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Shifting Paradigms

Approaching Life, Five Subjects At A Time

Month

September 2015

The Sea Has Spit Me Back!

The above image is exactly where I have been for the past week.  What an amazing time!  7 days of no internet and tons of conferences, Q&A’s, one-on-one’s, group stuff, plus having dinner with 150 of your now-closest writing friends.  Simply an incredible time.  I’m already signed up for next year’s cruise.

I would have to say the single most crystallizing moment for me, happened on Friday when my wife and I were in one of the bar/lounge areas called the “Olive or Twist” (excellent play on words), and I was working on the last third of my “Sand People” novel and I happened to catch myself all bright-eyed and smiling.  I actually felt like I had life back in my eyes again.  I even said something to my wife, and she mentioned that she hadn’t seen my eyes like that for a long time.  I feel rejuvenated.  As if years of craziness and heartache were finally lifted.  Was an amazing feeling that has yet to cease.  And I hope it never does.

So I am hoping to make good use of this and continue in my writing ways, both with my own projects and with this blog.

I look forward to sharing all of this with you.

See you soon!!!

Getting Some Time Off!!

Happy to say that I will be taking off for a writing retreat in a couple of days.  I have been needing some time away, with everything that has gone on in the last year.  I had a week-long retreat about 10 months ago, but that was just me and not myself and my wife.  So getting away from everything and just relaxing and having everyone cook for us and provide all kinds of time to read and write, will be awesome.  I’m really looking forward to the time away.  Hoping to recharge some batteries and perhaps make this a more than once a year thing.  We shall see how things work out.

But first!!!  We are playing in a charity golf tournament to support a local private high school, tomorrow.  We played in the inaugural one, last year, but I was just a couple months away from a meniscus tear that required surgery.  I was in a lot of pain.  But now I am relatively pain free in that knee and the time spent with my golf coach over the last couple of years, is really starting to pan out.  I’ll spend some time talking about him and my “coaching” in a future article, to be sure.

I should get back to a more regular frequency of blog posts, in about 10 days.  Until then,  have fun and stay safe!

See you soon!!

Life: The Long-View Approach

Hi there!  It’s been a couple days since I last posted something, and that’s how it works with my life.  I have stretches where I don’t have a lot of things injected into the normal course of my day and then I have periods where entire days are lost without much of a thought.  But!!  We learn to make lemonade out of lemons, when we can, and this is one of those times.

There have been many things in my life that have reminded me of a few things that were passed on to me that I try to relay to others and usually forget to adhere to myself.  No worries, though, we’re here to make lemonade and not worry about the lemons, right?

The first of these things is the quote, “Not my monkeys…not my circus.”  I know a number of people who either have a hard time not getting caught up in other people’s “wake”, or they have a hard time saying no to things that they should be saying no to, because they are losing out on personal time that would be better for them, and they wind up wasting twice as much time both being involved in having said yes to something and the eventual decompression from it that usually takes up twice as much time as the activity they said yes to.

People, especially family and friends, are important to us.  But they shouldn’t override our own life, unless of course it is an emergency.  But when you have the option of saying yes or no to something, you need to always frame it in the context of what you are trying to do with your life.  And sometimes that requires saying no to something that you know might be fun, or what have you, but ends up being more problematic with living the rest of your life.  You have to judge these things according to your energy level, temperament, and whether it will set a pattern of behavior where things that are important to you are sacrificed as a result of possibly poor decision making.

I know that I have had to reel in the amount of things that I get involved with.  I always enjoy spending lots of time with friends doing like-minded things.  But sometimes it’s nice to have some extra time to spend with my wife, or just to have some extra time to read or write or work on my Arduino projects.  I have to be fair to myself and my goals in life, and just weigh my decisions based on my priorities.  Will saying yes, today, to something, set in motion a chain of events that eventually becomes a requirement for me to do whenever asked?  It happens more often than you think.

And this all leads into my second thought.  Namely that you need to look at life as a very long journey where the steps you make today aren’t going to have short term results.  I see so many people get burned out on trying to live like they are trying to get to the finish line before they’ve even started the race.  The most important thing for a marathon runner isn’t what happens during the race, but how you prepare for it.  Making sure you have the right equipment, the proper nutrition, and the proper conditioning, are far more important than any strides you will make.  In fact most of the time I would venture to say that one wins the race before they even start it.  That’s why there are always those who are seen as consistent favorites in any competition.  The approach is that the things I do today will achieve the result at a future time, and probably not anytime soon.  Especially if you are just beginning at something.  I know someone who is addicted to running who simply started with going up and down his street.  He worked on technique, having the right equipment, and feeding his body the right things as well as taking care of it both before and after he runs.

This is much the same as my approach to most anything.  To do something well, you have to invest in the day-to-day with no expectation of immediate success.  I can’t be an avid reader/student if I never pick up a book and turn the pages.  Just like I can’t be good at any particular subject unless I know all the basics, as well as the various schools of thought and their positions on certain things within that subject.  In writing, I can’t even contemplate success if 1) I’m not writing often and 2) I don’t finish the projects that I am working on.  It’s all great to have ideas for stories and say that you want to be published, but if you never write and never finish what you are writing, it will never see the light of day.

And this involves embracing the everyday things and doing them well.  No shortcuts and no comparing your life to other peoples’ lives.  You are not them, and they are not you.  Justifying bad habits or poor behavior by saying that someone else does it, is just dumb and ultimately counterproductive to achieving your goals.  As a writer, I need to be sitting at the keyboard or notebook and writing.  Even if it is this blog post that is taking me an awfully large amount of words to make 2 pretty simple points, it is still worthwhile to do on a regular basis, because it has me seated at the keyboard doing something I enjoy doing, as well as allowing my brain and my hands to work in solidarity with one another and letting my thoughts flow freely on to the page without much encumbrance, which can be problematic for some people who don’t type fast enough or have too much of a self-editor incorporated into their thought process.

But ultimately, it is about looking at things with the hope that things we begin to do, today, with the understanding that I am in the process of becoming better at a particular skill, and that if I don’t practice it consistently and in a consistent way, it will never develop into a repeatable skill.  This is how athletes get better.  They refine themselves by working on all of the details that make them better at what they do.  For a golfer, to get better at a new skill involves first understanding the mechanics necessary to perform the new skill and then practicing the movements required to successfully repeat the new skill with effectiveness, making sure that they incorporate elements into the new skill that allows them to repeat it under all kinds of conditions..

So whenever you start to get frustrated about how things are going, both in the world and in your own life, just try to remember that if you are in it for the long term, then the short term “ups and downs” are fairly meaningless.  Keep focused and stay the course.

See you soon!!!

I Am A Writer….There I Said It!

Writing.

How do I talk about it, without getting giddy, angry, sad, and frustrated all at the same time?

I love writing.  I love to put words on a page in the form of a story, so that others can enjoy.  It’s the one thing I am trying to dedicate myself to doing for a career, at this point in my life.  But I also have some issues surrounding it that give rise to some difficult emotions.

When my wife and I moved to the U.S., it was to be here for my mom who was dying.  She had been fighting cancer for 25+ years, on and off, and she eventually just didn’t want to go through another series of chemotherapy and all that was involved with that.  We knew, or at least my wife and I did, that this was going to involve her dying and that we needed to leave Canada and be near her for as long as we could.  And we did.  About 6 months after we moved here, she ended up having an episode that required an ambulance to take her to the hospital.  I was writing at the time I got that phone call.

Things got put on hold for awhile, obviously, as we were cooking for my family 3 or more days a week for the next 8 months or so.  My wife and I put a lot of things on hold to help my family.  And it was a very worthwhile thing.  Throughout the summer, my wife and I tried to reclaim a little bit of time for ourselves, but that stopped around September when things got a little worse.  But then she went into a “stasis” period where she actually looked like she was improving.  There was a nurse coming every day, and things were looking like I could get back to doing something about my own life.  So that lasted about 2 weeks, when we got the phone call that my mom had passed away.  I was writing at the time when I got that phone call, as well.

Life was on hold for awhile after that.  Longer than I expected, actually.  Considering that it is now September and the anniversary of her death is next month, one could say that I am long overdue to breakout.  Back in March, I ended up taking a writing class.  It actually served me well and I learned a great deal from it.  But I haven’t fully re-engaged in it for the past couple of months.  It’s difficult to get over the associated pain that goes with it.  Not that I am an emotional wreck or anything, really.  It’s just kind of a “block” of sorts, where I am always looking over my shoulder for something to happen that stops me from writing.  So I never really fully engage in anything, but rather set myself up so that I can stop doing whatever it is I am doing at a moment’s notice.  Which, sadly, isn’t conducive for much of anything that you want to  be good at.  I know this from having played golf for a career.  But part of me won’t let me get that kind of engaged in something yet.  And I don’t understand why that is.

So I will be talking about this, and hopefully my conquering it.

I do actually have several stories in the works.  I write, mostly, in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, with the occasional fiction/historical fiction stories thrown in.  Here’s what I am working on so far:

“Sand People” – The story of Gryvan Brae and his discovery of who he really is and his journey to help find out why caravans are getting ambushed in the desert pass in the Kingdom of Southwald.

“Nowhere” – Marko Krazak was just hired to be an engineer in the country of Aachen.  A country that, formally, doesn’t exist as an entity in the Global Consortium of Nations.  The GCN has monopolized the world in terms of network connectivity and global economy.  But all that is about to change as Aachen is about to make the boldest move ever.  It disappears.  From the radar, from network connectivity, and even from sight.

“Storehouse of Memory” – Deep in the recesses of an old monastery lies a secret facility that not even the world governments are aware of.  Within these confines lies the true history of mankind, as it has been played out over the past 1500 years.  Madeline Peters, a hacker and software developer, has inadvertently discovered an odd electronic trail which leads back to this monastery.  But what she doesn’t know, is that her discovery wasn’t by accident.

“Iconic” (Not totally fleshed out yet) – Known as “windows into heaven”, these pictures are revered by the most spiritually adept people the world has ever known.  But one person knows them for what they really are.

I’ll be sure to give updates on these works, as I get them into various states of finish.

See you soon!!!

Tolle Lege

Books.

Probably the single-greatest number of anything that I own.  A source of consternation for so many years, for me, but it wasn’t long before they became my obsession.  I cataloged them all a few years ago, but that only included the ones that I had with me in Canada.  I had several floor-to-ceiling shelves full of books at my parents’ place in the U.S., that I swore I would eventually have shipped up.  Good thing I didn’t. Those suckers are costly to move.  And did I mention that I actually got rid of several boxes to the local library in Edmonton?  But a lot of them you cannot replace anymore, so I didn’t have a choice.

When I was young, I wasn’t the smartest knife in the drawer, but somewhere along the line I developed a passion for reading and books.  Somewhere along the line, I simply wanted to devour any and all knowledge about various topics.  I think more than anything, I wanted to understand how things came to be.

And then when I was in College, I was reading so many books with heavy subject material that I felt like I wanted to read something more fun.  And this led to my love of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.  When I was in 7th grade, I remembered my brother reading a series of books titled, “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever”.  I remember borrowing one of the books and taking it with me to school, which at that time was a military boarding school. It was pretty far past my reading level, but I still remember various scenes from the book that stuck with me.  So when I got older, I remembered that kind of book and decided to pick up a few books.  I think it started with Dennis L. McKiernan’s duology and trilogy, went to the entire (at that time) 6 volume series by Stephen R. Donaldson series, and then picked up the granddaddy of them all.  J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”.  I remember picking it up from the bookstore in a hardbound one-volume book and just salivating over the art work, the fact that there was a ribbon placeholder, and then the story itself was amazing.  I started picking up hardbound books of classic literature from the Everyman Library with their similar style of binding that I figured would look amazing on a bookshelf.  I, still, to this day prefer a hardcover over a paperback.  Even though I have a Kindle Voyager, I have no problems with picking up my initial copies of books that are new, in their original hardcover editions.

Nowadays, my office at home has seven bookshelves hanging from the ceiling and another large built-in bookshelf in a nearby room we have labeled, “The Library”.  I still haven’t gotten around to shelving all the books I own.  I have at least 4 boxes of books just sitting in my office as well as a few others out in the Library.  When we get around to finish decorating the Library, we will shelve all the books and I will spend many happy hours there, lost in the worlds of my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson.  I will spend a future post geeking out on Brandon Sanderson, so I won’t waste it all in this post.  Suffice it to say that if you haven’t picked up any of his books, you should start with either The Mistborn Trilogy or The Way of Kings.  Be very careful.  He writes Epic Fantasy and that isn’t just about the scope of the novels, but also in the fact that a great number of his books are VERY long.  We’re talking over 1000 hardcover pages in some cases.  Massive tomes of amazing writing.

In addition to Science Fiction and Fantasy, I also read a lot of books on Religion, Philosophy, Early Medieval History, Cooking, and Writing.

So you’ll be seeing more than a few posts, in the future, about my reading habits and favorite books that I have read.

See you soon!!!!

Fore!!

Continuing my introduction and what kinds of topics you can expect to see me talk about over the life of this blog, I wanted to talk about the interesting relationship I have with the sport of golf.

I played golf sporadically through High School with my dad or my friends, but when I was Community College, I met a golf coach who was willing to teach me for free if I was willing to put the time in every week.  I quickly became quite good at the sport. So much so that when I was 22, I moved to Orlando, Florida and started playing on a series of professional mini-tours as an amateur.  My first competition was a U.S. Open qualifier and that didn’t go very well.  So I decided that instead of shooting for the top, right away, I would just immerse myself in the sport for a period of time and see how it all went  I worked at a golf course where I got free practice and play, as well as made enough money to pay the basic bills.  It was a rough existence with a lot of 6am (and sometimes much earlier) wake-up calls and lots of time spent until the sun went down, working on honing my skills.  Unfortunately, I overdid it and ended up separating my shoulder from playing too much.  I put my career on hold as I went and got my Bachelor’s Degree at college, but had the opportunity to try again.  This time, though, I played on a mini-tour out in Arizona…as a professional.  It was time to sink or swim and if I swam, I figured I should be able to get paid for it.  It also gave me the opportunity to get free stuff from manufacturer’s and not invalidate my amateur status.  Which was awesome, cause I eventually got a closet-full of clothes and at least 2 sets of clubs.  I would advertise their gear and they would give me free gear from time to time.  Not really a sponsorship, more of an informal thing.

But I ran afoul of stupid decision making.  I skimped on the quality of coaching, and that just seemed to snowball into all kinds of problems that eventually wound up with me quitting the game for good (or so I thought) because I couldn’t even hit a driver anymore.  It was so frustrating to not be able to play the game I loved at even an average level, let alone at a professional level.  It was about that time that I met my, now, wife, and I decided to try and go back and get a master’s degree, and eventually moved to Canada to be with her.  Golf would come up every so often, because I still enjoyed watching it from time to time and my wife tried to encourage me to make peace with the sport that I had once loved.

It wasn’t until we moved from Canada to the U.S. that I took an interest in getting back into golf.  I tried to use it as a way to get away from the stresses and everything surrounding my mom’s poor health.  I could leave everything at home and just get back to learning how to get better at Golf, and eventually learn to get back out on the golf course with some ability.

We ended finding an instructor who has been really amazing.  Within a couple of months, all of the problems that I had, back in Arizona, were just about gone.  By the end of last summer, I even thought about wanting to take everything a step further and take a few more lessons in the hopes of playing a lot more.  But before I could take that step, my mother passed away.  She had been dealing with Cancer for over 26 years and her body finally couldn’t do it anymore.  It was a big loss.

When the winter started coming to an end, my wife and I wanted to get back in the saddle and take some more lessons with our coach.  I was surprised how much I was still able to do, and the direction we went forward with got me thinking about maybe playing amateur tournaments, if I could find the time to get out and play more, and hone my skills.  And that’s kind of where I am currently, with this crazy game.

My wife and I watch as many tournaments on TV as we can, always trying to process as much as we can from what we see, into our own games.  And whenever we meet up again with our coach, we spend a couple of hours really grinding out the necessary things to continue to get better and have fun.

So if I bring up anything about golf, from time to time, now you have the knowledge about what kind of impact it has had in my life.  It really is something that has been a major part of my life at various times, and I hope you won’t mind me talking about it every now and again.

Thanks for putting up with this.

See you soon!!

“….Intellectual Thought….” Wait…What?!?

In my first post (https://shiftp.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/and-away-we-go/), I rattled off a series of things that interest me.  Nestled between Writing and Microcontrollers was this seemingly out of place category, “Intellectual Thought.”  But if I told you that I earned my BA in Philosophy, then it probably wouldn’t be so out of the ordinary to think that I might like to pursue more lofty interests from time to time.  But I’m not really interested in figuring out whether Schrodinger’s Cat is alive or dead (Who cares…just open the box and find out already!!), or how many angels can fit on the head of a pin (Trick question, angels are non-corporeal and so putting them on a physical object is moot).

In reality, I am more interested in HOW people think and how the process has changed (if it actually has) over the course of History.  At one time, I was actually studying the Development of Intellectual Thought from 600-1000AD.  Education can give a subtle hint as to how various cultures wish to shape their children, but it has its limits so long as the culture of the time isn’t undergoing dramatic shifts.  There is a lot that can be said about any age, including the one we are living in, but I would rather not get into these kinds of discussions.  Rather, I would like to discuss, from time to time, some thoughts about the Intellectual Life.  You will notice at the bottom of my website is a list of books that I am currently reading.  One of these is entitled, “The Intellectual Life”.  I happened on it while doing some extra searching about the work, “Leisure: The Basis of Culture” by Josef Pieper (A highly recommended book) in which Fr. James Schall did a commentary on it, and he happened to be doing the foreword for a revised classic, “The Intellectual Life” by A.G. Sartillanges, who wrote the book back in 30’s/40’s.  I started this book a week or so ago, and am still on page 19, having to digest it in such small pieces because of the density of the subject matter, as well as how practical it is for almost anyone.  I will go on a bit further on this topic in future posts, but I just wanted to give you an idea of the kinds of things that I like to discuss and share.

I have a few more topics that I will talk about in the near future, so I hope that you come back soon and check them out.

As always, feel free to make comments below.

See you soon!

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