What Makes You Feel Alive?

I started my morning a little bit different than usual.  I did my exercises, ate breakfast, drank my coffee, made my wife her lunch and then took her to work.  But after that, I really wanted fresh air, so I drove down to Round Lake in Camas and walked the loop.  Twice.

All I could think about as I took the cold air into my lungs and exhaled, while working my way up the few inclines and around the lake, was that it felt good to be alive.  My heart was pounding in my chest.  My legs were aching.  I was smiling and I continue to smile as I think about the beauty that I was witness to this morning.

Is there something in your life that makes you feel alive?  Perhaps it’s singing in the shower.  Maybe it’s a hike, a walk, a hug from a loved one, or simply taking a moment and relaxing.

If you take the time to embrace life, it makes it a little more palatable to handle the nasty things that fill us with fear, anxiety and panic.

I end this thought with a brief reflection I wrote as I walked around the lake:

The height of the trees raise my eyes to the heavens, filled with an infinite expanse of space and light, reflected in the beauty of the unknown depths of a limitless ocean.  The beauty of creation.  The innocence of life.


Discipline, It’s on my mind.

It’s been on my mind the last few days, the dreaded “D” word:  discipline.  Specifically, do I have the necessary discipline to move forward into uncharted territory?

As I struggle to climb out of some holes that I dug for myself and start the whole process of accepting and redefining who I am, what I do and why I do it, I have felt very undisciplined, unfocused and unmotivated.

But as I change my thinking to focus on the things that I have been able to accomplish, the fact that I am sufficiently disciplined becomes a reality, and momentum is renewed in my daily pursuits.

In order to help identify and strengthen the discipline in my life, I have been taking the time to start writing a vision and mission statement for my life and my business.

My mission is to tell stories about people, businesses and organizations that are positively impacting others throughout their communities and around the world.

My vision is to inspire people to discover their life’s mission and purpose through vision, passion and action.

As I move forward with hope and purpose, I am excited and scared.  Ultimately, it is the promise of sharing experiences, stories and life with others that brings a smile to my face and gets my heart beating just a little bit faster.

I am alive.


Do I Have Enough Faith and Doubt?

In G.K. Chesterton’s book, “Orthodoxy,” he talks about faith and doubt in the context of a fairytale and an adventure:

If our life is every really as beautiful as a fairy-tale, we shall have to remember that all the beauty of a fairytale lies in this:  that the prince has a wonder which just stops short of being fear.  If he is afraid of the giant, there is an end to him; but also if he is not astonished at the giant, there is an end of the fairytale.  The whole point depends upon his being humble enough the wonder, and haughty enough to defy…  Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them.

Two things stand out for me in this passage.  First, my faith is a humble expression of wonder.  It allows me to have adventures.  How so?  If I know what is on the other side of a hill, will I walk over there anyway?  Even in the midst of knowledge, if I humble myself and realize that I may not know what is on the other side of the hill, I could have an adventure in wonder, marveling at how things have changed or stayed the same.

Second, in order to enjoy the adventures that faith allows me to have, doubt is essential in order to enjoy them. Doubt in myself brings into question what it is that I think I know about what is on the other side of the hill.  I can then question old assumptions and knowledge in order to enjoy the journey of learning new and exciting things, even if my knowledge of the subject is classified as expert-level.

So, I challenge you, as I am challenged, to have faith in the adventure that is your life, and doubt that you know how the day, week, month or year will end.  By embracing faith and doubt, you can enjoy the journey that you are on and realize that life is truly an expression of doubtful faith, followed by another.


A Few Thoughts on Fear and Sincerity

I always love it when I’m reading and out of the blue the words jump off the page and hit me right between the eyes, effectively moving from my brain, all the way down to my heart.

In this case, Thomas Merton in “No Man Is An Island” writes:

Fear is perhaps the greatest enemy of candor.  How many men fear to follow their conscience because they would rather conform to the opinion of other men than to the truth they know in their hearts!  How can I be sincere if I am constantly changing my mind to conform with the shadow of what I think others expect of me?

For probably a good 15 years of my life, the opinion of other people has mattered more to me than “following my conscience” and that has led me down some rather rocky paths that ended with suffering in tremendous emotional pain, eventually returning to “my conscience.”  It has been a sad, cyclical life, and after 15 years, I have been burnt out on numerous occasions and exhausted a lot of the creativity that I know resides in my soul.

I am ready to confront the fears that I have and to listen to my conscience, because the alternative is down right scary, as Merton states:

Others have no right to demand that I be anything else than what I ought to be in the sight of God… They want me to be what I am in their sight: that is, an extension of themselves… If I allow myself to degenerate into the being I am imagined to be by other men, God will have to say to me, “I know you not!”

I can see at numerous points in my past the shadow of others that I have become, but it is the idea that God Himself would say to me, “I know you not!” that scares me the most. It is one thing to not know yourself, it is another to have the God of the Universe say that as well.

It is frankness, openness and honesty that leads to sincerity, because if I deny the person that I was created to be, I am not only being insincere with myself, effectively denying that God is the Master Artisan of the Human Soul and that I know more than He does.  A lack of sincerity, thus leads to arrogance and idolatry.

So, with that, I sincerely hold on to the notion of following my conscience in order to be the man God made me to be.


The Decision of Vocation

I have a huge stack of books on my nightstand that I am daily reading and absorbing.  Authors such as Cornel West, Ayn Rand, Thomas Merton, G.K. Chesterton, Frank Miller, Galen Rowell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stephen King; a wide-range of literary interests that make up a healthy diet of learning new things about the human condition and about the life that I only get to live once.

Today, in reading “No Man Is An Island” by Thomas Merton, I came across something that really impacted me in the chapter on vocation, which can be defined as a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career:

“The one thing that really decides a vocation is the ability to make a firm decision to embrace a certain state of life and to act on that decision.”

Vocation, or what I do, is a decision.  It is then immediately followed by acting upon that decision.  It isn’t waiting for someone to validate, affirm or confirm.  It is concrete, focused and decided upon.  Merton takes it a step further by saying that we can seek guidance as to what we should do, but ultimately:

“He must decide for himself, since his own decision is the expression of his vocation.”

I love that!  My decision is an expression of what I do!  If I truly make a decision, act upon that decision, that alone expresses what I have been seeking all along.

How does that relate to my life?  I can pretend that I am something that I am not.  I can flirt with other things that may or may not make me money.  The truth is that I have made the decision that my vocation is telling stories through films and photos.  It is what truly brings me life and connects me to the lives of others.  I have made the decision and I have begun to daily act upon that decision.

So, what decision do you need to make, so that you can act and express what is buried deep in your soul?


If I Knew…

If knew that I was going to die tomorrow, what would I do today?

So far, the only answers that I come up with are food-related.  Enjoy a nice meal at Twilight Pizza, eat every variation of Voodoo Doughnut and savor a Whiffies Fried Pie.  I would also want to have a BBQ with all my friends and family.

What would you do?  Does this question really have the power to change our lives with thought and action?


Return to Me

Well, here we go.  Finally.  Again.

I use to blog fairly regularly until I got lazy.  It wasn’t for lack of ideas or “original” content.  It was really a lack of habit and discipline, combined with the lie that I told myself about the thoughts and ideas that were churning in my mind and soul:  “just because these mean something to you, doesn’t mean that they will matter to someone else, so why bother?”

The worst question a person can ask themselves is why bother.  It changes your focus from unconditional expression for the sake of nurturing your creative soul, to the over-obsessed view of creating for the sole purpose of seeking approval and affirmation from others.  Tell me my identity, so that I don’t have to realize it for myself.  Approval and affirmation only leads to copying, coping and making excuses about why you don’t matter and everyone else does.  It also forces you to say strange things like, “but what will they think?”

So with that, my thought of the moment: “who cares what they think, if you aren’t able to think for yourself?”