Appreciation

95. THE GIFT OF GIVING

frogs

My home is full of crap. I’m no hoarder, that’s for sure, but I do have a lot of stuff. Collections begun in my youth are now gathering dust and taking up room. I have a box of coins including an 1800’s penny that’s (for some weird reason) twice as thick as our normal ones, an Edgar Rice Burroughs library of over four-hundred books that spans several first editions along with a host of publishers and all kinds of release dates, a decent A&W root-beer collection that contains cream soda mugs, wall tiles, signs, and giveaways, and I own a really good vinyl selection of both Queen and Neil Diamond. Other things include over 500 movies, a lot of tools including some I’ve never even pulled the trigger on, and way too many clothes. None of these items bring me peace of mind, pleasure, or urge me to go home faster at the end of the day.

So, what can I either create or attract that WILL enhance feelings of  happiness and security? For years I was fixated on changing my state of mind from the outside in, which explains why the bottle had so much appeal; I could easily alter my emotional structure and ignore reality, at least temporarily. I empathize with others in this elusive quest. A mind free from worry and pain has great allure. Anything that does this is, even superficially, will tempt most. Unfortunately the absence of what we don’t want does not invite or manufacture what we do want. This was a serious flaw in my logic I failed to notice. When I began to equate who I was by manipulating the environment, I began to change both my possessions and, artificially, my mental state. It seemed reasonable at the time; my thoughts will turn into reality and paint the picture of my life as I fantasized it to be. This reverse path quickly led nowhere. It fed upon itself and produced a lot of regret. I was attempting to alter my reactions (a VERY important observation) from the outside in. Forcing false feelings, it seems, is not a goal or an answer. As a matter of fact it began to breed a deep shame for not letting my true self emerge. I fed the ego and starved the spirit.

As life has progressed I’ve found the answer to knowing how to live lies in what I enjoy looking back on, here is where my soul has revealed itself. I feel my greatest possessions, the ones that have contentment, love, self-respect, peace of mind, and honesty attached to them are nothing more than events. What I place value on is memories. Even when I was a boy this dynamic was quite common, so obviously this approach is not necessarily reserved for those with experience and age. Wonderful memories are not only priceless, the best ones inspire new moments of similar content. The beauty of my past can be recycled into inspiration for the moment. The question then becomes, “What can I do that will become a good memory for tomorrow?”

Some of my common thread actions and observations  have been-

  • Focus on how I can serve others.
  • Focus on now.
  • Seemingly small things to me can often be huge things for others.
  • Giving produces the most rewards; as long as nothing is expected in return.
  • Listen instead of talk. (I still need a LOT of work on this one….)
  • Sometimes the best advice is silence.
  • Don’t hold back on kindness.
  • When I do what others want, I can experience their joy.
  • Actions have infinite value over things.

When I find myself doing these correctly (most of the time I don’t, just like so many others) it becomes a dual reward. The instant is wonderful because I’m absorbing it in real-time and I can recall and enjoy it when I want because a detailed and focused record is being manufactured and filed.

These days, when I want to give a gift, I try my best to attach a memory with it. Let’s face it, unless it’s something you’ve really been striving for, simply receiving an object isn’t really all that exciting. They say actions speak louder than words, I say actions speak louder than things. As a matter of fact I would venture to say that actions have the loudest and most reverberating voice of all. I LOVE looking back to those pivotal events in my life; a trip, a kiss, an act of kindness, the first time I really saw her, a good laugh, and a last encounter all spring to mind rather quickly. There’s a powerful anchor of trust, Love, and loyalty attached to the proper actions. If you want these things in life, try giving away your best actions and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

86. WAYNE DYER

Dyer first audio

I love thrift stores. I rarely hesitate when the chance to discover and rummage through a newly found one pops up. There was a time when my work had me earning a living in a wide range of destinations from Seattle to Des Moines to Omaha and Kansas city including a plethora of towns and destinations in between. Each place meant new opportunities to explore; new treasures to find, especially in the way of books. It also meant a LOT of driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day. When I grew tired of the content on the radio (and my own thoughts in the lonely silence waned) I eventually turned to audiobooks. Second hand shops certainly had no shortage of these. Before I went into recovery my choices were of the fictional nature, but as my life turned around so did my taste in what was not only entertaining, but educational.

My sponsor encouraged me to investigate new teachers and subjects beyond what A.A. offers. Naturally I began to seek facts and philosophies that would align with a life of continued self-improvement. I had regular print books in my library he had recommended, but nothing as of yet sought on my own. It was at this time I came across Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny” at a local Goodwill. Well, the title had me intrigued and I knew, very superficially, who Dyer was so he wasn’t a complete unknown. After reading the back I thought I’d give it a try. This was about one year into my recovery, perhaps around the summer of nineteen ninety-six.

After playing and enjoying it once, I put it away thinking this was going to be the last and only time I would listen to it. I was wrong. About a year later I was bored, and again, it caught my eye. Upon giving it a second audience I was surprised to hear a lot I’d missed the first time. Dyer, as well as all great teachers, can be like this; either that or I’m simply a poor listener. At any rate, the pump had been officially primed for new teachings from the same source. More of his seminars were forthcoming from where I’d originally found the first one, thrift stores. Rather quickly I had attained a large library of his works along with such orators as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and titles including “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Other subjects accumulated as well, addressing such diverse topics as language skills, memory skills, math skills, business and leadership skills, and time management skills. Some were dull and quickly forgotten but Dyer remained my favorite.

As time went along I began to adopt his suggestions of encouragement. I was intrigued by his presentation of the “self-actuated person” as first put forth by Abraham Maslow. Dyer felt this state of being could be achieved by anyone, as opposed to Maslow’s argument that it was confined to a limited number of gifted people. Years later I was approached by someone with whom I’d had a little contact but nothing close. They handed a complement saying I was the most self-actuated person they ever met. I do my best to remain “independent of the good opinion of others” but this was a special treat and I was moved by their gift. I’ve had “peak spiritual experiences” and actively defend the absent, playing the “devil’s advocate” quite often. At the end of this article I’ll place some links to other earlier stories on this blog that fall in line with how Dyer has influenced and touched my life.

When Dyer released “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” his book tour come through Denver Colorado. As a birthday gift my wife got us tickets to the event and I was quite excited. I wrote him and to my surprise he wrote back saying he was looking forward to meeting me. I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire talk. He signed the books we had brought and I had my first chance to talk to him directly. As the next few years rolled on I took any chance to see him I could, seven in all. Three at “Mile Hi Church” here in town, once at the Budweiser Event Center, once at a two-day Hay House seminar for publishing called “Writing for your Soul” held at the Brown Palace in 2013, and lastly at the 2014 “I Can Do It!” retreat at the Denver convention center. At his last Mile Hi appearance before the writer’s seminar I gave him a portrait of Deepak Chopra I had done as a gift. At the writer’s seminar he told me he had sent it to Chopra. I had done an earlier portrait of his daughter Skye and in return he sent me her CD and a copy of his movie. Here is a link (from this blog) to a photo of my picture of Dr. Chopra.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/09/21/another-example-of-my-artwork/

I suppose my favorite title of his is “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.” The point in the audio book at which he speaks of the little boy being befriended by his teacher tears me up every time. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you empathize. While I don’t have every book he put out, both in print and audio, it’s dang close. I even own a textbook he co-wrote before “Erroneous Zones.”  I haven’t read THAT one; yet.

While I will miss him, just like the rest of us, I know he finished his work and has moved on to a greater purpose.

Here are the older links from this blog that mention his influence on my life.

This address kindness over being right.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/07/the-strength-of-compassion/

This talks about becoming independent of the good opinion of others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/10/coming-full-circle/

Here I share Dyer’s influence on how I now see others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/24/a-change-of-perspective/

Exercising one of Dyer’s lessons.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/01/25/in-search-of-beauty/

About leaving the past in the past.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/

How we become what we think.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/06/06/63-fire-and-water/

Repeating an experiment I heard Dr. Dyer perform. You should like this one.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/08/21/69-spiritual-or-religious/

Just like the rest of us I feel an urge to share following Dyer’s passing. I hope this entry does not come across as self-serving in any way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

82. GRATITUDE MEANS…….

cb28c749bcb502f8e8f4d7c10134525f

I’ve almost died on several occasions, if you read the introduction to this blog I mention some of them. The latest event was earlier this year from a double dose of pneumonia and blood clots in my lungs following back surgery. While the operation alleviated the constant overwhelming pain on the left side of my body, the episode left me unable to walk without a cane; and even then only a little ways. Twelve days in the hospital all total left me weak and atrophied. I was off work almost five months, the longest period since I was sixteen. The doctors did not want me to lift more than ten pounds and I couldn’t even drive or attend a physical rehab program until I was healed to the point of allowing some stress on my spine.

In the middle of this I asked and paid my friends brother to drive me to the store to get roses for my wife on Valentine’s Day. I’d never missed one yet, and this wasn’t going to be the first. My job was kind to me so that was really never an issue, but I did constantly wonder what my future held. I finally went to work on May 1 of this year, and even though I was thrilled to get back to a life of labor, it was a difficult week.

You might be hard pressed to believe this, but I’m grateful for the entire experience, and here’s why.

The beauty in the fabric of my life comes from all those events that have had a pleasant outcome; but the strength of it lies in those circumstances that have challenged me to be a better person. I’m therefore MORE thankful for the pain I’ve moved past than the pleasures I’ve experienced. I do not seek suffering as a means to improve myself, but there’s a wonderful comfort in knowing it’s capable of eventually providing increased gratitude.

I do not measure success by material means; I measure it against my former self to see if I have become a better person; stronger, kinder, more patient, more determined, more enthusiastic, less judgemental, etc. If life is a journey, (one chosen on purpose by myself to be somewhat challenging) then sometimes the road inevitably leads to parts unexpected and unknown. This is consistently rewarding, however I must admit the moment can seem occasionally gloomy. No matter the situation, gratitude is generated in my life by constant forward movement, although all too often progress is made by taking two steps back and then three ahead. If the mountain range I’m currently climbing leaves my spirit beaten and bloody, so be it. The healing process will strengthen me for newer and even more demanding events.

Evidence of this approach to living is apparent in the lives of the poor and oppressed as opposed to those in positions of wealth and power. Gratitude comes easy and with sincerity when those who have so little gain even the most basic of needs and comforts. In my opinion this attitude can be diminished when abundance becomes unlimited, especially if one is born to it. A connection to the needs of others often disappears too, so instead of projecting a nurturing and empathetic attitude, one of judgement comes into play instead. This is not always the case of course. My hat comes off to the select few who can connect to each end of the human spectrum. They are the ones capable of moving the planet to a better place by both the leverage they wield and a pursued connection to those in need. By their actions they can lift, inspire, and give strength those who struggle, while showing others like themselves how to influence and help even more.

For me, as this type of symbiotic relationship is internalized, I find I’m able to manifest personal salvation. The “parts” of me that are overflowing with proficiency are capable of assisting those parts of me that are lacking in proper function. Here is an example of how I do this. My right knee has bothered me recently causing a painful limp and disturbing my sleep. I’m well aware that the body has amazing recuperative powers, so tapping into these forces is a simple matter of asking it to do so. I will literally strike up a silent conversation and say “Hey, brain…… you’ve got a job to do. Work on my knee and fix it.” I did this several times a day and it’s better now. This not the only time I’ve done it and I continue the practice because, quite frankly, it’s never failed me. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, don’t knock it until you try it. When I take what I’m grateful for (my attitude and outlook on life) and focus it on where I need it most it does two things. My life improves and my gratitude increases as a result. It becomes a self feeding, doubly rewarding experience.

The struggles that come my way often become the platform for an even better tomorrow; and I know this even when I’m in the middle of the worst of times. When I wrote this entry- https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2015/01/26/76-so-close-to-giving-up/ I really was out of my mind with pain, and if you read it you’ll still see this philosophy being embraced and seeded. Honestly, gratitude is the best doctor I know. So far it has healed everything in my life.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

60. THE GREATEST GIFTS

Gifts

Who doesn’t love the thought of a present? Who doesn’t remember the weeks leading up to our birthdays, Christmases, and of course other occasions when we, as children, looked for hours at those seductive and brightly wrapped packages that set our minds into fantasy land? I remember dreaming of books and art supplies, and indeed I got those things, but I don’t recall ever making a list or even pushing my desires on my relatives and parents. What I DO remember about those times was the magic of how the acts of giving and receiving could stir the imagination and bring out the best in everyone. As I got older, and we moved away from the ceremonies of the seasons, I lost some connection to the humanity and emotion that represented the true meaning of gratitude. I began to miss the presents themselves rather than the celebrations that surrounded their arrival. I began to equate the absence of things with a certain lack, and this shift of misunderstanding how the cosmos always offers more than we can take, and asks less than we can offer, almost destroyed me.

All the “stuff” I longed for as a child and teenager I eventually went after in a bigger way as an adult, and every bit of it has been crap. Most items have been broken, left behind, and forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my toys and conveniences, but as far as true abundance goes, they represent nothing. Their value is superficial and fleeting. What I search for now are those elusive inner qualities that are priceless. I want those attitudes and beliefs that kings and sultans could never hope to buy. I seek what must be earned; and so far the hunt for treasure has been extremely rewarding.

One of the first gifts I’ve made use of, and continue to exercise, is ANTICIPATION. This might sound funny, but quite often the journey leading up to the event (whatever it is I’ve planned and worked for) can be very enjoyable and fulfilling. Having goals and working towards a vision is what keeps my world from becoming dull and repetitive. I swear I have just as much fun planning our vacations as I do taking them. Whenever I draw or paint it’s often the process I seek more than the product. This blog is the perfect example of my conviction. I would never continue with it if the ONLY goal was the eventual publication of my book. I actually like the trip; it’s fun, productive, and surprising. I’ve also gained an inner satisfaction that’s  intangible. I can’t point to it, put it on the shelf, or show it off. It exists, it’s real, and it’s completely immaterial.

The second gift I’ve nurtured is APPRECIATION; and you might be surprised what I’ve come to appreciate. I of course express this emotion to those people, things, and events that have raised my quality of living, but I also express this for those people, things, and events that have threatened my sanity, health, and even existence. The most valuable thing I own is my recovery. It’s been the most horrific road I’ve ever walked, but in doing so I’ve gained the power of perspective. I was lost in an ocean of misery with no thought of rescue, yet here I sit in spite of the odds. I’ve stated this before and I repeat it now, “I would not give up one moment of suffering for the promise of eternal bliss.” Why? Because I would rather know what can be overcome, than foresee what I might face. I don’t invite uncomfortable or unwanted situations just so I can gain strength and insight, but I don’t avoid them either. I feel that appreciation exercised properly equals both patience and wisdom; two things that only practice can gain.

The third gift is the joy of GIVING. Here I speak mostly of actions; little of items. When I do it expecting some sort of repayment or recognition, I lose the benefit of my intent, and almost always I end up disappointed; and yes, I still do this on a regular basis. However, when my mind is in line with the correct philosophy, I invite surprising and magnified fortunes. I give credit where credit is due. I often give beyond what is expected of me. I give prayer to everyone. I give praise to my opponents and acknowledgement when they impress me.  I give the benefit of doubt to those who are ridiculed and judged, especially if they are unable to defend themselves. I give to myself as well; permission to change my mind, occasionally a nap, sometimes solitude, and always dreams, laughter, comfort, and love.

The fourth gift is ACCEPTANCE. My definition of acceptance is simple. Everything is always exactly as is should be. Another way to look at it is, “nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.” IF something were to happen that shouldn’t, we would have to accept that there’s more than one point of origin to the cosmos. This is of course a completely illogical statement.  When I actively believe this, my inclination to judge is eliminated. I still need a LOT of practice with this one. All too often I try to impose how I think the world should be when God (or the universe as a whole, if you prefer a more scientific picture) is doing just fine without my input. Do I still want to change the world? You better believe it, because even though pain and suffering exists as God allows it to, so does God allow my desire and efforts to end it as well. There’s a dichotomy for you.

The fifth gift is CREATIVENESS. I have been blessed with an active mind and active hands. This means the tools necessary to take whatever I can imagine and make it into reality is no further away than planning and execution. I have a list of the projects and adventures I will continue to move forward on. It grows daily and my future promises to be greater and more expressive than where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Creativeness to me, is the power of God; it is the power of manifestation. God thinks a thing and then it happens, and so do we. The tendency of life is the reconstruction of the world around us to reflect how we feel and think. The more I do it, the more I find my purpose. All visionaries have been nothing more than dreamers who took action, and everyone who has ever moved this planet has followed the same path.

The last gift I’ll talk about is FORGIVENESS. Here is the seed of love. With proper tending it’s growth will produce complete peace and harmony in life, for surely resentment will cause nothing but distress and chaos. There was a time when I refused to forgive. I held grudges towards others and shame for myself, and suffered because of my refusal to let go of the past. Please read this entry on my blog-  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/ It explains in further detail what can and must be done to eliminate the self-constructed shackles of life.

Here again are my six gifts in summary-

  1. Anticipate……….tomorrow
  2. Appreciate………the moment and the past
  3. Give………………without want
  4. Accept…………..all is perfect
  5. Create…………..anything you want
  6. Forgive…………..and Love

I welcome you to share what gifts you have discovered in your life. Perhaps together we can find new ways to increase our abundance.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

 

 

59. INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC

music

I’ve decided to put a link directly on my page to this. It’s a separate category that appears at the top of my blog of musical pieces that lift my spirits. Most are links to something on YouTube, so if they don’t work, let me know.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/inspirational-music/

56. RADIO SHOW #1- BlogTalkRadio

microphone

This is a link to a radio show I was a guest on from Tuesday April the 22, 2014. It’s a basic discussion of my goals for the future and some background information on who I am. Thank you again Mark Rawson and Mike Snyder for making this a pleasant and comfortable experience. I look forward to further collaboration.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/spiritualconnectionsradio/2014/04/23/daniel-lockwood-mens-show-tuesday-8pm-est

54. ANOTHER OBSERVATION

rain

“If you are not living in support of tomorrow, then you are dying in support of yesterday. This moment is where the decision is made.”

 

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

49. EMBRACING TOMORROW

watching the sunrise

People ask me how I’m doing quite often. My response is never one of pre-programmed drivel. I always give it a moment’s thought and answer with as much honesty as I can deliver in the briefness of the encounter. Confused, hurried, challenged, and frustrated have been some of my recent responses; but there is one I say more than the others. It’s an affirmation I’ve chosen to reinforce recognition of personal progress, and it’s a way to appreciate and acknowledge the understanding that more good fortune is on the way.  When someone asks me “How are you doing?” my favorite reply is, “Better every day!” I do not say this lightly or to sound witty; I actually mean it.

I’ve been doing this for years and one day it hit me in a different manner. I was working in a medical facility and had gotten on an elevator when an elderly couple stepped in behind me. They were very well dressed and most likely in their late eighties or early nineties. I got the feeling of  a genuine bond between the two that seemed to go beyond love; it made me smile.

“What floor do you want?” I asked.

“Six please…. How are you doing today?”

I happened to be in a terrific mood and while smiling I quickly offered my favorite answer, “better every day!” They chuckled a little. This particular time slightly more information came to mind and I didn’t hesitate to continue expressing myself.  I paused ever so slightly and continued. I turned to them as I was about to leave and said, “You know what’s great about knowing my life gets better every day? Apparently my best day will be the day I die.” They smiled broadly looking at me and then each other as the doors closed. I stunned myself a little because I had no forethought to what had just come out of my mouth. It felt as if I’d been handed a wonderful secret. I walked on to the job feeling about fifty pounds lighter; my good mood having been magnified through revelation.

I do my best to focus on the moment, but the anticipation of tomorrow motivates me to turn the pages of my life. I’m eternally grateful for what I have now; my wife, my recovery, my health, my job, my home, and my peace of mind; all of these things are gifts worthy of kings. There is little left for me to wish for; but when experience tells me tomorrow has undiscovered treasures waiting to be found, it does pique my curiosity.

I do not believe in age, I believe in progress. I think the act of looking forward keeps me young. The evidence for this observation lies in the fact that there are thousands of senior citizens who can whip me at anything physical (or mental for that matter) no matter the challenge, and of course there are twenty year olds who (by their own choices) have trouble getting off the couch. Movement in the direction of creating something seems to be the key to youthfulness.  I once heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say he had made a decision to never “act” like an old man. Amen; me too. I’m sure he wasn’t talking about becoming immature or childish, just shunning the stereotype of growing old and its habits. I’m well aware physical limitations will eventually hand all of us our final moment, but it does seem to be kept at bay quite well by a select few.

I’m not seeking immortality, I’m seeking a high quality of exit. I do not fear death, I fear the “unlived” life. I refuse to live an entire lifetime where in my final moments I find myself expressing regret. Are not the dreams of tomorrow meant to be nourished by the actions of the moment?  I will never believe it’s too late for that.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

48. WALKING WITH PURPOSE

Black and white road

“I do not walk down the road I’ve chosen to get further away from what I wish to leave behind. I do it to get closer to that which I seek”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

45. CHANGE YOUR LIFE – LOSE YOUR LUGGAGE

“Lost Luggage”, a new Shirt.Woot t-shirt design by Matt Leyen.

“You have NO idea what I’ve been through.” I’ve heard this frequently from those who have walked a road of suffering and yes, it’s true, I don’t know; honestly it doesn’t matter. I’m not being harsh or cold, but we cannot move forward without letting go of the past, and I’d bet my life on it. If you really do want help, or know someone who does, the best thing is stop worrying about where you came from and start caring about where you are going. Don’t think that what once happened is doomed to repetition. Don’t talk about how others have let you down, or how you’ve let yourself down, and  don’t relive it, just leave it behind. No more sentences are allowed that begin with “it’s too bad…….” or “what if….” This is the ONLY way to progress. Excuses are the enemy. They are bred exclusively from what cannot be changed or affected. EVERYONE who has stepped from chaos into harmony has done this.

I’ve been taught that most people go through life with two dominating mindsets. They’re consumed by worrying about the future or regretting what has happened. Neither of these exercises are productive, and I ought to know, I was a master of the game. When I was focused on what I couldn’t modify or influence I had little to no time to savor the moment let alone act upon it. I spent most of my waking hours looking for ways to blame. Remember this – choosing to live a life of re-action over a life of pro-action is self-imposed slavery. I’m not talking about charging through the days aggressively, I’m talking about improving the functions of being awake, aware, and alert.

It is okay, however, to reminisce and plan. Neither of these attitudes are based in remorse or victimization. I choose to not live in days gone by, but that does not equal forgetting about what is inevitably going to harm me; old patterns and habits. I also choose not fantasize or dwell upon the “worst case scenario” but that doesn’t keep me from preparing for the possibility of bad things.

Self-respect (NOT arrogance) is the goal of all who are motivated to change their lives and their futures. Self-pity is the goal of those who want to justify blaming everybody else’s lives and their past. All the garbage we carry with us as our “business card” is  nothing more than one giant reason not to improve. All that luggage we drag through life is only needed for trips into the past. If there is nothing in our baggage we would wish on anyone else, then why keep it for ourselves?

These three similarly themed “mantras” will help keep a new life in focus.

          1. Change for the better equals abandoning our history.

          2. Where I was doesn’t matter, where I am, does.

          3. Blame is the battle-cry of self-destructiveness.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood