November 30, 2012
Passion is a player. Actually, passion is a game changer and may be part of what makes the game worth playing. People may argue that passion should be pursued with caution, as it will burn you. But I am not talking about the fast track, flash in the pan, fizzles out as soon as it ignites passion; I am talking about passion of the slow burning type. Just like fire, when passion is nurtured, given time and space to grow and develop, it can be so much more powerful, longer lasting and further reaching.
“I never would have imagined the slow passion to that deliberate progress.” –Tom Gunn
There is no denying the buzz about passion. It is everywhere we go. We are being told that if you follow your passion, you will find your purpose and a sense of real fulfillment. Of course that is buzz worthy. Every time I am around artists, musicians, writers and community leaders, I think, “I want that.” The “that” is where passion, skills and purpose meet to create this euphoric sense of success, satisfaction and inner peace. Who doesn’t want that?
Many of us think about pursuing our passion yet, how many of us do it? The stakes seem so high. We are afraid to give up what we have, dedicate ourselves to something that gets us nowhere. What if we are made to be a fool? What if it is worse? What if we fail? What if we succeed? I am in no position to tell you whether or not following your passion is the answer, the truth you’ve been seeking. I am still figuring this one out.
But, what is the impact of passion? What role does it play for those that follow it, and those that witness it? Carmine Gallo explains, “those that are truly “inspiring” are abundantly passionate. Passion and inspiration cannot exist in the absence of the other.”
“People with passion can change the world.” –Steve Jobs
People with passion are inspired, making it possible for them to work hard at what they do, developing it, perfecting it. Jure Klepic discusses the idea that, “most successful entrepreneurs …have a deep passion for what they are doing and keep at it until they achieve their goals. This inner drive…is the most critical component of their success…” This inner drive pushes them to grow to greater heights, nurtures and strengthens the flame into something “powerful and profound.”
True, pursuing your passion may take some courage and commitment. You may need to make changes in your life like leave a job, a location, a social class. It may be hard work. It might not be easy; in fact, Klepic states, “doing interesting things requires effort.” You may have rainy days and roadblocks along the path of passion but it is that passion that will motivate you “to experiment, explore, invest energy, hit a dead end, and then chase a new direction that allows you to refine, revise, alter and grow good ideas.”
I have always had a passion for using my creativity to connect to and help others. But times have also been tough and I have found myself face to face with burnout. I wonder if there is more than one path for my passion? Can and how do I refuel my fire?
“If you can no longer do what you do, go exploring.” –Liz Gilbert
So, I have been exploring, seeking out interesting experiences and surrounding myself with passionate people. These experiences keep my eyes open and these people are inspiring because they are working hard at something they believe in. Marc of Marc and Angel Hack Life, tells us “this engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives. It’s hard not to be inspired by someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing.” They are so driven, excited and inspired that they can’t help but share it, put their passion out to the public. Passionate people inspire us to find our own passion because we want to feel what they feel, that glow that comes from the payoff of both the fun and the fear we find in pursuit of passion.
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If following your passion is too frightening, here is my passion epiphany- go slow. Perhaps we don’t have to drop everything about our current life or career and jump into the fire-we can warm up slowly by taking small steps each day. In her video, Martha Beck explains the Monte Cristo approach to passion, which involves doing what you are already doing but adding in even 15 minutes each day for your passion. You will be surprised of where you will end up!
Moreover, if you feel following your passion is scary or silly, think of what the world would be like without the fiery glow of a slow burning flame. You can be the inspiration that lights the dark. Beck states “The world needs you to follow your passion…Passion can take you to some frightening places. It can leave you facing seemingly insoluble problems. But it also brings friends, magical experiences and a range of understanding that just continues to increase.”
“Use what talents you possess, the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” –Henry Van Dyke
People often ask me what is holding me back, as if they know there is something more for me. I have been like a pretty bird with a silent song, wings weighed down with worry. It is time to change the game, put passion in to play. I want to feel the heat of the slow burning type. So lets light it up, sing it out-loud, and soar.
