My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Looking At Life As A Road . . .

This past weekend my family and I were visiting Austin, Texas for the weekend. The Hill Country area of Texas is one of our favorite locations. The highlight of the trip was a Keiko Matsui concert at the One World Theater. About the One World Theater -- if you are in Austin check out this concert venue. The outside has the rustic Hill Country feel to it. Then inside the seating has a casual jazz club feel to the atmosphere. They offer pre-concert dinner packages so a couple or a group of friends can have a full enjoyable evening at their concert venue. Their website is . We did not partake in the dinner package as we were traveling such a distance and busy during the day we weren’t sure we could make dinner there in time.

Moving on to the actual concert, Keiko was showcasing her new CD, The Road… as well as playing some songs from previous recordings. We were looking forward to the concert as it has been over 10 years since my wife and I had heard her live in Chicago. This was also the first time our daughter had heard her live. Keiko did not disappoint our anticipation. She was energetic as always and exuded positive energy in her performing. Her new songs showed her continual growth in creativity. There were new styles mixed in with the familiar styles of her older work. That is what lifelong learning is all about -- continual growth and stretching to create the new. I found a couple of new songs from her CD already posted on YouTube. Check out the song Awakening by clicking on the title and you can enjoy the song. You will like the song so much you will want to purchase her CD at your local music retailer.

The concert was refreshing. Even though I had been sick that week the time in her concert strengthened my body and mind as I mindfully enjoyed listening to her music. She has a knack for having a great band to work with. Each of the players enjoyed what they were playing and are talented musicians each in their own right. I always enjoy a keyboard player who becomes absorbed into their instrument as I can tell the artist is experiencing flow and bringing out the best performance as possible. Keiko is like this and it makes watching and listening to her artistry captivating.

In one of the few times she spoke during the concert she touched on a concept that I want to share with you to ponder and savor in your thinking. She shared that in compiling the CD she was doing personal reflection on her life journey – something I encourage often on this blog. She titled the CD The Road. . . as each of our lives are like a road. Each one of us have a uniquely different road to travel with varying twists and turns. Our roads are made up of our relationships, environments, cultures, belief systems. The most important point she stated was that the true title of the CD focuses on the “Dot, Dot, Dot” as she emphasized the three consecutive periods after the word ”Road”. These simple dots stand for the simple reality that each day of our life our personal Road keeps going on. As with Dr. Krumboltz’s Happenstance theory and Dr. Bright’s Chaos theory, we do not know for sure what is around the bend or over the hill in our Road. But still we travel on. We travel on with positive anticipation for good ahead. Personally for me that is where my faith in God is often the strongest in knowing that He knows what is around each bend. Her sharing her heartfelt thoughts behind the CD helped me in my own personal reflection during the concert and allowed me to enjoy the experience of the concert on a deeper level. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Keiko in concert definitely take that opportunity on your road trip through life.


Take some quiet time with a piece of 8 ½ x11 paper and a pen. Draw a curvy road from the bottom corner to the opposite top corner. Divide the road in 10 year increments going a couple of increments past your present age. Jot down above and below the road key aspects of life that happened to you on that portion of the road. As for the 10 years beyond your present age jot down some dreams you would like to do in the next 10 to 20 years.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Getting Back Up From Hardships

Part of life is the hardships that come our way. The hardships come in varying degrees of difficulty. Each one of us face different hardships: job loss, loved ones dying, affairs, divorce, relationship breakups, illnesses, harsh weather events, (tornadoes and hurricanes), accidents, and tragedies such as the recent shooting I mentioned in the last blog post. These are negative happenstance events that no one plans for. At least no one I know plans and desires tragedies in their lives.

When we are hit by hardships are emotions are overwhelmed. We feel like the world is crushing us. This happens due to the shock value of the event happening without our full expectation of it. Granted some things such as divorces, job loss, and deaths from long term illnesses are not sudden shocks but still the pain of sadness, depression and anxiety has a strong impact on us.

At these times when we are knocked down by life that is when our resilience can come into play. The dictionary defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. We can bounce back up from hardships. We need not be completely crushed and debilitated from these events. It is natural to go through the “why me” stage and experience the negative emotions of what we are experiencing. But living a more than ok life means we move beyond the negative feelings to adjust on to a positive pathway.

I came across this song by musician Toby Mac which speaks to the importance of resilience in bouncing back and getting back up when life knocks us down. Click on the title of the song to hear a video of the song “Get Back Up” and reflect over what the song means to you.

Get Back Up Toby Mac

You turned away when I looked you in the eye
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright
Seems like you’re fightin’ for your life
But why, oh, why
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare
You saw it comin’ but it hit you out of nowhere
And there’s always scars when you fall that far
We lose our way, we get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again
And one day you gonna’ shine again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
We lose our way, we get back up again
So get up, get up, you gonna’ shine again
It’s never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
You roll out of the dawning of the day
Heart racin’ as you made your little get away
It feels like you been runnin’ all your life
But why, oh, why
So you pull away from the love that would’ve been there
And start believin’ that your situation’s unfair
But there’s always scars when you fall that far
This is love callin,’ love callin,’
Out to the broken this is love callin’
This is love callin,’ love callin,’
I am so broken
This is love callin,’ love callin’

In the song, words and phrases that relate to hardships and tragedies in my view were “middle of your nightmare” and “hit you out of nowhere”. Often on news stories about earthquakes or tornadoes people will describe the aftermath as like a nightmare. Being hit out of nowhere is the experiential feeling we have as if the wind is knocked out of you as you hear of an affair of someone you trust. Also many going through hardships, bear scars that may always be with them or take a long time to heal.

The positive phrases that speak to bouncing back from hardships are “So get up, get up, you gonna’ shine again” and “You may be knocked down, but not out forever”. It is true during hard times we are knocked down. But do we need to stay down? No, we can get back up again. Although the darkness surrounding us in the hard times feel like an eternity as the song says we will shine again. Often we shine brighter afterwards as we build up our inner self and grow in resilience ability for future hardships.

There is a spiritual element I believe to going through hardships and that is what Toby Mac is speaking of in the phrase, “This is love callin”. Sometimes in the hard times we feel alone and make ourselves more alone by pulling away from others. We become too caught up with “This is not fair” thinking. In that broken thinking we need to understand and be open to God calling to us with His love. Be open to the love of others He places around us.

I think through the hard times I have had in my life journey. I would never wish any of those times on anyone. But I can say each time I have bounced back and learned new aspects of my life journey in the process. Sometimes it took me longer to “Get back up again” and the hardest times, thankfully I had friends nearby to encourage me and often felt God’s presence during the time.

Think through a time of hardship you had. Write down what happened and what feelings you went through. How did you bounce back and who all was involved in the process? Fast forward past the event. Write down an event where you felt life was shining for you after the time of hardship. Be thankful for that shining time.