Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Anchors



You could look at an anchor in a number of ways such as a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the sea bottom. An anchor can also be meant figuratively in a negative way like, "they're holding you down like an anchor." The reference can also be said in a positive way; such as, "that really anchors me."

The reference I would like to discuss is meant in a positive way. Things that anchor us, giving us stability, safety and comfort.  The holiday rituals that some of us have developed can act as an anchor (obviously they can have the opposite effect as well!). Doing the same things over and over can bring a sense of structure and comfort. Sometimes we may not even realize the calming effect some of these things bring into our lives until they are no longer there. These "things" include people (and other companions), places, events, routines, songs, etc.

I realize how lucky I have been to have had many positive anchors in my life. My family, wonderful friends, rock solid mentors, steadfast traditions, routines and even pets that have all helped me gain a stable foundation in which to grow and gain balance when weathering storms.

This idea of an anchor can encompass other things in life as well. For me, training in the basics of  martial arts anchors me. The class structure gives support and a platform for flexible creativity. The same basic movements done over and over again for decades, ingrains an equilibrium that makes it easier to wander and adapt those principles.

Sometimes during life chains break, ropes fray, and anchors are lost. It could be from death, stormy seas, drifting apart or ships that grew to large to be anchored in the same way. Whatever it is don't lose hope of the power of having an anchor. Repair that chain, tie that rope, make room on your ship for a new anchor to help ground and stabilize you when you need it. Anchors allow you safety during rough seas as well as the ability to dive off your boat to go exploring!

What are your anchors in life? Who anchors you? Who do you anchor? Don't forget, just like you have anchors, you ARE someone's anchor too.

Sail on and anchors away!

Best,
~Craig

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Drawing Boundaries


We often see how being too assertive or gung ho can be hazardous, however, so can being too gun shy or passive. Failing to define and communicate clear boundaries can get us (and others) into trouble as easily as being hot headed. The first step of this process is being clear on what your boundaries are. This may sound easy, but it's not always as clear cut as one might think. Take something "simple" like losing weight. Going on a diet to limit your calories (setting a boundary) sounds easy enough, however people fail at it because it is more difficult than just eating less. Being clear about what and why you are doing something is necessary. The clearer you are able to connect your why, what and how (and leave some room for a little flexibility) the more successful you'll be. It is easy to drift off target, so clarity is important. The clearer the better.

The how involves communicating your clarity to others in a way that gets your point across non-verbally, verbally and of course with your actions. Communicating boundaries consistently over time will build a habit. That habit can often carry you through times when your resolve falters. Also, the better your communication skills are, the more effective you will be able to outline the parameters of your request to others. If you have difficulty communicating your boundaries, it's only a matter of time until they are challenged. Heck, they will be challenged even if you do communicate them well, let alone if you communicate them poorly or not at all.

Lastly, have a plan "B" in place so you know what you are going to do if and when your boundaries are not respected.

This entire process can be difficult for obvious reasons, not to mention there is usually incentives for us to not see or communicate our boundaries. These incentives may be simply keeping inside of our gun shy comfort zones, or they may be because of other tantalizing distractions, such as some tasty cake to fill our dieting bellies. The short term satisfaction will eventually give way to longer term regret, drama, and sometimes even dangerous side effects of not holding one's boundaries. 

It gets easier once you get used to it. Start with small things and train a habit of clarifying and communicating boundaries that are most good / least harm for everyone.  And as always... Keep going!


All the best,
~Craig


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Put "Thanks" Back in Thanksgiving



It's the day before Thanksgiving. A cold rainy day. A good day for contemplation. But, instead of eagerly awaiting tomorrows festivities with family and thankfulness, I sit here at my favorite coffee house feeling anxious about other things. Many things. Too many things. It is easy to let the uncertainties of life erode your feelings of well being. It's also easy to let your "certainties" get at you too. Sometimes its difficult to feel thankful for those things that you have, when you are too busy being anxious about what you don't have, can't do or want to change. Grounding yourself can help you to be in this moment, so you can let go of all of the things that prevent you from being thankful and enjoying your time with your loved ones and yourself. There are many grounding methods, but here is a simple one that only takes a couple seconds and you can do anytime, anywhere:
  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Straighten your posture (spine straight, shoulders back & down).
  3. Tense every muscle in your body for a three count, then relax.
  4. Smile. 
  5. Fill your mind with things you are grateful for.
That exercise along with avoiding political conversations may save your holiday experience... or maybe not... I suppose that it all depends on you!

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

BTW: Thank YOU for reading my blog post.

All the best,
~Craig



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Split Decision: The 2016 Presidential Election

 Image result for trump clinton debate

It has been an emotional time for many as this tumultuous election season comes to a close. Many Americans are satisfied with the outcome of the election and many aren't.  It saddens me to read the venom on facebook from people on both sides of the political spectrum. Winning with grace and losing with dignity seems to be a lesson just out of reach at the moment. 

I am fortunate that I have a diverse group of friends ranging from staunch Republican to ultra liberal Democrats. From my LGBT and professor friends to my military and law enforcement com padres', perspectives often clash in their views of how things are and should be. I love them all (people not views), even when I don't agree with them.

The greatness of our country is that we have a government where we hold public elections, choose and change political officials without the violence of a bloody revolution (for the most part). We have a system of checks and balances and term limits. We live with compromise. Compromise means that everyone doesn't always get what they want all of the time. It ebbs and flows.

If you don' t like what's happening in our government right now don't get too upset, it can change. We designed it that way. If you like what happening and are happy with what's going on, don't get too comfortable, because this can change too! Get involved! The least thing you can do is vote. If you want to make more of a difference get more involved. Go to meetings, communicate with your elected officials, serve on a committee or run for office!


Each of us has the power to influence. If you want people to consider another viewpoint, overly negative emotional rants, hate filled social media posts, arguments and other forms of brow-beatings will not change the minds of people who are on the other side of the argument. Venting your feelings and fears in a negative way may feel good in the moment, but after it passes the feeling of regret generally settles in to replace the fervor of the previous moment. Debate and colorful discussions are good, but when respect, empathy and dignity is lost, typically so is the chance to persuade. Live your message, treat people with dignity, be educated on your subject and lead through inspiration. Remember, we're all in this together. Although we have our differences, we are on the same team.


I am fortunate to travel a fair amount (more than some, less than others) and although the US isn't perfect, IMO we're still the best game out there. There's no other place I really want to hang my hat (no, not even Canada... well, maybe Australia, at least in the winter).

Keep going America!

Best,
~Craig