Author Archives: Keith

The Dark Side of The Secret

(Written December 20, 2017)

After a truly difficult year, in October of 2017, I made a conscious decision to change my mindset, and alter my future by making a difference in my present.

I decided to work on my choices, work on my decision-making, work on changing my negative thought patterns- thereby altering my brainwaves to produce a more positive way of being.

I threw my hat into the ring when it came to the concepts of The Secret. That whole Law of Attraction (LOA) thing was mine to master.

I would see for myself, if I put all my energy towards one goal, how my life would change.

Subliminal tapes, neural pulse beats, positive thoughts and affirmations, guided meditations, self-hypnosis, boundless gratitude.

The Secret says to choose a goal. Focus on it. Picture it like it’s already in your possession.

Don’t worry about the ‘How’ which will bring these things to pass, just concentrate on the ‘Now.’

Nothing is too far out of reach. If you can imagine it- it is yours to have.

Since husband and I were struggling big time in the financial arena; I had in mind that this would be my goal.

According to The Secret, if you want money, picture money coming to you. Think on it everyday. Picture opening envelopes with checks made out in your name, or cash coming to you from unknown sources.

So I did. Intensely. For several weeks, from the time I woke up in the morning, to the time I laid my head down to rest at night.

I was determined to make this work for me.

But after a few intense weeks of this, I started to get a strange, nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. That I was forcing an outcome that maybe shouldn’t be forced.

It was at that point that I backed off completely. It left me to wonder if this was my old brain wave patterns trying to sabotage any change and growth for its already comfortable existence, or was this a sign that maybe this was something not to be dabbled in.

Whatever it was, I decided to leave it be and revisit this concept perhaps in the new year with a fresh start.

As the holidays rolled in and our finances were tighter than ever, we, [husband and I], picked up extra hours at work and continued to live a minimal existence.

Life in SoCal is not easy with rents and cost of living among the highest in the nation, and take-
home wages so low, we continued to barely scrape by, living paycheck to paycheck. All we did was work and pay bills.

We just accepted that this was our lot in life, and if The Secret worked for multitudes of individuals, they must have a better belief system than I.

Where I stopped short, they must have dug in deep and persevered.

Maybe I was a quitter or needed to find that one option that will work for me.

Maybe this one wasn’t ‘IT.’

Two weeks before Christmas, on what should have been our oldest son’s 25th birthday, we were informed by the police at 3 AM in the morning, that he had been killed in an automobile accident.

When you think your life is not so great, it is humbling to know it can always get worse.

Devastated beyond reason, we lived out every parents worst nightmare.

We became the poster children for those that cannot claw their way out of a hole no matter how hard they try.

As the police continued to investigate the accident, we numbly began to pick up the shattered pieces of our lives.

A week later, at the memorial service for our beloved son, those envelopes that I had so carefully envisioned a couple short months prior, began to pour in. Envelopes with checks in our names or cash outright, in the form of sympathy cards or condolence letters.

I could barely look at them without a sick feeling in my stomach.

That saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,’ is ever present in my mind.

I have not stopped being grateful. If it was not for the generosity of others, there would have been no way we could have paid for the funerary costs for our son.

But there is not one fiber of my being that would not trade every last penny I have to go back to the way things were when I thought life was difficult before.

Now, all the positive thoughts in the world can only bring my son back in memories.
While his struggles are over, we have new struggles beginning. How to move on after being a family of four to a family of three?

I think now that maybe that still small voice in the back of my head telling me to stop, wasn’t my brain trying to self-sabotage my growth but instead was a warning to be heeded.

When you mess with forces that cannot be controlled or are left wide open to interpretation, one should tread lightly and be wary. I do not say this because, The Secret, does not work…but because it does. When you are told, ‘don’t worry about the ‘How,’worry. Give it lots of thought because nothing should ever be left to chance.

Always keep in mind, the world we live in is one of duality that requires a balance of power.

It is not good OR bad, night OR day, light OR dark- it’s all of them together.

