“It matters not as much where you have been
or what happened to you when
but rather more so where you are now
and where you are going from here.”
~ Bryan Hayes
There is a common theme that I hear from people. I hear either 1) I am overwhelmed, or 2) I want to be more productive and do more. Both can cause a lot of anxiety and stress as well as frustration. There are though ways that you can alleviate that anxiety by changing the process.
For example, right now I am following my own advice by changing my own process. As a writer, I found that the entire method was taking up a lot of time. What were my procedures? They were pretty standard.
First, I would sit down in front of the keyboard and start putting my thoughts down by typing it into a document. What involved the most time was the actual typing but also thinking about what I was going to type. As such, I wanted to find a way to increase my productivity while also alleviate my feeling of being overwhelmed and not having enough time in the day to write as much as I would like.
There was another frustration that I had, and I have a feeling I am not alone in this. I may have an “ah ha” moment, with what I think is a brilliant idea, but I am not in front of a computer or a piece of paper to write out my thoughts. What I do have around me almost exclusively is my cell phone.
I started to realize that the phone can be a very powerful tool to assist me with my writing. It is exactly what I am doing right now, and I will explain to you the procedures that I am using. All that is required is a smart phone and a voice.
The first step I take is to open up an email on my phone and then begin composing a message. I will be sending the email to myself, so I put my own email address in the “To:” line, and typically leave the subject line blank because I will know recognize the email upon receipt. From there, I click on my voice recognition software. I find that Google Now (Android app that is similar to Apple’s version of Siri) works really well. Then, I simply start dictating my writing into the phone. What would take an hour to type now takes me 5 minutes to dictate.
What I really enjoy about this new method is that I can in essense write anywhere. If I am walking, I can be writing an article or a story. The same for any place that inspiration may hit me.
There is also a piece of mind associated with this, because so many times in the past I may have had a great idea but I ended up forgetting it later. I did not have a means to transcribe what I was thinking onto either paper or a computer. Now, I am able to capture those thoughts more readily. In the process, I am more productive.
And, I hope this can help you be more productive too.
Happy writing, my friends!
While driving on the interstate I felt something on my left hand. Looking down, I realized that something was crawling around. Luckily, I am not a jumpy person or I would have most certainly found myself in a crash with my car in the ditch. Instead, I shook my hand trying to get it off of me. It did not budge.
Almost as quickly as I had tried to get it off, I felt guilty for doing so. There was no reason for me to harm him (or her). He was causing me no harm, so why should I?
There was nothing to be afraid of, in fact, he seemed quite friendly.
Please let me introduce you to my new friend.
That’s right, a caterpillar.
More precisely an Oleander caterpillar. It is orange with black legs and is in the larvae stage. It will eventually transform into a Polka-Dot Wasp Moth. The moth is dark blue and has white dots (accordingly to the research that I found online).
Delving deeper, legend has it that the symbolic meaning of caterpillar is much aligned with its physical being in that a caterpillar symbolizes transformation, reincaration, and transmutation. What does that mean? Is there a significance?
I am not sure. You tell me….
Crawling up and around my hand, then transferred to the other hand,the caterpillar continued the exploration of one finger to the next until I finally made it safely to my destination.
What fascinates me is how he got onto my hand? Before I got into the car I was pulling weeds in the yard, but I have never seen an Oleander caterpillar in years. I also changed my clothes before I left. I did not notice anything on my hand until I was driving. It was like it just magically appreared.
I will most likely never know how he got here, but then again how many people magically appear out of nowhere? It reminds me of a story someone shared with me not too long ago about someone they had known who was traveling on the interstate when she got a flat tire. Luckily she was able to get the car safely off the road, but the mere thought of changing the tire was something she really was not looking forward to at all. With cars zooming by, and with great reservation she got out of her car.
It was only a few minutes later when a gentleman in a Poursche pulled up behind her car, got out and without much of a word changed the tire. Once finished, he simply got back into his car and was gone. He never mentioned his name. It was like he magically appeared out of nowhere, and then he disappeared.
