So, you’ve messed up a bit of late? Your D.I.E.T. has gone AWOL and you don’t even remember what your trainer looks like. Well, whether you’ve succumbed to a severe strain of unexcused absenteeism or have been struggling with a case of absent-mindedness is really of no considerable concern. So please don’t liken your particular state to some incurable disease.

“Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata. Ain’t no passing phrase. hakuna matata
It means no worries for the rest of your days.” I do hope that this wonderful advice, of Swahili origin and Lion King fame, offers some encouragement.

Hey, everyone messes up. Trust me! From time to time, all tend to find themselves becoming somewhat lackadaisical in the food department. I know this might also be shocking news to you, but you are not the only individual who has become strangely absent from exercise class. You just need a boost of confidence to reverse this trend in behavior. “Believe in yourself. Take on your challenges. Dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. The most difficult battle you will ever fight is against yourself.”–Paul Cardall You don’t think it’s as easy as that sounds? No such thing as a problem-free philosophy you say! “Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”–Alice Walker  Perhaps, you have a valid point. There may be some complications as a result of the combination of your unofficial leave and unexplained amnesia. But, nevertheless, it is true that “difficulties allow us to change for the better.”–Thomas S. Monson

Be grateful for the knowledge that you can correct the mistakes of the previous day. “Life has to be lived in the present tense. The current hour is the only one we have.”--Jeffrey R. Holland As long as there is a breath of air in your lungs, endless second chances await you. It is wise not to allow those poor choices of yesterday linger any longer. Reconcile with them. Release them. Reject the notion that you are defined by your missteps. Renew your commitment to yourself. Rejoice in the spirit that whispers to you “Today is the best day of your life!” Remember the plan which you learned about and once were determined to follow. Realize that you may yet reach your potential. Respond to the call to eat healthy. Return to the gym. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”–Pablo Picasso What timeless counsel. Do not panic. “Put your heart, mind, and soul into even the smallest of acts. This is the secret of success.”–Swami Sivananda  Always remember that the daily performance of the small, seemingly insignificant acts lights the way to that which is greater. I beg you to use the chance you have in this moment to act in a manner that is consistent with that knowledge you’ve been given. “You don’t get the same moment twice in life.”–Chad Hymas

Whether it’s been a couple weeks, a month, six months, a year, or many years that you think you’ve messed up, an opportunity is knocking today. Your current state of health dictates that this is the time for you. “The most effective way to do it, is to do it!”–Amelia Earhart   I will not hold your memory loss against you. I’m still here! That knock you hear might just be me beckoning you to come back. Hold your head high and return with honor. There is no reason to feel ashamed. There is no mess too great that it cannot be made clean again. Every restart is a wonderful thing. So, I look forward to seeing you soon. Hakuna Matata!

“Make no mistake where you are. Your back’s to the corner. This is it. Don’t be a fool anymore. This is it. The waiting is over. No room to run, no way to hide. No time for wondering why. It’s here the moment is now about to decide. You said that maybe it’s over. Not if you don’t want it to be. For once in your life, here’s your miracle. No one can tell you what you know. Who makes the choice of how it goes? There comes a day in every life. This is it!”–Kenny Loggins

photo credit: hakuna matata via photopin (license)

Are You Coming or Going?

entrance or exit

Running late again? In the midst of a crowd, our paths crossed this morning. I was leaving the grocery store while you had just arrived. Yes, I noticed you squeezing your way in through the wall of humanity departing after their shopping excursion.  I’m sure if the crafty dance step I witnessed you perform were to continue, you would not be banned from the store for life nor charged with a felony misdemeanor. You won’t even be branded as an illegal shopper. I often wonder what might be racing through the minds of those who make a similar type daring dash through the wrong door.  How good can that possibly make you feel to regularly enter inappropriately? If you take an apparent short-cut by choosing the wrong door, it doesn’t hasten the work of shopping. Certainly, your exit, I mean entrance, doesn’t help to shrink your grocery list. Does it change the experience of pushing a cart around a series of packed aisles for 30 minutes? Does your decision alter the way you think about this necessary chore? Well, I’m sure you are not about to change this particular, peculiar habit. Since you are apparently enamored with this backward philosophy, how about you consider re-entering my “funtastic” world of exercise.

It has been a while since you’ve visited me for a good old-fashioned workout. That’s okay because I’m going to share a brief story of another of my students who similarly struggled with faithfully keeping his commitments. Upon his return, he would always profusely apologize for his behavior. He knew that I would never chastise him for his inconsistency. He had a ritual of sorts. He’d confess the error of his ways. He would verbally punish himself. Then, frequently, he’d say something thought-provoking, even profound. For example, one time after showing up following a two-week absence he said this: “If I could only come in through the exit, I’d never miss a training session.” He was speaking directly to the undeniable truths about exercise. That which he felt after completing our routine was always so wonderful that he wished he could keep it with him all of the time. If he could just find a way to hold on to that magical feeling derived from exercise, he swore an oath that he’d never again use any excuse to pass on a workout. To enter with that physical sensation and mental satisfaction of a job completed and well done was what he sought.  I’d like to attempt to make some sense of your deliberate act of confusing the role of the doors.

You need not arrive sweating profusely from every pore. Every muscle in your body needn’t be totally spent of energy. You don’t have to do your best “big bad wolf” imitation complete with the intense huffing and puffing. No, please don’t blow the door down. No matter what your day has been like, please, just enter. Enter with as positive an attitude as you can bring. Enter with a proper spirit. Enter with hope. Enter with trust. It is important that you understand this concept. You must diligently and appropriately seek after that attitude, that spirit, that hope, and that trust which will work a mighty change within you. Oh, it may not happen immediately. If it did, would anyone cease to be active? No, the glorious manifestation which you seek to make all things right, to make the hard things easy, and to usher in a time of unprecedented bliss is not at hand. Yet, this feeling whose companionship you dearly desire will surely come. “Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” As you sincerely apply the hope that is in your heart, the attitude in your mind, the spirit of truth and peace which encircles your whole being, and the trust you’ve come to strongly believe, that “after-glow” from your training session will last for more than just a fleeting moment. You may not ever be numbered among those who love working out, but you will share the same feeling that they carry with them from day to day.

So, are you coming or going? Whatever the case may be, there is good news. There is always a way out. A passageway which leads to a newer, more motivated you does exist. The entrance to a more wonderful existence does, in fact, require you to use the exit known as death. In this case, it’s the death of your old way of living. There is always a way in. You are welcome here no matter what your circumstances. Together we can figure out a proper exit strategy. By the way, running late does not qualify as exercise. It’s a stress-inducer. Rest assured, I won’t charge you for being late, although I may make you work harder. Perhaps, it would pay to enter properly and promptly. I know you can do it. But if not, just enter anyways. Better to be late then not come at all.

photo credit: Do Not Enter the Entrance via photopin (license)

Click Once for You

Fotolia_42187727_webBusiness Insider reported that in the first quarter of 2014, 198 million U.S. consumers purchased something online, and that’s according to comScore’s quarterly State of Retail report. That translates to 78% of the U.S. population age 15 and above. With all of this purchasing power at your fingertips, let’s discuss your dream concept for a few moments. You’ve imagined how incredible it would be if you could order your workout online. According to your innovative idea, this is how it would work: You pay someone else to exercise for you.  I love this part. You are permitted to choose the individual who you would like to perform the work for you. Is it conceivable that you could peruse the profiles of exercise-aholics who are advertising their services? Well, apparently you seem to think that there would be a lengthy list of gym rats eager to connect with you for a price. Imagine all the options available at your fingertips. Click for an hour of Kick-boxing tonight. Click for 45 minutes of strength training tomorrow. Click for 30 minutes of treadmill work and 30 minutes of cycling the following day. Click on the option for viewing the workout in real-time. This is great, isn’t it. You can watch your guinea pig  sweat through a workout of your choice.

Of course, this only scratches the surface as exercise is but one of the components at the core of a more abundant life. Therefore, to combat your personal health and wellness woes we must expand your ingenious new approach. If you think an online physical fitness purchase is worth your time, then I suggest that you also click on the nutrition link. This will take you to a menu where, once again, you may pick a lucky winner who will eat a healthy D.I.E.T. for you. How could anyone pass on this? Is any price too steep to pay to enable another person to consume all of those vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, etc. that, frankly, you’d just rather pass on in favor of your current staples. Now you never have to worry about cheating on your D.I.E.T. With just a simple click, your concerns are a thing of the past. Let someone else carry your burden. If you’ve ever pondered what it would be like to adhere to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, now you can better understand how these, and a myriad of other ways to eat, affect the human body. Through the efforts of your health hero, that self-sacrificing saint who will do what you are unable or unwilling to do for yourself, you can see incredible results. The best part is that all of this is guaranteed.

But, there is more! Choose the amount of rest you would like your superman or woman to receive. Why not let someone else log those hours of zzz’s so that you can have more time in the day to do whatever you desire? This program is so awesome.  Your personal health account is credited with points for each order you place. When you accumulate a specified number of points, you’ll receive a special bonus. In fact, if you act right now, you’ll receive your first complimentary gift. Just place an order for one fitness routine, one meal, and one night’s sleep and you will get to choose one hour’s worth of relaxation or de-stressing for free! Yes, you heard that correctly. Free, zip, zero, nada! Who will be the beneficiary of your initial order? Give the gift of peace of mind or peace of conscience. Choose from meditation, reading, prayer, a massage, a bath in Epsom salts, a magnetic therapy session, a dip in a hot tub/whirlpool just to name a few. Does it get any better than this?

As fun as it may be for a brief moment to have a laugh concerning some futuristic, hands-off health program, let’s be honest. A commitment is required. With your head, your heart, and your whole soul, you must be “all in” with this one. “Seek the wisdom that will untie the knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.”--Rumi  In the end, nothing less will satisfy your deepest longing for a real and lasting transformation. No mortal man or woman can voluntarily perform a vicarious act on your behalf that would meet the requirements necessary for your happiness. No sacrifice or benevolent gesture by a hired participant can pay the price that you alone must offer up for the salvation of your body. No trainer or hand-picked substitute from a line-up on a crazy website can do the work for you. To cleanse yourself of past health transgressions, there will be suffering involved. But, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll see that the pain is part of your growth. “Always be a work in progress.”–Emily Lillian   This takes time. Yet with faith, you can repent of your wellness misdeeds and come unto a newness of life. Yes, you must be born again! Marvel not that this is so. “Change starts with you. But, it doesn’t start until you do.”–Zig Ziglar   Once you begin, everything can start clicking!  Perhaps, you want to start by purchasing a new workout outfit or two. Maybe, you will decide it’s time to place that food order. How about a new pillow or mattress? Well, as one of the millions who shop online, you know what to do. Just, click it and the fun begins!


mom's roses

A few months ago, I finally did something which was important to me. This particular something I had been wrestling with in my mind for several years. In anticipation of the sale of the house in which I grew up, I had been planning on taking care of some unfinished business. When Mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in the summer of 2011, she left behind a wonderful legacy in the form of five children and three grandchildren. Family meant everything to Mom. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”–Abraham Lincoln  As I have shared previously, Mom loved to spend time in the kitchen. Of the many ways to demonstrate her love for us, surely her cooking was near the top of a long list. But, Mom was multi-talented. She had a degree in interior decorating. She sacrificed much of this passion so that we were always well taken care of at any point in our lives. But instead of becoming permanently lost, Mom’s creativity simply branched out. I mean literally out, as in outside. No, she did not share Dad’s enthusiasm for walking or bicycling. If it can be said that anyone was born with a green thumb, that someone would be my mom. What she willingly surrendered indoors she made up for a hundred fold outside. Mom’s rose gardens were a magnificent sight to behold. They didn’t just adorn the front yard for all passers-by to see, but they extended all the way around the sides of the house into the backyard and including behind the garage. They were everywhere the eye could behold. And, yes, they were beautiful.

After nearly three and a half years of pondering a massive undertaking, I discovered that I had left myself with precious little time for action. I had always hoped to transplant as many of the roses to our home as would be possible. It appeared that my procrastination had been very costly. Worse than the delay, was the realization that no one had cared for them since Mom died. Though not purposeful in nature, the obvious neglect had nonetheless caused severe damage. I was terrified that it was irreparable. Life gets busy. Often, we put things on the back burner. Too often, that is precisely where they sit, day after day, hoping for another glance, even another chance.

Imagine my disappointment when I finally commenced “operation transplant”, only to find a heap of lifelessness. With desperation, I cleaned out the gardens looking for any sign that would give me hope that this endeavor would prove fruitful. I cleared away leaves, and pulled weeds, and cut through vines to uncover what remained of the roses. I frantically dug here a little, there a little, and everywhere. You would never believe what breath-taking beauty had once emanated from this current landscape. What remained of the roses, from their stems, branches, and roots was nothing worth writing home about. Despite their condition, I figured I would attempt to salvage a few.

As I made the short twenty minute drive from my parent’s old house to my humble abode, I was overcome with emotion “Why, why did I not do this earlier?” Have you ever felt that even your best efforts were in vain? I almost convinced myself that this attempt was completely pointless. The excitement for this great adventure which had literally consumed my heart and mind had gone south. For a brief moment, I actually gave up. In anger I cried out in disgust at the mess in my car created by the pathetic looking remnants of my Mom’s rose bushes. I took out my frustration on them. I was racked with guilt. After all, was I not partially to blame for their condition? Notwithstanding my defeatist attitude, I made it safely home and was determined to follow through with the plan. As silly or stupid as it may have appeared to someone watching, I put them in the ground. What else was I going to do? I’d come this far.

How easy would it have been for me to say, “That’s it. I’m finished!” Well, it would have been very easy to do nothing more. I could have just shrugged my shoulders, thrown up my hands, and left the barren roses to die another death. However, a voice inside of me whispered to keep going. Given my inexperience, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go from there or how to proceed. After significant pondering and reflection, an answer came to me. “Do the things which you have seen me do.” I searched my memories. I did recall watching Mom, the great care-taker of all the roses, do some simple things. “Out of small things proceeds that which is great.”So, I nurtured them. I loved them as my mom had loved them for many years. Every day I did something for the benefit of the roses. I never let a day go by wherein I did not perform a task, however insignificant it might have been, for the well-being of those plants. I made their rehabilitation part of my daily routine. Time passed. I didn’t notice any changes, but I stuck to the plan. Before too long, I had to acknowledge that something good was happening. Though my eyes could not detect any difference in the roses, I perceived that the real change was occurring in me.

Strangely, I began to enjoy this daily routine. I was no longer simply going through the motions. The monotony of the same daily ritual in my garden was transforming into time that I actually treasured. I began to have hope once again. My faith increased that my work would be rewarded as I diligently did those things Mom had done. It struck me one day that my mom had acquired her skills from my grandmother. She wasn’t born in a garden knowing all things. She learned line upon line, precept upon precept. It is the prescribed manner in which we must all be schooled in this life. I’d like to say that I was physically present when the first shade of green appeared in the roses, but I was not. Yet, as I look back on it, it seemed to occur overnight. Miraculously, there was now life where there had been none. Though I had experienced discouragement and depression due to my procrastination, “my joy was now as exquisite as had been my pain.” The roses had been reclaimed. In time, their beauty was restored. Today, I can share that beauty with others as Mom had done with so many people in the old neighborhood.

The lesson is timeless. Don’t ever give up on yourself. There is always hope that you can regain control of your health. You may not reclaim the fullness of your former glory in this lifetime, but you can be redeemed. Your beauty can still shine through those years of neglect. “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you think you have made or talents you don’t think you have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.”–Jeffrey R. Holland “Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”–unknown  Delaying any further will be detrimental to you and your posterity. What legacy do you wish to leave behind?

It’s Up to You

“Some golfers lie awake at night and brood over what went wrong. I’d rather think of what went right. It doesn’t take as long.”-Dick Emons  The prognosis has hit you extremely hard, hasn’t it? I did my very best to break the news to you in a kind and compassionate manner. I can understand that you are deeply disappointed. In truth, this could not have been a complete surprise. Please, recall the description of your personal performance on the course: “I am horrible!” You’ve been struggling mightily with your golf game for many years. Did you actually think that I could wave a magic wand and your sick swing would be miraculously healed? Even if I possessed that power, I would never use it. It would defeat one of the grand purposes for life itself. We need to struggle. We must feel the utter hopelessness. If we are to know the marvelous feeling of exquisite joy, we must be prepared to accept the despair. We cannot know one without the other.
In the middle of my summary explanation regarding the pre-swing transformation that would be required as part of your individualized plan for improvement, do you remember what you asked me? It was very telling. “Can’t I do what I’ve been doing and just change the grip a little?” I realized at that moment you were going to make this harder than it has to be. I answered your question with a question of my own. “How good did you say that you wanted to become?” You responded, “really good.” One cannot achieve that “really good” status by picking and choosing which essential  principles to apply and which ones to ignore. One must practice strict obedience to all of the fundamental commandments of the golf set-up if he or she is to attain that exalted level of play which is most desirable of all. There are many ways to hit a golf ball poorly. Too numerous are they that I cannot even begin to list them. There is but one way to the top. Its path is always upward. Slipping and losing ground along the way is to be expected. Doubt, at times, is natural. However, the goal hasn’t changed. So, my directions will remain constant as will my encouragement. Knowing why you left the course in the first place and came to me and, now, knowing what it takes to return to the wondrous golfing paradise with a glorified game to display, it should be very clear that this transformative experience is a prerequisite.
Can we consider Tiger Wood’s golf over the past two years as perhaps the prime example of determination and perseverance? I will not do what millions of others have and be critical of his decisions. His goals have not changed. His performances during tournament play have been disappointing. Until recently, there hadn’t been much evidence that a change was coming. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I believe that Tiger can win again. The current reconstruction of his golf swing has taken longer than most people seem to think it should. Why? Well, evidently changing for the better and staying changed is such an easy concept. Hey, that’s news to me. His struggles have occurred with the entire golf world watching. The anguish of soul that will be part of repenting of your golf sins will occur with no one watching. That will not make it ant easier, just different.  I trust him when he says that he is working hard to turn things around. I trust that he is doing the right things to resurrect his game. I respect that. If you can devote just a little time each day to the treatment plan which I have proposed, I promise that your game will no longer be deathly sick. But, you cannot throw in the towel before you’ve even given this a chance. Oh, how many times have we heard it said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” So, for your own sanity, I plead with you to be wise. Someday, you will regret holding on to your stubbornness and pride. You, alone, hold the power to releasing the demons which have been haunting your entire golf being. Despite the fact that you did not like my counsel, you have, nonetheless, heard it. The next step is to heed it! If you chose to ignore it, your game will surely perish in flames. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen before. It is so sad because it is avoidable. I cannot put a timetable on how long your transformation might take nor can Tiger Woods set a precise date for his reformation. Will Tiger do it? Probably. Will you have the courage to endure the struggle that lies ahead? Will you demonstrate the patience with yourself that will be required? “Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries, the course and yourself.”-Jack Nicklaus Will you make it to the promised land of rolling hills and lush green fairways? I don’t know, but I would love to greet you there and say, “Well done, my good and faithful student!” Consider on the happy state of those who have persevered.