Step One: Showing Up

(This is the first post by our new contributor JB. Please take a moment to check out her profile in the Contributors page)

A CHAMPION DAD…that sounds daunting, no doubt. Since I heard the blog’s name, I have been considering what this means, where I’ve experienced it. My own dad is a champion in many ways; my husband is in others. But this week, I met a champion dad who has come through the fire. Better yet, the defining characteristic of this individual is that he ran into the fire to sit with his daughter. And share in her hurt.

Life isn’t easy. We always want the best for our kids, better than we had. Yet sometimes they have to face hardship and real soul-wrenching, gut piercing pain. And we all wonder how we will ever survive. But we do, together.

Have you ever gotten the call? The call that the world is on fire for someone you love? Time slows down, and your stomach drops? I’ve gotten a few, thankfully only a few. But this is a part of life. When he got “The Call” from his adult daughter, this amazing man was driving to work. And he did what any Champion Dad would do, said “I’m coming” and started the long drive to get to her a few states away.

Work and responsibilities fade away when we are faced with the reality of heartfelt need from our children. Now, he couldn’t fix the problem, bring her fiancée back to life. But he did the most important thing any father can do…he showed up. In talking with him later, he revealed his feelings of helplessness, and while he wasn’t doing anything at that moment, he was BEING her dad. Being present and sometimes that’s the only thing that a parent can do. But this was only possible because of a lifetime of showing up in big and little ways – soccer games, hanging out with her friends at their house, conversations driving places, offering advice and laughter in the small moments. I hope and pray that my kids will know that my husband and I are always there for them, ready to show up.

C.S. Lewis said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” This is tough to remember when the kids are little, and I’m trying to get my work done, but I’m trying. It’s these small moments, the daily interactions and rituals that seem silly and exhausting sometimes. But they build up to a lifetime of trust. What can you do TODAY to make sure you have that critical connection? Wait for the bus, toss around the ball for a few, or let your daughter paint your toenails. The little moments of action are all training for the tough stuff. If you are conditioned, you will show up and BE the Champion Dad that you truly are.

JB

Photo by Jordan Whit via Unsplash

Tricks to Becoming a Master Listener

“Are you even LISTENING TO ME??!!

Have you ever heard those words spoken to you? Chances are, if you are like me, you have probably heard them a lot. In my life, I generally hear this from my wife, and truth be told, she has been well within her right to do so.

The fact of the matter is, I have always had difficulty listening to others. It is not that I am not paying attention but has more to do because I get so excited to share that I jump in or cut someone off before they are done speaking.

I work at becoming a better listener. I try to remember all the simpleton advice, like maintaining eye contact the whole time or being patient and waiting for your turn. I have now realized that this advice is very shallow and generally meaningless if you lack interest with whom you are listening to. I now know this and am teasing it out in life:

Our relationships’ depth reflects and is in direct proportion of how deeply we can listen to the other person. Deeper listening = deeper connection.

But about a month, my listening ability changed forever. I was listening to an interview with Robert Greene (author The Laws of Human Nature), and he said something that struck me like a lightning bolt that I never thought of before. It was (paraphrasing here):

“Why is it that we are not a good listener? The root of it is that we are more interested in ourselves than we are of the other person. Some may deny, but the truth is we are more interested in our own thoughts, ideas, and things that we are certain about than about the other person, what they are saying, and what is going on inside of them.”

How true!!! He went on:

“That person we are talking to is more interesting than we think or imagine that they are. They are a book. Think of people in our life as characters in a movie. What motivates them? They are more interesting than we think! They have had traumas, family issues, successes…”

WOW! It sounds simple, but it is so spot on and practical. The trick here that is transforming how I approach conversations now is this:

When conversing, recognize that our initial assumptions about that person (or simplified story about them) are false or, at best incomplete. Fight the urge to put forward your ideas. Instead, be patient and ask yourself things like what are they feeling right now? Or, why do they think this? Be a seeker of their what and why.

Practicing these little thoughts will automatically make you a better listener.

Strong, connected relationships come down to the listening and emotion quality, not how much you have shared about your thoughts and ideas.

Quality of listening wins over quantity of exchanges.

As humans, we are a social animal, and how well we can work and listen to others will determine how far you can go in life.

A big reminder to wrap this one up: At first glance, we are not seeing the other person for who they are but are only seeing reflections of our own projections we have made about them. Don’t believe your stories about them. Fight the urge to interject and ask why. They will reveal their true self to you, the more deeply you listen. 

