Monday, November 24, 2014

Happily Forward to the Healthy Future

And so begins another week of making myself healthy in mind, body, and spirit. While hypnotism is the focus of my efforts these days, I wanted to start out with a short rant. I watched and analyzed and devoted attention to the passage of Obama-care. I felt that what was in place prior to Obama care wasn't effective. After all, I had to pay for everything out of pocket. While there were aspects of Obama care I didn't like, at least it was a step in some direction that was better than the non-activity of years that left me and my wife precariously unprotected. How well I remember the hair splitting of a couple of my wife's pregnancies where her prenatal care was covered by Medicare (thank you) but anything beyond that wasn't. And then Obama care was passed. I looked forward to analyzing my options. My initial analysis showed that I fell into that gap of making too much for Medicare but making too little for Federal subsidies. But I continued my analytical pursuits, obtained Federal subsidies, analyzes more than two dozen plans, and launched into Obama care coverage.

I learned many things from the experience of obtaining and applying that coverage. One of the things I learned is that Blue Cross, while always as polite as possible, was more willing to pay for services when I was attached to them through an employer. It seemed that they were most interested in recouping their overly generous premium payment. Blue Cross required my wife to get a primary care physicians referral before starting physical therapy. Okay, that's a hoop. Let's jump. And then crash and burn. Blue Cross refused to pay the bill because the physical therapy was for my wife's chronic osteoarthritis, not an accident or injury. Stand back up, brush off, and try again. Chiropractors have been good to her. She switched to one. The chiropractor's office was in contact with Blue Cross several times because of MBWM's concern over payment. Blue Cross said that payment would be made. And Blue Cross, after a couple months of seeing the chiropractor, declined to make the payments.

But all of this is between me and Blue Cross. Now that it's time to renew within Obama care, I will be repeating my research. While I won't be excluding Blue Cross, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot in spite, I will be making my choice under the advantage of painfully won wisdom.

Another part of that painfully won wisdom deals with paying for Obama care. The government will be paying out less to me and most other people. They don't have enough to go around. I imagine that will become ever more a fact of health care coverage as time continues. Companies, after a year's worth of their fiscally painful experience, are almost unanimously raising their premiums. These two events change my monthly payment from $31.65 per month to an average of over $130.00 / month. That is an increase of more than 4 times. Since paying rent on time is hit or miss, that additional $100 is distressing. This amount is made all the more painful because I am paying on credit cards for the medical services that I thought were covered but weren't paid on. To make matters worse, because I qualify for Obama care, I will have to pay a penalty if I don't sign up.

I hope that the learning curve for the Obama care process becomes less painful with time because I'm not sure I can afford the Affordable Care Act.

At this point in time, Lemur asked me to put her name into my blog. Here you go, Lemur! Quail wants in too. Hi, Quail!

Although, for me, things might be looking up in the financial department. I have a difficult decision to make. The decision revolves around keeping the status quo versus possible 5 week deeper under-employment bookending an incredible, 4 month opportunity.

An opportunity in my life is the hypnotism I am undergoing. For it to work, I have to listen to the recordings as much as possible. Not doing as well as I'd like on that front. But I will be changing my scheduling to make sure it happens. To assist mentally, I have been viewing the hypnotism in a manner similar to prayer. For prayer to work successfully, I have to put forth the effort to bring to pass what I am asking for, whether it's physical or emotional or spiritual. The same applies for hypnotism; for a change in attitude to occur, I have to change my attitude consciously and intentionally.

And I will intentionally succeed.

Time to get on with getting on,


When Flambeau took his month's holiday from his office in Westminster he took it in a small sailing-boat, so small that it passed much of its time as a rowing-boat. He took it, moreover, in little rivers in the Eastern counties, rivers so small that the boat looked like a magic boat, sailing on land through meadows and cornfields. The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities, and Flambeau had stocked it with such things as his special philosophy considered necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die.

C.K. Chesterton
Father Brown: The Sins of Prince Saradine
Kindle Location starting: 2350

36. Donate two pints of blood every year.
37. Make new friends but cherish the old ones.
38. Keep secrets.
39. Take lots of snapshots.
40. Take a kid to the zoo.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Experiences

Hypnotism is an interesting process. My only concern was falling asleep. I had researched hypnotism several years ago and knew I would be in good hands. And the gentleman I worked with was friendly and humorous. He handed me some pre-recorded sessions along with my personal recording of that session. In review, I would have to say I enjoy hypnotism and have high hopes for the future. That is not to say that the personal follow up of listening to morning, personal, and evening recordings is going well. Immediately after the live session, I was filled with a euphoria that carried me through proper eating and additional exercising very well. Part of that was applying a philosophy I use in prayer. I can pray for assistance, but I still have to put forth the effort to bring things to pass. In the case of hypnotism, I need to positively reinforce the instructions to make the changes more permanent. And it worked incredibly well the first day of hypnotism. It was easy to push into extra laps at the pool. Eating fresh fruits and veggies was enticing. It was exciting feeling the conscious mind being bolstered into better decisions. The supportive pre-recorded personal sessions were missed because of work, bad weather, and being away from home. The morning and evening recordings weren't nearly as effective, possibly because of their generic wording, as opposed to the directed nature my personal session. But I am looking forward to following through at every opportunity. According to the people I'm working with, the more the hypnosis sessions are used, the easier the weight comes off and the longer it stays off. I'm still searching for corroborating research, but I am eager and hopeful.

I am hopeful that my Indiegogo experience will help pay for the hypnosis. I am not able to pay for the rest of the hypnosis since I barely make rent, but I am hoping to take some of the sting out of payments with crowdfunding. Look for my entry at: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas Wants to Lose Some Weight.

Now, I won't know how much weight I've lost. I wish I could have a running update of my current weight, but I don't have a scale at the moment. I way too much for my personal scale (375 pounds) or the YMCA scale (400 pounds). Instead, I am going to use my clothes, especially my belt, to track current weight loss.

And so it has launched! I will be excited beyond measure as I track my progress.

Yours in the joyful permanence to come,


P.S.: "Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it." - Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

Now I am going to assist myself into responding without the use of food - Eliot Smith

31. Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.
32. Once in your life own a convertible.
33. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
34. Learn to identify the music of Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven.
35. Plant a tree on your birthday.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Day of Initiation

The cold weather arrived early this year. And today, we have snow. Winter has arrived in southern Idaho. And with it comes two events of initiation of interest to me.

The first was seeing a man on a riding mower out mowing the snow in a local baseball field. It was then I discovered that my smart phone was at home. Otherwise, I would have taken a picture. I would have pulled over and walked into the field to make it a good one.

The other is that I will be heading to Positive Changes hypnosis in a few minutes. My appointment is in more than an hour but I don't want to be late amid the weather delays and related traffic issues.

As things stand today, I am surrounded by blessings innumerable. This is not new. What is different today is that I was designing a crowd funding page at Indiegogo. I took their advice and didn't launch immediately so I could advertise among friends and family. As I did so, I managed to raise a little over half of what I needed. I can start the process today. The crowd funding site will still launch on Monday, but I don't have to wait to get started.

I look forward to posting later today about the hypnosis experience.

Yours in the hope of retraining the brain more directly,


The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. - Elbert Hubbard

Eliot’s Addition  - And well before asking if it should be done.

26. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
27. Return all things you borrow.
28. Teach some kind of class.
29. Be a student in some kind of class.
30. Never buy a house without a fireplace.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Effort of Pushing Forward

Little things start to show progress. And then Halloween comes along. In our house, we serve dinner after the kids have come back from Trick or Treating. And then we let them eat their fill of candy. This is to get rid of as much candy as possible. And while I have yet to gorge myself on the candy, I worry about its availability. Hopefully, the kids will polish it off before long.

In more exciting news, I may have to opportunity of going through hypnosis. This excited me as a means of retraining the brain. That is where I feel I need the most help. Although, the idea of crowd funding has my interested. If one guy can get $55,000 for potato salad, maybe I can appeal to the crowd funding population. The key points of the above article from Forbes are:
First, people are willing to give to something that they believe in.  And with the propagation of easily-accessible, widely-visible crowdsourcing platforms, it’s really easy to get your project in front of people who believe in it.
And second, how you present your offer it more important than ever.  It might even be more important than the offer itself.
And the conclusion of the article:
Nevertheless, there are some universal lessons to be learned here, questions that you should ask about your own product before you start a crowdfunding campaign of your own.  Does your product help people, make them laugh, lift their spirits?  Does it tickle their funny bone?  Do they tell their friends about it?
Then maybe it’s a good fit for Kickstarter (or another crowdfunding platform).
I'll be putting my thinking cap on to see if I cannot make arrangements for making or making back the money necessary for the hypnosis.

Yours in the hope of the retrained brain,


P.S.: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It's up to you to learn from the experience. - Eliot

21.  Learn three clean jokes.
22.  Wear polished shoes.
23.  Floss your teeth.
24.  Drink champagne for no reason at all.
25.  Ask for a raise when you feel you've earned it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Keep Trying or Start Dieing

I have to keep this short, time is of the essence. With so many irons in the fire, I need to watch my time closely.

In the previous post, I mentioned a job interview. It went exceptionally well, but the position was pulled prior to hiring. No new job. Job applications is just one of a group of irons. I also have job searching classes, networking, and authoring opportunities that take much time.

I have failed at the restarting the WW technique, but I haven't given up. I know there is a way for me to succeed at this. Right now, my three best options are:

  1. Positive Changes Hypnosis
  2. Mini-Gastric Bypass
  3. Naturopathic Process
My biggest concern here is that I am a food addict. I am too likely to make a poor eating decision. That means retraining the brain. Hypnosis will definitely reshape the brain, especially with the weekly sessions for reinforcement over the course of 9 months. The problem: the cost ($2800).

With the return of extreme health issues, in spite of swimming at the Y, gastric bypass is looking better. The more I read the long-term studies, the more concerned I get. But at this stage, there is no long-term for me without losing weight. The "mini" version is about $5000 as opposed to $10000 - $15000. It has shorter recover time so less of a hospitalization expense. This technique doesn't address the food addiction, so that is my bigger concern over the money.

And the naturopathic process has been intrigued. I am trying to learn more about it, but the person that developed it is understandable closed-mouthed. I initially said I wasn't interested because it doesn't food addiction. He said that he usually works up to that because most people don't want to face that up front. Since I am already willing to admit it, he said that the program would be so much the better for me. It's interesting in that the program starts with resetting the microflora in the intestines. Since there is plenty of scientific evidence that the wrong microflora contribute to numerous issues, including obesity, he had my attention. But beyond that, I don't know how the food addiction is addressed. This program has the advantage of costing approximately $700 spread over the course of several months.

Right now, time is short. I am hoping to be writing in this blog ever Monday. Even if it's bad news, there needs to be news for me to begin to reestablish accountability and other advantages of this journaling process.

Yours in the process that is ever evolving,


P.S.: Thought and theory must precede all salutary action; Yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory. - Virginia Woolf


16. Be the first to say, "Hello."
17. Live beneath your means.
18. Drive inexpensive cars, but own the best house you can afford.
19. Buy great books even if you never read them.
20. Be forgiving of yourself and others.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Short - Try, Try Again

The bad news:
Clothes - Tight
Breathing - Labored
Joints - Pained
Exhaustion - Constant
The good news:
YMCA - rejoined
Weight Watchers technique - reapplied
Hypnosis - saving up for
Some very good news: I have a job interview for a chemist position in a week!

Stay tuned for further updates.


P.S.: I believe in possibilities.

11. Sing in the shower.
12. Use the good silver.
13. Learn a card trick.
14. Plant flowers every spring.
15. Own a great stereo system.

Eliot in the House by 2016 - Update
Time to start making progress. Towards that end, I am announcing two open positions as follows -

Secretary to the campaign manager (currently voluntary until donations come in)
Primary responsibility - Make Eliot look good in person
Secondary responsibility - Keep Eliot on track by taking care of many of the administrative details especially tracking the grass roots progress and hitting all deadlines.

IT Specialist / Programer (currently voluntary until donations come in)
Primary responsibility - Make Eliot look good to the volunteers
Secondary responsibility - Grassroots movements need motivation that empowers. Towards that end, I am seeking a programmer to create the currency that will drive my decisions in the House. The programmer will create a database so that those that volunteer will have a greater says in my efforts to represent my constituents. The specifics are being worked out, but basically a database is created to track the work of my volunteers. Once I am in office, I will update a web page requesting input. If you were a volunteer, you will have a log in and a say. I plan on listening to everyone; I will listen to my volunteers first. The programmer needs to be able set up a two stage system. Stage 1 is collecting and correlating volunteer assistance. Stage 2 is opening up the lines of communication. Social media where the volunteers get automatic likes.

Complete details concerning responsibilities and qualifications to follow.

Cut! That's a Wrap! Thank You, Robin WIlliams! - An Impromptu Tribute in Essay

Within my circle of influence, I was probably the first one to announce the passing of Robin Williams. I received a notification on my smart phone from the New York Times. I passed on the information to the first person I saw at work, a student of mine, and was a little taken aback by his surprised reaction. And then in comparison, I was then astonished by my lack of reaction. Quickly, news spread throughout the building, soon returning boomerang-like to me.

Now that I have had a couple days to think about it, I thought I would say my goodbyes to Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams was a impromptu, comedic genius. I doubt many will gainsay that statement. I remember the first time I heard about him. A friend had attended a comedy club. Several comics warmed up the crowd. My friend said they were good, but he couldn't wait to see the headliner. And then the headliner came out. The headliner did his nearly hour routine. And then he introduced the last warm-up comic, Robin Williams. The headliner admitted that after seeing Robin Williams, he knew better than to follow a better act. My friend couldn't stop gushing about this Robin Williams comic.

I managed to see his debut television performance in Happy Days at a friend's house. I was intrigued. But I can't speak to his time as Mork. I didn't have a television then. A few years later, I did purchase on VHS, Robin Williams: Live at the Met. I am sorry to report, I could probably quote nearly the entire tape. It was hard to miss him as he worked through his movie career. But my tastes changed. After leaving behind Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, and many other comics because I disliked their need for course language, Robin Williams also passed out of my circle of entertainment. Bill Cosby had shown clean humor could be uproarious. I kept To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With as a standard. Robin Williams had been clean at times, but obviously it was a strain. The last time I saw him perform, it was by pure happenstance; the juxtaposition of the extremely rare instance of late night television viewing and the shows scheduling Mr. Williams. In the show, Mr. William's ability to curtail his courser language deteriorated. His jokes and the laughter they generated were audibly overshadowed by the censor's beep. I sighed and turned off the television while he was still going strong. Anyone watching knew the words he was using. He hit most of the ones on Mr. Carlin's list even before I turned off the television after only a couple minutes.

When turning on entertainment, several of Mr. William's characters revolved around fighting the establishment in one way or another, most especially Mr. Keating from Dead Poet's Society. This is best exemplified by Mr. Fallon's, "Oh, Captain, My Captain." It was a touching tribute. Maybe it's just me and my version of irony, but it seems that the very establishment that provided Mr. Williams his voice and fortune, is the one that his character is seen fighting. And I wonder, how many people, seen all too easily from the external view as living in "quiet desperation" are, in fact, seizing the day in their own way. I am truly happy in my chemistry lab, which is only possible because of the establishment that requires standards in water quality and a means to ensure those standards are met using a lab funded by that same establishment. I know I will never rise to the level of genius in my field that Mr. Williams did in his. And I will forever attribute many hours of pleasure to his humor in the likes of his roll as the Genie. But please, Mr. Williams, forgive me. You have built a long-lasting legacy that I am grateful not to be a part of. I hear my children playing with Quail's new train set, a major find by MBWM on a buy/sell/trade site. I hear the humor in their play. And I am humbled to be a part of it. And when I am done with this entry, I will be going off to a tea party hosted by Jaguar. I hope you have similar memories, Mr. Williams.

Mr. Williams became a product of the opportunities he pursued. His success was a wonder to behold. He even pulled me in to a long unviewed episode of Law and Order: SVU, knowing his performance would be clean. I was grateful to be laughing again at the wit and skill of Mr. Williams.

Thank you, Mr. Williams. And may I close with my favorite joke at your expense:
Robin Williams: Proof that ADHD pays. And pays well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thoughts on Food Stamps

A.S. The topic for this entry actually came about by putting in the LLIB entry first. You never know what can influence a moment.

I am in an interesting situation. MBWM just completed our recertification for Food Stamps. Because we make $3.55 per month too much, our food stamps is going to be reduced by nearly $500 per month. Frankly, I cannot wait until I have a position that pays well enough that I can not only end my dependence on Food Stamps but on the MediCare that my kids are on. Food assistance and medical support being rather high on my list of thing to provide to my family, I am willing to remain on the government's support for now. My solution? I informed my boss that I would be working a half-hour less per week. That reduces my income by $30 per month. I am looking forward not only to being off of the dole, but also ending the paperwork to retain the service, and the end of playing these little games with our financial numbers.

But there is a good side to being on Food Stamps. We have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. After all, what we spend it on is up to us. Junk food is extremely rare. Specialized products to deal with milk and gluten intolerances make up a large percentage of our Food Stamps budget. And so I can only blame my poor food choices on either eating too much or buying things outside of the house. And even with having two paychecks behind me, I can't afford the money to eat out.

And with that in mind, I need to see the good things going for me, like returning to the Y. I'm right there, ready to get out of this slump and get back to work. Once rent is paid, I will be rejoining the Y. Possible even sooner depending on how much the Y asks for membership fees based on my income.

Yours in the work of works,


P.S.: "We fought a war on poverty and poverty won." - Ronald Reagan

P.P.S.: While the situation of poverty in America is not that simple, with notable successes and failures, we as a nation must look into what works to give people the tools to lift themselves out of the government's support. With that in mind, I am announcing my plans to research the possibility of running for US Representative from the Great State of Idaho. Here is my platform that is currently under research:
  1. Let's be honest and upfront, I am in this for the reward of a impressive steady paycheck and an exceptional retirement package while applying my intelligence towards another worthwhile goal. I am tired of being underemployed and partially utilized.
  2. I have an over-developed sense of responsibility. I will do my best to listen to my constituents and represent them well in Washington D.C. If you speak, I will listen. If I listen, I will work to understand.  If I understand, I will take it to Congress.
  3. This may a blatant expression of political idealism, but while I definitely have my view points on many of the topics facing our nation, I am there to represent the constituents. I may prefer to vote one way, but I will vote according to the input I receive from the people I represent.
  4. I most firmly believe that one of the biggest problems facing the interaction of the American populace and the political establishment comes about from a form of modern, electronically induced apathy. I believe that most people would have a short answer that is nearly correct than a longer answer that is correct. I will devote myself to being someone to explores, researches, and otherwise is involved in understanding something in depth. Where I spend that time depends on what is most important to my constituents, or at least, those constituents that choose to converse and communicate with me.
The idea of running for office is not a new idea. I have bounced it off of my friends, family, and classes. My nighttime math class was the most excited by the prospect, even offering to start a grass roots movement on my behalf. I have to admit that this comes about from a rather unusual source. I lived in Iceland for awhile. I have kept abreast of their current events. Recently, Jon Gnarr retired as mayor of Reykjavík. I watched his political ads / music videos back when he was running for mayor, promising such things as a polar bear in the Reykjavík zoo. Maybe, with a little effort and support, I can apply his inspiration to get involved and do something for Idaho.

So please, when you see me:
  • Shake my hand. Make me look important.
  • Let me look you in the eye to show I am involved in understanding your struggles.
  • Let me express by my verbal expressions and public efforts that I am thankful for this great country, this incredible state, my sublime home, and your vote.
  • Please let me show you how sincere I am in putting together the better American government.
Eliot Smith for US Representative from Idaho!

6. Have a firm handshake.
7. Look people in the eye.
8. Say "thank you" a lot.
9. Say "please" a lot.
10. Learn to play a musical instrument.

Moods and Meditations: Lesson 3 - The Myriad of Possibilities in How

The Myriad of Possibilities in How
Moods and Meditations: Lesson 3

In this lesson, the how of meditation will be explored. This is where practice becomes important. There are many different techniques described online. And I heartily encourage you explore them. But in the exploration of application, take the time to repeat the process your are experimenting with several times. As you become familiar with one process and how you respond to it, you will learn more about yourself, about meditation, and how to apply meditation to your life. And you may develop a habit that leads to the right technique for your different goals as you meditate.

Getting into Meditation
Build your physical environment by forming the stage. If there are people around, let them know how much alone time you will need. Be sure to include a little extra time in what you tell them. Distract your kids. Silence your electronics. Kennel your pets. Shoo away the mosquitoes. In short, plan ahead to deal with potential distractions.

Next, build your mental environment by clearing the stage. Once you have formed your physical stage, your mental stage will be cluttered. The latest advice from a friend or manager. The news in current events you are following. The news, good or bad, that came in the mail. The latest quip from social media. Initially, as you push one aside, another will move in to take its place. I let these thoughts come in and then mentally set them aside. As the new thoughts become less intrusive, replace them with intentional thoughts based on your meditation. More on this in a moment.

Finally, build your spiritual environment by setting the stage. After forming the stage and clearing the stage, it's time to set the stage. More than anything else, this needs to be a spiritual process, connecting you to the infinite, the universe, your higher power, the moment of eternal consciousness, or however you view your place relative to the cosmos. This is a visualization process.

There are many ways to build the stage through visualization. I add prayer to my visualization. Chanting or humming have been shown to help as well. Because I have a firm belief in my Heavenly Father, I reach out to Him for assistance in my meditation. When it comes to the visualization, there are several techniques I have read about to aid in setting the stage. I visualize a shield, a sphere of spiritual influence that keeps the world out and me in for the time being. I borrow from the scripture concerning the whole armor of God to build this sphere. This visualization process pushes more of the thoughts that were intruding previously out of my mind. I have heard of visualizing each part of your body becoming gradually dedicated to the infinite until only the mind is left. This is a variation of a relaxation technique that works will with meditation. I have read of getting in touch with each chakra in sequence from the root chakra until the crown chakra is reached. Although research on this technique is suggested since it is more often a meditation technique rather than a preparation technique. Applying the chakra sequence may also mean using hand position that open those chakras.

What is being opened is the mind's attachment to the infinite. These events have been recorded scientifically as changes in brain activity that include a decrease in activity of the part of the brain associated with the passage of time. Feelings of peace have been reported from beginning meditators. The list of benefits is long and most have multiple studies behind them. Regardless of the beliefs behind the meditation, the rewards are definitely available to anyone.

Coming out of Meditation
A gradual entry into meditation should be ended with a gradual exit. Mentally walk out the way you came in. Just as you formed, cleared, and set your mental stage for meditation, you can form, clear, and set your mental stage for returning to the next step is your day. This process allows the feelings from meditation to linger a little longer.

What Were You Thinking?
What you think about while you are meditating is something open to quite an extensive array of interpretation. While I am a believer in many of the empty mind techniques, I only use them to clear the stage. This is perhaps one of the many aspects that marks me as a beginner. To empty the mind, there are several techniques that are available as options. One technique suggests watching stray thoughts come in to see where they came from and where they are going. Another techniques suggests concentrating on your breathing. Make conscious mental effort think about your breath by monitoring your lungs, your mouth and nose, and the sequence of events as you breath in, hold, breath out, hold, and repeat the process. There are several other techniques you can locate.

The mental process I have during meditation is to concentrate on one thought for awhile. It might be a passage of scripture or a line from a hymn. It might be to concentrate on a single wording of a problem I am facing. It may be a single mental picture with a few descriptive words of the goal I have by meditation such as peace, compassion, or understanding. Essentially, I am picking a visual and verbal image and concentrating on it. So long as new thoughts are in orbit of the original idea I let my thoughts follow whatever path they choose. If a thought is pushing me out of that orbit then I redirect my thoughts. If a thought is from another dimension, I reset myself mentally back to the original thought that started my meditation. I do not squash any thoughts. I let them flow as freely as possible. There is something about meditation that allows me to maintain a state of mind that is peaceful without mastering all the thoughts that are going to pass through my mind. Sometimes, the conscious effort comes easily and a gentle prod keeps my meditation state working. Sometimes, the conscious effort needs constant monitoring.

While these are powerful conscious efforts, keep in mind that part of meditation is get the subconscious involved. The subconscious thinks through thousands of steps in the time the conscious thinks through one. A heightened awareness of the conscious may be allowing greater connection between the conscious and the subconscious. There are numerous mental exercises you can research that will aid this connection that work well with meditation.

Mental Aids
There are some external stimuli that may aid in the mental efforts of meditation. Background noises were mentioned in the prior entry. Some music may aid as well. Music, though, must be used with care. Feel free to play music, especially music that is spiritually significant. In my case, hymns and certain classical pieces are a spiritual and mental boost. I would recommend something like the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata or the Second Movement of Symphony No. 3, both by Beethoven. Do not listen to the whole Sonata or Symphony while meditating. The other movements, while delightful, are not conducive to meditation. One of the best pieces of music to aid studying according to scientific research is Handel's Water Music. I have found it can aid meditation as well. If you are getting out of the meditation and to into the music, pick silence for now. If the music aided for awhile, consider turning it down. Consider making some meditation play lists in the online music source of your choice.

Other mental aids revolve around your other senses. If you enjoy a slight breeze on your face, have a fan blowing on you from a distance. If you find darkness relaxing, meditate in a darkened room. Whatever will keep your focus from drifting is something you add in your meditation routine.

Once you understand the reasons and goals for your opportunity to meditate, you can build the environment and the method for your meditation. You push yourself into the meditation, so keep it short. Once meditation pulls you in, you can begin to extend your meditation. While meditation has been used to solve some of my problems, directly through a workable solution or indirectly through a willingness to pursue options, I don't view meditation as problem solving. I view it as problem sorting. A problem can be sorted and sifted without actually looking for a solution. And that brings a peace of mind that can lead to efforts outside of meditation that leads to a solution. Although, frequently, the only solution I seek is a peace of mind. And even if all I've done is sit and ponder in a comfortable location without necessarily meditating, the mental respite has been worth it.

Next Time: Prayer, Fasting, and Meditation

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moods and Meditations: Lessons 2 - The Environment of TIme

The Environment of Time
Moods and Meditations: Lesson 2

The best way to meditate is your way for your reasons and your goals. This also applies to the location and time; your place and time are the best. When I am re-engaging my meditation process, I don't look for the perfect place or the best time. The perfect place is where you are and the best time is now. Anything else is a wild goose chase or a exercise in intentional failure. The better place will be where interruptions and distractions are minimized. The better time is when you have the time available, 2 to 5 minutes the first few times you try it.

Where you choose to meditate is up to you. There are some places that are distinctly better than others. Driving someplace is an obvious poor choice. The middle of a meeting that you are leading. Poor choice. It can be in your bed or a favorite chair. It can be on the floor or in your yard. You want to be some place where physical discomforts are unlikely to intrude. No bright sun unless you also enjoy basking. No stiff breezes unless you breathe deep nature's breath. While you are looking for the Goldilock's of locations, be sure to be accepting of a wide breadth of options.  The temperature that is just right doesn't need to be 72 degrees Fahrenheit give or take 2 degrees. Be accepting of a wider range. It's your choice to accept the situation. Allow the reasons and goals of your meditation to outweigh your physical concerns of the moment.

When you choose to meditate is up to you. Before other get up in my favorite since I am a morning person. A night person might meditate at the end of the day. Others I know need the mental break that meditation provides in the middle of the day. More important than when, though, is how often and how long. At first, develop a pattern of going into and then out of meditation, keeping the meditation itself to a minimum. Length will naturally increase as your experience matures. Learn to be aware of going into meditation and out of it. This is why I recommend paying more attention to how many times per day and per week than paying attention to what time of the day or week. With practice comes experience. With experience comes understanding. Understanding how you meditate will make when, how long, and how often easier to manage.

Additional Aspects
Some supports that have been shown to aid the meditation environment
  • Close or even cover your eyes
  • Putting bare feet to grass or better yet recline in the grass
  • Rest in a comfortable location and position, although I personally don't meditate in a prone position. I'm likely to become so devoid of thought as to make the outside observer believe my regular breathing technique is snoring.
  • Provide soothing background noise: wind chimes, fire crackling, wind through the trees, white noise, water rippling, birds chirping, or the like. There are actual videos of these available that play for quite some time. Music may be an option as well. Look to tomorrow's entry for more on this.
  • Practice with a member of your family or even your entire family
  • Forgive yourself if you wander off mentally and then wander away physically. With practice come expertise.
Finding the location and time comes with practice. As you develop your personal skills and style, your ability to meditate will become stronger. Then your environment will be outside of time; time will be the environment you build. At least, that's part of my overall learning goal. I can assure you that learning the process of meditation that works for you will have opposition when you start out. My lessons here are a beginner's guide from a beginner in the hopes of helping us push against that opposition. But the best thing you can do to learn is begin.

Next Time: The Myriad of Possibilities in How

Monday, July 28, 2014

Moods and Meditations: Lessons 1 - Motivations and Meanings

Motivations and Meanings
Moods and Meditations: Lesson 1

When it comes to meditation, there is only one right way: your way. There is so much information on any subject out on the internet as to be dizzying. I recommend that you decide your reasons and goals for learning more about a topic prior to starting your own research. This will make sorting through the information you will come across all the more powerful. Instead of focusing on the how in this first lesson, I want to focus on the reasons and the goals. These, too, have to be chosen by you.

There are many reasons behind meditation. Some of them are general consequences that come from meditation: increased ability to concentrate, better able to access and retain good feelings, lower blood pressure, more focus in your activities associated with the topic of meditation, ... Some reasons can arise from generalities discovered during meditation: peace, serenity, greater compassion, better connection with the infinite, ... While these are immense blessings, see these incredible blessings as the platter that you use to carry specific blessing into your own life. You have the ability to step out of yourself, metaphorically, to commune with the infinite. On your way back, there will be blessings that you will bring back with you. Again, let the platter be the more general blessings that carry the specific blessings you are seeking.

Starting a meditation with a specific purpose is what brings strength into my meditation. Sometimes, the purpose is nothing so grandiose as spending some quality time with my thoughts. I try to rely on this purpose when anger is the emotion most expressed. I do not look for the source of the anger; I seek the shelter away from the anger found by meditating on something, anything. Other times, I am pondering my way through one of life's conundrums. Recently, I was offered a job. There was a stiff price to pay. I am not adverse to paying the price for success. I am also excited by the prospect of new challenges. But a price had to be paid in either accepting or declining the job offer. The reason for my meditation was to determine a course of action that I would feel good about and know that it was good for my family. After meditating, I felt good about how I would approach the situation and still felt good about it after the situation was passed.

And therein lies a primary reason for meditating, how you feel about yourself and the situation. It helps to be able to put purpose into meditation and receive initial rewards from them. I suggest picking a reason for meditating as the focal point of your meditation, studying it out a little before meditating, and then exploring your own motivations for the reason behind the motivation. Part of that exploration comes from the Five Why's. While this technique may appear to have something to do with my toddler's obsession with this word, it allows me to explore reasons even deeper. I understand the first level of the reason for meditation when I ask, "Why am I meditating on this topic?" I then ask myself why on that answer until I have asked why a total of five times. I don't always need to ask that many time, but every time, I find some deeper purpose behind the motivation to meditate. And this lends more power to my meditations, especially when the meditation provides an additional, deeper level of why.

I admit that my general goal for meditating is always to have an answer. Not in the sense of 1 + 1 = 2, or the reason the sky is blue, or the source of the current US dependence on foreign oil, or the outcome of the current Israeli / Arab conflict. I want an answer to my meditation that leads to the retrieval of the platter I described before. The goal may be a specific blessing on that platter in the form of a specific answer, but I seek to have reached out to the infinite and achieve that connection. That is an answer in and of itself. And that is my primary goal.

But like the general and specific reasons for meditation, I have general and specific goals for meditation. The reasons explain why I want to meditate, the goal is seeking the consequences of topic of meditation. The goal is the destination; the reason is why I am walking the path. Borrowing again from the job I was offered recently, I chose to meditate. After meditating through what they were offering and what I would be paying, I chose to open negotiations with the company. Not necessarily the best option after being forwarded a job offer, but I was unwilling to abruptly sever one ongoing relationship for a temporary relationship with no possibility of long-term hire. This would not be a foot-in-the-door situation. When I had mentioned that as a motivation for obtaining this position, the resulting silence from the one interviewer in the first interview and the three in the second interview was deafening. Silence itself may not be indicative, but since the only silent response followed my expression of my hopes for advancement, and it happened twice, I was fairly sure that this was truly a temporary arrangement. Meditating and pondering the possibilities not only provided an action, it provided a clarity of thought for dealing with the negotiations. In the end, the company had a zero tolerance for changes in the offer. I declined their offer. And I found that the outcome was acceptable. I had already merged with the infinite in discussing this topic with myself during meditation. I was already well rewarded.

As you ponder on your own reasons and goals, I hope you will provide some insight to others and to me of what you have learned. While I have my right way for meditating, my techniques and processes have changed and adapted with time as I have learned from others. Education is a personal process. If I am to learn, I need to be open to learning. When I am open to learn, I will learn. I can learn for the active source within, I can learn from the external sources inanimate, and I can learn from the living sources without. I firmly believe everyone has something to teach. What will you teach me today?

Lesson 2 - The Environment of Timing

Looking Forward / Making Plans / LLIB Explanation

Looking out across that minute stretch of this vast cosmos that I claim as my natural habitat, I find myself once again wondering. I wonder how some habits so quickly evaporate while still under the serge of the good feeling born of success. I wonder how I can allow myself to fight a rearguard, retreating battle on so many fronts. Where are the bold advances and flanking maneuvers that demonstrate a desire to take the fight to the enemy? "We have met the enemy. And he is us." Thank you for the reminder, Pogo. And there in lies the greatest demon of all. I have many demons demanding decisive defeat, underemployment being the second most notable among them. Fighting off an invasion of head lice is a lesser one. And when sitting down to eat, too often my concession to my health effort is to eat less among the poor choices in front of me. Most of the time, bad foods don't even come into the house. And that is the best solution most of the time. The most notable failures occur when I am away from the house.

This means I need to develop some changes in my thought processes. One of them needs to be to return to this diary process. I'm not sure how much I weigh anymore. That needs to change. I need to become aware of something more than my clothes purchased during my lowest point in weight loss are getting tight. I need to fortify my thinking process to assist my weight loss. Making a record here in this blog (eDiary really) to be accountable is part of that. Making sure I have ready access to uplifting, spiritual materials, like OA literature, church lessons, and divinely-directed materials Getting back into meditations is going to be more important than before to assist in welding the benefits of these sources into a more permanent way of thinking.

Within the bounds of my spiritual experiences as bolstered by my faith in God and expanding by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have learned that there is, for me, a need for the combination of many spiritual activities: scripture reading, prayer (family, couple, and personal), fasting (1 day, 2 day, 3 day, and extended), Family Home Evening, church attendance, temple attendance and more. This list constitutes, in my opinion, the most important activities ahead of the "and more" in terms of building and maintaining my spiritual growth. But among the "and more," meditation has the best activity for making the gain of a recent activity more permanent. And with that in mind, I am hoping to provide a one week primer in meditation from an LDS perspective. I do not claim to be an expert in any way during this discourse, only that I am seeking to share my experience while building my knowledge at this point in my own progression.

The hope of this one week is two-fold. First, to help me remember what it means to meditate. Second, to restore some semblance of returning to daily online journaling. I know that so much is possible with both of these activities. I have gained in the past from both; I want to restore and extend those gains. So, rather than committing to journaling in general, or journaling forever, I have picked a topic (mediation) and a time frame (one week) to put me back on the path to where I belong.

And with that in mind, I give unto you, my readers, my reviewers (even myself), and  my Father in Heaven most importantly, my humblest apologies. I apologize for my absence because so much might have been averted through writing or reviewing. I apologize for allowing so much of sadness to pervade my thought for so long as to allow the demon within and the demons without to reduce the strength of "the angels of [my] better nature."

Yours in the hope of the future to be obtained, re-obtained, and built into permanence,


P.S.: I preview my last lesson on meditation with this thought -

P.P.S.: I have come across a book I had not seen in quite some time. I am going to include five lines from it after every entry until I run out of instructions or interest. I hope it will be inspiring.

Here is the beginning of the book -

This book began as a gift to my son, Adam. As he packed his stereo, typewriter, blue blazer, and other necessities for his new life as a college freshman, I retreated into the family room to joy down a few observations and words of counsel I thought he might find useful.

I read years ago that it was not the responsibility of parents to pace the road for their children, but to provide a road map. That's how I hoped he would use these mind and heart reflections.

I started writing, and what I thought would take a few hours took several days. I fathered my collection of handwritten notes, typed them up, and put them in a dime-store binder. I walked to the garage and slid it under the front seat of the station wagon.

A few days later his mother and I helped him move into his new dorm room. When he was all settled in, I asked him to come with me to the parking lot. I was time for the presentation. I reached under the car seat and, with words to the effect that this wa what I knew about living a happy and rewarding life, handed him the bound pages. He hugged me and shook my hand. It was a very special moment.

Well, somehow those typewritten pages became the little book you're now holding. You may not agree with all the entries, and from your own life experience, I'm sure you could add hundreds more. Obviously, some are more important than others, but all have added a degree of joy, meaning, and efficiency to my life.

A few days after I had given Adam his copy, he called me from his form room. "Dad," he said, "I've been reading the instruction book and I think it's one of the best gifts I've ever received. I'm going to add to it and someday give it to my son."

Every once in a while life hands you a moment so precious, so overwhelming you almost glow. I know. I had just experienced one.

Brown, H. Jackson, Jr., Life's Little Instruction Book, Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tennessee.

Life's Little Instruction Book:
1. Compliment three people every day.
2. Have a dog. 
3. Watch a sunrise at least once a year. 
4. Remember other people's birthdays. 
5. Never mention being on a diet. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Struggle as Blessing

I was reclining in bed last night with MBWM, reading from the latest Ensign (That is ˈen-ˌsīn, the standard raised above a group, not \ˈen(t)-sən, the naval rank). This magazine frequently lifts my spirits. And I needed my spirits lifted. Three accounts in the red, automatic payments start coming out next week to push me further into the red. Cell phone and storage unit due in less than a week. Car payment due in two and a half weeks unless the bank will let me skip a payment. If they won't, then I'm going to have to sell the car. I don't want to. It was to be Asian Red Fox's in a year or so. And none of those financial woes are the biggie; rent. I'm not going to think about that one. The others induce melancholia well enough.

I have no prospects except to take up delivering papers again. We tried it for a couple weeks. It didn't go well and only grossed $43 for most of a day's work. It's not much, especially after all of the gas needed to retrieve and then deliver the papers, but it's something. And in the category of jobs known as "at least it's something," though I would never present that attitude before, during, or after holding the position, I've been turned down by Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Pizza Hut. I say turned down, but really it's abject silence. Silence that has shown that I can't get a job at a call center, a convenience store, or as a delivery driver. I can't get back into ITT because their assessment says I won't be a good fit, even though I worked there for three years. I've tailored resumes in abundance to show how past responsibilities fit potential opportunities at a new company. I've researched shifting my career focus to put in the best phrases in my cover letters. Still, nothing. I cannot blame my weight because I've been offered a job for the only interview I've had in the last couple months. That was for a telemarketer position based on lies of omission and payment by commission. I'm still not sure which would have been more painful. I doubt I can blame my age, but it is one explanation for rejection at entry level positions. And since I only list the education they request, I can't blame that either. And really, there is a difference between explanation (why I don't have a particular job) and blame (which of my failing characteristics are responsible).

All of this heavy weariness caused by the situations I am experiencing and my reactions to them is by way of explanation of the articles I was reading in the aforementioned Ensign. I was feeling much better as I read. One led to contemplation of my own family history and how my father has done more along that vein than I have of late. Another article was on being compassionate and firm in living and displaying the standards I believe. But one article caused deeper contemplation than the others. The focus of the article was how the struggles of marriage are a blessing. That is something I believed even before I was married. Prior to being married, I had several married couples as friends. I would sometimes be called upon for advice. Strange to me for two reasons. First, I wasn't married. But second, my viewpoint frequently gave the couple something to ponder. Many times, after hearing what each had to say, I would say, "I wish I had that problem." They would look at my as though I had grown a second head (Thank you, Zaphod). I would then explain, "If I had that problem, then it would mean I was married." While this article was a little different in direction than my melancholic contemplations, it could well be said that struggles of any nature are a blessing. In the midst of the fight, it is frequently not easy for me to see the blessing. But there have been some. My temper has calmed down. I am still actively engaged in the fight against my personal demons within and demons without. And I still consider myself incredibly blessed by the family I have.

I think the realization came to me a little while ago that I can still make progress. While some of the imagery may not make sense to the non-LDS reader, I hope the feelings they convey will be understandable. I was in the temple berating my idiocy for being in the position I was. At the time, I was changing out of my temple clothes and into my church clothes at the temple in preparations for the journeys and activities still ahead of me. The position I was in included things like: Needing gas money from my elderly, fixed-income mother to be able to attend the temple, the inability to obtain even a "joe job," and other feelings of being beaten by life. And then it was pointed out (divinely, if you are so inclined as I am, or emotionally, if you are inclined in that direction), that here I was, living a life worthy to enter the temple, I had easy transportation to accomplish this glad duty of temple attendance, I would be heading to my assigned church house to practice the organ as a last minute substitute to bring my congregation together in worship, I had a key to the church house as a measure of trust in my willingness to serve, I had been advanced in the priesthood as a measure of the need to put my skills to work for the Kingdom, and I was sure to be successful in my efforts of family, priesthood, church, temple, civic, and financial responsibilities. It was only a matter of time and effort. I have plenty of the former. And a willingness for the latter.

