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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dale Carnegie

Many of us are afraid to take a risk, to try something new.  We keep waiting for the right time.  Unfortunately, there is never going to be a right time.  When we stop risking, we start dying one day at a time.  The more safe we feel the less risk we take.  Security and safety are illusions of the mind.  We are never 100% safe.  I read a story about a woman who was driving on a country road and was killed by tree that fell and hit her car.  Just being alive is a risk. 

Taking a risk does not mean that you have to throw caution to the wind and risk everything.  Planned risk is best.  How much are you willing to sacrifice?  What are you willing to lose?  Be ready with a plan B if plan A fails.  Think ahead.  I have seen people quit their jobs without having a new job in hand.  They are putting themselves and others at serious risk.  A better alternative would be to job hunt while employed.  Take the leap but have a safety net.  High wire walkers without a safety net risk death.

One of the biggest risks that I took in my career was when I made the leap into marketing and sales without any prior training or experience.  The risk could have cost me my job and my marriage, but fortunately, I passed the test.

Every time I submit my writing to an editor I am taking a risk — I am facing rejection.  Writing this blog is a risk because people may not read it.  Showing my art in an art show is a risk because people may criticize.

Begin with small risks that won't cause too much pain.  You have to know what you are willing to lose.  Many years ago when I visited Las Vegas, I discovered how much money I was willing to risk — $5.00.  I played the nickel slot machines and was happy to sit there for 3 or 4 hours both winning and losing.  I tried my hand at poker once and lost $20 in ten minutes and I quit.  I was not willing to lose my hard earned money.

Now, some of you may be laughing.  I am not a gambler.  I know when to walk away.  I know when to fold the cards.  Yet, I have taken major risks in my thinking.  I have questioned and challenged everything I have been taught.  I don't need hand-me down answers to the eternal questions we all ask.

What kind of risk are you comfortable with?  What are you willing to sacrifice?  Do you have a safety net?  Or do you throw caution to the wind and hope for the best?    Is there a risk that you should be taking but are not?  Take the risk.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bernie Siegel

Nature has a way of renewing itself quickly and swiftly. In the late 1960's Lake Erie, which is up the road from where I live, was declared dead. Today it is alive, although it is facing new challenges. If you have ever seen how quickly a forest renews itself after a fire, you will understand the meaning of this quote. In fact, I believe nature uses adversity has a way of cleansing itself from rot and then creating new opportunities. One simply has to observe the seasons to understand how nature renews itself.

And since we are a part of nature, we also have this gift. When adversity strikes, we can seize the opportunity and renew ourselves as needed.  We can change course and discover new paths to follow.  Each job change in my career has opened new doors for me.  One path has led to another. Adversity has created opportunity to change and grow.  Being fired from a job opened new doors.  Each failure was a new beginning.

Learn to let go of your old tired habits and plant new ones.  Are you stuck in a job you don't like? Seek a new one.  Are you tired of painting the same subjects over and over?  Find new subjects.  Step outside your comfort zone.  Are you tired of writing the same storyline over and over?  Expand you subject matter.  Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut.  We need to renew ourselves.  We need to let go of where we are so we can find our way to where we want to be.

Nature teaches to importance of rejuvenation and revitalization.  What are you doing to keep your art fresh?  Are you challenging yourself to write new books about subjects you have no experience with?  What are you doing to keep from becoming bored with what you do?  Develop habits that will keep you revitalized.  Renew your spirit with hope for new beginnings.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Alice Mackenzie Swaim

Strength often comes from unexpected places.  We sometimes misjudge people when we only look at the outside.  Inside is what counts.  Have you ever met someone who you liked instantly only to find out he was not the person you thought he was?  Have you ever met a person who you thought was rude and uncaring only to discover she was very warm and giving?

We can easily look at large oak trees and see how strong they are.  They stand tall and their root system goes deep within the earth.  Many live to be 200 years old.  Some have lived over a thousand years.  They weather many storms.  And we can not deny that it does take courage to survive the hostile storms of time.  

Have you ever looked into the face of an old person with pity and hope never to be like her? Or have you wondered about the storms she has weathered and the courage it took to live the hard life she led?  We often misjudge the courage buried within the hearts of the people we meet.

Yet, it is the flower in spring that survives a late snow that draws our attention.  By nature, it is fragile and its life is short.  Though, it has a rare courage that cannot be denied — to hold its petals high in the face of unwanted cold.  We have all met that child who faces death with a courage we fail to see within ourselves.

As artists, writers and storytellers, we must look deep inside and see the truth beneath the surface.  We must find the courage to tell our story in words and images.  Do you have the courage found within the flower poking through the snow?  Are you as strong as the oak tree standing in your backyard?  Are you able to look truth in the face and share the pain you have felt?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Heart's Code — A Book Review

The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart EnergyThe Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy by Paul Pearsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book is like preparing to run a marathon.  Not because it is long.  It is only 228 pages.  Not because the writing is poor.  It is well written.  This book takes patience and time to read because each chapter, each paragraph and each sentence is packed full of content that needs to be absorbed and understood.  The first time I attempted to read this book, I set it aside after two chapters.  This time I ran the entire race and finished the book.
The essence of the book is best described by the subtitle:  Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy. Paul Pearsall's key message is that the heart communicates through energy and he backs it up with scientific evidence.  The name he gives this energy is cardio-energetics.
Much of Pearsall's research has been done with heart transplant patients.  He tells a story early on about an eight year old girl who received the heart of a ten year old girl who had been murdered.  The young girl dreamed of the man who had murdered the girl and based on her description, the police were able to find him and convict him of murder.  The heart, Pearsall teaches, has the ability to remember.  He documents throughout the book many stories of heart transplant patients who remembered things from their donor that they should never have known.  Some even change their behavior like the foods they liked.
One of the powerful experiments that he shares occurred in 1993 under the direction of the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command.  The scientists scraped white blood cells from the mouth of a volunteer and placed them in a test tube with a probe from a polygraph detector.  The volunteer was placed in a room and shown violent scenes.  The test tube was placed in another room.  The polygraph detected extreme excitation  in the cells in the test tube even though they were down the hall.  Later experiments documented the same result even when the separation was 50 miles.  Pearsall says, "The donated cells remained energetically and nonlocally connected with their donor and seemed to 'remember' where they came from."
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in spirituality, energy work and the scientific basis for the power within the heart.  The heart is more than a pump that is at the beck and call of the brain.  The heart has the power to heal and a memory distinct from the brain.  The heart communicates at a much deeper level than mere words with the hearts it comes in contact with.  People in business today talk about leaders with emotional intelligence.  This book provides some of the scientific support for the importance of emotion and the heart.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 10, 2015

