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)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Awaken Into The New Year



As I was thinking about closing out another year on my life journey and moving forward into 2016 I was in my office listening to a P.O.D. cd The Awakening. Listening to them I always think back to a college student, Heath, I had when I taught at the TSTC Harlingen, Texas campus. He would come into my College Success class wearing a P.O.D. T-shirt. They were his favorite band he told me. Heath carried a positive energy in wanting to be a welder to help out his mother and younger brother in Rockport, Texas. His life was cut short by a young girl driver who was more interested in driving and talking on her phone than driving.

Listening to the title cut on the CD, I felt the song has a great message for preparing for the New Year. Each New Year can be a great awakening in moving forward to new growth and possibilities. To do so we need to take the moment mindfully to reflect and make the right choices in moving forward. Take a moment and listen to the song and reflect on the lyrics.

The Awakening by P.O.D. (Click on the title to hear music video)

I, I'll take this moment
to make up my mind and decide
If I want to stay broken
Or leave all these feelings behind
(Leave these things behind)

My, my eyes are open
So I can't deny
Say goodbye to all this commotion
And try and find your way so you can shine
(find your way to shine)

[Chorus]
I'll stand unbroken
My eyes are open
My great awakening
The truth is spoken
My eyes are open
To this great awakening

I, I can feel the changes
It's how I want to be
And now I gotta keep it moving
If I really want to be free
(If I want to be free)

I, Still I will follow
Even if there's no one else but me
So let's live like there's no tomorrow
And love like if everyone believed
(If everyone believed)

[Chorus]

My eyes are open
And now I can see
Everything before me
I'm right where I should be


The song to me brings about a reality about our lives that if we are open to the spiritual, mental and emotional struggles we face each year we each deal with areas of brokenness in our lives. As we move forward we each have the choice is we “If I want to stay broken, Or leave all these feelings behind.” The choice is ours to stay broken or grow to where our lives can shine as we are meant to shine. We are not meant to live stuck in brokenness. Often we are stuck by the brokenness or letting the commotion of life cloud our vision. In living a purposeful abundant life we are in an upward growth spiral of growth and shining a light to others to move upward in their lives as well.

The lines in the song “My eyes are open, My great awakening” remind me that for a personal awakening we need to be mindful of having our eyes open to our true selves. We can be blind to our brokenness if we are not willing to open our eyes. In the Bible Psalm 119:18 reminds us, “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” In Ephesians 1:18 the Apostle Paul prays for people “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”. So it is not the physical eyes that need to be opened but our spiritual insight that needs opened. This goes back to a personal choice to be open to having open eyes.

Another phrase that stands out to me is “And now I gotta keep it moving, If I really want to be free”. Keep moving is a reminder to not be stuck in brokenness or just the blasé attitude of just getting by ok. Make a positive choice to be free of okness and move to Living More Than OK by having a continual growth mindset. Our open eyes with the right choices can be fixed on a future of shining new opportunities. That is what I hope for people in the New Year of 2016.



Reflection: What particular phrases in the song “The Awakening” stood out to you? What brokenness have you experienced that may be holding you back from shining? In what ways do you want to shine in the New Year?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What Does Christmas Mean To You?



This Christmas I want to pose a question of What Does Christmas Mean To You? For each of us we carry differing memories of Christmas from our histories and family systems. I remember simple Christmas times growing up in a single parent home due to my father’s death when I was only two. My mother was a simple giving person. She would always remember missionaries she prayed for and at Christmas time send them Christmas calendars. She would also make up simple littles gifts to give to her friends. So Christmas was a time of giving and thinking of others.

Christmas was also a time of enjoying the Ohio snow with sledding on one of the local big hills. Building snow men and snow forts was fun as a child. Of course I appreciate more now the lack of snow, and warmer temperatures of our Christmases here near the Hill Country of Texas. I can always go back to the memories of enjoying the snow as a child.

I came across a Christmas CD recently that has been out for a few years, The Christmas Project by John Schlitt. It puts a harder rock edge on a number of the Christmas classics. I always enjoyed his singing with Petra, so I thought I would check it out. On the CD there was a song I had never heard of, What Christmas Needs To Be. I have the words printed here and a link to the actual song on Youtube. Give it a listen and think over What Does Christmas Mean To You?

