Monday, April 25 2016
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“Stop looking for the next thing and be happy with the here and now.”
Buddhist monk, Kathmandu’s Kopan Monastery
Greetings, friends! I hope you had as productive and beautiful a weekend as I did. The struggles of two weeks ago seem like a lifetime ago now. I pray such resurrection feelings for you, too.
I came across this quote in a National Geographic article by a travel writer visiting Nepal. Attracted as I am to traveling I read with gusto but was stopped in my tracks by this monk’s quote. It seems the writer was greatly stressed because she had landed in Nepal with no luggage; all her plans for safety, health, cleanliness, attractiveness and such were gone thanks to the airline. She began her visit empty handed and with thoughts of corrections on the fly. Then she encountered the monk.
My encounter with the article and the quote was transformative. If you are a faithful reader of these e-mails you know I ride the line between peace in the moment and productive movement towards the future. This quote didn’t hit me on that line; I’ve been hit in my thoughts about relationships, and parenting, and possessions, and activities. Am I missing the value right in front of me because of my desire for something greater tomorrow? Ouch.
I planted my garden this weekend and was fully conscious of this quote. I plant many things but my primary interest is my season of fresh tomatoes. I’m addicted to fresh BLT’s. Yet as I prepared the ground and planted my veggies I paid attention to my mind. Was I valuing the experience of preparation? Was I enjoying the blessing of being in nature? Was I appreciating the gift of health to create? Or was I missing it all, fully thinking about the possible tomato in the future?
We all will have experiences today; where is your mind? Are you mining for the gold of the moment or are you risking it all on the roulette wheel of life? I encourage you to see the good that is with you. Give yourself over to the blessings around you. Allow yourself to experience the gift that the moment is. And feel peace. I cannot encourage you stronger. I pray you will try, and if so I know you will be blessed. Have a wonderful week.
Saturday, April 16 2016
“See you tomorrow.”
Good afternoon, friends! I apologize for missing last week’s Encouraging Word. I was experiencing a health challenge and was fully incapable of coherent communication. I decided to not catch up later in the week and for the record that is the policy: Mondays in all cases, unless an ordinary experience delays until Tuesday, but never beyond that. So far so good, and we’re back to business this week. Halleluiah!
It’s not arrogance that brings me to quote myself this week; it’s awareness. Two Thursdays ago (April 7) I left the office and offered a version of these words to the church secretary. Every day I say I’ll see her at the next appointed time be it “tomorrow” or “Monday”. Only this time I didn’t. The health scare I experienced caused me to not see her on time; it came home to me when I returned to work last week. The next appointed time isn’t guaranteed to any of us, nor is it controlled by any of us.
My thought today isn’t morbid or fatalistic. I’m simply reminded that time is a precious commodity. Whether it’s watching our kids age, or experiencing declining health, or rolling with the milestones of life, opportunities are fleeting. We have the blessing of today, or perhaps just this moment, and little more. Many smart thinkers have concluded that there is no reality except this moment. What matters to you in this moment you have?
Sad to say few of us are investing, in this moment, in the things that matter most to us. I encourage you to be the better difference. Consider what matters to you; you’ll get no judgement from me regardless what it is. Whatever it is, invest yourself in your interest. Don’t neglect what you must do, but with the time you have left over do what you value. If it is love, then love. If it is fun, then enjoy. If it is friends, then embrace. Whatever it is, do it. The appointed time is now. You are the appointed person. I plan to; will you? I hope you will. And have a great week.
Monday, April 04 2016
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
Good morning friends! I hope you have started this beautiful day in style and energy. Let’s get down to the point.
Books and movies that shift time effectively have always had a big audience. I have enjoyed more than my share. The ability to allow the mind to leave the present moment can be an enjoyable experience. But not when we need to be productive or present.
While the Buddha is more quotable and memorable than me I’d nuance his thought to say we are born again, metaphorically speaking, every moment. Every single moment we have the opportunity to embrace productivity and effectiveness anew. The reasons are plenty we are not effectively productive but the opportunities exist every moment. Are you being effective these days, today, this moment? Why, or why not?
One method to help me achieve more of what I want to achieve in the moment is called the 2-minute drill. When I feel overwhelmed, or inundated, or unmotivated I pause to take a “brain dump”. I make a full list of every single little thing I need or want to accomplish at this moment. Whatever effort is riding on my mind, no matter how big or small, if it’s weighing on my mind, it goes on the list. What comes next is the important thing.
I take the list and divide it into two lists: what are the items that I can accomplish each individually in two minutes or less, and what items are not of the two minute ability. Calls, contacts, e-mails, sorts, finds, confirmations, trash, these sorts of things are typically two minute items. With the two minute list in hand I start to work on those items, checking them off in rapid fire. Pretty soon my mind feels much less burdened by the smidgeons and I can focus on the smaller list of bigger things. And I feel born again in the moment.
There are plenty of strategies to get us back in the moment, to help us kick start effectiveness and help us move forward. Whatever you do remember that every moment is a new opportunity to kick start your day, and what you accomplish is up to you. What is your plan? How big is your commitment? When will you get started? With every clock tick you have a new moment. Ready, set… go! And have a great week!