Bouncy feet

Have you ever tried to accomplish a task that requires a bit of sitting still?  Duh, most of us have to do this on a daily basis.  How about trying to get a point across to someone and they are fidgety, moving their hands, or bouncing their leg?  Most of us are even guilty of this ourselves.  The point is that when we are doing this, we are not fully concentrated on the concept.

It is important to maintain a view that is beyond ones own backyard, and in this vein, there is a way of thinking that is embraced by eastern cultures.  Take a look at the effectiveness of their school systems and you will see that it works.  It goes something like this:  socially, we have been out of the bush for about 3 thousand years, yet biologically we do not evolve that fast and are still catching up. From a biological standpoint, we are still hunter gatherers, and in a survival mode.  This means we are built to move.

The mind and body are connected, yet can act independently of one another.  Think about the last time you were on a decent run, say 3 or more miles.  You were not actively telling your body all of the mechanics necessary to get from point a to point b.  Instead, you focused on the goal, and let yourself get there.  Now think of a time you were in prayer, there was a feeling of connectivity, yet you did not move very much.  These are both ends of the spectrum and most of our daily activities fall somewhere in the middle.  But there are times when we get mixed up.

Have you ever had to give a speech in front of a larger audience? Or go to a big job interview?  More than likely, you were nervous, fidgety, wringing your hands or bouncing your leg without even knowing it.  So what do we do?  We become aware of it, then divert mental energy to supress it.  If left unchecked we can become a fidgety nervous wreck and often we do not have the outcome we want.  This is our way of entering survival mode, our mind is on task but our bodies want to be anywhere but there.

In order to get back on track we must focus and reconnect the body to the mind.  Most of us are right handed, and when we bounce our legs, we bounce the left one.  This is because the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and the right side of the brain is responsible for emotional responses. This is a fight or flight reflex, usually flight. We have to reconnect both sides of our mind, and put it in control over the body.

There is something you can do about it though and it usually takes about 30 to 45 seconds.  Put your RIGHT hand on your left leg, your right hand is connected to the left side of your brain, and you will be much more aware of your leg movement.  Then put your LEFT hand over your heart. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for about 5 seconds, and let it out through your mouth.  Just focus on breathing in new air and releasing stress filled air.  I usually visualize blue air coming in and red air leaving. Become aware of the connection from your heart to your leg. Repeat this 4 or 5 times and you will find you are in a calmer, focused state. See the desired outcome, but do not dwell on the details, just see the outcome.

You have just reconnected both sides of the brain to the body, and now the mind is in control.  All that is left is to knock out the task.  Give it a try and see how it works.

Until next time…

 

A Day in the Life

I suppose I am dating myself a bit, but remember the song from the Beatles, A day in the Life?  I remember listening to it as a kid and not liking it too much, except for the ending.  As the years have gone by however it becomes a bit more relevant to me.  If it has been a bit since you have heard it, here is a refresher.

 

There are times when not every day is a high seas adventure, as a matter of fact, most of the days we face are fairly mundane at times.  The trick is to get as much out of each day as possible.  We all seem to carry around planners, phones with calendars, or some type of device that keeps us constantly organized.  While these things are necessary and help us get through our days, they are simply a tool, and can get overused.  The point is to keep our eyes on the prize, but also to let each day happen.  Planning our days down to the minute can cause us to lose the moment.  Remember to not take life too seriously, no one gets out of it alive.  Until next time

More chin scratchers

On April 27 of this year, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, killing 19 people.  This explosion flattened two of the town’s schools, and an apartment complex among other things.  Then came the investigation.  Numerous agencies descended on the town to go through the debris to try to figure out what happened, and the investigation is still ongoing.  Take a look at a few of the developments.

As recently as a week ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Adair Grain Co., the operator of the plant for “improper storage, and unsafe working conditions” and levied a penalty of $118,300.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Senator Barbara Boxer announced the penalties and said that this “should serve as a warning to other plant operators to follow safety rules”.  Due to the government shutdown, the investigation is on hold until January of 2014.  Umm…exactly what else do they need to investigate?

Hold on, there’s more.  In close proximity to the fertilizer plant, there was an apartment complex that was completely destroyed by the blast. The owner of the property is filing a lawsuit seeking to recover damages, and lost rental income. The apartments were built well after the fertilizer plant was already there.

Here’s the point..The West fertilizer plant was built on the north edge of the town, and has been there for over 30 years.  Over time, the town began to build north towards the plant.  Do you think there just might be a reason that it might have been built there? Could it be that they built it there to keep it isolated from the rest of the town?  So lets see…lets build a couple of schools and an apartment complex right next to a plant that handles hazardous materials on a daily basis.  Who thought that one up?  As far as the OSHA fines  – hello, the plant blew up and leveled half of the town, it seems pretty evident that there was some improper handling of material.   I’ll be willing to place a fair bet that most of the people in West probably arrived at that conclusion within a couple of hours of the incident.  Why did it take OSHA 6 months to figure out the same thing?

Just another example of how things can go horribly wrong when people don’t think.

Until next time

 

 

 

Things that can make you go Hmmm…

One of the first things that I did when I retired from the Army was to grow a beard.  At times it can get a bit unruly, but it lends itself to scratching and rubbing when I see some things that are a bit strange.  I have been “around the block” a few more times then I would like to admit and here is the following information.

A T and T charges a fee of 61 cents per line for an “administrative fee.”  Below is a link to this and some additional charges.

http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/additionalcharges/index.jsp?_requestid=49739

So, I know, most of you are thinking “it’s just a small charge, why should I care?” Well, lets take a deeper look, and start with AT&T’s quarterly results.

(NYSE:T) today reported strong earnings per share and cash flows in the first-quarter driven by strong mobile data growth, solid postpaid net adds and continued strong gains in U-verse services.

“Our wireless network performance continues to be terrific,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “And that helped drive our best ever first quarter for smartphone sales, improved wireless churn and strong growth in mobile data revenues. We also posted record sales of our U-verse high-speed IP service. Across all of these areas, we’ve built a solid foundation for future growth in mobile Internet and IP broadband, which will only expand as we progress with Project VIP.”

http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=24091&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=36339&mapcode=corporate|financial

Hmm…so let’s see here, AT&T had strong growth in mobile data revenues, and one of the best first quarters ever. So why the fee?  Because they can.

Now to put my lawyer at ease, AT&T has been around for a while, and in fact I have used them for many years. as a matter of fact, I am grandfathered in my mobile service and have unlimited data.  The point is to question some of this stuff.  Otherwise you are just another hapless Lemming.

Until next time

Tim

Thinking on your own

This is a rather broad topic, but hopefully I can post some things that come from my experiences.  I am almost 45 years old, and have been there and done quite a few things in my day.  I have three kids, one in Graduate School, one who is a Freshman in college, and one who is a Sophomore in high school.  I have been in almost every city and state in the U.S. and several countries in Europe.  I have also been in the war ravaged countries of Iraq and Afghanistan.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been married for 24 years and have had the joy of seeing my children succeed in following their own path. Seeing people succeed is what drives me, and in personal and professional settings I have always tried to develop traits in those around me that allow them to succeed and find their own way. I try to do this by putting them in situations where they have to think and plan.

It is my belief that people are pretty much endowed with the same biological traits, all of us have the same number of brain cells. All us are defined by the choices we make. Some of them are good, and some of them are not so good.  Adversity defines us.  We grow when faced with difficult situations.

It is also my belief that people are endowed with the capability of being independent, rational beings.  I have seen my share of people that stand in the shadow of their parents or grandparents money and power.  It has been my experience that these people also give up a part of their soul to enjoy the material trappings of life.  In my opinion, that is not the way to live.  It is when you truly get out on your own, free of being a puppet of your parents that you are truly a part of the human experience.I am not advocating severing family ties, I am a strong believer in family.  I am simply stating that you should stand on your own two feet and face the wind.

In order to stand on your own, you must develop and enhance certain thinking skills.  Your emotions can both guide you and destroy you.  I have personally witnessed the fear and chaos of battle, when there is someone out there who is trying to take your life.  I have been in bunkers while there is death all around, and wondering where my next breath is coming from.  Believe it or not, these experiences make us stronger, and value what we have even more.  Again, we are defined by adversity, not in the safety of others.  Until next time

.

 

 

The Zone

When one sees a clutch situation, there are a few ways to handle it, just look around at some of your peers, often you will see someone who is a complete mess, and stress is oozing out of them everywhere you look.  You can tell by talking to them, “I have 3 exams on Monday, work is a disaster, and I have no time to get all this done.”  Stress is everywhere, their speech is fast and their sentences are often short, and at times incoherent. Stress is a common reaction to these situations.

When you are under stress you begin thinking with “the baseball” survival instincts begin to take over, your heart rate is up, this causes your blood pressure to rise. Blood flow goes to your muscles, your hearing is sharper, your vision is sharper, and you are keenly aware of your surroundings. You are not hungry or thirsty. You are in a cold sweat and your hands get clammy. Nothing seems to be working, and your heart rate increases along with your blood pressure.  Your body is in survival mode, but there is nothing physical to fight or run from. You try to listen to music or talk or text someone, but eventually you phone becomes almost impossible to use.  Your blood pressure continues to rise, often resulting in a headache, some people get them so bad that they can no longer function.  These behaviors take a lot of energy, and if left unchecked, can lead to sleep loss, weight loss and a host of unhealthy things. Your performance literally falils off of cliff.  Here is the thing, these reactions are created by you.  That’s right, you have a choice whether to enter survival mode or not.

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Now think about when everything just “flowed”, everything went your way, you were in complete control of your situation.  You just thought about it and did it.  How much of the event do you actually remember? Odds are that you will have a keen memory of just about everything that happened. Remember your emotions, they were happy and calm.  You were in the “Zone” Believe it or not, you chose to react to your situation this way.

We have a choice in the way we handle stressful situations, we can run into them blindly, and let emotion and survival instincts take over (stress); or we can choose to go to the zone.  Try this and see how it works.  Close your eyes, and put your hands together like in a prayer so that your thumbs are together under your chin and your index fingers are touching about the middle of your nose.  Take a deep breath, visualizing blue air coming in then exhale into your clasped hands, and visualize red, stress filled air leaving you. With each breath, you are removing stress from you mind, clearing it of everything.  Do this three to five times, it takes between 10 to fifteen seconds.  Next, turn your phone to silent or airplane mode, then turn down the radio or television.  You should become keenly self aware, and the awareness of your environment will diminish.  It will still be there but you are in control, not your environment.  Now visualize a positive outcome, visualize a finished project or a high grade on your test.  For the moment, just see the outcome, do not try to plan how you will get there yet.  The intent here is to clear your mind. and focus on the outcome you want, nothing more.

If done properly, you have just entered the “Zone”. Your mind is clear and sharp, and all you can see is a positive outcome.  Like any other learned behavior, this takes a bit of practice, and when you first start out, you may have to pause often to breathe into your hands, remember, only do the breathing for a few seconds.  If you are typing, try to close your eyes and type.  Just let the words flow.  If you are studying, close your eyes and remember the last thing you read.  The thing is to believe that this will end the way you want it to.  See it, then do it.  It’s that simple. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Places That We Go

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAhh the old vacation…the two or three weeks that we spend trying to recharge and reset.  For some it can be more stressful than the events we are trying to get away from; events are planned to the minute and schedules that we have in normal life carry into our vacations.  Look around and see how many people are checking their e-mail on vacation.

My wife and I both grew up in Colorado, but in entirely different circumstances.  My wife grew up in the Denver metro area, with traffic, smog and school integration.  She would ride a bus for an hour to a different part of town to go to school in an area with vastly different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  It was known as a grand experiment at the time.  I grew up in Western Colorado, it was an agricultural economy. and though the country was breathtaking, there was little outside of agriculture and tourism to support the economy.  My graduating class from high school was 48 people, and were completely unaware of vast cultural and ethnic differences that are in metropolitan areas.  There were 48 kids in my graduating class and I was one of 5 kids that started and graduated in the same school district.  The trials and tribulations of my upbringing are the topic of yet another post.

When I graduated from high school, I moved to the Denver metro area after meeting my wife (of almost 25 years now).  Our children were primarily raised in the eastern part of Colorado, and knew little of the topography and culture of where I grew up.

When I was on mid tour leave from Afghanistan, we decided to take a tour of Colorado.  Having lived there for over 30 years, we were well used to the sights of the eastern part of the state.  I had not been to where I grew up for over 10 years, and it seemed like a homecoming of sorts for me.  Having came from a combat zone, each sight, sound and experience was intensified.  I wanted to give my children, especially my daughter an idea of where I grew up, and I wanted to see what had changed in my old stomping grounds. My grandparents are also buried there, having settled in the area in the 1930’s.

I was raised on a fruit orchard, we had about 35 acres on our home place and leased another 100.  The valleys of western Colorado can be brutal, the valleys are deserts, with most of the moisture being taken by the mountain peaks.  Temperatures would often reach 35 below zero  in the winters, and over 100 in the summers. Because of the mountains however, I can also remember taking a choice few summer afternoons off, driving 25 miles and getting in snowball fights…in June.  Guess it now seems a bit strange that the area I took for granted as a kid was one that I found myself taking a vacation in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA