Balance

32. “The right …

“The right lived life does its greatest work in the final hour.”

I invite new followers and will respond to all comments.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

30. COME ON IN AND REST A WHILE……

Please make yourself at home and know that here there is understanding, acceptance, and kindness. I have nothing to sell but a lot to give and share. Check my topics and see if anything resonates. I welcome you to please follow my blog. Feel free to comment, feel free to share, I will acknowledge all.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

27. COMING FULL CIRCLE

full-circle

Years ago I was working on a job north of here. I had little authority and was mostly in a position of response rather than initiation. My supervisor set me up on a task that required me to be on a ladder and work for some time in the ceiling. I was by myself and the day was going well until a man from another trade showed up.

“You’re in my way.”

I glanced at him and continued my duties.

“I have work to do here.”

This time I responded but didn’t look at him. “Yea, me too.”

He was starting to get irate and I was honestly becoming somewhat amused; though I didn’t let my antagonist on to how I was feeling about the whole situation.

This time he came at me with a heightened verbal attack. “I need you to move! Are you not listening to me, I have work to do!”

Now, I’m sure we could have figured out how to get around each other, but this time I thought a little defense was in order. I stepped down with my tools in hand and faced him looking straight into his eyes.

“You know, if your opinion meant something to me I might get pissed, but since it doesn’t, I just don’t care.”

He lost it and I had a hard time keeping a straight face. As he was throwing his tantrum I continued with a steady voice. “Look, I don’t hate you, I don’t love you, I don’t anything you at all. As far as I’m concerned you’re going to do one of two things and only one of two things. You’re either going to keep talking or start swinging.”

He stopped and looked at me a little slack-jawed. After a moment of contemplation he said, “I guess I’ll just keep talking.”

I laughed a little, “There you go, keep talking, doesn’t matter to me.”

He left and I never saw him again.

I’ve lived a long time not worrying about the so-called “bad things” others thought of or expressed about me. The simple fact that I can’t do anything about what others think is all I need to embrace this philosophy. When I acknowledge someone else’s opinion I give it power; when I reject it, it has no energy. Even if I had the ability to change the mind of someone who didn’t agree with me, I wouldn’t. To do so would be against everything I believe in. Persuasion of  those who don’t align with my agenda by initiating actions and examples is fine, but to try to leverage my way using fear and intimidation is out of the question. I’ve had this way of dealing with potential adversaries for some time, little did I know that the opposite was also true, and finding that out was one of my greatest epiphanies.

I’m a fan of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, among many other teachers. He quotes Abraham Maslow quite a bit, mostly in reference to becoming a self-actuated person. One of the qualities projected by these people is an ability to “be independent of the good opinions of others.” Honestly (without sounding like I’m throwing myself under the bus) I had a difficult time understanding this bit of information. What did it mean exactly? I found out quite by accident while working on another job.

Tony and I were in a crawl space installing drain lines and having a pleasant conversation while we working.

He was still an apprentice and I was showing him some techniques as we progressed. “You know Daniel, I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about you.”

I shrugged, “Wouldn’t matter if they did. I chose whom I live to please, and that group is very small. Everyone else is on their own.”

He laughed and the conversation continued. “As a matter of fact, all I’ve heard is good things, you get a lot of praise.”

This is where it got weird for me. I had no idea how I was going to react until I said it. “That doesn’t matter to me either. I’m grateful for it, but I seek neither applause nor even endorsement.” That’s when it hit me, I was independent of the good opinions of others. The realization shook me tremendously and I felt a little light-headed. I had come full circle with this belief.

By no means am I saying that others opinions aren’t important to them, of course they are. My opinions are important to me as well, but if I were to accept that everyone’s opinions were as at least as important as mine, I’d lose sight of my path. I’m not talking about becoming self-centered or arrogant. What I’m really focusing on is not letting others sway me from reality by either letting negativity dissuade me, nor letting praise give me false sense of accomplishment. I seek no approval, I accept no hostility. I do however accept criticism from those I choose to admire, and allow appreciation from those I have a close connection with. It sounds like a fine line. It’s not. I simply keep a small, very tight circle of influence around me.

Ask yourself “How many people actually have opinions that matter to you?” and you’ll see what I mean. It seems to be five or less for most people I’ve talked to. Too many and you’ll end up living the life of everyone else; constantly striving to please and fulfill their agendas. I don’t think anyone has ever made the world a better place by attempting to silence their audience with the promise of pleasing all of them.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

26. WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE?

I was lucky. When it came time to put my belief in a higher power to the test I had no problem accepting there was something “out there.”  My faith, as feeble as it was, was little more than an understanding the cosmos existed under some sort of unified purpose. There are those who might call this approach strictly scientific. I for one figured that science itself was still part of everything and therefore part of God. In any event I had an upper hand on those who were reluctant to accept the idea of a supreme being. As time went on I began to wonder, “How could I present a logical picture of God to those who simply could not grasp the idea?” Mind you, I’m NOT looking to convert, change minds, or persuade others to follow my way of thinking. What I am trying to do is offer my view on the subject. If it helps clarify what God is then perhaps there are those who can move past this stumbling block and continue along a path of continued prosperity.

This is my illustration of  God – (click on the picture to expand)

IMAG1532 (2)

The idea for this representation evolved from asking myself “How does God move?”  My first inclination was to conclude everything is a part of God; all of it is connected. This makes sense to me because as soon as it’s suggested something exists that isn’t a part of God, then I must accept there is more that one point of origin. Two or more “laws” of creation cannot co-exist within the same universe. Any conflict will cause the weaker force to vanish after being instantly overpowered by the stronger one. My second conclusion was that a “living” existence must do at least two things, draw energy and perpetuate survival by either expansion or reproduction. The ability to overcome and adapt is the motive for perseverance.

For the sake of presentation let’s call the substance that God draws upon for continuation “chaos.” This is (1.) on the picture. Others may call this darkness or dis-order but I prefer to interpret it as an unorganized source of energy; one that isn’t negative or positive, simply neutral.  I’m well aware that God is both; but then again, so are we. We too have within us raw material which we draw from, intending to change whatever it is and improve how we live.

Most us live in the world of perceived opposites. This is (2.) on the drawing. Here we think in terms like, up – down, left – right, good – bad, black – white. We have a tendency to process a three-dimensional life with two-dimensional judgment. We also cannot see those on the other side of the equation but we feel their movements. This is an unstable environment leading to petty conflicts and an illusion that there is separation between ourselves. This is also where the material plane calls itself home. Stuff and personal accomplishments prevail in abundance.

As we continue towards the center, there is a realization that we must nurture our connection to everyone and everything. This is (3.) Our vision for the future includes those we once thought of as our opposition or enemies. Our lives begin to calm down and conflicts begin to disappear in place of a more cooperative existence. A desire to work in harmony is unavoidable at this point. There is an urge to let go of our two-dimensional habit of judging and embrace a more encompassing way of unity.

At  the center of movement, as indicated by (4.)  we drop all previous conceptions. Complete balance and clarity emerges. Life and living is about connecting harmoniously with everything. The mantra here is “oneness towards expansion.” We leave the material world behind and begin a journey towards a collective existence of pure spirit. From a fractured and turbulent source to an ordered and symbiotic destination, this is the journey we all will eventually complete. Awareness of connection speeds up the process while denial of connection slows it down.

Once completely past the world of judgment we enter an “expansive whole” (5.) where growth continues. All of this is symbolic of course and just MY understanding of how we are moving through the universe. I feel for those grasping for a concept, this should do nicely. Getting past the idea we are NOT separate is difficult for many. The fact is we are all symbiotic. I rely on people to grow food, sew my clothing, provide fuel, and so on. Even those who claim solitude exist because two people got together and had sex. No one is here independent of the environment, and our environment is actually infinite.

I believe the need to connect is part of everyone. We make friends, we have lovers, we socialize and communicate, and we pray. We want our as our purpose to be part of the chain that leads to the center. The way is easy, ask for guidance on one hand and offer assistance with the other.

By the way, turn the picture upside-down for a surprise……..

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

23. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT QUESTION

questions

A few weeks ago I wrote an entry called “The Right Questions.”  This is a follow-up or companion piece to that article. Approaching life in this manner is a passion of mine, and I’ll most likely write about it again in the future.

When I first ventured towards new horizons, a different perspective of both asking and answering questions became necessary. The volume of my new-found form of analysis was more than I’d anticipated. Some examples were clear, and the answer obvious, and some were quite cryptic. The latter of the two was meant to free certain “mental” wheels that had been poorly maintained. When I was asked “What must I do to begin building up a life of reliability?” the solution was to stop being late everywhere. There was no doubt as to the meaning of this directive, and there was no uncertainty as to the outcome of its implementation. The answer came quickly and was easy to understand. On the other hand I was frequently given nothing more than the answer with instructions to search for the question. One such example was “You limit yourself because you have a fear of success.” Quite often my goal was to come up with the question that fit the answer. Eventually I did, and the question was, “Why do I avoid responsibility?”  In any case, the quality of my life improved with the quality of the questions that were being asked, either directly or indirectly.

One such question that drastically changed my life was, “If you knew you only had an hour to live and if you felt good and weren’t scared, What would you do?” It’s an old  point of discussion and I’ve heard it before, but I’d never meditated on it. Once I did, my outlook on life shifted considerably. Basically I’ve gotten two answers from those who were sincere in coming up with an honest reply. Some say prayer and silence would be their choice. This is a minority answer, and I consider it an extremely enlightened one, but maybe one in twenty will state it. The majority say something like, “I would use part of my time to thank those whose lives have made mine better. Whatever was left over I’d spend in the arms of the person I love the most.” My personal response probably lies here. It’s an interesting question because no one says “I’ve only got an hour, maybe I should clean the house, or mow the lawn, or go to the bank, or even eat.” Nothing material is attached to where true value lies. Nothing. This is but one example of a high quality question.

Most seek nothing but answers when their true quest should be identifying the correct questions. My mentor used to say, “There are no right answers to the wrong questions.” If you say to the ether “Why me?” you will get lots of answers that do nothing to empower you. In return you’ll get plenty of information designed to reaffirm why you are in a place of undesirability. Logically, if the original inquiry is producing unwanted answers, then should not the opposite question produce what is sought? Try asking instead “Why NOT me?” If you want to lose weight the opposite of “Why am I fat?” is NOT “Why am I not thin?” This is the same question in disguise. It’s true opposite would be “How can I get thin?” Subtle; yes, but believe me the brain knows the difference and it will eventually churn out what is asked of it.

Subconsciously (and of course consciously) everyone has conversations in their minds designed to eliminate what is wanted and manifest what is desired. The problem with unintentionally attracting what is unwanted lies in how we word our thoughts. Think about it. If you constantly ask yourself why are you passed by for promotion you’ll get answers that are riddled with blame rather than accountability, and these will only serve self-defeating behavior.

There are several ways to stop the habit of asking bad questions.

  1. Stop saying “why?” and start saying “how?” It’s a one word change that will produce instant results. When “why” is the driving force of a question, you will generate excuses. When “how” is used instead, you will generate solutions. By the way, don’t revert to “how come?” That’s just another “why” in disguise.
  2. Stop asking yourself questions better answered by a more qualified source i.e. “How do I stop drinking?” The use of the word “how” in this case will eventually force us beyond the limits of our own minds. When we embrace outside information (oftentimes masquerading as criticism) we open ourselves to unlimited choices, and isn’t that what we should have anyway?  Remember what Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” For me this means I have to stop re-arranging what’s in my own head convinced it will eventually add up differently. He also said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. It really comes down to listening more than talking; something I still struggle with.
  3. Start shifting your approach to life from one of doubt to one of expectation. This will automatically re-write how thoughts word themselves. Don’t generate anxiety, uncertainty,  or worry  about your goals; expect them and they will unfold. Get off the “what if?” ride and jump onto the certitude express. Remember, planning for the worst and assuming it are vastly different. Contingency plans are fine, but they must exist only in the background. Driving a vehicle without brakes and seat belts will force you to a crawl; whereas utilizing the car’s safety features will allow maximum confidence in both driver and machine.

Make a list of good questions and repeat them a LOT to yourself. If they are indeed high quality they will generate even more high quality questions. My top three are –

  • How can I become a better man?
  • How can I serve?

And..

  • How can I live without regret?

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

20. APPROACHING LIFE POLITELY

tr

When I was in second grade our teacher, Mrs. Larson, spent an entire day on manners. It made a great impression on me. I learned to open doors not just for girls, but anyone. I learned to say “Mr.” and “Miss or Mrs.” to those I approached (especially strangers) as a way of acknowledging someone with dignity. I learned to show a graceful respect for everyone no matter their appearance or age.  I’ve often wondered how far and to whom her influence has carried itself. Forty years later the ripples in my pond are still there.

I learned very quickly how important politeness is. Some think of it as an attempt at being self-centered or above reproach using such words as snotty, conceited, pretentious, or arrogant to describe this attitude.  I do indeed see how it  might be played as leverage to try and rise above others.  This is not the proper definition nor execution of what I’ve come to understand. Courtesy is the act of putting even the smallest needs for others first; always. This is easily understood when its opposite is realized. Those we know who are the most rude and cocky constantly put themselves first in every situation. They are unkind and impolite. Their self-perceived priorities take precedence. They are extremely unreliable in every situation because when the need for help arises, it’s given only when it benefits them as well.

Putting the needs of others first isn’t just the entire picture. I suppose one could do this outwardly while hiding feelings resentment and jealousy. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done this, especially in traffic, but I’m also happy to announce that these incidents are becoming exceedingly rare. Being polite isn’t about how I want others to see me, it’s about how I want to see myself. If someone else benefits from something I’ve done, it’s a side-effect, not the goal. I used to become frustrated when my attempts at being civilized weren’t being returned. Someone would yell at me until I finally sunk to their level and yelled back. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of times where I will step up and be a MAN, raising my voice appropriately when the situation calls for it, but I will never be a jerk or insulting.

Do not think that politeness is equal with weakness. It’s not an invitation  to those seeking to take advantage of a peaceful situation. Upon the contrary, keeping a calm and patient exterior (as well as interior) lets nothing unwanted influence you.  Remember, frustration always commits suicide. It cannot survive without a captive audience so it self-destructs. As soon as its given attention it has a reason to re-assert itself which is why the followers of a great many historical blowhards are just as annoying as their leaders.

At the very least ask yourself these questions. Why not be kind? Why not be patient? Why not be empathetic? Why not be generous? Besides, who really does want to become rude, impatient, indifferent, and selfish anyway?

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

14. THE STRENGTH OF COMPASSION

heart water

Once, a long time ago, I was witness to a hit and run. Never really saw the car, but I was the man who stopped to help the victim. She remained conscious and I remained calm, all the while telling her that things were going to be just fine. I knew they weren’t. She was bleeding from her eyes and ears and was concerned about her husband getting upset she was going to miss work that day. I took off my coat and gently placed it over her, worried that the cold, snowy ground was going to compound problems of shock. The collision was so hard that her shoes bounced off my windshield some forty feet away, so my gut feeling was that there was much more injury than could be diagnosed by casual observation. I continued a simple reassuring conversation with her, never letting on what I really thought. My only goals were to keep her conscious and to try and stop her from panicking. Within minutes the paramedics showed up. Her condition in this short span had already showed signs of deterioration. The blood flow from her injuries was increasing and she had lost her eyesight. I never asked her what her name was. I guess I didn’t need to. They whisked her off, and I continued to work, wondering if she was even going to live. Seventeen years later, I still wonder.

What behavior marks the pinnacle of our aspirations? That morning I spent ten minutes lying to a total stranger, and yet at the time I knew I’d done the right thing. That morning I treated someone differently than I might have wanted them to treat me, and looking back, I wouldn’t hesitate doing the same thing again. That morning, though tragic for someone else, forced me to abandon what I normally thought of as proper conduct and embrace a much more powerful idea, kindness.

The “Golden Rule” that all of us are familiar with is something I cannot fully endorse anymore. It is a good idea and a great place to start, but it can be abusive and heartless if practiced with too much passion. I am forty-eight years old. I carry no shame with my age and I never will. For one, I’ve never associated how old I am with who I am. Now I ask you, just because I carry this belief close to my heart, does this give me free rein to ask all who cross my path what their age is? There is no doubt that this is indeed treating others the way I want to be treated, but the very idea of doing this is selfish and inconsiderate. The “Golden Rule” applies in this situation only when I change the angle of approach by generalizing the moment; would I want a total stranger asking me a question I was unprepared or unwilling to answer? Of course not.

The second situation that seemed to violate my ethics all those years ago was lying. My heart knew this was a circumstance where the outcome could easily end with the death of the person I was talking to. Yes, it did cross my mind; what I would want to hear if the roles were reversed? If I felt the end might be near, would I like the chance to say goodbye to those I loved? Would I want to express a final thought? Would I want to ask forgiveness for things I could no longer correct? These are harsh questions and not to be lightly asked when a life hangs in the balance. I suppose if death were eminent, that there was no chance living, then yes, by all means I would want the truth. Even then I suppose I’d want it tempered with reassurance and faith that what awaited was not to be feared. I had no idea what lay in store for this woman an hour from then, but I had a grasp of what the immediate future held. Instead of handing her the facts, I opted to give her nothing but hope. It wasn’t just for her, but to a small degree, me as well. I had to share a belief that things were okay, if nothing else so that she could hang on long enough for those who could bring real aid to have a better chance.

One of my mentors says, “When facing the choice to be right or to be kind comes up, choose kindness.” This means never saying to someone “I told you so.” There are of course times that require a blunt approach, but they always seem to come before any given incident, not after. I feel potentially negative honesty is best used as a warning. It also comes in handy to point out unrecognized acts of self-destruction, but even this is still nothing more than a warning to not repeat oneself. Basically, I believe that “Honesty precedes, while compassion follows.”

To live compassionately is my goal. To be empathetic (not sympathetic) towards all I meet is  the life I demand of myself. To align with another individual’s priorities, even for just a moment, erases my ego. I cannot be “self-centered” when I become “they-centered.” This is a blessing of the highest sort. All the pain, anguish, bitterness, hostility, angst, regret, and fear that had so effectively eroded  my life was the direct result of the storms of my selfishness. The peace that compassion continues to feed me, strengthens me. May it strengthen all of us.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

13. A GIFT TO A FRIEND

old potter

This post contains a poem I wrote as a gift to a friend years ago. He’s gone now, but his influence lives on. His physical presence is nothing more than a memory. I don’t even have a photo of him, yet his image is as vivid to me as the first time I ever met the man. It’s almost as if I can see him in my reflection now, not as a copy or imitation, but as a continuation of the best he had to offer.

How does one repay someone for saving their life? Is there any price that can be offered to balance the scales and compensate for this act of selflessness? Yes, there is. The gifts we receive that allow us a better life must be shared; they must be, or they will not fulfill the intention of the universe, and that is perpetuation with abundance.

You may be wondering how this blog entry applies to the subject of self-help. There was a time where I wasn’t sure my existence had any significance at all. This has changed. I now know  we all have a place, a destiny, that fits in perfectly and harmoniously with the world around us. Unfortunately,  the opposite is also just as true. All of us also have a path we can choose that is destructive and painful to those we care for as well as ourselves. The more we nurture our environment, the more we draw sustenance from it. The more we abuse our surroundings, the more it will, in turn, injure us. There is a way to manifest that place that gives life meaning, and it’s not difficult to find.  For the moment, the observation that it functions in others is priority. The more we observe something at work that does not exist in our lives, the more we create faith that it is indeed possible in our own.

Look to those you know or have known in your life that live with purpose. They move effortlessly and gracefully through their days, doing what they do well, sharing their talents without demanding and accepting everything with an abundance of gratitude. Is there not admiration for these people? Is there not a healthy dose of envy that beckons us to reproduce these conditions for ourselves?

This poem is not directly about the man in question I mentioned at the beginning. The imagery is more representative of how I felt he had found his place and in turn mine as well.

THE POTTER

When a lazy sun

Draws its colors

From the evening clouds,

And shadows lengthen

To embrace the night

In silent murky shrouds,

And as the world                                   

Goes to sleep                                             

Under starlit skies,                                   

There comes to life                                 

An old man                                                 

With kindness in his eyes.                     

He slowly rises                                         

And lights a lamp                                     

To start his work again.

A crust of bread,                                       

A bit of drink,                                           

And then he does begin. 

         Just as he who picks

         And presses grapes 

         Off the family vines.

         From the juice that flows

         Will then be made

         Into family wines.                         

         Just as he who cuts                          

         From the weavers cloth               

         Patterns which he sews.               

         And skilled hands

         Will turn his craft

         Into wearers’ clothes.

         Just as he who shapes

         Red-hot iron

         With a mighty hammer.

         As the strokes do fall

         Upon the anvil

         There’s peace among the clamor.

         Just as he who sits

         At the wheel

         Molding clay and water.

         As the stone does whirl

         Another vessel rises

         From the old town potter.

With a tranquil look

And gentle touch

He moves in loving grace.

Shaping his gifts to share with others,

He has found his place.

No longer burdened

By the woes of man,

He works without a sound.

For in himself there lies a calm,

A treasure that’s been found.

And when he is done

Sitting slowly back

To see what’s been turned,

He will always find

That for his efforts

There’s more than what’s been earned.

When the morning sun

Marks another day

And birds begin to sing

The old town potter

Will close his eyes

And dream of what the night will bring.

Thank you for letting me share this with you, and may you too find the bliss that is more valuable than all our “material” world has to offer.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

4. WHAT I BELIEVE

principles

Before getting too far into more ground-floor subjects of self-help, I’d like to share with you some of the ideas that make up my foundation. When I first read other authors, I was curious to know what kind of belief system they stood upon. I wasn’t looking to align with any specific philosophy or spiritual viewpoint; it was simply of interest to me what their convictions were. If a way to refine the information about the sources I’d researched would have been accessible, then perhaps a more efficient path of growth would have been available.

I believe one can be both confident and humble at the same time.

I believe being tough means doing things that are tough to do.

I believe I am connected to everything and attached to nothing.

I believe redemption is never beyond the reach of anyone.

I believe we are all bonded, both in flesh and spirit.

I believe all wishes come true.

I believe regrets are grudges I hold against myself.

I believe that whatever I believe in, the opposite must also be true.

I believe I am responsible for everything in my life.

I believe one voice can be heard among billions.

I believe I am both unique and common.

I believe in the power of intention.

I believe that nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.

I believe that yesterday is no indication of tomorrow.

I believe that optimism is wasted unless it’s tempered with action.

I believe nothing improves unless dissatisfaction precedes it.

I believe the journey is the destination.

I believe life gets better every day.

I believe age has nothing to do with potential.

I believe cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I believe all self destructive behavior is anchored in shame.

I believe that in the house that is love, chiseled into the floor of the basement is the word “forgiveness.”

I believe I could be wrong about everything.

I believe I have both a free will and a destiny.

I believe in doing the most, what I’ll regret the least.

I believe there is beauty in everything.

I believe the inability to release and properly express emotion leads to unexpected and unexplainable behavior.

I believe compassion trumps the golden rule.

I believe letting go is the most powerful force I can choose to align with.

I believe whatever I am, I am not this body.

I believe there is no such thing as luck.

I believe I’ll never lose my wonder for the miracle that is this world.

I believe I can do anything.

I believe I see myself in others.

I believe this world is worth saving.

All of these ideas I really do believe in. My life is a continuing example of their manifestation. Some annoy me, some overjoy me, but all serve me well.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS!

11_milky_way_road

For both men and women, knowing where to begin a better life can be overwhelming. I’m only the doorman to tomorrow. I can show you where to start, but I will not tell you where to go.

“…it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked.”

When I first set out to seek out new avenues and new sources for self-improvement, I made a trip to my local book store expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t. I stood there facing several hundred choices wondering where to start. Surely someone had written a beginner’s guide, a square one launching point that wasn’t overwhelming. My goal was to find something not only easy to read, but informative and entertaining. I sought plain and straight forward instruction on how to move ahead in my life. I wanted a resource that would offer the basics and inspire me to continue researching whatever subject might stimulate my interest.  After thumbing through several dozen publications, I found out rather quickly my thirst for knowledge was being offered to me through a fire hose. There was no doubt every answer conceivable lay buried in the pages of the volumes I was wavering in front of, but the process of sifting through endless manuals to look for what appealed to me was not one I was eager to attempt. For the most part, each title addressed a specific topic, and that was fine, but my tastes were much more generalized. What I longed for, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were the right questions. Eventually, through trial and error, I became interested in specific authors, various subjects, and diverse teachings. Even though the road I chose was slow and treacherous, I never stopped progressing. There is, however, little doubt in my mind, I’d be a lot further along than I am now if it had been somewhat less intimidating. It is my opinion that the absence of an easy first step keeps many a wandered traveler from finding their way home.

There was a time when I was truly certifiable. I had nothing in my world that someone would have wanted in theirs. In 1995 I was drinking two-fifths of vodka a day. Since July 28th of that same year, I have been in recovery. As the years progressed, I worked on various elements of my character that needed nurturing. My health improved as did the rest of my personal life. Abundance flowed in, while misfortune waned. In the summer of 2007, came one of my biggest wake-up calls. I had hit the high mark of my weight–347 pounds. After committing to a weight loss program early in 2009, I lost over 105 pounds in six months without loss of energy or strength. I now tip the scales at an average of 220. I’ve had heat stroke, carbon monoxide poisoning, viral pneumonia, MRSA (staph infections), pulmonary embolisms, and car accidents. There are those who may use similar events to convince others how unlucky they are; I use them to prove how fortunate I am. I’ve survived these and other temporary setbacks with flying colors. If attitude is everything, then I’m the direct result of the resolute belief that life gets better every day.

My attempt with this blog is not to provide a goal, but rather an introduction. I’m not a scholar, nor am I a counselor. As a matter of fact, I’m a plumber; a blue-collar worker who has no problems getting his hands dirty and breaking a sweat for a living. Hopefully, my background will offer an approachable and relaxed alternative for those just starting out. I know it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked. I’ll never tell anyone where to go, but I’ll be glad to talk about where I’ve been and if you want to visit these places, I’ll simply point the way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood