A Day In the Epic Life

A friend told me some years ago that the Epic life is lived in the good and bad. His counsel has stayed with me. If you’re not careful, you could fall in the trap of believing an epic life is found in great heroics, acclaim or fame. It can be that, but honest people know it’s all about the moments. The following is a glimpse of a day in the epic life-mine:

Friday, August 18, 2017

7:30 AM – A walk in my neighborhood. Music playlist titled Yoga. Observing the moodiness of the clouds above me. A conversation with God

7:45 AM – Yoga and prayer

8:05 AM – Checking email and posting on social media

8:30 AM – Listening to Insight for Living and reflecting on living and dying

9:00 AM – Breakfast and listening to the news (local and national)

9:15 AM – Gig stuff (not Epic Living related). Quite bored and not finding it very meaningful. I push through because I have to

10:00 AM – Reached out to friends to check-in

10:05 AM – Back to the gig stuff

11:30 AM – Somethings wrong. Feel like my blood glucose is high. I test. 400 is the number. WT…

12:30 PM – Test my blood again. Still high. Take dosage of insulin. Getting frustrated because I haven’t eaten since 9.

12:45 PM – Cancelled 2 appointments, with apologies

1:30 PM – Feeling drained and listless. Take a nap

2:00 PM – Test my blood again. Lower number, but still too high. Decide not to take another dose. I’ve been burned before by getting too aggressive

2:45 PM – Looking at a draft version of a press release

2:45 PM – Prepare for a conference call

4:00 PM – Call medical provider about billing issues with insurance. I don’t like insurance companies. I see them as a legal racket. Very frustrated by the lack of competence and the game playing

4:20 PM – Talk with my wife about new opportunities and her so-called manager/leader. Hate seeing her go through. I listen.

 

As I look back over the day, it was epic. One thing that leaps out is the importance of morning prep. You never know what’s coming your way.

 

The Well-Being Guide

The Well-Being Guide is now officially out. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you can here.

I’m writing today to explain why I wrote the book and to ask for your help. So here goes:

  • I wrote the book for people (most all of us) who are living much of their lives at work. You know much of my journey, so it’s probably not a surprise to read that. I want the book to be a tool to help, encourage, reflect, and even disrupt.
  • I need your help to spread the word. If the book resonates with you, then I need help in getting others to “get what you got.” The tools to do the spreading range from social media to a direct conversation with a friend needing some direction.
  • My main goal, is to get employers (small to large) to buy the book for their employees. I can provide a decision-maker with a copy of the book and the organization can buy the book direct for volume pricing.

Reach out to me directly (comments section of the blog, email or phone) with questions or to discuss how you can help.

I appreciate you all.

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

110_1

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.

Who Should Get a Vote?

In recent months, I’ve had to evaluate who should get a vote. Specifically, as it relates to my time and life. In many ways, it’s a realignment of what and who influences me.

Here are some examples of what forces can have a vote in your life, even if you’ve never officially granted the authority:

  1. Family
  2. Social Media
  3. Employers
  4. Fears
  5. Friends
  6. The Past
  7. Marketing

As you can tell from the list, some are positive voters, some not so much.

In my current frame, I’ve had to revoke voting privileges for some people in my family. It is difficult work. When I made the decision, I found areas of my soul that needed attention. The kind of attention I’ve not explored before. The problem with some votes is they can mask unhealthy things. We know what happens if we let unhealthy things go unchecked.

Everyone is unique, so the voters I remove could look different than yours. I would encourage you to evaluate early and often. The longer a voter stays, the longer it takes to remove them…their vote.

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.

Getting Help

Getting help is a term we all are familiar with. The words inspire empathy, care and concern. Those sentiments can turn to surprise and fear, when the help is related to mental wellbeing. The subject has so many connotations.

I’m currently looking into therapy-for me.

The Strong One

Throughout my life, I’ve been perceived as the “strong one.” I could withstand what many would crumble under. Part of the perception is true. I have seen a lot and endured most of it. My relationship with God has helped. Until 2017, I would have thought I had a sound game plan.

By way of suggestion, here are some of the tools in my game plan:

  • Relationship with God
  • Yoga
  • Laughter
  • Music
  • Good Nutrition
  • Mindfulness

It’s not that any of my tools for managing my mental health have failed me. My shift is rooted in needing another tool. Strength is revealed in our weakness.

The Circumstances

As I noted in my last post, I’m fighting on multiple fronts. What I’m fighting is not out of the ordinary. Many of you probably have or are feeling me right now. The point is it’s a fight, and if you want to win/survive, you have to do something. I’m choosing to get help in a way I could have used almost forty-years ago. Better late than never seems like a fitting statement here.

The Stigma

I’m pleasantly surprised that getting help with mental wellbeing isn’t causing “stigma.” One key for me is knowing who really cares about me. If you’re walking, or thinking about walking, in my shoes. I would really get this one locked down. The people who love you will encourage and support. It’s that simple. Those who associate getting help, with stigma, don’t matter. In the big picture of your soul.

The Next Page

Stay tuned…

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.

 

What I’ve Really Learned Most From Worry

251_1

Worry In Life’s Classroom:

In my last post, there was only a title and a blank page. In a clever (so I thought) way I wanted to communicate that worry has taught me nothing. This is not entirely true.

In the end, worry has truly been a horrible teacher. If worry were a class, seminar or talk, I would go the other way. Alas, worry has been the cause of so much of my mental stress. I don’t like to think about how much of my lifetime has been sucked away by it.

In many ways worry is like fear, it must be managed. The discipline is a daily activity. Life happens and the elements are what they are. In the age of the Monkey Mind, so much comes at us. Here are some examples from my yesterday:

  • My son’s physical condition is unstable again
  • Did the audience get what I was writing
  • Why is that issue such a big deal to them, when it’s not me
  • Will the report reveal something I don’t want to know
  • I feel like I’m being manipulated

I could go on, but I think you get it. So, how did I manage those animals. It’s a blend of preparation and in-the-moment actions. The preparation comes in slowing down, practicing mindfulness daily, seeking God’s face, and knowing that life is not supposed to be easy. The “in-the-moment” actions are born out of emotional intelligence. The understanding that not every emotion and thought is to be held on to. An active letting go is key here. Absent of these, I would be a wreck.

Everyone has difficulties at work, tensions at home, disappointing health news, are all going to happen. You should expect the what comes your way because it will. America is ripe of people trying to numb and medicate their way around. The numb and medicate approach only makes it worse, for you and those around you. We were designed to go through, not around our potential worries. If you mange your worries, you will lead to a contented life.

Why Fear Blocks You

285_1

The Age of Fear

In many ways we live in an age where fear is the driving motivator for so many. It’s crippling, it’s debilitating, and I can fill in the blank with many other descriptors. I really believe that fear is the force that blocks us from coming to what is truly our destiny.

I met with the client yesterday whom I described the idea of why fear blocks.

Imagine if you’re brought to a place where there are five doors. And each of those five doors has your name written on it maybe even your destiny. The only thing is each of the five doors have a wild animal in the very front of it this wild animal appears to be there to protect that door and keep you away from it. In this case, the animal represents your fear. It is a block. However, the wild animal continues to rage and it seems like as every second goes by the raging becomes louder and louder. You then begin to take in all that surrounds you and you begin the self conversation that so many of us have. The conversation of; “can I trust that this is real. What if I make this decision to go forward and this animal tears me apart. I don’t think I want to do this.”

In each of these situations you’re confronted with a crossroads. Many people at this point move themselves to the other side and go on about their life. They go on with the drone economy. And the drone economy is truly a place where people just put their heads down. The name of the game is to do something over and over until the game is over. See the idea of retirement here. There will be two types of responses. You either go through and fight through that wild beast your fear, or you’ll turn around and travel the road that leads to regret. The reality is those five doors, and those wild animals, represent the essence of living. Mark Twain was right when he wrote; “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

Destiny and Fear

Often times we are sold the idea that destiny can be grasped and kept in a neat little box. The reality is far from that. Destiny can be found, but it can’t be captured for our personal drives. Thankfully, it pulls and directs. In the end, this is something that every person will face.

In my own life right now I am facing the door that has a wild animal, and maybe the wildest animal I’ve ever encountered. I have decided that I’m going to go ahead and move forward and fight my fear. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the other five doors before. I understand the dynamic. The interesting thing is every fear is different. Every theory requires a different set of perseverance. So there’s no easy answer and there is no silver bullet. There is only the answer of going forward and moving to what you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to be doing.