Life Success

Where have I been?

Lawson gives a big grin to his cousin Jillian.

 

Well, I’ve been away because I was hesitant to write about the things going on in our lives.  I got clearance from “the boss” and so here goes nothing.

Back in November, Michelle got laid off.  When she got laid off, her company car went away as well.  Well thank you very much, cut the income and slap us with a huge unplanned expense at the same time.  Ouch.   We managed.  She got a good used car that is reliable, safe, and fuel-efficient.

Let me go back a little bit in time. (picture Wayne’s World doodly doo motion here)  Back in August, we moved to a new house.  Then in September, we got Lawson. Both of those were rather significant expenditures.  No need to talk numbers, but suffice it to say they were both budget busters.  So, to continue painting the picture….we had two mortgages when Michelle got laid off.  Ouch.

But wait, there’s more!  In December, Marvin, Michelle’s dad began having a serious medical concern.  I don’t have clearance to write about all the details, but suffice it to say it was serious enough to require hospitalization, and at present he is still in the hospital.  (though that may change soon)

Enough with the negative stuff, now for the positive.  As a result of some personal growth training I went through in our days back in Cincinnati, I have learned to try to always identify the opportunity in any given situation, no matter how challenging.  (yes Gator, I  paid attention)  The biggest and most significant positive is the fact that I now am the proud parent of two sons!  Lawson is growing like a weed.  He is in 6-9 month clothes (at 4 months old)  with the sleeves and pant legs rolled up.  He is happy and healthy, and so is Logan.

Logan is almost completely potty trained.  We have had a couple of accidents, but by and large that one can be checked off the to do list.

We also found a renter for the old house.  It was a family whose own home had burned just before Christmas.  They had a need for a 4 bedroom home to rent for a relatively short period of time, and we needed just that.  We gave them our old dining room furniture since theirs was ruined.  That felt pretty good.

Work has been a positive for me as well.  Sometimes hard work does pay off.  I’ve been recognized for what I know and can do, and while I am not at liberty to give specifics, suffice it to say that good things are in the works.

I am grateful to have good friends who are supportive and caring.  In fact, I read something interesting today.  Psychologists have come up with a method to measure happiness.  (Don’t ask how, I have no idea)  In their findings, they determined that a $10,000 raise in pay, on average, raised a person’s happiness by 2%.  A good and trusted friend raised it by 9%.  Also, there was only a very slight difference in the happiness levels of people who were millionaires over those of us who are everyday Joe’s.   It is an interesting article, and here is the link if you care to read it yourself.  One other point the article made was that people who display an attitude of gratitude are measurably happier.

Sure, times are tough for our little family at the moment, but I believe the reason for all of this, while not clear at the moment, is all part of God’s plan, and will have an outcome more positive than I can conceive.  In the meantime, we are paying our bills, looking for opportunities, and being grateful for what we have.

I’d like to request that you please keep Marvin in your prayers.

Thanks for reading.

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Categories: Adoption, Happiness, Life Success, Self improvement | 2 Comments

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day and came to the conclusion that the process of committing your thoughts to a more permanent media than mere mental exercise has an effect that is surprising.  My personal opinion is that it forces us to slow down and be more considered about what we are wanting to say and just what exactly is going on in our head.  I’ve written blog posts that have great emotion behind them, and I’ve written posts that are merely the product of my twisted sense of humor.  One thing I have learned is that no matter what the inspiration for writing was at the beginning, my thoughts almost unfailingly take me someplace I didn’t anticipate as my destination when I started to write.

The same friend I mentioned above is considering a change of direction in life that feels like leaping off a cliff.  I have been in positions like that before and can empathize. (there was my “aha moment” just now…I know where this post is going finally)  I’ve written about it before, and I’ll likely write about it again, but when I went through Life Success Seminars’ program, one thing I learned that keeps coming back to me is to be aware and not to let my life’s direction be ruled by fear.  A life ruled by fear is a life of regret. I’m not advocating we all go out and pursue a career in modeling or something equally silly (modeling would be ridiculous for me, maybe not for you), but I am saying that we as human beings are at our best when we push ourselves beyond the confines of our comfort zone.  Nothing new, exciting, or life changing happens if we are always comfortable.  For some, comfortable is a goal in and of itself.  I do not fault them.  For me, I need something more challenging.  Parenthood was one of those moments for me.  I took that leap and have not regretted it for a single second. 

Pause for a moment, and reflect on what things have been rattling around in your head that you’ve considered doing but haven’t because of fear; fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of stepping outside your comfort zone.  Maybe it is something as simple as volunteering for a good cause? Maybe you’ve always wanted to play guitar?  Maybe you have the idea for the next great novel gathering dust in an ignored corner of your mind?  The world isn’t changed by extraordinary people necessarily, it is changed by those who show up and give it a shot.  There was a day when your present job was new and unfamiliar.  There was a day when the way you live now was a leap into the unknown.   You survived.  You’ve done it at least once already.  What is keeping you from doing it again?  Maybe you should write a few things down, make them more real and take a step toward making your life just a little bit more rich.  Go ahead, you can do it.

Categories: Adoption, Happiness, Life Success, Parenting, Self improvement | 1 Comment

Old friends

One of the things that I have learned with age and experience is that you cannot put a price on the value of a good friend.   Both Michelle and I participated in a process that helped us to discover the things in life that are important to us.  We each realized that a quality friendship with a person whom you trust is something that enriches your life and makes life just a little bit better.   Michelle has renewed friendships she had let lie fallow for many years (hey Kim) and could not believe just how much she missed that person.  I have also been in the process of renewing some friendships, and had a great experience tonight along those lines.

Back in college I had a friend who, as most women are, was more in touch with who she was at the time than I.  To make a long and personal story short, I blew that friendship some 20+ years ago.  I’m sure most of you out there can think of a person from your past who was a friend at one time and whose presence you miss.   Well, I missed the long conversations I used to have with Claudia.   Doing one of those slightly creepy things you can now do given the pervasiveness of Google is search for people.  It isn’t as easy to find women given the cultural habit of changing the last name when they marry.  Fortunately for me, Claudia was still using the same last name, and I found her because she hosts a radio show on a jazz station in San Diego.  (http://www.jazz88.org)  {she hosts the evening drive time show from 5-7 California time….you should listen online}  I have emailed her a few times, and she had graciously allowed me to clear the slate of the past.  Anyway, I was listening to her show today and she announced that the third caller would win tickets to a holiday play.  I called.  I was the right caller.  The fun of shocking her by telling her who I was was worth it alone, but reconnecting by phone was truly fulfilling.

Why have I bothered to relay this long winded story that has no bearing on your life?  If someone popped to mind when I told you about my situation, then you too have an opportunity to renew an old friendship.   It is the holiday season, what better time to find an old friend?

Thanks Claudia for your friendship.  And thank you dear reader for listening to another of my tangents.

Categories: Happiness, Life Success, Self improvement | 2 Comments

Yesterday’s meeting with the agency.

Well, I had my first solo meeting with our social worker/adoption agency representative.  I was nervous about it going in, because I just wasn’t sure what to expect.  In hindsight it was a very pleasant, almost therapeutic conversation.  Sometimes you just come across people who are easy to talk to, and Penny is one of those people.  I felt good about the whole thing when it was time to conclude.  It did remind me of a couple of things I had learned on my own journey of self improvement, and I found another blog where someone had detailed something that was key to my personal growth.  I thought I’d share it with you in the hope that it benefits you as well.  I find that when I lose focus on these things I inevitably introduce stress and conflict into my life.

I found this on a blog I subscribe to called “Zen Habits”.  (http://zenhabits.net/2008/03/twelve-keys-of-emotional-intelligence/)

So, how does one go about creating a greater sense of emotional intelligence? In this post, I will outline the twelve aspects involved and offer brief descriptions of each:

  1. Awareness. Recognizing individual emotions as they occur, understanding why they occur, and understanding the effects (both good and bad) they have on you.
  2. Control. Resisting impulses and urges (delaying gratification), remaining calm even as chaos ensues, and always thinking clearly when those around you can’t.
  3. Assessment. Knowing strengths and weaknesses, learning from mistakes, and constantly striving to build on what you have in an attempt to make yourself better.
  4. Vision. Creating a sense of direction in your life, having the foresight to anticipate problems/needs before they arise, and paying attention to the details.
  5. Creativity. Thinking outside the box, developing a tolerance for ambiguity, and maintaining an openness to change.
  6. Innovation. Seeking out unconventional solutions to problems, keeping an open mind to novelty in the world, and applying creativity in practical ways.
  7. Ambition. Setting tough but attainable goals, constantly raising the bar in pursuit of excellence, and feeding the need for achievement whenever you can.
  8. Initiative. Taking the first step when opportunity arises, never sitting back because it’s not in your “job description”, and bending the rules (occasionally) when it comes to making progress.
  9. Conscientiousness. Accepting responsibility for personal performance, adopting a focused approach in your work, and understanding that nobody else is to blame for your shortcomings.
  10. Adaptability. Admitting when you’ve failed, remaining flexible in the face of obstacles, and never being too stubborn to change.
  11. Independence. Living with an unshakable sense of who you are, making your own decisions in the face of peer pressure, and acting despite tremendous risk and doubt.
  12. Optimism. Understanding we all make mistakes, choosing to persist no matter how many times you’ve failed, and always remaining hopeful that success is just around the corner.
Categories: Adoption, Happiness, Life Success, Self improvement | Leave a comment

Change your mind and change the direction of your life.

As an individual I have gone through some rather dramatic changes in the past couple of years. I am a much happier person with significantly less stress in my life as a result of the changes I’ve made. When you distill it down to the basics, making life altering changes simply starts by changing your mind. A friend of mine shared his personal philosophy with me, and I heard it repeated enough, and agree with it to the point I thought it worthwhile to share with all of you. The philosophy can be summed up in a single phrase: “Intentions equals results.” On the surface it is not very profound, or so it seems.

Stop and consider for a moment the decisions we make every day, the dull, routine things we do without thinking about it. If you’ve made a decision to be a Christian (taking into account different people define that label differently) when you drive to work in the morning does your behavior on the road reflect your personal commitment? If your intention is to have your actions reflect Christianity, shouldn’t it?

That portion of the philosophy is fairly self evident. Here is the part that isn’t quite so intuitive, it works in reverse. If you didn’t keep your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, then your intention wasn’t really to lose weight. You can change that direction by changing your mind and acting in accordance with your stated intention. It becomes more interesting when you examine your life closely with that phrase in mind. Maybe last night you didn’t feel like being the one to put the kids to bed, and so you sat on the couch watching TV, all the while realizing that because of your inaction, your spouse would have to do so. So what was your intention in that situation? Most would write it off as, “I was just tired and had a hard day at work” or something equally banal. So zoom out on your perspective a bit, do you sit on the couch and let someone else do it in other areas as well? If so, what does that mean about your true intention? What adjective would best describe how you are living your life? Is that who you want to be?

The beauty of this philosophy is that it becomes its own reward in a way. One of my intentions as an individual is to be a good friend to those whose friendship I value. I’ve had people tell me (since I began living by this idea) that they have never had a friend like me. Call it the “Golden Corollary” if you like, because it does resemble the Golden Rule in some ways. If a friend asks for my help, my answer is always yes…..Always. I may have to introduce time restrictions because of other things I’ve promised to do, but I’ll still answer yes, and more importantly, I MEAN yes. Another thing that I consciously decided to change about myself is that when I give my word to someone that I will do something, it will get done, no matter what. Michelle helped me to realize that it was a regular thing for me to say, “Sure honey, I’ll take care of that” especially while I was at work, and then completely forget that I had committed to doing something. Let’s apply my previously described technique of “zooming out” on that example. Because over the course of time I had not kept my promises to Michelle, it undermined trust in our relationship. Because she couldn’t count on me to keep my word she had less reason and less desire to communicate with me. As anyone who is married knows, once communication is compromised you’ve already started to fail.

When I finally realized how my actions had caused the most important person in my life to see me in a way that was not at all what I consciously wanted, I began to examine my intentions. I had thought my intention was to be a good husband, a good provider and a good employee. I had failed utterly on two of the three. I had a good job and made good money, but “providing” is more than just a paycheck. No marriage can survive without the emotional investment of both parties. That aspect I had failed to provide, so I failed on the good husband aspect as well. It was certainly a wakeup call for me.

I attended a seminar that helped me to learn how to refocus my efforts to achieve my intended goals. I cannot say enough good things about the people and the education I received at Life Success Seminars. Thank you Mike Monahan and company! (http://www.lifesuccessseminars.com) I went through the Basic seminar as well as IPI. They changed my life profoundly.

It has taken time and effort on my part to become the man I am today. I’m not a finished product, and I still have my off days. But, my wife knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that I love her and would do anything for her. She also knows that when I say I will do something I will do it, period.  My friends know that I am a man of my word and that all they need to do is ask and if it is within my power to accomplish for them, I will do it. Michelle knows I will always be honest with her, and in return I expect the same. These dramatic changes all started when I changed my mind. I chose to live a life where the results are a product of my intentions, and I am proud of both my intentions and the results.

Change your mind and change the direction of your life.

Categories: Life Success, Self improvement | Leave a comment

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