Speaking of singing, one of the people I have met and pulled in to my circle of inspirational friends or “manifested” as he would say, is musician Jim Seem. Jim is a national-touring, self-managed singer/songwriter out of Asheville, NC. He plays a unique blend of reggae, R&B and folk music that has been dubbed “sexy, acoustic R&B from N.C. His passionate live performances have been entertaining audiences from East to West coast.
I really enjoyed his seductively simple and raw approach at Ankeny Unplugged in 2011. I later experienced another performance at a house concert and have taken some time to talk with him, picking his brain about his passion, his music and his experience.
Laura: When did you know music was your thing, the passion you had to pursue?
Jim: About 5 years ago someone I barely knew at the time invited me to record an album at his home studio in Tucson, AZ. The album was ironically enough called “Slow Passion”. It was a totally self-produced, self-recorded album. I spent 3 months recording and hanging out in the desert. It’s a time I’ll never forget.
After the album was done I embarked on a two-week tour of the Midwest to promote it. And that was it: the shows, the crowds, the open road, the girls, the parties, all of that. I realized that this was for me. I had finally found my calling after years of not knowing what to do.
Check out this video of Jim Seem, “Slow Passion,” 2011 recorded by Cory Schmitz in Iowa http://www.reverbnation.com/open_graph/video/8659051
Laura: Who and what influenced you?
Jim: I’ve been really inspired by friends of mine who have went the entrepreneurial route. I have friends who have started personal training studios, self-help retreat companies and restaurants. It was really inspiring to see them be so apologetically confident in their dreams that they were willing to put all their time and money into making their ideas a reality work.
I’ve also noticed that when these folks are unsuccessful in one of their ventures, they’re quick to jump back into something else. They’d bounce back and refuse to wallow in self-pity and regret. This to me is a mark of greatness.
“Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill
I think of myself more as an entrepreneur than a musician. It’s a business and I’m responsible for it’s successes and it’s failures.
Laura: How much time have you spent developing your skills so you can be successful?
Jim: My mom told me I was humming before I could talk and singing as soon as I could speak. There was always music in my house and I’d constantly emulate and mimic the artists my dad would listen to. Singing/writing music has always come natural to me.
The business end of music was a lot less intuitive to me. It’s taken me about 5 years to make a decent living at music, and I feel I’m just getting started. I used to find business very, very distasteful. Now I’m an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal. It’s funny how necessity can change you.
I’ve found myself in a lot of sink or swim situations business-wise. You either master the business end, no matter how foreign it seems to your nature, or you fail.
Laura: How do you keep your flame burning?
Jim: This is a really good question. For the majority of the last year, my flame was nearly extinguished. I felt completely oppressed by the relentless touring my job requires. I was questioning on a daily basis if it was all worth it or not. It was like I created a cage for myself and couldn’t get out. I was getting really pessimistic, in a bad place mentally and spiritually.
I decided to take a month off and spend some time with a few people. I’ve always really respected and admired. My trip took me to California and the Midwest. These women are healers of one type of another. Very driven, highly organized people who make happiness a priority. I saw that it takes a ton of planning and hard work to make things happen.
“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” –Albert Schweitzer
I decided to make a list of long-term goals. Next I thought of the smaller goals I would have to accomplish in order to achieve the bigger ones. Finally, I grabbed my calendar for the coming year and wrote down specific dates to accomplish these small and large goals.
For a while I was drifting, not sure what moves to make. Now I have a list everyday of steps I can take to achieve my goals. It’s really helped crystallize my vision.
“Sit down with our values and goals every single day to create our daily tasks list, in addition to everything else we’ve got to do anyway, and add to our list what really matters. Governing values get into daily task lists through the vehicle of intermediate goals.” –Hyrum Smith
Laura: What does “Slow Passion” mean to you?
Jim: Ha ha. You ever listen to my music before:)?
If Jim Seem lights your candle, be looking for his upcoming album of new material tentatively titled ”Baby Blue”, set to be released in 2013. His self-titled ep and live album “So Much Soul: Live And On Tour” are both available on ITunes and Bandcamp.
Check out his tour schedule at www.reverbnation.com/jimseem.