What Christmas Needs To Be (click on title to hear song)

Whatever happened to this place I used to know so well.
I remember simpler times where did they go? Farewell.
Didn’t matter ‘bout the “how we make its”
We were happy just to celebrate it.
It’s Christmas now, The Gift of Heaven given.
Love can be found in every heart that hears it.
A Baby crowned, the Hope of our salvation.
He is what Christmas needs to be.
What would Christmas be without the things we dread.
What would happen if we chose to give ourselves instead.
It’s not about the gift we’re bringing.
It’s’ more about the song we’re singing
It’s Christmas now, The Gift of Heaven given.
Love can be found in every heart that hears it.
A Baby crowned, the Hope of our salvation.
He is what Christmas needs to be.
With just one life all things were changed.
A Child is born to light the way.
Didn’t matter ‘bout the “how we make its”
Just remember why we celebrate it.

As someone who comes to life from a Christian worldview the song helps capture what Christmas means to me. The message of the song points to how for me, Christmas is the hope and love of God that comes to us through His Son Jesus. An important phrase is “Love can be found in every heart that hears it.” We need to hear God’s message with anintent on believing it. The simple truth from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him has eternal life.”.

Another important phrase for me is “What would happen if we chose to give ourselves instead.” This makes me think back to how my own mother was a giving person. The idea is to move beyond the idea that Christmas is all about the gifts and the stuff or as the song says the “how we make its”. Move more towards enjoying the simple moments of love and caring about those around us.

Christmas can be a stressful time. Take a break from the stress with a cup of hot tea, coffee, or chocolate and think through mindfully what actually Christmas means to you.


Reflection: What stood out to you personally as an important phrase in the song, What Christmas Needs To Be. Write down three of your most favorite Christmas memories from the past. Think over how you can make this Christmas more meaningful?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Growth Reminders From The 7 Habits



A friend sent me an email just the other day, wondering if I was alright since I had not posted a blog since mid-November. The ongoing saga of trying to complete my PhD Comps Exam has continued to wear me out but I am not down and out yet. A timely help of mental refreshment came in the form of a training workshop for my work as an adjunct professor for the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio. I had the privilege for the past two Saturdays to do all day training on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People based on the philosophy of Stephen R. Covey.

The two trainers from the Alamo Colleges made the trainings an enjoyable time due to their passion for the 7 Habits and their passion for instruction. It is always uplifting to see people doing what they love.

The 7 habits of highly effective people are as follows:

1 - Be Proactive
2 - Begin with the End in Mind
3 - Put First Things First
4 - Think Win-Win
5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
6 – Synergize
7 - Sharpen the Saw

As I reflect on the training time, my favorites of the habits are 1 and 7. Of course to be the best you can in habit 7 you need to be establishing habits 1-6 in your life. There are principles behind each habit that help us in living the best life possible and being the best we can be. Covey’s writings were one inspiration behind my book, Living More Than OK, as in that book my desire is for people to live the best life possible of abundant living.

In this blogpost I will share some of the reasons I find inspiration from my favorites of the habits; starting off with the habit 1 theme of “be proactive” which is the habit of choice. The principle behind this theme is, “I am free to choose and am responsible for my choices.” (Stephen Covey). We have unlimited opportunities when we understand that we are not victims but have the ability to make choices for the good in our lives. Too many people have bought into the myth that we are mere animals that respond to the stimuli around us and we can’t help the negativity that comes into our lives. We are victims the lies tell us. The first habit principle awakens us to the reality that within each stimulus that touches our lives we have the freedom to choose how to respond.

For example within this principle there is the concept “carry your own weather”. On cloudy days or rainy days it is easy to fall into the stimulus- response trap of being down and sad. But when you carry your own weather you can choose to live like a sunny day on a cloudy day. Choose to carry a smile and cheerful attitude on a cloudy day and see how your response to the day changes. There is power in the freedom to choose to move up from living ok, to Living More Than OK.

Looking at habit 7 the theme is “Sharpen the Saw” the habit of renewal. This habit reminded me of a time I tried to cut tree limbs with an old dull saw. Not very effective. Our lives are not effective either when we do not sharpen the saw. What is the saw in our life? It is -- our life—our inner being. The principle behind this habit is, “To maintain and increase effectiveness, we must renew ourselves in body, heart, mind and soul.” This habit speaks to the important need of lifelong learning and taking care of ourselves in all spheres of our lives: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. To be effective and live an abundant life there is a need to be balanced in each of these spheres of living.