Some would say there are no such thing as coincidences. If this is true, then it really does not matter where someone comes from or even where they have gone because living life is about being in the moment. It is what is here and now , which matters.
For myself, when I got to my destination and was sitting in the parking lot I started really looking at the caterpillar, seeing him for who he really is. How his head perked up as he was looking around, for example.
There are such subtle nuances throughout the day that we miss, because they are too small. They are often overlooked, and yet they may carry great significance. Small and insignificant is also sometimes how we feel and yet we are as large or as small as we make ourselves out to be.
Because the caterpillar reprents transition, maybe change is on the horizon? Maybe I will soon transform into something of a butterfly. Oh wait, this particular caterpillar turns into a moth. A moth? That does not sound quite the same as a butterfly, does it?
But beauty is a reflection of ourselves. If we see ourselves as beautiful then we are able to see the world and those in it as being beautiful. It matters not if we are a caterpillar, a butterly or a moth. Whatever stage we may be in at the moment, there will be other stages in our lives. Throughout we will encounter challenges. What matters is not the challenges we face but rather how we face those challenges.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” ~ Proverb
And so can we. Just as we think our world is coming to an end, it may instead be a new beginning.
The other day I was in my car driving to my house and just as I almost arrived, there was a guy yelling at me, pointing with his finger to roll down my window. The man standing before me was unshaven, missing teeth, completely unkept, had fractured English, along with a nose that appeared to have seen its better day, and his natty hair was entangled in dreadlocks. But, ever so reluctantly I rolled down my window ever so slowly as I have seen him before.
With an unyielding confidence he pointed up to my palm trees and said, “I need to cut your trees. I need to cut your trees.” He said again. “They need to be trimmed, and I need to do it.” He was forceful but not aggressive.
I told him that I would do it myself, but he insisted, “No. No. No. You can’t climb up there. Let me do it I will do it for you.”
He continued, looking straight ahead with a steadfastness that had me left with few answers but finally I confessed that it was not in my budget at the moment. It was only then that he gave up and said okay as he turned and walked away.
But he did not go down easily. He did not take no for an answer, and you know what I found refreshing? It was not that he did not take no for an answer from me, but from life.
He is someone who obviously is compromised by many limitations but none of that has stopped him from having this beat up and broken down truck as his means of making a living for himself as he puts his equipment in the back and drives around the neighborhood searching for business. He drives and he drives until he finds that person (and hopefully persons) who will finally say, “Yes. Cut my trees”.
Ironically, when I first moved in I almost jumped through the roof when there was a knock at my door. Not expecting anyone, I looked outside to see this scraggly man standing outside. There he was with a crooked hat on his head telling me that I needed my palm trees trimmed. I had to agree, and without hesitation I was the one on that particular day to say, “Yes. Cut my trees.” And, you know what? He did, and he did a fantastic job in the process.
He has not been around the neighborhood lately. As I walk past my palm trees every day I look up and see the coconuts as they increase in number and I think about how the next time see this gentleman I will gladly have him cut them down, because I really admire him for his tenacity. He is one who truly has taken on the world and has not let anything hold him back. Just because he may not have an education, just because he is not put together, and just because he may not have a lot of resources, he has made the most of what he does have.
How many people have everything, and yet never realize what they have? How many know what they have, but yet, do nothing with it? And, how many are too afraid to give life a try?
There is such an influx of limiting beliefs. The thinking that there are no opportunities, that there is more lack in the world than abundance is overwhelming. It is easy to fall into that trap. Falling into the darkness, it is most difficult to find the light.
And just as I admire this inspiration of this man for his tenacity I am equally empathetic for those who do not possess the will to pierce the darkness as they, for possibly no fault of their own, cannot find it within themselves to move beyond their self to where they dwell.
Simplistic is it to say, “Get a job”, but much more is the complexity of the situation dire to many who deserve not our sympathy but rather our compassion for they too deserve that which we all desire. No one, I do not believe, sits in their elementary school classroom peering out the window cracked from the wind dreaming of what may lay ahead thinking that their destination is one of destitute.