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
June 23, 2012
June 8, 2012
Some of us have this thing called guilt that gets in the way of our happiness. Guilt from doing what we want instead of doing what we think we should. If we can’t buy into the idea that we owe it to ourselves to take a moment and do something we enjoy, then maybe we need to sweeten the pot.
Try this. What if we owe it those we serve, our customers, our clients so they get those big break through ideas? What if we owe it to our loved ones so they get the bright-eyed best of us? How does that taste?
Gretchen Rubin explains in her book, The Happiness Project, that “too often, I’d give up fun in order to work. I often felt so overwhelmed by tasks that I’d think, the most fun would be to cross some items off my to-do list. I’d feel so much better if I could get something accomplished. I felt virtuous when I delayed gluing pictures into my scrapbook in order to deal with my email. In fact, though, turning from one chore to another just made me feel trapped and drained. When I took the time to do something that was truly fun for me, I felt better able to tackle my to-do list. Fun is energizing.”
So taking a moment for yourself can actually have a positive impact on your productivity. It can grease the wheels on a good idea. As stated by Sharon Van Buskirk with Career Builder, “often I find that even if I’m not actively thinking about work during lunch, I tend to come back afterwards with a fresh idea, approach or solution to a work-related issue. Its magic.” http://careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-1976-Workplace-Issues-Lets-do-lunch
Still not convinced? Consider Ann Curry’s story told by Crystal G. Martin in her article called, The Pursuit of Happiness. Prior to a health scare she was known as “Curry in a Hurry.” She was living fast, “trying to move through life at 100 miles an hour, trying to further my career and be a great mom and make everyone happy.” Her doctor’s advice was to take one day a week to connect with herself. Why? Because she deserved to. We all do.
I know, the guilt. But people will get over it and might even survive without you for a few minutes while you take care of yourself. Martin quotes Curry as saying to her family, “I need 30 minutes to go shoot some pictures.” Her kids protested at first, “but when they saw the pictures, they began to understand. I also started taking better care of myself-working out, eating my greens, and giving myself a breather when I need it. When you treat yourself right, you run better and more efficiently. Which means you don’t have to go 100 miles an hour to get everything done.” OPRAH.COM/NOVEMBER 2011
When you feel better, you act better. Treating yourself well is great practice for treating others well too. Practice makes perfect. In times of stress our endorphins interfere with our ability to think clearly. If treating people well isn’t on auto pilot, it is not going to happen. This can have some negative implications.
Take Lindsey Vonn’s story that she tells to Jessica Silvester about the power of attitude and the treatment of those we encounter. When she was 9 she had the opportunity to meet two of her idols. One she describes as crushing and the other inspiring. ”When I asked for an autograph she coldly said no and walked away…My parents tried to console me, saying she’s probably stressed, she must be having a bad day…” On the other hand, her other idol told her to “keep following your dreams.” Vonn states that “with those simple words, she made the idea of being an Olympian seem attainable. After having these two opposite experiences-one so inspiring, one so devastating-I realized what a difference your attitude can make.” OPRAH.COM/FEBRUARY 2012
We can almost begin to see our own inner peace and happiness as a responsibility we have in making the world a better place. We can feel better about ourselves, our lives, do better work and act better. Burnout does not benefit anyone or anything. Author Liz Gilbert has said, “when you can no longer do what you do, go exploring.”
When we are so focused on the fat stacks of paperwork we need to complete we aren’t mindful of how we are affecting the world around us, and the people in it. Distress is hard to hide. ”Keeping a positive attitude can make all the difference…the best accessory you can wear is a smile. Do what you need to do to get your smile back.” http://www.nashvillemusicpros.com/profiles/blogs/of-all-the-things-you-wear
We need to take time to look up, look around, get up, and get going on our pursuit of happiness. The happiness of others depends on it. Guilt be gone. Now that tastes pretty sweet.
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
April 6, 2012
If we are stressed and frustrated by the what and the amount of what we have to do, how could doing something lead to calmness, inner peace and a sense of happiness? By aligning what we do with what we truly believe. It sounds simple, until we think about all the things coming at us everyday, that if we aren’t mindful, can sweep us up and carry us on a path we don’t like and didn’t intend.
