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Showing posts from 2012

'Tis the Season!

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I'm sure many of you out there in cyberspace and the interwebs are like me and celebrating the festive season that's upon us. That in mind, I'm leaving a simple message for all of you this week.






And for you less religious, more nature minded folks, Happy Solstice!


Thanks for reading. Or in this case, looking. Questions and comments are always welcome.

21 Days to a Good Habit Revisited

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Back on November 29, I discussed the idea of forming new habits and what it took to get something incorporated into your life. Well, in an effort to practice what I preached, I attempted to make a morning run a new facet of my quest for health. When I wrote that post, I had been running in the morning for about five days. I can tell you now that almost a month later, I have run a total of 23 times. I decided to run Monday through Friday and take the weekends off. I don’t need to beat myself up, just form a new habit. I won’t go so far as to say getting up at the butt crack of dawn, dressing in running sweats and stepping out into the brisk almost freezing air is an ingrained ritual yet, but it definitely has made an impression on my thinking, and the way my body feels.


You see, I remember having a job during high school. Every Saturday and Sunday I had to get up at 5:30 am, to get to work by 6. When you’re a teenager that is EARLY; super early. I did it for years, going so far as to ke…

Don't Run the Rat Race

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Sometimes, I just have no idea where the day will take me. I go to work, do my chores, take care of my responsibilities, and try to make the weekend a fun and enjoyable time, before I have to go back to work and do it all over again. They call it the Rat Race. Have you ever heard of this? It’s pretty much a zero sum game where you don’t really lose, but you don’t really win much either. To me it’s a mediocre way of living. I’ve always been goal oriented. To be fair though, there have been times where my goals sat quietly in the back of my mind, buried under a mountain of crap I called responsibilities and used as an excuse to not go after the things I really wanted. For years, I wouldn’t write a word but still fantasized about being a writer. Man I was in love with the idea of being a writer for so long. That’s the danger of being a dreamer; nothing gets done. That’s why I plan, so I don’t have to worry about where the day takes me; I try and let the day worry where I’ll lead it.
Life…

Does Persistence Really Pay Off?

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” As the old saying goes, never giving up is a mantra to follow if you want to be successful. But when you think about it, when does trying and being persistent stop being a virtue and start becoming a hindrance? There’s a fine line between the two and it’s not always easy to know which side you are on. Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this question, but I posed it because knowing the answer would help wouldn’t it?  There have been times when I was absolutely sure staying the course and continuing on was the best answer. I persisted and stayed focused, but I continued to fail. What does that mean? Did I not commit enough? Did I not try hard enough? There are other times when I gave up when things seemed hard. I felt devoting so much time and energy to that one thing was a recipe for failure, only to find out later that if I had hung on just a bit longer, things would have worked…

21 Days to a Good Habit

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There’s an old saying that I’ve heard and read countless times.  It says to form a habit you have to do something for 21 days in a row. Now usually it seems easier to form a bad habit than it does to form a good habit. Ever wonder how you fell into watching TV every night, or eating macaroni and cheese for dinner; because it’s easy. Bad habits are easy to form because they don’t take much effort, usually because they arose out of some need for a short cut. You found that short cut and BANG, it’s a bad habit. Okay, so that 21 days may be an arbitrary number, and it’s fair to say that not all people will need 21 days and some people may need more. But you should get the idea behind the premise. Doing something consistently for a specific period of time will help form patterns in your behavior that eventually becomes second nature.
So, why the hell am I bothering with all this you might ask? Easy. I want to form Good habits. Why does it seem that doing ‘good’ things for ourselves are so …

Do You Ever Wonder Why You Fail?

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Do you ever wonder why you fail? Of course you do. Failure sucks but it seems unavoidable. We should all strive for success but be prepared for failure, because unlike success, failure can teach us a lot. We can learn where we need help, where we need practice, motivation, instruction, experience, focus, the list is almost endless. But failure can be deceiving. It can teach you to give up and that’s a terrible outcome. When you fail, you need to persist; not at failing, but at attempting the next success. To put it another way, if you failed, you need to go back to square one, start over again, and give it another go.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard the old quote attributed to Einstein, the line goes something like “The definition of crazy is trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” Okay, so I’m not advocating craziness, but I am advocating persistence. Trying again, with a different perspective, a different …

Stop Wishing For It!

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Wishing for a good thing doesn’t accomplish much does it? I’ve known some people, myself included, that have fondly used the phrase, “You can hope in one hand, and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.” I’ve always found that line to be a bit hilarious, crude yes, but also quite funny. I think the reason behind that is because the sentiment behind the statement is so true. Thinking about something good happening is far less effective than actually doing something about it. It really comes down to action versus inaction. I’m not quite sure I’ll ever see anyone squat down and actually try to shit in their own hand, but the point should be well taken. You must Do something to get something.
Personally, I’ve been in love with being a writer for years. I’d sit and imagine what it would be like getting my stories published, wonder what it would be like to give up my nine-to-five daily grind and just sit in front of my laptop, pounding away at the keys. I’d dream of seeing my …

Let the Music Do the Talking

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I was thinking of doing something just a little different today. It's been a long time since I put up a play list. To me, music is so very inspiring, it has to be shared. I've done my fair share of poking around YouTube and I've found a few pieces that are really good. So here they are.  Enjoy!

The first is from Charles McNeal:


Here's a piano piece:

And here's one that some may find just a bit harder to appreciate but it's a favorite of mine:
Thanks for reading... okay, well today it's watching and listening. Comments welcome.

Is There Life on Mars?

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Humans have always been fascinated with the Red Planet. If you’ve been paying attention lately, we’ve sent quite a few spacecraft to the planet. Recent discoveries have revealed startling and amazing results, like the possibility seasonal of liquid water asthis article relates. It’s a veritable wonder that on such a seemingly desolate and inhospitable place, the single most important factor to life still exists.
When I was a kid (and even today), space, space flight and the cosmos in general captivated me like no other subject. That’s probably why even now I’m a self-admitted Sci-Fi nerd. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed either. I would soak up every TV show and movie I could get my eyes on; the books too were a source of inspiration and endless imagination. I used to wonder why Sci-Fi and fantasy were such powerful draws to my young mind. At first I just thought that stuff was wicked cool. Then I started to believe it was just because I was kind of dorky and socially awkward. Aft…

Working Harder is for Chumps!

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Has anyone ever told you that to get ahead in life you have to work hard? I’m sure you have, but I’m going to tell you something radical. Don’t listen to them. To be totally honest, working harder is for chumps. Yes, you read that right, working harder is for chumps. Now I know that might be offensive. Don’t worry, that just means you’re still alive. Relish that fact. 
I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Have you ever read Animal Farm, by George Orwell? If you haven’t you should, but I’ll give you basic run down on one of the main characters. His name is Boxer. He’s basically the muscle and work horse of the farm. He believes in making things better for everyone and is willing to do what it takes to contribute. Unfortunately for Boxer, he’s not very bright. He religiously followed a mantra of “Must work harder” throughout the book. In fact, everyday he does work harder, while those in power continually take negative advantage of him, until one day, Boxer works so hard, he works hi…

What Happens When You Lose Your Heroes?

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Perhaps you’re aware of the almost unbelievable story of Lance Armstrong. Recent news of a supposed doping scandal washes away the mystique of his once shinning accomplishments. What he seemed to accomplish in winning seven consecutive Tour De France cycling races was an inspiration to millions of people. After his exposure as a cheat, not only do his accomplishments seem tainted, but so does the inspiration he ignited in those who followed and supported him. Sadly, cheating is not exclusive to Team Armstrong. Apparently he did it the best, until he got caught, but there is an culture of cheating in many professional sports, not just cycling. So what do we do with this information? How can we look to heroes for inspiration when those heroes are frauds?
Hopefully we all have at least one person we can look up to and admire. They don’t necessarily have to be heroes, but if they are honorable, trustworthy, loyal, ethical, moral, the list goes on actually, but if they are positive role mo…

Don't Fear the Emptiness

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I’ve often heard that when writers start a story the blankness of the white page can be a daunting adversary. I have experienced a bit of trepidation, anxiety even, when it comes to filling up all that white space. In fact, I even used to write on yellow legal pads just to avoid having to look at the emptiness of white. However, some writers find it paralyzing almost to the point where they quit writing all together. Now I suppose that painters and sculptors have similar problems at the beginning of a new project as well. Not all mind you, but some may. Personally, I’ve found a way to combat that paralyzing problem. Do you know what it is?
I write. Well, duh, that sounds simple doesn’t it? And a bit too obvious right? Let me explain. In my experience staring into the white, I’ve noticed that somewhere in my head I was worried about what might actually make it out onto the page. Questions would start creeping up on me and haunting my thoughts.  What if it’s all crap? What if I get stuck…

Laugh at the Rain and Get Inspired

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Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you. Langston Hughes



Two things that have always inspired me are laughs and the rain. Those are two rather disparate things don’t you think? You see the way I feel about inspiration, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, just as long as you feel something that moves you. Involving yourself in an activity that fuels your creative energies is a positive thing that can really make the difference in achieving your mission in life. Surrounding yourself with things that make you think or feel powerful emotions stirs up the will and drive to create. Some people might call that karma, some might call it setting the mood; whatever you choose to call it, take advantage of the power it can create.
Now I know that some people get a motivational kick from negative emotions too, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. I would caution, however, that dwelling too much in the negative can drag you down mentally, m…

The Sum Total of Your Life Should Not Reflect the Negative

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Have you ever wondered why it seems so easy to lose motivation, get discouraged, become downtrodden and unhappy? At first glance it might appear that life is mostly negative, full of unpleasantness and grief; what with all the suffering and unhappiness in the world, the idea is easy to believe. But it’s not true. You might wonder though, why does the negative seem to get more attention? I would say it’s force of habit. Really! Think about your day-to-day life. Does your car break down every day? Does your cat run away all the time? Does your girlfriend break up with you repeatedly and often? Well, unless something is seriously wrong in your life, none of those things happen with enough frequency to truly be a daily event. The emotional impact, however, is significant, and that is why you dwell on it.
This morning, for no reason at all (actually there is a mechanical reason), my car decided to not start. What a pain in the ass, right? My daughter had to get to school, I had to get to w…

Be a Positive Influence

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Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
George Eliot
One person CAN make a difference. I was recently reminded that sometimes I can be a bit overly pessimistic. I won’t refute that claim because sometimes it’s very true. I’d be willing to admit that I need motivation and inspiration just as much, if not more, than most people. But it is possible to be a positive influence; a positive force for good in life, and not just your own. Everyone has influences. It is unavoidable to be uninfluenced by something around you. What we can focus on here is the degree to which something affects you, both positively and negatively.
Sometimes we can choose the company we keep; sometimes we are forced to be associated unfavorable people. The key to surviving and prospering in various environments and situations is to recognize the positive from the negative and then separate yourself from things that detract from your life. Clichéd as it seems, that sounds easy doesn’t it? We…

Consistency Can Focus Your Passion

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“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Oscar Wilde
It may seem presumptuous to disagree with one of the accepted greats of English literature, but I’m going to do it nonetheless. Sorry Oscar. Now I know that inspiration, creativity, motivation, spontaneity and such are most powerful when they are unhindered by oppressive shackles, laborious responsibilities, and the mind-numbing drudgery of life, but without focus, none of those things can find their highest potential. The way I see it, being consistent helps a person form discipline. It provides structure and a framework to build ever greater things. Finding a proper outlet for creativity and imagination allows them to flow, develop, grow and expand. It’s also worth note to say being consistent with your art form helps build skill, experience and technique.
Consider, what good is it to be a talented painter, writer, composer, sculptor, etc. without contributing to the craft? Having talent and creativity is great, but if…

The Greatest Show on Earth

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Last Saturday I took my daughter to the circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.  It was a great time.  A friend of ours scored a few extra tickets and offered them to us. This friend’s daughter is a good friend of my little girl, so them being able to spend time together at such an incredible venue really makes the memories that much more special. I haven’t been to the circus in about seven years, I actually took my daughter, but she was only two at the time so I know she remembers nothing of the experience. And to be honest, as I sat there last Saturday, my thoughts were not of that last time, but of the time I was nine, going to the greatest show on earth for the first time.
Ringling Brothers is an amazing show; it’s really a spectacle of light, motion, color, excitement, sound and fun all rolled into one. As I sat and watched the show, periodically I turned my attention to my daughter. I saw the wonder in her eyes, the extreme concentration on all t…

Don't Suffer Injustice

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr
     It would be a wonderful thing if everyone had a positive moral center. The world would be a better place if a universal moral truth existed that we could all center around, believe in, and adhere to. Sadly, an altruistic moral goodness does not seem to be something we all can share. There is a major difference between having a difference of opinion, and having radically opposing ideologies. Wars have been fought, men have killed and died, people have suffered, and lives shattered in following those ideals. But what does that mean for the common man, the individual? Having conviction for your beliefs is one thing, oppressively forcing those beliefs on others is quite another. What qualifies as sharing the tenants of a belief structure or forcing it down someone’s throat? These are deep philosophical questions that may have no definitive yes/no, right/wrong …

Finding a Lost Da Vinci

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Last night I read an interesting article about a painting called the  La Bella Principessa in National Geographic magazine. Yes, I know weird right.  I still get the actual paper magazine.  I like holding a book or magazine in my hands, everything seems more real that way.  But I digress.  This painting and its mysterious story fascinated me.  Supposedly, there is strong evidence that it was painted by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci.  Leonardo is widely considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest master of painting there ever was.  This reputation started during his own life time.  And with a reputation like that, I would have figured everything he ever did was cataloged, indexed, and safely locked behind foot-thick glass, but apparently that isn't the case.  What really struck me was the fact that experts believe the portrait is a Da Vinci, even though some disagree saying that it doesn't look like a Da Vinci.
It's true that artists develop their own style…

Supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand

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I stood there, my legs were tired, my feet hurt, I was sure I had a sunburn, and all I really wanted to do was sit down.  But I still had about an hour and a half to go. You see, on Saturday, July 28th, I volunteered to help out at Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It’s a charity drive that donates 100% of the money collected from lemonade sales to help fund researching a cure for pediatric cancer. The mother of my daughter’s friend has been hosting a local chapter for several years now on the corner right by her house in North Park. I’ve helped out the last three years and for the last two years in a row, we’ve reached the goal we set. I would serve the lemonade, hold the bright yellow signs and wave them while I stood in the street trying to get drivers’ attention.  I’d talk to passersby and let them know what was up. I drank several cups of lemonade myself; all I had was a few bucks on me. But you know it’s not so much the exact dollar amount we raise, it’s the effort involved behind it. This…

Beware of Betrayal

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There’s an old cliché, “your word is your bond”.  Ever hear it?  Well in the end, it’s true.  You can have all the legal documents you want stating this or that, you can have witnesses claiming this or that, and you can promise this or that until you’re blue in the face, but ‘your word’ is more than just air across your lips.  In regards to trust, ‘your word’ refers also to your intentions, beliefs, character, conviction, and worth.  Pretty heady huh?  I know to some it might seem like I’m going too far or being a bit grandiose, but am I?  People are who they are and their actions speak silent words.  Words you can trust or distrust depending on the person and circumstances. 

I think the best answer is to stay true to your own personal convictions, reinforce in your own mind what is right, true, and honorable, and go from there.  Despite how hard you may try, you can’t change anyone but yourself.  So don’t waste valuable mental energy trying to exact change from anyone but you.  The s…

What Do You Need?

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“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” – Mahatma Gandhi


Depending on how you look at it “What do you need?” is either a rather innocuous question or a very profound inquiry about life.  Answering that question when it comes to basic survival is easy: food, water, and shelter.  But since when has answering life’s questions every truly been easy?  If you think about it for a few minutes, what do you really need?  When I say need, I mean what do you need to be happy, successful, content; those sorts of things.  Now I know we’ve all heard it, or said it.  It’s that line where we say we need something because it is so awesome or cool, or it would make things so much better than they are right now.  I remember thinking when I was a teenager thinking “I need a car”, or “I need to get a Playstation.”  Yeah, it’s funny how our priorities seem so out of whack when we re-examine them years later.  I obviously didn’t need a car or a playstation; the …