I try to drive home to my college students and in my blog writings here, the importance of our personal choices. Our choices either move us in positive directions or negative ways so we need to choose with wisdom. Then we need to remember to never stop growing so as to stay sharp in responding to all the possibilities and opportunities that come across our life journey.


Reflection: How can you make wise choices in your life? Write down a few ways you can grow in the mental, physical, social/emotional and spiritual spheres of your life.


















































































































































































































































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

scorched

by the sun

jolted

by raindrops

blasted

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 - www.poetryfoundation.org/

A poets organization - www.poets.org/

Poetry.com has a wide variety of poems -- www.poetry.com/

If you are interested more in the therapy side of poems look to -- poetrytherapy.org/



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 http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/medias-latest-phony-attack-on-ben-carson/#BjtbviKbHCrkTboK.99). 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
Chorus:
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?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Quotes Challenge the Mind and the Heart



I enjoy quotes. Often in emails to students I will sign off with a motivational quote to help them in their life journey. An uplifting quote can aid in perking up a difficult day or be an encouragement with struggles you may be facing. There are numerous quote websites you can go to search for quotes with many of the sites listing the quote on a creative background. There are also books of quotes you can purchase and one that I have in my library is a book of heartfelt thoughts – Thoughts Spoken From The Heart: Over 500 Thoughts That Bring Meaning To Your Life written by Lolly Daskal. These are not quotes from various people rather these are meaningful thoughts from her heart.

I came across Lolly Daskal’s writings by happenstance of noticing her topics coming across my Twitter feed. She does writing for Inc.com, Fast Company and Psychology Today. She is founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership, executive coaching, and consulting firm based in New York City and has over 30 years of experience. Her website is http://www.lollydaskal.com where you can check out some of her articles.

I would like to share with you samples of her quotes from her book that stood out to me.
“Instead of waiting for confidence, act as if the change you desire has already taken place.” This one stood out to me, as it reminds me of Dr. Alfred Adler, the famous philosopher and psychiatrist, who used the “as if” technique in therapy. If a client wanted to be more confident what would that look like? He would encourage them to go out and act like they were confident even though at the moment they did not feel like they were confident.

“Passion is the secret to many success stories.” This thought by Lolly Daskal reminds me of the many books I have read over the years of successful people. When you study the lives of those successful be it in business or the arts they have an underlying passion in their life that they follow. It makes me think what am I passionate about?

“Self-confidence is not about the impression you give to other people, but who you are on the inside.” Recently I saw a t shirt that read “I’m Different”. We are each uniquely created people with our own talents and strengths. Our self-confidence needs to come from a healthy pride in knowing who we are and accepting of ourselves. Granted I add we need to continually grow to improve but be proud of your unique God given strengths.

“Never compare yourself to someone else. You never really know their life behind closed doors.” It is so easy to compare our lives to others and think that the grass must be greener in their pasture. It is best to compare your life with how you want to improve by looking at yourself in the mirror instead of trying to be like someone else. It is possible the person you think is so together is looking back at you wishing they had your life.

“Make your values your guiding star for life.” This quote reminds me of how ancient mariners would often use the stars to guide their ships. What are the stars you use to guide your life? Lolly so rightly brings up in this quote the importance of having solid values to guide our lives. As I have mentioned in the past we each look at life from a world view and mine is the Christian worldview. So the basis of my values are principles found in The Bible and in trying to follow the life of Christ as much as possible. We each need to think through what values are guiding our lives.

I hope in sharing a small sample of the quotes in Lolly Daskal’s book that will encourage you to seek our quotes in your life. Some quote websites will even send quotes to your phone daily. Do stop by her website listed about and check out some of her articles she has posted.


Reflection: Which of the 5 quotes from Lolly Daskal spoke to you the most? What is one of your favorite quotes? Do a search on quote websites and choose a thoughtful quote for your day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Reading Matters in Tech Distracted World



This past weekend I was at a training day for my work as an adjunct professor at a local college. The main speaker and one other session I attended lamented the struggle of getting college students up to the challenge of reading for their classes. This reminded me of the “surprising book facts” graphic shown above that a friend recently had posted on Facebook. The stats on reading were concerning to me as someone who loves reading and promotes reading to students. There was no source listed so I wonder if some of the stats may be too high but sad to say from other reports I have read on reading in America I don’t think they are too off.

How do we get the message out that “reading matters”? I would like to share some thoughts from a small book by David Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading. It is based on an essay he wrote for the LA Times on August 9, 2009. The books seems to be a response to a young family member saying to him that “reading is over”. In our modern culture of less and less reading being done, it is easy to feel that reading is over. That is where I feel it is important for those who love books and know the importance of reading to promote the importance of reading and that it makes a difference.

Ulin shares how he grew up in a house full of books so he was aware of books from a young age. I like what he states about what drew him to reading, “ their nearly magical power to transport us to other landscapes , other lives.” (page 10). That is one element I remember of books I read in Summer reading programs as a child. From my small town in Ohio I was able to learn of diverse other places and peoples in the world. He shares how reading impacted other writers as well. He lists a long quote about reading from a writer Frank Conroy’s memoir , “Safe in my room with milk and cookies I disappeared into inner space. The real world dissolved and I was free to drift into fantasy, living a thousand lives, each one more powerful, more accessible, and more real than my own.” (page 12) I response to that Ulin states, “…you get a whisper of the power of books to change us to alter our emotional DNA. The key is to think about reading as a journey of discovery, and excavation of the inner world.” The idea of inner space relates well to my early reading experiences. I felt like I was in a different world.
Other important points about reading he brings out is “Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being… This is what Conroy was getting at, the way books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own.” (page16). This thought relates to deep mindful reading which is truly an act of contemplation. That is what is so relaxing about reading and yet it is building up our minds and imaginations.

This strengthening of the mind is weakened by the modern habit of surfing the internet. Ulin describes research that discusses how high tech Web surfing impedes comprehension and concentration. He quotes a section from Carr in The Shallows where a UCLA researcher describes the results of studies on those who surf the net : “That ‘our growing use of the Net and other screen based technologies,’ has undermined “our capacity for the kind of deep processing that underpins mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.” (page 133). To me that describes our dumbed down population lacking in critical thinking which I mention in my Critical Thinking chapter of my book, Living More Than OK. All those good mind qualities mentioned can be strengthened by committing to the habit of reading. Think over the final statement in the “surprising book facts” I posted at the top of this post. Just reading 1 hour a day for 7 years in a subject can make you an expert. One hour doesn’t seem like much but multiply it out 7 times 365 days a year and you have 2,555 hours of reading. Also consider the graphic below about students doing reading 20 minutes a day which I felt was an eye-opener. Clearly it can be seen that reading matters!


Near the end of the book is an important thought that booklovers need to reflect on in promoting reading. “Lately, I’ve begun to think of this as the touchstone of a quiet revolution… Reading , after all, is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction, a matter of engagement in a society that seems to want nothing more than for us to disengage. It connects us at the deepest levels; it is slow, rather than fast. That is its beauty and its challenge: in a culture of instant information, it requires us to pace ourselves…In the midst of a book, we have no choice but to be patient, to take each thing in its moment to let the narrative prevail.” (page 151). If we know reading matters we need to speak up and promote reading, support our local libraries, and local bookstores in our towns. Reading has enriched my life over the years and will continue to be one of my favorite natural highs that make life a living more than ok experience.

Reflection: Why does reading matter to you? What do you think of the thought that reading one hour a day for 7 years can make you an expert? How can you promote reading?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Waiting to Read My Dream Booklist



From time to time I have mentioned one struggle with working on my Ph.D. in psychology while balancing work and family. It is that my reading focuses in on my research and classes leaving little time for enjoyment reading. I do enjoy my research reading as most of it relates to Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory that I am passionate about. My problem is there are so many other books on other topics I would love to read but just do not have the time. That is where in my side reading of books about reading I found in the library a title, relevant and interesting to my present life. The book is So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading. It is written by Sara Nelson. I found out through Wikipedia that she is currently editorial director for Amazon books. She has a rich history in the book industry as a former editor of Publisher’s Weekly and editor for the book section of Oprah’s Magazine. She obviously is a person with a passion for books and reading.

Her book was a quick read for me that I could fit in between my studies and breaks between clients in my counseling practice. So Many Books, So Little Time is about her attempt to read a book a week over a span of a year. It reminded me of a professor I had when I was working on my Master of Divinity in the Chicago Area. He encouraged us to read a book a week outside of our studies. I liked the idea but with my work schedule and classes I hardly ever did it.

Sara Nelson’s book opened my mind to make a commitment to work on the books I have been missing during my doctoral work. After my dissertation is finished one of my main commitments will be to try to read a book a week for a year. Of course I still have some months before I can even start that stage but the important thing is that reading this book refocused my mind on looking forward to reading throughout a year. I easily have 50 books on my Dream Booklist.



The enjoyment in reading this book was that it wasn’t just a summary of the books she had read. Instead she brings the reader into her life throughout the year of balancing her professional life, her family life and her reading life. For a passionate reader there are tips on selecting books and insights into the publishing industry that add interest to the book.
One of many standout thoughts in the book came at page 84, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans, John Lennon once wrote. Put another way: Any writer who is honest will tell you that she usually comes up with her best lines or her important transitional paragraph not when she’s sitting in front of the computer, watching the clock, or using the word count mechanism in her word processing program, but when she is stepping into the shower, making dinner, or cleaning the cat litter. Getting lost in a book is the same way; try to force yourself to get engaged with something and you probably won’t. But take your time and have patience, and you’ll slide almost unknowingly into the right thing.” This reminded me of Dr. Krumboltz’s thoughts on happenstance. With reading it relates as well, to moving into flow in reading. It happens with the right material that the reader finds interesting and is challenged in reading through the material.

If you are a Bookhead who enjoys reading you may want to see if your local library has So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson. The book will encourage you in your love of reading and challenge you to keep reading a priority. She also shows that readers can have a life as well. They are not stuck in their favorite reading chair all the time 24/7.

Reflection: Some of the books Sara read were re-reading of books. Are there any particular books you have read in the past that you want to read over again? What are some books you would want to read if you made a passionate reading commitment for the next year?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Encouraging Reading to Improve Futures



With my college students I encourage them to read as it is important for their minds and their futures. I often am greeted by stares and replies that reading is boring. I believe that response is the result of years of mind numbing television that is passed off as entertaining. I try to emphasize to them what Dr. Ben Carson says about reading, “Reading activates and exercises the mind. Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts. Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined.” That quotes is from Dr. Ben Carson’s book, Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. That quote and Dr. Carson’s life are examples of how reading is a foundational block to success.

In my recent reading about reading I came across thoughts from two books at my local library that encourages reading in young people. The first book is Born Reading, by Jason Boog. The subtitle is very important is this era where reading is becoming less and less of a passion. His subtitle is “Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between. For the sake of a brighter future of humanity we need more bookworms.

Jason shares a major impetus for writing the book was his desire to share his passion for reading with his daughter. In the introduction of the book he discusses a study “How to Make a Young Child Smarter” in a 2013 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science that showed increases in a child’s IQ through interactive reading. The article stated the earlier the better. So much of the book discusses interactive reading. This shows the importance of parents taking time to read to their children. Then when the children begin to read have them join in by reading aloud to the parents. The interaction increases by using the reading time to discuss the story or material that is being read.

Over the years we have often used after dinner time to read through a book as a family. Often it was our daughter doing the reading or we would take turns reading sections of book we were working through at the time. As Jason emphasizes, our reading time would include questions afterwards or sharing what the reading was about. That increases the effectiveness of interactive reading.

Jason discusses electronic readers and mentions research and even thoughts from App designers that encourage limiting the use of electronic devices with young children. He mentions a quote from one librarian that mentions how tablets have become the new babysitters. I see this in children in therapy whose parents complain they only want to play games on tablets and not do anything else. Yet who is allowing the children to be on the tablets gaming all the time? Parents need to take charge and have young children do more than stare at the tablets continually. I enjoyed reading Born Reading and thought one way to turn our faltering country back to a creative and critical thinking pro-growth country, would be to give every parent this book as they leave the hospital with their new born child.


Another book that was a standout in encouraging reading is Raising Ravenous Readers by Linda Schwartz. It focuses in on children 8-12. The book is more a variety of activities to help promote reading. Two major focuses of the book was to help young people find material to read based on what they are interested in. I know many college students have told me their struggle with reading was in school always being forced to read material that did not interest them. This can be turned around if in the important ages of 8-12 students are introduced to libraries and finding books on topics that interest them. Linda Schwartz promotes the use of libraries in her book.

She also like Jason Boog, emphasizes the importance of interactive reading in making some time as a family for reading. Have conversations with children about the books that they are reading. A passion for reading can be developed by simply reading to children for 20 minutes a day. I like how she emphasizes libraries but she also importantly mentions visiting children sections of bookstores. I remember hearing a story at a counseling convention of how for a contest, one small town school had winners in a state poster contest. The winning students received Barnes & Noble gift cards. The principal took the students to the nearest big city that had a Barnes & Noble store. She said the students had never been in a bookstore before and were amazed. So, opening young children’s minds to bookstores helps to build a passion for reading as well.
Bookworms need to keep multiplying by encouraging reading. The two books listed here can help in giving you ideas on how to encourage reading in young people in your sphere of influence.

Reflection: Who inspired your love of reading? How can you encourage a new generation of bookworms in your sphere of influence?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Still Time for Summer Reading



I was in my local New Braunfels Public Library just the other day and picked up a “Every Hero Has A Story” bookmark. That is the theme for library Summer reading programs this year. When I picked it up, I realized I had not done my early Summer plug for library reading programs in my blog this year. Actually I am surprised that the Summer is half over. With our trip to Australia and my intense final classes for my Ph.D. and formulating my dissertation question and topic I forgot about the reading programs.

The librarian I spoke with did tell me they were having a good year with the reading program here in New Braunfels. Here is the link to the New Braunfels reading program - newbraunfels.libguides.com/srp What I like to see is that they offer the programs for children, teens and adults. I am glad my coursework in my Ph.D. is over, so next year even though I will be busy on my dissertation I can go through the 2016 reading program in the adult category.

I decided to look up my hometown of Barberton, Ohio library’s program to see what they were doing for their reading program. This is the link to the Barberton program - www.barbertonlibrary.org/2015srp . I noticed they link a series of activities that go along with their reading program for children and early teens. I remember fond memories of going through their reading program when I was in elementary school. That is when I began my love of reading. The program opened my mind up to various types of fiction such as the Hardy Boys mystery series. I also enjoyed reading stories about different parts of the world and differing cultures. I would not be the same person I am today if my mother had not encouraged my participation in the Barberton Public Library reading program. It is a reminder of how small events in life can have lifelong impacts years later.

Most reading programs are wrapping up at the end of July. It is important to note though that school does not start until the end of August. So if you missed the reading programs there is still time to visit your local library and pick some books of interest for reading on a Summer day or weekend. Also remember as well, the library is there year round for you to keep reading alive in your life throughout the year.

Reflection – Do you encourage your children or grandchildren in Summer reading programs at your local library? You can help in building a positive habit in their lives. How about yourself? Check out the various programs for adults in your local library? There are book clubs and reading challenges for adults throughout the year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More Australia Dream List Enjoyment



I received an email wondering why my blog stopped. Part of the problem was coming down ill after vacation. I have been battling a light bronchitis so energy has been low so priority has been my counseling job and my PhD classes. While Australia is fresh on my mind, I wanted to write up the second part of my thoughts.

First of all I wanted to mention some of the people we met along the way. Meeting people was one reason for going to Australia. One person in particular is a friend of our daughter. His name is Mathew, a wonderful Christian man originally hailing from India. His knowledge of the Adelaide area helped us to maximize our time there in seeing various sights from Victor Harbor to Kangaroo Island.


Through Mathew we met others such as his house mates who guided us to a beautiful overlook to see a sunset. We also on vacations enjoy visiting churches so we attended Unley Christian Chapel. Here is their weblink to learn about their church and to view pictures of these welcoming folks- http://www.unleychristianchapel.org/index.html We enjoyed the fellowship with the church members and after church one family invited us out to Dim Sum at a local Chinese restaurant.


In the Rundle Mall area there were a variety of street performers sharing their talents with the crowds walking from shop to shops. One of the musicians I spoke with was Andy Salvanos who was playing the Chapman Stick. He was born in Sweden and had done bass guitar session work in Los Angeles here in the states. He now was enjoying life in Adelaide. Here is his website in case you would like to listen to his music - http://www.andysalvanos.com/index.html



My favorite part of the trip to Australia was Kangaroo Island. We stayed overnight at Seal Bay Cottages. After a refreshing nights rest my wife and I woke up early and saw a couple of kangaroos hopping by the cottage. We went to a honey bee farm as it was named Clifford's Honey Farm. Since my third grade teacher was Mrs. Clifford I could not pass that up.



Of the various locations we saw on the Island, Flinders Chase National Park, was the most spectacular. The coastline with the seals resting on the rocks and the Remarkable rock formations was amazing to view. The views reminded me of the awesome God of Creation I serve. I know others would just believe it was caused by random chance over millions of years but my viewing the beauty of it out points to the more probable cause of a Creator behind it all. If you are going to Australia I would highly recommend take the extra effort to go over and enjoy Kangaroo Island.


Hope you have enjoyed some of the photos.


Reflection: Have you added Australia to your Dream List? Reflect over your most memorable vacations. What was your favorite part of them? Did you meet any interesting people who stood out to you?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bucket List Australia Vacation



Australia has been a vacation spot that has been listed on our bucket list as a couple never knowing when we could make it. Life events opened up as a family to go recently to go for a week and a half. Our visit centered in on Adelaide, South Australia. This week and next I will focus on several points of the trip that added value to our life experience. Vacations or Holidays, as they are called over there in the British tradition, are important to Living More Than OK as it helps to take breaks from the routines of our work lives to appreciate all that life has to offer.


Our first full day started off early visiting one of the many Cafes in the city. I enjoyed the variety of Cafes with no Starbuck signs round. In the US in a big city there are usually Starbuck signs every other block with it being the only place for coffee. Adelaide offers a wide variety of coffee café choices. The one we went to was Cibo Expresso Café on the corner of Rundle and Frome. It is one of the popular café chains in Australia. The setting was very relaxing and the staff were friendly as well as helpful to us since they quickly picked up that we were tourists. They patiently described how to travel to the zoo which was our next stop for the day. The pastries were fresh and not overly sweet. My wife and I enjoyed the coffee as well. On the Cibo website their theme is to “savour life’s simple pleasures”. That phrase related well with our experience of that café. The atmosphere allowed us to plot out our first day’s activities in a calm relaxing setting.


Our next stop was the Adelaide Zoo. The zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country being formed in 1883. The zoo houses 250 different species of animals. They showcased animals native to Australia such as the kangaroos and Koala bears. They also had a variety from around other parts of the world. Our favorite was the Panda bear exhibition. The two pandas are Funi and Wang Wang from a panda research center in China. We had an opportunity there to hear an informative session from the zoo caretakers about the pandas. We also enjoyed the variety of colorful wild birds on display. The zoo reminded me of how Creation is so amazing when considering the complex differences among the various animal species.



Being a Bookhead, books are always important to me even on vacation. My PhD course was still in progress so I stopped by the State Library of South Australia to do some assignment work. While I worked, my wife read up on history of Australia at the library. I was able to obtain a visitors pass for the time in Australia so I could log into my class anytime during our stay there. Of course vacations are not about school work so I had pre-done most of my work I just needed some time to add to discussions. They have a beautiful state library which was close to the University of Adelaide. I also visited one of the city library locations in Rundle Mall and enjoyed looking around that library as well. In the Rundle Mall shopping area we visited Dymocks books which reminded me of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I was glad to see a vibrant bookstore in the main shopping area. I enjoy used bookstores as well and was delighted to come across Michael Treloar Antiquarian Booksellers. The store is located by the State Library. The store inside is wrapped around with bookshelves with old books most in mint condition. I would have loved to peruse the shelves for a long time but I knew I am so behind on my reading with my PhD studies that I needed to watch my temptation to add to the backlog of books.


This is just a starting point of our time in Adelaide, South Australia. I will share some other aspects and photos next week. If Australia is not on your bucket list or future dream list I recommend you add it.

Reflection: What are favorite activities you always try to incorporate in your vacations? Are you planning a Summer vacation this year?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Enjoy Savoring Past Positivity



I thank all of you who stop by and read my writings. I hope they encourage you in a positive way. Due to various circumstances I will not be writing until May 25th. I encourage you to enjoy and learn from some of my past writings. Just randomly click on past posts from the past couple of years and see if what you read helps you on the journey you are on today. May it be a mental and spiritual growth savoring time for you!



I do know that there is an enormity of material on the web so I am grateful to any who stop by here and read my thoughts on positive psychology and spirituality. Keep spiraling up in your life by Living More Than OK!
See you with a new post the week of the 25TH of May. If you enjoy the thoughts I share check out my book Living More Than OK at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Frank Coulson livingmorethanok@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Jazzy Look at Your Next Chapter



A few weeks back my wife and I enjoyed a Tom Braxton jazz concert at The Falls at La Cantera in San Antonio. We have enjoyed a number of the jazz concerts at La Cantera but this was special as he is one of our favorite musicians. I list him in my book, Living More Than OK, as he inspires creativity in his musicianship. We found a place to set our chairs for the outside concert right before the first song started.

