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    Clap Your Hands

    I like it when life throws me a little serendipity.

    For example.

    The other day at work, someone was speaking to a group of us and he told the story about when someone first broke the four-minute mile.  His point wasn't about how amazing this was, although it certainly was.  He then shared that, after that milestone was broken, 37 people broke a four-minute mile mark in the year afterward.  (I don't know if this is true, but let's just go with it.)  His point was that once people have a psychological limitation or barrier lifted, then success can come more easily.  It's about believing that you can do it.

    Then last night, I saw a video on Facebook; a true story (so it seems) of a man who had been told that he would never walk unassisted again.  Well, sure enough, he went a number of years relying on crutches and other people.  And then he challenged that statement; he decided that he would walk unassisted again, or at least he'd try.  He put in a lot of hard work, but now walks - and runs! - unassisted.

    I like the dual message to me this week that it's important to focus on what you can accomplish and want to accomplish rather than on what limitations others believe there to be.


    A friend of mine started using an app called Happier; the idea is that you take a picture of a moment that makes you happy.  The goal is to do this three times a day, if not more, consistently.  And it should help you to focus on happier moments.

    Then.  Also at work, someone referred to a guy I had never heard of before named Shawn Achor.  I took down his name because he sounded really interesting and thought I might want to check out his books.

    Then.  A friend of mine and I started talking about some new age type of things, including radical acceptance and positive psychology.  It was a nice conversation.

    Then.  I look up Shawn Achor and came across this video...

    It's just over 12 minutes long, and it's worth every second.  Go watch it now.  No, really.  Go.  I'll wait.


    See?  Wasn't that totally worth it?  FASCINATING.  And I went to this website he's affiliated with where they talk about happiness and offer links to things that help you share happy moments!!!  It all comes full circle.

    What's my point.  I don't know. happy, and dare yourself to live in ways you thought you couldn't but have always wanted to.  Yeah.  That's my point.



    It seems only appropriate that I'd be thinking about independence today.  Before I get to my main point, though, I'd like to detour off to comment on how weird the English language is.

    There are so many different ways to take a word and make it into its opposite!  For instance...

    IN: dependence, independence; considerate, inconsiderate

    IM: moral, immoral; patient, impatient

    UN: happy, unhappy; connected, unconnected

    DIS: like, dislike; content, discontent

    AB: normal, abnormal

    A: typical, atypical; sexual, asexual

    And I'm sure that there are more.  WTF, English???

    Anyway.  Back to independence.  A bunch of years ago, the colonists were all like, "Hey, stop taxing us, we don't like you anymore.  You were great for us for a while, but we don't need you anymore."  Or something like that.  (Clearly, I was not a history major.)  So they decided to fight a war and create their own country.

    How can we apply this to our lives today?  Well, we could try to overthrow our own government, but I was thinking of something a tad more realistic, perhaps.  There was a system of government and rules that were very helpful but that the colonies outgrew.  It was no longer useful, so they shed them and developed new ones.

    This is what I need to do - we all need to do - with ourselves from time to time.  What habits, what thought patterns, what ways of acting do we still have that no longer serve us?  What defense mechanisms do we have that we needed at one time, but that we can now let go of?  And how can we let go of them, transform them, without it being a battle?  And with what should we replace them?

    Perhaps I have historically pushed people away if there was a chance that a relationship might succeed.  (Clearly this is hypothetical, I would never do this...he types sarcastically.)  Maybe there were valid reasons for me to have done this at one point.  But now, let's believe that I've grown and can let go of this.  Does it mean that I should get married to the first person who expresses an interest in me?  Clearly not.  But maybe it means that I need to look at, and then let go of, my fear.  Maybe it means that I can accept that opening myself up doesn't have to lead to pain.  Or if it does, that I'll get through it.

    Maybe.  As an example.

    Wouldn't it be great if we all dedicated one day every year thinking about this?  Although, really, we should probably do it much more often than that...but we have to start somewhere.  Well, I have to start somewhere.  And maybe I'll start today.


    Spot On

    Well, I've been thinking about running away and starting over somewhere new.  Because, you know, that way all of my problems get left behind, right?

