My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Power In Poetry

Last week I attended a workshop at El Rocio Retreat Center in Mission Texas entitled “Psychology and Poetry: The Road to Creative Understanding” . The presenter was Dr. Ben Wilson, a retired Professor from Sul Ross University in Texas. I bought a copy of his poetry book, “Dithyrambic Musings of Benson O ‘Lotte”.

I wanted to see how poetry could be used in helping people work through issues in their lives. I was dreading the activity part as I figured we would need to write a poem and I have never considered myself a poet. It is the same way I look at art. I appreciate art talent and art museums but the max I can do with art is poorly drawn stick figures.

I went into the session with an attitude of what I could learn. Much of the time was spent reading poems on a variety of topics, forgiveness, anger, love, grief. Then we would discuss the poems discerning their meaning from our point of views. Digging into the meaning and hearing the stories behind the poems revealed a power of the poem to bring out emotion from victims of abuse, those going through loss of a loved one, or the anxiety of making a new move on the life journey. Poetry allows for creating a picture in the mind revealing the depths of emotions a person is dealing with. The therapist can use poetry to help a person get in touch with the emotions they are going through. Then solutions and new plans can develop through that. OF course a person does not need to be in therapy to make use of the power of poetry. From the experience I could see how people who enjoy poetry can use it as a personal tool to keep in touch withtheir emotions.

The last part of the session was our having to write a poem of something we were facing in our life. I did the poem below which I titled “Getting It Done”. I felt it was very simplistic yet is was encouraging to hear that those in the group appreciated it.

Getting It Done

For years the dream has been in my mind.
The Problem is getting it done.
Through the fog I see the dim vision.
The Problem is getting it done.
There is even passion in the heart for it.
The Problem is getting it done.
There is work, staying healthy,
Family duties, but more honestly fear.
The Problem is getting it done.

The poem relates to the fact that I was thinking of a couple ideas and things I have been wanting to do. Good ideas that deep inside I have a passion to do that I keep postponing. They are dreams that start to fade as the busyness of life overtakes my time. Many of the busy things that stop us from following up and completing our dreams -- projects are good things like our exercise schedule or family time. But they can push the passionate dream items further away into a foggy bog. But as I was writing the poem I thought is it really the duties and tasks in life that keep from working on our dreams. Those things accumulate due to a sense of fear of the dream. Fear of failure, Fear of what others may think. Overcoming the fear is making the choice to press on by turning that dream into a workable goal. Then fit components of the goal into a time schedule to accomplish that dream and make it a reality. So I am presently working on a timeline to complete the one dream I have in my mind.

An English Professor mentioned once to me that to be a good poet you need to read poetry so you may want to pick up a book of poetry from your local library. Or here are a few poetry websites you can check out to appreciate poetry more:

Read a poem and write out the emotions you see in it and what the meaning of the poem is to you. Then think over an important issue in your life and try to write a poem about it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Appreciate Natural Wonders

My wife, daughter and I just finished up a vacation traveling from Akron, Ohio with the final days enjoying Niagara Falls, New York. In having a more than ok life it is important to give yourself a break from the daily grind of work. Even if you have a job you love you need the rejuvenation of breaking away for a short time.

We took a week to first go visit family and friends in my hometown area in Ohio. We then drove on and stayed in Erie, Pennsylvania and finished up the final couple of days in Niagara Falls. In Erie we were told to visit Presque Ilse State Park. It is a wonderful nature park and I highly recommend it but it was the splendor of Niagara Falls State Park that made us think this was one the best trips we have taken.

When we first arrived in Niagara Falls we took a tour that combined the Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist Boat ride and several other scenic stops. I was skeptical as I felt it was pricey but afterwards we realized it gave us a chance to see numerous facets of the Niagara falls area since we only had a couple of days there. The tour also gave us a wealth of historical information from our tour guide. His name was Prady and called all of us in his van the “Prady Bunch”. I could tell he had a passion for what he was doing. He relished in sharing facts about Niagara Falls and added humor at the right time. If you have just a short time in Niagara I highly recommend to take a guided tour.

The next day we went back to Niagara Falls State Park. Walking through the park we were able to enjoy the beauty of the Falls at various angles. The majestic flow of the water and creative beauty of the rainbows at the base of the Falls on a sunny day, made me wonder how people cannot believe there is a Creator God. That is for me to keep wondering about and will share more on this in a future post on spirituality. I went back and forth from appreciation of the creation of nature around me to viewing the people of diverse nations who were visiting Niagara Falls. From young children to aging seniors, each face I saw had the same look of appreciating the rapturous views of the water falls.

Even though it was a diverse crowd the beauty of enjoying and appreciating nature created a oneness beyond racial barriers. People at parks are more open to be friendly. Offer to help someone out by taking a picture of their family on an inner city street and you get a glare. Here at Niagara and I have seen this at other parks; even though some people could not communicate because of language barriers a gesture to take a picture of a couple or family so someone did not have to be left out brought out brighter smiles. So consider on a future vacation to take in a national or state park. Soak in the visual splendors of creation in the trees, water, flowers, animal life. Enjoy meeting new people from diverse cultures who come to visit the parks.

We also took time to visit Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York. We were hungry by the time we made it there and enjoyed a lunch at the Village Diner. A clean, quaint restaurant with a view of the Niagara River as it enters Lake Ontario. Our daughter enjoyed their cheeseburger while my wife and I went with the healthier fresh wraps.

Fort Niagara was much better than we expected as they have University students dressed in early English and French costumes in the buildings. Their roles are to give historical information about the French and Indian War, the War of 1812 and general historical information of those time periods. The buildings and displays brought history alive.

In your work life do your best in your work but remember to take vacation breaks. Try out new places and take time to appreciate the scenic wonders wherever you travel whether in the USA or around the world.

Next time you are on vacation and are out in a nature setting take it slow. Don’t rush through it. Be mindfully present and enjoy the sights, the sounds, and smells of fresh air and flowers. Back at your hotel or back at home write down some of your favorite memories of the vacation. Share these savored memories with family and friends.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shine and Rise Above Boredom

A negative side of boredom is that it keeps us empty and feeling trapped in life. It keeps our aspirations down to just get by. My wife, daughter and I enjoyed a weekend recently in Kerrville at the Kerrville folk festival. I had been wanting to attend it for years as I remember enjoying the University of Chicago Folk Festival when I lived in Chicago. We need those times of breaking away from our routines to something different. The night we went we were inspired by the folk music of legends Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary fame. It was sad that Mary is no longer with them due to losing her hard fought battle with cancer. Their concert ended with all the children in the audience going up to sing Puff The Magic Dragon with them.

The inspirational part of their concert to me was to see both men continuing to grow in creating new music. They could have sat for an hour playing all their favorites and the crowd would have loved it but they each in an individual set, played some new songs as well as old favorites. This is an example of not getting trapped into set ways but rising above by keeping creativity flowing.

I came across this song by the metal band RED called Break Me Down which speaks to me about the battle of boredom. I felt the lyrics were descriptive of the sense of nothingness, being trapped in the shadows that we experience when we are controlled by boredom. The phrase, “I find a stranger trapped within” fits well with boredom as when boredom is with us too long we do feel strange as that is not the way we were created to be. Take a moment to reflect over the lyrics of the song. As usual when I do one of these song exercises I have the weblink to the song so you can listen to it. Try it out, if you do not enjoy metal rock you can always stop it and just reflect over the words. The link I am using puts the song to an anime video. I am including it as my teen daughter enjoys anime. Also I believe it sort of shows the battle that goes on in our life journey. Here is the link:"Break Me Down"
Songwriters: Armstrong, Anthony; Graves, Robert Douglas; Rauch, Jasen of RED

A long day alone, Emptiness is so real, Never having peace of mind
Running from what I can't see, And there is nowhere left to hide
Turn and face these empty eyes , All alone, heart untold, Trying to find

Break me down replace this fear inside Take this nothingness from me
I want to find, I want to shine, I want to rise, Break me down

I try to find myself, I find the stranger trapped inside
And I'll take one more step away, From the face I used to recognize
Familiar shadows closing in, Suffocating fear descends
It comes alive, uncovered eyes

I'm trying to find, Break me down replace this fear inside
Take this nothingness from me, I want to find
I want to shine, I want to rise, Break me down

Replace this fear inside, Take this nothingness from me
I want to find, I want to shine, I want to rise, Break me down

Break me down, I want to find, I want to shine, I want to rise, Break me down
Break me!
Here are some of my thoughts from the lyrics as I think over our battle with boredom in life, We were made by our Creator to be people who “find”. Meaning we have innate curiosity to grow and learn and explore new things. Observe young children, their eyes are always darting about looking at new objects in their environment with a deep curiosity. Boredom keeps us trapped in the shadows of our comfort zone and hinders us from exploring new ideas, new places, new environments, new books ( I had to get books into the list as a faithful bookhead).

