Renaming Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th was my mother’s lucky day.

I can’t remember ever having a bad Friday the 13th, well, except maybe the day I went to see “Friday the 13th,” but, the superstitions part of me still wants to have it’s say. When Friday the 13th comes around, I hear myself thinking, “Uh-oh, watch out!” But, this year, I do not intend to listen.

Several years ago I started naming my years. Even-numbered years had always been my favorite until I noticed that the odd-numbered years had been more productive for me.  So, instead of entertaining doubts at the beginning of 2018, I named 2018, “My Best Year Ever.”

And…it has been.

I’m carrying over that lesson:

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Tenacity, Audacity, and Humility

“I tried.”

George Lucas’s response when asked what he wanted on his tombstone.

I would say he tried pretty hard. Barely graduated from high school, went to film school not even knowing what the word “cinematography” meant, figured out he loved it, and, then, kept his nose to the grindstone for fifty years. Even though his task-focused perfectionism often prohibited him from being the nicest person to work with, he changed the movie experience for the world.

I’m not even a Star Wars fan, but I am a fan of George’s tenacity and dedication to his vision, the audacity he had to challenge Hollywood, and the humility it took to say of his life, “I tried.”

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If we take George’s advice and example, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality,” it follows, if our reality stinks, we only have a few options:

  1. Change our focus
  2. Hang in there with all we’ve got
  3. Or, make ourselves (and everyone else) miserable complaining about it

My life is a whole lot better since I decided to use options 1 and 2.

Heroes: What They Have and Where They Live

“We come to knowledge (self-improvement, success) as we go to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. With all four of these requisites, our actions lose the blundering quality of a fool. If we fail or suffer a defeat, we will have lost only a battle, and there will be no pitiful regrets over that.” – Carlos Castaneda

I love Castaneda’s four requisites:

  • wide-awake
  • fear
  • respect
  • absolute assurance

Although they may seem contradictory, fear and absolute assurance create the perfect juxtaposition; a tension between the raw awareness of weakness and the confident power that turns an average human being into an icon.

As in film and television, the vulnerability of the protagonist must be there or else we are not drawn to them. But, as they rise above their fear, we are lured with them…into the dangerous place where possibility lives.

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Difference between Trying and Doing

I told my husband (and myself) that I was finally convinced that I could not multitask as well as I thought I could, AND, that I would try not to listen to audios or talk on my phone while I was parking or driving in traffic. Today, I crashed into a parking garage pillar because I was listening to audios while backing out. Two results:

  1. Expensive reinforcement that I should do what I said I would do
  2. Costly reminder of one good reason that I should take my commitments seriously enough to “do” instead of “try”

I was very lucky that I didn’t hit someone, instead of something.

In business there is a big financial difference between try and do. In life, the difference is more costly: a difference calculated in lives and relationships.

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Enemy or Not?

“Ever man should have the courage to stand up and face the enemy ’cause ever person that looks like a enemy on the outside ain’t necessarily one on the inside. We all has more in common than we think. You stood up with courage and faced me when I was dangerous, and it changed my life. You loved me for who I was on the inside, the person God meant for me to be, the one that had just gotten lost for a while on some ugly roads in life.” -Denver Moore

This passage crawled into my soul and inspired bravery. When I look at people as Denver Moore recommends, I am bold enough to look anyone in the eye and remember that loving them is just as important as protecting myself.Image result for destroy enemies by making them friends

Inside Out

If you didn’t see last summer’s Inside Out Pixar movie (even if you hate animation) you have missed something.

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Who wouldn’t want behind-the-scene insights into the committee in your head (or in someone else’s head), delivered with lots of laughter, and, okay, maybe a few tears? Or the battle of conflicting emotions brought to life in personifications of joy, fear, disgust, anger, and sadness fighting over the control console of your mind?

Well, maybe, it wasn’t on your wish list, but, I bet it is on a wish list of a partner, friend, neighbor, or relative in the form of one of these desires:

  •  “I wish _________ would just get a clue.”
  •  “If she could just see how fear-driven his decisions are, we would all be happier.”
  •  “Why does everything have to be about her?”
  •  “I wouldn’t mind being around you if you weren’t so depressed all the time.”
  •  “Do you always have to be so annoying by putting a positive spin on everything?”
  •  “I wish she would just frickin’ let go of the past.”
  •  “When will he quit being such a hot-head so we can have a real discussion?”

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Whether we acknowledge it or not, our thought-driven behaviors (btw, there are no others) effect more people than we have ever imagined, spilling out on those closest to us and then rippling out to wider and wider circles, sometimes wreaking havoc, inconvenience, and/or chaos.

Thoughts become things, choices, actions, behaviors, addictions, bad habits, regrets, and bad lives. It’s pretty easy for us to diagnose the dysfunction in other people’s lives, but almost impossible to do so for ourselves.

Getting acquainted with the little voices in our heads is one of the first steps to taking charge of our lives. And, if a movie can help make the introductions, well, it’s not a bad place to start!

The Trouble with Celebrity Worship

Besides the possible let downs or disappointments, there is always the problem of missing our own greatness because we were sucking our significance from the accomplishments of others.

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I’m not saying that we should not celebrate greatness when we see it. Just sayin’ that it’s awfully easy to seek satisfaction and adventure vicariously in sports or Hollywood, and, as a result,  get distracted from our own adventure.

Deep inside, it screams for your passion, action, and courage.

Ignore it at your own risk.

We will pay a much higher price for depression, powerlessness, and unfulfilled dreams than we ever will for failure.

 

I’m Packin’ Passion!

The documentary Life Itself about Roger Ebert clearly points to passion as a key element of his wildly-successful career as a movie-critic.

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Watching it made me think how often passion is the main ingredient.

In a “former life,” I turned a couple of dying restaurants around by simply adding my passion and demanding passion of my associates.

The difference between an employee who just shows up and gets by, compared to the employee that brings all of his energy to the job is the difference in a restaurant being a dive and the restaurant being a legend.

Likewise, when our life feels anything but legendary, the question to ask might be, “Where did I lose my passion, and how soon can I leave to go get it back?”

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

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This quote, by the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, reminds me to prioritize my fears in a different way.

The book is packed full of insights about living past our fears, all wrapped into an insightful story about a failed racecar driver, his family challenges, and his loyal dog.

The title comes from the essential survival secret of those who “race in the rain” (or who live a challenging life). My paraphrase of a main point: Your car (life) goes where your eyes go. If the car is spinning out and the driver is focused on the wall, the car will hit the wall. Keeping our eyes on the road ahead will change our trajectory and, ultimately, save the race.

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Read it for delight and insight.

Carry On (Like Never Before)

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Want change in 2015? Gotta change positions.

Gotta question our stance

About why and how the sun shines or doesn’t

But who could ever tell us anything?

Next year is the same

Until we drop the dogma

And the excuses

We hold most dear

(It’s as simple as that)

Agree with our “enemies”

Disagree with our “friends”

Reject what we have accepted

Accept what we have rejected

Ourselves…reinvented

And finally (sigh of relief)

We move it along

Into a bright and (maybe the first)

Truly new year

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