Debt is Scary – Lesson Three of Seven

Scary Dreams

By Mattijn Franssen

Be Ruthless with Debt

The third principle I learned was to rid myself of debt. There are benefits to this principle beyond just the financial savings.

If you missed lessons one and two click here

LINK Lesson 1
LINK Lesson 2

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What I’ve Learned About Money – Lesson Two of Seven

retirement saving

Lesson Two – Saving for Retirement

How are you doing with your saving for retirement? How many more years do you have before you would like to retire? Not sure, well one fact for sure is you have one less year than you did last year.

A large percentage of the population does not save enough for retirement. Gone are the days when you have a pension and social security guaranteed to be waiting for you when you retire. You have to take control yourself.

But how? Even though your income may go up every year, you can’t seem to scrape enough “extra” to put aside for savings.

There is a way to do it though that is not as painful as you might guess.

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Life Changing Method to Start Saving Money

saving habit

Lesson One of Seven – Saving Money

One of the best pieces of information I have learned is to replace bad habits with good ones.

We all have bad habits, especially in the area of money. We overspend, we save too little, we owe too much, we don’t make enough income. All of these problems are seemingly impossible to tackle. But all big problems can be addressed by working on them a little at a time. If bad habits got you into the mess, then good habits will get you out of them.

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Winter Sucks, I’m Heading to Florida!

wintersucks2

By Namphuong Van

Spring is Here… I think.

Winters in Chicago require the ability to endure extremes, both in temperature and the hassles of snow. The winter of 2013-2014 was the fourth worst in Chicago history. If you have been alive since 1960 you have lived through all four of the worst. I have.

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My Top 14 Ways To Find Blog Topics

Top Ways to Find Blog Topics

What to Blog About?

In the previous post, I wrote about why we should start a blog LINK.

Here in this post I will talk about what to write about it and where to find ideas.

Start by asking yourself a few questions.

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Blogging Over 50. Only for the Young?

Am I too old to be blogging over 50?

Photo by MKHMarketing

Blogging Over 50 Can Be Done

If you’re like me, you hear about all the change in this world, especially in the world of technology and it seems overwhelming at times trying to keep up with it all. Younger people seem to adapt really well.

Even though blogging isn’t something new, I would guess the percentage of those blogging over 50 must be quite small. I work in IT, and I only started doing it last year.

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Seven Ideas for 2014 Resolutions

Seven Ideas for 2014 Resolutions – Your 2014 Makeover

Here are seven ideas for 2014 resolutions.

Photo by Amy Tripp Myers

Here are seven ideas for 2014 resolutions to make this a year that you will look back on 12 months from now with pride, fondness and a sense of accomplishment. Everything we will talk about in this post, the actual daily tasks are small and easy to do. But they are like puzzle pieces that put together a picture of a better life for you. Or a thread that weaves into a beautiful tapestry that depicts your life. A lot of what we talk about here only take seconds to do, some maybe ten minutes. But they are worth so much. Forget the past and start 2014 off with a bang.

1. One Big Goal (OBG) – Focus Follow One Course Until Successful.

It is easy to become distracted. What one BIG thing would you like to complete or start in 2014? Make a list of goals you’d like to accomplish over a lifetime and break them down into categories; health, relationships, money, spiritual, career, hobbies.

Identify those that are really big and will take you multiple years to complete. Break those goals down into yearly goals. For example, if you want to publish a book in ten years, where do you need to be in five years, two years, and the end of this year? Maybe this year you could start a daily journal, take a writing class, buy some good writing books and read five classic books.

After you have your list of goals for the year, by category, review them to determine which is the most important one – your OBG. Focus on that one daily. Schedule a task early each day and finish it first before anything else. You can still work on your other goals, but only after the work on your OBG is done. In our example, say you decide to work on your goal to have your book published. In 2014, your want to read five books. List out the books you want to read and buy or checkout from the library. Research how many pages they have. Then use a little math and figure out how many pages you have to read each day (five books x 350 pages = 1750 pages divided by 365 days = 5 pages a day to read).

Schedule a day to run up to the office supply store and buy a bound journal.

Set your alarm clock for five minutes earlier and use those five minutes to write in your journal. Increase the amount of time, a couple of minutes a week so that by the end of the year you’re writing for an hour per day.

Research online for a good writing class. Schedule 15 minutes a day to do this until you find a good one.

As you can see, you can break your BIG lifetime goal down to really small daily tasks that are easy to complete. Your day one tasks could be reading five pages from “Farewell to Arms”, write five minutes in my new journal, research 15 minutes online for a writing class, and brown-bag my lunch to save $7 towards my writing class. Simple. Anyone could do those tasks.

By the end of the year you will have read five good books, found a writing class and saved money for it, and developed a habit of writing for an hour per day. You could be very happy with a year like that. Keep that up for several years, and you will have the talent to complete your lifetime goal to publish a book. By focusing on this one big goal, you will be concentrating on what you are passionate about, what really motivates you and what drives you.

You will find that success in this one area will rub off into other areas. You will develop a different mindset with a confidence to know you can do it. But, FOCUS on your OBG, your One Big Goal this year, do it first thing in the morning, summarize it in one word and stick the word where you’ll see it every day; a post it note on the mirror, a reminder on your outlook calendar, take a sharpie and write it on your coffee mug. You will be surprised how big an impact this will have on your life.

2. Health – We all know our health is important. Neglect in this area impacts every other part of our life. Start your year by scheduling a physical exam with your doctor. I have previously written a post HERE on medical exams to schedule when you’re over 50.

Write out everything you would like to improve; lose weight, workout more, more flexibility, get rid of nagging back pain. Even if it seems impossible, put it down.

I lived with horrible pain in my left arm for months. It was so bad I couldn’t sleep or concentrate on work. My regular doctor said it was carpal tunnel, and it would need surgery. Instead, I researched other people who had the same pain, and they frequently cited problems with their neck. I checked on the best orthopedic surgeons in the area in Chicago magazine. I found one that happened to be five minutes from my house. He did an MRI and found a bulging disc in my neck that was squeezing a nerve that ran down my left arm, causing the pain. Six weeks of physical therapy and I was back to normal. Amazing!

Look at your list and determine which is the most important. If you’re over-weight or have high cholesterol, address those before deciding to run a marathon. And similar to the OBG, divide it up into small tasks that you can do daily and feel good about it.

If it is trying to lose weight, cut out one can of pop and do a ten minute walk when you get home each day. Make your goal to lose just one pound a month. By the end of the year, you will have dropped 12 pounds. If you achieve your goal before the end of the year, grab the next one on your list and go after it too. Remember that the goal of exercise is to change something. If it isn’t changing, then change what you are doing as it isn’t working.

3. Relationships – Relationships matter. Think about all the people you have in your life; your family, friends, neighbors, people you work with, and even the casual acquaintances like the people at the train station, or coffee shop.

Write down an assessment for all of them. Some people might be poisonous to you and you need to distance yourself from them. If it happens to be your spouse, then it will take a lot of work. People give up too easy in their marriage and forget that it does take work to make it a good one.

If somebody annoys you, what about them does? Start by forgiving them. Not necessarily to their face, but silently to yourself. Some things that bother you may actually be quite small and insignificant.

Laugh at the person who just cut you off in traffic. Smile at the person who complains all the time at work. Say, “I love you,” to yourself, at your neighbor who never waves back to you. Grab your wife and do a quick dance when she nags you.

Yes, some of these are ridiculous, but they work. Would your rather be miserable around everyone, or have a lot of fun? I’d rather have a good time.

Another area to look at is who are your friends. They saying goes, “you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” This year try to develop a friendship or mentorship with someone who can be a positive influence on your life. Eat lunch with the guy at work who has had two promotions in the last two years. Talk to the guy at the train station who always seems to be in a good mood. Email that author who wrote the book you love.

Above all, don’t neglect the family. Do something good for them every day. Little things like writing “I love you” on a napkin in the morning, or telling your kids you’re proud of them are huge and will have lasting benefits for them and you.

4. Money – Your goal here could be a simple one, like get a 2% raise, or it could be complex like start a new business.

Here are some ideas; start earning a side income to use during your retirement years, payoff your debt, start tracking all your spending, diversify your savings, start an emergency fund, move to a smaller home or to an area with a cheaper cost of living, cut back on some expenses like eating out or cable, increase the amount you save each month and have it transferred automatically so you can’t touch it, save each month for large expenses like Christmas or real estate taxes so you’ll have the money when the time comes.

That should be enough to get your creative juices flowing. The important thing is to make each year better than the year before. Start small and build. Make an extra payment towards the principal on your debt. Start with $50/month this year and increase it to $100/month next year, and so on. This one task will take you five minutes at the end of the month (set a reminder).

I’m also an advocate of tracking your money and assets. You do a better job of managing what you measure, just don’t make it complicated. Break your expenses down into broad categories, like housing, food, medical, fun, auto, and insurance. Enter the amounts once per week and review at the end of the month. Keep track of your net worth (assets minus debt) and watch it grow. Take two minutes to log into your retirement account and jot down your account totals. Keep them on a spreadsheet. This will give you a good feel for how you are doing, just don’t panic and buy and sell on a whim. Slow and steady wins. Subscribe to a good financial newsletter. I recommend the Palm Beach Letter.

5. Spiritual – This can mean different things to different people. For me, I want to work on my Christian walk of faith and my relationship with God. I do this by studying four books in the bible per year, memorizing 24 bible verses, attending a weekly men’s bible study and serving/supporting my local church.

For others, this can mean working on your mind with things like meditation, getting rid of negative thoughts, surrounding yourself with positive people, not regretting the past, or worrying about the future, but focusing on now and what is real. You have a mind, a body, a soul. Don’t neglect any of them, each needs attention. Look for some good books on Amazon.com for self-improvement. You will find that a better “you” will rub off on other areas of your life; your relationships, your health, your creativity, productivity. This area is probably the most neglected area for the majority of men.

6. Simplify/Declutter – I started a program in 2013 to simplify. Part of the process was to declutter. I use a spare bedroom in my home as a combo workout room, music room and office. There was stuff everywhere; on the floor, the closet was jammed, and my desk had so much stuff on it I couldn’t put my laptop on it. All of these piles smother you, each is a to do list, and subconsciously they are weights that drag you down. I had to get rid of it, and I did by starting small. I did one area each week. I would lay out the pile and sort it into three categories:
a. Don’t need it/Never use it/No value – throw it away
b. Don’t need it/Never use it/Could be used by someone else – Donate it or Sell it
c. I need it/I use it – Find a place for it and store it
Some of the projects were not easy. My closet was jammed with stuff. It required me to install shelves, both on the walls and units that sat on the floor.

I sold books and unused music gear and made over $300. Nice!

I bought an L-shaped desk from Staples, around Christmas, for $49 and threw the old one away. This new desk gives me plenty of room.

This process is far from over and I will continue it in 2014. I have clothes to get rid of and a crawlspace to thin out. And you know, it does feel better to walk in my office when it is all clean and organized.

You can do it too. Each week find one tiny area to declutter, maybe one square foot of space. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Once it becomes a habit (see below), it will be easy to do and you can tackle big projects like the garage or basement. We save so much stuff that we don’t need. Less stuff, less distractions, less worries, and you become more productive due to a clear mind.

7. Habit – This was another area that I worked on in 2013 that I will continue for a lifetime. I first read about this in a book called “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. It’s only about 100 pages, and you can read it in one day. In it, a man learns ten things that changed his life. The first one was to develop good habits and become their slave. Most of us do the opposite, we develop bad habits and become their slaves. In 2013, I developed the following habits:
a. Wake up at 4:30am
b. Practice Spanish lessons daily
c. Practice my bass daily
d. Practice ear training every morning
e. Write for one hour before work
f. Great dental care (see this LINK)
g. Memorize bible verses
h. Learn new vocabulary words daily
i. Learn/review grammar lessons daily
j. Review my retirement fund and market performance daily
k. Track what food I eat and break down the grams of fat, carbs, protein and total calories (Free App)
l. Jot down anything I am grateful for that happened during the month
m. Keep a small notebook with me to note any ideas that come to me during the day

Most of these habits are done before I go to work, or before I go to sleep. They are routines that I have actually written out. For example, wake up at 4:30am, make breakfast and feed cat 4:45am…After a month of doing this, it just becomes habit.

I know that I will work on my Spanish next and log on to vocabulary.com to test myself on ten words after that. They’ve become habits, good habits. Each helps in areas I have down as lifetime goals. By making them habits, I do them daily and doing them daily improves me daily and gets me closer to my goals. It only really cost me getting up an hour and a half early each day.

