Stepping Out

Caution is natural, but fear is not. Do not give into fear, yet do not abandon caution. It is a balancing act. Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever. You know the difference. You can feel it.          Neale Donald Walsch

I have wanted to write from a young age. I remember in my early twenties I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, be the next Mordecai Richler or Margaret Atwood. I did not and, therefore, am not. I made a few feeble attempts at writing over the years, but became involved in other things and pushed writing aside. Well over thirty years have passed and I am still standing on the side of the road looking longingly over to the other side.

I got my PhD in making up excuses. I can say the time isn’t right. I don’t have the time. I am waiting for the right inspiration or the muse to come to get me to write. Tomorrow I will start. And of course, I do nothing. And with the passing of years there is always another excuse for putting things off, to the point where it seems it was a youthful dream that was never to be fulfilled in the first place. Only it’s still there.

I am unmoved on one side of the street not because I am cautious but because I am fearful. I keep looking both ways and even if there is no traffic, I look again and don’t take the first step. What are those fears? Fear of failure, fear that I am not good enough, fear that people won’t like it or like me. There are so many fears that keep my from embarking on this journey including the fear that I may even be successful.

Over the past 18 months I have been pushing my fears aside and sharing myself, my thoughts and my feeling in this blog. It is a slow beginning but it is a step to crossing that road to the other side. This morning I sent out a submission of a short story I have been working on. Will it be accepted and published? I don’t know. I am coming to terms with my fears. I see fear as a bad habit that I want to overcome if I want to move forward.

I am learning to step forward in trust; trust in myself and my abilities. If blog writing has taught me anything it is that I do have a talent for putting words together that can touch people and that my experience and thoughts are those shared by many others. I don’t think that my life is by any means exemplary, I’m just another guy who is actively seeking my truth and looking for answers. And my answer this week is that I need to walk forward and cross the street.

I have committed myself to continue writing my blog for the next year. It helps to keep me grounded and working my recovery program. I believe in my own program of Search, Learn, Grow, Share and Repeat. I have a couple of creative writing projects to move forward on. Perhaps you have a few things that you are wishing to try but are have been standing at the side of the road for as many years as I have. We are not alone. I am beginning to cross the road. Why don’t we walk together.

automatic city control crossing

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Early To Rise

I have been getting up at 5:30 AM for the past couple of months. That’s new for me. I hadn’t set an alarm clock except for when I was going to be travelling, for years. I would go to bed at 11 o’clock or so and wake up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30, depending upon my dogs and the neighbourhood roosters. But honestly, I was finding the evenings long and it seemed to take me more time in the morning to pull myself together to face the day.

Five thirty seems early but here, close the equator, that’s when the sun rises slowly over the mountain behind my home. I find I really do enjoy sitting on my terrace sipping hot water with lemon and sort of meditating, sort of thinking, slowly waking up and greeting the day. By 8:00 AM I have written a 500 words or so in my journal, done ten minutes of Tai-Chi, fed and walked the dogs, and cooked myself a nutritious breakfast. Before, by that time, I had barely finished my first coffee. Now, I have accomplished a whole lot.

As I get older, I find that I like routine more. Contrary to what I thought before, I actually find it gives me more freedom. I don’t have to think about what I am going to do upon awakening. I know before I go to bed how I am going to spend the first couple of hours of the day and prepare for it. It is still a very relaxed routine. However, I feel like I have accomplished a great deal very early in the day. There aren’t the distractions of later on in the morning, it’s quiet and meditative.

Of course, getting up early means going to bed earlier. By 9:30 PM it is lights out. Before then I have usually been reading something for a half an hour, slowing down my pace of the day. Sometimes I finish the chapter but sometimes the Kindle slips out of my hand onto the bed and I know it’s time to turn out the light.

I find that I need a solid morning routine as well. I like having that sense of accomplishment very early in the day. I have done things that are important to me without seeing them as a chore or work. I want to have conscious contact with my Higher Power. It’s important for me to write. My body is enjoying the benefits of some morning stretching. In essence, this routine helps me to awaken my mind, body and spirit. I have accomplished a great deal and feel like I am ahead.

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Perhaps you don’t think you need a morning routine. Perhaps you think you’re not a morning person. But give it a try. Getting up even 15 or 20 minutes earlier and spending that time in some sort of silence, meditation or inspirational reading will give a you a jump start on your day, boost your sense of self worth, self confidence and accomplishment. Try it for a week and see how it changes your day, how you relate to others and to yourself. I know it works because I am seeing the benefits in myself. You will too.

Limiting Distractions

As I was going over some of my writing from last week when I was away, I saw in the space at the top of one page I had written: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction. I can choose what’s important for me.” To be honest, I don’t remember writing it. It’s in the middle of five pages of script. I’ve been reading a lot of material lately with respect to self improvement, so it probably stems from there. And it has caught my attention over and over again in the past couple of days: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction.”

I was reminded of the 80-20 rule which basically says that 80 percent of the time I am involved in things that aren’t important to me and it’s only the things I do during about 20 percent of my time that help me move forward. The idea with eliminating distractions is to change the percentages more toward more of what is giving me results. Over the past couple of months I’ve been learning what my distractions are and changing my habits.

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Probably the biggest distraction and time waster for me is my cell phone. How many times a day do I pick that up to check on something? Sure it’s handy, but it is also a tool and not a master that must be attended to every time it beeps and chimes. I eliminated a bunch of apps that are a distraction. And in the morning I leave my cell on the night stand until I have finished my morning meditation, journal writing and walking the dogs. There is just so little that has to be dealt with right as soon as I get up.

Another distraction I have been whittling down: Facebook. I can waste hours going through stroking egos by giving likes to notifications and videos, and making comments. Again, Facebook or other social media isn’t the culprit, it’s the time and attention that I lavish on what is mostly a distraction. Netflix is another distraction for me, especially a series. No longer do I have to ‘tune in next week on the same channel’ to find out what happens next. I don’t even have to click; automatically it opens the next episode. Before I know it, I’m investing another 42 minutes into it. I’ve limited the amount of news I read daily. I choose the videos I watch on Youtube, I stay away from Instagram and Twitter. So what has happened as a result of my limiting my ‘screen time’?

I have written more in the last two months than I have ever written before. Little of it is publishable, nor would I want it to be. But, if I want to call myself a writer, then I have to write. I am reading some of the classics of literature that somehow I failed to read in the past. I am organizing my home to be more conducive to writing and my other goals, including moving my desk to a more pleasant place. I’ve joined the gym again and work out regularly. And I am organizing my priorities. I am working on increasing the 20 percent: focusing on the areas where I wish to grow. I’m creating large windows of time in my day by eliminating distractions and focusing on what is most important for me.

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