myself getting pissed off about it: THIS IS SO ANNOYING!!

Then I noticed myself having that response, and it was like letting air out of an overly full balloon. Instant relaxation. Then, on cue, a simple thought passed through my mind: "Maybe try just sitting and waiting for the computer to finish doing what it needs to do."

So I did. I folded my hands and waited. That was it. There was no anger, no frustration...just...waiting. It was strange to feel the absence of anger in the face of such a familiar, negative stimulus, but there I was. I had freed myself from my self-imposed prison of anger.

I know I'll have to focus on letting myself out of prison over and over again before it becomes second nature, but I'll get there. And for the time being, anyway, it was progress!

And progress felt great.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's amazing what a short walk can do for your mood

I left the office for my lunch break in one place (stressed, ruminative, negative), and returned, having taken a half-hour or so walk, in basically the opposite state (relaxed, hopeful, grounded).

Put another way, my mind-state, when I first left the office, was like a tight knot of string. During my walk, the knot loosened bit by bit, until eventually, almost without my realizing it, there was no longer a knot at all -- only string, ready and able to take whatever form came next.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What I Love to Do

Right now, at this moment, I'm struggling with the byproducts of stress. What that means for me is my mind is flooded with thoughts; after all, I'm a thinker -- it's one of the things I do well. It's natural for me, then, for my stress to manifest that way.

It's a problem, however, because when my mind is flooded with thoughts, all sorts of "bummer" side effects tend to follow. I have a harder-than-normal time staying focused on a task or conversation, which makes day-to-day interactions and duties feel extremely burdensome. As a result of that, I tend to withdraw, which, while intuitive to me, is highly counterproductive; for when I withdraw, I am left alone with -- you guessed it -- my roiling thoughts.

Even writing this is a chore. (Reading it might feel like a chore right now, too!)

At any rate, I'd been really amped up about some work stuff, and in the aftermath of said stuff, I found myself thinking about my goals and vision for my life; I also found myself thinking about my purpose. It was a very post-modern discussion with myself, which was both exhausting and counterproductive (my love-hate relationship with post-modern critical analysis is a different topic -- read: Pandora's Box -- altogether).

What I came here to write, then, was something simple, namely, to address the question: what do I LOVE to do?

-I love it when I find the tipping point in a conversation or train of thought, or when I bear witness to, or participate in, a breakthrough. It doesn't matter if they're big or small moments, incidentally -- I love 'em either way. This "what do I LOVE to do?" question was one such "ah-ha!" moment, for example.

-I love it when I identify a solid working metaphor that helps illuminate a problem, idea, theory, or process for myself or another person. For example, I've used baseball as a metaphor -- a vehicle, really -- for lots of problems, processes, etc. in my life. And it doesn't need to be a formal metaphor, incidentally -- it can really just be any instance of successfully and appropriately applying one set of rules and circumstances and ideas to another for the sake of illumination and furthered understanding.

-I love to manage money when I'm operating with a clear or semi-clear vision of what my goals and/or endgame are. I love it. I also love thinking about managing money, and, really, money in general. I love visualizing cash flow models; I love visualizing and dreaming up models for generating increased cash flow, and visualizing the factors and variables that detract from cash flow.

-I love achieving deeper understanding of things I find interesting.

-I love speaking to groups and crowds of people about ideas.

-I love facilitating conversations among people about pretty much anything.

-I love digging into new and unconventional ways of doing things -- I love moving past, through, and around conventional wisdom.

-I love the New York Mets. I love baseball. I love consuming information about the New York Mets and baseball.

-I love to sit and read.

-I love to listen to really good speeches, or conversations, or podcasts (hello, Radiolab!). Similarly, I love to watch really well-written, acted, and produced movies, TV shows, and theatrical productions.

-I love to listen to really good and interesting music. (Totally subjective, of course, but we're talking about me here.)

-Other things.

I think there's real value in articulating these sorts of things to oneself. To my way of thinking, they make up some of the most important "stuff" of personhood. And besides -- going through this list has been a huge boost. My mind is clear, my mood is lifted, and I'm "unstuck." Sweet.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Link: "The Difference Between Setting Boundaries and Shutting People Out"

The title of the article describes its content very well, so I'll just say it's excellent, and well worth a read. Thanks to Tiny Buddha and author Holly Hurban. Click here to check it out. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tiny Buddha Published One of My Articles!

I am delighted to share that Tiny Buddha ( published one of my articles yesterday. What a thrill! If you aren't familiar with Tiny Buddha, I highly, highly recommend it -- add it to your bookmarks, RSS feed, etc. It's chock full of excellent writing and invaluable insight. I'm honored and humbled to have had one of my articles published in that space.

I hope you enjoy it! Click the title below to check it out:

"How We Can Reduce Our Suffering by Feeling Uncomfortable Feelings"

Thursday, January 2, 2014


(I found this image on a Tumblr blog, but I believe the image originated at

I love that quote. I love the image, too. Something about it all just resonates with me. It's a simple truth, captured by a simple image.

My initial response to this image, aside from downloading it, was to think, "Yeah. I need to be careful about letting my ego get in the way of accomplishing what I want to accomplish." That isn't quite as succinct as the quote and image above, is it? No, it isn't. Follow along anyway.

Think about what I just said from the plant's perspective. The plant sprouts from a seed and starts to grow. It does what it knows it's supposed to do: grow in an UPWARD direction. It expects to keep doing that, and knows it to be correct.

But suddenly it can't grow UPWARD any longer. Something is in its way. 

Think about arriving at that juncture in your own life. There's this thing you know you're supposed to do or accomplish. You're passionate about it; you feel it in your bones; you might even sense it as a calling. 

And then factors entirely out of your control come to bear on the situation, and things get complicated.

In such a situation, it's natural to feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, etc. After all, things aren't working out like you thought and felt they would. Your ego -- the piece of you that processes, mediates, and interprets your experiences in the world -- is working overtime, trying to make sense of this terrible injustice. This is unfair.

I'll bet you see where this is headed. It probably feels a little cheesy, like we're watching the movie "Rudy" or something. The thing is, though, it's true. 

The plant in that image had a decision to make. It could go on raging against that unmovable rock. Or it could just stop. Either way, it wouldn't get anywhere, even though its purpose is to reach the sun. In either case, the plant would become increasingly stressed, and eventually wither and die.

Or, it could do what it did: hold onto its purpose (to get to the sun), make a critical change (grow sideways), and resume growing UPWARD when the coast is clear.