Category Archives: Resonance

Living better…

Published / by Tim

I am, at times, an aimless wanderer… I admit, it isn’t optimal for getting things done, but it is interesting. I have spent much of the last several months using aimlessness as an excuse not to write here. I kept telling myself, “I have no idea what to write about.” and, “I really have nothing to say.” and even, “Who really wants to read what I think?” It dawned on me though… When I started this project I had NO ONE reading it. A group of people have signed up to follow so there are kind folks willing to commit a few minutes to my silly randomness. Thanks.

So, here I am, in my bathrobe with a glass of something dark and bubbly and my laptop telling you about what you can expect for the next few months. I figure you might as well be informed enough to decide if you want to follow along.

I think, if you have read any of my previous posts, you might have the idea that I am a fan of Brene Brown’s work on wholehearted living. I’m a fan because I stink at it and I want to improve. As such, I’m going to spend the next 10 – 15 posts reflecting on the resonant points in Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection : Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. ( <— affiliate link).

I read the book a couple of years ago and it made a lot of sense, but I am going to revisit it and give you the thoughts of a middle-aged dude on confronting some of the things Brown points out that hold us back from living a wholehearted sort of life. She’s done the research, I’m looking at application from my perspective. You may get stories, or poems, or drawings… or just me talking through it. I hope you will participate in the comments of the next several posts.

About comments: I really want to have comments be a part of the blog experience here. I think conversation is a good thing, but it MUST be civil. If you aren’t sure what that means… don’t comment.

One more thing: I will send a copy of the book to someone (one randomly chosen person with an address in the United States, to be clear) who comments on this post by Friday, December 2, 2016 @ 5:30 pm.  The only requirements are that you tell me why you want a copy of the book and you are or become an active subscriber/follower of OneSureChord.com using the sign-up on the top right side of the blog.  If you comment, follow the blog, and are chosen (randomly, of course) I will respond to your comment to let you know and send you an e-mail to get your shipping info. Cool?

Giving up…

Published / by Tim / 1 Comment on Giving up…

When it comes to “giving up” the first thing I think is, it’s a quitters phrase. I was raised, like many of us were, are, or will be, thinking that quitting is BAD. It’s a societal thing. Quitting is frowned upon.

When I think of giving up I initially think of defeat. Someone beaten down who can no longer muster the courage to stand back up. It’s a melancholy state of being. But then… I have to think a little more.

Giving up. Is it ALWAYS bad? Is giving up cowardly? Is giving up weakness? After the initial thoughts fade I consider some of the following:

Giving up cigarettes, booze or other chemicals that have garnered too much control in our lives. Giving up on relationships that are, one-sided, controlling, abusive. Giving up on a job that is a sad compromise at best. Giving up on habits like overeating, gambling, and watching porn that can be pretty destructive. Giving up on trying to accumulate things instead of living abundantly.

All of these require courage, commitment to an ideal, a plan, support and time. The outcome for any of these give ups will likely be a more fulfilling and pleasant life which isn’t a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think if we could see the good outcome in advance, clearly, we would be less inclined to have fear around giving up.

I think one of the biggest problems is when we allow others perceptions of us shape how we think, act and feel. If we worry how people will think of us if we give up, we will likely never be free of that trouble.

Others perceptions play a huge role when one has to admit to being an alcoholic or long-term drug user. It’s scary to out the skeletons from the closet of a lifetime of living with an abusive partner. No one wants to be considered an addict. It’s hard to admit when the job one has worked a lifetime to keep has really been a source of pain and displeasure. We all end up wanting to save face.

My struggle is beer. I am not an alcoholic, but beer plays a pretty significant role in many of my social situations. I like to brew beer. I think I’m pretty good at it.  I have MANY friends with whom I associate around beer. They are great people. Love all of them. I worry though, if I make the decision to “give up” beer, we may not have anything to talk about and they may find me to be a bore, or a prude or a teetotaler, yet… when I don’t drink beer, I feel better, physically and mentally. It’s right there, I am ultimately worried about what they will think about me. And maybe, it doesn’t matter. If they are truly my friends, they will understand.

Giving up… maybe it’s ok.

Create something…

Published / by Tim

The last couple of weeks I’ve been messing around with creating things. I started by showing my kids how to make fairly simple “paracord” or “survival” type bracelets. This is not to say that with one of these bracelets you would be ready for a zombie apocalypse… but it wouldn’t hurt your odds. I have enjoyed messing around with paracord for several years. I am amused that my older child, once she had the basic idea, almost immediately struck out on her own to find a bit more challenging and interesting bracelet pattern to make out of paracord.

More recently, I started messing around with a kids watercolor instructional guide. Gotta start somewhere, right? I would say it is a guide insofar as it has directions if one takes the time to read them. I mainly look at the pictures and then slop some paint on the page… and see what happens. I call the series, “Anyone Can Paint But That Doesn’t Mean They Should”

#1 “Viewfinder”. I was simply seeing how the brush worked at filling up space, making lines and filling in a circle. Woohoo…

Viewfinder

#2 is “Hill-arious” and I was messing with washes and mixing colors both on and off the paper…

Hill-arious

Believe it or not, in just two painting moments I have learned a lot. Watercolors are interesting. Get them on paper and while they are wet it’s almost like they have a mind of their own. If the paper is wet and you put two colors even remotely close to each other, they are like bunnies, making new colors right before your eyes. Those colors are not always what you intended, or wanted, but no matter, the deed is done.

I’m not going to go on and on about painting, that’s not really the point. The point is, I want to challenge you to make something and share it with someone. Anyone.

This blog is kind of like that… I create something and share it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not so good. But in sharing, I think I get better.

Go create something and share it. If it’s digital, share a link in the comments… I’d love to see what you have going on.

Oh the joy…

Published / by Tim / 2 Comments on Oh the joy…

Joy sometimes seems like it’s in short supply. I admit… I often let the pessimist who lives in the back left part of my brain come out and have a few minutes to mess with the rest of my head. He reminds me that  the world is coming to and end and everything is just horrible. He rants and raves and colors my outlook. When I let that little jerk out of his cage he steals my joy and probably even the joy of anyone else who is around at the time.

Pessimism is easy. It requires no thought and gets a lot of attention. It’s amazing how many people will stop and listen to a tale of woe. We often feel sorry for the sad story-teller. We honestly feel like that woeful soul is probably more miserable than anyone in the world and they deserve our sympathy. Which is kind of funny, because sympathy isn’t usually very helpful. Sympathy is kind of like saying, “Man, that sucks! Glad I’m not you!” Pessimism is often attention seeking and it will take sympathy as it’s payment, regardless of what that currency is actually worth.

Optimism is harder. It requires one to look objectively at the world and to say, “Yeah, it’s a dark and lonely place, but I’m going to take the best I can find and run with it”. Optimism is difficult but it seems to be fueled by empathy. I didn’t realize this until I identified a few really optimistic people who live and work in my community. By watching them I have discovered that empathy (both giving and receiving) makes a difference in their lives and helps drive their optimism.

For a long time I didn’t really get the difference between sympathy and empathy. They both seemed really touchy-feely and to be avoided entirely. I now think that, for the most part, sympathy could be avoided. However, I kind of dig empathy. Empathy is like saying, “Man, that sucks! I know how that feels! I’m here if you need help.” It’s a connection.

Sympathy leaves us feeling lonely and kind of like something is wrong with us. Empathy leaves us feeling supported by a knowing and caring friend. Sympathy promotes isolation in that you are kind of on your own to figure your stuff out. Empathy promotes community in that you have others who understand you and who stand with you.

I think optimism is fueled by empathy. Having and empathic person in your corner promotes a sense of community and security that helps strengthen an overall sense of well-being. That sense of well being leads to an attitude of optimism.

Optimism is a catalyst of joy.

Joy may be in short supply, but it doesn’t have to be. I think empathy is a two-way street. If I practice empathy toward others… I can’t help but think it will come back to me. That has been true in all of my experience. I also think that the more we practice empathy toward each other, the stronger our relationships will be. As our relationships grow stronger we will experience a greater sense of community, support and well-being. As we feel more connected we will likely be more optimistic about things in general and if I’m right and optimism is a catalyst for joy… well… there you go.

It seems simple, right? Maybe it is, but it takes a decision to practice empathy. And that is not as easy as it sounds. To better practice empathy I think we can do the following five things:

Be present – Put the cell phone away. Make eye contact.

Listen actively – Give your full attention and be able to summarize in your head what the other person is saying.

Judge ye not – Empathy means putting yourself in the other persons shoes. If you do this, it’s a lot harder to judge them.

Don’t try to “fix” others – If someone is telling you their story they don’t usually want advice unless they ask for it.

Keep it quiet – Empathy is only as good as the trusting relationship in which it occurs. If someone is telling their story, it is not yours to tell to someone else.

I think there’s a lot of joy in the world, sometimes it just needs to be found out. Empathy in relationships can help surface real joy.

Stellar Connections

Published / by Tim

My dad was born in May, 1942 and died in January, 2007. He died relatively young and I have been thinking about him quite a bit the last few weeks. Who really knows why? I figured I’d take a moment and share something I wrote in his honor and in an attempt to describe how and why I am interested in stars constellations and other points of light…

I look forward to clear spring evenings. It is on these lovely evenings that I often go out a look up into the night sky. I have a deep-seated attraction for all things stellar. I never wanted to be an astronaut, but looking through a telescope makes me feel happy. The universe is amazing in its expansiveness, but it’s also lovely.

I think my father, despite his shortcomings, saw this interest within me before anyone else did. I have a few vivid memories of dad, and most of them involve being outside on a clear night and looking up. I think that is one thing I could attribute to my dad… he encouraged me to look up. He modeled being a dreamer and as such, encouraged me to have my “head in the clouds”. I think I have done a good job of that. I dream even when I am awake.

It often amazes me that the universe provides us with direction, location and the security of being able to determine where we are at any given moment. No tools, no apps, no gizmos… just eyes and a clear sky. the universe contains all the information we need to know exactly where we are at any time based on the position of the stars. I also think of stars like windows to another place. Rigel is my father’s star.

Rigel is the bright star that is on the heel of the Orion constellation. It is a very bright star. It is blueish white and is one of the first stars that can be seen in the constellation on a bright night. I attributed it to my dad in order that when I am looking up I always have something reminding me of him in the night sky.

I’ve learned just a bit about stars and constellations. I am no astronomer. My motivation has been to create a metaphysical connection to the people I love, over distances and through time. The thing about stars is, they don’t fade. They are constant and predictable. They are unlike any other object in the universe. They are beautiful. They are where my heart goes when I feel lonely, because in the stars I can feel a connection to the ones I love, no matter where I might be.

My dad liked the stars. I remember that about him. On a cold night on the roof of the hospital… he’d point out bright points… just for the love of light.