All this contemplation means I am still everything I have been, I am, and I am working to become. Melancholy at facing another day of job searching combined with the exciting, urgent requests by my Iguana, Jaguar, and Lemur to watch me play video games. The depressing knowledge that my money pit of a financial situation is getting worse combined with uplifting certainty that I will dig myself out of this hole once again. The uncertainty of how much more time and effort must pass before I build the opportunity to put my talents, education, and skills to work and the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Yours in the quiet, contemplative life,


In honor of Memorial Day 2014, I had hoped to offer an editorial cartoon. But all of the ones I located concerning Memorial Day connected the topic of today to the VA troubles. That is not a tack I would take personally, but I am impressed by the artistic and political deftness these artists presented. Instead, I offer an oft quoted poem from WWI.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

Whether the foe is the specific combatant each died fighting,
     the nation, emblem, or cause each gave their "last full measure of devotion" in an effort to defeat,
          or the most painful enemy of all, war itself,

The torch is still offered,
     The light cannot be hid,
          Each one of us is called upon to lift it

How high will you raise the torch to show how willing you are to keep the faith?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Early Morning Religious Thoughts

What makes a morning an early morning lately is not the hour, but the level of exhaustion that starts the days. I have been attempting to fight that exhaustion with little success. I suspect that the weight increase I have experience has made my aging CPAP machine less effective. But I rise early this day in both hour and exhaustion with purpose. I am heading to the easily available (to me) spiritual experience known as the temple. It is amazing to me that there is a place with I can have instant access to a deep, personal moment to commune with the divine that allows for more open communication between my spirit and The Spirit. That is not to say that I am always ready for the answers I seek or even receive answers. Last Tuesday I went with my congregation excited by the opportunity proposed by this quote:
I can promise you that if you will go to Him in prayer and ask what He would have you do next, promising that you will put His kingdom first, He will answer your prayer and He will keep His promise to add upon your head blessings, enough and to spare. - Henry B. Eyring
I heard that quote by a young man teaching my congregation last Sunday. And MBWM and I were both drawn to it. That prayer was raised nearly hourly after I heard it. And it was the prayer in my heart as I approached the temple earlier this week. I am drawn to the peace, love, joy, and other supernal sublime experiences that await there. That is not to say I received an answer on what to do next in my job search, for that was my specific prayer. I couldn't even be sure that what I had done in my job search was pleasing unto the Lord. But I did receive the assurance when I wondered if I should even be in the Lord's presence as manifest in his Holy House, I received a powerful witness that I was where I should be.

I write about the temple this morning because I eagerly await MBWM. I am hopeful she is coming with me, but she has been in bad shape this last few days. She is attempting to push through the pain to see if she is able to attend. If she had already informed me that she wasn't going, this entry would have been an after-the-fact posting.

And so I am going to race off to make breakfast. Whether she goes or not, we need to eat.

Yours in the hopeful gratitude of the relationship[s the Lord encourages,


May I remind you that when we dedicate a house to the Lord, what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way he intends that it shall be used. - Joseph Fielding Smith, "Ogden Temple Dedicatory Prayer," Ensign, Mar. 1972, 6.

MBWM is unable to attend with me, so I am running off, regretfully, without her. I hope I can bring the Spirit of the Temple back home with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thoughts for Me to Ponder Today

My eyes have scanned passed the tab that shows, "Blogger: Never Ceases to Amuse Me," many times. Yesterday, my fingers opened tabs that grouped the Blogger tab near tabs for "Sample Ballots," "May 21st elections | KTVB Boise," and other tabs for specific candidates and issues in yesterday's primary. They are still open this morning. I have yet to see the outcomes. And just beyond them are tabs that exercised my eyes, my fingers, and my intellect. They were multiple tabs for each web site like CareerBuilder, Monster (including an article Perceived as Overqualified -What Now?), specific companies (research and job postings), and online searches of job requirements (Workforce Management Body of Knowledge Erlang C, for example). And behind all of this was a wrestling match of responsibilities: Weight, Health, Unemployment, Each Kid, Wife, Church. And referring the match was my Lack of Interest. Not really apathy. I just not really concerned, for good or ill, about the outcome. I don't believe I have actually reached depressed. I still keep up on dishes and poopy diapers. I manage squabbles and chores among the kids. I watched barely over an hour of television yesterday. (The last 20 minutes of The Voice didn't really have any meaning for me, but for Asian Red Fox, it was quite different. It was fun sharing that with her.). And while I did play computer games, I advanced slowly through the levels, with an abundance of long pauses to get back to work.

All of this review of yesterday was to begin to bring to pass the follow-thru the feeling that I need to turn things around. I"m not sure how, but I need to. To accomplish the turn around, I am going to look today at some of the thoughts I've had -

  • Fight my Lack of Interest with faith. I am going to read more books, scriptures, and articles. Yesterday, I started to read:
  • Perform an experiment inadvertently suggested by an OA leader.
    • Looking right at me during a meeting, he said, "You cannot self-sponsor".
    • Though he didn't mention it, in the meeting or after, it has been getting around OA that I still do not have a sponsor. Several people have even called me on it. I have said I am prayerfully considering it. And I am.
    • But there has been this internal struggle caused by people I have met that have walked away from 12 Step programs (AA, NA, and OA, most notably) and still maintained their abstinence from addictive behavior. This has created the drive to follow in their footsteps.
    • All of these people had two primary characteristics in common (There were others, but those details are for another entry)
      • They understood the 12 Steps and their relevance in their life (Hence my continued appearance at the nearest of the distant meetings at least once a week as gas allows)
      • Deeply spiritual experiences were a frequent occurrence in their lives (Which I hope to encourage by weekly attendance at the temple as gas allows)
    • The experiment is to see if I can, in fact, self-sponsor. Thanks Dave for the idea. This is the only challenge that has piqued my interest
  • Expand my educational horizons.
    • Several weeks ago, I was between two interviews (Central Payment for sales and then ITT for teaching). 
    • I went to the library nearest ITT and there commenced with job searching. While entering, I noticed some artwork in beautiful black and white ink. Each one extolled some artist or writer.
    • One of them was Jalal ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi (usually just Rumi in the US). I hadn't read him in some time, so before leaving for my job interview, I ordered a couple book to be sent to the branch I most often near: A biography on Rumi and one of his works. They were the smaller ones available in those categories. I am still job searching, after all. I have completed nearly half of the biography.
  • Blog: Just Do It
    • Blogging is good for reviewing my thoughts. I may not have delved into my more troubling thoughts. I may not have noticed those thoughts most in need of being reviewed. But thinking through the day, journaling, as it were, was helpful
    • Somehow restart the weekly review of my progress.
  • Food selection
    • Better quantity: I've begun reducing firsts and avoiding seconds (usually)
    • Better quality: Picking choices that would be fewer PPV if I were tracking
    • No money = No junk
    • Locate the motivation to track once again. I have all of the tools. I need to use them. It just seems so difficult right now.
I'm in a tough spot. I've gained enough weight that I can no longer use my scale. And even if I could, I wouldn't want to step on it right now. I have enough things telling me the weight is coming back on. Most notably, my white pants I only wear at the temple. Of all of my victories undone, that is the most painful.

But the morning presses upon me. I have to upload resumes to work on while I am away from the house. Thank you government for the local library systems and their computers. Thank you online systems that allow me to edit, refine, and tailor using only a web browser.

Yours in the certainty that this too can be overcome,



The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries. - Rumi

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Key Setback: Loss in Healthy Eating

I like to eat.

I enjoy chewing. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy tasting. I enjoy feeling full.

I relish salty foods. I relish sweet foods. I relish meats. I relish fresh veggies.

I miss my body of just a few weeks ago. I have only had to go up one belt loop, but I take little hope in that. Too many painful aspects involved in just getting around. And I know I am not eating at my best.

Since I knew I would be blogging again, I decided to pay attention to my thinking while I chose what to eat for one meal. That meal ended up being lunch. Lunch was left overs. I selected some beef cooked in a slow cooker, instant mash potatoes, beef gravy, and green bean/carrot coin mix. While selecting the food items, I can say I picked them because I knew I would enjoy them and probably enjoy them more than anything else. The idea of how many points I was eating concerned me briefly. It's easier for me to quantify overindulgence in terms of points. Even knowing I would be recording my thoughts, I took more meat than I needed to, more potatoes than I needed to, and added margarine to my veggies. I would approximate the potatoes at 3/4 cup, the meat at 6 ounces, the gravy at 1/2 cup, the veggies at 1/2 cup, and the margarine at 2 tsp.

I overindulged in quantity, selection, and embellishments. I saw myself doing these things. And I accepted that I was doing it and moved right along in that direction. I would like to hope that I served a little less because I knew I would be reviewing the meal. But I am doubtful. As I pay attention to these things, I still have hope that I will regain my resolve. Resolve, at this time, is difficult because of the intensity and variety of my stresses.

I have not been sleeping well. I have lost quality and quantity. And that has made everything more difficult, including the most stressful part of my life right now. There is a job fair on Thursday that has my attention. I am trying to write tailor-made resumes for the companies that will be there. The job fair has my attention thanks to the second most stressful part of my life, I have enough money in my bank account to pay rent and have about $18 left over. These things weren't going through my mind when I made my food selection. What was going through my mind was trying to motivate myself into doing the dishes by myself as I had all weekend long. But the stress level was definitely there. Just ask my kids if Daddy isn't yelling more than usual.

Thankfully, I have some incredibly forgiving kids. Remembering that has helped me a few times today. Like when I went into the Jaguar and Lemur's room to find a sticky pile of paper towels on their top bunk. The pile consisted of about half a roll of paper towels and half a tube of toothpaste. I didn't get upset. And that was an important victory today. One I hope to build on at the job fair.

And in the end, all of my hopes and fear, stresses and strains, joys and success are where my attention has ended up. They are a part of me, but they don't have to control me. And from there, I can move along to being able to keep on keepin' on along the proper path toward a happier, healthier body, mind, and attitude. Now that I've said it, I need to fake it. And once I fake it, I will be able to live it.

Yours in the hope of being turned around once more,


P.S.: I have accepted an "advancement" in the hierarchy of my church. I put advancement in quotes because it is more of a lateral promotion than a vertical one. For those that are LDS or understand LDS titles, I am going to be a High Priest. It makes me wonder at the spiritual powers that influence our lives. That here, in the midst of being about the worst person I have been in quite some time, I am offered an opportunity of responsibility that just might lead to redemption in more than one area of my life. Truly, that is a divine influence.

Of course, I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to have the mantle placed upon my shoulders that allows me to sleep through meetings. Sorry. Bad LDS joke.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blogs Should Never Leave You Hanging; They Should Part Amicably

Several months ago, there was some research I was doing. I had hit up the scientific journals, the respectable magazines, and a few web sites ranging from fairly reliable to entirely suspicious. I decided to take a different tack: to poke around through the blogosphere. I came across a website on my topic of interest and started reading. It had everything: The joyful successes, the heart rending failures, the underdog rising to the challenge on the tidal surge of optimism, the depression as the riptide of reality carried hope to the abyssal depths. It was everything I had hoped for and more in terms of the personal view on this modern issue. And the prior information I had gleaned provided the framework of understanding to be colored and textured by one person's impassioned struggle against the current that was taking of her life. And then a separate reality set in to my life.

The blog entries just ended.

That was it. Nothing. No more. Had she conquered? Had she been conquered? It was a travelogue of travail that went nowhere. I was left to wonder, albeit briefly. It ended. Time for me to move on.

I have been thinking of this the last two weeks. I needed to do one thing or the other. Either get back into writing (and bring forth the possibility of some form of personal redemption down the road) or I should say my goodbyes. Since I still had a mental habit of authoring blog entries, I needed to make a decision.

So an overview of where I have been in the last several weeks. My last entry was on Tuesday, March 11, 2014. I can still remember the topic I was debating writing about. I had attended an OA meeting. I had locked my keys in my car. I called my wife to come open the door. This is one of those times I regret not have AAA anymore. Now I had to wait. I started out waiting inside the church building. But the church is significantly more progressive to my more fundamentalist way of thinking. I don't believe that God's Laws need updating because man's laws change with the prevailing current wisdom. But that theological discussion is best left for another time. I came across a particularly progressive handout and chose to step outside.

Once outside, I pondered my left ankle. It had been hurting for quite some time. But was I refusing to exercise because of the pain or because I was in some form of reversal of mood. So I set out on what would turn out to be an approximately seven block hike to determine the answer. Not a hike for most people, but it was for me. The triangular path I traversed amid the decades old neighborhood made for some enjoyable sights and observations. And in the end, there was the conclusion that going for that jaunt had been a poor implementation of the experimental method. Never use yourself as the subject in the experiment. My ankle was hurting more than it had in quite some time.

Looking back on the experience, I can say with firm conviction, the unwillingness to exercise was due to both. I have joints that don't jaunt. And I have had a reversal of mood as well. It's the reversal of mood that has me worried. I haven't shown much interest in much of anything. And my poor wife has had to bear the brunt of it. That is especially true given the wonderfully spiritual wedding ceremony Horse and Squirrel have completed some weeks ago. (Note to self: Update side panel. Upgrade Horse's and Squirrel's status.) While I don't want to say I have been depressed, I have been uninterested in pretty much anything. For example, through an unexpected series of events, I managed to come into possession of the entire seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 several years ago. MBWM and I would rather have worked it out to get Star Trek: Voyager, but it didn't happen that way. I started watching the series using Windows Media Center. One of the kewl features of Windows Media Center is that you can hit the fast forward button once and it will still play the soundtrack. The track plays faster but the pitch doesn't rise. Although a tremolo in the background music is a disturbing auditory experience. Having been through the series a few times, I skipped many episodes just based on the title or the first 30-40 seconds of the introduction. Still, MBWM noticed the incessant watching. Hard not to notice. She asked me at one point how many more disks were left in the series. I stopped watching them and put the disks up. I wasn't interested in them in the first place so I wasn't distressed about setting them aside.

This lack of interest shows up in other ways. While I have been sending resumes out, networking, reviewing job searching tools with others, and other job search type activities, I have been doing it more out of have to than want to.

Which is a round about way of describing the decisions behind deciding if this blog was a want to or a have to. Okay. Let's be real. It's a want to. And with the loss of interest, many a want went away. But I owe it to my sense of responsibility (to finish what I started), my sense of obligation (to maintain the accountability that gave birth to this blog), and my sense of the appropriate (it is inappropriate to walk out the cyber door without saying good bye) to keep on keepin' on or have an amicable parting of the ways.

That is not to say that this entry is a good bye. That is the point of ponderment for the next few days. I will review the ugly setback that is my life right now. I should face up to at least that much. But I am hoping for something more. I have seen a simple idea work too often not to trust in it one more time. "Fake it 'til you make it." And so, for the next few days, I am going to fake interest in my blog until I am thrilled to be blogging again. And along that planned pathway, I hope for a resurgence in interest in my healthier eating habits.

We shall see. This is either the phoenix-like rebirth for blog and bod, or the long good bye to blogging. Either way, there is a transition coming. I wonder if anyone will be there to witness it.

Yours in the hope that comes again,


P.S.: Happy - Because MBWM is coming back from an out of state trip. The joy from being back with her presence is something I will not have to fake and never lost interest in.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Post Number: 157
Review of Yesterday's Progress
     Daily PPV Used/Left: ?/? of 69 (Goal: 30/39) {Didn't track. Didn't eat well, either}
     Pedometer Reading: - {Didn't wear my pedometer}
     Meetings Attended: None Scheduled
     Exercise Completed: None Scheduled
     M-W's Word of the Day: Jingoism

Yesterday was a day of meditation. I spent much of the day lost in intentional thought. About all I managed to do is establish my current definitions of my problems. I created a list of selfish categories, such as anger and lust, and the list of misspent opportunities, like sleep and service, that have come to put me in a place that I do not want to be in but cannot seem, in an ultimate expression of selfishness, pull myself out of. And while I have those definitions established, I do not know if they are the correct description or merely my expression of the situation.

For the second time in as many weeks, I gave myself permission to take it easy today. And I feel better for the mental meditation but the eating was even worse at first. To pull myself out of the depths of self-imposed misery, I feel that the most important thing that I can do is set and maintain a descent schedule, starting with sleep.

Last night, it was too late to get to bed early. But I forced myself to rise to a schedule that I know is more conducive to my way of living appropriately.

Yours in the faith that will allow the work of restoring sanity to succeed,


P.S.: What the poet/author has the tyrannical MacBeth say in a soliloquy to encourage the audience's sympathy ahead of the demise of his power and life.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
While the internet has made the opportunity for each of us to record our own tales of idiocy, as we sound off our fury, that signifies nothing to most others, each of us is allowed to achieve our own place on a stage Shakespeare couldn't have imagined. A stage that is bigger, grander, and wider. A place more personal, more educational, and more uplifting. All this and more is possible, if we use it toward that end. So that when the hereafter arrives, we will know for ourselves that our brief candle had either the chance to light the way of others in a spotlight of selfless service or to highlight ourselves in the flashlight of selfish pretentiousness. In the later, we shall fret. In the former, we shall be grateful.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Peaceful Failure

Post Number: 156
Review of Yesterday's Progress
     Daily PPV Used/Left: ?/? of 69 (Goal: 30/39) {Didn't track. Didn't eat well, either}
     Pedometer Reading: - {Didn't wear my pedometer}
     Meetings Attended: None Scheduled
     Exercise Completed: None Scheduled
     M-W's Word of the Day: Gritty

Peaceful day externally. Intractable day internally. I know I need to make changes. At the very least, I need to keep the small serving sizes satiating. I chose well on portions, poorly on options. Today doesn't bode well.

Yours in the hope that springs eternal,


P.S.: Good things those springs are calorie free.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Deep Breath (Evaluation: Week 28)

I am posting this today so it has today's date-stamp. It is somewhat started.

Last Weigh In: Saturday, 8 March 2014

Weight Information -
  • Weight: 368.2 lbs
  • Weight Change:
    • This Week: +2.2 lbs
    • To Date: -85.0 lbs
  • Weight Gauge: Deep Breath
  • Body Mass Index: 57.7 (up from 57.3)
  • Daily PPV:
    • Assigned: 69 (unchanged)
    • Personal: 30 (unchanged)
  • PPV This Week: 
    • Used: 249 out of 414 {Didn't track Friday}
    • Not Used: 165 (39.9%)
Goals (Description / Evaluation) -
  • Chronological Goal: No longer obese in 2014 / Well on my way but the stall has been extended. Latest projections for leaving behind morbidly obese using:
    • The last 18 weeks of data: Between July 31, 2014 and August 8, 2014, an increase of 10 days
    • All 27 weeks of data: Between August 30, 2014 and September 11 2014, an increase of 5 days
  • Employment Goals
    • Make at least 5 networking contacts each week. / Terrible week at networking. Just didn't have any enthusiasm for it this last week.
    • Apply for at least 5 positions each week / Several leads this last week. Not enough follow through. Need to complete last week's leads and continue with new one.
  • Weight Watchers Awards this Week: None
  • Number Goals: Overall direction is exciting. Long-term quantity is thrilling. 
    • Weight: Next three hurdles are as follows
      • 20% Weight Loss at 362.4 lbs / 5.8 lbs away
      • 100 Pounds Lost at 353.2 lbs / 15.0 lbs away
      • Transition off of Kimkins at 350.0 lbs / 16.0 lbs away - Left his mentally awhile ago
      • 25% Weight Loss at 362.4 lbs / 28.4 lbs away
    • BMI: Reach a value below 40.0 (morbidly obese) / 17.7 away
    • PPV Not Used this Week: 287 PPV / 249 PPV - Consumed 32 points more than the goal. And that was in six days of tracking. And I gained weight.
  • Feel Good Goal: Consistent practice of my meditation and relaxation techniques / Meditation was non-existent, as was research on meditation and relaxation techniques. Still haven't tried the relaxation audio files I downloaded. This one needs attention. But then, so does my sleep/
  • Physical Goals: 
    • Walk upright up the stairs of my house every time using the railing only for precaution. / I still need to mountaineer my way up the stairs. Later in the week, I was climbing rather slowly.
    • Tie my shoes unassisted anywhere. / I cannot tie my shoes without physical aids but it is getting easier. I didn't need any personalized assistance this week.
    • Take a bath in my bathtub. / My bathtub is big enough, but I cannot get into or out of it when it's dry without painful exertion. This would negate any lasting value to the bath. Don't want to try to get out when wet yet.
  • Exercise without the Gym: Locate workouts options that don't involve a gym. Check out a couple DVDs from the library. / The biggest loser DVD looks like the right sort of work out except that it left my ankles in too much pain that didn't ease up by the end of the week..
    • Weight Watchers:
      • Use the paper tracker to record calculated points every day this week. / I have tracked for 20 weeks. I only missed two days: Yesterday and Christmas. Go me!
      • Kept available PPV at 30 for my daily points instead of 69 as assigned by WW. / I am hoping for a more stable week in my food selection this week by turning to Simply Filling or similar ideas from Weight Watchers..
      • Avoid using 49 weekly points. Daily points leave 39 available every day. That's 273 leftover points available per week. / Nailed it!
      • Attend two meetings this week. Scheduled for Wednesday and Saturday. / This goal will be going away next week because Saturday is the last meeting I will be attending for quite awhile.
    • Overeaters Anonymous: 
      • Attend two meetings this week. Scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday. / Went to Monday instead of Tuesday. Went to Thursday. I will be exchanging the Monday night meeting for the Tuesday afternoon meeting because Asian Red Fox starts a new job this week.
      • Perform moral inventory for Step 4. / Didn't work on this one. Want to read more, write more, and explore more.
    • Never Ceases to Amuse Me Blog: Journal 300 out of 365 days. / Journaled 67 of 67 days so far this year.
    • Reading Materials - Self-assigned reading assignments
      • What Color is Your Parachute? - Read this week / Didn't read anything. This doesn't help matters.
      • Start Strong. Finish Strong. - Read Chapter 5 / Didn't read anything.
      • AA Big Book - Read Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of the AA Big Book. / Didn't read anything.
      • Some books I want to read soon but don't have time but want to read right now:
        • WW Find Your Fingerprint
        • The Doctor is In
        • Good Calories. Bad Calories.
    • Hot Button Review: None of these are working right now. This needs attention if I am going to continue using it.
      • Mental-Function - Didn't work well to motivate me at all this week.
      • Spiritual - Spent more time in fear than prayer. This one should have been my strongest, not my weakest.
      • Numbers-Game - Blood pressure is wandering, as expected, but not into over dangerous territory. This hot button didn't motivate me.
    • Sticky Notes
      • Be active for 5 minutes out of every sedentary hour
      • Put down the fork and sip water between bites
      • Eat more veggies
      • Review Your Blog! What happened to your motivations?
      • Get to Bed!
    Not a good week. But it's only one week. This can be turned around. This must be turned around. The question is how can it be turned around. The unlimited freedom to eat has shown that I enjoy eating, all the wrong things. But it's also shown that the only part of the program that working is portion control. And that will slip away without becoming strict once again in the food selection and portion control. There are two initial ideas that come to mind: Track aggressively or switch to Simply Filling. While I have been tracking, except for the last two days, I need to track ahead of eating. And when I track, I need to use that number running balance to motivate my food selection as it has in the past. Or, as an alternate to tracking, only consume Weight Watchers Power Foods. This is known as Simply Filling, which is taken another step into Simple Start. Your assigned points are ignored under Simply Filling so long as you eat only power foods. Only those foods that aren't power foods are tracked and are based on the 49 weekly points everyone receives. In anticipation of this change in food selection philosophy, I have created a list of all of the power foods listed in the Weight Watchers guide. I will be prayerful

    <!--- UPDATED TO HERE -->
    Looking Forward:
    • Keep the job search going strong and the networking stronger.
    • Look for causes in loss of motivation.
    • GET ON PROGRAM with Weight Watchers, especially keeping the daily points consumed to a daily maximum of 30 PPV.
    • Avoid the temptation of high carb nibbles into my week except for Saturday.
    • Get on track with gym-less exercise.
    • Attend all meetings. Don't schedule things before them. Review calendar every morning. Listen to alarms and reminders and follow through on them.
    • Hold onto the joyful feelings of this day to get me through the the times of lesser success in weight loss, the trudging through job searching, and other complications life is throwing my way.
    IV - I have found the way of
    CU - I have seized the road by
    FI - I am enjoying the journey by

    Post Number: 155
    Review of Yesterday's Progress
         Daily PPV Used/Left: ?/? of 69 (Goal: 30/39) {Didn't track. Didn't eat well, either}
         Pedometer Reading: - {Didn't wear my pedometer}
         Meetings Attended: Weight Watchers
         Exercise Completed: None Scheduled
         Page Views to Date: 2050 (Increased by 71 Page Views This Week)

    Yours ,



    Weight Watchers, 8 March 2014
    Last Week:

    This Week:

    Next Week: 

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Slip Slidding Away

    Post Number: 154
    Review of Yesterday's Progress
         Daily PPV Used/Left: ?/? of 69 (Goal: 30/39) {Didn't track or want to}
         Pedometer Reading: 5837
         Meetings Attended: None Scheduled
         Exercise Completed: None

    I haven't been sleeping well, eating well, or tracking well. Yesterday, I just plain gave up. I kept portions small, but for too much of the day, the eating was of completely the wrong things. And what makes this even a little more upsetting is the fact that it's only the food selection that was bad this week, not the point totals. I left at least 20 points available at the end of every day. Now I am going to face the consequences of those food choices. Even though I have no actual quantitative data to go on, I expect I gained 5 to 6 pounds this week. While I am not the least bit excited about today, I need to turn this around. Somewhere, there is some fight in me that can turn this around.

    Time to face music. I hope it's Rocky's Theme.

    Yours in the certainty that this can be reversed,


    P.S.: When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state. (Sonnet 29)