Good AND bad. Light AND dark. Ebb AND Flow. Yin And Yang.  One doesn’t exist without the other.

It’s good to focus on positivity but to do so without knowing that there is a negative in the equation upsets a natural balance in life.

It’s not bad to raise your vibrational awareness by concentrating on uplifting thoughts, but to do so without acknowledging your shadow side will knock you for a loop when it raises its darkened head- and it will.

Practitioners of The Secret will probably lambast me saying I have it all wrong, I do not understand how LOA works, I must have done something horribly wrong, and maybe they’d be right.

There have been times in my life when I unwittingly tapped into some power of positive thinking, where I had focused so much on a task at hand, lost in the project, that at some point it hit a high note and everything fell into place with ease.

When things are as they should be, it’s easy. But to continuously work at or on something, forcing the ‘easy’, seems oxymoronic.

If you have to work hard to make something easy, is it really easy??

If you have to work hard at being positive, is it really positive work???

Fake it ‘til you make it can only carry you so far, and while practice does make perfect for tangible tasks on hand, there is a still small voice in me that says the authors of The Secret and all those other LOA books are making more money off of the desperation of people desiring a better life for themselves, or those thinking only published writers hold the key to unlocking ‘your best life’, not realizing it’s their own hard earned money fueling the fire and lining the pockets of those who have claimed, do this and you too can have Everything your heart desires.

Because they have made so much money off Les Innocentes, of course they can tout the benefits of their work. After all, it worked for them.

      ***

It took the grievous loss of our son to question not the validity of the LOA, but the reasoning behind it in the first place.

While my belief in God never wavered, I didn’t rely on His teaching the way I should have.

It wasn’t my faith that was lacking, but my Trust. I went my own way and paid a high price for it.

That firm nudging telling me to Stop, was not my ego or comfortable brain patterns challenging new growth. It was The Holy Spirit saying, Please, Stop. You are a child of God and have only to remember who holds your heart in His hands that will see you through this.

Suffering is unfortunately a part of living but it doesn’t have to be done alone.

Everywhere you look, someone is available to reach out and help.

There is no work involved in developing a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

The Lord didn’t cause the accident that took my son’s life, nor did my not so positive thinking do it either.

But it’s interesting to note, it wasn’t the people in of The Secret that flocked to our sides during our greatest time of need.

Should all my Secret desires come to fruition but none of them included Christ, then it would be all for nothing anyway.

That is a hard lesson to learn.

And like the numerous stories of lotto winners whose windfall brought nothing but misery, unless your Secret desire was to have a strong support system in place when life’s challenges come your way- and they will- it will be cold comfort to say, The Secret gave me everything I ever wanted, and yet… I still have nothing.

A List of Firsts

mile·stone
/ˈmīlˌstōn/
noun
plural noun: milestones
2. an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

It takes a lot of energy to make a baby.
It takes even more to lose one…no matter what age it happens at.

It’s called the year of Firsts.

Our lives are marked off in milestones, both big and small, leading us down pathways to futures unknown. We all have them. We all hit them. We all have many similar and many different ones that make us who we are, and how we experience life. Some sharpen our wits, others break our hearts.

We celebrate with children a First tooth, a First word, a First smile, a First step. The happiness of a First birthday, a First Christmas, or a First day of school is contagious. And as we grow, those firsts can include a First job, First promotion, First kiss, First love. It is an ever growing, unending list.
But in the duality of life, there is a different set of Firsts which mirror the initial list but in a more somber way. This list belongs to those that have had to stand by on the sidelines as Death imposed a visit on a loved one, altering their lives forever.

It doesn’t matter what your beliefs, your religion, or your status in life is, Death will touch us all eventually, in one way or another. Be it a parent, a family member, a spouse, a beloved pet, a friend, or even a child. No one is immune to the mortality of life, and when that happens, the List of Firsts begins.

It starts with the First day, First week, First month, without…[fill in loved ones name here].
A First Christmas, a First birthday, a First event without… [your dearest departed].

To the widower, it will be the First time someone enquires about their spouse, or for a grieving parent being asked that First time, how many kids do you have?

It will be the First but not the last time you inadvertently call their name aloud, or call someone else by their name, making everything awkward for everyone involved.

It’s the First time shopping when you find some some-such that they would have loved and the ache that settles into your heart thinking about how they are no longer here to enjoy these little pleasures.

It’s the First but not the last time when reality creeps into your day and whispers, ‘they really aren’t coming back,’ and the word “Never” widens that hole in your heart that will always be there, no matter how hard you try to fill it with distractions, or work, or food, or any number of other things as a way to try to lessen the pain of your loss.

My son has been gone over a month now and as we make our way through our List of Firsts, I wonder how long it will take before the tears stop falling and that list is finally complete.

A lifetime may never be enough to truly know the answer.

Eulogy for my son

(death is a part of living, but when a child goes before their parents, it devastates what should be a natural order of things. this is a personal eulogy for my son who died on the eve of his 25th birthday)

They say time heals all wounds. But there are some wounds too deep that time can never touch.

I can stand here and tell you how amazing our son was, but if you are sitting here, then you already know this.
I would like to go on about how smart, and gentle, loving, funny and kind he was, but again, if you knew Damien, then you knew that as well.

When Damien graduated high school in 2011, the biggest gift he took away from his four years at Orange High, were his close-knit group of friends that have stood by each other through thick and thin. They shared in adventures I couldn’t imagine, and I’ve no doubt they will continue to do so…and I have no doubt a little bit of my son will always be with them.

Damien figured out at an early age that it doesn’t matter what your occupation is, or your highest level of education was, or what is or isn’t in your bank account. He treated everyone with respect, regardless. Because he knew that one of the most important things in this world is who you love and who loved you back. Who stands beside you in the good times and in the bad…Damien stood beside a lot of us during both those times.

When the police came to our door at almost three in the morning on December 11, to inform us that our lives were about to be irrevocably changed forever once they delivered their news, my only question was, WHERE WERE YOU GOD!!!!!

More accusation than inquiry.

Where were you when HE needed you!
Where were you when WE needed you!

And the answer came over the next several days; It came in the form of friends that surrounded us with love, rushing to our sides to hold and comfort us as we tried to process what was happening.
 That was God saying, I’m right here.

It came in a whisper in my ear that said, He wasn’t alone, Michele. He wasn’t alone.

[Matt 28:20] And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

He may have been by himself, but he wasn’t alone.

The answer came in Pierce’s friends that encircled him in comfort as he wept. In the small group that spent the night with him so he wouldn’t have to sleep alone in the room he shared with his older brother. Even though they had to leave early for school the next day, they stood by him.
 And God was right there.

It came in the form of that one friend that sat watching tv while Pierce dozed off and on nearby in restless sleep.

It was in the form that when we had expected to gain a daughter by law, we ended up gaining a whole new family by Spirit.

God’s presence was evident in every hug, every text, every FaceBook message, every phone call and visit we received by those shocked and saddened by the news.
I’m right here.

By those that said, I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.
By those that sat with us in awkward silence as we grieved our loss.
By those that cried with us in our grief.

[Matt 5:4] Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
And we were.

It was in the people that so generously donated to the Go Fund Me page, in the cards sent to us, in the meals that were brought to us, in the stories and photos shared with us…
and the whiskey in the coffee didn’t hurt either.

God’s presence was noted in the way that as our lives were being ripped apart, long term family rifts were finally healing.

***

I am reminded of another mom who lost her firstborn son in an untimely fashion. As His hands and feet were pierced with nails, and her heart was pierced with grief, it was her son’s sacrifice on the cross that laid the groundwork for my son to become the loving and caring man he was.

It was in this very church where both my boys were dedicated, raised and baptized.
It was this very church that taught my son how to have a servant’s spirit, and a servant’s heart.
   And such a big heart he had.

When people say, he was different, loving, kind, and special…
that was because of the cross.
When Damien reached out to others, defended the underdog, helped those who couldn’t help themselves…
that was because of the cross.
When he made sarcastic remarks, inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times…
Yeah, that was probably because of me. That was my side of the family bubbling to the surface. And when he threw down at the poker table, or played a ruthless game of Monopoly, showing no mercy…
That was all the Johnson side.

When Damien was little, he would go through periods of high, intense energy, usually right before bedtime. It would be at these times that Keith and I would look at each other and say, Damien’s burning bright tonight.

That was our nerdy reference to a Supernova– an exploding star that before it burns itself out will increase its luminosity by as much as twenty magnitudes.

That’s how Damien lived his life. Completely and fully. Even if he was sick or tired, he would power through, digging deep into his energy reserves, because he didn’t want to miss out on anything.
 He burned bright.

That’s who he was. He didn’t know any other way to be.

And in the end, against better judgement and conventional wisdom, he pushed himself too hard, too far, and burned himself out.

You can’t contain energy that refuses to be contained.

They say time heals all wounds…only some wounds are so deep, if we lived a thousand years, time would barely have touched it….

…but God can, if we allow it.

[Rev 21:4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain.

That is the hope and the promise we carry with us that makes any of this bearable.

It is said, what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves.
What I see when I look upon all of your faces is a reflection of our son.

When Damien burned his brightest, his physical body may have been extinguished, but his light moved on to touch each and every one of you.

It is my sincere hope, my sincerest prayer, that when you leave this place, you will all continue to share and reflect that light with others in the same way that our Damien, our D, our Bambino, did, making this too often dim world a brighter place to live in.
Burn bright…burn bright.

(free image by vecteezy)

Life Makeover: Follow-up

This past June, I finished a year long course from Cheryl Richardson’s book,
Life Makeovers: 52 practical and inspiring ways to improve your life.

The book was divided into 52 chapters, with an assignment to be completed weekly.

Many of the weeks were repetitious. Some were meaningful, others were discarded completely. Regardless of the outcome, the big win for me was that I stuck with the program and completed a year’s worth of weekly work while addressing it in my blog. The second win was that my accountability group stayed with me the entire time, enabling them to benefit from the work I did as well by applying some of the various lessons to their own lives.

It’s a good feeling to finish something I started out to do. That isn’t always the case for me but this time it paid off. I don’t remember exactly what I was hoping to accomplish by doing the weekly tasks when I first started the book. I think it was somewhere along the lines that at almost 50 years old, I found myself directionless and I was hoping some kind of program would help me to get past that.

Throughout the year I learned some new tools to aid in my growth. I stood strong with the things I already knew and I shared with others my successes and my failures. It opened up all sorts of conversations and gave me a more indepth vision into my own psyche.

It was a learning process through and through, and now that the year is over I must admit, at the beginning of my journey, I did imagine when it was over, I would be a better person for my struggles. Not that I was a bad person to begin with, I just had it in my mind that I would be completely different by the end. That didn’t happen.

There is a reason learning is a lifelong process. It doesn’t end and you must keep at it, applying the lessons you pick up along the way, constantly incorporating them into your daily routine. This action forms new habits which hopefully replaces the old, worn out, dated ones that no longer serve a purpose.

There’s a bit of irony to the fact that while change is formidable, inevitable and inescapable, it is also the hardest thing to do.

The things I did learn this past year are as follows:

Self-care is of the utmost importance. Giving of yourself is commendable, but there is no place for martyrdom in daily living. Fill your soul up first and you will have more to pass on to others. It is as simple as that.

Have an Absolute ‘Yes’ List. I loved this idea from the moment I read about it. It has taken me over four decades to learn the importance of boundaries, and this is one more tool to aid in that. Knowing the things you will say Yes to makes decision making so much easier. I’m not a telephone person. I don’t like to talk on the phone just to shoot the breeze, but the obligation to answer when a call came in was plaguing. With my Absolute Yes list, if I get a call from those not listed, I let it go to voicemail without the guilt.
If I am asked to do something I’m unsure of, before, I would give a slight maybe then immediately regret my decision. Now, if it’s not part of my Yes list, I can say no with ease. If anything, this course really did help me to firmly place my boundaries and stick to them.

I was happy to see that many of the exercises in the book, I was already applying in my life, which made those weeks extremely easy. Some ideas were so inane, had no bearing on my life, (much of this book was geared toward self business owner of which I am not one), or held no interest whatsoever, that I chose not to do them yet I still blogged my opinion of them. There were other ideas that I am still working on even now.

When all is said and done, I am glad I spent a year of my life working towards something positive even if the results are still yet to be determined. I firmly believe no bit of learning is ever wasted, and that alone has made this journey all the more worthwhile.

If you followed along with me, if you encouraged me, if you are interested in reading the posts that chronicled the year I did this, (it is all there in mostly black and white, under the heading, Transformation), I thank you.

Now that my focus has been lifted from the workbook to my life, I am looking onward to the next step of this never ending story. I thought it might be something along the lines of minimizing my lifestyle, but now some other ideas are surfacing that are getting a lot of play time in the recesses of my mind.

Stay tuned, it just might be of interest to you.
Thanks again.

Now I can finally check this off my list as completed.

The Power of Prayer (wk52)

My final week of following through Cheryl Richardson’s LIfe Makeovers book, a year of working week by week through personal projects that could change your life.
This is the last chapter.

The entire book was filled with weekly self-care projects that could change your perspectives, and ultimately your life. Some of the projects were easy, many repetitive, and others were hard, taking up more room than an allotted one week visit would allow.

The author saved her most important project for the final chapter. The Power of Prayer is not just a Christian ideology. It can be used by anyone at anytime. The important thing to remember is not to whom the prayers are directed to but as to the Why behind the prayer in the first place.

Good energy sent outward makes a difference. Love released into the wild will find its mark and not end up in a void.

Prayers and intentions have weight behind them. Although it cannot be quantified in physical terms, I am of the belief that prayers are heard on a different level from which we operate and if done with enough intention behind it, they are heard. Maybe not always answered in the manner we had hoped for but they are heard. Sometimes that alone is enough.

The author advocates the power of prayer to be used in conjunction with being of service to others. It is in giving that we receive. As we finish the year, it’s time to reclaim our purpose and share with others the benefits of this past year’s lessons we have learned. Open your heart and share your gifts.

One act the author follows up on with prayer requests is to keep a special candle at hand, and when a prayer request comes in, she lights the candle to bring more focus to the prayers on her list. I love this idea. To fully engage in an activity like prayer could only benefit all parties involved.

This week’s final take action challenge:

This week share your love, knowledge, money, time, attention, and whatever gifts you have to offer, to someone in need. Create your own daily ritual of service and put it into practice. Remind yourself of your daily gift of service so as not to miss a day. Or start your morning ritual by saying, How can I be of service today? Share what you have learned throughout this past year to those who might benefit from your wisdom.

And enjoy your life

Sane and Special (wk 51)

Almost finished with Cheryl Richardson’s, Life Makeovers, a week by week process of changing your life. Because I started this midyear instead of at the New Year, my works do not always correlate with her chapter plans. Her final few chapters in this book are taking place over the Christmas holidays so while I am looking forward to the Fourth of July, she is gearing up towards a new year. I have taken this chapter and altered it to fit where I am at this place in time.

This week is summed up by finding ways to keep this holiday week sane amid the craziness that can develop and keep it special for yourself and others in your immediate sphere of influence.

Her suggestions:

Smile more– even if you don’t feel like it, this simple act can be an immediate mood lifter. I do believe in this. It goes along with positive thoughts and positive actions. It’s a small thing to do and an honest smile at any time of the year is always a welcome sight.

Go for a drive and enjoy the holiday decorations. Well, that isn’t going to happen but going for a drive and enjoying the view, the beach, the mountains, the park, is always an option. There is something about getting out of the same old, same old rut you are in and checking out the views that often lead to creative breakthroughs. Use this time for all its worth.
Sit quietly by the fire and lights of the tree- Well, even in winter, very few SoCal people have fires going. Being the middle of June, there is no tree either. But that doesn’t stop me from checking out local garden areas and sitting quietly at night just listening to music is always an option as well.

Help a parent– acknowledge and aid a parent that can use a little relief at this time of year. I think appreciation is always welcome and you don’t need the excuse of holidays to do this. Offer up thanks to the parents in your life or acknowledge other parents you come into contact with to let them know what a great job they are doing. A little goes a long way. A little thanks. A little word. A little help.

The biggest takeaway here is to not lose yourself in the shuffle of the daily grind or the busyness that life tends to throw our way. Relax. This thing called life is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy it in all its glory.

The only action work this week is simple:

Breathe 

I can do that.

Shake Up Your Life (wk 50)

It’s week 50, of working through Cheryl Richardson’s Life Makeovers book. Now at the end of this year long journey, the author seems to have skimmed the surface for topics that could have been life changing, but ended up choosing something shallow and meaningless for those that have dug deep all year long to improve themselves.

This week’s topic was on shaking up the daily routine of your life for something different. It’s these shifts that change the internal landscape as well. Not that I disagree, only, her example was how she was put out when she had an office renovation and had company stay with her at the same time. Heaven help us, that the much needed paint job threw her life into such chaos and she had no choice but to cope with it and decided this was the exact type of change her life needed in order to learn some lesson from it.

I cannot relate to any of that. Maybe because the shake-ups my life goes through happens more often then I would like, and to me, dealing with drying paint and covered furniture would seem like a vacation to me and not an upheaval.

 The only homework was to list one thing you will do this week to shake up your life.

I am not going to do anything that will shake up my life more than it already has been. A shake up is the last thing I need, and I am never disappointed because the shake-ups come whether I want them to or not. I never have to seek them out. They find me.

 So if your life is so steady that you need to actively look for ways to turn things on their head for the sake of change, I commend your balanced lifestyle. As for me, I plan to dig in and enjoy the quiet that comes before all the storms that continue to flow my way. That is how I do life.

(picture: free clipart images)

Stop the Madness (wk49)

This book I have been working through, [Life Makeovers], is leading up to the culmination of the holiday season–only I started in June instead of in January, and for me, that means the holidays are either well behind or just ahead of me, depending on which way you want to look at it.

Since the author is looking at Christmastime giving, she outlines some low-key methods to create meaningful gifts, removing yourself from the holiday madness. Come December, this is a BIG issue, but in June it is a bit removed and almost non-relevant. Not to mention that only a few short weeks ago she was covering much of the same topics, gift giving and meaningful sentiments.

Then it was titled, People and Priorities, now it’s titled as Madness. No matter. While            Cheryl Richardson has written a book and dug deep for topics, it’s still a step ahead of where I am at, although admittedly, I have come a long way from where I was a year ago.
That being said, my feelings haven’t changed from last month either.

I love giving to people. I love thinking of ways to make others happy and finding moments they can enjoy. So continuing along that vein, I still strive to give of my time, my skills, and my possessions to others so that I remember that it is in giving that we receive. Maybe the lessons seem repetitious because they are, or maybe that is what it takes to instill better habits as opposed to what we started with.

As this book slowly winds down, I keep my eyes on the road that I am travelling and looking forward to the good things that can still come of this. I have continued to embark on the decluttering of my belongings and passing on the things that still hold value to me but I would love to see gifted and valued to and by others. That is my current goal in life and that is what I have been up to. In addition to cutting down on the commercial shopping sprees, she makes suggestions that benefit the giver as well. Give yourself permission to sit this one out. Not giving in to the madness of the season. Taking time for your soul, doing things differently. I am all for different.

This week’s homework:
List two things to do differently this year
Give myself time for me
Enjoy the peaceful moments with others without overloading on work.

