Category Archives: #personalgrowth

Thoughts for Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

We are all inspired in many ways, and since the spirit of God is always with us, the possibilities for inspiration in any given moment are endless. To be “in spirit” is to be inspired.

I often feel inspired to write … I could be anywhere, anytime, just navigating life as usual, and suddenly I’ll find myself scrambling for a piece of paper, or a napkin, or anything to write on and write with, and I’ll just stop what I was doing and let pour out of me what I feel inspired to write down. Whether anyone else finds my writing inspirational is not something I worry about because I have no control over that … inspiration is the domain of the Spirit.

So for whatever reason, I awoke this morning sometime after midnight thinking about sharing some thoughts with you … thoughts on how I hope to live today, and tomorrow, and during the new year and beyond (God willing I live). I contemplated writing a personal, hand-written, note to each of you (just like in the old days) … but then I realized that I can only communicate with some of you (particularly the younger folk) through some electronic cloud in the sky, so I’ll just go ahead and ping all of you right now, and rest assured that I am not trying to sell you anything. In any case, here are some of my thoughts … written both as intentions for myself, but also in the hope that you too might be inspired:

BE PRESENT. Since we do all of our living in the present moment, more and more I feel compelled to focus on the here and now. Our minds go off in so many directions (at least I know that my mind does), and our minds are constantly filled with chatter, and we waste entirely too much time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. That doesn’t mean that we should not learn from the past, nor does it mean that we should not plan and save for the future. It only means that the present moment is the working unit of our lives, and that the Now is where we live right now. Turn off the mind. Smell the flowers. Enjoy. Give thanks. Breathe mindfully. Encourage. Be hopeful. Dear God, may I be present right now and savor this moment.

SPEAK LESS and LISTEN MORE. Does God do anything loudly? Does God stack word upon word in an endless stream of communication that deadens the senses and drowns each of us out? It seems to me that most everything God does is done in silence. God is the still, small, voice within. God is a quiet presence, and God loves silence. I know that my own tongue has been a flame of fire on too many occasions, and so as I move forward in life I hope to be better at taming the tongue. Dear God, may I be more like you and speak less and listen more.

BE KIND and NOT RIGHT. I really would like to let go of all judgment and let God handle the administration of the universe. It’s so easy to find fault in others, to ridicule others, to make ourselves appear superior to others … but what the hell good does that do? Sure, there are times when it is important to speak out against injustices in the world, but most of the time our bitching and moaning and arguing and criticizing and judging is nothing more than our need to be right in our own eyes instead of being kind. If God wanted to be right and catch us all doing something wrong, God could easily do that … but instead, God chooses to be kind. God’s penchant is for creating and sustaining and finding good in us. Each of us is given opportunities every day to choose between being kind and right, and it seems that choosing to be kind is always the better choice. Dear God, may I be more kind than right today.

GIVE. It could be a little, or it could be a lot … but anyway you look at it, giving is a good way to live. Give someone a smile. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Give someone a flower. Give money to the poor. Give time in helping others. Give the gift of forgiveness. Dear God, may I live to give more readily, generously, and in various ways.

LIVE WITH PASSION. We only get one chance to live this life (as far as we can tell), so if there is anything in your bucket list that you have been putting off unnecessarily, I encourage you to stop putting it off … and instead, go for it! This is a tricky one because living with passion can appear selfish, especially to those who think that they earn favor with God by denying themselves any enjoyment. It’s also hard to imagine the poorest of the poor, those who are living in grinding poverty and seeking only to survive this day, as having any notion of a bucket list; for them, living with passion means passionately trying to stay alive. How can I justify having a bucket list and living with passion when there are so many needy people in the world? One way to do it is by arranging your bucket list in such a way as to benefit not only yourself but also humankind. Focus on earning a million dollars so that you can give half of it away to needy causes. Go on a cruise and while you are in each port focus on going off the beaten path in order to find the poor who sustain themselves by selling hand-made crafts, and buy their stuff. Learn a new language so that you can one day use it to help people learn English, which is the dominant language of world trade. (I want to do that some day with my Spanish, but I must confess that my learning Spanish has been mostly for my benefit so far – I love it). Learn to knit so that you can make warm hats that you give away to the poor. Complete a marathon as part of the process of glorifying God in your body temple, so that you will be healthier and less of a burden on your loved ones and on the health care system, and so that you will have more energy for helping others. Take a dance class so that you can learn more about another culture; take an art class so that you can paint a pretty picture to hang in the local homeless shelter. There are a myriad of ways that we can live with passion that benefit both us and our neighbors in the world. Dear God, may I embrace gratefully and passionately the life you have given me to live.

Also posted in #spirituality

Sammy

Amigos!

I am excited to announce the publication of my first novel, Sammy, which is available as an e-book through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V7FHGK.

It is the story of a man named Sammy who clings to hope in spite of the fact that a crooked cop is intent on destroying Sammy’s life. It is a short fictional novel that is a quick-read and that I hope you will find uplifting.

In spite of its uplifting content, however, I want you to be forewarned that the novel includes some troubling scenes as well as the language of the “vernacular” (including some f-bombs). As a result, before buying the e-book I suggest that you use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to read the first few pages of the novel to decide if some of the content is too offensive to you.

Sammy is priced at $5, and 20% of the net proceeds from the sale of this e-book will be dedicated to good causes.

Lastly, since my last name is so often misspelled, I decided to write Sammy under the pen name Arizona Keith.

Peace!

Keith

There’s always one more (damn) thing to do

I am convinced that I would benefit from the daily practice of meditation, in spite of the fact that I have never actually developed that daily practice.
 
Thousands of research papers, clinical studies, meditation teachers, and every day folk who merely practice meditation, talk about the myriad of benefits that can be experienced through meditation … such as:
  • improved blood circulation
  • less stress and anxiety
  • stronger immune system
  • clearer thinking
  • more feelings of well-being
  • better relationships
  • greater peace and love in the soul
My challenge is that meditation requires that I sit still for 10 minutes … meaning, that I have to stop doing what I am doing, and go find a place to sit still for 10 minutes and focus on my breathing.  Unfortunately, I feel that sitting still and “just being” for 10 minutes is a complete waste of time.
 
I have tried meditating in the past, but while I am sitting still trying to meditate, my mind fills with all kinds of things that I could be doing.  In fact, a little while ago as I attempted once again to sit still for 10 minutes and meditate, my mind filled with various things I would like to say in this message about the benefits of meditation, so I stopped meditating to write these very words you are reading.  It’s madness, I tell you.
 
There’s always one more (damn) thing to do.
 
So, I am going to try one more time to sit still for 10 minutes and meditate.  I cannot sit cross-legged, yogi-style, on-the-floor, hero’s pose, or any other way that is suggested for optimal meditate-ability.  So, I’ll just have to sit in a chair on my two butt points (or whatever they’re called), try to hang my spine (or something like that), sit with good posture (if that’s even possible), and focus on my breathing (though most days I don’t realize that I am actually breathing).  I’m going to go meditate immediately after posting and sending this message.
 
If this kills me, please know that I was the exception to the preponderance of evidence in support of the benefits of daily meditation … and may I rest in peace.
Also posted in #spirituality

Lose 1 Pound a Day

I recently completed an extensive health assessment, and I was not surprised to hear that I would do well to lose at least 10 pounds.  As a result, I put myself through a mini boot camp last week to see if I could lose 7 pounds in 7 days.


Is that even possible?


Several weight loss programs promise that you will lose a pound a day if you follow their program and buy their products.  So when I put myself through my own self-imposed boot camp, not only was I losing a few pounds, but I was also able to evaluate the hype surrounding weight loss programs and their promise of … LOSE 1 POUND A DAY.


Each one of us consumes a certain amount of calories every day through food and drink.  If the number of calories consumed equals the number of calories burned, we stay at the exact same weight.  What exactly is the limit to how many calories I can consume daily if I want to stay at the same weight?  How about if I want to lose weight?


The daily calorie burn is different for each person, and the exact figure is calculated based on your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level.  Here is how you calculate your daily calorie burn:


Multiply your body weight by 10.  This figure is called your basic metabolic rate (BMR), and it is the number of calories you would burn if you stayed in bed all day.


For example, my weight at 190 pounds multiplied by 10 equals 1900.  Thus, my BMR is 1900 calories, which is the minimum amount of calories my body needs every day for basic functions such as breathing, keeping my heart beating, regulating my body temperature, etc.  Multiplying your weight by 10 gives you a fairly good estimate of your BMR, but you can find an online BMR Calculator at http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ that will take into account your gender, age, height, and weight … and thus, give you a more accurate BMR.


Is that it?


No, because you are not likely to stay in bed all day, and thus you burn more calories every day than your BMR.


