Sometimes, when we look toward that which we desire most, there seems to be an impassable labyrinth of nettle and pitfalls between where we stand and where we want to be. The potential journey seems so overwhelming that we simply never start no matter what  reward awaits us on the other side. Those who have made their way through this obstacle course will always tell you it was worth it. Desperation often equals determination, meaning that those who have nothing to lose will attempt anything to gain something. This does not necessarily mean one must hit bottom before making an attempt at a better life.

If you are willing to step forward into this unknown, there are three things I can tell you to do that will at least let you know you’re moving in the right direction.

First– Follow the voice of someone on the other side.

What this means is that you cannot take navigation from those standing next to you. They don’t know the way any more than you do. Call out for guidance. Someone will always answer, but this doesn’t mean they are somewhere you want to be. These people must have in their lives what you want in yours. The best you are liable to get from them is the best they have to offer. Scrutinize and question, so you can be led by the elite. Once you have set foot on the proper path, your chosen leader will be able to see you, but you won’t be able to see them, so following instruction is critical. Here, where the next step is often obscured, we are not allowed to question the voice. Trust is absolutely necessary or progress will not manifest. If you do step in a direction of your own choosing, your guide will most likely lose sight of you, and starting over is often the only option. This isn’t necessarily the end of the attempt, but if you start over too much, your mentor will likely give up in favor of someone with more determination.  Keep in mind that others are waiting in line behind you for that same voice to lead them through the thicket.

Second– Allow criticism.

We cannot improve by repeating the same patterns of behavior that keep us bound to that which we no longer want. As I stated in the previous step, we must receive direction from those who have a high quality of life. This means we are going to get a lot of instruction on what must be abandoned. Old behaviors and thought patterns will have to be eliminated, while new skills and ideas will be offered. This will come in the form of criticism. There is a way to take it with honor and grace. You must drop the need to defend yourself and realize no one who truly cares for you will say anything that is not based in love. It won’t feel good at the moment, but being open to this is absolutely necessary.

Third– KNOW that you are probably going to get pissed at those who are telling you what to do.

I was blessed with the intuition this was probably going to happen no matter what. It did indeed come in torrents, but when I knew ahead of time that this emotion was a constant  potential, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as I knew it could have. When I first quit drinking I spent an entire year angry. I never let it disable me though.  I always took what was said as the truth, no matter what; which meant I was wrong a lot. Basically, I was mad at myself and this only served to continue renewing my determination to stick to the path.

These three steps can be applied to any area of self-improvement you wish to develop. Look to the skills you already possess. It will become clear this process automatically took place. Everything we learn, from driving a car to pursuing a martial art, will involve asking for and taking guidance while allowing for evaluation of our progress. Keep in mind I am not talking about becoming self-taught at any particular skill; one can go only so far with this attitude. I’m speaking of becoming a master at whatever we choose to focus on.

That’s it. This the best map I can offer on the subject. I know it’s not much, but it’s a heck of a lot better that proceeding with earplugs and a blindfold.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood



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.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood