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)

How is Stress Affecting the Story of Your Life?

Have you been feeling the negative effects of stress from head to toe? Has it grown to become more than just that adorable little monkey on your back? Are you remotely curious to the point that you’ll listen to some counsel? “Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”–Unknown

Do you need a serious “wake-up” call before you take steps to reduce your unwanted burden? If you were to receive shocking news today that immediately and drastically changed the landscape of your life, what action would you take? How would you choose to spend your time if for the first time you were forced to contemplate the meaning of time and how many days you have remaining?“Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.” —Thomas S. Monson  So, pause you must. Consider the day at hand. Yes, even today. Is it not loaded with countless opportunities? Would you not agree that it is chock-full of chances to do something wonderful and meaningful? Oh, I know that some bemoan that their days are already jammed with work, family, and other activities. These mistakenly believe there is no room available in their lives. They may as well carry a sign that reads “No Vacancy”. Deep down many desire something or someone who may help their lives to shine with a bright, new complexion. They may have even lost that loving feeling! There are those who despite the ever-present buzz of activity crave an injection which will fill their lives with greater purpose. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.”–Chad Hymes  Some things must wait. Some must be set aside for a season in life. Some must be discarded completely. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”–Karen Lamb

So, you may be wishing for a new lease on life. Perhaps, you simply do not know where to turn. Lacking sufficient knowledge, or direction, or the ability to discern the truth of things as they really are could present a stumbling block. But, don’t wait until you blow some blood vessels in your brain or your back breaks from your insanely demanding workload. “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.”–Michael J. Fox  You’ve been stuck in neutral for far too long. A shift of perspective is called for if you are to extricate yourself from  the dangerous, cavernous rut. “Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.”–Unknown  Do not assume that you are both helpless and hopeless. On the other hand, I suppose it might be sensible to remember that “just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”–George Carlin

Your objective moving forward is to make each day special. “I have found that rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.”–Thomas S. Monson

In the world today, it is certainly  easy for the mundane to creep up on unsuspecting individuals. Lives become hijacked. You might be speeding down the runway every day or held up at the gate in a never-ending delay, but either way you are no longer in control of your journey. I have some practical suggestions. If applied, they may serve as a one-way ticket out of your predicament:

  1. Shrink your calendar. A “busy” body does not always produce a healthy body.
  2. Make changes that will be noticed. They are more likely to be lasting in nature.
  3. Live for yourself and your family. When someone says “You’ve changed.” It simply means you’ve stopped living your life their way.
  4. Become a peacemaker. Do not indulge in trivial battles over that which is entirely and eternally insignificant.
  5. Do not create drama. There’s only room for a few actors on your stage.
  6. Don’t hold grudges. They slowly poison you and your loved ones with their toxins.
  7. Don’t judge others. Every traveler in mortality carries baggage unseen by others.
  8. Learn to appreciate what you already have. Live on less and with less and you’ll live more fully.
  9. Live so as to always be ready, willing, and worthy of heavenly help.
  10. Do not fear. Only believe. Fear will add fuel to your stress. Faith will help you let it go.

“If you think of your life as a story, then you can think of any grief or stress you might be experiencing as just a few pages–and anyone can get through a few pages. You are the author of your own story, the illustrator of your own destiny. You choose the words and the lines that fill its pages.”–James A. Owen