We were also created to “shine”. God has given each of us talents and natural gifts to help us enjoy life more and to brighten the lives of others around us. But instead of shining with the talents we have our lives our dulled by the feelings of nothingness. It tells us there is nothing special about us, that we can’t do anything. There is that word can’t again. By breaking out of the nothingness of boredom we are free to shine in our talents so as to enjoy our life journey better and our shine can help brighten others lives.

Another aspiration placed in us by our Creator is to “rise”. We all want to be noticed and be recognized. Arrogance takes this aspiration to the extreme. At that point we are usually outwardly or inwardly disdained by others. There is nothing wrong with rising above the okness of life. There is nothing wrong in improving our talents and striving for excellence. On our trip to Kerrville I spoke with a cheerful hotel worker about my blog. She liked the title as she said she felt really great about her level of spirituality but the other areas of her life she admitted were just ok not really flourishing. I believe we can keep rising in a balanced way in all areas of our lives.

The song kept repeating the phrase, “Break me down”. I am not sure what the artists mean by that. I see it in the sense of taking an honest look at where we are at. As I have mentioned before boredom is a sign post trying to tell us either to take time to chill out and enjoy the present moment, or time to make a change in our lives. Break out and try something new. Take a trip to a folk festival, pick up a new book, learn a new hobby.

What is your Curiosity level? Are you still trying to “find” new things,(hobbies, music, sports, books, new friends) to improve your life?
What is your talent you have where you wish to rise and shine?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Self Efficacy and Happiness in the Workplace

With work taking up a large amount of our daily living I am always interested in how to keep work moving at a more than ok level. So I was intrigued at coming upon a book entitled, Happiness At Work: Maximizing your Psychological Capital for Success by Jessica Pryce-Jones. She is CEO of IOpener, a human asset management consulting group. In the future I will mostly likely touch on many of the topics she brings up in the book but today I want to look at a concept in her chapter on Confidence concerning Self-Belief. Another term for this is self efficacy.

Self efficacy is the internal feelings and beliefs we hold about we how can do at different tasks and knowledge. How capable do we believe we are. Albert Bandura the noted Psychologist known for his work on self efficacy defines it this way,” self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” This is our capacity to believe in ourselves which is important in our work life to make the most out of our time in the workplace. If we believe in our ability our work will flow much easier and we will have higher levels of satisfaction in what we are doing. It is also an impetus to keep us growing in our skills.

A big enemy of our self efficacy is “I can’titus”. It is the sickness that tells us we can’t perform as well as others. I can’t do this project. I can’t be creative in my work. The I cant’s bring stress to our work and drags out each work day. That is when the ball and chain feeling begins to overtake us.

By building up our self belief we can have more success on the job as we will reach our goals and perform better on our projects we do at work. We will be able to expand our possibilities more at work by creatively seeing new ways to help clients and customers. Creativity and skills levels grow when we have a positive belief about our capabilities. This allows us then a higher level of happiness in our work.
Some things that can build our self efficacy levels are to keep growing in our work skills. I can chant all day long that I believe that I am a great with my computer skills. Yet if all I know about the computer is how to push the power button my self belief statements are to no avail.

So be a lifelong learner, attend workshops, read up on journals and research in your work field. Attend conferences that relate to your work. Keep persistent in the difficulties of your work until you reach success. Don’t have a give up attitude but a keep on going and growing attitude. Learn from other co-workers. Don’t be an island, instead appreciate what others who work with you are doing, Also learn more about self efficacy to build up your levels of it. A professor at Emory university has a wonderful website full of information on the topic:
Check out the informational articles there on this important subject.

Our beliefs affect our job performance and the quality of our work experience. As stated in the past since we work about 80,000 hours in our lifo we want to make the most of that time instead of dreading that time. SO it is important to build up our self efficacy.

On a scale of 1-10 one being low and 10 high what is your level of self-belief about your work capabilities. Journal about a growth area you can improve on in your work life. Take the time to go to the emory website above and read up on self efficacy.