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The change conundrum

I used to say: I will always get the things I want, unfortunately I never get them when I want them.

This sort of statement is usually followed by trite notions like “be careful what you wish for” because believing I want something today is merely a stilted perception of what I tend to believe will make things better.  Most of the time I don’t really require that ‘better,’ but the ISM I live with is forever trying to correct, mend, upgrade, fix or add something to my life.

Living in the present is preferable but never easy.  For people like me, who live with variations of anxiety and shame (always combatted with the solution of program, but never fully gone) the default of reaching out mentally or physically for something to “fix” whatever I am feeling is hard to shake.

For me the idea of change is as much of a drug as the drugs and alcohol I have moved out of my life for the past 23+ years.  My ISM tells me change is going to make things better.  Change is going to provide happiness.  Change is going to fix the problem.  The trouble with this philosophy is in how the change is designed by the same head that isn’t accepting the status quo (which undoubtedly was at one time a change I was looking to make.) When change does arrive (and we know it always does) it doesn’t always feel like something we had “asked” for and then suddenly it is an imposition and perpetuates the cycle for creating the need for the changes we would prefer.

Perhaps the answer is and always will be acceptance.  I am where I am for a reason.  I do what I do for a purpose.  If I am in a job for many years and I desire “change” I should ask myself what it is about the job that I am looking to leave?  Is it the people?  The work?  The hours?  Let’s be clear:  the “problem” (or trigger if that feels better) is always ME.  If change is required or would even feel better there is never any reason the change cannot be made internally first and, giving that the world almost always provides us with the freedom to choose, change can be created by a decision externally as well.

It’s usually fear that puts a halt to that.

A good friend posted a quote today:  “The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”  It sounds so simple and although I have succeeded in changing who I am for many years through what I do, it still doesn’t seem to stop the moments of daydreaming about the OTHER things I would like to pull into my world.

So perhaps the real answer for change is to be aware.  Know that change is constant.  Know that you can create and provide change in your world and environment.  Know that looking for change as a goal should be a positive but accepting the status quo, which was probably once a goal, is probably going to require a change in your own behavior.

I love change, I fear change, I accept change…. I embrace change, but I don’t have to always understand change.  It just is.

Enjoy your changes today AND love your status quo.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mystery of time

Time is on my side, right?

I often think about time and numbers.  Both of these weigh in to my daily life heavily and I am forever asking myself why and just how much?  For instance:  today I am living in my 57th year on the planet in my 18th year at a job, my 21st year living in the same home, a 35th year in Los Angeles after 4 in Phoenix and 18 in New York, my 4th year in a committed (and beautiful) relationship….. and… and… well I could go on but the point has been illustrated.

What does this mystery of time mean?  What does it require of me?  Am I “on track” for the path I believe myself to be on?  I would suggest that if one were to trust or believe there is a path then the only answer to the last question would be “yes.” Logic would suggest that if I were to stray from a given path it actually IS part of that path.  I suppose it is a matter of suggesting who’s path we are setting ourselves out to “follow.”  If I were on my God’s path (fear not, I do not speak of a religious God, but the one of my understanding) I will continually wonder what that path is all about.  If I am on MY suggested path I am creating plans that will undoubtedly only be overridden by life and the very same God that I spoke to a moment ago.

John Lennon was quoted to say: “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

So I move forward with action, faith, hope and creativity.  I want to participate on the path, to influence it as a co-author.  It does not make sense to sit and wait for life to happen to me.  I would imagine that the thoughts and activities I have and undertake are all a piece of what the plan is all about.  My time spent on this planet up until now has been filled with adventure, joy, sadness, mistakes and lessons.  I would have it no other way as each piece of these time-filled qualities and events has shaped me further into a person that is open-minded, loving and grateful for the chances, opportunities and all of the time and numbers that lie ahead of me.

Change is necessary.  When I live in the mindset that I need to change habits, situations, people, moods, beliefs or any aspect upon this path I am dealing with my own fears and inability to accept that with which I am in and around.  If I need to change something, this is not a bad thing, but if this need for change is effecting the moment negatively it stands to reason that I can embrace where I am at the same time as recognizing the positives about adjusting myself for the moments that are coming.

When I find myself in places where I don’t recognize gratitude over perceived negatives and I am holding on to elements that are regularly made far worse than need be because of the attitude I am projecting outwards (and often inwards as well,)  I am not using time effectively.  What I tend to forget or ignore when I am not in happiness is the choices I have made to get there and the choices that I have to remove myself.  Time offers all manner of chances to change our life and influence our path.  Some of the choices are fearful and it’s a shame if that is all I will recognize.  Living in “what if” isn’t solving any perceived problem.

What does all this have to do with the mystery of time?  Everything.  I change with each moment, I grow, I shift, I morph, I become better, worse and then better again.  I could evolve into the best that it is possible for me to be on this path with the passage of time, or time could present me with challenges and forks that instigate the choices that takes me back to the primal areas that I have inhabited in earlier parts of my life.

I have very little or no idea what time has done or will do.  They only thing I have the potential capability to be able to fully understand will be the mystery of this moment.  Once I start to make peace with it, I may find the easier softer way to continue down my path, accepting the natural and chosen changes with grace and the happiness that I deserve.  This is not always easy, but with the awareness it is possible.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

Reflection versus over-thinking

It is not a secret among those who know me best that I can sometimes think too much.

Some might call it obsessing.

It’s sometimes (but not always) in the way I live, think, work, play, eat and love.  It sounds dangerous but if and when applied in tandem with the tools of my program it can be healthy, focused and productive. Then, of course, there are the times that I am not applying it with the healthy attitudes and methods I continue to be taught and because I am “obsessing” I can end of blocking out the possibility of solution until I am awakened with an awareness and know to surrender the behavior.

When I am in obsessive thinking it will come completely from fear.  It is a result of my not living in the moment.  It happens when I am taking control of people, places & things and not trusting my God has a plan.  It is often a result of a lack of communication (for whatever reason) and in not knowing an answer I am prone to creating one or more for myself.

When active It’s a vicious cycle.  If I don’t have the patience to wait for an answer or result I will create the worst possible scenario and let it bounce back and forth in my head until I have lowered myself into a depth of mood (based on the false evidence appearing real.)  When I am in a mood like this it becomes harder to recognize my disease at play and harder to grab awareness and accept surrender.

The trick, obviously is to understand fear and create a relationship with it that does not allow it to take ownership.  Over-thinking does not solve my issues, it merely confuses them and draws them out.

I have been told to trust my instincts and intuition.  I honestly believe that I have the answers I seek long before I ever believe they are there.  The difference with intuition and instincts is they are positive and not fear-based.  They are based in trust.  They may not be as evident or concrete in all matters of communication, and are long gone by the time I have begun to second guess, third guess and obsess on whatever it is I think I need to know so badly.

Mercury in retrograde is known to effect communication.  When it is in our lives we are often told it is a time for reflection.  Reflection can be a very healthy and when done without fear can also provide a solid growth potential for matters in relationships, jobs, and all parts of our lives.  It is during these periods that I must be most careful.  It is during these periods that it feels like everything is stopped or suspended, thus kicking an over-active imagination into action.  I have been doing a lot of reflecting during this retrograde period, but in recent days I may have reached the limit of what is healthy and started to cross the line to obsessive over-thinking.  It isn’t going to work.

I am here to remind myself that nothing is wrong.  Too much reflection only means not enough action.  If the communication is lacking it may be time to simply pause, pray, meditate.  If the period is quiet and not producing results as I might think it should (control) it is a solid sign in my program to simply stop and BE for as long as it takes.  For an alcoholic like myself this is never an easy chore… but I have learned it is not impossible and I am here to learn and grow.

Stop. Smile.  Breathe.

For the love of balance

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

I usually end my blog with these three words but today I find it an appropriate way to begin.

Balance is not a new subject to this blog.  It is, however, a necessary reminder from time to time.  Especially when I approach and enter my busy season at my place of employment, a period that can very easily completely consume hours, brain cells and the fabric of life itself. During this period I become the bitch of the department (or perhaps I should say one of them,) but I do so willingly and often with a sense of challenge and a strange love (or addiction?) of its intensity.  The most important part of this yearly exercise is in remembering it will end along with the Memorial Day weekend.

Then we return to our regularly scheduled insanity and dysfunction.  Hey… it’s TV… that’s what we sign up for.

What’s important for me to remember on any given one-day-at-a-time is the balance that is required to remind myself that I am not my job.  I have a robust and beautiful home life, a magnificent husband and three examples of unconditional love in our animals.  These beings and the many, many extraordinary friends and partners that come with a fully robust fellowship of program have allowed me to build a level of gratitude and a complete picture of where it is I need to be physically and spiritually in order to maintain a level of sanity and enjoyment in this very short life span.

It is also important to remind oneself that the hours that may somehow feel too long or too many are, in fact, a choice I am making.  There really are no shackles that keep me tied to this or any job, this or any situation.  I need to always remember that the person in charge of the decisions made is me. If I am out of balance and feeling the strains or frustrations of within any area of my life I am able to look inward and take the appropriate actions or make the decisions that are necessary to put myself back into the proper frame of mind I require to remain happy.

We absolutely insist on being happy.

I have been blessed with the means, constant classroom (and teachers) to keep me sane and humble enough to remember that I must continually self-assess and review my character, my actions, my behavior and my environment.  I can push anything that I am as well as anything that I do into a new direction, often by considering actions before doing them (restraint of pen and tongue.)  It is also vital that I stop myself from the obsession of the mind as I live in a disease of perception.  If I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired (as the increased amount of hours could very well take me to) I am open to behavior that does not fit into the character I have learned I do not want to be.  In making the choices I do I accept the consequences (I cannot control the results) and remember that I am armed with tools that provide me the potential to allow me to be the best person I have ever been within them.

And again, balance is achieved, very simply if I continue to remember the mantra:

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

The truth about control

I am constantly reminded of powerlessness in my life.

Fortunately I take the cues that are provided and adjust whatever thinking I may be in to fit the reality of the situation.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t fall back into behavior that is decidedly self-centered and slowly (sometimes quickly) taking me towards the next reminder of powerlessness.

As a child I created my own world.  I had my own country, my own movie studio, actors, actresses, music charts and all manner of award shows and rules.  In later years it would be pointed out to me that the need to create an environment comfortable for me may have indicated a discomfort with aspects of my real world as well as the beginnings of a solid need to control my environment.

Thus this control freak was born.

As a result of being who I am, I have often been conflicted with the difference between the need for control and the acceptance of powerlessness in my life.  To some degree there is a reason for making sure I am “in control” of the actions I take, or even the way I may think.  I don’t want to over-think the subject but it seems to me that I may want to be careful about exclaiming powerlessness over every aspect of my life.  But, at the same time, I feel it is important to remind myself about the importance of turning over the results.

In other words:  I am in control of my actions, what I have had to learn over time is that I am not in control over the results of the world around me.  Change is everywhere and constant.  I may always try to have a hand in what happens to and for me (as well as those around me) but in the grand scheme I am not able to see or determine the full picture of any situation.  If and when I do try that on for size I am in expectation and that, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to ever work out for me.

Take for example my drive to work on this past Friday morning.  My action is obvious, my expectation was the early arrival.  I go in to my work at 6-6:30AM in order to have some peace and quiet and catch up with my desk work (a place I don’t get to see a lot of in a meeting filled work day.)  I took the action of rising early and making sure that I was mentally and physically prepared for another work day.  I got in my car and drove the path I drive 5 days a week to get to the destination.  On this day, however, I was reminded that I am not in control of everything even when it would feel that I am.  On Friday morning a car went through a red light on National as I traveled though my green light going west on Venice.

My car was hit and spun around ending up on the SW corner sidewalk.  Fortunately for one and all  (including both drivers) there was nobody on that sidewalk and neither of us was hurt.  Both were shaken up but the world continued with the changes I saw in front of me.  My path took a slight shift that had me filing police reports, towing my car with AAA, handling the check in at a body shop, filing my insurance claim and picking up my rental car.  I still made it to work before most would arrive at 9, proving even when experiencing powerlessness there is always a stitch of control within me.

I walked away from this example knowing that I am blessed in understanding that the changes and unforeseen circumstances that will always be a part of our world are a part of my life’s tapestry.  I accept that sometimes the world does not go according to my plan.  In fact it rarely does.  I cherish my moments of powerlessness and each time they are revealed I am more experienced in letting go of the results.

Control is not a bad thing unless it is your only way of thinking.  Control is not an evil word unless you need it like a drug.  Actions taken for growth and education in this world are pieces of control…. the trick for me is to remember that the action is part of the goal and the result is simply not something I can accurately predict, manipulate or determine.  I am happy, at some point, with whatever result I am provided.

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

I can do anything

When a soul is fear based and filled with shame the world looks like a wall that cannot be climbed.

For most of my life I have lived within some form of wall, real or imagined.  Slowly, but very surely, over time, I have started to become aware, ask for (and seize) the willingness to try, take necessary actions, in order to begin to scale these walls, big and small, one-by-one.

What I have learned from these accomplishments is the point of this blog post and the most prominent focus in my experiencing of life.

I can do anything… if I want to.

What’s weird is how I have come to believe and practice in this hope driven theory.  For many of the places I have denied myself access, the success story could have been as simple as remembering that my happiness and any result I may desire begins, without fail, in a decision. How many times have I told myself I cannot do or be something only to never try?  How often was it fear that shrouded my intended legacy and stopped me dead in my tracks without even allowing myself the option to try?

It then becomes important to remember that decisions and choices are nothing without the actions that must follow.

