Thursday, April 26, 2012

While there's life, there's hope.

- Marcus Tullius Cicero.   

Struggles of life

There will always be struggles in your life.  Things will always present themselves that seem insurmountable, unbelievable, and oppressive.  In short, life is a challenge.  In fact, life is the single greatest challenge you will ever face.  It’s difficult by nature, unforgiving and callous too.  You will suffer, you will despair, you will cry and you will feel sorrow.  It’s unavoidable.  But guess what!  There is good news, and it is this: There is Hope.  As our famous quote from Cicero states, while there is life, there’s hope.  Do you know what that means?  It means that life doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom.  Every moment you live is a chance to turn things around, change your perspective, find your focus, achieve your goals, and continue on your mission.  All you need is hope. 
So, what is hope and why is it special.

Pandora’s box 
The ancient Greek myth of Pandora’s Box tells us that even though the world is full of hateful, evil things, not all is lost.  Pandora was unable to resist the temptation of looking inside the box Zeus had given her, but she managed to close it before the one positive thing inside was lost; that thing was hope.  The ancient Greeks understood the power of Hope.  Hope is the power to change your perspective in order to find the positive path.  Even if all things seem lost, as long as you have hope, things might just change for the better.  Now, it takes more than hope to make a positive impact against your struggles, but hope is the start.  

Keeping your personal hope alive

In your day-to-day life, how do you prevent all the negative, dark, and destructive elements from poisoning you with despair and insecurity?  You start with being open to the possibility that things can be different.  At first, you don’t even have to believe that things Will change, just that they might or could change.  That’s where you begin.  Cherish that idea of change, nurture it with constant attention until you start to believe that change Will come.  Remember, it’s your mindset we are focusing on here.  Your hope for the future doesn’t have to be a false one, as long as you continue to develop a solid foundation of positiveness.  That’s what hope can do for you. 

It won’t happen overnight, but keeping hope alive keeps your future alive.  Believing life can change for the better is the first step in making a better life a reality.  You can do it, and it starts with Hope.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post.  Thanks for reading.  

Hilltop Lighthouse at night

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Enjoy the silence.

Sometimes it’s okay to have nothing to say.  Sometimes it’s okay to just be quiet, sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet that can come with inactivity.  Relaxing and letting your mind decompress from the day, or week depending on how stressed you are, can be a great thing.  Not every minute of every day of your life has to be chasing your dream, carrying out your mission, or on your feet.  You are allowed to relax every once and a while.  In fact, it should be part of your schedule.  You know that old saying, ‘All work and no play makes jack a dull boy?’  Well, it’s true.  You have to know when to slow down, take a moment and pause.  Reflecting on what you’ve accomplished for the day, the week, or just at the task at hand is a good way to gauge how your success is going, or not going as the case may be. 

Sometimes I have felt myself pushing too hard and not getting a good return on my time investment.  If that ever happens to you, slow down, stop even.  After I finished my master’s thesis, I wanted to just jump right into my next project.  I thought being busy was the best way to maintain my productivity.  But you know what I found out?  My brain was way over taxed and I needed time to decompress.  I realized and had to accept that I needed time to be silence, relax, and find a new perspective.  It took three months before I felt like I could realistically take on a new challenge.  But you know what?  I’m glad I took that time because now I have so much more mental energy to devote to my new endeavors, it feels invigorating!

So, you should take a look at what has worked, what isn’t working, and what might work.  Sleep on it.  It will be there in the morning.  And if you come to your task with a fresh perspective, you might just be more successful at achieving your goal.  And all of it was because you weren’t afraid to take a minute and relax.

If you have questions or comments, please reply.  Thanks for reading.

beach chair and towel at the beach

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stay positive, it's worth it!

There are highs and lows in everyone's life.  It's a fact and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.  Good times and bad times.  It can be amazing and shocking just how fast things can turn around from bad to good, or good to bad.  There's an inherent unpredictability to life that is unavoidable.  And the more you try to control your life, and life around you, the more closed off you can and will be to that sudden and dramatic change.  Why is that bad?  Because when you control you become stuck; stuck in patterns and attitudes that insulate and protect you from things that seem harmful.  But there's a price for that false security.  And it's your happiness. 

Keep and open mind.  Fight everyday against the rigid and cold mindset of security.  You must believe that things will get better, you must believe that it won't always be hard, sad, cold, lonely, and depressing.  Change doesn't happen overnight, but the direction of your life can, especially if you keep an eye out for the good things.  Stay positive!

If you have a question or a comment feel free to reply.  Thanks for reading!

sunrise over smoky mountains

Friday, April 20, 2012

What do you get when you cross Moby Dick and Star Trek?

Answer:  Probably one of the greatest scenes in cinema.  Bold claim yes, but consider all that goes into this scene:

(For the above movie clip, All rights are reserved by Paramount pictures, copyright 1996)

Patrick Stewart and Alfre Woodard are both incredible actors.  Herman Melville's book is a classic tail of obsession, revenge, and loss.  Star Trek represents a positive, righteous image of the future.  Put all those together and the emotional and cinematic energy is powerful.  I love this scene.

Okay, that's my dork post for the week.  Enjoy.

Also, ready Moby Dick.  It's a good book.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post.  Thanks for reading, and watching!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What’s the price of your dream?

Ocean of Dreams
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were willing to sacrifice everything else to get it?  There are so many choices we have to make in life, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to sacrifice and what to hold on to.  Dreams can be powerful motivators in directing your life to a positive state.  However, dreams can be destructive gremlins that ruin everything else if you let them.  It’s okay to have a dream, to want it fulfilled and live the way you want to live, but it always comes at a price.  I’ve heard it said, you have to give to get.  Well I’m sure that’s true, but how much should you give, and how much should you get back?  If you haven’t realized yet, I’m talking about balance.  When your life is balanced, things make sense.  When you are off kilter, things are confusing.  So, if you have a dream and are willing to sacrifice everything else to get it, will that balance your life?  To me, the easy answer is no.

When I was in college, I wanted to graduate.  Obviously graduation represented an accomplishment and proof to the world that I achieved something extraordinary.  Graduating also meant I could get a better job.  But also, and even more important to me, were the experiences I gained while in school.  Yes it was important to get an education, it was important to have credentials and documents, but I was not willing to sacrifice everything to get it.  I read about some people who sacrifice things in advance without knowing the consequences, and it’s sad.  Was their dream to be mired in debt for life?  Of course not, but it goes to show you life can be tipped off balance easily if you don’t pay attention to details.  I worked through college just like a lot of other students.  I also knew exactly why I was there.  And, coming from a poor family, I understood the value of every dollar I earned and spent.  I had to balance my dreams with my reality. 

It’s hard to find balance sometimes.  It may be that you will have to suffer before you come to understand.  I know that’s not comforting, but it is reassuring to know if you pay attention to those details I was talking about, you will find that balance… eventually.  Following your dreams is a worthy endeavor.  Don’t stop.  Just remember that there are many paths to go down in your pursuit.  If something seems way too difficult, complex, or confusing, stop.  You don’t have to change your dream, just change the path you take to get there.  That way, you can still follow your dream without sacrificing everything else you care about to get it.  And that’s a good balance in life!

Ocean of Dreams by Josephine Wall

This amazing painting is by Josephine Wall; it's called Ocean of Dreams.  Check out her online gallery.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Today our Famous Quote comes from Robert Heinlein.  Some of you may know him from the movie Starship Troopers, a SciFi film based from his novel.  He also wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, the book from which our quote comes from.  

I like this quote, firstly because it deals about love.  Love is a subject that is wonderful and amazing, but also mystifying and tragic. I also love this quote because it comes from someone who writes SciFi. I'll admit that I love SciFi; yeah I'm a little bit of a geek about it.  Hey, ya gotta love yourself right?

Anyway, there are many forms of love.  I would suggest trying to expose yourself to them.  As Huey Lewis put it, "It might just save your life...!"

Book jacket for Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land

I'd love to hear what you think.  Feel free to leave a question or comment.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is greatness?

Philosophers have been trying to answer that question for ages.  The idea of Greatness occupies the minds of many, controlling their thoughts, actions, and entire lives.  But the question remains: What is Greatness?  Also, how does one obtain it, retain it, recognize it, utilize it, and wield it effectively?  The big problem here is defining Greatness.  Whose definition is correct?  Do we go with the militaristic view and say Greatness is when someone can command others, lead him/herself and others to victory over competing forcers?  Do we go with the economic view and say Greatness is when someone can accumulate the most wealth by manipulating the system to its fullest?  Do we go with the religious view and say Greatness is when someone represents themselves as the best human reflection of their god, or follows the tenants of their religion as devoutly as possible?  The possibilities and avenues we could go down in trying to define Greatness are vast and wide.  So the obvious course of action is to try and understand what Greatness means on a personal level.

Is that easier?  Probably not, but it’s certainly less involved than including all the above examples.  I like to think of Greatness in terms of personal evolution.  To me, I’m in competition with no one but myself.  I believe that I am the single greatest resource I have.  I can provide the psychological foundation, motivational framework, and positive perspective I need to achieve something greater than I did yesterday.  Sounds lofty doesn’t it?  Sure, and I’ve failed at it more times than I’d like to admit.  But as I’ve said many times, it’s the attempt to succeed that is a success.  It may sound cliché, but you only have to get up one more time than you fell down.  So, how does this help define and ultimately achieve personal Greatness? 

Knowing that when it’s all said and done, you are in competition with no one but yourself, all you need to do is improve; One day at a time.  Look at it this way: Take a moment and reflect on your life  up until now.  If that’s too much, take the last year, six months, week, if you will.  Are you doing better, have you accomplished a goal, or even set one?  If the answer is no, than you are not living up to your own potential.  If that’s the case you can never achieve personal greatness.  But why is personal greatness important you might ask?  Why should you even be concerned with the loft pie in the sky idea of greatness?  Because, we’re talking about your life!  You only get one and if you don’t make the most of it, life will pass you by and you’ll have nothing to show for it.  Is that what you want?  I’m sure not. Personal Greatness is the culmination of your missionYou don’t have to command armies, have a massive vault of gold, recite scripture verbatim, or whatever anyone else’s definition of greatness may be.  What you should strive to do is be better today than you were yesterday and be better tomorrow than you were today.  It’s a worthy endeavor to improve your life, for your own life’s sake.  Greatness is a state of mind you can have where you know your life had and has positive meaning.  It is possible and you can and should do it.  So, be Great!

formation in outerspace

Feel free to leave a comment or question.  I'd love to hear what you're thinking!  Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 16, 2012

MyEccentricTees: Firebug is a Web Developers Dream

MyEccentricTees: Firebug is a Web Developers Dream: Best Firefox add-on: Firebug ! Make Life Simply by Adding Plug-ins to Mozilla Firefox Made for Web ...

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.

Today our famous quote comes from Mother Teresa

Loneliness is a terrible thing to endure.  Fortunately, you don't have to do it.  Get out there and meet new people, talk to the neighbor, say hi to the guy at the register. Cultivating friendships and relationships can be difficult, but if you invest time into getting to know quality people, it is Totally worth it! The first time you put yourself out there is the hardest, I know and understand.  It does get easier, just keep trying!

Pink Lotus flower

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them in a reply.  And I'd love for you to follow this blog as well.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Course of Empire!

When I was first exposed to this series of paintings I was truly amazed!  The series, Course of Empire was painted by Thomas Cole.  Through a series of paintings, Cole presents the phases of empire as it would look in the classic age.  Each painting  has an amazing amount of detail and an intricate level of expression. 

I had an art history class in college where we had to examine each painting in the series and give a physical description as well as a description of the emotional impact each had on the viewer.  I was and still am blown away by these masterpieces.  The only criticism I ever really had was this: I always felt there should have been a stage between the Pastoral and Consummation.  It feels somewhat jarring to go from almost total greenery to marble and concrete.  But perhaps that's the point. 

What do you think?

The Savage State from Course of Empire
                                                               The Savage State

The Pastoral State from Course of Empire
                                                             The Pastoral State

The Consummation of Empire from Course of Empire
                                                  The Consummation of Empire

Destruction from Course of Empire

Desolation from Course of Empire

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Inspiration Engine has a new URL!

Read the Inspiration Engine!

Read it Here.

The problem with communication is the illusion that is has occurred.

-George Bernard Shaw.

It’s interesting how when you open up to people, they reciprocate.  It’s amazing how shut in and closed off a person can be if they stop communicating with others.  Have you ever noticed that most people don’t like to start conversations?  A lot of people feel intimidated and out of sorts if they walk into a room filled with people they don’t know.  And public speaking, most people fear that more than death, or so the rumor goes.  Why is this?  I think it’s because they are shut off from others, sometimes for long stretches where they never challenge themselves to try harder, do more, experience something new. 

When you open up to someone, even if it’s only one person, you get a chance to learn about who they are, what they are interested in, and what motivates and inspires them.  Just recently I was talking with a guy I know at work.  We’ve known each other for a while, but up until now, before I mentioned I was learning to play the saxohone, I had no idea he was musically inclined.  Turns out he knows how to play several instruments.  None of them are the sax, but still, I learned something, simply because I was willing to offer a little bit of information about myself, and listen to him. 

Having friends is a rewarding and enriching experience.  The more friends you have, the more rewarding experiences you can have.  If you find it difficult to make friends, or speak to those you don’t know, expand your experiences by taking up a hobbie.  I took up surfing and the saxophone, and you know what, I’ve met people who are interested in the same thing.  What is more, I’ve learned that friends I already have are interested in the same things.  Look at it like this; I’m building social bridges with multiple people.  The more bridges I build, the more I can cross and get to know more people.  The effort you put into expanding your interest pool and simply talking to people will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine.  So, get talking!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

Wednesday's famous quote comes to us from Mark Twain.

Get out there and explore the world.  It's worth a long look.  Trust me.

Plitvicka Jezera waterfalls

Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia

waterfalls at Plitvicka Jezera National Park Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.

-Frank Tyger.

What is self-reliance and why is it important?  There are a lot of things in this world that you may be responsible for: bills, education, work, family members, but most of all, you are responsible for yourself.  Most people would agree with that, but in practice, many disregard their own personal care and supplant it with other chores and duties claiming that to be responsible.  But think about it, you can’t possibly take care of anyone if you can’t take care of yourself.  That is what self-reliance is all about; taking care of yourself.  Now I’m not talking about being selfish and blind to other people.  Learning to handle things on your own, depending on your own abilities, skills, and discipline are vital. 

There’s a powerful lesson in learning how to do things for yourself.  Once you have grasped the concept of self-reliance, you’ll thirst for challenges to overcome and conquer.  But how do you get there? Having self-reliance starts with believing in yourself and your potential.  Now you don’t have to be successful in every endeavor to be self-reliant, you just have to believe you can try.  Be warned though, making the attempt opens up the possibility of failure.  As strange as it may sound, that’s a good thing.  It may sound cliché but most people learn more from failure than they do from success.  I like to say, Success is born from a thousand failures.  Sounds catchy, doesn’t it?  Anyway, it may seem scary to strike out on your own and try something new, but it’s worth it. 

I used to shy away from challenge.  Honestly, I would basically hide in my room avoiding things that would cause conflict or contention.  It was safe, but boring.  It provided no stimulation or growth.  See, it’s easy to recede into the background of your own life.  Nobody is going to force you to do much, except maybe follow the law, but above and beyond that, no.  You have to be the driving force in your life.  And that’s the greatest gift in the world.  Develop your own sense of self-reliance and you can trust yourself to steer your life on toward your goals and mission.  First you have to believe in yourself, once you do, you can rely on yourself as well.  That’s a powerful force in creating a positive personal future.  Give it a try!

child with boogie board at beach

Monday, April 9, 2012

Making music is cool

I'll admit, I'm partial to the saxophone.  Even though I can't play worth a damn, I still have one, and am trying to learn.  I would never subject anyone to my playing, except my neighbors and my teacher, but I found a few examples of good old sax playin'.  Enjoy!

First up, President Clinton, seriously, he's pretty good.

And then there's this.

One more.

Picture of Saxophone in black and white

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Spontaneous Blast of Inspiration

Maybe you've read or heard about the Tsunami Ghost Ship that was floating around the pacific for the last year.  According to the article it is now at the bottom of the Gulf of Alaska.  I've talked about abandoned places recently, but just a couple of days ago I was suddenly inspired by the ghost ship events.  I came up with a story idea.  It just hit me like a ton of bricks, like so many other story ideas. 

The amazement I felt as I saw the story unfold in my mind, developing, becoming layered, intricate, interesting and meaningful, made me feel great.  That kind of inspiration doesn't always happen.  When it does, for me at least, I'm filled with an awed sense of wonder.  Really.  The idea of constructing a world in my head, with characters, events, histories, feelings, emotions, life if you will, is truly awesome.  It's quite fascinating where inspiration comes from and how unexpectedly it arrives. 

You see, I've opened myself up to the idea that inspiration can and does come from the most amazing, or most mundane of things.  Inspiration is all around us.  We just have to learn how to recognize it.  Sometimes, the full force of creative inspiration comes in the blink of an eye, other times, inspiration seems to be as rare as water in a parched desert.  But if we learn to recognize where and how inspiration comes from, that oasis in the desert can become an ocean of ideas.  I've found my next project, now all I have to do is write it.  What about you?

Reckless Beams of Light by GR Exper
Reckless Beams of Light, by G.R. Exper

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why is it so hard to get motivated?

How many times have you asked yourself “How can I motivate myself?”  It’s a fair question; motivation is important and necessary to accomplishing your goals and mission in life.  Without motivation, you just sit there on the couch.  Without motivation, you wander, meander, and drift.  Without motivation, there is nothing.  So how do we get this mythical motivation?  What causes the stirring emotions within us that fuel the drive and impulse of creativity, igniting the fires of motivation?  Well, the answer is simple.  It’s desire.  Want.  If you really have a true desire and want to attain something, someone, a job, a title, a goal, the championship, whatever, you NEED the desire to go after it. 

Have you ever doubted your motivation while doing something?  Ever thought maybe you were wasting your time?  It might be that the desire to pursue that goal was waning. Maybe you didn’t really want what you thought you wanted.  I’ve literally stopped what I was doing right in the middle because I knew my desire for it was just gone.  I used to work as a diner cook a long time ago when I was in college.  It was a fun job but hardly worth the headache.  I gained the respect of pretty much everyone there, except One of the owners.  He decided on night to chew me and a coworker out because he was in a bad mood.  Well, we both quit right there. We told the guy we were done as soon as our shift was over.  And we stuck to our convictions.  See, the desire to be there was small, and the paycheck was the only real thing keeping us there.  Once we were disrespected for no reason we realized there was no sufficient desire to stay.  So, our motivation to leave grew exponentially. 

Okay, so if you have the desire to accomplish your mission, your motivation will surge.  If your desire wanes, your motivation will plummet.  The real test is identifying your desire.  So it comes down to one simple thing:  What do you desire?

Space Shuttle Launch

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Be not the first by which a new thing is tried, or the last to lay the old aside

- Alexander Pope.

Changing times call for new experiences.  I think Alexander's quote speaks to that fact.  At its very core, I thin the meaning of this quote is telling us to at least try, make the attempt at doing.  You don't have to be the first to try something, just don't be the last.  If you have a mission in life, a purpose, or a passion,  making the attempt at bringing it to life is important.  Do not wait and let the world pass you by.  The time is now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What’s really important?

Douglas Clark

-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

That may seem like a simple, even trite question to ask.  If you give it more than a passing thought, the deeper meaning of it starts to shine through.  What is really important?  I mean the life-long stuff, the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning, the stuff that gets your heart pumping, your body moving; those things. 

I’m not talking about getting up and getting to work, paying the bills, or making sure you get the laundry done.  The day-to-day minutia of life is important on a small scale, but there should and Must be a deeper meaning in your life (your Mission) to make it all worth it.  Now it might come as no shock that a lot of people don’t have a mission, or what some might call Passion.  They drift through life without any foundational drive or motivation.  Is that you?  I must admit, there have been times where I felt completely directionless, lost even.  There have been times where I could see the path before me clear as day, and hated the direction it was leading me in.  See, it’s not so much enough to have a passion and direction, but you must be willing and wanting to go down that road as well.

How do you decide?  Well, it has to be important to you; the whole thing, not just the end goal.  To have meaning and value, the process of getting from your dream to your reality must be endurable and enjoyable, at least on some level.  I’ve spent many a moment pondering what was important and what wasn’t.  At the very foundation, I know it’s important to at least attempt to live up to my potential.  Sometimes that can be hard, especially if at some point you realize you were reaching.  Mistakes are worth it most of the time. But Only if you learn from them. When you do, you’ll start to realize what is really important!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Songs of Yesteryear!

Okay, so I grew up in the 1980s (yeah that may date me a little), but I'm not ready for the rocking chair just yet.  By the way, the 1980s had some of the coolest, weirdest, and most amazing music ever.  If you don't believe me, do some research, listen to some of the music and get back to me. 

I thought it would be fun to put together a short play list of 80s music that I always liked, even if it was hard to admit to it.  Anyway, here's a few of them.  Enjoy!

(All rights reserved by original artists)

Take on Me, by A-Ha.

I always had a little crush on the girl in this video, plus I always thought it was wicked cool to travel to cartoon world.

View to a Kill, by Duran Duran

James Bond kicks ass.  This was the first Bond movie I ever saw in the theater.  My dad took me and it was just awesome.  This title song totally blew me away, especially the very begining. 

Panama, by Van Halen

This one was easy to admit liking.  You couldn't turn on the radio for more than 6 minutes without hearing this one from Van Halen.  In 1984, they totally Ruled Rock.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...