Tom showcased a number of his songs of his new CD, The Next Chapter. Tom is such a personal musician in that on one song he went out into the crowd playing his sax as he walked through the crowd. We have heard him numerous times primarily at the Corpus Christi Jazz festival here in Texas. His musicianship is impeccable and creative. Between songs he is down to earth and friendly in relating to the audience. On his new CD each song is enjoyable but my favorites are The Next Chapter (the title song), It Is Well, and Sunrise on Malawi.

The song The Next Chapter, caused me to reflect over my life story. Here is the Youtube link to the song so you can take a listen to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbBDrbn03-A

We each on our life journey are writing a story with our choices, our interaction with people, and I believe our interaction with God. At different junctures in life we turn to a new chapter. As May and June are here many young people are ending high school and college chapters to begin new chapters. In my PhD in Psychology I am ending the coursework chapter and will begin soon the dissertation chapter. Each time we start a new job that is a new chapter in our life.


Foter.com picture

How do we face the new next chapters that come our way? Too often we face them with fear and anxiety. That is because the unknown is often fearful. Sometimes people turn to alcohol or drugs to try to escape new next chapters. Tom Braxton’s song, The Next Chapter, on reflection of it points us to a positive way to face the next chapter we face. The tune is very upbeat and energetic. Think through how improved our lives could be, if we let go of the fear and approached each new day and each next chapter with a positive energy. We could be more excited about life and have more openness to new possibilities if we follow the energy of his song in our lives. We enjoy the journey when we appreciate the chapter we are presently living and look forward with anticipation to the next chapter.

Reflection: How is your present chapter going on your life journey? Are you moving into a next chapter of your life? What choices can you make to improve how the chapter goes in your life story?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slow Down And Smell The Coffee



A couple of weekends ago I took my wife for a morning drive to see Texas wildflowers and for a morning coffee. In Lavernia, Texas there is a coffee shop named the Mesquite Bean Coffee Shop which was our ending destination after viewing bluebonnets and other Texas Wild Flowers.

The Mesquite Bean is a clean Texas Country style shop. We decided to sit at the screened in patio area to enjoy our muffins, fresh fruit and coffee. The server, Erin, had a friendly, “welcome to our home” type attitude that added to the experience. As we sat there you could hear the birds in the trees and the morning air was fresh and cool. Just the right setting for a cup of coffee.


As my wife and I sat there it donned on me how relaxing it is to slow down on a Saturday morning to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Just to enjoy conversation, quiet, and nature built in me a sense of gratitude for the miracle of living. I thought back to listening to lectures on Positive Psychology by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar on the importance of taking time to smell the flowers. He was giving us a reminder to appreciate the moment. Be mindful of the little pleasures that add meaning and value to life. Of course at that moment I was taking time to smell the coffee, not the flowers. Breathing in the smell of a good coffee, as the Mesquite Bean Coffee has great coffee, is a savoring process that helped me appreciate just being there in that moment with my wife.

As I looked around the Mesquite Bean Coffee Shop and thought of other coffee shop experiences, I noticed a common thread that they are a place to slow down. Taking time to slow down has benefits to lower stress and savor life. The last couple of weeks I have discussed reading due to National Library Week. So I want to mention that coffee shops are a wonderful place to read. Usually any coffee house I go into there will always be a couple of people reading. If you are looking for a book selection to take the next trip to a coffee shop since I mentioned Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar take a long a copy of his book, Happier or his newer book Choose the Life You Want.

In our town of New Braunfels there are a number of coffee shops: Sertinos, 2 Rivers Coffee, Crosswalk, and New Braunfels Coffee shop. Look in the town you live in and think of the coffee shops in your area. Oh yes, there is a Starbucks in town but personally I like the small independent coffee shops. I have grown tired of the big corporate coffee settings with their agendas and sameness. For the life of me I don’t know why the masses flock to Starbucks and miss the friendly atmosphere and relaxation of an independent coffee shop.


Make it a point especially if you are in a time of stress and everything feels urgent to break away and smell the coffee (or tea if you are a tea drinker as my grandmother was). Either go by yourself and a favorite book or make it a date time with someone significant in your life. You will be glad you took time to savor and enjoy the small things in life.

Reflection:
Look on the internet and see what coffee shops are in your area. Even look within a 25 mile radius as we enjoyed the drive to Lavernia, Texas from our home. Then choose a time to visit a coffee shop you have never been to before.