While my admiration is true, so too is my consideration for others’ sadness. Whatever makes one person go beyond their means to be something more, I cannot for tell what makes them so. Neither can I be so callous as to think I can be of judgment of another for their tears I have not shed nor their toils I have not bled.
The best that I can do is see the life that lives within each of us, that life only wanting to live. If I can remember that we are all breathing the same air, walking the same walk no matter our own path, and that each of us is trying to get out of our own way. Some navigate the troubled waters more swiftly than others, but that is not to say that even in the darkest of days there is not hope.
He may drive a broken down truck and have little change to spare, but he may also be the beacon of light for someone who cannot find it on their own.
In continuation of my taking action, and because I have started with the theme of family, I wanted to share with you someone who really for the most part for many years during my adolescence that we never really spoke very much. Now that we are both much older that that has changed dramatically although I am amazed at how many of my friends and people that I have seen in passing have family members whether it be brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, or whomever who they haven’t talked to in years. Sometimes that can be positive as every situation is different. It does though make me feel very blessed to say I have family that I communicate with on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to still have a grandparent who is still alive and kicking, I certainly kicking is the word of emphasis here.
Sometimes there are people we know forever, who even they do not remember certain events that have transpired over the course of their lives. For example going down a snow covered hill on a sled yelling “coming down” as the sled travels faster and faster picking up speed until finally hitting, not the bottom, but rather a large lumbering tower of a 4th grader who is meandering his way up the hill walking in the opposite direction before making impact with the sled at his feet sending him flying up and over before landing face first in the snow knocking out all his front teeth. His face still planted in the snow as the sled continued racing undeterred by the mere bump in the road until finally slowly sliding to a stop at the bottom of the hill.
There were too many times to count when family was around whether it be my parents or grandparents and I wanted something so I would finagle someone else into asking for me. It would always be the same person who to their chagrin would unwillingly agree. They two years younger learned though the beautiful word “no” to my chagrin.
Another little nuance I had growing up with my propensity for finding the best dinner option. Since my grandparents lived right next to us is I would see what was for dinner at our house and then compare it with what was for dinner at their house and pick whichever one sounded better. Life is about options anyway. Options and choices.
I would say that some people have made very wise choices from very early on up until today. For example choosing to be well educated, to choose a husband who is very considerate, caring and who shares a lot of the same interests.
My sister is really someone who has done very well for herself making intelligent decisions and has grown tremendously as a person although she has always been someone far more mature than her age when she was much younger
(or shall we say just the opposite of me). Me, I’m the one who when I know we have left my sister standing stranded on the sidewalk crying that she’s being left behind as we pull out do’t alert my parents but instead thinks it’s a funny joke )but then again maturity has always been something that has never quite caught up to me).
I will also say that my sister has great children who are very much following in her foot steps by making good decisions, being good people, as well as good in school – and in life.
I hope that other people are lucky enough to have people in their family that are supportive and if not hopefully that if they want to they can have the courage to make a change. It ma be worth it. There always has to be a start to anywhere where you want to go.
While putting down weed and feed on my lawn the other morning a neighbor walked by and said that he spreads his by hand, because he does not have the room for a spreader in his garage.
“I have a better idea.” I told him. “How about the next time you need to weed and feed you come by my house and borrow my spreader.”
He got really excited. “That’s a great idea.” He said. “When I was in construction we used to share each others tools, each others help, whatever we needed to get the job done. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
What makes yesterday different than today? What can we do today to make today better than it was yesterday?
I shared with him another idea that I have had for awhile. “I would like to grow a garden.’ I shared. “One that could be for anyone in the neighborhood to use.”
“And, then when you are gone I could water and taken care of it while you are away.” My neighbor replied.
Then, I explained how I would like to have other neighbors grow their own gardens so we can all share each other’s fruits of our labor. All of us can benefit, in more ways than one. It is a means for us to come together, as a community, which will enrich the neighborhood.
Whatever changed from yesterday to today we need not prescribe to the theory that today’s circumstances are not within our grasp to alter them so that tomorrow may be even brighter than both yesterday and today.
Taking Action, came to fruition several weeks ago. My intention was to write daily, providing a glimpse into the monumental sometimes minor people, places, and things that have provided inspiration and insight for me throughout my journey from past to present.