My favorite holiday accessory is:
Candles and Music

I look forward to the end of the year knowing I have prepared ahead of time for the main event.
Fingers crossed, it all goes as planned.

The Benefits of Boredom (wk48)

Working through Cheryl Richardson’s book, Life Makeovers, this week she covers the benefits of boredom. After 48 weeks of topics to change your life, I believe she must have been running out of ideas because this week was quite a stretch. She equates filling your spare time with activities as a refusal to accept boredom for what it is.

I don’t buy into that. She claims she has studied this topic in order to write about it, but without links, I am not sure where her studies landed her. This is what I found.

Boredom: In conventional usage, boredom is an emotional or psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in his or her surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious.

That being said, I can honestly say that I am never bored. I do not ever feel uninterested in my life or that I experience periods of dullness. Tedious, maybe, but I am never without anything to do, or look forward to doing.

In her book, she thinks by using your free time to catch up on the things you want is some kind of escapism from your life, as though it’s a bad thing. I was rather disappointed that she would fill a chapter with something so weak.

If I am with free time, I want to fill it with things i enjoy. I want to lean into my creativity and utilize that time for this. I want to sit with my thoughts. I want to meditate, pray, dream.

If she feels the need to denigrate free time by calling it boredom and tell people they are doing something wrong by filling their moments with meaningful things, then she is the one with the bigger problem. Otherwise, this entire chapter and entire week has been lost to me.

I enjoy the fine art of doing nothing. I also enjoy my moments of writing and doing fine art. There is nothing wrong with wanting to fill your spare time. If this year of transformation has taught me anything, it’s that while it’s good to have a direction to move towards and be guided by external ideas, in the end, we all walk different paths and no one person knows the best way for you to take than yourself. Trust your own inner compass and don’t put too much stock into what others, including professionals, think you must be doing.

This weeks action steps:

List ways you avoid boredom by filling your time with other activities, and choose three items to NOT do this week in order to sit with your free time.

Enh, I will pass on this.

The Thank You Game (wk47)

This week, the author invites her readers to play a game she calls The Thank You Game. Cheryl Richardson explains how this was inspired by her father that loved to surprise people with gifts of gratitude. For many people, they only wait for special occasions in which to express their gratitude towards others, usually during the holidays.

Like Cheryl’s father, my dad would do things like this, too. Year round. He was a most generous man and was always thinking of others. Maybe it was because of rough childhood, filled with an impoverished upbringing. Maybe it was just his nature. Whatever the reason, he passed this kind of example along to his kids. Some of us took it to heart. Others never gave it a moment’s notice.

Regardless, I fall into the camp that if you want to thank someone for something, you don’t wait until a special holiday to express it. You tell them, show them, do something to demonstrate your feelings. There is always something to give thanks for. I don’t always capture every opportunity that comes my way to do this, but I have a higher than normal average.To me, giving thanks isn’t a game. It’s a way of life and should be treated as such if one wants to make a heartfelt difference in their life or in the world.

Several years ago, I read a book that made a huge difference in my life. It made me look at the people surrounding me with gratitude and it did what a month of Sundays in church, did not. It made me feel grateful without the guilt.

The book is called, 365 Thank Yous. It is a true story about a man whose life was in the toilet and he turned things around by a conscious decision he made to be thankful for all situations in his life instead of continuing the victim role he had partaken in for so much of it.

In this book, the author makes a vow to handwrite a thank you note a day for an entire year, to see if he can notice any difference.

His whole life changes as a result.
The very thought that something so small as a simple thank you can create worlds of difference is exciting and awe inspiring.

I think it’s time for me to reread this book. As with anything, gentle reminders are sometimes needed to get our feet back on the right track.

This week’s work:
The author suggests to make a list of seven people to thank for something, and spend one day each week to do just that.

I am not making a list as I feel that since this is a deeply ingrained part of my life, all this does is limit my actions. But if this isn’t something you are used to doing, I would highly encourage you to do this.

If the only prayer you say in your life is “Thank You”, that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart