My Morning Miracle

I’m trying something new. Well, not really new, people have been doing it since, well, probably since the beginning of human civilization. It’s not even entirely new to me. The thing is, I am now doing it with new motivation, expectation, and purpose.
This “new” thing is called The Miracle Morning(TM) based on the book by Hal Elrod also titled, The Miracle Morning. The not so new part is waking up early, the new part is why.

See, before, I believed that getting up early was merely a good idea, but I didn’t understand that it was essential to living up to my full potential.

So a couple weeks ago, after reading Hal’s book, I decided to give The Miracle Morning(TM) a try and I committed to getting up at 5a.m. to work on my personal development. Hal’s program is still new to me and I don’t do everything exactly as he prescribes, but this morning I learned there’s more than one way to have a Miracle Morning. 

My alarm was beeping. I got out of bed, walked to my dresser and turned it off. My alarm is across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Then I grabbed my clothes and went to the bathroom where I can turn on the light without disturbing my wife who was out late last night. Once dressed, went to the kitchen for a glass of water, drinking water helps me wake up. Well, that and the coffee. 

I set my now empty glass on the table and turned around and then I saw it – the pile of dishes in the sink. 

Now, last night I had a choice, stay up to unload and reload the dishwasher or save it for the morning. Either way, I had already set my alarm for 4:50 AM and it was after 10 PM at that point. If I stayed up I knew my wife would be happy when she came home and heard the dishwasher running, but I felt like I was going to pass out, so I went to bed. 

So there I was, staring at the dirty dishes and I realized I had a choice, I could leave the whole mess for my wife and just get my coffee and get on with my Miracle Morning, or I could put off the reading I wanted to do and give my wife a Miracle Morning by doing the dishes. I did the dishes. 

Once the dishwasher was running, I picked up my mug of coffee and stepped outside to enjoy the first light of day. I love being outside early in the morning! The sun wasn’t up yet but there was enough light to see what I was doing. I stood on the deck and just listened to the birds for a moment.

Looking around I noticed that everything was dry, no rain, no dew. I could sit in my favorite deck chair without getting a towel to dry it off. But I didn’t sit down because since it didn’t rained in the night the garden needed watering.

It takes a little time to water everything because I use the water from the rain barrel, and that means filling the watering can multiple times. But that also gave me time to enjoy the peaceful morning. Even our relatively quiet neighborhood gets noisy with activity during the day, so I was grateful to be outside and hear only birds. 

After filling and emptying the watering can a few times, I noticed the world changing from grey tone to full color as the sun peeked over the horizon. I turned to face northeast, smiling to welcome the coming day. The clouds were aglow with pink light. THIS is worth getting up early for!

I still had not exercised or done affirmations or the reading I was hoping to do, but though I did not plan to, I had practiced kindness, silence, and gratitude. I made positive choices and that turned into a positive attitude. I was feeling great. It was going to be a good day!

I may not have done things quite like Hal Elrod but I ended up having a good morning anyway. I was up early and got things done before sunrise and that put me ahead of the game! And that’s what The Miracle Morning(TM) means for me. 

What I had discovered was that you don’t have to follow someone’s program exactly as they lay it out. I took the concepts and adapted them to what I needed this morning, and I got a positive result, because doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing at all.


Daddy Cooks Lunch

Daddy’s in the kitchen today. The baby’s due in about three weeks and Momma’s resting. So I get to cook lunch.

But what to make? I find sausage in the freezer and put it in hot water to thaw. Next I find rice and get it in the rice cooker. I use chicken broth for part of the water for the rice. It adds good flavor.

Now with the rice cooking I finish loading the dishwasher and start it. As it hums along, I check the sausage. It is almost thawed through, so I warm the skillet. There is only a small bit still frozen and after a few minutes in the skillet it’s thawed and soon all the sausage is browned.

Now, rice and sausage are wonderful staples, but what to have with them? A vegetable? I find broccoli in the freezer. I scoop the sausage into a bowl and put the broccoli in the skillet to sauté. But is this enough? Should I add something for flavor? An herb or spice? How about one of the onions I got at the farmers’ market last Tuesday?

Just then my daughter comes in and wants to know what we are having for lunch. I tell her it’s food. She wants to know what it’s called. It doesn’t have a name. She wants to give it a name. She calls it rice sausage broccoli topping. She sees me chop the onion and says not to add it because she will have to change the name. I tell her I want onion in it. So she tells to cook it ’till it’s soft. Which I was planning to do. 

I remove the broccoli and sauté the onion. The rice cooker beeps, indicating the rice is done and the cooker has switched to “KEEP WARM”.

Soon the onion is soft and beginning to caramelize so I put the broccoli and sausage back into the skillet and turn the temp down to “Lo”. 

I tell the kids to set the table for lunch. Then I go to the bedroom. Momma is awake now. I tell her what we are having and she thanks me.

Back in the kitchen we sit down and enjoy a delicious, made-up on the fly, meal. With a little practice, cooking without a recipe is easy.

Why You Should Not Go Big

 They say, “Go big, or go home,” and in a game show that might be a good idea. Unless you know you will be happier with the smaller prize, go for the big one when you have the chance, no matter how slim the chance is. But what works for a game show doesn’t always work for life in general. Yesterday I was reading about the contrast between Craft and Success, in Rob Bell’s book, How To Be Here. Basically, Craft is doing something because you want to and the thought of doing it energizes you and gets you out of bed in the morning. You don’t care if it will make you rich or famous. Success on the other hand, drives you to pursue more, even when you already have all you want or need. You tell yourself, “I’ll know I’ve arrived when ____________________.” Then, when you achieve whatever it is you would put in that blank, you realize it doesn’t feel as satisfying as you had imagined, and you ask, “I worked hard all those years for this?” It’s what Solomon called “chasing the wind.”

 In a similar vein, going big when starting new habits will make them harder to keep. I heard Tim Ferriss explain that it’s better to set the bar low at the beginning. Just go to the gym for ten minutes twice a week, for example, just to get in the habit. You want to make getting into the habit easy because you have a better chance of making it stick. 

 As I pondered these things I realized that writing is my Craft. I do it because I want to do it. I like knowing that I have encouraged someone. Even if I help only one person, I know what I’m doing is worth while. I don’t need Success, and I don’t need to write long posts, I need consistency. Long or short, I need to write something everyday. I write because it’s my Craft and I want to make the habit stick.

We Have To Stop Living In Fear

I don’t remember who said it, Tony Robins probably, but what was said was, “Some things are scary but not dangerous, and other things are dangerous but not scary.” He used repelling as an example of something not dangerous but scary. Who turns their back and steps off a cliff without feeling scared? Yet when you are secured with a rope and harness, it’s not dangerous.
The trick, of course, is to know when something is truly dangerous and when it is just scary. Fear has its place when you face real danger. Fear motivates you to hide or run away. That’s good when you are facing real danger, but sometimes you will be trapped in fear because you are believing a false narrative. This is what happened to me when I wanted to start my blog. I knew there wasn’t anything dangerous about writing for a blog, but it was scary. I was afraid no one would read it. I wondered if I had anything to tell the world that they haven’t already heard. I was, and still am, afraid I would run out of ideas.

• Face your fear

Fear won’t go away as long as you are running from it. You have to face it. You can’t crush fear unless you walk right up to it. So, as you go through your week take note of what scares you. You have to start by recognizing fear for what it is. Then ask, “is it dangerous?” It might be hard, or unpleasant, but if it isn’t dangerous pluck up your courage and crush that fear!

Putting my thoughts out on the World Wide Web isn’t inherently dangerous, but going public is scary! With each post, I face that fear and publish it anyway, because I know I need to help people be better versions of themselves. 

• Just do it!

As we go through life we will face many obstacles, but probably the hardest to overcome is our own fear. Don’t let fear be your trap. Is there something you are scared to start? Is it dangerous, or just scary? A lot of worth while things are hard and scary. We can’t let that stop us. Don’t think about being scared, think about the people you can help. Push past your fear and just do it!

How To Recover The Lost Art Of Respectful Discourse

The other day an old friend invited me to dialogue, knowing we have different worldviews. He said he picked me because he thinks I respect people even when their views are different from my own. I sure hope I can live up to his opinion of me. I was encouraged to see that he understands the importance of respectful discourse, because most of us in America have similar goals, we just disagree on how to get there. I think we can learn how to dialogue without making personal attacks or “unfriending” people just because they challenge our opinions, even though it is evident from listening to talk shows and reading comment threads online that we don’t teach or practice the art of public discourse anymore. I believe it is possible to correct this problem and recover (or perhaps, rediscover) this lost art.

Having our opinions challenged and having to defend them helps us see where there may be flaws in our basic assumptions. This is not for the faint of heart though! We need to have the courage to speak up, the wisdom to know when it’s appropriate to speak up, the humility to recognize our own inconsistencies, and the willingness to change our minds when necessary. Public discourse can help us clarify our opinions so we know why we believe what we believe. It can also strengthen our resolve to live by our convictions, knowing they are right even when they are unpopular. But of course this can only happen when we respect each other, and resist the temptation to audaciously demand everyone believe and act the way we do.

How to respectfully discuss ideas

One of the things that helped me learn how to respectfully disagree with people was high school debate class. Along with the debate techniques I also learned a few principles that help keep dialogue going. Here are a few:

• Don’t take yourself too seriously. We all need to remember that we have limitations. Even the smartest among us is still human and can be wrong sometimes. Other people know things we don’t know and we can learn from them, even when we disagree. 

• Don’t take it personally. When people disagree with us it’s easy to feel offended, but it’s best not to assume they mean it as a personal attack, unless you know you are dealing with a bully, which is a different situation. 

• Listen. Sometimes the biggest mistake we make is to assume we know what someone believes and then form our argument based on that assumption instead actually listening to them. I’ve been guilty of this once or twice, O.K. a lot, everyday in fact. My wife will start to tell me something and I’ll guess what her point is and start running my mouth about it, and half an hour later look over at her and realize she’s giving me “the look.” Oops! Time to shut up and apologize. When I finally let her tell me what she was trying to say in the first place it turns out to very different from what I was thinking. Another mistake we make when it comes to listening is shutting down the dialogue before it begins. Someone brings up a topic, maybes it’s a sensitive one, and we don’t even want to hear it because it might upset us, but that’s not how we become better people.

• Admit it when you don’t know something. We hate losing a debate or sounding ignorant, but if you really don’t know what you’re talking about, admit it before someone calls you on it and makes you look like a fool. I’ve had the embarrassment of realizing that my opinion was based on assumptions with little to no evidence. The worst thing I could do at that point is ignore the evidence. Listening and learning makes us better people.

• Agree to disagree. You won’t always convince people to agree with you, but that’s not the point of respectful public discourse. Here’s the deal folks, I’m a Christian but I don’t have to work only through my church or another faith based group to help provide food, clothing, and shelter to needy people. The point is we don’t have to agree on everything in order work together toward common goals.

As more people practice these principles our society will be better off for it. It starts with us. We can be the ones who show respect and teach others to do the same, like my friend. I am grateful that he stepped up to make a difference instead of just complaining about the problem.