#36 Learn How to Shoot a Gun

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#36

Learn How to Shoot a Gun

This is an emotional topic for some and yet it’s a skill set that – at the very least – might save your life at some point. Perhaps you are already be adept in this area and the following will validate your position. In either case, there is a certain amount of security that results when you know how to properly [safely] handle a gun.

Safety

Because a gun is a tool that has the capacity to kill, it is imperative that anyone handling one learn safety and responsibility. Just like the automobiles that we drive – it is a piece of machinery that deserves respect. Likewise, developing skill requires training, practice, and patience. When addressed properly, a gun is simply another tool or piece of sporting equipment.

Self-confidence

Knowing how to shoot a gun can generate self-confidence. There’s a certain amount of accomplishment and pride when the target you were aiming at is gets obliterated. Whether it’s a clay that you hit in midair, a can on top of a bail, or a bullseye on a clip at 50 feet – knowing that your hand was steady and your eyesight keen offers a sense of satisfaction.

Bonding

Target practice is a fun thing to do on a date night or with friends, especially if you’re a little competitive. Think of it as an extreme dart game. Clay shooting is another target activity that gets you outdoors in the fresh air. Because alcohol cannot be part of these experiences (liquor and guns are never a good combination), it’s an opportunity to gather and enjoy the experience of each other’s company without all the silliness and obnoxious behavior that alcohol tends to conjure.

Brain Power

Shooting a gun with intent and purpose is an empowering experience. Not only does it foster self-confidence but also attention, focus, and reactivity. All of those elements contribute overall to the sense of empowerment that supports individual esteem. It exercises brain and body muscles – all potentially leading to better physical and emotional health.

Just In Case

I’m not taking a side on gun ownership or gun laws in any capacity, only suggesting that knowing how to safely handle a gun – at the very least – may save your life if you happen to stumble across a loaded one. God forbid we ever ‘have’ to shoot one for self preservation but if we do, the first step is to…

Learn to shoot a gun.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#38 Try Stand Up Comedy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#38

Try Stand Up Comedy

I can only imagine how many people read this suggestion as a way to improve your life and laugh out loud because it may be the farthest thing from something that sounds fun. I suspect there are only two basic perspectives here…  one being that “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up and try to be funny because I’m not” or even if you think you could be funny… “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up in front of strangers”. And still… I stand by the recommendation.

Finding Funny

Everyone has a funny side or at the very least, comedic memories; stories of times when the absurdity of life found you belly laughing. The longer you’ve lived, the more you have to relate with. But, you don’t have to be on the older side if you are a good observer. There’s a lot of funny in the world and your ability to see it and describe it to other people is what makes good comedic material. In many of the basic struggles that we experience as humans, there is a humorous perspective. Some of the most famous comedians have been able to elaborate on the light side of everyday conflicts; relationships, work, raising children, proposals, traffic, etc.

Writing Funny

Where many of us lose the momentum is between writing the ideas and crafting the ‘script’ of the story. The website CreativeStandup.com offers some great advice about “understanding the principles of comedy” versus “applying rules and techniques”.  In some cases, it’s better to record yourself telling the tales and then have the recording transcribed and begin working from that point. In that way you are breaking the creative process into two distinct pieces but allowing the ‘material’ to flow naturally. There are several highly rated transcription services (apps) that are relatively inexpensive.

Presenting Funny

Once you have a few ideas and a routine you’re comfortable with, try an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. It’s a great way to face any fear of public speaking because people are ‘supposed to be laughing at you’. It’s a great night out with friends if everyone is participating and an awesome way to work on confidence and esteem.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s a comic!’ – although notably it may have been a sarcastic expression at the time but there’s a little bit of truth in most sarcasm. Use this as fuel to recall some of your most memorable personal experiences, tell the story with as much absurdity as it can support, and …

Try stand up comedy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#63 Use Your Voice

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is that 2019 is everything you desire it to be!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#63

Use Your Voice

The phrase ‘use your voice’ is interpreted differently across gender, culture, and age but for the purpose of this writing, it is specifically referring to the effort of speaking the words that run through your mind and heart. You may wonder why that isn’t a universal automatic event because certainly, some people speak with very little consideration and yet, so many do not.

The Unspeakable

Perhaps as soon as we learn to speak we realize that there are things not to be spoken. It’s not polite to verbally address someone’s size or age; to ask about their income or sexual interests; or to openly condemn or criticize. We’ve learned how to be politically correct and how to keep the peace. All of this however, comes at the price of forgetting how to ‘use our voice’.

Shut up & Shut down

When we discover or realize that by speaking our mind or sharing our heart – we may experience negative consequences, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms to make communication easier. In many cases, it stimulates the reflex of shutting down and silencing those thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be shared. We may have grown up with a parent who wasn’t open to other opinions or lived with a spouse who lived within rigid parameters. We might live in a strict culture.

There may also be internal factors that keep us from vocalizing our thoughts; ‘will people still love me?’, ‘ will I sound stupid?’, ‘will anyone pay attention?’. Sometimes, it is the inner voice that controls our courage to vocalize.

Listen & learn

The first step in learning to use your voice is listening carefully to your thoughts and deciphering what you want to say. Clear out the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Once you do that, make sure to deliver the message in a clear and constructive manner so that it can be heard. Learn how to avoid blaming language, use “I” statements, and offer solutions. Learn to have confidence in your thoughts, knowledge, and presence.

Delivery

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention. Making sure to speak with clear intention is perhaps, the most important element. Choosing every word – especially when confronting a problem – on purpose is often the key to a successful outcome. And right behind that is the requirement to speak everything in kindness. Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly to be effective.

If you find that this is an area of your life that could use more resolve, consider a New Year’s resolution to more effectively…

Use your voice.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#122 Go To a High School Play

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#122

Go to a high school play

I suspect that the timing of this post may be apropos as the first half of most high school’s academic year is more than half way past. There’s a good chance that a high school in your community is – right now – preparing for its first theatrical production of the year.

I was a ‘drama geek’ in high school as were several of my children and what I know for sure is that everyone involved in these productions – no matter how elaborate it may or may not be – works their fanny off and gives great heart to the project.

The community support of these endeavors is paramount to the performers on stage and the hardworking teams that keep them there. This is where young stars are born and others confirm their lack of passion for the commitment necessary to build careers. It’s where self-esteem is cemented and friendships are fostered. It’s where confidence is built and where for a few minutes, getting lost in fantasy is healthy.

These high school kids may not be seasoned actors, they may not have acutely tuned voices, or the best comedic timing but they have heart. Their courage, spunk, and energy is generally undeniable.

Making the effort to fill the auditorium of these local high school productions makes the statement that not only are ‘they’ important, but support of the Arts is also a priority. We’re telling our local school boards and elected officials that being a well-rounded student is more than grades and sports. We both proactive and passively encouraging.

If you don’t have a high school student, gathering information about the productions in your community are only a phone call or a web visit away. Take some time to find out what productions are scheduled this year and put it on your calendar. It makes a great night out and it’s usually very affordable. Do yourself – and your community – a favor and…

Go to a High School Play

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#134 Believe in Yourself

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#134

Believe in Yourself

As a therapist, I see lots of people who are challenged with this ability. When our self-esteem is damaged or underdeveloped, it can be quite difficult to have faith in your ability to achieve success. I’d like to suggest that success is relative and that the only person whose opinion matters – is yours!

Self-Doubt

Our self-doubt is often a seed that was planted in childhood either by parents, peers, or society. I’ve heard children make the comment “I’m trying” and an adult in the vicinity says “no you’re not” or “not hard enough” which, is hard to reconcile if you feel as if you’ve given it all you know to give. Unfortunately, these patterns often continue into adulthood and become hard held beliefs that are challenging to reframe.

We Know

We, as individuals, intrinsically know if we have given it our all or not. We KNOW, regardless of what others comment – even as children, we know. What we have to do is believe that if we think we’ve given it everything there is to give – it was ENOUGH, regardless of whether or not it met an outside standard. If we gave it our all… there wasn’t any more to give and we need to learn to simply believe that as a fact.

Fear

When we don’t have an established belief in our ability to succeed, we become afraid of trying because our culture promotes a fear of failure. One thing is for sure – if you don’t try – you will not succeed so the first rule is to TRY. The second rule of thumb is to assess your willingness to work for the success you want. When we say “I can’t” – most of the time we are saying that we don’t want to do the work required in order to become successful.

Almost anyone with dexterity can learn to play the piano – this fact is illustrated by all of the young people who perform at recitals all over the world. It’s only those who diligently work at their craft that become proficient however. Somewhere along the line, those people believed in themselves.

Mantra

It’s the ‘Little Engine That Could’ mantra… “I think I can, I think I can…” that makes the difference and becomes an overall mental health – healthy perspective. If you don’t already, make an effort to grow your esteem and learn to …

Believe in yourself.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#200 Spend a Day in Service (a spin)

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#200

Spend a day in Service (a spin)

What does it mean to you to ‘spend a day in service’? Martin Luther King called for Americans to spend a day in service by “providing solutions to our nation’s most pressing solutions” and for most of us that means volunteering. But what if we spent a ‘day in service’ to our significant other, to our parents, or to our best friend or a neighbor?

How might our relationships benefit if we spent a day in service to them?

What would that look like?

It’s as simple as one thought… “what can I do to make your day better?” It’s a question that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘waiting on someone’ or ‘spoiling’. It’s more focused on the literal definition of “performing duties or services”. It may mean completing that project that’s been on the back burner forever. It may mean practicing batting or pitching for hours on end. Or going through years of photo albums to help organize them. It might be cleaning your Mom’s carpets or repainting Dad’s office. It may mean spending the day taking your home bound great aunt to the lake for the day or teaching your grandmother the intricacies of her new iPhone.  You might consider a small remodel job or simply doing the chores that no one likes to do. It’s essentially making an effort to engage in any and all activities that helps the person you are serving. It’s complete focus on a to-do list – improving the environment of the person you’re serving.

Benefits

Quite simply… when you give your time and talent, you receive satisfaction, gratification, and appreciation ten-fold. It improves your self-esteem, your confidence, and your overall life satisfaction. Depression rates fall when people spend time giving of themselves. One common characteristic of people who have lived long lives is that they volunteered regularly.

Different perspective

I’ve written about volunteering and community service. I’m aware of the countless loving hours many of us spend in service to organizations, religious communities, and social causes that are meaningful and yet this suggestion takes a different spin on those activities. Pick a day – any day that would otherwise be ordinary (i.e., not a birthday or anniversary) and commit to helping someone you have a relationship with in any way that they might find helpful. I’m sure the relationship will be enhanced significantly because you took the time to …

Spend a day in service.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

 

Such Diffidence

Continued from Going to the Mountain

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are
not.” ~Denis Waitley

The experience seeing one’s self, intrinsically knowing it is ‘you’, but not because you look like what you do in the mirror, but because there is a sense of familiarity that only comes from seeing your reflection, is surreal. There was no doubt in my mind that I was experiencing this vision in the first person. I sensed that the hands I was looking at were mine even though they were smaller and denser than the ones I was used to seeing. I was dark skinned, the color my mother would turn after a summer by the pool, a rich brown color. I was standing in the sand, outside, and the air was warm. I was wearing something rough in fiber but I couldn’t really identify what it was. There were small round buildings in the background with thatched looking roofs. In the distance, I could see a tall, dark-haired man and he was walking toward me. Again, I felt a sense of recognition, a realization that the large hunk walking toward me was my husband, my mate. He didn’t get close enough for me to look in his eyes but I knew that he protected me, that he loved me. I felt it. And then it was over.

In a group, large-scale regression you don’t get much more than short blips before the hypnotherapist is bringing everyone back to current time, to reality. There isn’t an opportunity to investigate the memory, only to experience it. It was the second time I had been regressed and I was absolutely amazed at the explicit cognizance it evoked. The vision in my mind was as genuinely real as the memory of what I had for dinner the night before. And yet, there was a part of me that was skeptical; a small part of my psyche that wondered about its validity. I stayed true to my self-promise that I remain open to all possibilities and allowed the doubting thought to pass by.

