My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Being Grateful on Thanksgiving

Last week I attended the Texas Counseling Association’s annual conference in Galveston, Texas. Because of my work schedule I could only attend the one day I was presenting. It was a disappointment to me as I prefer attending a full conference to attend as many sessions as I can to learn, to improve and grow. A good thing about the trip was that my wife was able to go along We had an enjoyable evening going to the Festival Of Lights program at Moody Gardens. They have an amazing creative Christmas themed light display every December so while we were in Galveston that was a must.

What does that have to do with Thanksgiving? One thing is that I am writing this on Thanksgiving Day and the experience popped into my mind. Another is that I am thankful we had the opportunity as a couple to enjoy the Festival of Lights. Also one section of the session I presented on, Living More Than OK In Our Workplaces, was being grateful in our work. Having an Attitude of gratitude in our work and how it can help improve our work experience. I had a good group of people show up to the session. It was a Friday at noon session so as a presenter you never know how many will show up. During the time segment on thankfulness in the workplace, I appreciated how a number of the people shared what they were thankful for in their work settings. They all felt that hearing thankful thoughts about work made them feel better. That is one importance of having a grateful attitude.

This Thanksgiving I am sitting in a hotel room writing. This is because instead of getting up early to put the turkey in the oven and working on my sweet potato casserole we drove to visit my wife’s relatives and have a Korean styled dinner of kimbop rolls, (Korean Sushi rolls), and beef bulgogi. Since the family conversation would be in Korean which I do not know, I decided to use my time studying, reading, and writing. So it is a nice change of pace for a Thanksgiving.

Being Thanksgiving I brought along a book called, On Gratitude by Todd Jensen It is a series of interviews about gratitude with artists, singers, writers, sport stars. I read five of the stories; Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Daryl Hall, Ray Bradbury and Yao Ming. While reading I remembered those who attended my session at the conference who expressed their stories of thankfulness. I realized the high point in my session for me was hearing why they were thankful. The lesson I learned is we can improve in our attitude of gratitude by sharing and listening to others what they are thankful for in their lives. That is a key element to Todd Jensen’s book. The author has a website where you can learn more about being a grateful person and the importance of it at I would encourage you to check it out.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for it is a remembrance of the importance of giving thanks and having an attitude of gratitude. Culturally in our country I call it the forgotten holiday as the emphasis is on Halloween sales and then right into Christmas sales. I was pleased when I saw a person who posted on Facebook an ad from Nordstrom’s Department store that stated how they would be closed out of honor for Thanksgiving Day. I wish all stores would follow their lead and more so if the American public would follow the lead and not shop on Thanksgiving Day. Can’t people give it a rest one day of the year to be grateful in their hearts.

Of course books like On Gratitude, remind us that being grateful is not just for one day but a year round daily activity. Having a thankful heart benefits our living more than ok each and everyday.

Reflection: Look over the past week and write down a list of as many things as you can remember that you are grateful for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hold That Line To Your Victory

Having a presentation coming up at a conference I was looking for a Todd Rundgren song to play and came across his greatest hits CD on sale. As I was listening to the cd the song, Just One Victory, came on. Then I went to YouTube to watch a few of the videos pertaining to the song. I noticed in the comments several people who were battling with cancer or addictions had used the song as a motivator for their struggle. This is one reason over the years I appreciated and enjoyed Todd Rundgren’s songs. Of course there is his amazing musicianship and talent but his messages in the songs he writes have a positive feel about them. Well -- there is Bang On The Drum All Day. I am unsure of the philosophical message behind that.

Just One Victory is a great song looking at the issue of Resilience. There are thoughts of battling with weakness and struggles in life. With true perseverance and prayin’ there is no sign of giving up or giving in. As usual take time to listen to the song and meditate on the lyrics before going further. As you click on the title I have embedded a live concert link of Todd Rundgren and his band performing the song.

Just One Victory by Todd Rundgren (click on the title)

We've been waiting so long. We've been waiting for the sun to rise and shine
Shining still to give us the will, Can you hear me, the sound of my voice?
I am here to tell you I have made my choice
I've been listening to what's been going down There's just too much talk and gossip going 'round
You may think that I'm a fool but I know the answer
Words become a tool, anyone can use them Take the golden rule, as the best example
Eyes that have seen will know what I mean
The time has come to take the bull by the horns We've been so downhearted, we've been so forlorn
We get weak and we want to give in But we still need each other if we want to win
Hold that line, baby, hold that line Get up boys and hit 'em one more time
We may be losing now but we can't stop trying So hold that line, baby, hold that line
If you don't know what to do about a world of trouble You can pull it through if you need to And if you
believe it's true, it will surely happen Shining still to give us the will
Bright as the day, to show us the way Somehow, someday
We need just one victory and we're on our way Prayin' for it all day and fightin' for it all night Give us
just one victory, it will be alright We may feel about to fall but we go down fighting
You will hear the call if you only listen Underneath it all we are here together shining still

From the beginning phrase “We've been waiting so long We've been waiting for the sun to rise and shine” along with other phrases; “We've been so downhearted, we've been so forlorn” “We get weak and we want to give in”. I see the picture of people going through struggles, cancer, addictions, and depressions make people feel this way. The sense of waiting and wondering if the sun will ever shine again in their lives. I have had those times in my life. As I stated many of the YouTube comments related to cancer patients and addicts but I believe those going through the grief process of losing a loved one can find encouragement in this song. Any of these struggles make the person going through them think with a forlorn heart, “Is it worth going on??” “Maybe I should just give up and give in?”

That is where I appreciate the football analogy that comes in – “We get weak and we want to give in But we still need each other if we want to win Hold that line, baby, hold that line Get up boys and hit 'em one more time We may be losing now but we can't stop trying So hold that line, baby, hold that line.” Those lines made me reminisce back to high school days back in Barberton, Ohio being in the marching band during football season. I could visualize in my mind the crowd shouting, “Hold That Line, Hold that line.” Think of the analogy. If a football team is down by two touchdowns at halftime. Does the coach tell the team during the break, “Boys, you look pretty tired and we are behind. Let’s just give up and call it a night. I will tell the other coach we give up. There was a good movie on tv I wanted to see anyway!” No way! He motivates them with “The time has come to take the bull by the horns…” and “we still need each other if we want to win”. “We need just one victory at the beginning of the second half to get us going now go do it!!!” When going through life struggles we need to be our own coaches giving that kind of a pep talk. It also helps if you surround yourself with friends that can give you that kind of pep talk as well. The key to resilience is to keep on fighting for that victory!

We need to be disciplined and do our part, but as you know from my Christian worldview, I believe there is a spiritual element to our battles. I do not know if Todd Rundgren meant it this way, but with my spirit colored glasses I want to point out a few spiritual ideas I see in the song to consider. From the very beginning I see it with the phrase, “We've been waiting for the sun to rise and shine. Shining still to give us the will.” Granted physical sunny days can brighten our moods but does the physical sun give us the will to go on. From my view the Son, Jesus Christ gives us the will to go on through the battle or struggle. Of course to someone else reading this blog the phrase may relate to another spiritual force. I am just stating where I come from.
The same spiritual idea for me is found later in the song, “You can pull it through if you need to And if you believe it's true, it will surely happen Shining still to give us the will” If you believe it is true makes me think of the principle of faith and belief that is vital for our relationship and walk with God. The light of the Son continues to shine to give us the will to continue the fight. Right after those phrases is the phrase “Prayin for it all day”. Prayer is an instrument to being resilient in life’s trials for those who believe in a spiritual side to this life journey. We need to work hard for the victory and pray hard for the victory.
The last spiritual element I wish to point out is his mention of the Golden Rule early in the song. Todd Rundgren says, “Take the golden rule, as the best example” as to show us how to act as we fight through the struggle we may be facing. It is not do whatever it takes to win, instead it is act in an ethical manner. In Mathew 7:12 Jesus states, “So in everything, Do to others, what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.” Living that life helps us keep relationships strong through the difficulties of life. Words are easy -- it is the actions that are important.

In the end how we deal with our life struggles comes down to our choice as Rundgren states in the song, “I am here to tell you I have made my choice.” To gain that just one victory we need to make the choice not to give up in the middle of the game.

Reflection: Think over a victory you had in your past. What actions did you do to win the struggle? Who helped you during this time? Are you battling with something in your life right now? How are you going to hold the line to gain your just one victory?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting Around To It: A Fall Riverwalk Stroll

There are always more errands than time on a weekend. Often the errand lists stop us from getting around to pleasurable activities that can add to a Living More Than OK Life. Sometimes we need to take a break from the fast paced weekend duties to slow down and make the most of this thing we call life.

For months my wife and I had talked about taking a Saturday morning to stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk. Each weekend would come and go with new to do items filling up the weekend. Noticing that the weather was going to be clear on the weekend, I thought we would never get to our idea of enjoying that Riverwalk stroll if we kept letting the weekend rituals get the best of us. So we made a plan to use our Saturday morning to drive over to the Riverwalk.

We started at the Pearl Brewery, (due North and slightly East of Downtown), where they have a Farmers’ Market to enjoy on the weekend as well. This is also where the newest area of the San Antonio Riverwalk has been built. We had never been to this Farmer’s Market and quickly decided we must come back again to shop there. This morning’s mission though was the Riverwalk . We purchased a cup of homemade Strawberry Basil ice cream and headed over to the Riverwalk.

As we slowly walked towards downtown we took pictures of the landscaping of the gardens and trees alongside the river. There were a variety of flowers along the way. Since we were having some landscaping down at our house seeing the gardens along the way gave us more ideas for the future. At each of the bridges they showcased artwork and tile murals which added to enjoying the stroll. It took us about 40 minutes to make it to the Downtown area of the Riverwalk. Distance wise it was probably about a mile and a half from the Pearl Brewery area.

With all the walking and the sun coming out strong by 11 am we thought it would be best to grab a bite to eat before heading back to our car. We ate at an Italian Eatery, Michelina’s, right on the river. There is such a selection of restaurants on the Riverwalk. Italian is one of our favorites so this fit the bill. We were debating doing the walk back or taking a River taxi back up to the Brewery. After a tasty lunch we decided to walk back. Going back was a little more slow paced as I was taking more pictures since the sun was out. Also going back I liked the different perspective of the artwork along the way. Art is best viewed from different angles and perspectives.

Upon arriving home we both realized our muscles were feeling the miles of the walk. Time wise it did take longer than I had anticipated but we both had enjoyed the experience. It was important that we could enjoy that time together of enjoying the calmness of the new area of the Riverwalk with the trees, flowers and birds. Errands and fixing things up around the house are important too, but they are always there. Times together, enjoying the outdoors and people watching are helpful to refresh us from the weekly errand rituals we get stuck into in what feels like unending cycles of boredom. What have you been putting off getting around to?

Reflection: Look at your weather forecast and plot out a hike or bike activity during this Fall season. Take some time afterwards to reflect on the experience and how it refreshed and relaxed you.