Now, multiply your BMR by your daily activity level, and then add that amount to your BMR.  Here are activity level factors:

  • Sedentary (sitting most of the day) – 20%
  • Lightly active (walking here and there; daily chores) – 35%
  • Moderately active (constantly moving around; daily exercise) – 40%
  • Very active (substantial exercise for a long time) – 50%
  • Extremely active (intense exercise for an extended period of time) – 60%  

For example, if I was sedentary I would multiply my BMR of 1900 by the sedentary factor of 20% to get 380, and then add that amount of 380 to my BMR of 1900 to get 2280.

  • Woo hoo!  When I am sedentary I still burn 2280 calories a day!  1900 + (1900 x 0.20) = 2280.
  • If I am just lightly active one day, I burn 2565 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.35) = 2565.
  • When I am moderately active, I burn 2660 calories that day.  1900 + (1900 x 0.40) = 2660.
  • And if I exercise heavily on a given day, I burn 2850 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.50) = 2850.
  • Finally, when I really work it, I burn 3040 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.60) = 3040

But wait, there’s more!  Your body actually burns calories to digest food, and the number of calories burned is estimated to be 10% of your daily consumption according to your activity level.  Thus, take the sum shown above based on your activity level, and multiply that amount by 10% … and then add that extra to the total.  For example:

  • Sedentary, 2280 + (2280 x .10) = 2508 calories
  • Lightly active, 2565 + (2565 x .10) = 2821.5 calories
  • Moderately active, 2660 + (2660 x .10) = 2926 calories
  • Very active, 2850 + (2850 x .10) = 3135 calories
  • Extremely active, 3040 + (3040 x .10) = 3344 calories

This final figure is called your Total Daily Caloric Expenditure.  It is a measure of how many calories a day you burn based on your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level.


So what would it take to lose 1 pound in one day?


Since a pound of body fat is equal to 3500 calories, theoretically I would have to eat nothing or very little during the day, and also exercise extremely that day to achieve a Total Daily Caloric Expenditure of 3500 calories.  Thus, for me to lose 1 pound a day for 7 days, I would have to eat little or nothing all week, and exercise extremely every day.


Actually, I believe that I lost about 6 pounds during the week.  Granted, some of it was probably the “water weight” that everyone loses at the beginning of a diet, and the scale in my house may not be precise, and/or I may not have replicated exactly the starting and ending weigh-ins (i.e. clothes worn, time of day, etc.), but even if I only lost 3 or 4 pounds, I am pleased.  I can see the difference in the mirror, and I can feel the difference in the way my clothes fit.


So what’s the point?  My point is that I think people can lose weight fairly quickly, and lose it in a safe manner while eating well but without having to starve.  So how did I do it?


I burned a lot of calories exercising every day.  On at least 3 of the days I exercised extremely for over an hour by bicycling up City Creek Canyon here in Salt Lake City, starting at about 4700 feet above sea level at my house and rising to slightly over 6000 feet above sea level at the end of the trail (7 miles up, 7 miles back).   On every other day, my exercise was lighter … perhaps I only walked for an hour.  FYI, a person my size can burn 100 calories per mile walking, or as much as 200 calories per mile running or bicycling swiftly.


Also, I ate 6 small meals every day, about every 2.5 hours to avoid feeling hungry.  At each mini-meal I had a high quality low or non-fat protein source (such as non-fat yogurt, turkey jerky, non-fat cottage cheese, non-fat protein powder in a shake, etc.), some fruit, something whole-grain (wheat crackers, cereal, brown rice, etc.), and veggies.  With each meal I drank at least 16 ounces of water in order to feel full.  I had no cookies or deserts of any kind for the week, although after a long bike ride I may have had something like a 100-calorie Healthy Choice fudge bar (since protein after a good workout helps rebuild muscle).


I consumed no more than about 300 calories at each mini-meal, sometimes less, so I estimate that my daily intake was no more than about 1500 calories.  Like I said, I never really felt hungry during the week, for if you eat something healthy about every 2.5 hours that includes protein you will stay satiated and keep your energy level constant.


So I cannot say that I proved the theory that you can lose 1 pound a day, but I think that you can lose at least half that much … and I know that you can enjoy the process.

What is happiness?

Last night at in our Spanish conversation group our topic of conversation was … What is happiness?

As expected there were various responses to this profound question … each person has their own idea about what constitutes happiness.  Some of the ideas include:

Happiness is having good friends.
Happiness is achievement.
Happiness is financial security.
Happiness is having control of your life.
Happiness is doing work that is completely fulfilling.
Happiness is knowing your purpose in life.
Happiness is peace of mind.
Happiness is helping others have a better life.

What are your thoughts?  Respond to this message by completing this sentence:

Happiness is …

Also posted in #spirituality