Dr. Weiss taught us that it wasn’t necessarily important whether or not our memories related to literal events, but to be open to what the memories were representative of… what insight they offered about our life here, now. Since we simply cannot prove their authenticity – or lack thereof – it is important to contemplate their relevance. I considered the short recollection I experienced and what was most dominant in that memory was how at peace I was. There was an overwhelming sentiment of comfort and of being loved. Why did that matter to me now? I couldn’t help but wonder and it set the stage for the rest of my week-long foray into regression work.

As I allude to in one of my very early posts Sand Castles, I grew up with relatively low self-esteem. It was masked by my need to please and my theatrical character, the one that believed it much safer to be in the world as someone else… pretending to embody the girl detective character Trixie Belden, the teen heroine of my favorite series of books when I was young. It was a huge oxymoron – I put myself ‘out there’ as confident and outgoing but inside my own mind, I was – always – fearful of judgment, of not being accepted, or more concisely… of being rejected. If I was the one to rule the room, then I could determine who I had eye contact with, who I paid attention to and when I should leave, and under what conditions. If I wasn’t ‘in charge’ or the focal point, then it was possible to be diminished or to be rebuked and that was my biggest fear. If I was leading the conversation or presenting, it appeared as if I could command the room but if I was just there – just present – then my preference was to blend in and go unnoticed. In that way, I could observe and find a safety net; perhaps a corner or a like-minded person, or a connection with the person in command. It is the one thing that most people truly don’t understand, believe, or know about me as I’ve spent fifty years now attempting to hide that insecurity. I am a wallflower inside. This feature about me was validated years ago by an Astrologist; my birth (sun) sign is a Leo (describes my ego) but my moon sign is Cancer (how I feel inside) and my rising sign is Libra (how others see me).  If you have any interest or knowledge in Astrology, and you know me – this will make sense.

With this information, it won’t come as a surprise that the minute we were released for lunch, I bolted out of the auditorium for the safety of open space and anonymity. I kept my eyes down and walked quickly whenever people were around although I do always smile and say hello when I occasionally meet someone’s eyes. The family style dining room was daring me to break through my shy – or avoidant – shell. I made my way quietly through the buffet line with Vegan options (way before I even knew what a Vegan was) searching futilely for something fried and greasy as I also quickly scanned the room for the least populated table. I was cornered into eating healthy or starve. And just so I’m clear… if the choice was tofu or starve… I would meditate through the hunger.

People were nice and I am not ignorant or rude, so if someone sat next to me or if someone was already at the table, then I would at least say hello. I, of course, would be happy to answer questions and keep a conversation going but I wasn’t going to be the originator. It just wasn’t in me and as soon as I finished eating, I’d smile, encourage them to enjoy the day, and leave to find a bench in the sun where I could daydream or read. If only they had served wine with meals…

The rest of that first day was Dr. Weiss taking volunteers and demonstrating full blown regressions. We watched two or three experiences that were completely debriefed afterward and I was almost spellbound. It was captivating and immensely interesting and I just wanted to know more and more. One of the volunteers was a guy that had sat next to me all day. I discovered that he was there for the second time, having attended a year ago. He was a therapist with an interest in using regression therapy in his practice. He seemed like a nice guy, tall and attractive, but wearing a gold wedding band. Oh well. After his demonstration, I was anxious to ask him a few questions but as soon as we broke, he was bombarded by other people. I was just one of a dozen who wanted to know more. Instead of standing my ground and listening as the ‘group’ formed, I backed away and threw on my invisibility cloak, walked back to my room and spent my night alone.

I reflected all evening on how absurd it was for me to be there, in the company of so many kindred spirits and not take full advantage of their curiosities and knowledge. I woke up Monday morning – my birthday – resolved to do something about this quirky ‘shyness’ that I was embodying. I began to be annoyed by it. With renewed commitment, I attended breakfast and asked to sit at a full table with only one open seat. “Is this seat taken?” I asked as I pulled out a chair… it seemed that everyone was involved in conversation intently enough that I was barely noticed. Ok, “it’s ok”, I said to myself. I looked up and kept a smile on my face attempting to make eye contact with people close enough in which to spark a conversation but no one else turned or acknowledged my presence. This wasn’t going to be easy.