So how do we claim our calm, stand our ground against the loud and persuasive push of pointless productivity? The first step is through wisdom or self-awareness. We have to know ourselves, dig deep into ourselves and discover our core values, what we believe, what we want, what we love, what we dislike, what brings us joy, what we fear and what drives us.
But what good is wisdom if nothing is done with it? Now comes the doing something. As Hyrum W. Smith mentions in his book, The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, “inner peace is only possible when the things we are doing are in line with the things we believe.” This is where we set goals, bucket lists and resolutions. No matter what you call them, they won’t help unless we act on them. He suggest we “sit down with our values and goals every single day to create our daily tasks list, in addition to everything else we’ve got to do anyway, and add to our list what really matters. Governing values get into daily task lists through the vehicle of intermediate goals.”
Now I am already a goal setter and list maker. This is not a new concept. But my own happiness often never gets a chance to be scratched off the list as I don’t seem to value my own happiness like the productive things that need done. When I started thinking about how I wanted to make time for my own happiness when there seemed to be no time to spare, I came across Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. In her book she finds her formula for happiness and describes it as, “to be happy, I needed to generate more positive emotions, so that I increased the amount of joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, gratitude, intimacy, and friendship in my life. I also needed to remove sources of bad feelings, so that I suffered less guilt, remorse, shame, anger, envy, boredom, and irritation. I saw that I also needed to consider feeling right….living the life that is right…in occupation, location, marital status, and so on. It’s also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself.” Then she explains that there is also growth. That “it isn’t goal attainment but the process of striving after goals-that is, growth-that brings happiness.”
She also creates and shares her “scheme to put happiness ideas into practice,” a Resolution Chart. The chart helps her to commit to concrete and measurable actions. She had one major resolution each month and focused on the steps to see them carried out. Each month she added another resolution. You can check some examples out online at http://www.happinessprojecttoolbox.com/resolutions.html
Here are my resolutions and actions steps-
1. Work and woe the body-exercise daily, eat right, sleep right, do routine maintenance (dentist, doctor, hair stylist)
2. Be the master of my mind-read, write, take classes (design, marketing, leadership, art, dance), learn new things, try new technologies and mediums, accomplish tasks I set, complete the to do list I make, clear clutter, find mind time (meditate)
3. Socialfy-nourish current relationships (date nights, show affection, give compliments, have celebrations, vacations, camping, plan a big get together or trip, enjoy others interests, write letters), have coffee or cocktail with a new friend and a dear friend each month, when invited-try to attend, join a group of people with similar interests, spend time with people I adore, admire, aspire to, and appreciate and who appreciate me, extend myself to the community through continuing to volunteer and network, practice excellent spirit of service and be positive, polite and professional
4. Get financially fit-stick to my budget, keep records, file papers monthly, check in with retirement planner, pay down debt, build up savings, think twice, use what I buy or give it up and put it into circulation
5. Evolve my environment-keep work areas organized, things in their place, reflect my style, beliefs, and values in what surrounds me, fix the roof, plant some flowers, paint the rooms I don’t like, purchase furnishings for a feeling of being grounded, clean living areas weekly, storage areas monthly, listen to music
6. Be mindful of matters of the spirit-follow the Golden Rule, exude kindness (there is only love), explore beliefs, explore new places, spend time in nature, enjoy time with my furry friends, think big, pursue my passions, do it with style, leave my mark, create something from nothing, express myself through works of art, music and food, seek stillness, knowledge and truth, give time, money, talent, a smile and a hand
Rubin states that while we can take steps to align our values and our actions to feel a sense of serenity or lasting happiness, “you won’t wake up one day and find that you have achieved it. It is something you have to resolve to do everyday, forever.” We can’t control everything but we can control more than we think. We can choose our attitudes and our actions. She concludes that “the feeling of control is an essential element of happiness-a better predictor of happiness than, say income. Having a feeling of autonomy, of being able to choose what happens in your life or how you spend your time, is crucial. If I keep my resolutions and do the things that make me happier, I end up feeling happier…”
What’s next? Part III (The Impacts and Implications)
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
January 22, 2012
I found myself struggling to find inner peace in a fast paced world that values productivity. I recently took a vacation to have the time to do the things I had been wanting but didn’t feel I had the time to do, you know what how this is. But when I returned I felt like I had only set myself up for more stress and a feeling of failure. The piles of paperwork, catch up conversations, daunting deadlines and endless emails were overwhelming. Everyone wanted it now, yesterday, last week. Each proclaimed to be important. Each proclaimed to be urgent. I felt I needed to do more, do it faster, do it right. I felt if I could just get this done, done well, done now then I could relax and feel better. It was if I thought inner peace was waiting for me at the end of the to do list.
Ah, then the realization hit-there is always more to do! I can’t wait to get to the end, because it is endless. Inner peace is not something we have to wait to get to, it is now. Inner peace is not from what we produce but in the process.
Truth is, I knew I created my own situation. I actually like doing things, contributing something of value. I signed on for more tasks all on my own. If the pressure of productivity was stressing me out, then something was not lining up right.
First, I must make sure that I infuse my daily tasks and events with things that also really matter to me. Hyrum W. Smith explains in his book, The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, that “most people are frustrated and stressed out because they sense their lives are out of control…they feel busy but not productive. We may be doing a lot of what we think we ought to, should do, and have to but not what we truly want to. Inner peace is only possible when the things we are doing are in line with the things we believe.” We make sure we take out the trash, pay the bills, respond to every message, attend every meeting and turn in every report but often neglect to call that friend, take that walk and certainly don’t write that book. He goes on to say “insignificant things get in the way that seem urgent but important things are seldom urgent, unless we make them so.” There are things that have to be done, but unless we make the effort to add in even a little of what we really want to be done, we will never really feel fulfillment. “Discovering what’s most important to you, and doing something about it is what inner peace is all about.”
This is the time of year most of us reflect on our goals, our bucket lists, our resolutions. If we are doing just to do, we won’t feel satisfied, just frustrated. We need to give those big life goals and dreams a sense of urgency. If I seek inner peace through and despite productivity Smith suggests I “sit down with my values and goals every single day to create my daily task list, in addition to everything else I’ve got to do anyway, and add to my list what really matters. Governing values get into daily task lists through the vehicle of intermediate goals.”
What’s next? Part II (The Doing Something)
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
December 27, 2011
December 26th is National Whiner’s Day. If you missed it, don’t worry there is still time to get your whine on as it is often celebrated on the 27th. This is a day dedicated to whining. Whining is easy, often a knee-jerk reaction, and can be a fun get together game of who has it worse. A great way to celebrate-a whine and geez party.
But seriously, what if all this groaning could lead to growing? It might be possible that whining can lead to something wonderful. If you want to talk about what grieves and depletes you, Martha Beck suggests in her article, ” You Can See Clearly Now,” that you complain about “precisely the things that bother you. The more specific you are about what upsets you, and why, the clearer you can make your desires. People who get what they want tend to be the ones who make the effort to know what they want.” So listen to what you are really saying. Your whining is telling what is broken and can empower you to fix it. Let the moaning set you into motion. The complaints can be a compass, pointing you into a new direction, telling you its time to change course.
Beck goes on to say “these problems may look uncannily like burdens but they are actually invitations to change. That will happen if you use the force of complaint to reach precise solutions.” We cannot wallow too long in our whining and allow ourselves to indulge in the why me mentality trap. A better future comes from moving forward. Imagine the solution, ways to fix the problem, and the steps you can take to make it happen.
National Whiner’s Day is also meant to encourage and remind us to appreciate what all we do have in our lives. Nothing breeds abundance more than gratitude and a positive attitude. Charles Swindoll believes in the impact of attitude. He states that “it is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We are in charge of our attitudes.” Build your future upon what you do have, what does work for you, and what matters most to you. Let these be your guide, as you go on and grow, doing good and being kind, keeping you from going adrift but don’t let them become an excuse for stagnation. Sarah Monguso further explains that, “you can’t learn from remembering. You can’t learn from guessing. You can learn only from moving forward at the rate you are moved, as brightness, into brightness.”
Whining can lead to something wonderful if you really listen and use it as a tool to fix what is broken. Let it deliver you to your true desires, your dreams. Ride the waves of change gracefully, don’t let yourself get anchored in and sloshed about reliving the past. Chelle Thompson explains that “when things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future.” When something upsets you, think about what would make it better. Set your intentions like a sail. When something perceivably good happens or when something perceivably bad happens, you have the power to choose your reaction. You can adjust your sails.
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
December 7, 2011
The holidays are upon us and are full of iconic images, time-honored traditions and the overwhelming urge to give gifts! Some of us are driven by the thrill of the bargain hunt and some by finding just the right something for that special someone. So whether you shop Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday or Cyber Monday, this year opt for gifts that give back with a longer lasting sense of awe and wonder. No, not the awe and wonder we feel when we receive our credit card statements but the good feeling kind we get by improving a life, a community or even the world.
1. Improve a life
This month, most of us will send a greeting card or two. By going to www.childrensart.org and making our creations or our card purchases, we can help support patient programs at MD Anderson for kids with cancer.
Honor a loved one with a donation to charity in his or her name. A donation to Special Olympics will help provide people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in their communities, develop belief in themselves and feel like champions. For every inspiring Special Olympics athlete, there are many more waiting for their chance to shine. Find out this and more at https://secure.SpecialOlympics.org
While you are searching and shopping online, try giving back to a charity without spending a cent at www.GoodSearch.com. Simply as setting your computer’s homepage for your online searches, the charity of your choice will earn a donation. You can also help your charity through www.GoodShop.com each time you make a purchase at many of your favorite retailers online.
Give a gift that needs no wrapping by giving the gift of a memorable experience. Check out some ideas at www.excitations.com. Or, give the gift of you and volunteer for a cause!
“Each day is a gift to be shared, provide value to others and add value to yourself.” Richard Rowe
2. Improve a community
Money is power and where we choose to spend it matters. Ian Harwick at http://ianharwick.com points out that if you change even one buying decision the benefits will be long lasting. He suggests that close to 66% of the money spent at local businesses stays in the local community. When we practice some conscious consumerism and shop local, the Mile High Business Alliance states that it will recirculate 3 times more in our community. The benefits of buying local ripples out across the entire community and comes back to us and ours. The Alliance outlines that local businesses buy more from other local businesses and this means more vitality and wealth in our community. This leads to “more jobs, more tax revenues, and more unique neighborhoods providing the experiences we enjoy.” http://www.milehighbusinessalliance.org
3. Improve the world
If you live in a thriving community, giving back may be as easy as stopping downtown at your local shop on your way home from work. But, perhaps you could extend your helping hand this holiday season and beyond with gifts of fairness. By choosing to purchase Fair Trade items you can help those less fortunate that are struggling in developing countries. Fair Trade Organizations travel to third world and developing countries and work with different artisans and producers to help give them a better life. They help provide workers with a living wage to assist in covering living and basic expenses. Workers are able to keep their cultural traditions in their craft and the work does not deplete or permanently damage the environment.
Fair Trade products include but are not limited to coffee, tea, body care, apparel, art, crafts, and jewelry. One of my favorites for stocking stuffers and an everyday staple is Green & Black’s chocolate. Green is for organic and black is for the deep, rich dark brown color of the chocolate. www.greenandblacks.com According to Fair Trade USA, each time you purchase a fair trade product, you help support families and causes all over the world. Check out http://www.FairTradeUSA.org for more great information on partners and products, some of which may be in our own local shop.
So as we find ourselves in the spirit of the season of giving, remember we can make a slight shift and give gifts that give back. Our money can be more than a flash in the pan, it can make a measurable difference as a memorable experience, the maintenance of the health of a community or a means to end the suffering of a society. Our money is our vote on what we value and our choices cause a ripple effect.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Mother Theresa
Posted by Laura Lynn Housel
October 28, 2011
Friends - I’ll be moving my written blog to a video blog in the
near future, this is in better synergy with my talent and vision. Happy fall
and stay tuned!
Embrace the day!!!
January 18, 2011
Looking Into The Past To See The Future
With the remainder of the steelhead run waning fast, I find my attention turning to warm memories from the Driftless. Hot summer days spent climbing around the naturally cool aquatic jewels that are Wisconin’s spring creeks. This is the fishing I look forward to most and I find myself looking into the past to remind myself of just what the experience of fishing them is like.
A successful annual trout season really only gets better with age. Such a phenomena is not unknown in our lives outside of fishing. But somehow when we ponder an entire season, we are left with a stylized version of what happened. We look back and see a string of smiles, victories, hatches-matched and big trout subdued. This romanticized view is somewhat inaccurate in so far as it ignores the speeding tickets, landowner confrontations, stinging nettle, brutal heat and the skunked days that form the grammar and punctuation of our typical year on the water. Yet very little of this matters and I look to this past to measure possibility in my future.
It will be sometime before I get the privilege to experience this time and place again. At the very least, I will have to wait until March. More likely though I will have to wait until another summer season has passed. Only then will my memories begin to shuffle into a syntax that leaves me awash in satisfaction and yet wanting a bit more. The experience I’m after is a tough one to know, for even when you are in it’s midst, there is little you can do to recognize it. You must be content with the knowledge that when all is said and done, an overall feeling might emerge. I can look to seasons past and can recognize this awareness and hope that I am fortunate enough to experience it again.
I close my eyes and transport myself to a field of tall grasses, whispering in the breeze and crunching under foot. I find the winding stream hidden among the dense growth. I pause to look up and see a hawk on the wing. I hear more rustling and look across the stream to see a curious cow who has come to investigate. A trout just rose and I know I’m there.
August 24, 2009
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NEW YORK CITY — You’ve heard of people going from rags-to-riches. Well, this is the story of the man who went from riches-to-rags.
Michael Gates Gill was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. And when he lost it all, he found true happiness — with God’s help.
Sweeping trash at Starbucks is the last thing the once affluent Mike Gill ever dreamed he’d be doing. But don’t ask him to give it up.
“My story is irrefutable evidence that sometimes loss can bring a new found peace and happiness,” Mike said. “Because I’m happier today talking to you right this morning as a barista at Starbucks than I ever was in the big six-figure job with the corner office and a big mansion.”
The son of famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, Mike partied with A-list celebrities, attended Yale, and worked for decades at the world’s largest ad agency, handling accounts like Ford and Christian Dior.
Then it was gone.
“I’d been fired from my job, I lost my big house, I was divorced, I was virtually broke, and I’d just been diagnosed with a brain tumor,” Mike said.
When Michael hit rock bottom, he found himself brooding over a cup of joe. Well, Starbucks happened to be hiring that day, and when asked if he wanted a job, for some reason, he said yes.
And from that point on, after a lifetime of manipulating people, Mike began to realize that joy comes from serving, not from being served.
“We’re made to try to find, with God’s help, our own way to help others. Whether taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilet or simply serving someone a cup of coffee and seeing the smile on their face, and giving a little service to people that makes them happy and increases their joy of the day, really makes me happy,” he said.
Mike felt newfound respect for people from different backgrounds, those he used to consider inferior. The surprises kept on coming.
You have to fall pretty far down the ladder to go from a 35-bedroom mansion to a one-bedroom attic apartment. But that’s what happened to Mike Gill. But believe it or not, he actually prefers his modest surroundings to this.
And that’s a third floor attic, no elevator, with just a few inexpensive furnishings inside. And Mike wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s like, you know how when you’re going through the airport and you’re carrying too much stuff, rushing to meet a plane? I was doing that. The Bible says you’re possessed by your possessions. And now I don’t have any possessions,” he said.
On his way to finding that peace, Mike wrote a diary, which turned into the bestseller, How Starbucks Saved My Life. Now, Tom Hanks is turning it into a movie starring himself as Mike.
“He said he loved that idea that at any time in life, you could discover a whole new kind of life that would make you happier than anything you’ve lived before,” Mike said.
So in the wake of losing your home, job, marriage or health, look for blessings.
“When you get external shocks, the best way to react is to take a big breath and go somewhere quiet and open your heart to God,” Mike said. “And He will give you all the love and joy you need to have a happier life than you would have ever imagined.”
By Lorie Johnson
*Originally aired August 19, 2009