My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Healing Work of Poetry

Even though I am still in the time period of my final comprehensive exams for my online program of a PhD in psychology; I took time to present at the Texas Counseling Conference in Corpus Christi last week. My presentation on Aiming for Natural Highs went well even though it was a small group. That is what happens when you are in the final time slot on a sunny Friday in Corpus Christi. During my time there I enjoyed several other presentations. One that stood out to me was one on “How to Incorporate Poetry Into Your Counseling Practice” by Dr. Christine McNichols from UT Tyler.

One quote by Vicente Huidobro in the beginning of the presentation was “Let poetry be like a key opening a thousand doors”. She proceeded in the session to open many doors of how poetry can be used in the emotional, mental, and spiritual healing process. Poetry through the power of words can be used for many life concerns such as grief, depression and anxiety. Through understanding the emotions and life realities in poems one can grow in self-understanding, personal creativity and understanding the world as well as others around them.
She took time to do readings and reflections on a variety of poems during the session. Here is one selection:

The Yellow Tulip by George Swede (1940 – Canadian psychologist, poet and children’s writer)

For weeks

it struggled

through the hard crust

of the spring earth

and a foot

of air

Just to be


by the sun


by raindrops


by the wind

But on this gentle

May morning

as it opens

yellow petals

to the sky

Nothing else matters.

I like how she told us to always read through a poem twice to allow it to sink in to our understanding and feelings. Also with poetry for healing do not dwell on the academics of original intent of the author. Instead think through what does it mean to you? Much of the discussion in the session showed the life lessons of what we can learn from the tulip. How the description of the growth of the tulip is so true to life. The changes in life are often not easy. Instead they come with struggle and difficulty. The hardships of life if we mindfully stick with it can end with a beautiful unexpected ending.

That phrase, “nothing else matters”, speaks to being mindfully appreciative of the small beauties in life. It is easy to complain and whine about the hardships and the growing pains of life. If we keep complaining we may miss out on the beauty of the flowers in our lives.

If you want to grow in life affirming ways and new personal awareness open the doors to new ideas through poetry. At your local library check out poetry anthologies or they may carry a poetry magazine. At used bookstores you can often find poetry books at a cost saving price. Also there are websites you can go to:

Poetry Foundation -

A poets organization - has a wide variety of poems --

If you are interested more in the therapy side of poems look to --

Add new open doors to your life by adding poetry in the mix of your life activities. Through the reading of poems you may even begin writing poems yourself.

Reflection: What did The Yellow Tulip poem mean to you? Go online and find another poem that interests you. Read through it a couple of times and jot down some thoughts of insights you learned from the poem.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reflections From Past During Exam

During the next couple of weeks I will be away concentrating and working on my Comprehensive Exams for my PhD in psychology. So I encourage you to randomly look back at my past blog posts for inspiring reflections about life. Simply click on past years and months or try your luck with the search engine with terms like critical thinking, creativity, happenstance, chaos theory, reading, Switchfoot, Matthew West, Toby Mac, God, savoring, and see what past writings may encourage your day.
I will be back in a couple weeks from today after I have my first draft of my exam writing finished. Keep growing in your life journey as you seek to Live More Than OK!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Media’s Lack of Critical Thinking About Dr. Ben Carson

Since I may be not writing my blog for a couple of weeks as I concentrate on my Comprehensive Exams for my Capella University Ph.D. in Psychology, I was wondering what to write about. I could have chosen to write about anxiety in facing tests. Yet, a nagging thought kept bothering me about how Dr. Ben Carson has been treated in the media, which shows a lack of critical thinking and the level at which they are emotionally agenda driven. I don’t like talking politics in my blog on Living More Than OK so I will not focus on pushing a candidate. I just want to suggest that we each need to think for ourselves about the various candidates. Be careful in just accepting media talking points.

Thankfully there are knowledgeable thinkers on the internet that have written a counter to the liberal media, pointing out the media's double standard in castigating Dr. Carson while worshiping Obama. David Limbaugh in his WND column, Media's latest phony attack on Ben Carson, is the best writing I have seen on the topic (Read more at For example Mr. Limbaugh states, “The same media that castigated Carson for offering constructive ideas on this problem gave President Obama a total pass for lurching to his lectern to rail against guns and gun-control opponents.”

The media was attacking and lying about Dr. Carson, implying he was saying the students killed and injured at the Oregon Community College did not do enough to save themselves. Sad to say the mindless masses who blindly listen to the mainstream media outlets accept what is spoon fed to them. Critical thinkers search for the truth which is easily accessible. What Dr. Carson was speaking to was a question asking what he would do in such a situation. He simply answered a question from a problem solver mindset. He said if he was face in such a situation, “I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time. That way, we don’t all wind up dead.” What is so disrespectful about that? I teach part-time at a college and I had several students after the attack tell me they would have tried to fight back.

What Dr. Carson is trying to drive home to people is in the world we live in today the problem is not guns. The facts behind most of the school shootings show mentally troubled people. As a counselor, I have noticed that in each of the stories. In response I have contacted my elected representatives that they need to focus more on mental health rather than going after guns. Dr. Carson is a sane critical thinking voice speaking to that issue as well. The mindless agenda blinded media do not have the thinking skills to understand that.

I must say I am leaning towards supporting Dr. Carson as I have over many years been impressed with his writings and his sound thinking. I have used his story from his biography, Gifted Hands, to encourage college students and clients to make choices that will enrich their lives to live more than ok. So one could say I am biased against those attacking him. Although I would not mind the attacks if they were based on substance instead of inaccurate lies.

This recent news item is one of many that shows how the media goes after conservative blacks who are pointing a way to self-responsibility instead of victimhood which the leftist media preaches to prop up the liberal Democrat agenda.
I received an email from Glenn Beck’s website showcasing Dr. Carson being questioned by Wolf Blitzer on CNN on the same issue. Glenn included a thought, “Wolf, You are not this stupid”. As I watched the interview I thought, No Glenn -- he is that stupid!”.

Another aspect of Dr. Carson doing well in the polls as well as Mr. Trump and Ms. Fiorina doing so well that bothers me, is when I hear the talking heads and many comments from the masses in response to articles about their status in the polls. The common thread is that the three of them cannot be president because they have not been politicians. So??? Where is the thinking behind that? If you spoke with these same people about the country’s problems they would most likely agree that the problems have been caused by the politicians. So why keep putting more politicians in the broken system. Why not try something different? Why not try proven leaders? Mr. Trump and Ms. Fiorina have been proven leaders in the business world. Don’t you think they could be of help in our economic problems? I hear people mention how sick our country is. Why not turn to a doctor like Dr. Ben Carson who has a problem solving mindset? He has leadership skills as well, leading the pediatric Neurosurgery unit at John Hopkins hospital.

I do hope some of the populace begin to see through the lack of thinking in the mainstream media. As one of Dr. Carson’s latest books is titled, “You Have A Brain”. It is time for the citizens to use their own brains to think through whom to vote for and not listen blindly what the news media is telling them.

Reflection: Do you go behind the news articles and find out what candidates really believe instead of letting some news talking head think for you? Think through your own values and choose a candidate that follows your values.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking A Second Look At Favorite Books

When I wrote about the Tuck & Patti concert we enjoyed several weeks ago, I mentioned how Patti reminded the audience to listen to old favorite songs over again. This was so that we could look at the songs in a fresh light. Being a Bookhead who enjoys reading I thought that can apply to reading favorite books as well. It was rather fortuitous that at that same time of the concert I came cross a book at the library about rereading books. The book is: Nothing Remains The Same: Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser.

Wendy Lesser begins the book discussing how at one point she was rereading a Henry James novel, The Portrait of a Lady, and that experience had a startling effect on her reading experience. She shared how she had first read the book as an undergrad student and then in her graduate classes. Then the time she spoke of in her first chapter she was rereading it when she was in her forties. She found that she was looking and listening to the book from a totally different perspective from when she read it as a young student.

She found herself understanding the characters of the book in a different manner from the eyes of her own life experiences. In her words, “…I used to be tempted to skip ahead, I now wanted to saunter through the commas, linger at the semicolons, and take small contemplative breaks at the periods. The book was a much better that I had remembered it. More to the point, I was a much better reader of it. Both pleasure and understanding came more easily to me.” (page 2). This reminded me of mandatory readings in my college experience. There was always the temptation to skip ahead to have the reading over and done with. On the otherhand leisure reading that was enjoyable was always a more slow pace taking in fully what the author was saying.
She also makes the point that when rereading a book it is a new experience. “The idea that a simple rereading could also be a new reading struck me with a force of a revelation. It meant that something old wasn’t necessarily outdated, used up or overly familiar.” (page 2) The book then goes through a series of books that she reread and she shares what she learned from each of the rereading experiences. It is interesting how in many cases she remembered when she read the books for the first time and what was going on in her life at that time. Memories are powerful. She then would share how her rereading showed the books from a different perspective as she was at a different point in her life journey.

I have reread a few books over my reading life and I do agree with Ms. Lesser that the different life perspective does add value to the reading experience. I remember reading Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis as a young teen and the impact of his logic and thinking had on my thoughts on the competing worldviews that I was thinking about at the time. Then as an adult I reread Mere Christianity and I was able to understand more of it on a second reading and had a deeper appreciation for his thoughtful writing.

Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is another book I remember reading when I was searching ideas in high school and then I reread it as I began teaching college students later in life. Again the rereading is affected by being at a differing point on the life journey. I was able to understand the need for purpose more as I had traveled more life experiences than when I was in high school. So Frankl’s book holds so much more meaning to me in my later years.
Of course as a Christian I have reread the Bible and numerous portions of it over and over again. With each time I read a certain passage I can gain new life lessons based on what life experience I am going through at that moment in time. I am sure those of other religious faiths experience the same with their religious writings.

This book piqued my interest in other books I will want to reread in the future. Of course I emphasize the future as I have mentioned my next year of reading will be tied to my soon to start dissertation work on my PhD in Psychology. As I contemplate rereading some of my favorite books I realize I have quite a long list of first time read books that I have facing me as well. Of course that is the life of a Bookhead. At least I have interesting mind growing opportunities as I look at my ever-growing list of books to read. But with this book on rereading I will definitely begin adding to the list favorite books I want to reread.

Reflection: Is there a book you have reread? Think about the experience. Did you view the book differently in the various times you reread it? Are there other books you want to reread? Think over two books you want to reread. Why do you want to reread them?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Persevering After Failure

Last week in my college success courses I teach I shared a true story on what can be learned from failure. The discussion that followed was encouraging as they saw in the story perseverance, learning from wise advice, and that dreams can still come true. Those were the main thoughts the students shared.

The story came from my sharing the book with them, From Failure to Promise “360 Degrees”. I started off with a question: “Is it possible for someone to flunk out of a college and then years later wind up teaching there as a professor?”. After the initial stares some shook their heads no and some indicated yes. That is the reality of the basic gist of the life story, Dr. C. Moorer tells about himself in this memoir about his life from failure to success.
He honestly shares about his high school dream of going to the university to be an auto engineer. He was a good student but various factors interfered in his first year to cause him to go onto suspension, (I won’t discuss the factors here to peak your curiosity to read the book yourself). None the less, he shares about how life happened to him which led to failure. That is what I spoke to my college students about, that life can hit you from left field and bring failure your way. What do you do about it?

There are many principles that can be learned from Dr. Moorer’s story. My favorite is when he accepts advice from his father after he came home dejected from the university on academic suspension. The description of what his dad says is found on page 47, “He asked to speak to me, and I knew it was going to be an interesting conversation , to say the least. “So, you’re finished like that huh?” The dichotomy of his query left me reeling for the right response. “Well, they said I can’t come back for a year or so,” I explained. He quickly followed by asking, “..and then what or now what?” I replied, “I guess I got to go to community college and try to get back in, but I don’t know about my job or engineering…” I said little, but for him, I had either said enough or too much. He calmly but assertively cut in, “Life is hard, ain’t nobody giving away anything. If you really want something worth having, you have to sacrifice for it. It may require bleeding, sweating, and even crying to get it. Just ask the Lord to help you out along the way. Take breaks but don’t break away from it. Everything is going to be alright if you don’t break down like a little sissy every time things don’t go your way.” This was great wisdom from his father who ran a small auto body shop in Detroit, Michigan.

From the rest of the story as the reader follows the progression of his life story up to his present time of being the Dean of the Madonna University School of Business, it shows how he took his father’s advice to heart. He could have played the victim and blamed his professors or maybe that the school did not help him enough. No, he took ownership of his problems. Also his father’s advice showed the values of personal responsibility. I like how he emphasized take a break to gain clear vision of what happened but don’t break away from the future God had for him. You noticed the father did not say. This is unfair! Let’s get a lawyer and start a protest. Instead he encouraged his son to regroup, don’t give up, and turn to God for persevering strength.

Did you notice he is now Dean of the Madonna University School of Business. What happened to his dream of engineering? Sorry no spoiler alert here, you will have to read the story yourself. But it is a learning experience that I discussed with my college students in my college success classes. We discussed how with our dreams and goals we need to be open for shifts to occur. Just as I have shared in the past, Dr. Krumboltz of Stanford University, speaks of how happenstance events can change are dreams and we need to be open to new directions in our lives. This is the same as what Dr. Jim Bright speaks of with the Chaos Theory of Careers that shifts can occur in our life direction. Be open to the shifts if they are opening up new passions and new positives for your life. Some of those shifts or happenstance events start out as failures that come across our paths. That is where we need to listen to Dr. Moorer’s father’s advice in not giving up but taking time to regroup and move forward instead of backwards. Or as I say in my book, Living More Than OK, we need to spiral up to abundant living not spiral down.

Reflection: What does perseverance mean to you? Think back to a failure in your life. What did you learn from the experience?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lessons In Learning How To Fly

This past weekend I took my wife to hear one of her favorite music duos –Tuck and Patti. It was at One World Theatre in Austin, Texas. If you are ever visiting Austin check to see if they are having a concert. They always have a great lineup of artists. It is a small, warm and welcoming venue where you get a great feel for the artists no matter where you are seated.
The concert was phenomenal. Patti is a pure embodiment of joy. Her voice from low tones to high tones is so smooth and clear. She captures the emotions found in each song they sing. Tuck is a guitar virtuoso. Guitar is my favorite instrument so it was a joy to see an artist who was definitely in flow with his guitar.

Here is one of their songs they played near the beginning of the concert. Take a listen to them by clicking on the title of the song.

Learning How To Fly by Tuck and Patti (click on title to hear song)

When your heart is low feel the breezes blow
It's all right you just take your time
There's no hurry now that you're on your way
When you're learning how to fly
No more wandering 'round, step up off the ground
You will find you can glide on by
There's a magic place that is just for you
When you're learning how to fly
You've always known that this was not your home
You've been longing for that place
Where you would not feel so all alone
Well now that time has come for you to fly away
Just breathe on in then breathe on out
And you'll be on your way
Watch the ocean rise, say your sad good-byes
Don't be shy, go ahead and cry
There's a light to guide and you're really on your way
Now you're learning how to fly
Now you are flying, rising, floating
Sailing on this blissful ocean
Everything you've always wanted now
Learning how to fly

Freedom comes while you are soaring
Far away from cares and longing
Take this moment, open up your eyes
You're learning how to fly

Repeat chorus

You are higher now, feeling lighter now
So much joy, you just have to go
Feel the greatest love that you've ever ever known
When you're learning how to fly

You are higher now, feeling lighter now
So much joy, you just have to go
Feel the greatest love you have ever known
When you're learning how to fly
Now you're learning how to fly
You are learning how to fly

Listening to the song I thought of a saying by C. S. Lewis, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” A part of this life in my thoughts is preparing to fly to another realm that C. S. Lewis speaks of. What is ahead on that journey speaks of God’s love in my thoughts and my worldview.

Also as we travel through this life we fly from life passage to life passage. Part of maturity is learning to fly through the time points in our lives. Some of those time points are sad and some are full of joy. I find it important to learn to let go of the weightiness of life cares and concerns to fly lighter and higher to realms of joy.

During a couple of Tuck and Patti’s songs in their concert-- Castles in the Sand and Time After Time; I reminisced back to my days living in Chicago. I savored back to memories of listening to my musical friends, Keryn Moriyah and Lia McCoo in Northside Coffee Houses. Lia’s voice is similar to Patti and Keryn in many songs played a jazzy folk style I enjoyed listening to so much.