    Anyway.  I went to Find Your Spot and took their quiz; they show you a list of places where they recommend you should live, based on how you answer the questions.  You can then click on the place and they actually provide a good amount of detail for each location.

    According to them, these are my top six places (out of the 24 they gave me):

    1. Salisbury, MD

    2. Nantucket, MA

    3. Middlebury, VT

    4. Berkeley Springs, WV

    5. Charleston, WV

    6. Elkins, WV

    Interesting.  I would love to live in Nantucket, except I could never afford it.  And three of the top six in West Virginia...That surprised me.


    It's Been A While

    Wow - it's been over a month since I've written anything here.  Yikes.

    Well, June pretty much sucked in terms of work and, unfortunately, that affected my whole month.  Being involved in this soul-sucking implementation that was worse than I thought it was going to be really took a lot out of me.  A lot.  Luckily for me, I had scheduled a trip to California for a long weekend months ago, and it came at a perfect time, just when I needed it.  The weather, the activies, the outdoors, and really, the friends.

    I also had my 20-year (20 years!!!) college reunion this month, and I had such a great and amazing weekend there.  Saint Mary's really does hold such a special place in my heart...Things weren't perfect for me while I was there, but so many amazing foundations in my life were built while I was there.

    The picture I'm including here is from my trip to California - although it's not too different from a picture one could take at Saint Mary's.

    But California - such a great time.  And one experience in particular really impacted me.  We went on a walking food tour of some places in East LA, and one of the places we went to was Homegirl Cafe.  Wow.  It's related to Homeboy Industries, which was started by a Jesuit minister who wanted to help gang members have other options in their lives than just being in a gang.  So he (and I'm sure a lot of other people) developed Homeboy Industries, where these men could learn jobs and skills.  And then they also, at some point, started offering services like counseling and free tattoo removal - especially important if someone has gang-related tattoos.

    So Homegirl Cafe is similar, but for women.  We had some very yummy coffee there, and this woman who works there told her story, how she was a meth addict for over fifteen years, ended up committing a crime, spent time in jail, was released and really needed to start over.  Which, of course, is never that easy.  I am not doing her story any justice AT ALL.  The honesty she shared - how she hit bottom, how she turned to others and her higher power for help, how she is so proud of what she is accomplishing...It made me start to cry right there in the cafe.  In part because of how amazing a story it is, but in part because it was a reminder to me that there are still people out there who are helping others.  That the entire human population isn't filled with dicks and assholes.  It was pretty darn amazing.

    Then I came back to work on Tuesday of this past week to the announcement of a restructuring...which is carrying with it some rather painful impacts.  Not a good week at work, once again.

    But - tomorrow is July.  A new month...and even though it's all psychological - the earth doesn't know one month from the other, and neither does the universe - and nor do they care - so even though it's all psychological, I will be happy to bring in a new month.  And I will hope that it is better than the last one.



    Because some emails just need to be shared.  This came from a colleague and friend based in Indiana, who sent a few of us here in the office some delicious bacon.  Enjoy.

    From: Phil 
    Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:42 PM
    To: Jason; Alexandria; Donald; Jeffrey; Phillip; Timothy; Edward; Janean 
    Cc: Phil 
    Subject: Bacon

    To all who have received……

    For you rookies this is no normal bacon. Its strong, smoky and salty. You need to NOT overcook it…. In fact the directions suggest under cooking it…. Follow the directions and “use the force Luke”. Allen Benton is the yoda of pig.

    My suggestion……..this bacon is very intimidating on its own.  If you love a BLT as much as I do, make one with it. But make sure you use a good tomato and crisp iceberg lettuce…. And cut a chunk of the wedge into one piece , don’t pull it apart. And lots of mayo. And Brownberry makes Healthnut bread. Toast it,,, in fact over toast it till its crunchy.  I may not be the smartest guy but in my next life I’ll make BLT’s for a living….I’ve mastered them. Just over toast the bread (and use Brownberry healthnut) and don’t overcook the bacon. The rest is common sense.

    Have fun. Be careful. Look both ways before crossing the street.