Category Archives: Inspiration

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Use Your “Safe” Thought

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Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by a relentless to-do list that never seems to get shorter? I know I do. I have found that feeling like I can never really get on top of all I have to do can lead to a downward spiral of stress, anxiety and frustration. Feeling such pressure can often put me in a bad mood, making it difficult to enjoy and appreciate all the things I’m doing while I am doing them because I feel so rushed. Can you relate?

I have found something that helps: Taking a moment to think my “safe” thought.

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20 Feet From Stardom

Last evening, I had the pleasure of seeing the documentary film “20 Feet From Stardom” at the SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) cinema. It shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the past sixty years. In addition to telling the story of “old-timers” Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, among others, it also shines a light on Judith Hill, …
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Les Brown Quote

I love this famous quote I just learned:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will still land among the stars.

The idea of this is the importance of setting at least one “wildly impossible” goal. Having a goal like that helps maintain your energy toward all of your more attainable goals.

Do you have a wildly impossible goal? What would it be?

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Why Not Write a Zombie Novel?

Our DVR is running out of room and there is Glee and Person of Interest to record tonight, so it was time to clear out some shows that my wife doesn’t watch. One such show is “New Girl” which stars Zooey Deschanel (who I totally got into upon seeing “Failure to Launch”).

“New Girl” is both disgusting and hilariously funny. In the latest episode, Nick sets out to finally start his zombie novel yet comes up with all sorts of procrastinating moves. It got me thinking: Why not write a zombie novel? I could make it a serial here on my blog site. I could give it less thought and time than it takes to write serious blog posts. Yes, I have had bloggers block and I am totally burned out on the internet. What better way to break back into blogification than writing a zombie serial. (I started to write “cereal”–hmm, “zombie cereal” could be and interesting idea.)

To write a zombie novel I need help. I know nothing about zombies and the whole zombie universe world view genre type thing. Perhaps the eleven (or so) people who read by blog can provide me with some plot ideas. It would be especially fun to ask for suggestions along the way. We could write a group novel, get it published, fully crediting the eleven (or so) contributors, watch it become a New York Times Bestseller, become filthy rich, retire and buy our own private islands–there would have to be at least eleven (or so) private islands for sale.

So, any takers? Any plot ideas? Characters? Let’s do it!!

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Finding Positivity In Life – A Guest Post

The following is a guest post by Ryan Rivera of CalmClinic.com. Links can be found at the end of this post. Thanks Ryan!!

For a not-insignificant portion of my life, I dealt with severe anxiety. Not “I’m afraid to go talk to girls” anxiety – more like “I’m afraid to go outside, I may die” anxiety. I was suffering from panic attacks, generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, and alektorophobia, which is a fear of chickens, which is a long story that is completely unrelated to the rest of this article but wow chickens are gross.

I’m free of anxiety now, but not before going through a number of major and minor life changes. One of the main thing standing in my way of that recovery, however, was my attitude. I was a negative person. I had little trust in others, little hope for the world, and a general distaste for most things human being related.

This was a problem, and one that I’ve long since realized doesn’t only affect me. There’s a general lack of positivity in this world, and in many ways it’s like a disease. The more you see it in others, the more you catch it for yourself.

The reality is that if you can control your positivity, you can control your anxiety. Positivity is not necessarily a cure, but positivity is an important tool for allowing the true cures to work. It’s with that in mind that I believe everyone trying to create more positivity in their life should consider the following strategies:

  • Fake Positivity Everywhere – Back when I was younger I worked in a customer service environment, and to keep my job I had to fake positivity daily. I wish I had learned this life lesson back then, but one of the things that happened was the fake positivity became real positivity. I would look forward to going to work and I felt genuinely positive when I was there. The mind tends to adapt to the way you act, and by faking this feeling of positivity, I became (at least temporarily) a genuinely positive person.
  • Develop a Positive Diary – Journaling itself can be a valuable tool, but even more valuable is the idea is to force yourself to journal only positive things. 100%, non-passive aggressive, positive things. No “the world didn’t blow up today” because that’s not positive. No “My mom didn’t call me, thankfully” because that’s not positive either. Force yourself to come up with a minimum of 10 specific, positive things to happen every day. It’s an exercise that can really teach you how to see the positives in life.
  • Exercise Often – Exercise really does increase positivity. It’s not just about how you feel about yourself, although that certainly helps. Exercise actually burns away stress hormones and increases a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in feeling more positive. Exercise is a powerful tool that far too many people ignore or forget.
  • Surround Yourself with Positive People – Finally, make sure that you’re always surrounding yourself with people that bring positive thoughts and feelings into your life. Negativity really is contagious. Those that are always putting things down or talking about the negative will rub off on you, no matter how much you try to ignore it. Spend as much time as you can spending time with the positive people in your life, because those people are going to rub off on you over time.

Positivity is a very real thing. I remember when I first started trying to be positive, I thought it was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe I was trying to take all of the negative events that I “knew” were negative in life and pretend that the world was a positive place. Now that I’ve gained this new positive perspective, I can’t imagine why I saw the world as so negative before. People may sometimes be negative. The world is an amazing, fascinating place, and now that I’m a more positive person, I’m finally stress free enough to enjoy it.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera’s panic attacks and anxiety may have caused him to view the world through a negative lens, but his new mindset helps keep him clear and focused on living a healthier life. He writes about anxiety at Calm Clinic Inc. 

Photo by Gareth Weeks Photography made available via stock.xchng.

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What’s Wrong With My Life?

I was emptying the dishwasher earlier today (Monday) and the thought occurred to me “oh, I hate emptying the dishwasher”. Occasionally, little events like this get the philosophical part of my brain going. There was nothing special about the dishwasher. I could have been refilling my pill minder with all the daily vitamins and supplements I take and catch myself inwardly grumbling about that. Or folding laundry. Or doing dishes.

What all of these activities have in common is that they make up the part of our lives that consist of mundane repetitious tasks. There’s nothing exciting about emptying a dishwasher or folding laundry. Do you know that we spend most of our day attending to mundane things? Like sleeping, using the bathroom, preparing food, picking up after oneself, doing laundry, paying bills, feeding the animals, vacuuming, doing dishes, etc. All just the normal part of doing life.

There’s a part of us (or at least some of us) that wish to rage against this machine. We yearn for excitement. The entertainment and advertising industries are built upon convincing people that there is something they are missing or they don’t get enough excitement. I consider this to be a societal ill. In fact, I think there are societal causes for the current epidemic of depression and I believe this is one of them. The message that is relentlessly broadcast to people is “You don’t have enough _____ in your life” or “You aren’t ____ enough.” This leaves many of us feeling rather shortchanged or bored or restless or discontented. That is, of course, only if we choose to buy into this way of thinking.

The fact of the matter is, we all have to do the mundane stuff ourselves, unless of course one happens to be wealthy enough to pay other people to do some of these things. And let’s not forget those who are too incapacitated to do certain things for themselves. I can grumble about having to empty the dishwasher, but then I remember that having a dishwasher saves me from having to do dishes by hand. Even if I had to do dishes by hand, the fact that I have hot running water coming into my home puts me into an elite class by the majority of the world’s standards. The fact that I live in a house with a kitchen with modern conveniences or that I live in a house built to “code” out of durable materials instead of cobbled together cardboard and corrugated metal leaves me no quarter for complaint.

Whenever I catch myself grumbling about paying the bills, it occurs to me: I have heat! I have clean water! Someone picks up my garbage. (That reminds me: time to roll the garbage to the curb.)

What’s wrong with my life? Not much. I am BLESSED beyond belief. Do I have everything I want? No, but considering all that I have, what is it that I want that I really need? Again, not much. How many of my unmet expectations are driven by external messages? Probably most of them. The machine I should rage against is not the predictability of a normal life but rather the system that incites insatiable consumption and discontent.

All this pondering leads me to these conclusions: I am blessed. I am content. I am grateful.

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Spring Again in Our Front Yard

After another long cold winter here in the Pacific Northwest, and an especially rainy March, April has been spectacular in comparison. Here are some pictures from our front yard taken the last few days. Simply inspirational. I am very thankful for seasons. Spring is my favorite as it invokes a sense of renewal and regrowth. Enjoy the pictures!!

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Thats Spacial

I admit to good spatial awareness. I constantly rotate images of things in my brain without any real conscious thought. It’s probably why I rarely get lost. I remember when I first saw the “up & up” Target brand logo, I immediately pictured it upside down, which curiously enough, says “dn & dn”, which you have to admit, is pretty cool. Chalk it up to those branding people, although I’m not sure what “down and down” would imply. In fact, even when I see the logo right side up, I see “dn & dn” before I see “up & up”. Perhaps I have bat DNA, which might be more valuable than tiger blood.

Why am I blogging about this? Well, I saw the logo on a Target TV commercial earlier today, and I can’t think of anything else to blog about, unless it’s about the guy who pumped nine rounds into his daughter’s laptop. That’s sort of down and down if you ask me. (You didn’t, but just sayin’.)

The Target brand logo.
My bat DNA sees “dn & dn”.
What I think of out-of-control parenting
and people who claim to have tiger blood.

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Clearing

Last weekend we got a reprieve from our dreary winter. My dad turned 88 on Sunday and I took the ferry from Edmonds (north of Seattle) over to Kingston on the Kitsap peninsula. Here is a view from the Kingston dock as I was waiting to take the boat home. All I had was my cell phone camera, but you can still catch a glimpse of how pretty it was. That’s Mt. Rainier in the distance and a bit of Seattle skyline can be seen too, but just not with this camera. Spring is coming. I know it is.

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It’s Halftime in America

Chrysler ran a cool ad at Super Bowl halftime yesterday which was a 2-minute voiceover by Clint Eastwood. There are many “free market” pundits who thought that we should have just let the automakers fail a few years ago. But the fact is, there are real people out there that need to put food on their tables. I am glad that we bailed out GM & Chrysler. And GM has bounced back again to being on top in units sold worldwide.

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