My Parenting Goal

My parenting goal is pretty simple:

Inspire my children to be who they were created to be and go live accordingly.

Of course, there are other goals, but this one seems to rise to the top. In a season of graduations and college planning one needs to get pretty singular.

The irony of my stated goal is found in the opposition each of my children face every day. For example:

  • The school system where I live is fixated on testing. It runs from state testing to the ACT. Heaven forbid, they don’t do well on these. The stress and anxiety can be downright sad. Especially since very little meaning in life has ever come from a pass, fail or score
  • Our culture has thrown out meaningful self-care (nutrition, stress management, physical exercise, and on) as an important habit to practice
  • Distraction is blocking the ability to embrace our 5 senses and the power found within

I could list other things, but I think you feel me here.

In my family, inspiration is the keyword. My children have been watching me for a long time. That reality is daunting. The conclusion is a parent’s influence is greater than the “system,” for the good in this case.

The Space Between the Notes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the space between the notes, in music and in life. Quite frankly, the blending of the two. As a musician, I was taught about the discipline of waiting and going forward. The discipline has served me well. Its been a cruel teacher when I’ve failed to take it seriously. It has been a two-sided friend.

I read a quote once credited to Bill Evans. He was asked in an interview why he seemed to linger after striking certain notes. His response was simply his desire to wait and see what the next note would bring. Jazz musicians have always been credited with strong improvisation skills. Obviously, or not , Bill Evans was a master at it. He believed that music was conversational.

Life is conversational.

In your race to grab a hold of something or someone, are you missing the space in between? Could it be that what you’re looking for is found there? The impact is always felt once a note is played. The best artists know true impact is felt in an echo or the lingering tone. It’s instinctive in so many respects, yet ignored in the same frame.

Is your life just a flurry of notes, full of hurry, clutter, fear, and doubt? Why won’t you slow down? Why won’t you let go?

I know many who fear what’s in between the notes. Between the notes we find the wounds. People often fear those same wounds will be exposed. Who will listen? Who will give empathy? The world has become shallow, and safe places to open up are becoming more rare. Social media has made it worse. I sometimes think about what it would be like to wave a magic wand and change it all, but of course I don’t possess that power. Life is tough and it can be daunting.

Take comfort, there is safety here.

An Update on Me

Much has happened since my last post. Here’s an update on me:

  1. I’ve been seeing a counselor/psychologist since March. Finding and working with him, has helped me immensely. The work we’re doing together is producing clarity, crossroads and breakthrough. I will reveal more in the coming weeks
  2. I found out, personally, how dangerous stress can be. In my case, it was about carrying too much of it. Working with a counselor has helped. I also have had to be more “on-purpose” with self-care (exercise, time with God, mindfulness, etc.). One of the negative impacts coming out for me was my blood sugar levels (diabetes related). In my last check-up, my levels were the highest they’d been in 20 years. My doctor pointed to stress. She also expressed her confidence in my turn around as well. The idea that I would do something about my state. It was sobering to find out that many of her patients stay in the “tangles” and don’t come out.
  3. The new book is going through cover-design and formatting. It should be available for pre-order soon. This period of my life has made me more grateful for the gift of writing.
  4. I’ve learned, and learning, that not everyone can be allowed to continue on the journey. This includes those you love. For me, maybe it’s temporary, or it could be permanent. This is tough work. You want the person to stay, but they won’t let go of things that will only lead to heartbreak. My Rubicon.

I’m sure there is more to tell, but I’ll stop here. Stay well.

Looking Back

My absence here is an obvious and I hope my return is a welcomed fragrance for you. I wanted to give you an update, by way of this post, on looking back on 2016.

Things in my life unraveled a bit, mid-to-late 2016. It really produced silence in me. My life has been marked with extended times of silence. Sorry for this, but the majority of my time is spent listening. Writing in this blog is usually the recipient of the blow. One resounding positive in my chaos was the completion of my second book (manuscript). I’m am thankful about its forming. More to come on the book’s release. Promise.

So what’s gone on? Why the looking back? Well, it seems like the following made an impromptu appearance:

  • Crohn’s disease in my son
  • Alzheimer’s in my mother-in-law
  • Multiple job changes for my wife
  • Moving my mother and nephew into our home
  • Teen challenges (if you have teens, you feel me)
  • Me becoming the managing partner of our household

The above issues, sorrows, challenges have shown me a few things:

Preparation is Everything, Even When You Don’t Know It

In many ways, life is a laboratory. A place of experiments and discoveries. It also a place of deep pain with all that comes after. I can’t imagine if my mind was only focused on me and my interests (happiness, pleasure, acclaim, and more). The exercise analogy is so applicable here. If you don’t work on building strength, you won’t have any when you need it most. This reality sticks with me. I have to note as well, life can also sucker punch you. Sometimes the preparation is what helps you when you’re picking yourself off the ground.

God is a Constant

If you’ve read, or know me personally, this blog for a while you know my faith. When I look back, I see the constant of my relationship with him. No religion, no theatrics and no judgement. He’s just there. I need the “there.”

Giving is Key

A wise mentor told me in 2016 to give myself away. I took his advice, in the beginning, as a business move. Doing it in business would be fine, but I had no idea how it would apply to life and to those I love. I’ve been giving myself away, even when my energy was ebbing. The only reason I can find is; I have to. A good place.

 

5 Reasons to Stop and Look Around

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I’ve  spent a lot of time communicating the importance of stopping and looking around. The path to finding the moments, and moments are gifts, if we stop and look around.

How many gifts do you think you’re given every day?

The truth is, we miss many of the gifts because we’re overlooking them to get to the next thing. It’s a mad world when our sole focus is on the next promotion, the next love affair the next great feat that’ll make us loved. I know the power of mindfulness intimately, the power of stopping and being in a moment, goes beyond worn-out marketing slogans and worn-out company initiatives to solve problems that can’t be solved corporately. What I’m speaking to is remembering that we only have a certain amount of time in a lifetime. It’s up to us as to what we embrace and what we ignore.

Before I go into writing about the five reasons to stop and look around, I want to remind you that there’s repetition in the way I approach the subject the way I do. I believe we’re in a war for our gifts because it’s almost as if we have forces that seek to destroy what moments we have. The fight is vitally important and what comes within it.

Let’s look at the five reasons to stop and look around:

  • Slow down and breathe. Great things occur when we slow down and find our breath meter. Taking time to do this will give room for reflection. The maddening rush of the world around us the continually messages us to grab more, take more and conquer more. Slowing down is a key, instead.
  • Determine what’s really most important to you. I stress really because many of us are professional in lying to ourselves. We’re connecting back to slowing down here. The idea that we’ve got to establish what is most important and be courageous to commit. Are you willing to be allegiant to what’s most important, in a way that my actions can be measured?
  • Get some people around you that can keep you accountable. These people don’t buy your self-BS. They are not willing to just take your word for it. These folks deal in the real, with love.
  • Stop the maddening pursuit of retirement income, work/career and whatever else that preoccupies. I’m not indicting the aforementioned, just the maddening pursuit. The truth is, at least in America, it’s delusional now. We’ve given working/ career and retirement way too much of our attention. For example, how do you know what 65 is gonna look like? Many have lost what they love because they killed themselves pursuing wind.
  • Get over yourself. That’s right, stop making you  the center of the universe. You do realize that the focus on getting you balanced is so there can be light behind you. A brilliant light is the aim. A wise mentor told me not too long ago, “Eric, you have to give yourself away, like Jesus did.” By the way, you’ll get more in return by doing it. It’s counterintuitive (the reason many refuse) and it’s beautiful.

Positioning to stop and look around is key to finding true meaning. Why not let yourself be found?

Living In the Incongruent

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Are you living in the incongruent?

Some years ago, my life was full of incongruent statements and values. I could quickly tell you how important God was to me, and then find myself obsessing over a business meeting yet to come. The irony was not many could call me out on it. The credit for that was found in my “Oscar-worthy” performances. Before you give me credit for my acting skills, you’re probably the same. Americans are especially good at self-deception.

Eventually, if you want something better, you’ll need to hang up your thespian ways and the incongruent values attached. The threat is we don’t have as much time as we think we do. Floating from thing to thing doesn’t grant you more time. Nor will the deceptions of our age. The marketing messages won’t support your highest aspirations here either. As a matter of fact, those messages may tell you to keep at it, or worse, convince you of the great loss in turning around. I speak from experience.

I have found great value in the following:

  1. Embrace failure like success. By no means do I think you should seek failure, but when it comes (it will) give it full embrace. Learning and grit follows this
  2. Slow down and find your breath. A nod here to mindfulness and prayer. The only way you can be who you want to be is to slow down and find it, or be found in my case
  3. Find someone who isn’t afraid to call you out. Typically, this person is not impressed by you, doesn’t want or need your money and is a truth teller with love motivating
  4. Be very suspicious of the marketing. Someone once told me that marketing is a lie, that reinforces the lie I tell myself
  5. Get exposure to things, ideas, that are outside of your comfort. You won’t change in your comfort. No reason to…

My eyes are wide open and the road ahead is shorter than the road behind me. I’d like you to join me, wherever you may be found,  and live true, not incongruent.

Fully Present

Are you fully present?

The above question could be the most exposing question of our time. Let’s be real; we live in the age of distractions. It’s no surprise that we even rationalize the distractions. Ever told someone you love to wait a minute, all the while, you’re busy scanning a social media site. Being fully present is a rarity amongst rarities.

What does it mean to be fully present?

To be fully present is to have faith. This kind of faith stands and says the moment in front is the most important moment ever. You might be questioning with some skepticism. Maybe you’re thinking what my son told me this week; “I don’t have time.” As it is for him, so it is for you. You have plenty of time. The question is what are you doing with it.

In my times of reflection, I can see and feel what it means to be so distracted as to not remember that feeling. The feeling like this morning when I could hear the rain and the birds singing in harmony. So many pursuits can get in the way of being present. We jump from experience to experience hoping that something will last. We hope something will hold up under the raging storm inside.

We miss the beauty right before our eyes. If only we would slow down and hold the look.

Here are a some tips on becoming fully present:

  1. Decide today what’s most important to you. Stop kidding yourself and start living what you say
  2. Stop and just be. Start with 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening
  3. Start seeing the insignificant as significant.
  4. Stop allowing the 80% of life trick you into allegiance. This post from a few months back might move you
  5. Stop listening to the marketing. You know what you need to do.

Call on me if you need some help here.