One of my favorite thoughts from the concert was when Patti shared an idea to listen back to favorite songs from your past and listen for new gems within the songs. She is so right. I have had that experience many times of listening to songs I enjoyed in the past, and depending where I was at in my life journey the song can take on a whole new meaning. As we traveled home from the concert, my wife and I reflected on that thought in that we heard them last year when they came to Austin and this concert had a totally different feel than the previous year.

If you ever get the chance to hear Tuck & Patti in concert make it a point to do so. Their music is full of positive energy to enhance your enjoyment of living.

Reflection: What does learning to fly mean to you? Look up and old favorite song of yours on YouTube and listen to it. How do you experience that favorite song in the here and now of the present?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Are You Ready For The Real Thing: Life

One of my daughter’s favorite musicians, Toby Mac, came out with a new CD so I was listening to some of the songs off of it. I enjoy his music as well as the messages behind his songs. One song stood out to me as I begin teaching a new group of College students in the College Success course I teach. That song is “This Is Not A Test”. The song in my viewpoint is about experiencing Life with all the real consequences that face us. With teaching college students part of their life in classes is studying for tests to prepare them later for real life in their careers. Yet outside of class in the jobs and relationships they face the real thing of life everyday where there are no retakes or practice runs.

Take a few minutes to reflect over the lyrics to the song. You can listen to a video of the song by clicking on the hyperlinked title.

"This Is Not A Test" Toby Mac (listen to the video by clicking on the title)

Fell out of the sky Hit the ground runnin’ The future is tonight
They’ll never see us comin’ Takin’ by this urgency Won’t let this moment pass The Kingdom is alive We’re steppin’ on the gas We’re checkin’ in, so check it out We’re droppin’ in There ain’t no stopping us now We’ve only got one shot Gonna to take it now Goin’ all in, gonna make it count Won’t look back, gonna set my eyes ‘Cause there ain’t no practice runs in life
This is not a, this is not a test This is the real thing
This is not a, this is not a test This is the real thing
We gonna go til we got nothin’ left This is the real thing
This is not a, this is not a, this is not a test This is not a test
This is not a test We’re checkin’ in, so check it out
We’re droppin’ in There ain’t no stopping us now
We’re breathin’ in, we’re breathin’ out We’re droppin’ in
There ain’t no stoppin’, stoppin’ us now
We’ve only got one shot Gonna to take it now Goin’ all in,
gonna make it count Won’t look back, gonna set my eyes
‘Cause there ain’t no practice runs in life
This is life... So don’t get left behind
This is not a, this is not a test This is the real thing
This is not a, this is not a test This is the real thing
We gonna go til we got nothin’ left This is the real thing
This is not a, this is not a, this is not a test
This is not a test This is not a test
We gonna move, live every second Make it count for you
We gonna move, live every second Make it count for you
(This is not a test) We gonna move, live every second
Make it count for you

So many times the “left behind” feelings occur as we do not take seriously the choices we make in life. We waste time spinning our wheels doing remakes of bad decisions. That may be fine for a quiz where there are multiple retakes but as the song is saying, in real life we don’t have that luxury. The real thing of life especially in the most important times does not come with practice runs. After each choice comes a consequence that alters our life by the choices we make. Granted we can try to make up from the messes of bad choices by making amends and making better choices in the future but that does not negate the initial mistake.

The phrases: “Won’t let this moment pass”; “We’re checkin’ in”; “We’re droppin’ in”; “We’ve only got one shot”; “Goin’ all in”; “gonna make it count” point to what success in life and living the more than ok life is all about. In our decisions in life we need to be thinking critically and with a serious sense of responsibility. It is about actively being engaged in our environments and understanding the power of each choice we make to create our futures. If we plan to make our lives count then it there needs to be an understanding we must be involved in life and making the best possible choices.
Then I also appreciate how the song ends with, “We gonna move, live every second, Make it count for you”. Life is not about being passive but active in “we gonna move”. There is no impact in life is we just sit on the sidelines passively hoping life to just hand us something. Sitting passively we either get dumped on with something negative or just nothing good ever happens. He challenges the listener to make life count even to the point of living each second, (“seconds” makes me think of another song but that will be for next week). Really the choice is ours as we can let life pass us by or make the most of it by living life as the real thing.

Reflection: Have you had times where you thought life was passing you by? What was happening in your life then and what choices were you making? How are you moving in life right now? How can you make your moments count?