Henry Miller

I have found that one of the benefits of traveling is the opportunity to see the world through new eyes — to realize that there is more to life then the day-to-day petty challenges that I face.  Too often we become so involved in chopping down a tree that we fail to see that the world is filled with more trees than those on the tiny acre which we occupy.

Wandering the streets of new towns and cities and encountering new people changes our perspective of the world and our place within it.  We often realize that our problems and challenges are small and insignificant compared to those of other people.  We learn to see the world differently and through new eyes.

I have learned that taking the time to step away from my day-to-day challenges reduces the stress in my life and clears my head of the issues and problems that normally occupy center stage.

I discovered this my sophomore year in college.  My freshman year had been filled with concern about the problems and challenges facing the American people.  War was killing the youth of our nation as well as the men, women and children of Vietnam.  Riots were burning the hearts of our cities.  Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.  Young people were beaten in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic convention.  And I considered dropping out of school.

In September of 1968, I boarded a plane for Kingston, Jamaica with twenty other college students.  We spent 13 weeks immersed in the culture and history of the country as part of a Study-Service term abroad offered by our small church college.  We studied the Rastafarian movement, Spanish and British imperialism, banana plantations and Jamaican literature.  We spent seven weeks in a service project.

We did not read American newspapers or listen to American newscasts.  The problems in America faded slowly away.  The problems Jamaicans faced had less to do with race and more to do with economics.  War was not on the daily news.  Jamaicans were proud of their recent independence from Great Britain and believed they had a bright future.  The pace of life slowed and the stress of being a student in the turbulent sixties in America slowly faded away.  I began to see the world through new eyes.  

When I returned to the United States in December, the election was over and Nixon had won.  America still faced the same problems and challenges that it had when I left.  The world had not grown any better.  But I had changed.  I was still concerned about the issues, but I was calmer and understood that change took time.  I could not change the world, but I could change myself.  By stepping away, I had come to see the world differently.  I had come to see my place in the world with new eyes.

About Henry Miller
Henry Miller was born to German Lutheran parents in New York city in 1891.  He wrote several novels including Tropic of Cancer,  Tropic of Capricorn and Sexus.  He also painted 2,000 watercolors and played the piano.  He was married five times and died in 1980.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zig Ziglar

Note to Reader:
(This blog post marks the fifth anniversary of my blog, Monday Morning Motivation.  I wrote my first post on August 7, 2010.  The first two years I posted daily.  The last three years I have posted weekly.  I have received over a quarter of a million page views during these five years.  So, thanks to everyone who has stopped by.)

I was 35 years old when I first heard about the importance of goal-setting in achieving one's dreams. In college I had dreamed of being a writer but at 35 was far from my dream. I had only written about 200 poems in 15 years. I set a goal to write a poem a day for a year. That year I wrote over 400 poems.

Now, after more than 30 years of setting goals and writing thousands of poems, I have come to understand what Ziglar means in this quote.  The person I have become through the process of struggling to achieve my goals is more important than whether I did or did not achieve my goals.  The journey, as others have said, is more important than the destination.

So, how has achieving my goals made me a better person, a better writer?  Has my journey been more important then my destination?  

My creative journey has given me a greater appreciation for the struggle of all creative individuals.  I understand what it means to be an artist or a writer.  I am less willing to criticize the creative works of others.  Yes, some of us may be more skilled than others, but we all have creative forces running through our veins.  I know what it means to put pen to paper or paint brush to canvas and not find an audience for my work.

I have a greater appreciation of the creative energy that drives my being.  If I don't write or draw, I become melancholy.  I need to expend my creative energy.  The more I create the happier I become.  Failure to create leaves me lifeless, empty.

I have gained the ability to create anywhere and anytime.  I can write a poem while sitting in a mall while my wife shops.  I can write in church while the minister is preaching.  I can doodle while sitting in a business meeting.  I can take a walk at 6 a.m. and compose a poem.  Creating works of art has for me become a way of life, not a destination.

And most importantly, through my creativity I have found spiritual healing and understanding.  As a teenager, I was troubled by the hypocrisy of church members.  Writing has helped me see beyond the hypocrisy and to gain an understanding of the hearts of others.  I am a better person for the time I have spent creating.

Have you set goals for your creative journey?  Have you come to understand that the journey is more important than the destination?

About Zig Ziglar
1926 - 2012
Hilary Hinton Ziglar was the tenth of twelve children born to John Silas Ziglar and Lila Wescott Ziglar.  When Ziglar was five, his family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi where he spent most of his early childhood.  His father and sister died a year later.  Ziglar served in the United States Navy during World War II.  He married his wife, Jean, in 1946.

Zig Ziglar began his career as a salesman and eventually moved into motivational speaking. He wrote and published more than a dozen books including See you at the Top, Secrets of Closing the Sale and Confessions of a Happy Christian.