My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Texas Book Festival: A Little Slice Of Heaven For A Bookhead

This past weekend I took the opportunity to attend the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas. Being a Bookhead I was looking forward to it. As I strolled through the Exhibitor's tent area a memory came to my mind of a yard sale we had in Brownsville before moving up to New Braunfels. I needed to trim back on my library so I had a table full of books for sale. An elderly man came by and when he saw the books he excitedly exclaimed, “I feel like a kid in a candy store.” Suffice to say he took most of the books off our hands. It was refreshing to see a fellow Bookhead with an excitement for reading.

My basic feeling about the day at the Book Festival was as if I was experiencing a little slice of heaven. A whole day related to reading, books, and authors. Who could ask for more? I can’t say I know what heaven will be like, but as a Bookhead, I imagine there will be a library there with all the literary works from history past.

The favorite part of the day at the Festival was attending lecture sessions lead by various authors. These were primarily held in the State Capital building. It helped to hear from the authors themselves about what the true background of their novels were about. Hearing about their life stories and how that connected to their writing, left me with a better understanding of the passion behind writing. In several cases it was insightful to hear the research that goes into the books. A couple of the authors mentioned how their most popular books took 8-12 years to write due to the research elements in them. The sessions I attended the authors were asked what writers influenced them. Each one had various works of literature and authors that influenced them. The common thread was rightly stated that if you plan on writing your better be reading. It should be common sense that a writer better be a Bookhead. Yet one of the authors mentioned from time to time she gets a statement from a young person that they want to be a writer but they don’t like to read. I have heard that from College students as well and I like the author just shake my head in confusion. How do they expect to write well if they do not read well? Why expect others to read your writing if you are not reading as well?

Being around a crowd of book-lovers for a day was encouraging as well. Before each session, I could hear discussions about reading all around me. At the Exhibitor's tents there were many publishers, the Texas Library Association had a booth, and more importantly organizations that encourage reading and literacy. That all encouraged me that all is not lost; as I read reports come out in the news of fewer people reading. There are organizations trying to encourage young people the importance of reading which is of interest to me. To have a strong stable society we need to have a literate citizenry.

This year I was only able to attend the one day of Saturday. Next year I do plan to enjoy the whole weekend of the book festival. Whether you are a Bookhead or not; do take advantage to attend Book Festivals in your area. If you are visiting Austin in October I highly recommend attending the Texas Book Festival.

Reflection: Use a search engine link Google or Bing and search for the name of your favorite author. Read about their lives. Or if there is a biography about them check at your local library for it. Does knowing about them better help you understand their books in a new light?

Here are a couple of links to find Book Festivals:

Maybe schedule a vacation to a book festival and of course did I mention, Austin is a great place to visit in October to attend the Texas Book Festival?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tapping Into Practical Spirituality In The Job Search

Recently I have been reading a number of career books to improve my thoughts on Career Counseling. One book I have working through is The Job Search Solution by Tony Beshara. He is the President and owner of Babich and Associates which is the oldest job placement firm in Texas. One thing that drew me to the book is that he obviously has a passion for helping people through the difficulties of the job search.

The best sections of the book for me were the interviewing process which is a scary process for many people. It is often a topic that is not discussed well in career books. Still there was a chapter that caught me off guard as I was not expecting the topic in a book about job searching. I was pleasantly surprised to see a chapter entitled, “The Benefits of Practical Spirituality”. What does spirituality have to do with looking for a job? Isn't that side of life just for religious types on the weekend? I could simply say “Buy the book and find out”, but that is not what this blog is about. Even though I encourage you if you work with career issues a lot this book will be a help to you in helping clients.
I will share some of the ideas he discusses in the chapter with you. What I like is that they are practical ideas so that even if someone is agnostic and the idea of humans having a spiritual side is nauseating they can still honestly see themselves incorporating these ideas. Also I believe the ideas can be helpful simply in our daily work lives.

The first idea he mentions is Be Grateful. I have written in the past on the importance of having a thankful spirit in our life journey. There is a wealth of research showing the importance of being grateful. Carrying an attitude of gratitude as the poplar phase goes, builds up a positive outlook to the our daily journey. I know from having been on job hunts myself that it is easy to get down negatively on life. When working to help those in the middle of a job search, I know being grateful after another job hunt dead-end is difficult. Those who do try writing down a few things they are grateful for each day, though find that an attitude shift occurs that helps the day to day job search process more manageable. This spirit of thankfulness helps in the daily grind of work as well.

Practicing Forgiveness is something the author mentions that again someone may think has nothing to do about the job search. Although if you think about it, an unforgiving attitude exudes bitterness about the gripe or complaint the person is often holding onto. Many times in the job search process maybe the issue that needs forgiveness was things that happened at a former place of employment. Maybe there needs to be forgiveness of themselves for making a bad choice in quitting a job too early or taking a job they knew they weren't qualified for. In today’s job world of layoffs possibly it is hard feelings about being downsized. Forgiveness can lighten the heavy spirit of bitterness that weighs on a person’s emotions. It is best to be rid of the bitterness as it can be a body language hindrance in an interview setting. Or even in a new job if the person has not let go of the past issues it can hamper work effectiveness.

Another idea that he mentions that meant much to me is looking at the power of prayer. He makes a point of saying not to pray for a specific job but to pray for wisdom and guidance in the job search process. I see this thought as praying for opportunities to open and then wisdom to know which opportunity to focus in on. Of course this idea is not attractive to those who disbelieve in the power of prayer. For those people he encourages them to look at this idea as creating a list of what he calls positive intentions that you desire to pass on to other people . This can relate I believe to visualization. Take some quiet time to visualize in your mind new opportunities and ways to help others and often you will become more aware of opportunities in your daily life. I strongly believe prayer is important is our daily work life as well, to live out the best intentions in our work and with our co-workers.

The idea of positive intentions towards others relates well with another idea he relates which is volunteering. Of course a job search should be considered a full time job until a person finds work. But finding some time to volunteer is a positive experience to help others. Of course it can be a productive networking experience as well for those on a job search. For those who are working, volunteering is an extra way to give back to your community in your local church, synagogue or community service group. It provides a positive example to your children and enriches your life as you are giving to others often less fortunate than you are.
Tony Beshara’s chapter on Practical Spirituality in the job search process has a number of other ideas. I just wanted to touch on a few here that stood out to me. Hopefully if these wet your mental appetite you will look for his book at your local library or bookstore near you.

Reflection: How does Gratefulness, Forgiveness, Prayer, and Volunteering relate to your career life? Write your thoughts down in your journal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Improving Your Attitude Is Important In Living More Than OK

What is it that shapes our outlook on each day and our future? How can several people experience the same event and have totally different feelings and ideas about it? One person looks at a rainy day as a terrible nuisance and another thinks it is helpful for the plants and nature or enjoys it as a great day to relax and read, (my personal favorite). This shaper of our mental outlook is our attitude. We all have an attitude all the time. The problem is what kind of attitude do we carry around with us?

There is a motivational company called Simple Truths that promotes positive books on a variety of topics. They also have short motivational videos that are very uplifting to the spirit and can help think over better ways to live our lives. I want to share with you one that is on the topic of Attitude. Before we progress further take a moment and click on the below title and watch the video:

Attitude Is Important (Click on Title)

There are too many uplifting ideas in this video to expound on in this short blog post. I just want to touch on a few that meant the most to me as I watched it. The first is what I think most of us relate to when considering attitude. Stay Positive. A positive attitude is so important to living the best life possible. I often ask college students in lecture who would you rather hang around with? Someone with a positive attitude towards life or a negative attitude? Always the response is the desire to be with a positive attitude person. There is always the rare wise aleck student that states they enjoy negativity.

To have the best life possible, we need to as the video states, have an attitude that “Expects the Best”. If we expect the best, that attitude motivates us to do our best to get what we desire. To go for our dreams and reach our goals we need to have that expectation of the best to fully reach them. Listen to testimonials of sport stars and musicians you will often catch that “expecting the best attitude” in their talk. This drives their discipline to be the best. We each can use that attitude in achieving what we each are passionate about.

Attitudes are relational as they affect how we relate to those around us. The thought in the video about an attitude of kindness is important to consider. “It is not the things you get, but the hearts you touch that will determine your success in life”. The kindness attitude seeks to help build other people up not to tear them down. A good question to ask in relating to others is how do we view others? Is it with a kind heart or a disdainful heart? Greater than kindness is having a loving attitude. The quote in the video is so true which I believe is why they call their company Simple Truths. “Love doesn't make the world go round – Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” To live a life of purpose and fulfill our mission God has us in this life for is to be people with loving attitudes. This is why the Bible states the “greatest of these is love” in I Corinthians 13.

Another question I want to end with is in the middle of the Simple Truths video clip. It speaks of how attitudes are contagious. Attitudes can rub off on others. Consider a work situation where negative comments are being tossed about by a worker who has a bad attitude. Soon others chime in and try to one up the negative statements. The work climate soon becomes very negative and gloomy. Consider the same work group situation but this time a positive attitude person encourages a co-worker and is always cheerful and kind. Often then the office atmosphere becomes more positive. So here is an important question to consider – Is my attitude worth catching?

Reflection: What were the main ideas of the attitude video that caught your attention? The video speaks of singing your song. Is there a song you like that could be considered your life theme song?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting’ In The Flow With Van Morrison

As I was watching the news on TV a commercial for a new Van Morrison CD caught my attention. The title struck me, Born to Sing: No Plan B. Being a Career Counselor I always encourage students to have a plan B & C in their lives so the title caught me off guard. Then what really drew me was the R & B hook of the first song’s chorus, “Open the door to your heart, Open the door to your heart, Get back in the flow, open the door to your heart.” This made me want to explore the song more as the concept of the chorus speaks to me of moving in a positive direction.

In the liner notes for the cd the description of the song, Open The Door To Your Heart is stated this way, “the private man, (meaning Van Morrison), introduces us to some of his permanent truths”. Later in the liner notes Van Morrison states concerning the messages in the songs of the album, “These are all just ideas…songs are just ideas, concepts and you just put the mic there and go. There are no rules that say you can’t have different ideas – in fact why not? Why not have different ideas.” So as usual when I focus in on a song listen to the song first and I will share some ideas that came to me in the song. Click on the title above the lyrics to hear a live version of Van Morrison performing the song.

Open The Door To Your Heart by Van Morrison

Open the door to your heart, Open the door to your heart,
Get back in the flow, open the door to your heart.
Money doesn’t make you fulfilled, Money’s just to pay the bills,
It’s need not greed, Open the door to your heart
If You’ve got eyes to see and ears to hear,
Then why don’t you quit crying in your beer my dear.

If nobody gets what they want, tell me what’s the use in that,
Everybody just gets fat, open the door to your heart,
Backbiters always make mistakes if you want to get an even break,
Think of everything that’s at stake, Open the door to your heart.

Don’t you think I know who my enemies are,
Their slip is showing and the door is ajar,
Well this time they pushed me too far, open the door to your heart.
If You’ve got eyes to see and ears to hear,
Then why don’t you quit crying in your beer my dear.

If you can’t hear the song your wrong, I’ve been around too long,
Just listen to the words that’s all, open the door to your heart,
Open the door to your heart, Got to get back in the flow
Open the door to your heart, Come on,
Yeah, Yeah, Open the door to your heart, Open the door to your heart
Get back in the flow, open the door to your heart.

The chorus is what first drew me to the song. The phrase “Got to get back in the Flow”, reminds me of the concept of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his work on the concept of Flow. That feeling of being absorbed and fulfilled in what we are doing. IN the sports world they speak of being in the zone. That is flow which is important to living more than ok. It is living at peak performance. This part of the song to me causes me to think of how am I living my life? Am I closed off to the desires of my heart just existing in drudgery or a dullness of life? I should open the door in my heart to all that my God has for me in life to enjoy and fulfilling my potential. Getting back in the flow of what my potential and possibilities are brings fulfillment.

Van Morrison states what will not bring fulfillment. Money and greed does not bring fulfillment. Materialistic greed is one theme that goes through the CD. Granted money is needed in life but the quest for more and more does not truly satisfy the heart. Also he repeats the phrase, “quit cryin in your beer.” Moping around and feeling sorry for oneself will not fulfill us as well. Have a pity party and see how many people come. People will stay away. He keeps going back to the choice we need to make to, “Open the door to your heart, Got to get back in the flow Open the door to your heart, Come on, Yeah, Yeah, Open the door to your heart, Open the door to your heart Get back in the flow, open the door to your heart.” If we “got eyes to see and ears to hear” we should listen to his words. The song on the CD ends with a joyful emphasis on repeating the chorus.

Reflection: Are you living with an open heart? How can you get into the flow personally for a more fulfilling and joyful life? Jot down a few ways you can personally move more towards getting into the flow of life.