Life though sometimes gets in the way. But that does not mean that life does not go on, and so too does the “Taking Action” project I have set for myself. We pick up on Act 4, the fourth such installment of my intention to share the greatness in others, as we all have greatness within ourselves.
While one may think it only natural to have started the “Taking Action” project by first writing about my parents. I think it is apropos to wait until Act 4, because most often times we do not appreciate our parents until much later in life. We all go through stages, and that is part of our evolution.
As babies, we have total dependency on our parents. In some cases, we may be dependent on only one parent. In other cases, we may be dependent on a guardian of some sort. The point is that we are not able to function by ourselves.
As children, we learn to be more independent but we still need that dependence for guidance and structure. It is not until we are older, and especially during our teenage years, when we truly seek our own independence.
All years have their moments, their triumphs and their wondering “who is this child?? Where did (s)he come from, and how do we take them back to where they came from??” None more often than the teenage years where many us wonder how we did not meet an early demise for one foolish thing or another that we did that truly was just another lesson early on to help us bring us to where (and who) we are today.
Once we reach adulthood, even then we are still evolving. Depending on each person, we continue going through different stages. Some have dramatic changes while others are more subtle. Still we are not completely independent of others, and throughout the course of our lives we continue to gain insight whether it be from our biological parents or from others from which can provide further growth.
To say I was a from a small town is an understatement. It was not even a town, but rather less than a handful of trailer houses in the middle of the prairie scattered among the oil field. There were no paved roads, and the nearest town was at least a half an hour away, (at least in the summer) to get necessities such as groceries. It was not until I was older that we moved to the growing metropolis, which offered the “largest mall” in northeastern Wyoming. Forget the fact that it was the only mall. Department stores? Nil. Clothing stores? None. But, it did have a grocery store and post office.
Like everything, growing up in a small town had its advantages and its disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that everyone knew each other. The biggest disadvantage? Everyone knew each other. If you are from a small town, you know what that means.
The small town environment provided very unique opportunities including forging very close relationships with classmates. It also offered the opportunity to be involved in sports. I was quite fortunate to be attracted to sports early on and throughout my childhood. It was athletics that kept me out of trouble as even my senior year I never attended a single party. Instead, most nights after school I would be outside in the driveway bouncing the basketball whether it be rain or shine (or a couple feet of snow).
That is not to say that I was an easy child.
My basketball coach, my senior year for example, said that my hair was too long and in order to be on the basketball team I needed to get it cut that particular night or I would not be able to travel with the team. My response? I came back to school the next day with two different colors of hair. Hey, it was at least the school colors. (Or at least, it was supposed to be in theory).
When I was talking to a friend just after high school he mentioned that I would be cool if I got an earring, to which I responded, “Wow, then I would be really cool if I had two earrings.” It was dutifully noted that I would then be considered very “weird” if I had both my ears pierced. My response? I went into my sister’s room, stole two of her studs and went down into the basement in front of the mirror and poked two holes one in each ear.
Around this time, I found a can of spray paint in the garage. My response? I decided to spray paint my room.
While my first few years of college, I went to school wearing earrings, a bandanna and I went almost 10 years without cutting my hair so it was not exactly high school basketball team worthy. So I am sure that I was quite a sight. I also ended up dying it everything from blonde to jet black.
Through it all, my parents have always been very supportive. I have lived a charmed life in that through every stage in my life, I have encountered great people along the way and it started and continues with my parents. They are, like me, rather unique. Well, not like me exactly. I will be the first to admit that I am very unique, and that is just me.
My mom, for example, has been a part of the volunteer fire department crew for years. Not exactly the normal role for a mother, but truly not one for a grandmother. But, she has always been one who has been active not only with her own family but also active within the community especially through the fire department.
She always made dinner for the family (pull aparts were the best), went to all of my games (yes, even with two toned hair) and helped support me as an adult during the times when life presented a rather precarious challenge.
Today is not only Veterans Day, but it is also my mom’s birthday so I am happy to say “Happy Birthday” and thank you for all that you do.