2 Ways to Break Into the Gym Environment

25, Mentors: Wayne Dyer, “Mike”, Adam

 

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” –Wayne Dyer

25, Mentors: Wayne Dyer, “Mike”, Adam

Do people watch you in the gym?

Yes, you will be noticed. Gym patrons look at others to see where they are at, where they’ve been and where they want to be. Forgetting where they started, they can get caught up in themselves and make fun of newcomers.

 

Adam lives for the gym. He is quite a specimen of fitness and always posts on social media about his progress and the amazing healthy meals he prepares. He is definitely noticed and inspires others to higher goals. Recently he posted this admission:

 

“I’m kind of guilty of making fun of stupid people at the gym… Mostly “Bros”… But I actually really like this kid. He’s a scrawny nerdy kid that can’t lift a lot… But I see him here almost every single day putting out. Sometimes he has a friend with him, who isn’t so dedicated… But this dude is here working hard. Whatever his motivation is… Good for him. I hope he reaches his goals. I appreciate good honest effort done in silence.”

 

I never stepped into a weight room until my mid-thirties. I grew up in an atmosphere where the weight room had some kind of a stigma, which was really an excuse to stay away. I couldn’t see myself fitting in. I started hearing about benefits of resistance weight training, such as increased metabolism, alertness, and a stronger heart and cardiovascular system. I warmed up to the concept, but didn’t break the barrier. They had built a new gym at work. Out of mild curiosity, a couple of times I stepped inside, but that was it.

 

Then my friend Tracy gave me with the ticket I needed and invited me to the weight room. I respected him as a trusted friend and an outstanding fellow worker. I took the step and snapped up his invitation. As my coach he guided me through the intimidation fear. He taught me the basics and about the culture of this new environment. Tracy’s invitation opened up a new world to me.

 

Method 1 – Ask a friend or accept a friend’s invitation.

 

——————————

 

That scrawny kid

During a workout I heard a faint and weak voice behind me, “help, help”. I turned around a saw a small and thin young man on a bench with a weight bar at an angle across his chest. He said, “I know it’s not much weight, but I can’t get it off of me.” As I freed him from that immediate burden he told me that it was his first visit to the gym. He saw himself as “that scrawny kid.” I realized that this was a critical moment for him, a tipping point. At this point he could embrace the discomfort of a new environment or quietly shirk away. I don’t remember his name, so I’ll call him “Mike”, for me a stereotypically strong name for the gym.

 

Mike pointed at a very muscular individual broad shoulders and a large frame. He dropped his head in dejection and said, “I’ll never look like that.” He was actually right; Mike had a different build, a much smaller frame. I scanned around the room and pointed out someone with the same build as himself, but with fully developed and well defined muscles. I asked if he’d like to look like that. He wiped his lips with his tongue to keep from drooling onto the floor. “Yes! I want that!”

 

The common goal should be to optimize the body we are blessed with. It is a journey of discovery. There is a place for everyone.

 

Perception

Mike took the courage to start, to break through the barriers. His goal wasn’t clear at first, but he knew he wanted to improve. Even if someone were to make a wisecrack or laugh at his poor technique, in his mind it was a minor issue and a small price to pay.

 

Armed with this point of view he consistently showed up. He soon discovered that he could accomplish more than he could previously imagine. He tapped into this new world. He boldly asked for advice. He was careful to observe and read the regulars at the gym so he would know who would be likely to help him. He received continual praise and feedback for his consistent and effective efforts. He was soon surrounded by mentors who also became his friends.

 

Transformation

Mike’s entire life transformed and improved in all areas. He crushed the intimidation factor when stepped into a foreign environment. With just a little encouragement on the first day, he put his remaining fears aside. I don’t know what preparation he had made to get into the gym in the first place. But from that point, by the eight month mark he looked like the original role model that I had pointed out. His health and energy levels surged. His entire countenance had changed along with his body.

 

Method 2 – Blast through the fear

 

Crossing the Sales Barrier

In some cases a challenging part of starting the gym experience is working through the sales process… Do a bit of research by talking to friends to know what to look for and what questions to ask. Often you can get a trial pass for one or several days. Even though the sales process may seem confusing and intimidating, the sales reps are basically humans just like you. They may be under pressure to sell, sell, sell, but in the end they do want to help you.

Tracking a Path Through Darkness

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” — Anne Frank

Along the path of life we pass through dark times and our path becomes obscured. During these times, even small glimpses of light can begin to rekindle hope and invite more and more light and understanding to prevail. As we reach out to one another, the flame of hope is refined and our souls are freed.

On a Friday night we took a group of scouts to Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. We were delayed on our way to the trailhead and darkness became our great challenge. Our campsite was less than two miles away, but the path would not be easy because darkness intensified under a thick canopy of a forest. There were about twelve or fourteen of us, so there were a dozen or so stories of why each of us had forgotten his flashlight. Mobile phones had yet to exist. The only source of light that we came up with was a box of matches.

We lined up in tight formation and slowly eased along the trail. With our feet we could feel the trail by sensing where the surface was clear of vegetation and harder and firmer than surrounding soil. At points where the trail became blurred, we stopped to estimate where we were, review our progress and decide where to go next; we counseled together.

Since we couldn’t burn matches continually and we couldn’t change our environment, we adapted. We organized ourselves into Group A and Group B. At each of these assessment stops, one person was assigned to light a match. Since the light would shine for only a moment we devised a way to gather as much information as we could. Group A was assigned to look to the left and Group B to the right and to memorize what they saw during that brief moment of light. We shared what each of us had seen and discussed it all to determine which way to go. This was a tedious process (it became a very long trail), but we kept progressing and got better and better and navigating in the dark and working as a team. We trusted each other and knew each others’ voice. We each knew the mind of each individual, of our fears, needs, and our skills and strengths. Together as a group, or rather a clump of people, we moved forward toward our goal.

As we drew closer to the campsite we crossed an expansive open meadow. The darkness eased a bit. We could see vague mysterious forms or shapes of large objects. At first we had to touch the forms or shapes to distinguish what they were, boulders, bushes, trees, etc. As we adapted to the environment our skills in identifying objects continued to improve. We were soon able to navigate without the use of matches.

Then we saw one object that was different, too symmetrical to be a natural object. As we touched the cold object we identified it as a metal pole. We saw several other poles and realized that we had reached the campsite.

But we still had more to learn about our environment. We had never seen poles scattered about in that fashion. Had we lit a match and looked up we would have realized that each pole had several hooks on top. In the morning when one backpack turned up missing, we could see the marks in the soil where the backpack had been drug along the ground to deep underbrush. Racoon tracks identified the type of culprit. At that point we realized that the poles were designed to keep food out of reach of the racoons. We never found the backpack. With small glimpses of light, we did successfully make our way through the obstacles of darkness and reached our goal.

5 Steps to Be a Catalyst for Someone

-Change the world every day.

“You have a voice and a story worth telling. You never know who you will inspire or what results you can accomplish. Your story may save lives.”

Johan Rosén https://medium.com/think-say-do/inspirational-people-ef5a5e02e352

Five Steps to Impact Someone’s Life, and to Be Changed Yourself

  1. Prepare for opportunities to live your core principles.
  2. Observe your surroundings and your feelings.
  3. Take action.
  4. Learn from every encounter.
  5. Serve.

How Five Minutes Changed Two Worlds

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing for my day in meditation and prayer. I prayed that I would somehow be inspired by someone, and that in turn I could in some way have an impact on someone’s life. That afternoon I went for a trail run. I had just parked my car, tanked up on water and was ready to go. As I got out of the car I heard a mountain bike zip by behind me. I felt something at that moment and observed what was happening. The rider quickly stopped a couple of stalls over and loaded his bike onto his Jeep. Among all the people milling about, something stood out about the rider. I took action by introducing myself. Conversation came naturally and immediately.

In less than five minutes I learned more from Ryan about thriving through adversity than I could have learned reading an entire volume. He has spent most of his life in a wheelchair due to a chronic vascular and muscle condition. He recently analyzed his condition and determined that with the right preparation and grit he could be able to walk. He went on calorie restriction to lose weight, went to the gym to build his upper body and with very limited muscle capacity in his legs, he began to walk and is now riding a mountain bike.

I was inspired and uplifted, changed forever. Ryan inspired me and served me by openly sharing his experiences and his resolve. I walked away grateful for his influence.

Later that day he sent me a message. I told him that how he had really lifted me up. To my surprise, he told me that I had given him “a boost on a rather down day.”

Ryan has a goal to hike a 1.25 mile trail with a 1,000’ elevation gain. He asked if I could serve him by joining him when he is ready to accomplish that feat.

A Catalyst for Change

Each of us is a part of our Universe and we cannot live (or die) without influencing one another. We do not live in a vacuum. Each of us, not only has the opportunity or obligation to influence one another, whether we chose to or not, we are always touching the lives of others. Everyone we meet, or merely encounter influences us in some way. Even a quick glance at someone’s facial expression leaves an imprint, that we may or may not be conscious of. People we have never met influence us, people from across the sea or from prior generations.

Whatever the case or another’s history, you will influence everyone that you encounter. That imprint becomes part of the whole of the Universe. You will in turn be forever changed in some way.

Be Catalyst for Good

Thirty three years ago, today, I was sworn in as a police office. A number of people attempted to discourage me, saying that I would not be able to change the world, that I was just a drop in a large bucket. After taking the oath of office, on my own, I committed to pray each day that I could positively and permanently impact someone’s life. I have been abundantly blessed with such opportunities. In the process I continue to be abundantly blessed by others.

Usually we don’t realize that we’re changing someone’s world. I came to realize this a few years ago when a casual acquaintance who was moving away told me that he had often pondered, sometimes for days, over things that I had said and how he could apply them to his life. I had no idea that I had said anything substantial. I was humbled and certainly grateful that I hadn’t said anything that might have had a negative impact.

Core Principles

If your life is based on core principles, you will naturally express those principles, whether consciously or not. When you think of those life changing moments when someone else has influenced you, you may ask yourself if they were conscious of having had a profound impact on you.

Discover Friends, Fill the Void

25, Mentor: Ralph Waldo Emerson 

friends-justin-roedel-web

“The only way to have a friend is to be a friend.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Void of Empty Lives

As a rookie police officer in San Jose I responded to a call. I learned from the caller that her family suffered challenges much greater than being the victims of theft. They lived in a gorgeous suburban house in a beautiful neighborhood with well-manicured yards. In her time of sorrow I mentioned that she might want to reach out to friends and neighbors for comfort, advice and healing. Sadly, she said, “I don’t have any friends. We moved here several years ago, but don’t even so much as know the names of any of our neighbors.” I had no response to the empty feeling she conveyed.

Recently I was visiting with my brother and his family in a similar neighborhood. While visiting, the course of conversation turned to the lack of social contact within the neighborhood. “Nobody talks to anybody.” I chimed in since I had spoken with the next door neighbor earlier in the day, or so I thought. I commented that he was a really nice guy. Everyone was pretty shocked; “he never talked to anyone.” I told everyone how I was impressed that he took a few moments from mowing the lawn to talk to me. “That was the gardener!!” Oh, well he was sure a nice guy! I’d take him as my neighbor any day.

Later that day, I observed the real occupant of the house as he arrived home. He got out of his car, and walked directly to retrieve the trash bin at the curb. He promptly went in the house and closed the door. He diligently made sure that his gaze could not connect with mine, at all.

The gardener was engaging and interested in my well-being. Neither one of was planning how to react to one another. There was no fear, no stress. I’m pretty sure that he had not taken a class in making friends, I hadn’t. The interaction came naturally to each of us.

Social Heritage

The knack for forming friendships is in our nature. Unfortunately our modern society tends to mask our natural instinct. We become too busy or too preoccupied, or too scared.

The reality is that as a species we are social. We want to and need to understand and support each other. We evolved to where we are because we learned to do things together and to conquer challenges. Historically, our social network provided us with food, shelter, protection and association. With the gift of language to communicate complex thoughts, ideas and emotions we were destined not only to survive, but to thrive. We are meant to share our joy and carry one another’s burdens.

Friends are of vital importance to our whole being. Alone we may subsist for a time, but we cannot thrive. Family and friends are key to our happiness and fulfillment. Without our social interactions, we are subject to withering away. This is why solitary confinement is considered such a harsh punishment.

Loneliness

On October 2, 1959, author Rod Serling aired “Where is Everybody?” This was the first episode of the series, ‘The Twilight Zone’, where Serling addressed our deepest fears. The first fear he chose to share was about loneliness. The episode portrays an astronaut who had been placed in a hangar in total isolation for 484 hours and 36 minutes. The idea was to simulate what a man would have to go through if traveling in space by himself over a prolonged period of time. In his dreams the character stepped into a town that he had created in his imagination. It was a mental attempt to create a world to escape from loneliness. But his mind was not quite able to fictionalize people to populate the town. The trauma of isolation took him to the brink and ended the experiment. The effects of the isolation on the astronaut led the observing commander to conclude, “The barrier of loneliness — that’s the one thing we haven’t licked yet.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_Is_Everybody%3F

More recently, in 2015 a reality TV show, “Alone” performs the experiment of dropping ten individual survival experts in ten separate locations on a forested island in northern Vancouver, offering $500,000 to the person that lasted the longest. They are given cameras to document their ordeal along with minimal gear. Constructing shelter, building fire, finding and preparing food and dealing with dangerous predators were tremendous challenges. But the greatest challenge was the complete separation from family, friends and any human contact.

http://www.history.com/shows/alone/season-1/episode-10

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_(2015_TV_series)

Communities

As you travel to villages and older neighborhoods in southern Europe and Latin America you will find unadorned houses, each with a front door that leads directly onto the sidewalk. Initially it doesn’t appear to be at all inviting. However, the design, like a protective corral comes from a societal structure where a common patio was contained in the center of the block. The men would leave to work while their wives would go into the patio to watch over the children, do laundry and cook and perform other chores together as a community.casa-corral-web

In the United States, before the advent of air conditioning, it made perfect sense to provide a large porch, a shaded place to spend late afternoons out of the heat that had built up in the house all day. Families would sit out on the porch or go for walks in the neighborhood to cool off and to socialize. When air conditioning came along, the porches became vacant. Walks through the neighborhood have become less interesting because there are fewer people to visit with at their porch.

How-To’s of Friendship

There are many sources on what friendship is, how to make friends, and how to categorize and maintain friendships. How-to guides on the topic of friendship abound. These guides give us ideas on how to break from cultural aspects that smother our natural inclination toward friend shipping.

Last summer while on a weekly hike with a friend, I was inspired by his experiences and his life skills. He laid out to me the path of service he is building. The process of sharing helped him gain more clarity in his goals. I grew to admire him more and more as I saw his depth of character surface. Learning to deal with the untimely death of his father several years earlier, he spent a lot of time alone in deep introspection. He found great healing in developing a relationship with outdoor adventure. As his healing continued, he realized that he had to reach out. He felt compelled to share his discovery, with friends. He described in great detail his dreams of bringing others into the wild to come to know themselves and escape from the “baggage and chatter” of life.

I was surprised with his request, “Can you teach me how make friends?” He wanted nothing more than to share his joy with others. Yet friendships were already flowing in his direction.

I thought back on how he and I had met and began our tradition of weekly hikes. He was working at an outdoor equipment store. I walked into the store and saw him facing away from me. From the back I thought he was someone else. I slapped him on the shoulder. My first thought was, “Oh-oh!! Startled, he turned around and challenged me, “Who are you?” Rather than apologizing and walking away, I went deeper, “I am one of your best friends ever.” He asked, “Well then, what do you like to do?” We started our weekly outings. No fear, no expectations. Through our experiences we drew close and came to know each other well. We have also come to know ourselves better, fortifying our dreams and purposes in life. Our combined experiences continue opening doors. We now see each other two or three times a year. We share our friend-shipping experiences.

Abundance

Though not always immediately apparent, friendships are not in short supply. Expanding your sphere of friends begins by learning to know and accept yourself, and more importantly learning to get to know and accept others. Think back on your experiences and note how friends have helped you define who you are. Friends share your joys and carry your burdens.

If we allow our God-given instinct to thrive, friendships will forever flow into our lives like the waters of an artesian well. The possibilities and benefits are endless. The alternative is to wither in loneliness and all the maladies that follow.

 — — — — — — — — — — — —-

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – Letter to wife Louie, July 1888, Life and Letters of John Muir (1924), chapter 15.

A Short and Simple Guide to Finding Friends, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/31/a-short-simple-guide-to-finding-friends/

Friendship Blog, http://www.thefriendshipblog.com/

Why Friends May be Your Ticket to Living to be 100, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-r-hamilton-phd/longevity-_b_1978890.html

The Art of Friendship: 70 Rules for Making Meaningful Connections, by Roger and Sally Horchow.

Social Relationships and Mortality Risk (Study), http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

“I Just Want to Have a Million Friends”, In Spanish, by Roberto Carlos, https://youtu.be/PZXaQijiiA

Am I Just a Dot in the Universe?

25, Mentors: Benjamin, Stewart, Brendon, Ben, Sam, and Mike

 “Though most would not see it, the experience we are having right now is the most valuable experience we could be having.”  –Benjamin Hardy

 

Do I Matter?

Peering into the sky, into space, toward endless worlds of the Universe I sense how small I am in this space and time. Do I matter?

Mike Morgan Summit Trail Web

Another Road Trip

I had traveled the route a hundred times before, from Northern Utah to Southern California along Interstate 15. Often I find a bargain at a Las Vegas resort for a nighttime layover. Last week, wearied by the thought of fighting traffic and trudging through a giant hot parking garage, then through a massive noisy casino filled with boring people pressing buttons and sipping drinks.

Instead, I searched for a place to camp at high elevation, out of the heat. All the official campgrounds were all labelled as “full”. But just prior to dusk, I spotted a dirt road which lead me to find various primitive campsites on Forest Service Land.

I Mattered to Someone

As I passed one campsite occupied by a young couple, a man waved to me. My brain was still stuck in routine city mode; I barely gave him notice, and kept driving. At dusk, in the midst of the forest, my eyes and my mind began to open and my heart to soften. My spirit directed me back to the man who had waved to me. Still in a world where I felt I had to rationalize everything I did, I supposed that he needed something. I went back and asked if I could help with anything.

Stewart said he waved to me simply because I mattered. He taught me that he was brought up to acknowledge other people, because they do matter. In an instant I was changed. I wondered how many people he had greeted traveling across the country and back and how many he had taught as he taught me. Was he just a dot in the vast Universe, or something more? What about me? I thought of Brendon Burchard’s introspective thought following his near death experience. At that moment he asked himself the searching questions, “Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?”

After meeting Stewart, I set up my own camp. Soon, the darkness of night revealed the light of an infinite number of stars. As I thought of what was beyond, even the Milky Way seemed as but an introduction to other worlds. Somehow, with the influence of Stewart’s genuine spirit, I felt like an integral part of something so much bigger than myself, with a sense of belonging.

 

Changing the World

When I became a police officer three decades ago, some people warned me not to be too idealistic. They said that I couldn’t change the world. After all I was just one person in a very large troubled world. I took that as a challenge and I determined to pray each day to make a positive and lasting influence in someone’s life. With a prayer and this as a goal, I have been abundantly blessed. And I have found that every encounter has an impact on me.

Each of us becomes an integral part of each other. Every encounter changes us and changes our world. My friend Ben Keith lives by the theme, “Change the world.” He teaches that each individual sees the world from a unique perspective. In essence, we each create our own world built from of our environment and our unique experiences. Ben points out that no two worlds are identical. As each of us chooses how to react to all of our encounters, each in turn has an infinite influence on other worlds. Our impact travels in distances of time and space, beyond measure, “To infinity and beyond!” as asserted by John Lasseter’s Disney character, Buzz Lightyear.

 

Abundant Hearts

In contrast to the near solitude of the wilderness, the next day I was cramped tightly in a crowded ‘In-N-Out Burger’ restaurant in Barstow, California. While waiting for my order, I had a distinct feeling that there was someone I needed to meet. I glanced around at all the hungry people waiting for their number to be called, didn’t see anyone in particular. Suddenly, someone came up from behind me and told me how happy he was to meet me. Sam felt in me an abundant heart and he didn’t hesitate to follow his feelings. Minutes later we left on our journeys. He went north on the highway and I went south. Sam said, “So long as we continue to pay it forward, we can make the world a better place, one friend at a time.”

