The Power of 1 Hour

Time is a thief, it takes away. Time is also a bestower of gifts. Time marks our life’s passage, it happens to everyone and you receive the same amount of it today everyone else receives. No one has any more (or less) time than you do. Use it.

Our culture orders the day into 24 segments and there is power in each hour. Keep this in mind; the really IMPORTANT STUFF in life is usually done each day. We deal with the past and let it go, we reach toward the future in terms of plans, dreams, values, and goals.

Here’s some ways to tap into the Power of 1 Hour:

-Work 1 Hour on a project you dread, fear, avoid. Just 1 hour, then quit. You can do this for an hour can’t you? Set a timer, set an alarm. You can endure an hour.

-Spend 1 Hour totally focused on someone you love/care about. Life is way short. When was the last time to you spent an entire hour giving your eyes, ears, your heart, your conversation, your attendance and attention to one person? To God? It’s a life-changer.

-Focus 1 Hour of concentrated reflection on your life direction. Evaluate your work progress, your relationships to God and others. How’s it going? Take the hour to stop, take a breath, meditate, reflect.

-Take 1 Hour to enjoy a great meal. The slow food movement will likely never take hold in American culture, but you can do this occasionally. A great simple unhurried meal sharing talking and laughing with family/friends is awesome. 

-Take 1 hour for a nap. Ah. All these suggestions work best when you’re fresh, a nap helps! A nap is mastery over the environment, it’s a luxury and a blessing. Less than hour is fine, just devote an hour to the “nap process”; getting quiet and comfortable, dozing off, the nap itself, then an unhurried awakening. Presto! A New YOU!

Peace y’all,

Cary Branscum  

 

5 Lifepoints in Psalms 39

 

Mentioned to someone I enjoy reading the Psalms. They looked at me and asked “why?”.  Easy answer; there’s a lot of Life in the Psalms, many were written as “songs of ascent” for ancient pilgrims to Jerusalem. The Psalms deal with the daily gritty realities of existence.

Here’s 5 Lifepoints that jump out of Psalms 39: 1-6

1)  Take Heed To My Ways. It’s amazing how many good folks go through life like a ping pong or pinball, moving with little reflection from sensation to sensation. Time invested in self-evaluation is golden.

2) Keep Your Mouth.  I need to take two beats and think before speaking, and maybe five or ten beats if it’s a conflict situation. Sometimes it’s best just to keep it to yourself – acknowledge and deal with it, but words can’t be taken back.

3) Seek To Know Your End.  At 60, there are fewer years ahead than behind and this is strangely comforting. Some things I’ll never have to do again – Yay! How will my life end up if I stay on my present course? It’s worth some consideration, no?

4) Know the Measure Of Your Days.  Do you waste time or invest it? If you died tonight, have you really lived today? How do you measure/evaluate your life? What standards do you use? Are you living a passionate balanced life? It’s possible and achievable by you. Trust me on this.

5) Be Not Disquieted In Vain.  Here’s a confession; I absolutely wasted time, energy, concern and drama over things that make no difference at all. Period. It’s a human thing to do, and it’s really stupid. No more. I’m done with that. I’m not letting anything petty steal my joy or peace of mind. I’ll get excited and invest myself in things that matter.

That’s it, thanks for readin’

Peace y’all,

Cary Branscum

 

Got Nothin’ To Do? Seriously?

I’m amazed at folks who say they got nothin’ to do. I work with folks who sometimes say this. How can that be? Sure we can’t do everything we want when we want – but nothin’ to do? Seriously?

Besides all the great human need in the world today, here’s a random list that might get you rolling to better, more important things.

Listen to someone. Smile in the rain. Help a person achieve their vision. Get a stub of pencil, a little spiral notebook and take notes. Type on a typewriter. Wear sunglasses. Throw a book into your pocket, read something. Chop firewood. Carve a ship from a bar of soap.

Agree with a friend’s opinions, no matter how off they are. Work leather. Welcome immigrants. Fiddle with things (alternative to this: putter around). Sit in a chair by a window. Trim crepe myrtle bushes. Do something for joy instead of money. Nod to strangers. Clean tools. Sit through something to the very end. Be the last one to leave.

Make someone’s dreams come true. Write a letter. Throw away all your pens that won’t write. Polish chrome. Make yourself indispensible. See your way clear.

Be the nicest person someone ever met. Work up a horrific sweat then take a nice shower. Move to a smaller house in a nicer area. Make people glad to know you. Notice details. In the camp of life, claim your place at the fire.

Now, there ya go. That’ll get ya rollin’.

Peace ya’ll,

Cary Branscum

Readers Live 4 Additional Lives – Enjoy!

Busy-ness serves many functions, but it’s not a pace you can continue forever nor is it desirable to do so. I’ve had an extremely busy summer, now I’m re-entering a world I’ve missed; the world of reading books. If you’re an avid reader, I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re not hooked on reading, here’s something you may be missing.

Readers gain 4 Additional Lives, here they are:

 The YOU engaged in the reading process. Folks can read in many different settings; home,  subway, long trips, planes, trains, and automobiles. I knew a college professor who read while stopped for traffic lights. He’d read till someone honked (this is not recommended).  The YOU engaged in reading, holding the book or Kindle, the visual and mental focus, this adds up to an additional life.

 The YOU interacting with the text, including all your feelings, thoughts and experiences, is an immersion in another world, perhaps another time and place. Books and reading take us away via the magic of words, yet physically leave us right where we need to be at the moment.

The YOU “projected” into the text. A good read can give us the opportunity to be ourselves yet be someone else at the same time. It’s a form of transport, allowing us freedom to become a character or participant in the world created by the text. I’ve been to mountaintops, deserts, jungles, and flown to other worlds while remaining comfortably in my chair.

The life of the author. What?  How is this an additional life? Writing a book is a challenging, onerous task. While most writers are readers, not all readers are writers. I have this little blog, do some writing in my work, and keep journal notes. That’s it. If you are an aspiring writer, my hat’s off to you, but I’ll never join your ranks.  The world entered via reading was created by the author, it’s the product after an intense investment of time and effort. The life of the author is invested in the work, and the reader reaps the benefit.

Thanks forREADING!

Peace ya’ll,

CaryBranscum

Epitaph for a Bookstore

Jean Barnes Books in Oklahoma City was a booklover’s dream for decades. In the last quarter of the 20th century I began adult worklife as youth minister for a lovely church just down the street from Jean Barnes.  Small and  family owned, the shop was packed cozily from floor to ceiling with a dazzling range of offerings. Tomes of theology unavailable elsewhere begged to be bought and read. Psychology, philosophy, mental health, business and professional books, the best fiction and nonfiction packed this tiny store.  Worlds and offerings, knowledge, ideas, the stuff of life; all were available.

The Barnes and Wood families were always on hand, and knew every book inside and out. It was one of those places with a little bronze bell on the door. You entered to the fragrance of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco and fresh coffee. And swirling in the midst of smoke and fragrance, the ever bracing smell of new books.

Change happens everywhere, and the internet became the chosen means for buying and selling books, the big box bookstores hit town, it’s the old story.

Today, only a vacant shell and faded sign remain as mute testimony, but my heart skips a beat and writes a palimpsest of joyful lost afternoons exploring worlds that – with enough hard work, faith, and courage – might become my own.

Glad to say, David Wood (a member of the original family) runs a publishing company, with the lovely name WoodNBarnes, an homage to his family heritage http://woodnbarnes.com/

There are many wonderful bookstores in the world, and I love just about all of them. Millions of people visit bookstores, but no one is more grateful than I am.

Peace y’all,

Cary Branscum

Why Your Day Matters & How to Make It

Drifting through life is a slow death. It can be a course of choice, but drifting by definition is usually a non-choice. Waking to a new day and sliding through with blinders, going with the flow, taking all that comes is fine on rare occasions.  As a lifetyle, it’s a waste.

Here’s why your day matters:

No one has ever lived today. Not you, not the President of the United States, not one living soul has yet lived this specific day. Guess what? You and everyone else blessed to draw breath gets to live today, and you have a good shot at living it well if that’s your intention.

Today is a non-repeatable event. It may look like repetition but it’s not. The two o’clock today is not the same as yesterday, or last night, or any day before. People, circumstances, weather, big things and little change every single day.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I can’t call back today when it’s done. I count on having a fresh day tomorrow, but it’s not here at the moment. The choices I make today will have results tomorrow, as will all the good and bad things that happen to me and my world.

Here’s 5 ways to make your day:

1) What’s the biggest goal, the biggest Mission in your life? Figure this out and do something toward it every single day, the results add up over time.

2) Have a sacred space in your day. Spend time with God, train yourself to recognize sacred moments, treat each person with respect. This increases your own personal life value and greatly enhances your day.

3) Everyone finds time to eat physical food, don’t forget food for the soul. See the colors in the sunrise in addition to the red tail lights in the morning commute. Let a favorite song fill your world with music. Have a good book or favorite movie waiting for your enjoyment later; little things like this give your day an expectant bounce.

4) Touch base with those you love, and don’t under-value brief encounters. A two-minute phone call, a quick lunch, even sharing a joke or observation enriches your life.

5) Achieve something. You may not hit all your sales numbers, you may not return every email or phone call. I want to do an impeccable job each day and I’m seldom 100% successful, some days I just roll the wheel forward. Think of your work and achievements as one slice of the pie chart that is your life. When I allow my work/achievement slice to take over the other slices, I’m forgetting the rest of the pie. That’s not good. Do all you can today and let it be.  

Your Day Matters because YOU matter. Let’s go out and get it.

Peace y’all,

Cary Branscum

Jump the Shirk (beat Procrastination)

Your entire life is a series of projects, personal or professional. It’s human nature to procrastinate, some of us are masters of the art. There are projects we need to tackle, but don’t. What happens when nothing seems to help?

Here are some outta-the-box ways I beat procrastination:

Decide to do SOMETHING toward the project by making changes in your life pattern. These changes (even small ones) can make a difference. Wash your face in hotter or colder water. Put on a different pair of shoes. Use a different pen. Get a fresh notebook and write the name of the project on the cover.  CAVEAT: don’t allow these changes to become excuses for additional procrastination.

Admit you are not working on the project and perhaps choose not to, but “if you were”, list the critical path steps that need to happen on the project. Just jot them down. In a row. With little circles and arrows. If you were going to actually do the project, what is the first (or next) step?

Identity and list –  but do not judge – your reasons/excuses for not doing the project. How do you feel about each one; are they valid and to whom?

Identify and  list – but do not judge – each of your procrastinating behaviors. Here’s a few I use: desk neatening, researching the right equipment, waiting for a resource such as time or money, watching TV, getting fresh coffee, staring into space, having internal conversations, walking the dog and I don’t even have a dog.  

Get a cheap timer, one that clicks and dings, such as a kitchen egg-timer. Go to the spot you’ll work on the project, and set the timer for 15 minutes. While it clicks, flood yourself with all the procrastination you possibly can. The second you hear the ding, shut it off and jump into step one of the project. 

These ideas focus on one person you can change, and that’s you. What if others bottleneck the project? You’ve done all you can but someone else doesn’t like the project, holds it up for some reason? Take the person to lunch, get coffee with them, but don’t talk about the project. You may want to read that last line again. If they bring it up, schedule a future meeting, but right now you just want to talk about anything else. Try this, you’ll be amazed.  

Glad that’s done. Now there’s a project I really need to jump on…but first, I need some fresh coffee. Hey, is that my dog barking?

Peace y’all,

Cary Branscum