Action does not always result in success, but there is no chance whatsoever without the attempt in the first place.  Today I know that the actions I take to learn and grow always, without any fail, result in some form of success whether immediate or through failure.  Each and every layer of the onion peeled is a chance to give myself experience and knowledge previously unlearned.  None of it is possible if I do not take the appropriate steps towards learning.

When I remove my ego and ask questions the self-created (or society branded) walls will crumble or provide windows of light.  When I don’t ask questions, possibly pretending that I am already in the know I am stunting my growth for the sake of my vanity (or fear of judgment.)   I know so much more today than I did yesterday.  Even more than that over the last year and year before that.  With each question, every bit of research, and by the simple act of listening I have become a better man and a more capable friend, sponsor, teacher, worker and human.

For those of us who would stop short before recognizing or believing in our own talents… or the potential for growth where passion exists I would ask you to climb any wall you see.  If the wall feels too tall ask God for the strength to change your thinking.  If the wall is too long as God to open your eyes for answers.  If the negative voices are too loud make sure you ask God for some quiet so you can hear your own better judgment speak to you.

Having learned that I can do anything it becomes easier for me to tell you that you can as well.  But it is not all there is to the personal battle’s we face in this life.  It is hard to know what you want to do or be in this world at times… but never possible if you or anyone else dares to tell you that you aren’t able to do it.

If you feel this struggle, arrest the behavior, stop the thought process and create the means to change the negative habits that cause it.  Each time you find yourself not believing…

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

The map of choices

It’s important that I remember that I have the luxury of choice.

In every area of my life there will come the time when I begin to feel trapped.  I will believe I am “under obligation” to do this or that because of the consequence or ramification that would result if I were to stop.

This, by and large, is true.  But what does not jive in this type of theory is the fact that I am no more knowledgeable about the outcome of any situation than the next person.  I do not have psychic ability.  I am not able to predict what a consequence might be… although I sure as hell tend to convince myself otherwise.

There is an old theory I have held true through my years.  In it I find myself a massive over-thinker that will create the answer to any question where it is not provided.  This can be thoroughly dangerous if one is not living in a more spiritual and optimistic state of mind.  Through the lessons and actions I have taken over many years my life has become one of solutions over problems, but being human I am defaulted to creating worst case scenarios based solely on the fear of my unknown outcomes.  I have accepted this as a part of my “dis-ease” and I am on the medication of steps and service to work on this daily.

We call that the world of “what if.”  It’s an endless pit that doesn’t belong in anyone’s head…. much less vocabulary.

In that I have a proven track record of making very good decisions (usually after hitting the wall as the result of bad ones) I have started to learn that any choice I make is a good one and that the outcome of said choice is merely a consequence or result that must be handled for its benefit or the lesson it is there to provide me.

Over the years I have learned a great deal.  Most of the lessons have been partially due to what I always thought were mistakes.  But I come to the world in which I live today a better man than I’ve ever been.  I am smarter, more capable, more successful, a better friend, a good husband, a trustworthy advocate and employee and a man who has benefited from every single choice and it’s ramification.  I am strong and I am honest, more believable and better equipped to solve the problems I face AND make the choices laid out in front of me.  I see these choices as opportunities on a large map that spreads across a beautiful landscape and a wealth of experience both in what would be interpreted as positive and negative realms.  What is different about the person I am today is in intention and overall awareness.  I have come to know, very simply, that my intention will provide the right result in any decision.  Right, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a happy or “good” result, it merely means that I will continue to learn and grow.

I almost hate to admit that my map holds a lot of choices that were less than magnificent in their immediate result.  But because of each one of them I have molded and shaped my path into a legacy.  I like who I am and that is possibly the best outcome to any series of choices I could ask for.  I am proud of what I am for others, which tells me that the choices I have made in the past have collectively been beneficial to help this soul be the best possible being in the world.

There will always be bad days.  There will always be times when I am feeling less than or judging myself harshly on what I perceive to be wrong about my character or behavior.  What has happened for me over time is I have been able to look at myself with less judgmental eyes.  I see that the person I have become is not what I have tended to believe others see.  This is simply no longer true in both the estimation and harshness I have held myself to as well as the perception that others might hold certain opinions as well.

The choices I currently make are honorable.  I seek to change the behaviors that do not work as well.  I choose to make sure that everything is for the right intention.  I make sure I am looking at a full picture and not towards something that benefits me only.  I am no longer concerned about the way others may feel, but my map has allowed me to come to a place where I shouldn’t have to.

Today’s choices are about recognizing what could help me in all aspects of my life and changing perception, opinion, reaction and habit.  No, it, like any other part of the real world, is not “easy.”  Yes, like the sentence that I opened this post with, it is always possible if I want it to be.

I need only remember to:

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

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