 

The Universe in Perspective

Yesterday I was on a hike with my friend Mike. Aside from being pestered by insects, everything was perfect at 9,000’ elevation. The forest was green and alive; everything we saw was another cause for amazement.

 

At one point there was a massive tree that had fallen across the trail. As I watched Mike maneuver to get around it, I was thinking how small he looked compared to the tree. At the same moment he shared this perspective, “I think that one of the benefits of getting out into nature is to teach you that you are part of a world much bigger than yourself.”

–Every Encounter Builds Perspective–

When Things Seem Wrong Something Great is About to Happen

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist see the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill

25, Mentor: Hunter, age 15

I often focus on what is wrong, but am grateful when I find out that “I” was wrong, not the circumstance. When things seem to conspire against you or I, something great may be about to happen. Looking past your frustration, you will see it. Something formative is about to happen.

I had meticulously laid out my Wednesday schedule, time to for a run, followed by my diligent weightlifting regimen. Unbeknownst to me, trouble was brewing inside my bowels. I strategically planned to avoid the inconvenience, to keep on schedule. I thought I was in the clear.. but not a quarter mile into my run, I had to abort and find a restroom.

I lost too much time to do both the run and the gym. I opted for a fresh start start on the run, starting at a new trail head.

My Teacher Appeared

I typically don’t see anyone on this portion of the trail. But, not a quarter of a mile into my second run, I had just dropped into a ravine, when I saw this guy riding his motorcycle on an adjacent trail, an obscure century old trail, through the sage brush. I stopped to watch. I found myself thinking back to my childhood and going out on the desert with my family to watch my dad compete on his motorcycle. I watched as this rider practiced on the same section of trail several times, honing his already well-developed skills. This became an introspective experience for me, finding me deep in thought.

The stage was set for a learning experience that I somehow knew was in the works. In a moment my new teacher gave me a wave of the hand and rode down to meet me. After watching a great performance, now I had a backstage pass. Hunter, age fifteen-an-a-half, was excited to tell me that he had just discovered this portion of the trail. He was the enthusiastic teacher; I was the eager student, the kid with his hand stretched high in the air. Impressed with his skills, and I wanted to know more about his motivation and training.

Drive and Passion

I sensed a spiritual element in the joy he finds in developing his talents, finding his passion.

I was surprised to find that he is the only one in his family that’s into motorcycles. He was definitely a self-starter. When he was younger he got into BMX bicycle competition. He anxiously shared with me the details of those competitions. As he was maturing in mind, body and spirit, he became fascinated with moving on to to the challenge of dirt bikes and more competitions. He tasted success and wanted more.

Hunter, April 2016

He explained that he got into motorcycles “with grades”. I thought that by “grades” he meant step by step. “No, no, no”, he corrected me and told me how he negotiated with his parents to get a small 80cc bike if he would produce a 4.0 GPA grade card. As he practiced on his 80cc, he worked his tail off doing odd jobs to raise the money for a bigger bike, accessories and safety equipment. He is now competing in motocross.

His next goal is to learn freestyle riding, highly technical and requiring a lot more physical strength than his young body provides. He’s not complaining that he is too small. He is rising to that challenge and preparing. He knows his body is maturing and he sees that the timing is perfect. He is now working out at the gym to build muscle as his body continues to develop.

Perspective and Application

Too often we jump back into life too quickly, nothing gained, nothing changed. In this case, Hunter’s ride home through the sage brush hills was be an opportunity for him to reflect and reinforce his goals. My run along the river allowed me the time to reflect on Hunter’s influence and reflect and reinforce my own goals.

So I had to take a… a ‘nother road. It “made all the difference.”

— Every Encounter Builds Perspective —

Social Media and World Peace

man w a laptop.small

It is said that smokers are addicted to their habit. After all, there are almost a billion of them worldwide. Yet, smokers are vastly outnumbered by Facebook users. In the third quarter of 2015 Facebook hosted 1.55 billion monthly users. Are these Facebook users addicts? That number probably includes you. I know it includes me.

I hear about the devastating effects of smoking. The evidence is compelling that smoking harms the body in a number of ways. I don’t hear much about benefits from smoking.

I also hear about the negative effects of social media, such as inciting riot and hatred and taunting and bullying. I hear that it is limiting our abilities to interact in real social situations. And on the list goes. My experience on social media has been quite different from what I have “heard.”

 

New Graduates Slam Social Media

Last year I attended commencement exercises at a state university. I was politely listening when one graduate joked about the plague of social media taking over her life. Oh, she had wasted so much time on it!  I wondered what was she doing online to warrant her public confession. Was she was referring to gossip, or looking at those postings of cats with big eyes who act like humans?

Then I heard basically the same thing in two other speeches. I leaned over to my wife and said, “They sure are slamming Facebook.” They seemed to regret how they had allowed social media to rob them of their time. From the tone, you might have thought that their success in school was hanging by a thread. That seemed odd since one of the speakers was the valedictorian. I had to assume that the other speakers were not chosen to speak because they were at the bottom of the class. My mind wandered from the ceremony…

 

…I thought of a scene from the 2000 movie, Miss Congeniality. The character, Gracie Hart, was asked, “ What is the one most important thing our society needs?” The deeper sub-character gave her own honest answer, “…harsher punishments for parole violators”. Those words didn’t ring for the organizers or the spectators. The silent crowd had no idea what she had said or if she had actually said anything at all.  Right then she realized that they were programmed to hear specific canned rhetoric. She got on board and said, “World Peace.” Relieved, the crowd cheered and oohed and awed.

 

…As my mind momentarily returned to the graduation ceremonies, I continued to ponder over what might have made the speakers say that their time with social media and particularly Facebook was a waste. All appearances indicated that they were successful  in school. After all they were graduating, and they were chosen to speak at Commencement.

 

The speeches rambled on with occasional light applause. My thoughts on the topic of social media had me quite distracted me from anything meaningful that the speakers might have said.

 

Social Media: A Matter of Perspective

Having grown up in a world when color TV was still a bit of a luxury, I considered my experience with social media. I started my Internet experience with a browser called “Gopher”. There were no ISP’s. I connected via dial-up to a server in Italy because it was faster than any I could find locally. Options and resources have since exploded.

So, we are losing our social capacity and destroying our interpersonal skills due to social media. This type of rhetoric is built on the same attitudes that send us through the education system without the skills to think on our own. We just keep repeating what someone else has said, without really analyzing it ourselves. If you are feeling guilty about how you use social media, maybe this is an indicator of other things that may be out of balance in your life.

 

Social Media Expands My Reach

Since the advent of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram, and others, I have reconnected with friends from over five decades of my life. I somehow don’t find that limiting my social capacity. I am able to maintain contact at different levels with friends and acquaintances throughout the world. Childhood friends have magically appeared!

My “friends” on social media inspire me. When I see their accomplishments, meet their families, feel their expressions, and see their trials, my life is enriched. And it’s not so bad to see what amuses them, good for a laugh. When their humor doesn’t amuse me, I simply scroll past it. I personally don’t get off on FarmVille or other group games or ongoing sagas. But others do find value in that genre of entertainment and association. This may be a break from a stressful world, or a reprieve from physical isolation.

Back in “the day”, to keep in contact we had to write letters with a delay of three to seven days. If we lost our address book we were toast. Or we could call long-distance on the phone if we could remember the number or find where we last jotted it down. We had to plan for their time zone and guess when they would be home and not already speaking to someone else. Oh, and we had to pay long-distance fees; mine was anywhere from $25-$80 per month. The cost of calling overseas was prohibitive, up to $30/minute. It would have been impossible to maintain the closeness and number of contacts that we do today.

Consider this benefit. If I post that I am going to be in Dallas next week, I get replies from friends who I didn’t realize had relocated there and would love to get together while I’m in the area. To me, that is beautiful.

 

‘World Peace’

Maybe the fictitious characters of Miss Congeniality were unwittingly onto something with their chorus for “World Peace.” In my mind, it has indeed proven to be a facilitator to bring peace to the World.

Here is one example: Earlier this week I was devastated to learn that two friends were killed in a car crash. The only survivor, the driver, was released from the hospital within a couple of days. When I heard the news my mind had trouble accepting the new reality. I immediately jumped on Facebook and my heart filled with both love and sorrow. The gravity of the reality set in. I saw expressions of love and consolation posted on the pages of the deceased and the survivor. I also saw postings by innumerable friends and family members that I had never met. I even discovered that another close friend of mine is related to two of the victims. In a matter of minutes, then hours, an enhanced and expanded community emerged across the entire continent.

In the online obituary of one of the victims the family shares this revelation, “In these last few days, it has become clear that (he) touched more lives than we ever knew.” That beautiful tribute and consoling thought may not have come to light without social media.

The miracle of social media continued as the families of both victims went to gofundme.com for assistance with travel and funeral expenses. The requests were answered in mass, reaching their goals within the first day. In this case, and countless others, social media has proven to be a valuable extension of humanity, a source for peace and comfort in the World.

I hope that Mark Zuckerberg is impressed. I’m sure he is.

What is Your Calling? Is it Calling You Now?

“What a man can be he must be.” -Abraham Maslow

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Hope Amidst Inhumanity

On July 24, 1984 I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and of the State of California. As a new peace officer I was shocked to witness examples of “man’s inhumanity to man.”1 I was torn apart by the wanton disregard for the souls of individuals. I found some consolation in recognizing that the people I had to deal with were a small percentage of the total population. Certainly most people want to live in peace and will go out of their way to bless the lives of others. I still believe in and am inspired by the goodness and resilience that I see all around. Sadly, that does not mitigate the burdens of individuals who are in any kind of bondage. Each human has purposes to be discovered. Everyone should have a dream and find joy.

Since that first day in service I have sought for and prayed to find ways to make a difference and to offer hope where little or none existed.  Every act that offers even a glimmer of hope to someone opens the door, gives him the freedom to begin to change his world. One juvenile court official explained to me that offering any bit of hope or glimpse of freedom is like giving someone a few chips to get back in the game.

With so much suffering I have often wondered, what more can I do? Seeing children as victims of sex crimes is especially emotionally debilitating. I could not fathom becoming calloused and living beyond feeling. There is always something we can do. As long as I pray and watch for opportunities, they always present themselves. But, is my offering adequate? Can I listen for and pray for something greater to offer more freedom to more people?

 

Overcoming Bondage

In the dichotomy of opposites in life, where there is pain and suffering there is opportunity for good. God has given us the gift of healing when we learn to serve as he serves. If we recognize God’s influence we can rise to the highest levels even after experiencing the lowest lows. There is no greater joy than reaching out to free others from captivity of any kind. Another joy is to find your own way out of the captivity of the blind eye of prejudice, the exasperation of addiction, depression from defeat, or in trying to live within the bounds of a stifling society.

In the Americas, slavery pressed down on  the souls of millions of humans from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.  Through internal strife,  prayer and sacrifice, many heard a voice calling them to take great risks to provide freedom for all. Those with the courage to follow the promptings took action.

On December 1, 1862, one  month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation,  President Abraham Lincoln addressed Congress, saying,

“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.”

Can You Hear Your Calling?

There is plenty of need in the world. One of the great challenges in life today is how to listen to our own spirit, to discover our purpose, find our passion, and have the courage to take it on.

Too often, distractions and discouragement divert our attention. Our ears wax over as we hunker down to be what society has programmed us to be. Our vision also clouds over when we perceive failure to live up to our own expectations. It is so easy and convenient to slip into the routine of daily life, to conclude that it none of it matters after all. Sometimes we hear a disturbing voice from within saying “what might have been?” We can choose to drown out that voice, or take courage and listen to it. That thought can either motivate us to action or lead us to conclude that it’s too late, to give up. Though we may not always recognize it, it really is a matter of choice.

True, we can’t go back and change the past. Our experiences in life have brought each of us to the present moment. Of course most of us would “do it differently” next time. But in that “dream scenario”, each of us would end up being someone other than who we are today.

“You had to go through what you went through to get to where you are today.” –Wayne Dyer, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

If we internalize our burdens we lose sight of who we are and shut down our own voice. Processing our burdens, that is learning from them and moving forward with enhanced wisdom, we can enjoy where we are now and move forward with hope. If we wait until we are perfect to find joy, we will be perpetually disappointed. If we become mired in self-disappointment, guilt or shame, we end up trying to cover it all up and become stuck right where we are. Or worse, we become a stranger to ourselves, a stranger that we do not recognize.  

 

Searching for Meaning

When we accept God’s healing hand we move forward. We develop the courage to get to our core self. In that place we find purpose and meaning in life. Here hearts are softened. Hope is renewed. Fear is squashed. Freedom and joy triumph. We can hear our enabling voice from within; that voice gives us the power to reach out.

Viktor Frankl survived the lowest of lows while captive in concentration camps. Yet he found in life meaning beyond himself, making a difference where he could, day by day. Though he was physically captive, he chose how to live his life in his own realm of freedom. Through experiences he would never have chosen, he actually discovered success. He described success as moving beyond one’s self:  

“Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.

 

When a Deeper Success and Purpose Finds You

Timothy Ballard is the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, freeing children around the world from slavery. He was working his job, fulfilling his career goals. He was fighting terrorism. He was truly making a difference in the world. He was successful in his career. Yet another success awaited him.

In his work he saw the devastation around the world of child slavery through sex trafficking. It hit him to the core. His emotional pain brought him new vision. What could he do to overcome the pain that he felt for the victims of human trafficking?

He suddenly found himself “in the right place at the right time.” His path continues and is not easy. The emotional burdens are great. He chooses to listen to promptings and through faith to act on his impressions. From the first moment he heard this calling he knew the road would be difficult.

Tim is leading the way  for thousands of people who he refers to as “abolitionists”. They are discovering the same vision and are now supporting Operation Underground Railroad. Others are inspired to reach out in their own ways. In finding purpose in life, they are blessed with greater freedom, freedom to know who they are and how they can serve.

In his address to Congress, President Lincoln noted,

“In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free..”

Each child that is freed from bondage has the hope to move forward and find his own purpose in life, to find his own calling to serve.

Freedom is a gift. We can express our gratitude through serving.

What is your calling? Is it calling you now?


Operation Underground Railroad

Be inspired by this work. Learn how to become involved.

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Every encounter builds perspective. –Wayne Beck


 

1Robert Burns

Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge

Many and sharp the num’rous ills

Inwoven with our frame!

More pointed still we make ourselves

Regret, remorse, and shame!

And man, whose heav’n-erected face

The smiles of love adorn,–

Man’s inhumanity to man

Makes countless thousands mourn!

___________________________

You Are the Master of Your World

We can subsist in a prepackaged world. But, fulfillment only comes when we choose to live in the world that we create from our own spirit. In that context each of us is free to “Change the World.”

“To propose to a man that he should be someone else, that he should become someone else, is to propose to him that he should cease to be himself.” –Miguel de Unamuno, Tragic Sense of Life, translated by J.E. Crawford Flitch, Dover 1954, 2015.

“We need only decide who we want to be, and act upon it in order to see it become a reality. Our circumstances, our pasts, our social norms, our comparisons to others, and many other things will shape who we are if we let them. But, it does not need to be this way. Nor will it ever if we but choose to take control. WE define who we are and WE define who we will be.” –Conner Jones

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Who Should I Be?

Do I fit in? Should I fit in?

Each of us has chosen how and to what extent we are to be influenced by our experiences, circumstances, and fellow beings. Do you ever find yourself looking around and wondering how you measure up, if you are falling short? ..then deciding you want to do better, be something more or different:/

With these feelings, you read a book or an article or two on how to become better, how to be successful. I’ve been there, plugged in. I thought I wanted what was there that because I was told that’s what I wanted. “If you follow the prescribed formula, you will be successful.” Even with such reassurances I’ve often come up empty, feeling spent. I was not matching up to what was proposed.

At times I have been tempted to quickly revert back to just falling in line with the system. Have you ever heard these voices?

  • “Do this, do that. Don’t go outside the lines”
  • “Don’t go there; you’re crazy if you do.”
  • “Align yourself with the power curve, and you’ll be safe.”
  • “Joe-Nobody’ left and went his own direction. Look what a failure he is.”

Getting back in line with the system, you still feel empty, betrayed. So you reach beyond what is expected and push to really make a difference within your organization. You anticipate affirmation and praise for you efforts. This proactive approach will certainly make you stand out from the flock. Standing out from the flock is risky in an organization. It can bring praise, or it can bring rejection for crossing the lines. It’s a crapshoot; it can go either way. As the character Jonathan Livingston Seagull puts it, “They call you the devil or they call you god.”

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, MacMillan, 1970.

 

Inspiration that Leads to Anger

Sometimes, in the right state of mind, you know that you want to break from the mold. You begin to innovate, to make a difference, to activate the skills that are inside you. You begin to have success. Then, sometimes unexpectedly you are rejected by the system. You become angry at the system, anger that can work itself into bitterness. Bitterness does not “fix” the system. Nor does it even penalize anyone other than oneself. In an extreme example, I had the tragic experience of trying to comfort a wife who found her husband had taken his life when a project at work was rejected.

In reality, anger is a powerful emotion. It can be a warning sign that something needs to change, and that we ourselves are the element of that change. If allowed to fester, it can destroy us.

I have talked with people who have become so bitter that they have abandoned the system and chose to be homeless. I met one homeless man with a PhD who said that he could no longer tolerate the expectations laid upon him. In bitterness, many are further blinded to who they are.

Many more are drawn into other behaviors and lifestyles where nobody has any expectations of them. Rather than letting the anger heal into inspiration, they have lowered their own expectations to a point of total disillusionment. They go out of the system stuck in addiction, or hatefully attempting to destroy lives or other components of the system. They seek loneliness or rejection. They have given up on the system. Essentially have chosen to cease to exist. There is still hope, but it is so difficult to see.

 

Understanding Beyond Flight

I continue learning my vision and how to apply it to a life of fulfillment and service. I derive that vision from my inner spirit, my experiences, and my faith and inspiration in God. The answers are there, waiting to be uncovered. The things that bring joy are the contributions we make that align with who we really are. Ask these questions:

  • What things bring me joy,  in spite of what anyone tells me?
  • What kinds of contributions have I made that have blessed others and brought me peace?
  • What do I dream about when I am in my own world and feeling inner peace?
  • Can I really be happy fitting someone else’s mold?

Regarding the compliant members of his community who have no “self”–

  • “Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight – how to get from shore to food and back again.” —Bach
  • “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.” —Bach

Continuity

“A man can change greatly, almost completely even, but the change must take place within his continuity. Because for me, becoming other than I am, the breaking of the unity and continuity of my life, is to cease to be who I am –that is to say it is simply to cease to be.” –Unamuno.


 

Every encounter builds perspective. –Wayne Beck


 

“I Find it Easy Not to be a Pessimist”

A Morning Hike, South Fork

My granddaughter Evelyn stopped on the trail. She turned around swinging her Mardi Gras beads and blurted out in rapid fire, “I find it easy not to be a pessimist.” I was excited to tell other family members what she said. They said I was crazy; “That’s not what she said!”sm.Optimist

 

Even if I got the words wrong, the feelings were right. This was a learning moment for me. What can a child teach me?

 

Gratitude

    • A World of Wonder: A balance of sun and shade, beautiful views, little streams and wooden bridges. Plus flying insects, deer droppings and dust that catches the sunlight when you stomp your feet, lots of room to roam and explore.

 

    • Health and Vigor: Breathing in the clear air, the joy of running and playing, the quick recovery from a minor scrape.

 

    • Lucky Clothes, free of the opinions and contamination of society: Mardi Gras beads for a hike! Ingenious.

 

    • Family, Safety and Belonging: Parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.

 

    • Love: No gossip or hatred. Quick recovery from minor complaints.

 

The Optimist

Evelyn had every reason not to be a pessimist. I started calling her “the Optimist”. She liked the sound of the name so much that she asked her mom what it meant. When she got her answer she smiled in approval.sm.Family Big Springs Meadow