Discipline — You Won’t Find it Here.

Discipline.  I suck at it.

I know I need to set aside time to write, and not just here in the blog.  I really need to make some progress on the children’s book I’m trying to write.  And by ‘trying,’ I mean that I have the resources and I have the material, but I just don’t have that crucial First Step.  You know the one, right — the single step that starts the journey of a thousand miles? Yeah, that.  I’m still at the gate.

I’m all start and no finish.  All show and no go.  All worry and no decision.

I have that ‘excuse thing’ down: I’m tired; I just don’t feel like writing; no time; too noisy to concentrate; don’t have any ideas; have too many other things going on; blah, blah, blah.  You know the routine.  I’ll confess that I procrastinate — later.  But for now, I am just putting it out there.  If there’s one thing I shoulda/woulda/coulda change(d), it’s my self-starter.  I think it’s gone out.

Really, that’s the main reason I joined RCC; I need to be nagged and prodded and kicked and encouraged and cajoled and bribed and dared.  My self-motivation at work is great, but once I get home, it somehow eludes me.  Anyone else have that problem?

I can sit down after dinner and write a post or two, but all the little edits and rewordings and such piss away my evening, and that’s as far as I get.  On weekends I feel guilty sitting at the computer, especially when it’s nice out.  Of course, the guilt doesn’t stop me from hanging out on Facebook to play Scrabble, or reading the news from several sources, or browsing through any of a number of sites…I just don’t channel my energy in the right direction.

So I don’t expect this motivation paralysis to be easily cured, but I’m hoping it will improve.  I seem to do better for a bit, and then slack back off.  When I read the posts from the other RCC members and get all enthusiastic about my own progress, that lasts, oh, about long enough for me to open up a blank document.  And then, zilch.  I still use my notebook to write my ideas in, but I haven’t had many entries lately.  Another thing for my ‘to do’ list, I guess.

Well, enough whining.  I have work to do.  Wish me luck!  TTFN!


photo credit: Grotuk


A Greater Miracle.

Day 13;365 {{ 10 things about ME }}

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
~ Henry David Thoreau

So opens a short video that was shared on my Facebook feed today.   It is a promo bit for Cleveland Clinic, but it shares a profound truth.  It is a series of silent vignettes of people in a medical setting: patients in a waiting room; doctors performing treatments; visitors; people sharing an elevator.  With each scene, some text emerges above the subjects: 19 year-old son on life support appears with a worried-looking couple in a hospital cafeteria; doesn’t completely understand displays above a vacant-eyed elderly woman sitting with her middle-aged son before a doctor.  In the elevator, a man worries about his wife who just had a stroke; a woman in a white coat is newly divorced; and another man just found out he will be a father.

Each bit of text leaves us with an impression of the subjects’ state of mind.  We see sorrow, uncertainty, joy, love, and worry etched on these faces, and we can empathize.  Immediately, our heart goes out to the little girl who is visiting her Dad and the woman who is in shock at the doctor’s news.  We see ourselves in the waiting area for three hours (or more).  These are actors, of course, but they represent a universal usWe are all the same.  Doctors and nurses have joy and pain just as patients do, just as the family does, just as we — I — do.

It never hurts to remember that we each have our stories.  That driver who sped recklessly through traffic may be on his way to the hospital to see his daughter who clings to life after a drunk driver hit her on the way to school.  The cashier at the grocery store who seemed to ignore you may be thinking about how to tell her children that she and her husband are divorcing.  Perhaps the reason your boss didn’t seem to be listening to your big proposal is that his wife is coming home tonight after a month-long work assignment in another city.  Your child’s teacher was just diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and that’s why she has been acting a bit ‘off.’

You just don’t know.

By the time the 4-minute video came to an end, I had tears welling up in my eyes.  Compassion is a vital virtue; a walk in someone else’s shoes may be your most valuable journey.  Too often we misread intent in others because we don’t know the back story or we misinterpret their actions.  Sometimes, it’s haste; sometimes, it’s indifference; sometimes, it’s just that we don’t see.

I recently spent the better part of two days waiting in a hospital.  I had brought plenty of reading material, as well as a tablet for surfing the web, but I passed a lot of time watching other people:  The shabbily-dressed, unkempt man sitting alone at the large cafeteria table looking only at the bag of chips he hungrily consumed.  A small knot of middle-aged women in the corner laughing heartily, drawing annoyed glances from a quieter part of the room.  The housekeeper pushing her cart from restroom to restroom, perfunctorily cleaning up after the steady stream of visitors.  The elderly couple checking their watches, anxiously watching the status board.  The gowned patient with the tube taped to her nose, noiselessly escorting her IV stand to the end of the hall.  Maybe they saw me, too, with my tote bag of crossword puzzles and bottled water.

There’s no way, of course, to know what’s in someone’s heart; we judge people by their behavior and assign our own meaning to their actions.  But just as we want people to treat us with compassion and respect, we must do the same.  We must learn to look beyond the overt, and resist the urge to ascribe our own interpretations.  We must not be so quick to assume, and instead, we must try to understand.

That short video spoke strongly to me.  It said I need to try harder.  It is far too easy for me to merely respond to the actions and not consider the reason.  What if I could step into their skin for a moment?  Would I treat people more gently and with greater kindness?

I may not see from their eyes, but I can be “a little kinder than necessary,” as Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie put it.

Watch the video.  Learn the lesson.


photo credit Nina Matthews Photography

The RCC — Because Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. (Plus Bonus!)


This post is long past due — my apologies to the rest of the crew.

The Rome Construction Crew, or RCC, is the delightful brainchild of Bradley, whose blog, Green Embers, is full of his writing, his drawings, and his humor.
He says:

Being a member of the Rome Construction Crew is about working on ourselves and to always be improving who we are.
Many people have different things they want to accomplish, write the next great novel, learn to be a master chef, helping those closest to them learn to love, finish school, get a job and many other things.
What the Rome Construction Crew is for is to help encourage YOU to accomplish YOUR goals!

The folks in the Crew are very supportive and full of encouragement and ideas.  I joined them to help me with my blogging and my discipline.
Here is the list of members and their blogs.  There are some very talented people out there — go check them out and show them some love!

BONUS — Charles of Legends of Windemere is offering a free e-book this weekend!  Click for details!

Everyone Has a Story – Here is Mine.

Saluki on 3.15.13 passes 3.15.99 crash site.

Amtrak Saluki passes March 15, 1999 crash site on March 15, 2013. Inset: memorial plaque.


“Take a deep breath,” she said.

Just over two years ago, my friend Bobbi Emel asked if I would be interested in guest posting for her website, The Bounce Blog.  Bobbi’s blog is a great resource for personal development and a great read, as well: she’s a psychotherapist in Los Altos, CA, who specializes in helping people cope with grief, stress, and anxiety.  I guarantee you’ll find something interesting and helpful there.

Bobbi and I are childhood friends, and when we reconnected through Facebook a few years back, we were able to catch up on the years in between.  When she asked me if I’d like to share my grief story on her blog, I was honored to do so.  So here is my story.

The article is called, Resilience: “Sometimes Life Hands You a New Normal.”

More here on Wikipedia.


photo credit Buddahbless  (Imagine my surprise to find this very photograph.)

On Soul-Baring Pronouncements, Epiphanies and Wild Inspiration

There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.

~Alexander Woollcott


There is a method to my madness.  Yesterday, I introduced you to my massage therapist, the Diabolical Dave.  I credit this man with my continuing ability to walk upright, as he worked on my poor, battered body following a bad car accident several years ago.  We became friends, and I look forward to my appointments both for the physical effects as well as for the mental refreshment.

Our friendship was born of shared interests and a commonality of thoughts.  Sometimes, we think a lot alike.  Often we bounce ideas off one another, looking for a bit of advice or some validation.  Sometimes, we amaze even ourselves.

Dave and I chat while he works his magic.  We talk about many things: our families, our selves, our day-to-day, the news, the weather, and mutual friends.  We also discuss the deep stuff like religion and politics and the meanings of life.  There’s not much that we don’t chew on for our hour of shared conversation; of course, my side of the dialogue is often punctuated with groans, teeth-gritting and the occasional profane interjection.  Dave likes to tell me jokes, and as I laugh, he pushes harder on my stubborn muscles.  It is his approach to healing and his amazing skill that I admire so much; I love to recommend him to friends and family, even though the busier he is, the farther apart my appointments become.

There is something about lying on a massage table in a state somewhere between bliss and agony that lends itself to soul-baring pronouncements, epiphanies, and wild inspiration.  This last visit, I experienced all three.  And that brings me to the subject of this post.

For one reason or another, it had been a long while since my last massage, so we had some catching up to do.  I mentioned my blog and how much I have enjoyed it.  Encouraging and supportive friend that he is, Dave expressed delight that I was writing again.  We talked about some of the posts I’d written and how my following had grown, bit by bit.  And then, Dave expressed his vision of my blog.

I trust Dave and his opinions; he is an honest man.  With him, what you see is what you get — no schmoozing, no pretense, no fooling.  So when he tells me that thinking about my blog gives him goosebumps, I believe him.  When he tells me that our conversations have helped him through rough spots in his life, I am honestly touched.  And when he laid out the flash of inspiration that came to him as we spoke, I listened.

You see, both of us have had some ugly times to struggle through in our lives.  He credits me with compassion brought forth from suffering, and he feels very strongly that this blog can be a voice of empathy.  My voice.  I was moved to hear him say that, but I had to agree.  Misery loves company, they say, but really, misery is glad to know it is not alone, because misery so often is isolating.  I’ve been there, and I know.  I would wager that most of you do, too.

So it is with this in mind that I strike out in a new direction — an additional direction.  I have designated a new category for this side of the blog: Walking Through Fire.  Each post I write on this topic will be categorized and tagged accordingly.  I will also continue to write my usual drollery as I did before.  😉

I hope you will find truth, compassion, and maybe even healing here.  I know I will.

photo credit Nick J Webb