Be well

-MJ

.Photo by Kyle Smith via Unsplash

Champ Dads..The Marvel Way

While rummaging through my old book collection, I came across one of my most cherished books when I was a kid: How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way. 

As soon as I saw it, I was once again captivated by the possibilities contained within. I immediately searched for the page in the picture above (please take a moment to read it). This section spoke to me back then and spoke to me know. It has to do with how to draw a typical hero and how to draw a villain.

When I was younger (and even now), everyone wanted to root for and cheer for their favorite hero! However, when it comes to drawing a hero..well if you have drawn one, you have drawn them all. Yet, villains are a different story. Although we love to hate them, that is where all of the creative fun can be found. This conveyed to me a very important lesson to be learned:

-It is our unique imperfections that provide ALL of our opportunity for growth in life-

Let me unpack this a little bit (or should I say draw a complete picture). If we didn’t have all of our shortcomings, flaws, and weaknesses, we would not have a mountain to climb. Having our struggles to overcome paves the way to growth and accomplishment. There is no happy ending if there isn’t something to overcome. Tragedy leads to victory. Just watch any of the latest Marvel movies that have come out.

Returning to the book, Stan Lee points out (my words not his): perfection is boring, formulated, and easy. Yet flawed characters…YIPPEE…time to have some fun. Now, I am strictly speaking about drawing characters here. Since heroes generally have to look the same, writers provide them a flaw when storytelling, so they are relatable and likable (Superman…kryptonite..DC I know..forgive me). Flaws give us something to root for in another and something to work on within ourselves. With this being said, here is another habit I am personally working on:

-Learn to love and embrace your imperfections. They are what make you unique and wonderfully you. You can only change something that you have accepted. You will know when you have accepted it when there is no shame, guilt, or blame present- 

To finish out this post, I would like to use the Marvel theme, twist it a little, and apply it to Champion Dads:

Champion Dads are where all the fun is. We are not perfect. We come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, cultures, and backgrounds. We strive to be better every day for our family, friends, and society. While we might not ever be perfect, we exercise giving grace within and withoutWe do the best that we can with what we have got, and when all else fails..be goofy. We recognize that victory is not realizing a goal but rather found in how we cultivate and nourish the journey.

Be well

-MJ

Endless Distraction

I want to share a story today about something that, my guess, has happened to many of us. I was putting a puzzle together with my daughter and felt my phone’s vibration go off in my pocket. Instinctively, I reached down to see who needed me at that moment, only to find out that my phone was not there. My phone was upstairs on my bureau where I left it. This is what some refer to as the twitch.

This moment upset me. It had happened before, but I usually just shrugged it off. Not this time, though…had I become so programmed that I am mindlessly feeling and reaching for things that are not there?!!

That day I tried to figure out just how programmed I had become…how deep are the roots of this mindless habit? The following were my painful observations of my behavior.

*When I retrieved my phone from my bureau, I instantly checked it to see if I “missed” a text or a call. And every few minutes, impulsively pressed the home button to light up the screen.

*While driving, I felt the twitch again only to see my phone on my dashboard where I kept it.

*Standing in a long line at the store, I reached for the phone to pass the time.

*Three more times in the evening, I felt the urge to check and use the phone to review emails, texts, and run various games.

Needless to say, I was a bit disgusted by how strong the twitch’s calling was. I felt tremendous anxiety when I did not follow through on the urge.

I am now working to correct this terrible habit.

It has been almost a week since that fateful wake-up call, and I have had time to dig into how it has impaired my ability to be in the moment.

The twitch signifies a larger problem. It is not only about a phone but also the impulsive nature of needing constant input or distraction in one’s life. Look around and observe- the chances are that you will see people walking with their head down, lost in their glowing device. Or, perhaps they are in a line catching up on Facebook. Or, they are checking their phone quickly at a stoplight. Or, worst yet, reading their phone while they are spending time with their kids.

To me, the twitch is all the noise that sucks the magic out of the present moment. Why do we need to get lost in our device? Why do we need a constant distraction?

I remember the days when I did not have a phone. In my downtime (the line at the store, waiting room, sitting with nothing to do), I would think and allow my thoughts to sort themselves out. It was so beautiful to allow my brain a break where it could process out all that happened in the day. Anxiety was less. Happiness was more.

I guess that the rising levels of anxiety in adults and children are directly linked to constantly being distracted. The constant streaming of noise we are force-feeding our brains is impairing its ability to decompress and recharge.

Maybe it’s time to put the phone down for a while and take back control.

You’re not going to miss anything…In fact, you will be gaining….gaining back all the precious moments…the magical interaction real life has to offer…your kids laughter…a sunset…or just watching the day pass you by.

How awesome were the days where we had nothing to do but hang out and have a real conversation with…..hold on…just felt my phone…UGH!

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Jens Johnson via Unsplash

3 Habits to Help Disable Depression

In the year 2000, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. To think about this 19 years later still provides chills down my spine…and not in a good way. You see, depression changes a person forever. Although I don’t suffer daily, I can always reach out and touch it. IT is there. Now, in many ways, it is like a caged tiger. I have learned skills and thought processes that have kept it in a safe place…But it is still there, pacing back and forth…Every once and a while, letting loose a guttural growl as to say “never forget.”

For me, I have never been successful at describing what depression is like to a person who has not gone through it. IT is hell. It is an emotional roller coaster of uncertainty (when I could feel emotion). Imagine a world without color, without vibrancy, while every little stress put you in a place of despondent despair. There is no exit sign or escape while the dread in your bones has one constant theme: It is over, it is over, it is over.

So that was what it was like for me. Yet, here I am! I came back, and my aim every day is to live life on my terms and help others do the same.

This post is for Champion Dads, who are currently in the despair. The following three things helped me immensely. They provided me a foothold to start to gain back a little normalcy and control in my daily life. Even current day, I use these three things to make sure I keep that cage strong. (Remember, these are things that worked for me. I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist and am not providing advice…I am just sharing ideas).

1. Practice thinking in the present moment. A common occurrence was my head filled with future worries and past dwellings. My head would say things like:

Future- “I hope the rest of my life isn’t like this” or “How am I ever going to go on this way?”

Past- “I just want to go back to the way I was.”

Past and future thoughts have no place in reality. One is a reflection on what has long gone, while the other is an illusionary projection. Neither are real. When I caught myself dwelling back or worrying forward, I would replace the thought with “Mike, your only job right now is to experience all the sensations of the current moment.” An example of this playing out is as follows:

Imagine tying your shoes and worrying about all the crap you have to do today. “Stop, right now, focus on how perfect I can tie the shoes. What do the laces feel like? Let’s focus on how tight I need to tie them. How do the shoes feel on my feet?”

By repeatedly reminding ourselves to return to the present moment, we can ease the burden of overthinking.

2. Practice not judging everything you see. I owe my brother big for this line of thinking. It is hard, but good. On one of the worst days of my depression, we went for a walk, and I tried to explain how disconnected I was. Here is a snippet of that conversation:

Me: “Look at all these pink flowers. Before, I could feel how beautiful they were, and I would know how beautiful they were. Now I see them, but I feel no connection..it is like someone severed my cord to life.”

Brother: “Why does the flower need to be beautiful? Why can’t the flower be the flower?

BOOM!!! Things are not the judgments we place upon them. Allow things to be as they are. Things are neither good, bad, right, or wrong. When we can be in the present moment without incessant judgment, things can be just as they are. We don’t need to waste thought/energy on placing them in our made-up boxes of judgments. (Good practice with people too)

3. Be of service to others. On days where I could not effectively do #1 or #2, I would go out and help someone else. This way, I could stop the narcissistic behavior of ME ME ME thoughts. When we focus on helping others, we find ourselves naturally in a present moment state. Our focus shifts from ME to them. This step is magical to me, so I love my current career in adult learning.

So there they are…three ideas. I hope they help. They help me every day.

Let’s take small steps and build habits to bring forth a better tomorrow.

-MJ

Photo by Melissa Mjoen via Unsplash

You Are The Fire

THE GIFT OF FIRE- As told by Anthony De Mello
There’s this guy who invented fire. He takes the tools for making fire and goes up to the north, where there are some tribes shivering in the cold. He teaches them the art and the advantages of making fire. And the people become interested. They learn. And what do they know? Pretty soon they’re cooking, they’re using the fire for building. And before they had time to say thanks to the inventor, he had disappeared. He didn’t want any thanks; he just wanted people to benefit from his invention.
He goes to another tribe, and he attempts to interest them also in his new invention. But he ran into a snag there, see? The priests began to realize how popular the guy was becoming and how their own influence on the people was diminishing. So they decided to poison him. A suspicion arose among the people that it was the priests who had done it, so you know what the priests did?
They had a huge portrait made of the man. They put it on the main altar in the temple. They devised a liturgy by which the man would be honored, a ritual; and year after year, people came to pay homage to the great inventor and to the instruments for making fire. And the ritual was faithfully observed. But there was no fire. No fire. Ritual. Remembrance. Gratitude. Veneration. Yes. But no fire…
****
This story is my favorite from Anthony DeMello. Anthony was a Jesuit Priest who saw things as they are (not as prescribed by his own faith). I often remind myself of this story as I guide my children the best that I can. 
This story’s true purpose is not whether dogma is good or bad (that is lazy, shallow thinking). The message here is that the fire maker’s purpose was to show that everyone can do this fire making stuff! He helped people learn and awaken to their true fire making potential. 
And so it is with ALL OF US: We are the fire of the world. At our best, we help others awaken to their own potential. Today, I will work hard to bring my fire into the world. Today, I will be patient with my children and help them discover their own unique fire within. Today, I will listen better to their story and coach them where needed. Today, I will offer my hand to anyone who has forgotten that they, too, can spark a flame in this world.
You are the fire of life. Let’s go out there and fan the flames and help others awaken to their potential.
Be well.
-MJ
Photo by Ryan Wong via Unsplash

Three Steps To Morning Freedom

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily”

When I first became a dad, well…everything changed. The first thing that changed was I had to take care of another tiny human better than I have ever cared for myself! Ok, so my wife and I got this! (Yeah, totally needed her because watching me hold a crying baby looks about the same as a caveman holding a log that is on fire…This doesn’t seem right…what do I do, what do I do???? HHAAAAAA!!!)

The second thing that changed is my sleep schedule. It wasn’t in their owner’s manual, but kids don’t care how late you stay up or how much you had to drink the night before. When kids wake up…THEY WAKE UP so full of life and ready to go! They don’t “get” that dad made some poor decisions the night before. So I would have to drag my sorry butt out of bed.

So with that being said, here are three things that completely changed my morning dynamic and saved my sanity. The following will transform your mornings from playing catch-up and resenting their energy to being functionalloving, and in control.

#1 and #2 are about habits. #3 is about forging a relationship.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether or not you’re inspired”.- Octavia Butler

1. Wake up every day before for the kids. I try to wake up at least a full hour before they wake. This grants me some quiet time where I am not distracted (aka ME time). Since my quiet time happens in the morning, I have plenty of energy to enjoy it and get all of my ducks in a row for the day. Try this out! You will see that it is so much better than trying to find quiet time after the kids have gone to bed for the night (I mean, why have quiet time when you are already burned out?!)

2. Wake up at the same time every morning. It does not matter when you go to bed; build the habit of waking up simultaneously. It does wonders for your body, even on the days you may lack sleep (science has my back on this). Your body has its own natural rhythm, and waking up at the same time allows a good routine to form. Current day, I wake up without an alarm between 4:30 and 5. If I can do this, you can too! I used to be a natural night person. I made the shift originally because I wanted to read a book but would fall asleep shortly after I started reading at night. Now I have a beautiful, peaceful habit.

3. When your kids wake immediately, spend five to ten minutes giving them your full attention (no phone or fractured attention here). This is what is referred to by L. Tobin* and Jeanine Fitzgerald* as first hour needs. If you can fill your kids up right off the bat with touch (hug), acknowledgment, humor, conversation, nutrition, love, etc.- they will be so much more well behaved in the day and compliant to your voice. Really, this one is a miracle at work. Just fill them up with as much love as possible and watch them go…in a content state. I also use this tactic as soon as I get home from work. The key here is to create an environment where they feel and know that they are valued. (Bonus fact: did you know that 80% of what you communicate with another is purely non-verbal….yeah, words don’t tell the story)

In conclusion, I work these three things every single day. I love my kids, but hey…I also love me. Maximize your downtime when you have the most energy for it (you deserve it)…and while you are at it, fill your kids up with love and acknowledgment (they will return the favor).

-MJ

*L. Tobin What do you do with a child like this?

*Jeanine Fitzgerald- The Dance of Interaction

Photo by Japheth Mast via Unsplash

Agent of Change

The posts on this site often are meant to be a catalyst or an agent of change in the reader’s life. Every post on Be a Champion Dad got its start from ideas and actions that we, the writers, are learning and working on. 

Today I ask that you be an agent of change in your own life. Instead of going about your day waiting for something or someone to come by and inspire, I ask that you be the inspiration. Be the catalyst of change by taking one thing that you wish could be better and take a step in the direction to bring it forth.

“Create what you want to see in the world” –Jeanine Fitzgerald.

I am not talking about moving mountains but rather about making a small change today to build to a better tomorrow that you envision in your heart/mind. Some examples are as follows:

*Set a goal. Any change starts with a goal in mind. When you know your destination, you are more likely to take action and get there.

*Be happy. Happiness needs no reason. We are all responsible for our own happiness. However, so many people allow external circumstances or conditions to determine their mental state. The truth is everything starts from within and not the other way around. Happiness is a choice and does not rely on the external…unless you allow it to. Grab that steering wheel!

*Smile. This goes hand in hand with happiness. How many people do you see smiling as you navigate your day? Odds are not too many. Don’t be one of those people. Smiling is a great way to change your own mood and is a powerful way to help others open up and do the same. Smile- it may feel silly, but it does transform. Do it and observe. Your kids will mirror this behavior faster than anyone else!

*Develop a new relationship.  Success in life happens through your relationships. Often whom you know will shape future opportunities. Reach out to someone who you have never dealt with before and begin a conversation. Pick someone of interest or that you have admired from a distance. You will be amazed at the doorways that open when a new relationship is forged. This one is a little adventurous but will provide the most reward.

This post’s main point is to bring awareness to this powerful but easy truth: Life responds immediately to those who take aggressive action or stance. Now I don’t mean aggressive in a negative way, but simply boldly assertive. Life is always interactive. The more proactive one can be, the more life works to respond in kind. Success happens most to those who have chosen their outcome and drive towards it to shape their tomorrow. So have fun today and make a small change in your life. You just may be amazed where that new rabbit hole (change) will take you.

Be Well

-MJ

Photo by Mehuldave via Unsplash

A Perfect Mess

“The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

– Joseph Campbell

As you navigate your life today do not take the ups and downs too personally.  Remember: Life is merely a constant reflection of self.  A constant crazy reminder of our internal dialogue.  Don’t worry about fixing the mirror.  Instead, focus attention on the only thing you have control over: yourself.  When you get that right the reflection falls into place.

-MJ

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell via Unsplash

Timeless Poetry

I would like to thank my wife for providing this gem to me over tens years ago. We were only dating and she was witnessing me (at work) getting crushed by a mountain of stress and obligations. When I received it, my perception of time slowed and it pulled me right out of that funk.

“The true magic in life is only found through our relationships”

The crazy thing is she wrote this before we had ever met. It just makes me think that all of us should focus on what is in our heart. Creating from the heart plants seeds that will grow and reveal themselves in the future (for people we never even knew existed).

I hope you find a measure of value as I did that fateful day. Be well.

-MJ


Do you find your life to be full of stress?

You look around and it’s all a mess?

You feel like you hardly have a moment to treasure,

Well wake up now! Life is all about the simple pleasures.

How often do you stop and look at the trees?

Feel the warmth of the sun and the cool of the breeze.

Take time to do this, these things can’t be measured

Life is all about taking time to love these simple pleasures.

Why give in to the world and yell and complain,

This means nothing in life, you have nothing to gain.

When you’re old on your death bed would you want to look back?

And realize you wasted your life traveling down the wrong track?

Just stop right here, just stop and think….

Mindlessly stare at this page, try not to blink.

How much time have you wasted on things that don’t matter?

You’ve screamed and yelled and you’ve gotten madder and madder.

Only you can change this, you have the power within,

So stop, and realize the simple pleasures life can bring.

Whether your twenty or fifty or on your very last breath.

Take the time to appreciate things that count before death.

Look up to the sky, on a blue cloudless day,

Close your eyes and enjoy what the birds have to say.

Cause it is moments like this which we should all treasure,

At the end of our time, a good life is filled with these simple pleasures.


Photo by Ben White via Unsplash

Beliefs are the Parables of the Mind

Don’t believe your beliefs.

What a statement, huh?! Everyone reveals their true nature through their past and their current actions. What drives people’s actions are the beliefs they hold onto about their life. But….Please don’t believe them.

Let’s build this from the floor up. Beliefs are those ideas you hold to be true in your mind and heart but cannot prove in the world. Beliefs are not facts. Beliefs are merely theories waiting to be proofed out. 

So what do I mean with don’t believe your beliefs? Simply this. Keep your mind open to the possibility that your beliefs might not be true. Keeping an open mind like this will allow for new data to come in to amend your beliefs and grow. I know this sounds really awful to many of you, especially if you are a fundamentalist (view my post on Authenticity).

Why is it so awful? (because it is going to make you think!)

Your beliefs are the security blanket of your mind. They are the assumptions about life that enable you to move forward. Beliefs fill the gaps in the mind to sleep at night, navigate our day, and not be paralyzed by fear of the unknown (like- why we are even on this earth?). So it becomes really awful that we would even question the beliefs that keep us sane….because essentially you are removing the mental security blanket with questions like: Is this true? Or can it be amended to a higher understanding?

(Besides awful, it can be really scary too. I once read a book (The Story of B) that removed a huge pillar of belief from my mind. I didn’t know who I was for a few days, but I knew I could never go back! Hooray for enlightenment…that’s the way of it)

Don’t believe your beliefs. They are just stories for guidance.

How will this help you? You will grow as a person. You will learn to adapt and amend when higher knowledge comes in. This is also a great way to model how to be a thinking person for your child. (Champion Dads cultivate authentic thinking children)

Those who keep a fixated belief system without questioning are stagnant, closed to life, and severely disables their own growth/enlightenment. Not only that, but they cripple their personal creative power in this world.

What I am not saying is to get rid of your beliefs. We all have them and are required to live and navigate a healthy life. Keep them but allow them to grow with you on your journey. In other words, hold onto them as long as they work or serve a purpose. Let them go when they are no longer useful.

Don’t believe your beliefs. They are just a tool to help you go about your day and build your life…always feel free to upgrade new tools when life is trying to teach you something.

Or to be EVEN MORE redundant, let’s sum this up to another way: Beliefs are merely the parables of the mind. It does not matter if they are “true” or not. What matters is that they help facilitate wonder, curiosity, and point the way when needed.

Don’t believe your beliefs but feel free to enjoy the story.

-MJ

Photo by Joshua Earle via Unsplash

Friday Wake Up Call

This site is about waking up, taking control, and building the family life you envision. To me, everyone is asleep (including myself.) We are all sleeping and are at different stages of waking up. This site is devoted to helping cultivate a waking mind. A mind that can think on its own and grow is a mind that can positively impact its surroundings (kids and anyone you come into contact with).

Let’s get one thing out there: Waking up is hard to do. For the most part, if you are like me (or the average Joe/Jane), you will wake up for a moment, experience enlightenment, and then fall back asleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Waking up is not an end result. You won’t wake up and be able to automatically sustain it…mainly because we are human.

Enlightenment in life is about the journey. Step one is this: understand the “why” in each moment while focusing on experiencing it to its fullest. God/Truth/Love/Peace…whatever you want to call “IT” can only be found in the present moment.

Waking up can be very uncomfortable because it means we must challenge our thoughts. I have noticed that the hardest thoughts to change are the ones that I have always believed and never questioned. These are the ideas that we learned growing up; the ideas “mother culture” spoon-fed us. These deeply rooted thoughts keep us in line and inhibit our ability to create a unique/authentic life. Examine these thoughts as they come up, shine a light on them, and if they add true value to your life, keep them. If they do not hold value, cast them aside, and create better thoughts to live by.

Our work is never finished. However, it is deeply satisfying once you have some momentum.

On a train in 2002, I wrote the following poem on a cover of a book:

 “I am just a plow in a field, planting seeds, planting seeds. The gorgeous flowers that will grow yet even weeds, even weeds.”

The mind is fertile soil. We can actively work at cultivating the soil to bring forth flowers or allow it to produce on its own accord. If we don’t choose the content, our mind will fill with the weeds “mother culture” decides to plant. Regardless of whether or not we are consciously tending the soil, it WILL produce. The mind is always at work.

So let’s go forward and start pulling all the weeds that we don’t want in their place plant flowers and ideas worth living by. Work the soil and actively create. This is the true journey of life: to bring forth that which your individual self has to offer and share it with the world.

Wake up!

-MJ

The Day in the life of…

The following is a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It is a great reminder to give each day your all and not to dwell too long in the past. I can’t help but think of it when I reach the end of my day and realize that I was not perfect with my kiddos. Parenting is not a game of perfect. It is constant adjustment as we try new things while adapting to their changes.

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense”.

Shake the weight of yesterday, smile, and go on with today.

MJ

Three Quotes to Ponder

Here are three quotes to ponder today after (for me) a hellish Monday. They are from one of my favorite authors, Joseph Campbell. Be Well.

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning”

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”

“What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else”

Say yes to life. Say yes to you. Perfection is not found in conformity; actually that is where it is lost. Perfection comes through a moment to moment experience of being fully yourself.

MJ