Leo Babauta wrote about habits on his blog. He wanted the habit of flossing. Why is it so easy to brush your teeth each day and so hard to floss daily? Well, it becomes easy once it is a habit. Leo started by flossing just one tooth each day. Then two teeth, and so on. After a month, you’re flossing without even thinking about it. You just walk into the bathroom and grab the floss and go to it. And it works that way with all of the tasks you want to be habits. Do a small bit each day and at the end of the month…boom it’s a habit. The nice bonus is that the more good habits you develop, the less time you have for bad habits.

SUMMARY

Hopefully you have found this list helpful, and it has given you some ideas for 2014 resolutions. Make this year a great one, small changes done daily add up to huge changes later. Don’t regret your past or worry about the future. Focus on today and do your small tasks, making sure to do the OBG (One Big Goal) first. Do that and your future will take care of itself.

Please leave a comment letting me know what you’ll work in this year.

Five Fitness Diets I Tried in 2013 and My 2014 Diet

Do I need a new 2014 diet?

Photo by Alan Cleaver

 

What Worked and What Didn’t and My Search for a Great 2014 Diet

Can anyone in the world come up with a perfect diet? A diet that will help you lose weight, in all the right places – fat no less – gain muscle, tastes great, easy to fix, and not overly expensive?

I know I’ve tried, and have been unsuccessful. My diet in 2013 was one of my few disappointments – one I hope not to repeat with my 2014 diet. While I did lose weight, I lost too much and lost muscle. Instead of looking fit and healthy, I looked sickly. This was not what I was after.

For 2013, I reduced my weight to a low of 139 pounds (at 5’10”) and my body fat percentage was a low of 9.5%. By year-end, I was able to bring my weight up to 146 and keep my body fat around 10.5%.

My goal for a 2014 diet is to bring my weight up to 150-155 pounds and maintain my body fat % close to 10%. And I’d like most of the weight gain to be in muscle in the upper body.

Diets Tried in 2013

1. Man 2.0 by John Romaniello – This was a very good book written by one of the top trainers in the country. He is helping Arnold Schwarzenegger get back in shape too. He has formulas to calculate the number of calories to consume and breaks it down into grams of protein, fat and carbs. The science was well-researched and has been successful for John and his clients. I liked it, but it was too complicated for me to carry out. I don’t want to spend a lot of time during the week crunching numbers. What I did like was use his method of varying calories depending on whether you were working out or not. For me, my daily calories should be around 1800 on non-workout days and 2500 for workout days. Also carbs are kept low on non-workout days.

2. Zero WillPower by Mike Chang – This guy is big on YouTube and he has a great physique. I didn’t like his workouts as they were geared more towards a guy in his 20’s and 30’s (I thought) and too much risk of injury for a guy my age. I stuck with it for the twelve weeks and learned a few things but ultimately decided it was not for me. I did like some of his ideas for diet though. I tried a couple of the intermittent fasting diets (see below) that state that the ‘six small meals a day’ method is old-fashioned, and you need a period during the day to fast. This cuts calories and trains your body to burn off its fat stores by reprogramming your cortisol levels. I think for my needs and life style that the six small meals a day will work better and this is what I will try for 2014. I liked some of Mike’s recipes and his method of using the George Foreman grill (large size) to cook all of his 42 meals for the week (six per day x seven days) all at once and storing in containers that he can heat up as needed. I liked the spices he recommended, especially the McCormick Grill Mates. All of his meals were warm though and required that you have a microwave handy to cook them, or keep them warm in an insulated bag. This was impractical for me.

3. Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon – If losing weight and making it simple is your goal, this is the book to get. Brad’s method involves fasting for a period of time thereby cutting calories over the course of the week. This worked really well for me, but too well. I could not eat enough calories during the small window of time allowed each day. Surprisingly, fasting was only hard the first week or two. It might not be for everyone, as fasting can have effects on you mentally. I fasted 24 hours once per week and sixteen hours on other days. Every other week I did a cheat day and ate whatever I wanted. I also tried the Renegade diet, which is a variation of this diet. Both worked really well for losing weight and were simple to use. If you need to lose more than 20 pounds, and want an easy method to do it, and not have to cut out a lot of the foods you like, this is a great diet to try. You will need discipline and willpower, but it does get easier after one to two weeks.

4. Low Carb – I didn’t follow any one book or person’s diet for this. The theory is to cut as much carbs out of your diet as possible. For me it was cutting down to like 50 grams per day. So no cereal, pasta, rice, bread or white potatoes. Carbs from green veggies like broccoli don’t count towards your totals. Also, all simple carbs like sugar need to be avoided. This was the first diet I tried, and it worked. It is great to get rid of the spare tire, and to shed those final ten pounds of weight off your body. It was too impractical for me to follow every day for an extended period of time. I could see using this for a couple weeks before vacation, or if you were a model/actor and needed to look good for something.

5. Scooby Diet – Scooby is a guy on Youtube who does videos on fitness. His exercises and information are good – his diet, while healthy, is not (at least for me). The diet he recommends scores points for being inexpensive and easy to fix. The taste is not great and you get bored with it quickly. I am not a picky eater, and I could only last two weeks on it. He also uses a lot of beans which wreak havoc on your system. If canned salmon and beans are your all-time favorite foods, this could be the diet for you. I only lasted two weeks. I did like his recommendations for using flavorings (salsa, balsamic vinegar, dried garlic/onion, no salt seasoning), frozen veggies and dried fruits, and shopping at Costco. So it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

My 2014 Diet

I liked bits and pieces of all of the above. So for my 2014 diet I am going to create my own borrowing from all of the above. Here’s my rules:

1. Effective – must allow me to gain muscle and maintain my bodyfat of 10%
2. Easy – I don’t have the time to weigh foods, chop vegetables, cook six meals. My wife and daughter don’t want to follow my diet, so I am on my own.
3. Economical – I require that the diet be easy on the checkbook. I don’t want to spend $400 per month on supplements, or $200 per week on produce and meat.
4. Edible – Life has to be enjoyed. We spend a chunk of our lives eating, and I don’t want to spend that time eating foods that make me nauseous, or give me bad side effects. I also want the flexibility to eat foods I enjoy, but are not necessarily good for me – just not that often.

MY 2014 DIET PLAN

For my 2014 diet, I am going back to six small meals per day. This works better for me. The fasting diets are great to lose weight, but I could not eat enough during my “eating window” to build muscle. I will have an occasional fasting day of 16-24 hours if I notice a gain in body fat, or if I binge the day before.

I wrote to Lean Cuisine last year about suggesting they produce a line of low carb meals. They said they would note my suggestion. A year later, and nothing new from them. However, I did see a line of low carb foods from Atkins (yes the same as the Atkins diet). These are frozen meals that consist of a protein source like chicken or beef, with veggies. These are actually quite tasty. They also make protein bars and protein shakes. All are high in protein and low in fat and carbs. I have decided to use these at work and for snacks. They will provide four of my six meals. My first meal of the day on workout days will be rolled oats with protein powder and fat-free yogurt. It takes a little to wolf this down. But it is loaded in protein and really fills you up. The second meal of the day is a new snack I tried that I like. It is a tortilla with almond butter spread on it, and then you roll it up around a banana. This tastes great and it is a healthy snack. This two options are only on workout days. Non-workout days will be protein and veggies only.

My 2014 diet will also incorporate some other recipes I use in the slow cooker, as well as, using my grill in the summer to cook meat with a side of veggies.

So six meals per day that are high in protein, low in fat and carbs and I’ll mix it up a bit now and then with a cheat day and some fasting. This combined with my total body workouts will be my 2014 diet and exercise plan – simple, safe and effective. I will give a quarterly update of how this is working.

Please share your comments for your 2014 diet and what you hope to accomplish.

What New Fitness Routine Will I Try in 2014?

2013 was a great year for my fitness.

I was able to bring my body fat % down to 9.5%. I had a goal to bring it down below 10% and was able to do it. Diet was the key to achieving this goal. I did a combination of low carb and intermittent fasting. See these blog posts for more information LINK1 LINK2 LINK3. I was also able to remain pain and injury free. The key being I shifted to new routines that while still effective, they were geared more towards a guy over 50 rather than someone in their 20’s and 30’s.

While it was great to bring my body fat down, I didn’t reach two of my goals in 2013; six pack abs and to bulk up my upper body. I have a nice development going with my abs but there wasn’t much difference between 9.5% body fat and 11% body fat. And my upper body withered away to where I looked sickly. My weight reached a low of 139 at 5’10”. In December I started eating more, especially around the holidays. My weight came back up to 146 and my abs looked the same. My muscles also felt fuller, not deflated like they did.

So for 2014 my goal is to refine my diet and exercise program and bulk up while staying cut, or becoming more cut.

How will I do this?

I will break this down to two posts; one for exercise and one for diet.

Exercise changes – I will stick to working out at home in 2014 using body-weight and dumbbell exercises. My workouts will focus on the whole body and I will do these three times per week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. These three days work well with my schedule. On Wednesdays and Fridays I will do cardio interval training. Sunday will be my Ab Blast and Tuesday will be a rest day. I have been using this for two weeks now and my weight has not decreased (good thing) and my body fat % has been in the 10-11% range. Time will tell if I can gain some muscle while keeping my body fat around 10%.

The exercises I use on my total body workouts are varied to shock my muscles and prevent boredom. I use 10-15 exercises per workout; 2-4 exercises for the large muscles (chest, back, legs), one exercise for each arm muscle (bicep, tricep, shoulders) and two for abs. Rest is as little as possible and reps are kept in the 10-15 range. For exercises like planks I will do those for 60 seconds. Exercises like pushups and pullups I will do to failure. Here are some of my favorite exercises for each muscle:

Exercises By Muscle Group

Chest
Standard Pushups**
Decline Pushups**
Incline Pushups
Incline DB Press
DB Flys

Back
Chinups**
Pullups**
Bent Over DB Rows**
DB Swings**
DB Woodchops
Band Rows
Supermans
DB Deadlifts

Legs
Body-weight Squats**
DB Squats**
DB Lunges**
Ball Curls
Bench Step ups
Ball Wall Sit

Shoulders
DB Press**
DB Laterals
DB Front Raise
DB Rear Laterals

Triceps
DB Extensions (lying or standing)**
DB Kickbacks**
Bench Dips**
Band Kickbacks
Band Pushdowns
Close Grip Pushups

Biceps
DB Curls**
DB Hammer Curls**
Ball DB Preacher Curls
DB Concentration Curls

Abs
Planks**
Side Planks**
Roller Wheel**
Leg Raises from Chinup Bar**
Double Crunch**
Bicycles**
DB Seated Twist
Band Crunch
Bench Crunch

Cardio Intervals
Exercise Bike**
Running Hills**
Jumping Jacks**
Jump Rope**
Jump Ups**
Bench Step Ups**
Run in Place**
Mountain Climbers**
Burpees (Half and Whole)**
Regular Bike

** Note these are my favorite exercises

Now that I’m over 50, the emphasis is on maintaining my health and staying injury-free. Gone are the days of trying to look like Arnold and the pursuit of 18 inch arms. I want to keep the weight off, maintain the muscle I have and keep it toned. It is far more important to me to not throw out my shoulders or hurt my back then it is to be huge. In a lot of ways I am in better shape now in my 50’s than I was in my 20’s. 2014 will be all about perfecting, or coming close to perfection with, my diet and exercise. I would love to hear from anyone else over 50 and what routines you do.

Caring for a Loved One

sweet old kiss

Photo by: Jonel Hanopol

Am I Qualified to Care for Someone

A month ago, I sat in the airport terminal with time to pause and think about a question that nagged me the previous day. I was on my way to Texas to care for a family member who was seriously ill. My relative had been released from the hospital, but no one was there to care for her. What could I do? I am not qualified to be a caretaker. I was concerned, depressed and felt hopeless. How could I find the courage to break through the trouble?

Awkwardness greeted me upon my arrival in Texas. I decided to use a technique that had worked many times in the past when I faced a terrifying situation. I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and smiled. With suitcase in hand I set off for my relative’s home.

Be There

I remember blunder around my relative’s home for the first few days, not knowing what to say or do. But carrying on the normal daily activities soon erased the awkwardness of the situation. I quickly realized that being there is what is needed. I didn’t have to do a thing. I didn’t have to say a thing. When I felt useless, I cleaned a room. When I felt inadequate, I spent time with her watching a TV show. When I felt ineffective, I cooked a meal. I felt useful. I acted useful. I was useful.

With perseverance, hard work and maybe a miracle or two, recovery arrived. I could hear it, see it, sense it. But for fear of a setback I didn’t want to cease worrying and helping and praying. You focus on the good and forget the bad. Bad will diminish allowing the good to flourish. Like putting a weed killer on your lawn that chokes out the weeds allowing the grass to grow unencumbered. The grass can stretch its feet and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Recovery is contagious. With each sign of improvement the mind becomes convinced it can recover and armed with those subconscious thoughts, my relative wanted to recover.

My trepidations were calmed. I could return home knowing my trip was a benefit to someone I loved. The simple prevailed.