Goals

96. IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION

I’m an artist, though not nearly as prolific as I used to be. In my basement I have thousands of dollars in supplies. All mediums, tools, and colors wait patiently for my return to the tablet or canvas.  The variety is so extensive that I had to buy a huge tool chest (no taboret is large enough) just to hold and organize some of it. When the mood strikes, I’ll sit down and express myself; meticulously taking my time with every movement. It’s weird but I can go back to a picture I started years ago and continue working right where I left off. I like that about myself because there was a time when I had no patience or desire for continuing such endeavors; if I couldn’t finish it in one sitting I’d tear it up or throw it away and all too often never even start over. It’s also a (slight) burden because I know I don’t have the drive finish some things that might turn out quite well. It’s almost as if I gain more satisfaction from the experience than the finished product. In either case I’d rather own the latter deficiency. Why? Because for me it lacks a lot of negative self-judgement.

As much as I would LOVE to embrace the idea of not judging oneself, I still find this skill useful as long as I don’t initiate self-punishment when I see a need for improvement. There’s no doubt it’s difficult to not step over this line. There are times where I feel shame for not perusing my dreams, and this attitude does nothing for making my life a better place to live.

Years ago, when I first started plumbing, my supervisor said something to me I still use on a daily basis. I was obviously grouchy about my progress as an apprentice because no matter what, I would want my work as perfect as possible. He noticed this behavior and came to the rescue with this philosophy, “As long as what you’re doing will function and is to code, accept it and keep going. When you’re done, stand back for thirty seconds and ask yourself how will I do it better next time?” This mindset keeps the creative juices flowing without the added burden of becoming frustrated.

Do I still occasionally take things apart and start over? Not really; used to though. When I do start over it’s normally because someone else put together what I would never. I’ve got some things on my job now someone else did that I’m going to change. I’ll never tell them though; doesn’t matter anyway.

I feel the secret of pursuing perfection lies in the acceptance of what we think are flaws. The greatest example (that I know of) at expressing this is Bob Ross. Yes, he was an artist too, but unlike how I used to be he saw “mistakes” as opportunities to change an occasional misstep into something beautiful; or perhaps a better definition may be that he chose to find and recognize perfection in chaos. When we do so we aren’t lowering our standards by accepting an inferior product or outcome, far from it. What we are doing is learning how to adapt, accept, and progress, and this is a superior talent for moving through life, at least in my opinion.

Look to the what the universe has surrounded us with. Is anything truly imperfect? One cannot point to a tree and say, “This is flawed”. It may indeed be diseased, dying, split from lightning, or damaged by a storm, but its state is never imperfect because it simply is what it is. Everything is part of the natural flow of the cosmos, including your creations and accomplishments, your actions and reactions. Don’t negatively judge them, remember this automatically invites self-punishment, use them instead as stepping-stones to guide you where you want to go. Knowing what we don’t want is a wonderful companion to moving toward what we do want, but there’s a huge difference between progress and foolishness. I’ve said this before, and I mean it again. One cannot invite improvement by walking backwards and constantly judging where we were. This is called the path of excuses. Turn around and move towards the future……a rear-view mirror will do just fine for remembering and reminding us of what we’ve moved beyond and all those “happy accidents” will eventually become the building blocks of tomorrow.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

91. MY DEPRESSION

depression

I’m not in a position to give professional advice to those in the grip of depression. I’m not a doctor nor am I a counselor. That being said, what I can do is share the details of my journey beyond desolation. Perhaps shedding some light on where I was compared to where I am will help, perhaps not. In any case I certainly know what it feels like to be immobilized and lost.

Thoughts of doom and suicide dominated my life for a long time, years in fact. I had love, no spark, no peace, and no purpose. Surviving was my only motivation, and even that began to deteriorate. Chasing pleasure quickly became a substitute for manufacturing happiness. This mental prison I’d built started in the mid eighties and finally began to erode in the mid nineties. Going over a decade without hope, self-respect, or direction sounds like an impossible journey, one destined to end in disaster, yet here I am.

They say the further you fall, the higher you rise. Considering just how high I’ve risen in the past twenty years, my low must have been exceptionally deep, especially since even now I continue progressing with great strides. So, what exactly was the moment I started to ascend? When did my life finally stop spiraling towards oblivion?  There were three major shifts in my life that allowed the floodgates of redemption to swing wide open.

SHIFT NUMBER ONE……

The first began with letting go of a belief I had drilled into my skull since I was a small boy. It’s one many are programmed with, and have wrongly reinforced through our peers and mentors. This belief was that somewhere buried inside me I had the tools and desire to fix who I was all by myself. Most people call this elusive, superhuman skill ……willpower.

What garbage.

In my playbook, if I want to become a better person, then I must step past my ego. This maneuver is called “Letting go”. Letting go involves zero willpower. It DID require me to take an action once previously thought of as demeaning and painful. I had to open my arms and mind to criticism. Keep in mind there are two very specific types of criticism, one is a form of abuse, and the other is pure Love, and there’s a big difference.  Most will criticize with the intent of cloning themselves; that is they want you to be more like them. Those who do it with Love in their hearts will only be interested in you becoming a better person. Trust me; you’ll know the difference with this definition in mind.

Some equate letting go with giving up; nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the equation. Giving up is the equivalent of steering your boat to the most remote point of the ocean, lowering your sails, and dumping all your provisions overboard. Not a good scenario. Letting go, on the other hand, is akin to deciding you’re lost on the water, pulling into a port, and asking someone else who is obviously skilled and wise to pilot you and your ship to somewhere you’ve never even heard of. This requires a massive step out of one’s own feeling of self-control.

If I’m to embrace my full potential I must allow those to lead me who are already somewhere I want to be. Keep in mind the boat is still mine, I’m ultimately in charge, but for the moment I’ve decided to allow forces that align with faith to guide me. I’m relaxed and am open to outside direction. If this is the case, then what I was attempting before was fighting against the tides. I was closed to suggestion and focused on using only my own energy to guide me. Here lies the difference between being problem aligned rather than solution oriented. It never feels good going forward, it’s a vulnerable and uncertain maneuver, but this choice always reaps massive rewards. So, this action illustrates the first step I took towards serenity.

SHIFT NUMBER TWO……

This second step is a bit more personal so you may not have any common ground with what I’m going to share. In any case, this exercise defiantly helped me, and to this day it still continues to do so. In a nutshell I was told by a professional in the field of mental health that depression is basically rooted in unexpressed anger.

Unexpressed anger?

Yes, unexpressed anger. This does not, however, mean un-generated anger. It means I’d felt hostility, bitterness, angst, and rage but they were never fully expressed in a mentally healthy manner. My mind had reactions to events I’d kept muted or even completely bottled up. In my experience (and all too often in my observations of others, especially men) ALL emotions we hold back on eventually find their way to the surface both unexpectedly and mutated.  The road to mental health is paved with the stones of proper expression and use of emotion. Depression, in my case, was created from the inability to let out and deal with those events I found undesirable.

One may ask, why anger? Couldn’t other emotions poorly expressed and downright withheld be the cause of depression? Yes, but consider this; if Love is not revealed when it’s deeply and desperately felt, would this not eventually cause anger towards oneself? How about sadness, celebration, shame, or satisfaction? The truth is, at least for me, holding back on any emotion no matter the source, will eventually cause the feeling to go from regret to anger.

It helps me tremendously to ask “what am I mad about?” rather than “what’s depressing me?”  In other entries of this blog I write about the quality of our questions equaling the quality of our answers and thus in doing so improve the quality of life. This question is a terrific example.

SHIFT NUMBER THREE……

Nothing transforms my emotional state like movement, just plain old moving around can initiate massive changes in my outlook and attitudes. The good news, nothing has to be all that focused on what I feel needs “fixing”.  Examples may include doing the laundry, going for a walk, cooking, and especially……cleaning. I have a feeling that last one, cleaning, has psychological benefits that can have other, subconscious healing effects. It should be clarified I’m not going to the point of becoming a germophobe. Simple elimination of junk and clutter in the course of reorganizing my environment has always reverberated to other tasks and neglected responsibilities. If this is true, then surely the opposite is just as obvious.  When I’ve been depressed, and have decided to do nothing but sit, sleep, and remain as motionless as possible, it waters the seeds of my hopelessness. To be very clear here I’m NOT talking about meditation, that’s a completely different (spiritual) dynamic designed to center and focus myself. I guess the more I concentrate on anything outside of me, removing my focus from my perceived “problems,” the further I get away from the fear-based voice of my ego, which seems to be the very root of every problem I’ve ever faced.

Honestly this last suggestion has been extremely easy for me to observe in the lives of others. Those who are depressed usually seem to do very little physically. Likewise I’ve never met a depressed person who was one to get out of bed and exercise first thing in the morning. I’m sure this is a generalization, and like I said at the beginning, I’m no doctor. All I want to do here is share what has worked so far in my life. Take it as you will. I truly hope no one ever visits those places I’ve been, but if you have I’m here to tell you I found a way out.

I would like to acknowledge the help of a Facebook friend who helped me iron out and make a few suggestions that help clarify what I’m attempting to share here in this entry. She is a professional in the field of mental health and my gratitude is eternal, thank you Alma!

May the breadcrumbs of my life nourish those who are lost.

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With Love and Compassion,  Daniel Andrew Lockwood

85. TRUTH

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

84. TWENTY YEARS IN RECOVERY – JULY 28, 2015

20th

I, like many people, used to let my mind wander obsessively on two types of thoughts, worry and regret. I could conjure future fantasies and find any excuse for not moving forward at the moment. Likewise I had similar skills that would keep me immobilized when looking back on my life. “What if?” and “It’s too bad.” were the same chapters I kept rereading. The reality I didn’t know at the time was that both these places are unreal; paranoid fantasies used over and over to fuel and excuse self-destructive behavior. Keep in mind worry and regret are NOT equal to reminiscing and planning. The latter two are healthy and honestly, necessary.

These days I concentrate mostly on what’s in front of me, and there’s a lot. I have a tendency to work on the moment; living and breathing with expectations of the future fueled by forgiveness of the past. So far, I’ve found no better way to live. A life without the fear of tomorrow or the pain of yesterday is the greatest gift of my recovery.

Does it feel like twenty years? Not really, and for that I’m grateful. This disease is always there, it never really goes away. Probably the best that can be done is to keep it behind me which in turn forces me to stay ahead of it, always moving, always learning, always helping.

I will say this, the BEST people I know are those who have gone headfirst and thoroughly through the program. They have nothing in common past A.A. They all have different beliefs and priorities and they are all utterly reliable and honest. There are those who feel 12 step programs are not the best route for those struggling with addiction. I have a little to say about this. The program itself says two things, and always has, that it’s a choice to be made by the individual when all other avenues have been exhausted and that it’s simply not for everyone.

Keep this in mind……..EVERYONE QUITS, AND MAN I MEAN EVERYONE.  How you choose to get away from the demons of your life is a choice; just please, don’t choose death.

The cross and coin in the picture were given to me by my wife in honor of this day. The A.A. coin commemorating my twenty year mark is solid silver. My Love; she is thoughtful and supportive.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

81. WORDS OF POWER – WHY NOT?

Leap of Faith

“Leap of Faith” is one of my favorite movies. For those who haven’t seen it (and that’s quite a few) here’s a vague synopsis. Steve Martin plays a con man whose pretense is a faith healer. He’s not an evil person, but he does take advantage of those who are believers. Through the course of the story, as one thing leads to another in an unplanned series of events, he finds the real meaning of conviction. No comedy here, Steve plays it completely straight which is, I’m sure, a big reason the movie was unsuccessful. That’s too bad. If you have the chance, check it out. If you’ve seen it, feel free to leave your opinion in a reply to this blog entry.

Faith, for me,  comes down to two words……

Why not?

So far I’ve never taken a chance I’ve come to regret. I will say there have been times long past where I have failed to take a chance and those have become moments of regret. If the thought process of moving through life is preceded by constantly asking “what if?” (for me the “opposite” philosophy of “why not”) then the fear of what might happen will keep me from doing hardly anything. It therefore becomes logical to avoid this situation. I’ve said it before, “regrets are grudges we hold against ourselves.” When we embrace this emotion, we also accept the actions that must define what a grudge is. When we hold malice towards another for a perceived act of persecution, we want justice, usually in the form of painful punishment. When we do the same to ourselves, we subconsciously invite self-destructive behavior.

In A.A., and of course all twelve step programs, there’s the saying “Let go, Let God.” It’s one of the most commonly quoted beliefs within the program. In my opinion this is the very essence of a leap of faith. Some interpret it as giving up. Letting go and letting God is far from it. The prerequisite to giving up requires us to shut out any chance of hope or rescue; essentially we lower the sail and drop anchor in the middle of the ocean. In a very real sense it’s a form of suicide. On the other hand the action of letting go will attract those forces willing to guide and teach us. It’s the equivalent of tossing the map, letting go of the rudder, and inviting someone else aboard to lead the way. In other words, “Why not let go of your own life and let a higher power take over?” The semantics are subtle, but the result of absorbing the proper definitions are essential to a healthy future.

Trust does not come easily to those used to living life from a defensive point of view. For me the “enemy” used to be anyone who didn’t agree with me. Now my allies are those who are willing tell me the truth no matter what. Often this attacks my ego, and yes….I still feel it. All too frequently I have my defences up, I’m not past that yet, but at least I’m able to recognize my reactions as shallow and unproductive. When people say what I don’t want to hear I do my best to say to myself, “Why not?” Sometimes this takes a day or so, but eventually I get past my selfish attitude. Why not take what they say as something of value and caring?

Being open to new a experience into our lives is often interpreted by the brain as an attack on old ideas. This isn’t always the case of course. When we do resist, it’s a safe bet we’re acknowledging fault at some level, and I don’t know anyone who loves admitting they are a lier. I don’t. The most common lie I used to tell myself was, “Inviting the unknown tomorrow is far worse than a safe expectation of the future.” This antiquated belief has held me back on several occasions; never again. If you, the reader, and I have any common ground, I’ll wager it’s lies here. Don’t face tomorrow with an attitude of “what if?” Meet it head on with the philosophy of “why not?”

Why not try that diet and stick to it? Why not write that book? Why not try for a promotion? Why not ask out that beautiful person you dream about? Why not apply for the job you REALLY want while continuing to work the one you’re on? Why not start a fitness program? Why not further your education? Why not forgive those who have hurt you?  Why not pick a faith? Why not ask for a raise?

Now…….

Go back and re-read that last paragraph, but this time replace the words “why not” with the phrase “what if.” If you’re anything like me you’ll hear a flood of excuses entering into the picture. Can you see the potential damage one can allow when they live the wrong principle? It’s so sad, all what might have been, gone to waste. Please don’t sit and wonder about your life. When you improve your world you improve the entire world; and that includes the one I live in.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

77. THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL

sayings

Anyone who has sat through even a single twelve step meeting has heard and seen more than one piece of what can sometimes come across as clichéd advice. Framed sayings are on the walls and even more are usually tossed out during any given group discussion. When hearing over-quoted and under-explained philosophies, I can understand why those who are in and out several times (which I imagine most are; I was) eventually start to roll their eyes at seeing such examples as “Let go, let God.”

My personal belief is to NEVER use one of these “sayings” around newcomers without explaining the structure of how they work. This is not only unfair to the listener; it’s irresponsible of the speaker. When a newcomer is told “One day at a time” are they really going extract any usable information from just the adage itself? I doubt it. We who are beyond the initial pain and fog of coming out of a life lived under the influence have an obligation to explain the logistics of the idea. I think anything less is arrogance.

One of the most common statements I hear in meetings is “Stick around and the miracle will happen.” Believe it or not it was over six months before I was finally aware just what the miracle was. Yes, I’d probably read the Big Book three times by then, but I’d never made the connection. I was flabbergasted when I finally did because by then it had already happened. In the fourth edition at the top of page 85 from the chapter “Into Action”  it’s made clear just what the “miracle” is. This is what it says. “We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” Be honest, would you have been just a little more motivated at the beginning of your program if the answer were available rather than just the question? Knowing that the day will come where you may not even think of having a drink? Is that a miracle? It was, and still is, for me. Do I think that holding back this information from a newcomer could lower their chances at recovery? Yes, I most certainly do.

Another piece of advice I hear frequently is to strongly suggest those new to the program to not get involved in a relationship for at least a year from their sobriety date. This one I’ll just explain outright. If you are already in a relationship, so be it; but those who are single should not seek companionship for the recommended time, and for damn good reason. Here’s why. The program is designed to change behavior from self-destructiveness to benevolent-constructiveness. This takes time and discipline as I’m sure anyone reading this would agree. When we seek comfort or companionship in others we will, without knowing it, be attracted to those who support what we believe in. In other words we will subconsciously seek reinforcement of old patterns. This is where we think we will find comfort. This is where we think we will begin anew when in reality we are rekindling old habits. Addiction is sneaky and it WILL seek ways to reassert itself. In the arms of what we think may be love, may lay nightmares of continuing the past. I have seen it myself. Those who look at each other in meetings with hardly any time away from their demons may think the common ground of A.A. (or any 12 step group) will strengthen once they join together will be quick to find they are dead wrong. Good intentions are not enough to overcome what has become instinct. We must place ourselves in a place of discomfort for a decent period. This means immersion into an environment of constant challenge to our old way of living. Here we will face loving criticism from those we have chosen to guide us to a better place. I was lucky enough to know this ahead of time. Many are not.

Obviously this article could go on long enough to fill a book. My desire is to ask you to continue what has been suggested here. Please, I beg you from my heart; do not tell someone who is lost and afraid for every moment, shaking with tremors and fear, “One day at a time” without explaining how to do it. It’s like pointing to a vault and telling them there are answers beyond, but they must search for a way to open it themselves. We must attempt to define the actions, not simply by relating the outcome but by, at the very least, telling them where to find the key. Even I must admit there is some benefit in being slightly covert because this may stimulate curiosity and self-motivation, but when the labyrinth becomes too overwhelming it will serve to discourage instead.  When we know why something needs to be done, we are much more motivated to follow through on the actions required.

I have a passionate opinion about this subject. Please consider what I have shared here.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

   

63. FIRE AND WATER

fire and water

For a long time now my main mission in life has been to prove that it’s easy, fun, and magical. The few “guidelines” we need to follow that make this existence worth every moment is almost laughable. This doesn’t mean there won’t be times of frustration and grief. All of us have the occasional fire that needs extinguished. We encounter unexpected emergencies, situations, and setbacks that can be easily labeled as unwanted, annoying, and painful. Me too. Happens all the time. I wish it didn’t, but there is a part of the equation I always have control over, and that’s how I choose to react.

Water puts out fire. If you disagree with this, you can stop reading now, it won’t do any good to go further. When the fires of life rear up and block our progress, the watery equivalent is necessary to clear the path so we may resume our journey. I’m sure this makes sense. More fire will obviously increase and lengthen the conflict, yet this is the preferred method of dealing with problems as most encounter them. Don’t believe me? Let’s see if any of these illustrations sound familiar.

  • A man hears a friend has died. He decides to get drunk.
  • A person is suspected of stealing at the office. Angered, they go home and spend the night thinking of ways to get back at their accuser.
  • A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. As a result he has a meeting and demands even louder that his orders must be remembered and followed.
  • A group that opposes war goes on a march to voice opinions against the enemy.
  • A preacher spends his life pointing out what is wrong with the world and why people will suffer if they do not change.
  • A woman complains they are unloved and never going to find the right person
  • A person spends most of their time blaming. They wait for others  to realize their mistakes.

These are no doubt stereotypical situations, but the futility of their approach is obvious. All are cases of fighting fire with fire. Let’s turn around the same ideas and see how they look if symbolic water is used to confront these circumstances.

  • A man hears a friend has died. He goes home and starts writing about him. It becomes the eulogy to his funeral.
  • A person is accused of stealing at the office. Intrigued, they wonder if they can help find the real culprit.  They spend the night formulating a strategy to help in the investigation.
  • A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. He realizes that HE cannot listen while he is talking. He calls a meeting and asks of his employees what they want of him.
  • A group that supports peace goes on a march and voices opinions why their way of life is productive and desirable.
  • A preacher spends his life pointing out what is right and good in the world and why people will be happier if they align with these examples.
  • An unloved woman becomes full of praise and love for others so she will attract someone who is likewise.
  • A person spends most of their time taking responsibility. They realize they hold the power to change their life.

Why fight against what we don’t want when cheering for what we do want will have a more creative outcome? Remember, focusing on the eradication of what we wish to eliminate does nothing to build a vision of what will replace it. Those people who move forward with determination and resolve are also the ones who continue to ignore their critics. They know it’s a waste of time to defend against attitudes and situations that are beyond their control; here lies the need for the serenity prayer. Do not, however, misinterpret this action as opening up yourself to attack. The easiest way to define the best objective is to use action to attract what is desired, and reserve reaction to dissuade what threatens growth. It really comes down to not using anything negative as a tool of progress. Don’t fight for what you want, work for it.  Don’t label your situation as problematic, label it as opportunistic. Don’t dread the unknown, be excited by it. There are no mistakes, just learning experiences, and these examples aren’t clichéd, they are tried-and-true.

When I let the fires “out there” ignite my own, it’s usually fueled by an overabundance of impatience and selfishness. “My way and fast” usually leads to some sort of catastrophe. At the very least it’s rude and thoughtless. The first set of situations listed above are self-centered, while the second set is based in humility, and that’s really all it’s about. How may I serve? How can  I contribute to the dreams of others? Let me offer my assistance. Let me help. It’s kind of weird, but I have more interest and gain more satisfaction in helping others to achieve their dreams rather than work exclusively on my own. Imagine if everyone did this? What a paradise would come to existence. I am water. Show me the fires of destruction and I will rain upon them.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

56. RADIO SHOW #1- BlogTalkRadio

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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

52. BUILDING CONFIDENCE

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There was a time, not so long ago, when believing in myself was nothing more than knowing I could drink a fifth of vodka and then eat a whole extra-large pizza in one sitting. My skills were as dull as a marshmallow and my drive was limited to wherever the closest liquor store was.  I placed no value on my existence, nor did anyone else. It was as if I were incarcerated, doomed to watch the world pass me by through the bars of my little window. To be honest, I was jealous of those who seemed to flow through their days with focus, determination, and purpose. Their attitude was one of self-respect, fortitude, and dedication;  while mine was one of lack, self-destruction, and selfishness. I wanted more than anything to possess what seemed unreachable. Through practice, patience, and effort I was able to nail down the following definition of success and fulfillment.

I believe above all other (material) pursuits, beyond money, power, and fame there sits at the top of the mountain, confidence.  Once possessed nothing else is needed. This elusive quality is the elixir of manifestation. It moves in grace, planning its strategy while embracing the moment, knowing what it wants without ignoring the audience. It does not seek to improve its image by boasting or advertising.  It is quiet, calm, and aware. It does not complain, nor does it ridicule. It gives credit and takes little. When this behavior is attempted by those who don’t understand how it must be carefully developed, it comes across as cockiness, and this of course, is the way of oblivion.

Here is the equation- Cockiness wants admiration for its “abilities” without being asked to provide actions or a history to back them up. Its modus operandi is recognition and approval. It prefers the sales pitch over the product. Confidence, on the other hand,  wants to take action, thereby allowing it a chance to build a list of achievements. It needs no recognition from others and cares not for trophies. It prefers the product over the sales pitch.  Cockiness lives in a state of reactiveness, it plays the antagonist. Confidence is about moving through life proactively and it plays the ally. Cockiness is quick to point out what needs fixed and is easily insulted, which means it’s reactions are mostly of a mistrusting, defensive nature. Confidence is quick to complement and willing to help, which means it’s actions are mostly trusting and cooperative.

How many seek the self-assured life  but  settle  for its adversary?  I certainly have on many occasions, especially when I was a young man. It’s easy to understand the temptation of trying to impress others without having to provide evidence. Shortcuts have an appeal, but rarely do they yield reward. The “reward” in this case is the journey, nothing else. It’s like trying to convince someone you’re a bodybuilder without having the muscles to prove it. It sounds funny, but this type behavior is overwhelmingly common.

All I can share is what I know so far. Most of what I’ve picked up over the years comes from mimicking the patterns of those who already possess what I want. Here is a list of twelve bullet points that might help. It’s not professional, it’s just my opinion.

  • Don’t ask others to believe in you; believe in yourself.
  • Make a list of values and ethics that will force you expect more from yourself than others will ever expect from you.
  • Moving or thinking somewhat slower allows for more calculated actions and responses. It will appear to observers that there’s a dedicated mind  behind the process; which there is.
  • Be quick to admit fault. This removes the temptation to blame.
  • Be quick to admit defeat. This creates partners instead of rivals.
  • Be quick to offer praise, be hesitant to express dissatisfaction.
  • Shine a light on the past to sell the future. Nothing beats a track record.
  • Avoid anger, frustration, and resentment. Remember, “He who walks away from confrontation with the lowest blood pressure, wins.”
  • The only punishment allowed for “failure” is to keep going with a new strategy. Repeating old tactics isn’t permitted.
  • DO NOT hesitate to ask for both help and criticism from those who are better than you.
  • Say “Yes” and “No” a lot without embellishment. I.E.- Do you want to eat out tonight? No. Would you be willing to help me next Thursday? Yes.
  • Strive to become better than you were yesterday. The only person you are allowed to compete with is who you were.

Am I always confidant? No. I am, however, much more than practiced I used to be, and I expect this skill will increase with continued awareness. Not a day goes by where I don’t  “break” at least some of these rules and end up paying instantly for my ignorance. At least I am also confident that by action I’m quite capable of demonstrating what NOT to do.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood